13 Popular Spring Break Destinations
After hiking up Whale Rock, this family jumps for joy in Canyonlands National Park. (Luis Ramirez, Share the Experience)
Spring break is treasured by students of all ages. It’s a time to break away from school work and take advantage of a little down time. The U.S. has an abundance of spring break hot spots that will appeal to families, college students, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. To assist with your trip planning our experts have gathered information on over a dozen great spring break destination ideas.
Explore by State
Grand Canyon National Park (Isabelle Kalantzes, Share the Experience)
A road trip to the Grand Canyon is a rite of passage for many and draws more than five million visitors annually. The canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a fantastic spring break destination. Reserve a camping spot at Mather Campground where you will have easy access to the Greenway, a paved trail that will lead you to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. If you are a student looking for an alternative spring break and want to contribute to your national parks through a service project, the Grand Canyon may be a great option. Check with your college to see if they are offering any alternative spring break trips at national parks. From the Grand Canyon, head south and use this Road Trip Around Phoenix to help you plan and explore other cultural and scenic destinations.
Cabrillo National Monument (Dennis Carroll/Share the Experience)
San Diego has it all — sandy beaches with year-round sunshine, a vibrant city and plenty of nearby outlets for the outdoor lover. If you’re in the city, stop by the San Diego Natural History Museum for a dose of culture and exploration. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Cedar Creek Falls is just 31 miles (49 km) outside of the city and features a breathtaking 80 foot (24 m) waterfall. Trails to the falls will guide you through the backcountry hills of San Diego. Permits are required, so make sure you plan ahead and purchase your permit before your trip. Stop by Cabrillo National Monument which is located just outside of San Diego. Enjoy a guided tour of a historic lighthouse, military history, hiking, bicycling and tide pooling. See our Spotlight Article for more details about this unique location.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore (Jennifer Sweeney, Share the Experience)
Imagine cotton candy-blue water, sugar-white sand and lots of lemonade-yellow sun and the picture will look a lot like Gulf Islands National Seashore, where students from kindergarten up enjoy spring break. Spend a day at Perdido Key or Santa Rosa beaches (both offer reservable day-use shelters), or overnight at Fort Pickens Campground. Other services and accommodations are available in Pensacola. For the icing on the cake, further your education and enjoyment by joining a ranger-guided program throughout the year with morning or afternoon times available.
Acadia National Park
Another northeast beach to consider, Acadia National Park (Glenn Nelson, Share the Experience)
The beaches along the northeast coast are incredibly scenic, some offer rugged beauty, and others are perfect for a stroll in the sand. From the beaches of Maine to the Jersey Shore, students and families of all ages can enjoy some downtime along these shores.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Snorkeling fun in the Gulf Islands (Drew Rodgers, Share the Experience)
Mississippi offers a gulf coast destination with miles of expansive coastline, camping and historical activities. For camping near West Ship Island, try Davis Bayou Campground. Venture on to West Ship Island via the passenger ferry, where the ferry ride is half the fun. While on the island be sure to walk through Fort Massachusetts. Check the park Schedule of Events before you go or stop by one of the park visitor centers when you arrive.
An Osprey couple giving the final touch to their nest. (Sanjib Bhattacharyya, Share the Experience)
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge offers peaceful solace from the bright lights and casinos of the fast-paced Atlantic City. Just 10 miles (16 km) from Atlantic City, spring breakers can experience the best of both worlds. A unique landscape of salt meadow, marsh, shallow coves and bays, this peaceful refuge is ideal for spotting thousands of migrating birds as they feed and rest.
This photographer enjoyed a hike in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area after an eventful week in Las Vegas. (Kyle Mattila, Share the Experience)
Las Vegas offers all the entertainment you could ever imagine along the Las Vegas Strip, a designated All American Road. But did you know that Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, have an abundance of recreational options for the outdoor enthusiast of any age? See our Destination Las Vegas and Beyond itinerary for a list of outdoor spring break opportunities.
Carson National Forest (Benjamin Thomas/Share the Experience)
Looking for a snowy getaway with culture and southwestern cuisine? Consider visiting Taos for downhill skiing and more. Located in the Carson National Forest, winter recreation is abundant in this unique location. If you are looking to learn more about Taos’ history visit Taos Pueblo to experience one of the most traditional Eastern Pueblos. For other great spring break skiing locations, check out our list of the 122 ski areas across the country located in national forests where you’re sure to find a prime skiing destination.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Stacy Abbott/Share the Experience)
If you are looking to take to the beach this spring break, the Outer Banks Scenic Byway will lead you to beautiful beaches, thriving wildlife preserves, historic towns and distinguished lighthouses. Take a boat ride three miles (4.8 km) off-shore to the barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore, but gather all the supplies you will need (food, water, sunscreen, etc.) before you arrive. Set up shop along the beach at Great Island Cabin Camp. Alternatively, visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore and camp out at Ocracoke Campground, which is accessible via ferry only.
Checking out the cannons at Fort Sumter National Monument. (Jaren Mitts, Share the Experience)
With more than 60 miles (96 km) of sand, Myrtle Beach is a top spring break location. Visitors soak up the sun along the seashore, at local waterparks and spend time at amusement parks and entertainment venues. South Carolina is also abundant with history and nature. Take a day trip during your stay and visit Fort Sumter National Monument on Sullivan’s Island. The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was discovered in approximately 30 feet (9 m) of water just outside the harbor about four miles (6km) from Sullivan's Island. For a short nature trip just outside of Myrtle Beach, visit Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge to see a diverse variety of migratory birds and forest wildlife.
Earning a Junior Ranger badge at Padre Island National Seashore. (John DeVeaux, Share the Experience)
Padre Island National Seashore is 70 miles (112 km) of pure barrier island coastline, the longest of its kind. There are plenty of spring break activities for the avid beach lover and outdoor enthusiast, whether it’s relaxing in the sun, camping, fishing or birding. Camping at Padre Island National Seashore is first-come, first-served, so plan ahead and get there early.
Enjoying the view from Arches National Park. (David Tawil, Share the Experience)
Looking for a spring break full of recreation and exploration? Just outside of Moab is home to Sand Flats Recreation Area, Arches National Park, Slickrock National Recreation Area and Canyonlands National Park. Biking, hiking, recreational vehicles and auto touring are popular ways to get around the robust, rocky terrain. Starting mid-march, Arches National Park offers the Fiery Furnace Tour. If you're heading southwest from Moab, check out these southwest Utah road trip locations for sweeping vistas and brilliant red rock landscapes.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park (Blair Radford/Share the Experience)
Zion National Park offers fun for the whole family. Book a spot at the Watchman Campground, which is located near the park’s visitor center. Watchman is close to hiking trails and many popular rock climbing destinations are just a short shuttle bus ride away. First-come, first-served campgrounds are also available.