In order to fully break out of that long winter spell, there’s always an entire week during the beginning of each year that aims to refresh, reinvigorate, and restore some strength and energy into our tired and, by then, overly-chilled bones. Usually, these seven or so days of pure joy seem like a light at the end of a tunnel. Yes, my friends, we’re talking about spring break—the time of year to forget about school, work, and all responsibilities to just enjoy yourself and have some much deserved all-about-me-and-my-friends time.
From the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to famous party towns such as Las Vegas and NOLA, there are plenty of wild and welcoming travel destinations for those looking to get away in the spring. Times are incredibly tough though, and like or not, traveling is often an expense-ridden luxury that most of us cannot always afford. However, there’s no need to break the bank when it comes to starting your dream vacation. Don’t fret about astronomical airfare or rising gas prices, don’t even think twice about ridiculous hotel rates or whether you’ll have enough dough to get by once this week of fun ends. There are tons of budget-friendly--not to mention stylish and totally rad-- spring break destinations all across the U.S. that won’t max out anybody’s credit card. Here are the twenty-five cheapest spring break spots in the USA.
The 25 Most Affordable Spring Break Spots for 2016:
1. Orange Beach, Alabama
Offering so much more than just sun and sand, the Gulf Shores in Alabama are home to a numerous array of attractions and activities for young and old alike. There are water parks, entertainment centers, outdoor activities, night clubs, historic sites, you name it. Let’s not even start talking about the plethora of luxury condos to pick and choose from. Just call it the ultimate 'Bama paradise.
2. Los Angeles, California
The city itself is already full of hundreds of thousands of college-age students living and bustling regularly around. Sure, some may choose to head east during the spring, but often times, many end up staying and enjoying SoCal’s most popular beaches, including Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Huntington Beach and, of course, the MTV favorite Laguna Beach.
L to the A is one of the world’s top centers of entertainment and it’s safe to say that finding some nice hotel deals, cheap eats, vibrant nightlife and cost-friendly (but still world famous) attractions such as the Grammy Museum at LA Live, Universal Studios, or Disneyland, isn’t all that difficult. The only problem is that one week is entirely too short a stay.
3. Daytona Beach, Florida
Located just 50 miles northeast of Orlando, this all too famous site of MTV’s first ever Spring Break special boasts a subtropical climate, a 23-mile-long beach, and loads of discount travel packages. It’s often described as the “Spring Break Capital of the World,” with must-attend events scheduled each year throughout the sunny city. Examples: DJs spinning the best popular beats, wet bikini contests and hot body contests in the “party zone” near the Main Street Pier. There’s even a Big Red Party Bus that runs along the beach as well as sizzle-worthy local spots like Razzle’s Night Club, Ocean Deck Beach Club and the Oyster Pub. For those on an extremely tight budget, savor cheap but oh so satiating treats at places like the Earl Street Grill, Lost Lagoon Wings and Grill and South Turn Lounge and Restaurant.
4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Want a warm and dreamy beach getaway in the spring? Head down to this mecca of endless sun and sand, charter fishing expeditions, and world class eateries offering irresistible southern-style delicacies at local micro-brews, seafood buffets, and oceanfront tables that are sure to make you drool. There’s also the Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, which warmly welcomes crowds by the million with its charm, hospitality, and very own Family Kingdom amusement park that includes rides like the massive Skywheel and Slingshot and the Twist 'n Shout steel roller coaster. The popular Señor Frogs also offers a raging music scene. Plus, with chain hotels such as the Sheraton and Hilton offering ultra-low booking prices, luxury lodging is a steal.
5. Honolulu, Hawaii
Everything is better in the Aloha State, especially during the spring when flocks of West Coast-bound travelers take advantage of the state’s ever-consistent bargain deals that make planning and enjoying a weeklong mini-vacation nothing more than a simple breeze.
6. San Diego, California
Sunshine in this unique West Coast city is almost a given on any single day throughout the year-- the city receives barely 10 inches of rain per year, according to the National Weather Service, and temperatures rarely dip below 40 degrees. As the southernmost urban city on the U.S. West Coast and Tijuana’s American counterpart, SD proudly boasts an exotic and unique vibe that’s sure to dazzle all sorts of visitors. It’s got miles of sandy beaches and top-tier golf courses, as well as a sprawling entertainment district and numerous cheap dining options, especially around the University of San Diego’s campus, which is also close to the city’s densest cluster of affordable hotels.
7. Savannah, Georgia
With well-preserved museums of 18th-century brownstones, lush parks, and cobblestone streets, there’s no other southeastern city that can compete with this Georgia darling in charm. For those looking to get a little tan, head further south where beach communities like Hilton Head and Tybee attract loads of folks wanting to savor some beachfront living, as well as dig into some warm-weather recreational sports.
8. Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
It’s more than pleasant in this tourist hotspot where you’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with New Yorkers, Philadelphians, and Jersey girls and boys who love beautiful beaches and Boardwalks (Point Pleasant is just about 70 miles south of New York City and about 75 miles northeast of Philadelphia). On weekends in April, there are fun rides that open up, cotton candy machines that swirl some sweet sugar, and right-by-the-beach hotel room rates that are often times one third the summer price.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
Sometimes, all you want to do is let go, cut loose, and have some majorly wild fun. If that’s the scene you’re hoping for, this is the place to go. The sin-filled town is buzzing with everything imaginable from live music to casinos to budget food finds and affordable cocktail options. Vegas pretty much has it all, baby.
10. Panama City, Florida
Since it is already a popular seaside community within the Florida Panhandle, especially among the younger generation, it’s super easy for this student-tourist-heavy town to offer tons of hot discount spring break packages every year-- many with airfare, hotel accommodations and entry into the party city all included. Plus, with its naturally warm waters and hot temperatures, the town’s long been an absolute favorite for partiers of all kinds.
Much of the action occurs right on the beach, which overlooks Saint Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There’s J Michael’s Dockside Bar and Grill and Club La Vela-- the largest nightclub in the U.S.-- as well as other popular establishments for more frugal drinkers like Spinnaker’s Paradise Grill, Flamingo Joe’s, and Liza’s Kitchen. For less adventurous travelers, trek towards the wide open spaces between Tyndall Air Force Base and the city of Destin (a Gulf of Mexico coastline that’s famous for white-sand beaches and picturesque dune complexes) for further relaxation.
11. San Luis Obispo, California
Considered one of the oldest towns in the area, this tiny charmer is a more than thriving town full of restored houses, charming boutiques, upscale restaurants, and other spaces that’ll provide anybody with that classic vintage experience. It’s also a great place for hiking, mountain biking, wind surfing and kite boarding.
12. Oakhurst, California
Another Californian gem? Oakhurst. It’s considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site that frequents close to a million visitors per year. However, the town itself really only has just under 3,000 residents. So if you’re looking for some peace and tranquility, as well as bountiful amounts of nature, this small town’s the one for you.
13. South Padre Island, Texas
Beware. Nothing in this Texan hotspot has ever been rated PG. Let’s just say it’s not a destination for the faint of heart. However, if you're looking for a debauchery-filled vacation, this is the place to go. The island is brimming with "bars that emphasize character rather than class,” decent chain hotels costing hardly anything, and a spectacular coastline of warm Gulf waters and beach parties. Plus, artists like Snoop Dogg and David Guetta have been known to perform at past live music festivities. The Island certainly lives up to the reputation of “Everything’s Bigger in Texas”-- it never fails to bring down the house!
14. Portland, Oregon
From microbreweries to coffeehouse bike tours, this is the epicenter of “hip and cool”—and has plenty of attractions to keep visitors busy with. Plus, there’s an epic food-truck scene, which allows dining to be all the less expensive. Be sure to check out local favorites like the solar-power waffle cart and vegan taco truck.
15. Orlando, Florida
It already is the home to the world’s most famous theme park, Disney World, as well as other attractions such as Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, water fun parks, downtown night clubs, and tons of spacious golf courses. It’s really hard not to find something to do in the theme-park capital city—which, lucky for you, also has quite a number of surprising spring break discounts. For example, Disney offers price breaks on its hotels during much of March and April.
16. Napa/Sonoma, California
With impossibly exclusive restaurants and some of the world’s finest vineyards, Napa Valley may not seem like the sort of place that would be a good fit for those more frugal travelers. However, in recent years, the neighboring wine region of Sonoma County has emerged as an affordable alternative while still managing to offer the exact same luxurious Nor Cal experience that fits any top-notch bill. It really is possible for budget-conscious spring breakers to have it all without having to think twice about fussy things such as money.
17. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Experience a tried and true American paradise just before the summer crowds start pouring in right at the heart of this tourist-heavy city. It hosts America's most popular national park, a major theme park, and miles of trails and streams for under $100 per night. Go on and head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fishing, hiking, and scenic drives like the six-mile Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Also, don't forget to spend a day getting a taste of authentic Tennessean culture at Dollywood—a 150 acres space of some of the state’s best music, food, and thrill rides such as the Wild Eagle and Mystery Mine.
Another tip? Those wanting to get just a little more out of their bucks and their spring breaks can choose to head over to nearby Nashville as well. It’s also a surprisingly great place for frugal travelers-- everything is way cheaper than anyone would imagine.
18. Washington, D.C.
There's no denying the tourist appeal of the nation's capital—no matter what you think of some politicians. The city boasts more than a hundred free attractions, including the Smithsonian museums, landmark buildings such as the White House and Capitol, as well as all those national monuments. Here, it’s incredibly possible to wander through the whole metro area for an entire day without paying a single dime to enter any public space.
Travelers on a budget can take full advantage of numerous Amtrak discounts—they also have the choice of three area airport locations each offering affordable flights on a regular basis. What’s more is that the city has an incredibly great climate, especially in the springtime when winter chills have gone for good and summer’s oppressive humidity is still two months away.
19. Chicago, Illinois
With 19th century mansions juxtaposed with new and more modern high rises right on Prairie Avenue, the city is a pure neo-urban marvel. Vacationers can also take full advantage of the great night life, the giant stadiums, the inspiring museums, as well as the numerous cultural centers dotted in and around town.
20. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Deep fishers can unite at this southern ocean town that’s surrounded by bright blue waves, plenty of snapper or mackerel fish to catch, as well as fabulous scuba diving opportunities that’ll allow you the chance to befriend spiny lobsters, sea fans, and colorful groups of tropical fish.
21. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Though your instincts may tell you to head south for spring break, don't ever forget about Atlantic City. It's cheap and super easy to get a room with a water view at this destination. Plus, the gaming and casino scenes can keep anyone occupied for hours and hours upon end.
Spring breakers can enjoy the action-filled boardwalk, which offers live music shows, pools, and spas. And if utter craziness is not your thing, be sure to check out take a stroll through the Pier Shops at Caesars (an underwater-themed indoor high end shopping center) or take a ride on the massive Ferris wheel.
22. New Orleans, Louisiana
Hot jazz, unforgettable cuisine, and trendy clubs are all around this great getaway city that helps easily combine warm spring weather with just enough elbow room for some crazy wildness as well. Bonus feature? There are cobblestone streets, ivy-covered townhouses, and Creole cottages within the French Quarter that make for a backdrop like no other. Be sure to load up on beignets at Café Du Monde and explore the city's unique music scene with a free self-guided audio tour courtesy of the New Orleans Jazz Historical Park—and don’t forget to catch the annual French Quarter Festival in April.
23. Santa Cruz, California
With Red roof Spanish-style houses, an array of tour-friendly wineries, and the best beach towns around, this West Coast spot is the perfect mash-up of both San Francisco and L.A. The incredible scenery of the Monterey Bay further makes it a go-to destination for spring breakers.
24. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
With sandy shorelines, lighthouses, and sails flapping freely in the air, the Cape easily looks like one of those quintessential postcard scenes where it’s just great to kick off those shoes and relax. It also just happens to be incredibly affordable as well. Double win.
25. Zion National Park, Utah
For those wanting to relax and enjoy nature, this is the destination for you. The Park features red cliffs, lush sprawling valleys, narrow slot canyons, as well as quaint cabin porches offering mystical views of sunrise, sunset, and a whole bunch of tranquil forested area. It’s a campers' favorite for sure.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.