26 Affordable Spring Break Vacations There’s Still Time to Plan
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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Winter doldrums got you down? It’s the perfect time to think about getting away from it all with a cheap spring break trip, whether that means a jaunt to sunnier shores, exploring Europe’s cultural centers, or a road trip to a destination closer to home. Teachers, college students, and parents with school-aged kids are most likely to book vacations during spring break, which usually falls sometime between March and April. But after long months of cold weather—not to mention a winter COVID-19 spike—just about everyone is feeling restless.
Although some popular spring break spots ramp up their prices, we researched and found under-the-radar destinations that offer reasonable rates and fewer tourists, but just as much enjoyment. If you feel like you can’t afford a vacation at all, check out these underrated travel destinations.
Thankfully, many countries are relaxing their coronavirus-related restrictions and welcoming back visitors from the United States. (Some, such as France and Canada, still require vaccination for entry; negative COVID-19 tests are also required to return to the United States from other countries.) So whether you’re thinking of a spring break road trip, spring break destination, or a mini vacation—even if you’re thinking ahead to a Memorial Day getaway—we’ve got ideas for you!
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 picking up steam as COVID-19 restrictions ease, spring is traditionally the cheaper shoulder season—the time between the peak season and off-season—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, Jamaica is perfect for families, couples, and party-goers alike. 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 you can find 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. Stroll along the rues of the French Quarter (the most popular tourist attraction in the state), nosh on beignets at Café du Monde, and then retire to your room at the Jung Hotel for less than $200 a night.
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. Bonus: Driving along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway is one of the best road trips in America.
For those looking to venture abroad, early spring is a relatively less busy and more affordable time to visit London, making it one of the best places to go in Europe for spring break. Emerging from the dreary winter, London looks up at this time of year, with better weather and lovely gardens beginning to bloom. Although the city can be expensive, 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, debates in Parliament, and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Stay right near the Tower of London at Canopy by Hilton London City for around $200 a night.
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 rent canoes or kayaks for a guided 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 lodge rooms. The affordability of the destination may even allow you to choose a luxury camping adventure that even indoor people will love.
Hawaii’s warm and steady climate has traditionally made it a year-round destination, although the shoulder season of April meant more affordability and fewer crowds. Since 2020, though, Hawaii has had some of the strictest COVID-19 travel restrictions in the United States, which meant fewer tourists overall. Well, good news for you: The restrictions for domestic travelers are dropping as of March 26, 2022. Spring break may offer a chance to sneak in before a new rush of tourists flock to the Aloha State. Visitors can choose whether to hop between the islands or stay right in Waikiki in Honolulu, near one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Book a stay at Hotel La Croix, where rooms go for around $170 a night.
Within driving distance from many eastern U.S. locations, Washington, D.C., is one of the best-ever family spring break destinations. 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; although it has an entry fee, kids will also enjoy checking out the recently relocated International Spy Museum. Plus, spring break is also the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 to April 17), 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. Stay in an awesome location right behind the Spy Museum at the Hilton Washington, D.C. National Mall the Warf for just over $200 a night.
With flights under $200 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 traveling with the kids, head to the Nashville Zoo, Adventure Science Center, and 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.
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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 the river rafting season, which starts in April. Although spring comes earlier here than in 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 a little over $200 a night.
It’s hard to beat Savannah for historic charm, with its cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, haunting cemeteries, and Spanish moss draped on trees. One of the best spring break destinations for grown-ups, Savannah is perfect before the crushing heat of summer rolls in and just as its lush gardens start to bloom. Deals on rates abound, with many rooms going for under $300 a night, including the Hyatt Regency right on the Savannah River. But keep an eye on Savannah’s spring festival schedule, including the Tour of Hidden Gardens (April 22 and 23) and the Savannah Music Festival (March 24 to April 9), 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.
Ireland just lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions, so beat the summer crowds—and the summer prices—by taking cheap spring break trips to the Emerald Isle. Flowers are starting to bloom, lambs are being born, and airfares are around $500 from New York. Just avoid Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17) to get even luckier with deals on Dublin hotels: Jurys Inn Dublin Christchurch, centrally located near Temple Bar, Grafton Street, the Guinness Brewery, Christ Church Cathedral, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, offers great rates with rooms under $200 per night.
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. Hotels’ average occupancy rates are only at 48 percent, so chances are you can snag a great deal. Visitors can even stay beside the ocean at many hotels, such as The Breakers, for around $160 a night. Best of all, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities, including golfing, fishing, shopping, or strolling the beach or boardwalk.
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 summer. Punta Cana is ideal for budget travel; it has some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and flights are just over $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; with a hotel direct offer, rooms are available at 25 percent off.
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 scenes of the “American Riviera” (money-saving tip: many gallery exhibits and performing arts centers are free on the first Thursday of every month). Outdoor activities on the beach, at parks, and in the mountains also abound. Book a newly renovated room at the Avania Inn of Santa Barbara, just a block from the waterfront, for under $300 a night.
The beauty of April in Paris is renowned, thanks to the classic song. Fortunately, the spring season is still a good time to get deals on hotel prices and airfare, especially with the budget airline French Bee expanding its routes in April, with new service from Los Angeles in addition to flights from Newark, New Jersey, and San Francisco. March offers even more opportunities for cheap spring break trips, as Parisians will be just starting to regain their joie de vivre as winter exits. Check out the centrally located Hotel Malte Astotel, a ten-minute walk from the Louvre Museum and near the Jardin des Tuileries and the under-renovation Notre Dame Cathedral, with rates just over $200 per night. Be sure to bring your umbrella for springtime showers, but isn’t Paris more beautiful in the rain anyway? Just avoid the city’s most overhyped tourist attractions.
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 better prices for cheap spring break trips. 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. Check out ski-and-stay packages (save up to 25 percent) and kids-ski-free deals at affordable resorts like Brighton, Alta, and Solitude, some of the best ski resorts in America. Buying lift tickets in advance also saves cash. Or you can stay cheaply downtown for around $150 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 Anna Maria Island, one of the family-friendly destinations 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 partyers. Rent a bike, walk, or hop on a free trolley to explore the island’s beaches, and stay in an Airbnb to save money. Tampa’s airport is a little farther away than Sarasota’s but likely has better fares—we found prices from under $300 from New York.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Visitors young and old will love exploring this area in northern Oregon, one of the travel hot spots you 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, 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 Surfsand Resort, where oceanfront lodgings are around $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 under $200 a night.
Visitors can stay in this cultural hub outside of Phoenix, one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world, for 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 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.
It’s probably going to still be winter in Iceland, but that’s not a reason to avoid going during spring break—especially since it’s still Iceland’s off-season, which means better prices. Although it may seem like a far-flung destination to visit right now, all COVID-19-related travel restrictions have recently been lifted. And new Icelandic budget airline Play begins rolling out cheap flights from the United States in April 2022. Once there, see natural wonders, from glaciers and waterfalls to the Northern Lights and the thermal baths of the Blue Lagoon. Explore the city itself, including the striking Hallgrimskirkja Church and the Old Harbor, with a stay at one of many downtown lodgings for under $200 a night. More good news: It’s one of the safest places for solo travelers to visit.
Add this cheap U.S. city to your bucket list—then check it off right away with a spring break visit. Lots of Texan families head to San Antonio in summer for its family-friendly theme parks, so avoid the crowds, high prices, and even higher temps (it can soar 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, 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 about $200 a night.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Airfare to Puerto Rico from New York is currently around an affordable $300, and your tourism dollars will help the island’s recovery after a hurricane, an earthquake, and (like the rest of the world) a pandemic in the past five years. But Puerto Rico is on the rebound, with tourism flourishing as San Juan celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2021 and events spilling into the first half of 2022. The island is open for business, eager for visitors, and happy to welcome back tourists to its white-sand beaches. And no, your family doesn’t need any passports to visit. You can snag a room at the San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel on spectacular Isla Verde Beach for around $200 a night.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Get ready for outdoor adventure with a vacation in Maine’s natural beauty—and with even more affordable prices for a cheap spring break trip, 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. One of the best-ever off-season travel destinations, Bar Harbor is the ultimate spring break away from the crowds.
New York City
Spring is a glorious time to visit 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 temps. Stay downtown at the well-reviewed and affordable Artezen Hotel, which is offering 10 to 15 percent off (plus $10 a night) for stays through April 30. Warmer 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.
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 you can find deals for around $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. Still trying to decide where to go? Check out the best spring break getaway in every state.