The 21 Best Spring Break Destinations in America Gallery
The 21 Best Spring Break Destinations in America
As temperatures drop and rise and then drop again, you may be dreaming of warmer weather and the chance to jet out of town to enjoy it. With spring nearly upon us, now is the time to book a trip to make those daydreams a reality. Even if you’re not in school anymore or don’t have any kids who are, it’s important to take a spring break to shake off the winter blues.
Certain spring break destinations are easier to get to than others, and for the maximum relaxation possible, we thought we’d take a look at the best spots right here in the U.S. While spring break destinations are often associated with rowdiness and hardcore partying, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We’ve come up with places that are also known for their beaches, their scenery, the activities in town, or even their restaurant scene. Some destinations are better suited for the college crowd, sure, but some on this list are also perfect for families, couples, or even solo travelers – no matter what kind of trip you’re looking for. If cold weather and post-holiday fatigue have gotten you down, take our advice and start planning a vacation to one of the 21 best spring break destinations in America.
Legal casino gambling has made Atlantic City a popular East Coast destination, but that’s not all it has to offer. Atlantic City also has the country’s oldest boardwalk, which stretches four miles. You can also hire guides on the boardwalk who will give you a lift in an old-fashioned rolling chair to the hotels (particularly Caesars’ with its fine dining options), resorts, shops, and casinos if you’re not up for the walk. Several piers off of the boardwalk offer even more attractions. Go to Garden Pier to visit the local history museum and the Atlantic City Arts Center where you can enjoy all kinds of live shows. Check out Steel Pier for rides and games at the local amusement park. The Atlantic City Aquarium has eight giant tanks full of amazing marine life, but you can also enjoy the sea outdoors by visiting Absecon Lighthouse and climbing its 228 steps for a fantastic ocean view.
Bethany Beach, Del.
Fewer than 1,200 people reside in the costal town of Bethany Beach, but over 15,000 come to visit every summer. The area is known for its peacefulness and the Bethany Beach boardwalk, a nice, well-kept change from more popular seaside destinations such as Atlantic City. Both golfing and swimming are popular endeavors here, but the town also has cute little cafés and stores for you to peruse. Don’t miss Chief Little Owl, the 24-foot totem pole welcoming you to town, or the town museum which chronicles the town’s history from its birth as a religious retreat.
Cannon Beach, Ore.
Although the coastal town of Cannon Beach has a population of only around 1,700 people, more than 750,000 visit every year to enjoy an affordable vacation. Photos of its shore often feature the 235-foot-tall Haystack Rock, the third largest monolith in the world. Low tide reveals starfish and other marine life living near the base of the rock. You can also find even more natural beauty at Ecola State Park, a favorite of many hikers and campers for its great views of the coast. Charming little shops line the streets of Cannon Beach, and the entire area is fantastic for photography.
The Cape Cod peninsula contains plenty of cute little villages, beaches, ports, lighthouses, and restaurants to explore. A great place to enjoy a nice bed and breakfast or go antiquing, Cape Cod has been an East Coast holiday favorite for decades of tourists, most notably the Kennedys. Visitors can take part in all kinds of water sports, camping, biking, hiking, and more. What many don’t seem to realize, however, is the historical significance of the region; Provincetown, the site of the landing of the first Pilgrims, is right at the tip of the peninsula. Summer swells Cape Cod’s population by a factor of three, and the cape has offered inspiration to plenty of writers, including Kurt Vonnegut, Henry David Thoreau, and Cape Cod natives Mercy Otis Warren and Norman Mailer.
Cape May, N.J.
On the southernmost tip of New Jersey lies the coastal city of Cape May. Declared a national landmark in 1976, Cape May is known for its Victorian architecture and fantastic beach, making it the prettiest town in the state. Its iconic lighthouse is well worth the visit, and you can climb its 199 steps for fabulous views of the town and shore. Animal-lovers will also love it here, as dolphin and whale watching is a common endeavor and the Cape May Bird Observatory attracts bird watchers. Water sports, of course, abound, with many opportunities to Jet Ski, parasail, kayak, surf, swim, and fish. Biking is also a great way to get around town, and dinner cruises often leave from the ports as well.
Known as the “East End,” the Hamptons are a group of hamlets and villages that make up the South Fork of Long Island and have been frequented by the rich and famous for decades. Three of the Hamptons’ zip codes are among the 10 most expensive in the nation, which means its beach houses and country clubs are not only exclusive but also very pricy. If you can afford it, however, the Hamptons provide some of nature’s most beautiful seaside, and there are plenty of art galleries where you can check out the local talent. The Hamptons draw huge crowds from nearby New York City, so the area is often best enjoyed after the summer crowd is gone. Golfing is also par for the course, as the Hampton has some of the best private golf clubs in the country, and its bars and restaurants are unparalleled.
Known for being the summer home of the Bush family, Kennebunkport’s trademarked slogan is “the place to be all year,” but the town is best visited during warmer weather, particularly in spring when it’s quieter. There are multiple beaches for your swimming and sunning needs, and the Franciscan Monastery is open year-round, with beautifully maintained grounds and a beautiful view of the harbor. Whale watching and golf are also popular endeavors. There’s even a Seashore Trolley Museum, which offers the chance to operate a trolley for yourself!
The southernmost point in the U.S., Florida’s Key West is dedicated to drinking and sunning year-round. It’s not surprising, therefore, that it’s known as one of the wildest party destinations for spring break. Although its beaches aren’t the best, the area has a great party atmosphere and an endless string of bars in addition to the gorgeous weather and fantastic scenery.`
Lake Geneva, Wis.
The town of Lake Geneva has a wonderful law that states that all lakefront properties must allow for a bit of their land to be used for a path that encircles the entire lake. Bikes are banned, which allows for you to go for a nice, tranquil walk, untroubled by cyclists moving at a more frantic pace. You can also rent a boat and actually get on the lake for sailing or parasailing. Cute little stores offer all kinds of trinkets and goods for tourists to take home.
Mackinac Island, Mich.
Pronounced “MAK-i-naw,” Macinac Island is the hidden gem of Michigan with Victorian charm and fun activities for the entire family. The island is a three-in-one destination: You can visit active Mackinac for a more outdoorsy time with biking, hiking, horse-riding, and paddling; grand Mackinac for a more upper-class experience at the Grand Hotel resort; or fudgie Mackinac to indulge your sweet tooth with the island’s famous fudge amid historic and shopping sites. Tours of the island are available on foot, bike, or even via kayak or stand-up paddle board, both of which are available for rentals. Golfing and fishing are also popular endeavors. We also recommend bringing your own bicycle; Mackinac is known for its island-wide motor vehicle ban.
Known as “Hollywood East,” Martha’s Vineyard is a favorite of the rich and famous and is made up of six towns. Visitors can visit the area’s multiple lighthouses, hit the beaches, or visit one of the area’s restaurants for some of the country’s finest dining. Popular local endeavors include art gallery hopping, golfing, kite flying, charter fishing, horseback riding, biking, and hiking.
East of Miami and Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach is on a barrier island and full of beach resorts and a great view of the Miami skyline. During spring break, the city is overflowing with people, to the point where in the past beach crowds extended out into the streets blocking the flow of traffic and creating complete chaos. Home of the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, a trip during late March and early April would mean partaking in one of the country’s biggest and most successful fairs. Miami Beach also offers an Art Deco walking tour along with other local tours of the city and the Everglades. The area is only going to become more beautiful, too, as 20,000 orchids that were recently planted will finally bloom.
Over 14 million people descend on Myrtle Beach every year for swimming, seafood, and shopping. Its popularity as the perfect Southern beach weekend can cause the beaches to be quite crowded during high season, but arrive early as sunrise sees moderate temperatures and quiet shores. Myrtle Beach’s Broadway is full of nightlife, bars, shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and an aquarium. Myrtle Beach has tons of variety shows and concerts, as well as more miniature golf courses per square mile than any other place in the world. Regular golfing is also world-class at Myrtle Beach, and many people travel here specifically to hit one of the area’s more than 120 links.
The island of Nantucket is just 3.5 miles wide by 14 miles long, but it has long been a vacation spot for the average Joe as well as upper-class Americans and celebrities. Nantucket is extremely green-conscious, so all visitors must follow the island’s well-established recycling system. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation preserves 36 percent of the island and local wildlife. The island’s marine life can be seen at the local aquarium and eaten at fantastic seafood restaurants such as the Nantucket Lobster Trap. Nantucket is also an extremely safe destination, and families have been known to allow their children to wander on their own.
Napa Valley’s biggest claim to fame is its wine, encompassing more than 400 wineries. While it is the most important wine-growing region in the United States, visitors also visit Napa Valley for its gourmet food and spas, as well as its scenic views. Rest and relaxation abounds here, and a bath in the hot springs or a mud bath is a must. Golfers can also wind down at one of the 10 golf courses throughout the valley.
One of America’s biggest party cities and one of the top destinations for 2018, New Orleans has some great weather during the spring to accompany its fantastic Cajun and Creole cuisine and awesome bars. You might not have a great beach here, but you do have plenty of fantastic live music and cheap booze.
Panama City Beach, Fla.
Panama City Beach indirectly caters to the incoming flock of partygoers by being an affordable beach destination for college students. Large groups will fill up buses to make the journey to this beach spot along the Gulf of Mexico, where they’ll spend the week hopping from beach party to nightclub.
Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
Often confused with the neighboring town of Point Pleasant, Point Pleasant Beach is a popular spot on the Jersey Shore. Summer is the best time to hit the beach in New Jersey (See fireworks and Big Joe’s Jersey Talent Show, a weekly event in which both residents and visitors can take part) but the spring isn’t too bad either. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk offers food, games, mini-golf, arcades, and an amusement park.
Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
Commonly referred to as simply Catalina Island, this group of islands is 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, technically a part of Los Angeles County. Both snorkeling and scuba diving are popular endeavors, and Sea Trek is a diving experience where even beginner swimmers can wear high-tech diving helmets for an underwater guided walking tour. If that’s too daunting, there are plenty of glass-bottom boat and semi-submarine rides as well. If you’re interested in a tour of the wildlife and history on land, there’s also a zip line eco-tour available.
South Padre Island, Texas
Located on a barrier island off the southern coast of Texas, South Padre Island is the ultimate spring break destination, as its home to Ultimate Music Experience, the largest electronic dance concert in the world, held in mid-March. Drinking on the beach is legal here, making this one of the wildest spring break spots, but you don’t need to be a college student to have fun. Water sports abound, and dolphin watching, kiteboarding, and water crafting are particularly popular. You can also go fishing, embark on an ecological tour, or even go horseback riding on the beach. If the beach is where you absolutely need to be this spring, and you don’t mind venturing a bit further out, check out our list of the world’s 50 best beaches.
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