18 Trending Spring Break Destinations For 2024

0
Aerial view of Miami Beach

Students from elementary to graduate school count down the days to spring break. This annual week is a time to let loose and shake off the stress of exams, papers, and the general hassles of school.

Your best spring break destinations range from sandy beaches and national parks to historic sites, theme parks, and other entertainment destinations. While the beach is a traditional choice, a map full of national and international spots is just waiting to be discovered.

Spring break weeks typically start around early March to April and can extend into the Easter holidays, depending upon the college or secondary school calendar. New destinations seem to pop up every year as the hottest new spots.

If you’re planning a vacation over break, it could be a family-friendly trip or leaning more to the wild and uninhibited side (as in “spring break whoo-hoo!” à la Friends). Whatever your preferences, we’ve collected some suggestions to help plan your dream trip.

Destination Location Top Activities
Charleston South Carolina Cuisine, History, Nature
Myrtle Beach South Carolina Shows, Beach, Shopping
Miami Beach Florida Nightlife, Beach
Yosemite National Park California Hiking, camping, chasing waterfalls
San Juan, Puerto Rico Florida Cuisine, History, Beach

Trending Spring Break Destinations

1. Charleston, South Carolina

Sunset view in Charleston, South Carolina
jdross75 / Adobe Stock

The southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the best spring break destinations for families, foodies, and history buffs. You can even check out the beach scene at nearby Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, or Sullivan’s Island.

Once you arrive, take a horse-drawn carriage tour, visit Charleston City Market, and walk around Fort Sumter. The shopping and dining of King Street and the French Quarter can’t be missed.

For family fun, the South Carolina Aquarium entertains all. The Angel Oak Tree in the historic city of Charleston is a popular destination, too.

For nightlife, head to the Commodore Club for jazz, Mynt for dancing and DJs, or the Creekside Comedy Club for comedy. The Charleston Pour House holds concerts by local musicians and Queen, Sublime, and Grateful Dead cover bands.

Things to Do in Charleston

Hotels in Charleston

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Crowd in Myrtle Beach
StacieStauffSmith Photos / Shutterstock

For live shows, nightlife, golf courses, and resorts, with a side of sand and surf, Myrtle Beach is always a hot pick. It’s one of the best family spring break destinations on the East Coast.

Beachfront hotels make relaxing in the sun easy, participating in water sports, and checking out the boardwalk scene. While Myrtle Beach is a top pick for a family vacation any time of year, it’s a great spot for a low-key spring break that college kids will enjoy, too.

Head to Broadway at the Beach or Barefoot Landing for lots of shopping, dining, and entertainment choices. Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, the Alabama Theater, House of Blues, and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville are just a few of your options at these two locations.

Things to Do in Myrtle Beach

Hotels in Myrtle Beach

3. Miami Beach, Florida

Aerial view of Miami Beach
Mia2you / Shutterstock

Looking for lively nightlife and glitzy glam? Miami Beach, it is! Surrounded by Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, there’s more than enough sand and sun to work on that tan in Magic City.

Spend the day at the white sand beaches of North Beach, Mid-Beach, and the famous South Beach, and then dance the night away at clubs, bars, and exclusive venues all over town. While in town, visit popular sites like the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, the Art Deco District, and the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

While Miami Beach is a party city, you can find quieter escapes, too. It’s easy to take a day trip from Miami to Everglades National Park if you’d like to check it off your list.

Things to Do in Miami Beach

Hotels in Miami Beach

4. Key West, Florida

Key West Southernmost Point Landmark
lazyllama / Adobe Stock

The Florida Keys and Key West have long been a favorite getaway for students and families from all points: north, south, east, and west. Start your journey in Key Largo and drive the beautiful Overseas Highway, or fly right into Key West International Airport to start your tropical vacation.

Places to stay in Key West range from cute inns and bed and breakfasts to resort hotels and guesthouses. Deciding on things to do and choosing delicious restaurants and lively bars to eat and drink are often much harder decisions to make. They’re all over the place!

The party crowd will want to head directly to Duval Street and its many bars and nightclub. Don’t miss Sloppy Joe’s, the Hogs Breath Saloon, Willie T’s, and Aqua Bar and Nightclub.

If you’re here with family, you’ll want to find the quiet spots. Check out the Key West Aquarium, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Bahia Honda State Park, or daytime shopping along Duval Street.

Things to Do in Key West

Hotels in Key West

See Related: Best Resorts in the Florida Keys

5. Panama City Beach, Florida

Shipwreck Island Waterpark Panama City Beach Florida
Shipwreck Island Waterpark / Facebook

According to U.S. News, Panama City Beach is one of the best budget-friendly destinations in the U.S. This spring break capital has long been a favorite of college students.

With 27 miles of gorgeous Gulf Coast beachfront property and an array of beach bars, dance clubs, and hot spots, it’s long been a favorite of college students. It definitely fits into the “spring break whoo-hoo!” category.

Listen to local bands at live music venues, go dancing at Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant, or hang out at beach parties at Buster’s Beer and Bait, Harpoon Harry’s, the Salty Goat Saloon, or Coyote Ugly. Restaurant and entertainment options line the beach, so it’s easy to go from sunning to something else in a hurry.

Things to Do in Panama City Beach

Hotels in Panama City Beach

6. Walt Disney World Resort

Magic Kingdom castle in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Shawn.ccf – stock.adobe.com

Recreate the nostalgia, magic, and pixie dust of your youth by sharing family time at the Happiest Place on Earth! Walt Disney World and its wide range of theme parks, water parks, and resort hotels are some of the most popular destinations in the world.

A few things to note before you plan your trip: spring break in the House of Mouse is not budget-friendly in any sense of the phrase. It’s also very crowded, so be prepared. However, if you’re dealing with conflicting school schedules and really need some time in the sun, it’s second-to-none.

Disney Parks include the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You’ve also got water parks and the Disney Springs shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.

I recommend staying at an off-site hotel to make your trip more economical. If you’re in it for the full experience, the pricier Disney resorts offer incredible amenities and dreamy pools.

Things to Do at Walt Disney World

Hotels near Walt Disney World

7. Yosemite National Park

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
Stephen / Adobe Stock

One of the first national parks in the U.S., Yosemite National Park is an amazing destination for backpackers, photographers, and adventure seekers. Established in 1890, the Northern California park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Check out massive sequoia trees and crashing waterfalls, take a scenic drive, and take to the biking and hiking trails to Half Dome, El Capitan, and Horsetail Falls. Yosemite Village offers hotels, dining, shopping, and attractions like the Ansel Admas Gallery, the Yosemite Museum, and the Yosemite Visitor Center.

While March will still be snowy and you may need tire chains, April is a great time to visit. You’ll beat most of the crowds and get to see the waterfalls in their full snowmelt glory.

Things to Do at Yosemite

Hotels near Yosemite

8. Zion National Park

Aerial view of Zion Nationl Park
Jakub Škyta / Adobe Stock

A spring break trip is a wonderful time to visit the jagged red cliffs of Zion National Park as the weather is mild and it tends to be less crowded. Located in southwest Utah, adventurous travelers can camp under the stars, go rock climbing, and hike through slot canyons.

The natural rock arches at Crawford Arch, Double Pine, and Jughandle will really boost your Insta presence. If you’re into outdoor activities and national parks, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park are nearby options to put on your radar as adventurous and family-friendly activities.

Things to Do in Zion National Park

Hotels near Zion National Park

9. New Orleans, Louisiana

Jackson Square and Architecture in New Orleans, Louisiana
Mark D. Savignac / Adobe Stock

From the French Quarter and Jackson Square to festivals, live music, historic landmarks, and famous food and cocktails, a visit to New Orleans is a terrific idea. It’s suitable for college students or families seeking a warm locale.

Stroll through the Garden District, take in a jazz concert at Preservation Hall, and learn about festive float history at Mardi Gras World. Perhaps the best activity is to eat your way through Crescent City at renowned restaurants like Galatoire’s, Commander’s Palace, Elizabeth’s, and Café du Monde.

Things to Do in New Orleans

Hotels in New Orleans

10. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores Main Public Beach Aerial View

With wide stretches of beautiful beaches offering soft white sand, Gulf Shores sits along the beautiful emerald green shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Boating, fishing, and watersports top the list of things to do.

Attractions and activities include the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, and the ziplines, pier, and trails of Gulf State Park. Golfers will fall head-over-heels for the gorgeous coastal golfing greens.

If you’re looking for a spring break trip party vibe, head to the nearby Flora-Bama and its multiple music stages, bars, and gathering spots. Located at the border of Florida and Alabama (duh), it’s a favorite of country singer Kenny Chesney. That was reason enough to inspire my visit to the famous beach bar.

Check out the eclectic array of license plates from every state, dollar bills, and bra-strewn walls. Don’t forget to order a bushwhacker and open up a big ‘ol can of good times!

Things to Do in Gulf Shores

Hotels in Gulf Shores

11. South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island Aerial View
SERGIO / Adobe Stock

The Texas Gulf Coast is a fun and unique destination for spring break travelers seeking a relaxing or rowdy beach vacation. Whichever avenue you decide to go down, the mild weather and about 33 miles of shoreline and pristine beaches make it a sure win.

The island is filled with VIP parties and events at clubs like Tequila Frogs. This makes it appeal more to the college crowd (read: spring break, woo-hoo!) than the younger students on family trips.

For outdoor recreation, don’t miss jet ski rentals, banana boat rides, and dolphin-watching tours. If you like to cast a line, it’s easy to find offshore fishing charters, too.

Things to Do in South Padre Island

Hotels in South Padre Island

12. Las Vegas, Nevada

Aerial view of Las Vegas Boulevard
Javen / Adobe Stock

Today’s Las Vegas is quite a popular choice for the whole family. It was actually my spring break destination of choice last year!

With nice weather and cooler temps than scorching summer, it’s a pleasant time to go shopping along the Strip or lounge at the hotel pool. Visit nearby sites like 7 Magic Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, and the incredible immersive art installation at Meow Wolf Las Vegas.

Book the latest Cirque du Soleil show or peruse the designer shopping scene at Caesar’s Palace or the Venetian. Check out a celebrity chef restaurant – I recommend Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen – you can’t go wrong with the beef Wellington.

After you’re done with Vegas, take a day trip to Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam, or Grand Canyon National Park, which is about a 2.5-hour drive. If you don’t have a rental car, there are plenty of sightseeing tours to the canyon and other sites.

Things to Do in Las Vegas

Hotels in Las Vegas

13. San Diego, California

Marquee sign in the Gaslight Quarter San Diego
f11photo / Shutterstock

Spanish and modern architecture combined with the sunny, mild weather of Southern California make the San Diego area a great spring break destination. Explore areas like Little Italy, Coronado, the Gaslamp Quarter, Carlsbad, and La Jolla for some city life.

Prefer the beach? Hang out on the sand at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Mission Beach, Moonlight State Beach, or Coronado Central Beach.

Check out sites like the San Diego Zoo, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, SeaWorld San Diego, the USS Midway, Belmont Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the museums, zoo, and gardens of Balboa Park. There are plenty of happening spots along the Pacific coast for the over-21 crowd to visit.

Things to Do in San Diego

Hotels in San Diego

See Related: San Diego vs Los Angeles: What’s the Difference?

14. Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Aerial view of Lovers Beach at Lands End, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Frederick Millett / Shutterstock

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is a popular spot for families and college students. You’ll find it on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, between the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.

Spend the day at beautiful beaches like Playa del Armor or El Medano Beach, or go dancing at Cabo Wabo Cantina. Choose all-inclusive resorts or hotel destinations with beachfront pools and multiple bars and restaurants for the perfect spring break vacation.

Warm, sunny weather and a fun atmosphere ensure a wonderful experience for travelers of all types. Cabo’s popularity has been increasing over the years, but it’s still a bit of a hidden gem.

Things to Do in Cabo San Lucas

Hotels in Cabo San Lucas

15. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cobblestone street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Evening view
napa74 / Adobe Stock

Waterfalls, rainforests, fortresses, and Spanish Colonial architecture make San Juan a wonderful destination for spring breakers looking for adventure and a relaxing vibe. You don’t even need a passport to get there if you’re coming from the United States.

Located on the island’s northern coast, San Juan features attractions like the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico. Check out the La Placita de Santurce market for live music, exciting nightlife, food vendors, and traditional mojitos.

Visit the history, culture, and cobblestone streets of the historic and local culture city of Old San Juan, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or, for a fun day trip, explore tropical rainforest habitats at nearby El Yunque National Forest.

Things to Do in San Juan

Hotels in San Juan

16. Jamaica

Aerial view of Jamaica Negril Caribbean Beach
Leon718 / Adobe Stock

Whether you choose Negril, Montego Bay, or Ocho Rios, Jamaica quickly rises up as a top destination for families or college students. Snorkeling, scuba diving, waterfall jumping, rainforest exploring, and beach lounging coupled with reggae music, island eats, and tropical drinks.   

Plan trips to Kool Running Waterpark in Negril, the Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, or Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. It’s about a 3.5-hour trip from the far west coast of Negril to Ocho Rios on the island’s central northern section. You’ll pass through Montego Bay on the way.

Negril is probably the most popular with the spring break whoo-hoo party crowd. So, if you’re after a family-friendly spring vacation vibe, you might want to choose Ocho Rios.

Things to Do in Jamaica

Hotels in Jamaica

17. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen beach in Riviera Maya
lunamarina / Adobe Stock

What more do you need than the white sandy beaches, leafy green palm trees, and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea to swipe away your stress? Maybe a frosty beverage or two, but we can’t think of much more than that.

Located on the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya, just south of Cancun, spring breakers can partake in a week of snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing along the shores of Playa Del Carmen. If you must venture off the beach, you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars along the Quinta Avenida.

Things to Do in Playa Del Carmen

Hotels in Playa Del Carmen

18. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Aerial view of Bavaro beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Nick N A / Shutterstock

Punta Cana has become an incredibly popular pick among college kids in recent years. It’s located on the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola. It’s known for an array of all-inclusive resorts.

Many of these resorts offer party packages and unlimited drinks and dining. Plus, there are on-site activities like snorkeling, paddleboarding, outdoor pools, beach volleyball, and jet ski rentals.

Much of the action stays right at the resort. This affords a safe, convenient, and relaxing-as-you-want-it-to-be spring break vacation.

Things to Do in Punta Cana

Hotels in Punta Cana

Sandy Allen
WRITTEN BY

Sandy Allen

Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and boating to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and fun attractions. She loves Nashville, Las Vegas, and Williamsburg, Virginia - but you're most likely to find her at the beach or on a boat somewhere. In addition to ViaTravelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *