5 Alternative Spring Break Destinations

high school senior skiing on mountain over spring break

If you’re looking for an alternative spring break destination, chances are you've tried the popular places and you’re not impressed. From barren desert parks to the booming Big Apple, beat the crowds and head to one of these relatively untapped spring break gems for all the fun and none of the hassle.

Tropical Classics
There’s a reason students drop everything and fly as fast as they can to Mexico or Florida. The hot, sunny destinations are always the most popular for their proximity to the beach and perpetual good weather. If you’re jonesing for some sun, forget Mexico and look to Hawaii. The Big Island has beaches galore plus eco-tour options, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, and volcano tours. How cool is that? Plus everyone speaks English which is a huge plus for those of us who only took a year or two of Spanish in high school. If Hawaii is too far for you, try Coronado, California. This peninsular resort city, across the water from San Diego, is known for its sparkling white sand beaches and peculiar Victorian style architecture. Consistently voted one of the best beaches in the country, Coronado has all of the golden charm of California’s larger cities without the highway congestion.

Winter Wonderland
Instead of swimming and suntanning this spring break, look to the slopes and try your hand at skiing or snowboarding. Only 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City is the top ranked mountain resort town of Park City, Utah. The city actually has three major ski resorts, all of which are open for winter sports and all offer training for those of us who have never touched board to snow. Besides the phenomenal, frozen beauty of the mountains, Park City also hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year and has the largest number of retail outlet stores in northern Utah. Other ski resorts include Bridger Bowl outside of Bozeman, Montana and Sun Valley, Idaho. All three locations are set in the valleys of behemoth, snow-covered mountains and, besides the incredible views, their communities are built on the winter sports industry and they cater to curious tourists. Hang up that swimsuit this summer and practice your moves on the slopes.

Southern Deep-Fried Hospitality
The American deep south is a mishmash of entertainment, heat, and history. While these cities are known for their “Southern Hospitality,” they are also some of the oldest cities in the country with some of the youngest attitudes. Head to New Orleans for some Mardi Gras magic, alligator wrestling, and terrifying ghost tours through the “Cities of the Dead” cemeteries. The city’s classic “joie de vivre” lights up the town with spontaneous parades, music troupes, and street performers playing vibrant jazz classics on their saxophones. A boring time is unheard of in New Orleans but if Louisiana isn't your style, try Savannah, Georgia for its stunning plantations, River Street shopping, and Southern-style seafood. Drive out to Tybee Island to get your beach time in then take a tour of the antebellum mansions, Bonaventure cemetery, or Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace. The classic beauty of these southern states is highlighted by the meticulously landscaped cities, drooping old oak tree lined streets, and the grand park fountains.

Big City Adventures
So you've tried the classic beach destinations and you’re looking for something a little different, a little more exciting. No problem, there are plenty of those in the U.S. just waiting for you. A visit to New York City, for example, should be on everybody’s bucket list. For the eager college student the possibilities are endless in the Big Apple. Take in some fine art at the Met or Guggenheim, visit the tourist hotspots and national landmarks, see a Broadway show, and more. Look to the burroughs for local flair and hidden gems to better experience the city that never sleeps. For more vivacious excitement, head to Las Vegas. While it is tempting to bet it all on blackjack, it is possible to visit the entertainment capital of the world on a budget and leave without claiming bankruptcy. With plenty of things to do and see, you may find yourself having the time of your life. You know what they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

National Wonders
The U.S. is filled to the brim with beautiful sights and historical significance, national landmarks, parks, and wonders. Take a road trip and tour the American Southwest, visit the White House or Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., go to North Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, or New York City for the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Yellowstone National Park is supremely beautiful, situated in the forests of Wyoming and Montana, while Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, stands majestic in the Alaskan wilderness. See the Grand Canyon or deserts so flat and barren that you can see the world’s curve. Visit the salt flats of Utah and see the sky reflected in the ground so completely that it looks as if you are walking on clouds. See mountains as old as time and mountainous monuments built by man, learn about our nation’s past, or tour the country for new experiences.

Spring break doesn't have to be synonymous with partying in Cancun or Jamaica. While those destinations are gorgeous and popular for good reason, we understand that the crowds aren't for everyone. Try some of these alternative destination ideas for a relaxing and exciting spring break.