Spring Break on Sale

U.S. News & World Report

Spring Break on Sale

It's that time of year again: Spring is on the horizon, and since the holidays, we've saved up enough to treat ourselves to a little getaway. Since our college days, Spring Break has offered a reprieve from our stressful schedules. And unlike other vacation seasons (i.e., summer), Spring Break comes with great rates no matter how long you wait to book. According to Hotwire.com and Travel-Ticker.com, this is a time when procrastination pays off, since you can save on even the most popular spring getaways. We've pulled together a list of places with last-minute deals. Travel to any one of them, and you're sure to have a memorable vacation for an unforgettable price.

Cancún is known for two things: beautiful beaches and rowdy Spring Breaks. This resort town on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico has welcomed springtime sun-seekers for decades. Stressed-out students come for Cancún's numerous beach bars and nightclubs (as well as lax 18-and-up drinking regulations), which can be enjoyed at affordable costs. The Mayan ruins at Chichén-Itzá are also worth a half day of exploration, while the creamy, less-frequented sands at Playa Delfines offer refuge from the party-hardy beaches. One thing every Spring Breaker can appreciate is Cancún's accessibility and affordability. Direct flights are available from many major U.S. airports, and according to Hotwire.com, you can save big on luxury digs if you share a room.

If you're stuck on where to take the kids this year, Orlando is a tried-and-true option. Good news for bargain-hunters: Hotwire.com claims that this city is an affordable getaway, with deals on hotels and airfare running rampant throughout the year. While other Florida destinations overflow with rowdy 20-somethings, you won't have to worry about a wild crowd here. Plus, the only crazy parties in Orlando are hosted by Mickey. And don't limit yourself to the Magic Kingdom. Outside of Walt Disney World, plenty of other family-friendly attractions await, including Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and Gatorland. If you're planning a kid-free Spring Break, Orlando hosts adult-oriented activities such as golf courses, museums, and shopping venues.

March and April mark a sweet spot in New Orleans; during Spring Break season, "The Big Easy" refers not only to the city itself, but also to its effect on your budget. With the Mardi Gras crowd on its way out and the Jazz Fest guests still packing their bags, New Orleans hotels drop prices to bait travelers during the lull. According to Travel-Ticker.com, average hotel rates are only slightly higher than during the winter low season. Although you will miss the city's major festivals, Spring Break visitors will be greeted by warm weather and plenty of entertainment. The bars and music joints along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter don't need a reason to celebrate, while Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World and the Backstreet Cultural Museum offer a taste of these fêtes throughout the year.

If Cancún's Spring Break reputation is too overwhelming, seek refuge along the nearby Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya's sugary sands remain relatively calm and quiet. Encompassing Playa del Carmen and Tulum—both major vacation destinations—this region on Mexico's southern Caribbean coast caters to travelers looking for some bang for their buck. Hotwire.com lists hotel rooms in this area at half their normal price between March 1 and April 15. Once you're here, you'll have more than just beaches to explore. This region is home to towering ruins and breathtaking natural sites, including Xel-Ha, a wild aquarium in Playa del Carmen, and El Gran Cenote, a pool in Tulum that the Mayans considered sacred.

From the 1940s to the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale was the go-to place for reveling students. If you've ever seen the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, you know just how wild the parties could get. But over the past few decades, Fort Lauderdale has reined in the debauchery, putting the kibosh on beachside boozing. Although the buzzing nightlife scene can still be found, this Florida city exudes a tamer atmosphere, boasting luxury hotels and a clean, beautiful shoreline. Yet Fort Lauderdale hasn't shaken its status as a hot spot for one reason: budget rates. Hotwire.com affirms that last-minute deals abound here, citing nice rooms for less than $100 per night.  

While most springtime travelers flee to warm beach destinations, those who don't mind a little chill in the air will find great deals in Lake Tahoe. According to Travel-Ticker.com, this picturesque area sees its lowest prices in March and April. For example, a room that usually runs around $179 per night in peak season can drop to $69 a night. While you can't work on your tan, Lake Tahoe's lingering snow allows powder-hounds to tear up the slopes without breaking the bank. Many of Tahoe's most popular ski resorts—including Squaw Valley USA and Heavenly—stay open in March, and even April if the weather permits it. Lastly, although the weather's too cold for sunbathing, Tahoe's beaches are still worth a look.

Warm weather, striking beaches, and abundant nightlife make Miami a Spring Break hot spot among the college community. Students invade this city—particularly around South Beach in Miami Beach, nixing the possibility that you'll find a quiet seaside getaway. If you're not feeling the party atmosphere, plan your trip for late March or early April, when class is back in session. The beaches will be free of debauchery, and should you encounter a rainy day, Miami boasts several worthwhile indoor attractions, like the Vizcaya Museum. And don't worry—you'll still find seasonal deals. Travel-Ticker.com claims that you can save between $25 and $80 a night on hotels during this shoulder season, and many airlines offer last-minute deals on flights.

Most travelers save their more extravagant getaways for summer or winter. This habit makes the spring shoulder season an excellent time to save on a bigger expedition. Located on the northwest side of South America, Ecuador boasts warm weather, beautiful beaches, fascinating sights, and competitive prices. According to Travel-Ticker.com, you can extend your budget by booking a preplanned trip. Week-long tours average $1,379 per person during the winter (Ecuador's peak season), but in spring, you can find the same trips for $250 to $500 less. Those extra Benjamins in your bank account will set your mind at ease as you traverse the Andes or explore the Galapagos Islands.

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