7 Top Places to Avoid Spring Break Crowds
Ditch popular locales for more relaxing, debauchery-free settings.
These locations offer relaxation, beautiful scenery and the chance to dodge spring break revelry.(Getty Images)
Let's say you're itching for an easy spring trip far, far away from hordes of college students, rowdy bar scenes and jam-packed beaches. Of course, you'll want to skip popular party destinations like Miami Beach, Florida, and Cancún, Mexico, in lieu of quieter locales. But there are many more spring vacation destinations removed from the party scene that not only offer more tranquility, but also yield higher values. Whether you're clamoring to flee to a less-trodden beach retreat or an outside-the-box cosmopolitan city, we found seven destinations that offer plenty of relaxation and inspiring scenery and the chance to dodge spring break revelry – without paying an exorbitant rate.
If you're traveling with young kids in tow, consider planning a trip to San Diego, advises Clem Bason, CEO of goSeek. Apart from being a perennial favorite, particularly among families, with consistently sunny, mild weather and a wealth of fun (and free) kid-friendly activities, San Diego is an ideal place to plan a spring trip with the gang, he says. From the 1,200-acre Balboa Park, which features 15 museums and the iconic San Diego Zoo, to the calm waves of La Jolla, which has ample opportunities for snorkeling and picnicking, America's Finest City offers the perfect retreat for winter-weary groups. Best of all, in April, you can score affordable round-trip airfare from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), he says. And as an extra bonus, four-star hotels start at $125 a night in April, he adds. Currently, Google Flights shows round-trip flights from SFO in April for as low as $151 and flights from LAX starting at $249.
And while March tends to be an expensive time to plan a Southern California getaway, in April you can find more affordable deals to sophisticated destinations geared toward an older crowd such as Rancho Santa Fe, Big Sur and Orange County, says Lee Abbamonte, a travel blogger and expert known as the youngest American to visit every country in the world.
Not only is Bogotá an emerging hot spot for 2016, it's also a great place to score a bargain, Bason says. Appealing to foodies, art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, Colombia's vibrant city is chock-full of striking colonial architecture, innovative restaurants, colorful outdoor markets, graffiti-lined streets and the dramatic, 10,000-foot Monserrate Mountain. And while Bogotá is steadily gaining traction as a must-see destination, it lacks the soaring crowds and prices of other South American destinations. "Don't stop at Bogotá," Bason says. He advises visiting other Colombian destinations, too, such as Cartagena, Santiago de Cali, Santa Marta and Medellín, thanks to the low travel costs. Round-trip flights to Bogotá are hovering at around $330 and well-renowned four-star brand-backed hotels list nightly rates as low as $100 for the first week in April, he says. Currently, Google Flights shows round-trip routes from New York City airports to Bogotá starting at $338. Plus, March and April fall in Bogotá's rainy reason, meaning you won't be battling tourists in spring.
If you want big-city splendor on a small budget, head to Toronto, Bason says. Spring ushers in a pleasant shoulder season in Toronto, giving you the opportunity to snag tables at top-tier restaurants and enjoy iconic attractions like the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Islands without have to contend with other visitors. Beyond the favorable exchange rate ($1 Canadian dollar equates to roughly 70 cents U.S. ), flights to the city are reasonably priced, Bason says. "Just bring your scarf. It'll still be chilly in April," he cautions. Google Flights currently list round-trip flights from New York City airports to Toronto hubs starting at $195 in April. What's more, you can snag rooms at four-star hotels for around $150 a night, Bason adds.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
"I think non-traditional spring break places, like Charleston, South Carolina, are increasing in popularity," Abbamonte says. Conversely, southern destinations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are less popular, but they are still easily within driving distance from cities along the East Coast, he adds, giving you the chance to save big on travel expenses. Plus, there are plenty of budget-friendly lodging options, from vacation rentals to cost-effective hotels. goSeek currently lists hotels for less than $100 a night for stays from April 2-9. You'll also find an array of frugal and kid-friendly attractions, like Ripley's Aquarium, Myrtle Beach State Park and putt-putt courses such as Mt. Atlanticus Miniature Golf course. Spring also makes for a splendid time to visit, thanks to lower humidity than the summer months and daily highs in the upper 60s and 70s.
"Spring break often allows quintessential leisure and spa destinations to shine," says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. Because travelers will search for warm beach escapes and theme park destinations, off-the-beaten-track spots can often yield more savings and availability, he explains. He points to sprawling cities like Chicago and New York City, as ideal destinations to book bargain-friendly accommodations and steer clear of spring breakers, particularly if you're planning a mid-week getaway. And with mild temperatures hovering between the 50s and 70s, and affordable lodging options in April, spring is a pleasant time to stroll along the Magnificent Mile, check out Millennium Park or enjoy an architecture cruise without the heavy crowds that descend upon the city come summer.
If you want a quintessential Caribbean vacation that's slightly off the beaten track, head to Barbados, Bason says. With championship golf courses, white-sand beaches, rum distilleries and even a UNESCO World Heritage site, Barbados appeals to a variety of traveler types, ages and tastes. And with Google Flights listing round-trip flights to Barbados's Grantley Adams International Airport from New York City airports for less than $200, round-trip flights from Boston's Logan International Airport starting at $353 and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport starting at $469 in April, it's hard to match the high spring break value Barbados offers budget-minded travelers. In fact, goSeek currently lists the four-star Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados starting at $130 a night in April, Bason says.
In this vibrant city, perched along Spain's scenic southern coast, you'll find Michelin-starred restaurants, plenty of charming boutique hotels and world-class art, including the Centre Pompidou Málaga, which showcases an impressive 20th-century collection. And with consistent sunshine, lively festivals, under-the-radar galleries and pedestrian-friendly squares and thoroughfares, spring is a swell time to visit. Best of all, goSeek shows four-star hotels situated near the town square for $50 to $100 a night in April, Bason says. Plus, getting to Málaga is a cinch, with Google Flights currently showing round-trip flights from New York City airports to Málaga Airport starting at $642 and round-trip fares from Miami starting at $704.
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