27 Affordable Spring Break Vacations to Start Planning Now
From breathtaking Europe to the sunny Caribbean, these can't-miss locales won't break the bank for your spring break.
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If the winter doldrums have got you down, it’s the perfect time to think about getting away from it all a few weeks from now—whether that means a trip to sunny shores, exploring cultural centers of Europe, or a fun (and cheap) road trip to a destination closer to home. Teachers, college students, and parents of school-aged children are most likely to book vacations during spring break, which usually falls sometime in March or April; but after a long few months of cold weather, just about everyone is feeling restless. Although some spots popular with the spring break crowd ramp up prices during this time, we found under-the-radar destinations that offer reasonable rates and fewer tourists, but just as much enjoyment. Plus, it’s even possible to find spring break vacation ideas that actually cost less than staying home.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
The infectious rhythm of Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae music, makes the island the perfect antidote for the winter blues. Caribbean destinations are just coming off the winter high season, so hotel rates start dropping as we move into spring—and Jamaica is already an affordable island to begin with. Plus, while the Sunshine State tends to be packed with spring breakers, the islands offer sunny-weather getaways that aren’t Florida. With its pristine beaches, outdoor activities including snorkeling and zip-lining, restaurants, and beach bars, families, couples, and party-goers alike can find what they’re looking for on Jamaica. All-inclusive resorts along popular Montego Bay offer great package deals: Stay at the Royal Decameron Montego Beach for around $200 a night.
Just after the craziness—and high prices—of the Mardi Gras season, but before the popular Jazz and Heritage Festival kicks off in late April, New Orleans in early spring offers a little pocket of pleasant temperatures, lower crowds, and affordability. Although good times, music, and nightlife can be had at any time of year, surprisingly New Orleans isn’t a major spring break party spot, so it’s also a great time to take the family. Stroll along the rues of the French Quarter, nosh on beignets at Cafe du Monde, and then retire to your room at the Hampton Inn and Suites for around $200 a night. Flights from New York are under $300. NOLA is one of the 15 spring break ideas you haven’t thought of yet.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Although it might not be warm enough for swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, the chain of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks still makes for a perfect spring break getaway: Think long walks on deserted beaches, low crowds and room rates, and pleasant temperatures for fishing, golfing, visiting lighthouses, or horseback riding. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial (the first airplane flight occurred in Kill Devil Hills), watch wild horses on the beach, or go off-roading along the shore (with a permit). Opt for a vacation rental to save money on hotels, and cook your own meals instead of going out to eat every night.
Although the tourist season in London runs year-round, visiting in early spring is a relatively less busy, and more affordable, time to go. Emerging from the dreary winter, weather in London looks up at this time of year, too, as the lovely gardens of the city start to bloom. Although London can be an expensive city, there are plenty of free attractions, including many top museums such as the National Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert, and Tate Modern. More free sights include street performers in Covent Garden, the stone lions of Trafalgar Square, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, watching a debate in Parliament, and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Stay right across the Thames from Big Ben at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for around $200 a night. Flights from New York are around just $350, making it one of the 15 best places to go in Europe for spring break.
Red River Gorge, Kentucky
This top rock-climbing destination in Daniel Boone National Forest is at its most stunning in spring, with wildflowers blooming all around the 100 natural sandstone arches and other amazing rock formations. But you don’t have to be a climber to enjoy the area’s trails and natural beauty. National Bridge State Resort Park even offers wildflower walks, and visitors can also rent canoes or kayaks, or go on a guided canoe trip, along the river. Camping is a great cost-saving way to get the most out of your adventure; you can also rent cabins or affordable lodge rooms. It this appeals to you, you may also want to take one of these luxury camping adventures that even indoor people will love.
There’s really no bad time of year to go to Hawaii, thanks to its warm and steady climate; although winter into spring break does tend to be a more popular time to go. But the “Southwest effect” that’s occurred since the airline started flying to the island chain is still going strong thanks to additional flights from the west coast starting in January, one of the 13 ways air travel will change in 2020. Increasing competition means visitors can take advantage of the low prices, with flights around $450 from Los Angeles. Travelers can choose whether to island-hop between Oahu and Maui, Kauai, or another island; or choose to stay right in Waikiki in Honolulu at Hotel LaCroix for around $160 a night.
Within driving distance from many eastern U.S. locations, Washington, D.C. presents a great opportunity for kids to keep their education going while on break from school. The museums along the National Mall, including the Smithsonian museums, are free, as are the National Zoo and the national monuments. Although it’s not free, kids will also enjoy checking out the newly relocated International Spy Museum, which re-opened in a bigger, better location last year. Plus, spring break is also the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 to April 12), when the gorgeous trees erupt in pink and white flowers. For the least busy time of day to view the blossoms, stroll among the trees in East Potomac Park in early morning or evening. Stay in an awesome location right behind the Spy Museum at the Hilton Washington DC National Mall for just over $200 a night. No surprise here: Our nation’s capital is one of the 15 best-ever family spring break destinations.
With flights under $200 from New York, Music City offers a vibrant destination full of great food and, of course, plenty of live music. Check out a show at the Grand Ole Opry and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; or if traveling with the kids, head to the Nashville Zoo and Adventure Science Center. Foodies will enjoy the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene, offering not just Southern eats and barbecue (although there’s plenty of that) but also international and fusion cuisine. Weather can be a little unpredictable in early spring, so bring a jacket. Visitors may want to avoid the SEC Men’s Basketball Championship from March 11 to 15, though, to more easily score hotel rooms. Families with young children will appreciate that Nashivlle is also home to one of the country’s top indoor waterparks.
It may seem like an exotic locale for an affordable spring break, but air travel to Lima is actually more reasonable than ever, with flights from $475 from Dallas/Fort Worth. And even if the ancient city of Machu Picchu isn’t on your bucket list, Lima itself has much to offer. The city, perched on cliffs over the Pacific, features colorful architecture, beautiful churches, and pre-Columbian ruins, not to mention a lively dining, art, and cultural scene. Stay at the Ibis Lima Reducto Miraflores for just $50 a night. Plus, Lima, located in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of the places to visit where it’s summer right now and the beaches both north and south of the city beckon.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
It may still be winter in the Rocky Mountains, but you can warm up with a visit to the area’s natural hot springs: Glenwood Springs Resort, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, and Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, where visitors can enjoy the only natural geothermal steam bath in the world. The adventurous can also hike to the gorgeous Hanging Lake or explore the Glenwood Caverns before the summer crowds set in. April also brings the start of river rafting season. Although spring comes earlier here than other ski towns (and there’s no dreaded “mud season” due to Glenwood’s lower elevation), the mountains still provide ample opportunity for spring skiing if you visit in March or early April. Stay downtown at the historic but totally modern Hotel Denver for around $160 a night. If you are up for skiing, make sure these top 13 resorts you need to visit in 2020 are on your list.
It’s hard to beat Savannah for historic charm, with its cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, haunting cemeteries, and Spanish moss-draped on trees. Visit in spring before the crushing heat of summer rolls in, and just as its lush gardens start to bloom. Plus, deals on rates abound, with many rooms for around $200 a night, including Homewood Suites right on the Savannah River. But although it’s not a classic spring break destination, keep an eye on Savannah’s spring festival schedule, including the Tour of Homes and Gardens (March 26 to 29) and the Savannah Music Festival (March 26 to April 11), as hotel availability may be harder to come by. Cap off a visit to the city with outdoor excursions to surrounding wildlife refuges, or head to the coast to enjoy the beach on Tybee Island. If you’re looking to save even more, check out Instagram-worthy staycation ideas for spring break.
Skip the summer crowds—and the summer prices—by taking a springtime trip to the Emerald Isle. Flowers are starting to bloom, lambs are being born, and airfares are around $400 from New York. Just avoid St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) to get even luckier with deals on Dublin hotels: Jurys Inn Christchurch, centrally located near Temple Bar, Grafton Street, the Guinness Brewery, and Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is offering up to 25 percent off stays through the end of March, with rooms under $200 per night.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
March may be considered the start of the season, with many attractions and restaurants reopening after winter, but it’s still super affordable. Hotels’ average occupancy rates are only at 48 percent, so chances are you can snag a great deal. Plus, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, shopping, or strolling the beach or boardwalk. Beach Colony Resorts are offering 35 percent off your spring getaway, with rooms from just $59 beginning at the end of February.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
As the winter high season winds down, the spring shoulder season beginning in March is an ideal time to hit the Caribbean: Hotel prices are beginning to drop, yet you don’t run the risk of the hurricane season of summer. Punta Cana is also one of the more affordable Caribbean destinations, thanks to its many all-inclusive resorts, with flights around $400 from New York. Its gorgeous white sand beaches and crystal clear water will have you thinking you got a great deal—and you did, especially by taking advantage of sales like the one at Ocean Blue & Sand resort; rooms cost around $200 per night, 32 percent below the average rate. Here are more of the best budget travel destinations you’ll want to check out.
Santa Barbara, California
March and April hit a sweet spot in this normally pricey beachside town. It’s after the rainy winter season but before the summer high season. Although Santa Barbara is a very walkable town, the public shuttle can also be an affordable way of getting to the waterfront and even the acclaimed Santa Barbara Zoo. Enjoy the thriving arts, culture, and food scene of the “American Riviera” (money-saving tip: Many gallery exhibits and performing arts centers are free on the first Thursdays of every month). Outdoor activities on the beach, at parks, and in the mountains also abound. Check into the family-friendly, oceanside Harbor View Inn for just over $200 a night.
The beauty of “April in Paris” is renowned, thanks to the classic song. Fortunately, that hasn’t seemed to affect hotel prices or airfare, which remain low before the summer season begins. If your spring break is in March, it’s an even cheaper time to go, as Parisians will be just starting to regain their joie de vivre as winter exits. Check out the centrally located Hotel Malte-Astotel, a 10-minute walk from the Louvre Museum and also near the Tuileries Gardens and Notre Dame Cathedral, with rates less than $200 per night. Be sure to bring your umbrella for springtime showers, but isn’t Paris more beautiful in the rain anyway? Just look out for these 10 sneaky money traps you fall for every time you travel.
Salt Lake City
If you’re not quite ready to let winter go, try spring skiing in Utah—March is actually one of the snowiest months of the year, and visitors can also ski well into April. Spring skiing offers more sun, longer days, and cheaper prices. Although flights to Salt Lake City are known for being expensive, setting up fare alerts can help you get a great price; and with many slopes less than 45 minutes from downtown via ski shuttle, you can save time and money getting there. Plus, check out “ski and stay” packages (save up to 20 percent) and “kids ski free” deals at affordable resorts like Brighton, Nordic Valley, Solitude, and Powder Mountain. Buying lift tickets in advance also saves cash. You can also stay cheaply downtown for around $100 a night.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
We searched high and low for an affordable spring break destination in Florida, which is at its high season, before settling on family-friendly AMI. It’s a seven mile-long, two mile-wide island near Tampa with no high rises or nightclubs to attract spring break partiers. Rent a bike, walk, or a hop on a free trolley to explore the island’s beaches, and stay in a vacation home to save money. Tampa’s airport is a little farther away than Sarasota’s but likely has better fares—we found prices from just over $200 from New York. Here are 10 more family-friendly destinations even your jaded teenagers will love.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Visitors young and old will love exploring this area in northern Oregon less than two hours from Portland—although it’s not your typical beach destination. The water never gets above 60 degrees, even in summer; so you might as well visit in spring and avoid peak season. This rugged coastal region has countless opportunities for exploring the landscape, from Cannon Beach’s famous Haystack Rock, to Ecola State Park, Blumenthal Falls, the sea caves of Hug Point, and the tidal pools of Arcadia Beach. Cannon Beach also has a quaint downtown full of boutiques, galleries, and eateries. The weather may be iffy in March, but some people actually come to Oregon’s coast to storm watch. Stay at the surprisingly affordable Hallmark Resort and Spa for oceanfront lodgings at less than $200 a night.
Although the weather in March and April can be unpredictable, prepared travelers can get great hotel deals in this Canadian gem during the off-season. Dress warmly and you can still enjoy a stroll around Old Montreal and Mount Royal Park. Plus, there are plenty of indoor attractions, such as Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Notre Dame Basilica. Montreal also has a thriving food scene, so check out both new trendy restaurants and classic eateries, like famous deli Schwartz’s. Flights are around $200 from New York, and centrally located hotels like the Hotel Place d’Armes are just over $100 a night. Don’t miss these 12 travel hot spots you haven’t heard of—yet.
Visitors can get to this cultural hub outside of Phoenix for under $400 from the east coast and less than $200 from the west, with hotels less than $200 a night. Warm and sunny, temps will be in the 70s, perfect for watching Major League Baseball spring training at Mesa’s two stadiums. Visit Mesa Grande Cultural Park to see Native American artifacts and a ceremonial mound, the Arizona Museum of Natural History for dinosaur fossils, the i.d.e.a. museum for children’s learning exploration, and the Mesa Arts Center for all things artistic. Natural sights abound in the surrounding desert landscape as well. These are the most underrated travel destinations in the world.
It’s probably going to still be winter in Iceland—but that’s not a reason not to go during spring break. Depending on when your vacation is, you may be able to score flights for less than $400 nonstop from New York. Once there, visit natural wonders from glaciers and waterfalls to the Northern Lights and the natural thermal baths of the Blue Lagoon. Explore the city itself, including the striking Hallgrimskirkja Church and the Old Harbor, with a stay at many downtown lodgings for just over $100 a night.
Lots of Texan families head to San Antonio in summer for its family-friendly theme parks, so avoid the crowds and high prices by visiting for spring break instead. Plus, with temps soaring over 90 degrees in summer, San Antonio gets way too hot: March and April offer more comfortable temperatures in the 70s, with flowers in bloom and drops in hotel rates as well. Enjoy al fresco dining along the famous River Walk, and remember the Alamo for a look into Texas history. Stay at the historic Menger Hotel, next to the Alamo and a block from the River Walk, for less than $200 a night. Here are more affordable U.S. cities you should add to your bucket list.
New York City
Spring is a glorious time to visit the Big Apple, as New Yorkers are coming out of their winter shell but haven’t yet left the sweltering summer city (when the locals are replaced by throngs of tourists). Get in before the crowds and high prices—participating New York hotels in the InterContinental Hotel Group (which includes Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza) are offering 15 percent off with a three-night stay. Warmer temperatures mean an opportunity to stroll the city streets to iconic spots like Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Airfare to Puerto Rico from New York is currently around an affordable $300—and your tourism dollars while there will help the island recover from 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria. Travelers shouldn’t worry about going to Puerto Rico: The island is safe, open for business, and desperate to welcome back tourists to its white-sand beaches. Plus, your family doesn’t need any passports to visit. Rooms at the San Juan Water & Beach Club Hotel on spectacular Isla Verde Beach can be had for less than $200 a night.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Get ready for outdoor adventure with a vacation in Maine’s natural beauty—and with cheaper prices, as the high season won’t start for a few months yet. Spring in Maine offers hiking, bird watching, whale watching, and fishing, not to mention lobster eating (the crustaceans are caught year-round). Businesses may be just starting to open after the winter, but visitors renting a vacation property don’t have to worry about what’s open or not: It’s the ultimate spring break away from the crowds. Check out the 11 best-ever off-season travel destinations.
Come to this southern Californian playground for ideal spring temperatures, plenty of attractions for the kids, and sunny beach days before the haze of “May Gray” and “June Gloom” set in—and before the peak season of summer. Spring break may still get a bit crowded, but deals can be found for less than $100 a night if you stay in the Hotel Circle area. In addition to the beach (although not the water; San Diego doesn’t often get warm enough for swimming without a wet suit), families can enjoy the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Sea World, and Legoland. Read on for the best spring break getaway in every state.