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25 Cheap Spring Break Destinations That Are Hidden Gems

Updated: May 23, 2024

These are the best cheap spring break trips—from cities to the mountains to the sunny Caribbean and even Europe!

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People Enjoy Doctors Cave Beach In Montego Bay Jamaica On A Sunny Daybenedek/Getty Images

Cheap spring break trips for every type of traveler

Winter doldrums got you down? It’s the perfect time to think about getting away from it all with cheap spring break trips, whether that means a jaunt to sunnier shores, an exploration of cultural centers and cities, or a road trip to a destination close to home. Even if money is tight, we still want to get away for spring break—and still can! You just have to learn how to travel cheap by choosing a budget-friendly destination. And with this list, you won’t feel like you’re skimping on anything.

Teachers, college students and parents with school-aged kids are most likely to book vacations during spring break, which usually falls sometime in March or April. But after long months of cold weather, just about everyone is feeling restless, so we picked the best cheap spring break destinations for every type of traveler, from singles to couples to families. Although some popular spring break spots ramp up their prices during peak travel months, our research uncovered some cheap places to travel that offer reasonable rates and fewer tourists but just as much enjoyment.

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How we chose the best cheap spring break trips

To find the cheapest places to go on spring break, we researched tips from travel experts, took online buzz into account and read a whole lot of reviews. Combine that with our personal experiences in discovering off-the-beaten-path destinations, and you have a list of some truly great (and affordable!) spring break trips.

We considered states that offer cheap travel along with outstanding things to see and do. And we looked at places that are in the cheaper “shoulder season,” the time between the peak season and off-season. We also tried to avoid places where most college kids go for spring break, as these hot spots tend to be more expensive. Finally, we looked outside the box of traditional spring break destinations and included some options that might surprise you.

What, exactly, is “cheap”?

We aimed to keep flights under $500, using New York as a general departure point (obviously, flights differ in cost depending on where you live, how far the destination is from you and your day of departure). We also looked at Saturday-to-Saturday travel because, for those who have a week off for spring break, that would likely make the most sense. But if you’re willing to fly midweek, flights will likely be even cheaper than what we’ve cited here. You can also sign up for fare notifications to find the best time to buy flights, and use the best travel credit cards and best travel apps when booking to save extra cash.

For hotels, we aimed to keep them under $300 a night, with under $200 as the ideal—and gave equal priority to price and quality, so you’ll still be lodging somewhere clean, comfortable and convenient.

As hotel and airfare prices vary so much by the specific date you travel and when you book, these are general guidelines; we can’t guarantee a specific fee. Still, the destinations we picked tend to run cheaper than more popular or hyped spots, allowing you to plan a spring break on a budget. Read on to discover the locales we found!

Lovers Seat on the beach in Jamaica chrisuk1/Getty Images

Best for relaxing vibes

Montego Bay, Jamaica

The infectious rhythm of Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae music, makes the island the perfect antidote for the winter blues. Although Caribbean destinations are always popular, spring is traditionally the cheaper shoulder season, and Jamaica is already an affordable island to begin with. Plus, while U.S. locations like Florida tend to be packed with spring breakers, the islands offer alternative sunny-weather getaways. With its pristine beaches, outdoor activities (including snorkeling and zip-lining), restaurants and beach bars, Jamaica is perfect for families, couples and party-goers alike. Tip: A day or two shift in when you fly could alter your flight cost dramatically, so check before booking.

Where to stay: All-inclusive family resorts in popular Montego Bay offer great package deals along a gorgeous stretch of turquoise water. Stay at the Royal Decameron Montego Beach for around $240 a night.

Pros:

  • Laid-back island feeling
  • Gorgeous beaches
  • Highs in the ’80s in March and April

Con:

  • May need to be flexible (within a couple of days) for the best flight prices

Pubs And Bars With Neon Lights In The French Quarter Downtown New Orleans f11photo/Getty Images

Best nightlife

New Orleans, Louisiana

Just after the touristy, packed and pricey 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, smaller crowds and affordability. Although you can find amazing music and nightlife in New Orleans any time of year, surprisingly the city isn’t a major spring break party spot, so it’s also a great time to take the family and laissez les bon temps rouler (“let the good times roll”). Stroll along the rues of the historic French Quarter (the most popular tourist attraction in the state), nosh on beignets at Café du Monde and listen to local jazz musicians for a fun night out.

Where to stay: The well-reviewed Jung Hotel offers affordable and comfortable accommodations for around $200 a night. Plus, you’ll be within walking distance of the French Quarter and other major tourist attractions.

Pros:

  • Good food, music and nightlife
  • Bursting with culture
  • Weather that’s not too hot, not too cold

Con:

  • Travelers looking for Mardi Gras–level excitement may be disappointed

Sunrise Bodie Island Lighthouse Obx Outer Banks North Carolina The best photo is earned/Getty Images

Best for vacation rentals

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 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). Bonus: Driving along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway is one of the best road trips in America.

Where to stay: Opt for a vacation rental to save money on hotels, and cook your own meals instead of going out to eat every night. If you split the cost of the house with another family or two, you can score the perfect oceanfront location.

Pros:

  • Vacation rental availability helps you save
  • Relaxing coastal escape
  • Plenty of activities, nature and history

Con:

  • Not warm enough for swimming

Half Moon Rock at Red River Gorge Kentucky. Patrick Jennings/Shutterstock

Best for adventure travel

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, cliffs, bridges and other amazing rock formations. But you don’t have to be a climber to enjoy the walking trails, waterfalls and natural beauty of “The Red.” Visitors can also mountain bike or take a guided canoe or kayak trip along the Red River—and even float underground in caves. Along with miles of hiking trails, National Bridge State Resort Park also offers its “sky lift” (like a ski lift) to view the natural bridge.

Where to stay: Camping is a great cost-saving way to get the most out of your adventure in one of the cheapest states to vacation; the affordability of the destination may even allow you to choose a luxury camping adventure. You can also rent cabins or lodge rooms, including accommodations at National Bridge State Resort Park, for under $200.

Pros:

  • Adventure activities abound
  • Stunning natural scenery
  • Spring break coincides with wildflower season

Con:

  • Although glamping is available, this isn’t the spot for luxury hotels

The Us Capitol And Reflecting Pool Jon Hicks/Getty Images

Best for educational travel

Washington, D.C.

Within driving distance of many eastern U.S. locations, Washington, D.C., is one of the best cheap spring break trips. The city presents a great opportunity for kids to keep their education going while on break from school. The National Zoo, the national monuments and the museums along the National Mall are all free. And although it has an entry fee, the International Spy Museum will be a hit with kids and adults alike. Plus, you’ll find the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 to April 14) in spring, when the gorgeous trees erupt in pink and white flowers. To view the blossoms without swarms of tourists, stroll among the trees in East Potomac Park in the early morning or evening.

Where to stay: End each day in an awesome location less than a 10-minute walk to the U.S. Capitol by booking a room at Yotel Washington, D.C., for around $250 a night. The trendy yet affordable hotel offers a restaurant, pool and rooftop lounge.

Pros:

  • No better family trip to learn about U.S. government and history
  • Free museums, monuments and zoo
  • Spring break is the perfect time to see the cherry blossoms

Con:

  • Cherry blossom season brings bigger crowds

Neon signs on Lower Broadway Area in Nashville, Tennessee, USA f11photo/Shutterstock

Best for live music

Nashville, Tennessee

With flights less than $150 from New York, Music City offers a vibrant destination full of great food and, of course, plenty of live music for exciting yet cheap spring break trips. Check out a show at the Grand Ole Opry and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame; or if you’re traveling with the kids, head to the Nashville Zoo, Adventure Science Center and SoundWaves, one of the country’s top indoor water parks. 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. The weather can be a little unpredictable in early spring, so bring a jacket.

Where to stay: Crash for the night at TownePlace Suites by Marriott, a 15-minute walk from the strip of honky-tonks on Broadway. It’s around $200 a night, and rooms may even include a full kitchen. A rooftop lounge offers a place to retreat from the city’s excitement.

Pros:

  • Thriving music scene
  • Amazing food and honky-tonk bars
  • Family-friendly attractions as well

Con:

  • The weather might be a bit chilly

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool At Dusk Glenwood Springs Colorado USA Adventure_Photo/Getty Images

Best spa vacation

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 Hot Springs Resort, Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, where visitors can enjoy the only natural geothermal steam bath in North America. The adventurous can also explore Glenwood Caverns before the summer crowds set in, or take advantage of river rafting season, which starts in April. Although spring comes earlier here than in other ski towns (and there’s no dreaded “mud season,” thanks to Glenwood’s lower elevation), the mountains still provide ample opportunity for spring skiing if you visit in March or early April.

Where to stay: Book a room at the historic but totally modern Hotel Denver for around $200 a night. Located in charming downtown Glenwood Springs, conveniently across from the train station, the hotel is near the town’s many restaurants and also has its own brewpub.

Pros:

  • Natural hot springs for a relaxed, spa-like vacation
  • Outdoor activities
  • Hip restaurants and hotels

Con:

  • Although it’s a convenient stop by train from Denver (or a three-hour drive), the closest airports, in Vail and Aspen, are 30 to 40 miles away

Fountain In Forsyth Park With Live Oaks Lining Pathway In Historic Area Savannah Georgia John Burke/Getty Images

Best for historic charm

Savannah, Georgia

It’s hard to beat Savannah for vintage appeal, what with its cobblestone streets, pre–Civil War architecture, haunting cemeteries and Spanish moss draped on trees. Plus, Savannah is perfect before the crushing heat of summer rolls in and just as its lush gardens start to bloom. After all, it’s one of America’s most beautiful places to visit in the spring. But keep an eye on Savannah’s spring festival schedule, including the Tour of Hidden Gardens and the Savannah Music Festival, as the city might get a bit more crowded. Cap off a visit to Savannah with outdoor excursions to surrounding wildlife refuges, or head to the coast to enjoy the beach on Tybee Island.

Where to stay: Savannah has an abundance of charming B&Bs, but for some of the best hotel deals under $300 a night, consider a chain such as the Residence Inn Savannah Downtown/Historic District. Conveniently located, the hotel offers cottages, rooms with kitchenettes and a lovely courtyard and pool.

Pros:

  • Historic architecture and Southern charm
  • Pleasant weather
  • Nature and beach activities in the surrounding area

Con:

  • Spring can be a popular time to visit

Myrtle Beach South Carolina At Sunrise Chansak Joe/Getty Images

Best for family-friendly activities

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

March may be considered the start of the season in Myrtle Beach, with many attractions and restaurants reopening after winter. But it’s still one of the most affordable beach vacations in the country, so you can probably snag a great deal. Best of all, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities, including golfing, fishing, shopping, playing mini golf or strolling the beach or boardwalk. Visit Brookgreen Gardens, just south of Myrtle Beach proper, for gorgeously manicured gardens, art exhibits, a zoo and a children’s play area. But as in many spring break beach destinations in the Carolinas, Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand most likely won’t be warm enough for swimming.

Where to stay: Visitors can stay beside the ocean at many hotels along the main strip, but to get away from the crowds, try the oceanfront Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes for around or under $200 a night. The hotel offers a huge outdoor pool, as well as one indoors, and many other amenities along a lovely stretch of golden sand.

Pros:

  • Lots to do for the kids
  • The abundance of hotels means more affordability and choice

Con:

  • The ocean temperature will be chilly

Landscape of paradise tropical island beach with perfect sunny sky Valentin Valkov/Shutterstock

Best for gorgeous beaches

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The spring shoulder season, beginning in March, is an ideal time to hit the Caribbean: Hotel prices are great, yet you don’t run the risk of hurricanes like you do in the summer. Punta Cana is ideal for budget travel; it has some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and flights can be found for under $500 from New York (give yourself a window of a day or two to check pricing for the best rate). Its gorgeous white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water will have you thinking you got a great deal—and you did, as the DR is one of the most bang-for-your-buck islands in the region.

Where to stay: You can’t beat the convenience of an all-inclusive like Caribe Deluxe Princess, which is situated on the beautiful Higuey beach and has room prices for under $300.

Pros:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Affordable Caribbean destination
  • Abundance of all-inclusive options

Con:

  • Flight prices will vary depending on arrival and departure dates

Highway Along The Beach In Santa Barbara California USA Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Best for art and culture

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 art, culture and food scenes of the “American Riviera.” (Money-saving tip: Many gallery exhibits and performing arts centers are free on the first Thursday of every month.) It’s even home to one of the best restaurants in the United States, according to customers. Family-friendly outdoor activities on the beach, at parks and in the mountains also abound.

Where to stay: Book a newly renovated room at the Avania Inn of Santa Barbara for under $250 a night (hotel direct offers are available). Clean and comfortable, this retro beach motel is just a block from the waterfront.

Pros:

  • Many art galleries and restaurants to explore
  • Lovely beaches

Con:

  • Although there are family-friendly things to do, it may make a better getaway for couples

Alpine skiing in Alta, Utah, USA CSNafzger/Shutterstock

Best for spring skiing

Salt Lake City, Utah

If you’re not quite ready to let winter go, try spring skiing in Utah—March is one of the snowiest months of the year, and visitors can also ski well into April. Spring skiing offers more sun, longer days and better prices for cheap spring break trips. Although flights to Salt Lake City are known for being expensive, we still found deals for under $500 from New York (if you’re coming from Los Angeles, they’re super cheap at under $200); setting up fare alerts can help you get a great price.

With many slopes less than 45 minutes from downtown via ski shuttle, you can save time and money getting there. Check out ski-and-stay packages (save up to 25%) and other deals (such as kids-ski-free promotions) at some of the best ski resorts in America, like Brighton, Alta and Solitude. Buying lift tickets in advance also saves cash.

Where to stay: You can stay cheaply downtown for under $200 a night at Evo Hotel, a unique lodging in a renovated warehouse. This trendy spot also has a rooftop lounge, skate park, climbing gym and yoga classes—and you can rent ski and snowboard gear.

Pros:

  • Great deals on spring skiing and fewer lines at the lifts
  • Spring offers longer days on the slopes

Con:

  • You might get sweaty while skiing in warmer temps, so be sure to layer up and stay hydrated

An Aerial View Of A Fishing Pier On Holmes Beach In Anna Maria Island Florida UA-Visions/Getty Images

Best family beach vacation

Anna Maria Island, Florida

We searched high and low for an affordable spring break destination in Florida, which is still in its high season in early spring, before settling on Anna Maria Island, a family-friendly destination even your jaded teenagers will love. 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 hop on a free trolley to explore the island’s beaches and natural beauty. Tampa’s airport is a little farther away than Sarasota’s, but check both to see which has better deals—we found rates for under $200 in March from New York.

Where to stay: The ease of staying in a vacation rental to save money on lodging and food by cooking your own meals can make this island one of the cheapest places to go on spring break. Tip: Vacation with another family to split the cost, allowing you to get a bigger place in a good location for less.

Pros:

  • Quiet, family-friendly destination
  • Affordable flights to Sarasota and Tampa airports
  • Warm beaches without leaving the United States

Con:

  • If you’re looking for lively nightlife, you’ll be disappointed

Cannon Beach Oregon Summer Evening zschnepf/Getty Images

Best off-the-beaten-path destination

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Visitors young and old will love discovering this area in northern Oregon, one of the travel hot spots you probably haven’t heard of—yet. It’s not your typical beach destination, as 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, less than two hours from Portland, offers countless opportunities for exploring the landscape, from Cannon Beach’s famous Haystack Rock to Blumenthal Falls, and from the sea caves of Hug Point to 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.

Where to stay: Book a room at the surprisingly affordable Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach, where oceanfront lodgings are under $300 a night. With a view of Haystack Rock, the location can’t be beat.

Pros:

  • Ruggedly beautiful scenery
  • Cozy inns to stay in
  • Quaint downtown

Con:

  • Might be too rugged for luxury seekers

Montreal Aerial View Quebec Canada R.M. Nunes/Getty Images

Best for a touch of Europe in North America

Montreal, Canada

For a taste of Europe without the cost of flying to Paris, head north of the border to French-influenced Montreal. 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 to enjoy a stroll around Old Montreal and Mount Royal Park. There are plenty of indoor attractions too, such as Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Biosphere and the Notre Dame Basilica. The city also has a thriving food scene, so check out both new, trendy restaurants and classic eateries, like famous deli Schwartz’s. Best of all, flights are a little over $200 from New York, perfect for quick trips to the city.

Where to stay: Centrally located hotels, like the Hôtel Place d’Armes, are under $200 a night. The hotel’s historic buildings mix with modern decor and offer two restaurants, a spa and a rooftop terrace.

Pros:

  • A European feel without the transatlantic flight
  • Great food scene
  • Many historic and cultural attractions

Con:

  • It’s still cold in Montreal during spring break

View From Airport Mesa In Sedona At Sunset In Arizona USA FiledIMAGE/Getty Images

Best for baseball lovers

Mesa, Arizona

Sports, the arts and nature collide at this cultural hub outside of Phoenix, one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world. Spring break trips to Mesa will be warm and sunny, with temps in the 70s in March, perfect for watching Major League Baseball spring training practice or games at Mesa’s two stadiums—and maybe even meeting the team. Visit Mesa Grande Cultural Park to see Native American artifacts and a ceremonial mound, the Arizona Museum of Natural History for dinosaur fossils, the Idea 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.

Where to stay: Many chain hotels in the downtown and surrounding areas offer reasonable rates with clean, comfortable rooms. Stay close to downtown at Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa for just over $200 a night with a hotel direct offer.

Pros:

  • Baseball fans can watch spring training
  • Historical and cultural attractions
  • Beautiful desert landscape

Con:

  • Spring training is over by April (although there’s still plenty to do)

The Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo, Norway Copyright Morten Falch Sortland/Getty Images

Best for stunning scenery

Oslo, Norway

You may have heard about those great flight deals to Iceland, but there’s a new Nordic budget airline on the scene that’s shifting attention to Norway. Norse Atlantic Airways, which made its first trip in June 2022, offers super-cheap flights—and has also driven down prices on other carriers. We found flights for cheap spring break trips to Oslo in March and most of April: $400 to $600 from New York and some around $500 all the way from Los Angeles. It’s probably going to still be winter in Norway, but that’s no reason to avoid going during spring break—especially since it’s still the off-season, which translates to better prices.

Although it may seem like a far-flung destination to visit right now, it’s well worth a trip to see the country’s natural wonders, including the fjord right on the edge of the city. Explore Oslo itself, including its imposing Akershus Fortress, the beautiful green space of the Bygdøy Peninsula, the royal palace, and art, culture and Viking history at its many museums. Bonus: It’s one of the safest places for solo travelers to visit.

Where to stay: Stay at one of the many downtown lodgings for an affordable rate. The historic, sumptuous Hotel Bristol (newly renovated in 2019) offers luxury within walking distance of many top sites for under $300 a night.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous scenery outside Oslo
  • Cheap flights, thanks to a new budget airline
  • History and cultural attractions within the city

Con:

  • Longer flight (seven hours from New York)

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA - SEP 29: Section of the famous Riverwalk on September 29, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. A bustling place with many restaurants and bars. f11photo/Shutterstock

Best for outdoor dining

San Antonio, Texas

Add this cheap U.S. city to your bucket list—then check it off right away with a spring break visit. Lots of Texans head to San Antonio in the summer for its family-friendly theme parks, so avoid the crowds, high prices and even higher temps (it can soar to over 90 degrees) by visiting in the spring instead. March and April offer more comfortable temperatures, in-bloom flowers and drops in hotel rates. Enjoy al fresco dining along the famous River Walk, which features many bars and restaurants along the San Antonio River’s serene banks. Remember the Alamo for a look into Texas history, and view historical artifacts at the site’s Alamo Collections Center.

Where to stay: At night, come home to the historic and conveniently located Menger Hotel for a bit over $200 a night. The gorgeous property is right next to the Alamo and a block from the River Walk.

Pros:

  • Perfect outdoor eating along the lovely River Walk
  • Learn about Texas history at the Alamo
  • Comfortable weather in the 70s and low 80s

Con:

  • Driving and parking downtown can be difficult

Beautiful typical traditional vibrant street in San Juan, Puerto Rico Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

Best island vacation without a passport

San Juan, Puerto Rico

During March and April, as we head into spring shoulder season, airfare to Puerto Rico from New York is under $400. We even found some flights under $200! The island, which was hit with hurricanes and an earthquake over the past five years, is on the rebound, with tourism flourishing once again. It’s eager for visitors and happy to welcome tourists to its white-sand beaches—which translates to great deals.

Old San Juan offers glimpses into the island’s history, with beach resorts dotting the surrounding coastline. From outdoor adventures in the mountains to nightlife in the city, Puerto Rico has something for everyone. And because it’s a U.S. territory, your family doesn’t need passports to visit.

Where to stay: There’s so much to choose from among the best resorts in Puerto Rico, but you can snag a room at the San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel on spectacular Isla Verde Beach for a bit over $300 a night. This beach locale in San Juan offers the best of both worlds: a lovely strip of sand right in the city.

Pros:

  • No passport required
  • Cheap Caribbean destination
  • Beaches, history, adventure and nightlife

Con:

  • Even though it’s a U.S. territory, not everyone speaks English (hey, that’s part of the adventure!)

Aerial View Of Bar Harbor Maine Ultima_Gaina/Getty Images

Best for nature lovers

Bar Harbor, Maine

Get ready for outdoor adventure with a vacation surrounded by Maine’s natural beauty. The high season won’t start for a few months yet, so you can enjoy affordable prices for cheap spring break trips to this northern state. 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. Bar Harbor is the ultimate spring break away from the crowds; although it’s perfect for families, it’s also one of the most charming small towns in the country for couples.

Where to stay: If you’re not up for a vacation rental, look into the many small inns and bed-and-breakfasts, which offer great pre-season deals for under $200. Check out the Inn on Mount Desert for brand-new, comfortable accommodations close to downtown, the waterfront and Acadia National Park.

Pros:

  • Plenty of nature and outdoor activities to enjoy
  • Avoid the crowds of summer season by visiting in spring
  • Affordable lodgings at quaint inns

Con:

  • Early spring may be damp and chilly

View from Central Park to the Skyscrapers in Midtown, summer 2016 Karel Triska/Shutterstock

Best big-city vacation

New York City

Spring is a glorious time to take a bite out of the Big Apple, as New Yorkers are coming out of their winter shells and the city isn’t yet busy with throngs of tourists. Get in before the crowds, high prices and sweltering summer heat. Warmer spring temperatures mean an opportunity to stroll the city streets, stopping to see iconic locations like Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and even find some hidden gems.

New York offers something for every type of traveler, from foodies looking for gastronomic delights to theater buffs looking to see the next hot Broadway show to families looking to explore dino fossils at the Museum of Natural History.

Where to stay: Avoid the crowds in bustling Times Square by lodging downtown instead at the well-reviewed and affordable Artezen Hotel. The property offers comfortable rooms at around (and under) $250 a night—a steal for Manhattan.

Pros:

  • New York is one of the top city destinations on the planet
  • Unlimited options for things to see and do
  • Spring offers pleasant temperatures and fewer tourists

Con:

  • There may be too many things to do for a one-week visit!

San Diego Aerial View Of Downtown And The Bay Art Wager/Getty Images

Best for urban beauty

San Diego, California

Come to this southern California 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. There’s the beach, of course, although be prepared: San Diego doesn’t often get warm enough for swimming in spring. You’ll have plenty more to keep you busy, including lovely natural areas, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Sea World and Legoland. You can enjoy the ocean aboard a boat or kayak, and explore the area’s naval history at the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Hardy folks can also don wet suits and take a surf lesson or jet-ski ride. Perfect for sophisticated travelers, Balboa Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, is filled with lush gardens, theaters, artist studios and 18 museums—plus the zoo.

Where to stay: You’ll find affordable accommodations all over and around San Diego: In this city, the hotel vs. motel debate is moot, as retro beach motels are the place to stay and offer the perfect budget lodgings. For a family-run establishment that’s clean but not fancy, check out the Old Town Inn, which you can book for under $200 a night. It’s located near the Old Town San Diego area, which features shops, attractions and restaurants.

Pros:

  • One of the biggest urban gardens in the country
  • Natural beauty of the coastline and surrounding areas
  • Museums, artist studios and more cultural attractions

Con:

  • Pack your wet suit if you want to get in the water—it’s still cold in the spring

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Joe Regan/Getty Images

Best for coastal scenery

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Betcha never thought of this destination for cheap spring break trips! But thanks to a new Air Canada route, travelers can hop a quick and affordable flight (under $500) from New York to Halifax. Enjoy the coastal beauty of Nova Scotia with rugged hikes, visits to some of the province’s 170 beautiful lighthouses and long drives next to the sea. Stop in some of the many coastal villages for fresh seafood and welcoming Canadian hospitality. Then head back to the thriving restaurant and bar scene of Halifax’s waterfront area and check out some of the city’s amazing street art. History buffs shouldn’t miss the star-shaped fortress on Citadel Hill.

Where to stay: A favorable exchange rate means that hotel prices are cheap in Halifax, with many rooms going for well under $200 a night. For example, the perfectly located and well-reviewed Cambridge Suites Halifax, right across from the Citadel, is just over $100 a night.

Pros:

  • Some of the best coastal scenery in North America
  • Delicious seafood
  • Hiking, history and lighthouses galore

Con:

  • It’s easiest to get to from East Coast locations; flights from the West Coast, although not pricey, are much longer

Spring Breakers Descend Upon South Padre Island Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Best for a party vibe

South Padre Island, Texas

Don’t expect to get away from the crowds if you choose to visit South Padre Island on the Gulf coast of Texas during March, as the island is a haven for college kids on spring break. But if you’re looking for the ultimate party spot, this might just be the place for you. Plus, even if hotel prices are a little higher during spring break, they’re still lower than many other warm-weather destinations, as South Padre Island is one of the best budget-friendly beach destinations. If your spring break is in April, you’ll miss a lot of the crowds and can instead enjoy many of the natural attractions of the island, including birding, nature trails, fishing and, of course, the beaches.

Where to stay: Settle in at the Isla Grand Beach Resort for around $200 to $300 a night if you’re looking for a cheap beachfront hotel with a lively atmosphere. In addition to two pools and tennis and volleyball courts, there’s also a nightclub and activities including karaoke and comedy shows.

Pros:

  • It’s the place to let loose during spring break
  • Stunning natural scenery
  • Reasonable hotel rates

Con:

  • If you’re coming with the family, it might be a little too wild in March (try calmer April instead)

Beach at Tulum in Yucatan Mexico, Playa del Carmen, Mexico SimonDannhauer/Getty Images

Best upscale beach vacation

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Just south of Cancún, along Mexico’s gorgeous Riviera Maya, is Playa del Carmen, a resort town with beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise water. You’ll also find Fifth Avenue (La Quinta Avenida), a pedestrian street filled with restaurants, shops, bars and street performers. Travelers from many countries flock to this popular destination in Mexico, adding an international flair.

Contrary to the upscale vibe, you won’t spend an arm and a leg to get here. We found flights for around (and under) $300 from New York. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, Riviera Maya offers other beach towns (and you’ll fly into Cancún’s airport for the same price), such as the bohemian Tulum or sleepy Akumel. But Playa’s ease of getting around (it’s very walkable) makes it particularly attractive. Visitors can also spend time exploring the area’s Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes (natural sinkholes), hopping a 30-minute ferry to the island of Cozumel and snorkeling or scuba diving among coral reefs.

Where to stay: Book a room at one of Playa’s many all-inclusives to save even more money. The beachfront Reef Coco Beach, less than a 10-minute walk to Fifth Avenue, is a smaller resort with big-time value, with some rooms under $300 a night.

Pros:

  • Sophisticated vibe
  • Bustling with shops and restaurants
  • Natural and cultural things to do in the surrounding area

Con:

  • A bit touristy

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