Spring Break Destinations

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Spring break is treasured by students of all ages, whether they are in kindergarten 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 US has an abundance of spring break destinations that will appeal to all looking for a chance to unplug. Check out our list of great spring break vacation ideas to assist with your trip planning.

Avoid crowds and treasure memories at these public land vacation spots

Cabrillo National Monument


Long exposure photograph of waves crashing against a rocky cliff.

Cabrillo National Monument (Scott Murphy, 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. Stop by Cabrillo National Monument, which is located just outside of San Diego. Enjoy a meandering walk to a historic lighthouse, military history, hiking, bicycling, and tide pooling. 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. Plan ahead and purchase your permit, which are required in advance.

Gulf Islands National Seashore


Seagrasses on a white sandy beach.

Gulf Islands National Seashore (Jose Detre, 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. Spend a day at Rosamond Johnson Beach or overnight at Fort Pickens Campground. For the icing on the cake, further your education and enjoyment by joining a ranger-guided program like the "Guardian of the Gulf" walking tour. Other services and accommodations are available in Pensacola.

Edwin B. Forsyth National Wildlife Refuge

New Jersey

A flock of American black ducks take flight above the salt marsh.

Edwin B. Forsyth National Wildlife Refuge (Sean Pajak, US Fish and Wildlife Service)

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 the 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. Partake in the watersport of your choice - crabbing, fishing, swimming, surfing, and boating, among others.

Carson National Forest

New Mexico

Skier flying after a jump while downhill skiing.

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. Check the Taos event calendar for spring break tubing hours and other activities. 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.

Fort Sumter

South Carolina

Brick ruins of Fort Sumter's Officer's Quarters.

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (National Park Service)

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 and spend time at amusement parks and entertainment venues. South Carolina also has an abundance of history and nature. Take a day trip during your stay and visit Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park 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 (6 km) 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.

Padre Island National Seashore


Ink-blue and saturated shades of mauve, pink, yellow and gold form a sunrise over the ocean.

Padre Island National Seashore (Rebecca Latson, 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, beachcombing, or birding. Camping at Padre Island National Seashore is first-come, first-served, so plan ahead and get there early.

Arches National Park


Four people stand photographing the sandstone Turret Arch.

Arches National Park (Monica Chan, Share the Experience)

Looking for a spring break full of recreation and exploration? Just outside of Moab is 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. Don’t miss the ranger- or self-guided Fiery Furnace Tour, offered through the fall. Play for a day or stay awhile at Devils Garden campground. Also, keep in mind that from April 1 through October 31, timed entry tickets are required, in addition to the entrance fee.

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