Popular Spring Break Locations
Spring break is treasured by students of all ages, whether they are in pre-school or working on a Ph.D. It’s a time for students to break away from their studies and for families to 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. To assist with your trip planning our experts have gathered information on several great spring break locales.
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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. For more trip planning ideas check out Destination Arizona, our guide to trip planning in The Grand Canyon State.
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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. Be sure to check out the calendar for events and exhibition information. 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.
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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 like the "Pedaling Pickens" bicycle tour. Fort Pickens guarded Pensacola Bay from 1829 through World War II (read more about Fort Pickens in the park’s self-guided tour brochure (PDF)).
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. Visit West Ship Island and walk through Fort Massachusetts or see a re-enactment of the African American Louisiana Native Guard encampment each April. West Ship Island is accessible via passenger ferry service, and the ferry ride is half the fun. Check the park Schedule of Events before you go or stop by one of the park visitor centers when you arrive.
Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
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.
New Jersey’s coasts offer the ultimate spring break experience. The world-famous boardwalk is home to delicious ice cream and pizza along with arcades and roller coasters galore. Partake in the watersport of your choice - crabbing, fishing, swimming, surfing and boating, among others. See our Northeast Beaches feature that offers plenty of recommendations for great activities along the Jersey Shore.
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 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 opportunities.
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Looking for a snowy getaway with culture and southwestern cuisine? Consider visiting Taos for downhill skiing and more. Check the Taos event calendar for spring break tubing hours and other activities. Located in 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.
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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 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. For more on Cape Hatteras National Seashore see our Spotlight Article.
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.
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Padre Island National Seashore is 70 miles (112 km) of pure barrier island coastline, the longest of its kind. There are plenty of 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.
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Looking for a spring break full of recreation and exploration? Just outside of Moab is home to Sand Flats Recreation Area, Arches National Park and plenty of places to camp. 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. Set up camp at Devils Garden campground. See our Spotlight Article on Arches National Park for more trip planning ideas.Zion National Park
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.