15 Spring Break Destinations You Haven’t Thought of Yet
Explore these under-the-radar destinations for all the fun of spring break without the seasonal markups or hordes of partiers.
Spring is the perfect time to let the good times roll on a family vacation in New Orleans. Visiting in the sweet spot between when Mardi Gras wraps up in late February and JazzFest begins in late April, you’ll find temperate weather and fun entertainment without the crowds. Kids will love an alligator spotting cruise down the Bayou, visiting the Mardi Gras Museum, checking out the crawling critters at the Insectarium, family friendly jazz at Preservation Hall, and just strolling through the Big Easy taking in the sights and sounds.
Food is foremost in NOLA—for sweet fried beignets around the clock, Cafe Du Monde is a must visit; dress up for lunch at Commander’s Palace, which is a great excuse to take the trolley to the Garden District (and lunch is the insider way to try out a classic restaurant without the pricey dinner entrees), and wander over to the Warehouse District for French-inspired dinner at Compere Lapin.
Great family hotel options include the boutique, art-inspired The Old No. 77, The Jung Hotel & Residence, featuring a rooftop pool, and the swanky French Quarter favorite The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. And don’t be spooked, but New Orleans also ranks as one of the most haunted places in America.
The experts on inexpensive travel at CheapAir.com named this under-the-radar Central American nation as one of their top up-and-coming vacation spots. There are often sales on flights from U.S. gateway cities to the capital of Granada, Managua. From there, make your way to budget-friendly Granada to explore colonial architecture and myriad dining options. Then head to the palm tree-filled Corn Islands or beautiful Lake Nicaragua for a tropical beach vacation without high spring break prices. Don’t miss these other popular spots in Central America, either.
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The southern city once known, quite fittingly, as Pleasantburg, is an ideal spot for families looking for a southern-style getaway, without crowds or high prices, but with lots of fun (and fabulous food, to boot).
Greenville is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and boasts 200 sunny days a year. Main Street is the central hub of activity with more than 120 locally owned restaurants and boutiques. There’s also a 32-acre park and natural waterfalls, a baseball stadium, a concert arena, and access to the 20+ mile Swamp Rabbit BikeTrail, a perfect family outdoor option. Keep the spring break fun going at the Greenville Zoo, Roper Mountain Science Center, the Children’s Museum, and Frankie’s Fun Park, or with a live show at the Peace Park theater.
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Lonely Planet just named this quintessential road trip spot one of the best places to visit in the United States. Yes, we know, Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands national parks don’t exactly fly under the radar. But, Capitol Reef National Park is the unknown park of the Big 5 National Parks in Utah, according to National Parks expert Marty Behr of Revealed America, the park offers a wide range of activities from hiking, 4-wheel drive tours (just outside the park), Native American petroglyphs, historic Mormon settlements, fly and spin fishing, bison herds, horseback riding (just outside the park), and more—and without any of the crowds. Check out these spring break vacation ideas that cost less than staying home.
Chattanooga, a fun city for families any time of year, transforms itself into a completely kid-centric destination with its Spring Break Safari & Scavenger Hunt that runs throughout the river town from the first week in March through the first week in April. There are also many hands-on activities designed just for them where they can become a Musician, Shutterbug Adventurer, World Traveler, Backyard Scientist, and Time Traveler.
For junior train buffs, you’ve come to the right place, too. The famous “Chattanooga Choo Choo” song has spawned an eponymous, and unusual hotel where you can sleep in actual Pullman rail cars (there are regular hotel rooms here as well). Attached to the hotel is the city’s original grand train station, filled with fun dining and entertainment options, including southern favorite Frothy Monkey, which features a Little Monkeys menu full of kid favorites. Here are more unusual hotels you’ll love for their sheer novelty.
Central New York State
When the temperature rises and the snow melts, the beauty of the Central New York Region emerges from winter’s hibernation, creating the perfect setting for outdoor adventures from hiking along 350 miles of trails, to paddling down the historic Old Erie Canal, or even mining for diamonds. If you have baseball fans in the family, you’ll want to focus on Cooperstown, home to The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where they honor some of America’s athletic heroes. You can also visit The Fenimore Art Museum, which boasts an extraordinary collection of American Indian and folk art, or step back in time at The Farmers’ Museum where American history comes to life with real-life experience on a working Farmstead. Then taste your way through over 40 specialty food products at the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard, including cider that’s been made for over 150 years in a water-powered mill. These are the cheapest months of the year to visit all 50 states.
The Crystal Coast, NC
Located along North Carolina’s central shore, this Atlantic beach destination is one of the few remaining natural barrier island systems in the world. Outside Magazine named it the “Best Spring Break Destination” for its authentic “coastal experience,” 85 miles of silk sand and sparkling beaches. Family-friendly activities range from exploring Blackbeard’s sunken treasure from The Queen Anne’s Revenge at the North Carolina Maritime Museum to hands-on learning at The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores to climbing the famed Diamond Lady Lighthouse with views of wild horses roaming freely at neighboring Shackleford Banks.
There are a variety of beach accommodations to suit every budget, including seaside cottages and massive beach mansions for rent that are the perfect place for multi-generation escape, and beach hotels including Bask Hotel at Big Rock Landing in Morehead City and the DoubleTree Atlantic Beach Oceanfront. See why one town in North Carolina made the Reader’s Digest list of nicest places in America.
Bucks County, PA
Easy driving distance from New York City (1.5 hours), Philadelphia (30 minutes), and Washington, DC (3 hours), this affordable east coast destination offers family fun that’s perfect for younger kids (check out our Perfect Day-by-day Guide to a Weekend in Bucks County). Explore the Bucks County Children’s Museum in New Hope, with 10,000-square-feet of fun where your kids can design their own race track, work in a general store, pretend to be a “junior doctor,” or dig for buried fossils. At Kid’s Castle in Doylestown’s Central Park, let the family climb and play on an eight-story wooden playground complete with slides, swings, a treehouse, and a rocket ship. Then head to Sesame Place a perfect intro to theme parks for younger kids where they can meet Elmo, Big Bird, Grover. Don’t miss these affordable spring break destinations you should book right now.
Whether your family loves the outdoors, history, art, or food, you’ll find something to love for spring break in this Georgia charmer. Whitewater Express is the place to go for high adventure, with daily rafting trips down the Chattahoochee, as well as the Blue Heron Aerial course. For less expensive fun in Columbus, visit the National Infantry Museum, voted the best free museum in the nation, or Oxbow Meadows for some face-to-face time with turtles, snakes, and alligators. The Columbus Marriott, set around a historic grist mill, is a perfect home base for your city getaway. Not looking to travel far? Try some of these spring break staycation ideas instead.
The state capital of Texas offers plenty of spring break ideas for families, including opportunities to enjoy nature around beautiful Lady Bird Lake, with its hiking and biking trails, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding. Looking for more adventure? NLand is the world’s only inland surf destination (and brewery, just FYI). The 14-acre surf lagoon, the largest in the world, offers surf sessions (surfboard included), lessons, kids camps, and a 90-minute Introduction to Surfing for juniors ages 8 to 13.
Stay at the W Austin, which has a prime location near Lady Bird Lake. And don’t forget to try out the local BBQ, including LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, which won Eater Austin’s Food Truck of the Year award. Yum!