7 Best Budget-Friendly Spring Break Spots
A great spring-break vacation doesn't need to break the bank. Whether you're exploring a cool city or lounging on the beach, you can beat the winter blues with a budget spring break.
Washington, DCIt doesn't cost a dime to enjoy Washington, DC's culture and history, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival when the city is awash in delicate white and pink blossoms. Free events during the 2-week-long festival in early April include cultural performances, fireworks and a parade. There's no charge for the main event -- the stunning trees framing the Tidal Basin and around the Washington Monument. 960 1280
Ocho Rios, JamaicaJamaica is a popular spot for the spring-break party crowd, but families can find fun for a bargain at the Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club. This all-inclusive resort boasts 5 restaurants, 6 bars and 1 super cool water park with 9 twisting slides and kiddie pools. 960 1280
Sanibel Island, FLSpring break falls during Sanibel Island's high season from February to April when the weather is perfect and shelling along the sandy shores is at its best. 960 1280
Seattle, WAYou can explore Pike Place Market with your wallet intact, if you can exercise willpower at the nearly 200 shops and restaurants, and both admission and parking are free at the Frye Art Museum. 960 1280
Playa Del Carmen, MexicoPlaya Del Carmen is Cancun's classier neighbor with the same stunning beaches, but a more refined atmosphere. It's a spring-break bargain less than an hour from the easily accessible Cancun airport. 960 1280
Playa Del Carmen, MexicoBut if the resort atmosphere and 24-hour free-for-all isn't your thing, try a dive package with Tank Ha Dive Center. Divers set off on intimate tours to explore the area's reefs and cenote caverns and spend the night in budget accommodations around the town square. 960 1280
Montreal, Quebec City, CanadaIf a week-long European excursion is out of the picture, consider a French adventure in North America in Montreal. Start your worldly adventure in Vieux-Montreal, the city's old town with a distinctively Euro flair, cobblestone streets and breathtaking architecture. 960 1280
Montreal, Quebec City, CanadaCelebrate the worldwide phenomena of the Cirque du Soleil in the city where the troupe got its start. The nonprofit organization La TOHU brings the avant-garde and artistic circus to the public with free performances and inexpensive guided tours celebrating the city's place in circus arts. 960 1280
Atlantis Paradise Island Resort
The legendary underwater world bearing the same name has nothing on this Bahamian resort that beckons children and their parents with luxurious resort surroundings and outrageous kids' activities. Kids can choose their own adventures at the stellar AKA (Atlantis Kids Adventure) program. Aspiring chefs can twist pretzels or make pizza in culinary classes and budding architects can don their hard hats and get building in the Lego Construction room. Wizards? Check. There's a cozy tree with perfect nooks for reading the latest magical tale. Extravagant tea party? Atlantis has this one covered, too, in the life-sized Victorian dollhouse equipped with the highest quality in pretend kitchens. There's gaming systems galore, a performance gallery complete with costumes and equipment to make movies, and arts and crafts to rival the best art institute. If the kids ever choose to leave the club, parents might squeeze in a fast family meal before the wee ones are off to the water slides, river rides, rock climbing or marine habitat.960 1280
Smuggler’s Notch Resort
Sure, school is out, but the kids won't mind being students enrolled in the ski programs at Smugglers Notch. Aspiring snowboarders can learn the ropes on Burton snowboards equipped with a softer flex and beveled bottom that help with the learning curve. Cross-country skiers can hone their skills on the bumps and play area at the mini terrain park. The staff is so confident in their students at Snow Sport University that there's a refund if participants don't learn or improve. When class is out, kids can tackle a new hill -- the 22-foot giant double lane slide and the rest of the inflatable fun at FunZone. Indoor pools, dog-sledding, ice-skating and art classes are available to keep the entire family busy.960 1280
Rancho de los Caballeros
Saddle up for a unique spring break at an old-school dude ranch in Arizona. It's like sleep-away camp for the entire family, but with better food and cozier accommodations. Rancho de los Caballeros has been giving families an insider's look at cowboy life since 1947, so it's no surprise they've mastered the art of the family vacation. The children's club starts at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast before a ride on the trails or around the corral for the mini cowboys and girls. The kids are busy with swimming, crafts, hiking, sports and scavenger hunts while parents can spend some time relaxing or playing golf. After lunch, the family is reunited for some together time and more horseback riding or just horsing around in the pool. Then come dinner time, the kids are back to the club and a campfire while mom and dad enjoy dinner in the dining room. It's the best of both worlds and, best of all, most activities in the children's program are free of charge.960 1280
Sandy LaneSandy Lane Resort is a spring break destination to aspire toward with chauffeured luxury cars, palatial suites and chilled, scented towels on arrival. This exclusive resort is pricy, but a worthy investment if you're looking for a refined resort atmosphere with plenty of engaging activities to keep the little ones happy. Parents can enjoy a few rounds of golf on impeccably manicured fairways or slip into the spa for a massage or the moisturizing Rose Hydrating Cocoon. Kids will dig the Treehouse Club with themed events and activities like nature walks, sports, crafts and carnival days, complete with stilt-walking. Teens chill in the Den with pool, air hockey, video games and organized pool parties and water sports. The whole family will love swimming with the rare Hawksbill turtles in the reefs located just off the shore. 960 1280
Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs is a dreamboat for families with great children's ski instructions and a bundle of après-ski activities. The Kid's Vacation Center is the starting point for families with a streamlined check-in process and a spacious facility to prepare your young ones for the cold. Lessons are available for kids starting at 2.5-years-old, and there are 5 kids-only slopes where little ones can master the art of the wedge before moving on to the kiddies terrain park. The Rough Rider Basin is a nod to the Old West with teepees, a log-cabin playhouse and snack areas. The whole family will enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Great Rockies followed with a soak in the area's natural hot springs. Kids Fly Free domestic packages coupled with Kids Rent Free and Kids Ski Free all reduce the price of one cool family vacation. 960 1280
Loews Coronado BaySan Diego is an ideal pick for families looking for spring break fun with loads of diversity. There's the beach, of course, but there are also great parks, cool museums and 2 fantastic zoos. The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is a sprawling and hilly enclave made up of 9 unique zones spread out over 100 acres. Plan on spending a few hours checking out the polar bears, elephants and gorillas, and hop on the guided bus to learn about the animals and give your legs a rest. The Wild Animal Park, 35 miles outside of the city, provides a safari experience as you traverse the 1,800-acre park in an open bus perfect for viewing the herds of wild animals like rhinos and giraffes in a more natural setting. The Loews Coronado Bay resort makes kids and teens feel right at home with club activities, water sports, surfing classes and gondola rides through the Coronado Cays canals. 960 1280
Kauai Surf School
If you can swim, then you can surf. At least that's what the folks at Kauai Surf School believe. Families can arrange for group sessions so the whole crew can wipe out and encourage each other to hop back up again. Group lessons maintain a ratio of 4 students for every instructor, ensuring that everyone has ample time to catch some waves. Parents must accompany children under 12 in group lessons. The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is a family-favorite with an outrageous pool complex including saltwater lagoons and freshwater pools with waterfalls, grottos and a 150-foot slide. Parents don't need to feel guilty about dropping off the keiki, or kids, at Camp Hyatt where kids ages 3-12 can learn the hula, meet the resident parrots or make cool cultural crafts.960 1280
Kalahari Resort Wisconsin DellsWisconsin is king of water parks, and these monstrous slides aren't limited to the great outdoors. Families can save on the sunscreen and splurge on the fun at this indoor water wonderland made up of 125,000 square feet of slides, lazy rivers, wave pools and whirlpools. The Master Blaster uphill water rollercoaster and family raft river rapids are not to be missed. If you can get the kids out of the pool, there's an indoor theme park with a Ferris wheel, indoor go-carts, bowling and arcade games. Admission to the water park is included in the price for on-site accommodations, which include standard hotel rooms and roomier family suites. 960 1280
South Seas Island Resort
In the midst of hectic resorts and crowded beaches, Captiva Island feels like a secret spot where families can turn it down and enjoy a retreat from the everyday. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the area has unspoiled beaches and unique wildlife that can be encountered while kayaking through the quiet estuaries or touring the freshwater ponds. It's also a great spot for collecting seashells, so bring along a bucket. But don't confuse a bit of peace and quiet with boring -- there's plenty to do at South Seas Island Resort from sailing in the harbor to playing in the lagoon pool complex or sliding down the waterslides at H2Whoa!960 1280
Club Med Dominican RepublicThe beauty of an all-inclusive vacation is that you can put your wallet away and relax once you reach your destination. The Club Med Punta Cana caters to families with oceanfront family suites and even simplifies your packing by making baby essentials, like bathtubs, strollers and even baby food, available for your use. There are activities galore for parents and kids to enjoy together including infant classes at the Baby Gym and catamaran adventures. Supervised camps are included in your package price for kids over 4 and are available at an extra cost for babies through preschoolers up to 4. 960 1280
AmsterdamBest known for its Red Light District, historic buildings and museums, Amsterdam has a lot to offer visitors, especially during the spring. At the end of April, visitors can celebrate King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) -- the largest festival in the Netherlands. Also, just a short distance from the city, Keukenhof is home to the world’s largest flower garden, which is best known for its annual flower festival and beautiful spring tulips.
CharlestonWith its rich history and Southern charm, Charleston is a perfect getaway for spring. Visitors can explore the city’s historic sites, shop on King Street, and enjoy authentic lowcountry cuisine while sipping sweet tea. Home to beautiful, waterfront Southern mansions, as well as American and Civil War history, Battery Park (pictured above) is a must-see while visiting one of the most romantic cities in America. 960 1280
Washington, DCIts abundance of museums, monuments and attractions are not the only reason people visit the nation’s capital this time of year. Each year, in March and April, millions of people flock to Washington to experience the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Visitors can enjoy beautiful weather and scenery as they stroll hand-in-hand under blooming cherry blossom trees lining the Tidal Basin. 960 1280
Tuscany, ItalyHome to some of the most exquisite art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, Florence -- the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany -- is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. The spring, when the weather begins to warm up and the flowers begin to bloom, is the best time to travel here -- and to avoid the summer tourists. Visitors can enjoy beautiful weather as they explore historic churches and monuments, get a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, or hop on a Vespa for a romantic ride through the Tuscan countryside, where they can tour some of Italy’s best wineries. 960 1280
US Virgin IslandsKnown as “America’s Caribbean Paradise,” the US Virgin Islands comprises 3 islands -- St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. Visitors looking to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the islands should travel here in April and May when the peak season is over, and when airfare and hotel rates are less expensive. With miles of pristine beaches on St. John, to the rum distilleries and sugar cane plantations on St. Croix, and the famous 99 Steps on St. Thomas, each island provides visitors with something different. In April, visitors can experience the second largest cultural celebration in the Caribbean -- Carnival, a month-long event on St. Thomas that includes parades, fairs and calypso entertainment. 960 1280
St. LuciaFor travelers seeking a tropical and exotic getaway, a spring visit to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia is a must. For a spring fling, visit the most romantic spot on the island -- Soufriere Bay. Its landscape views of white sand beaches and Pitons provides visitors with some of the Caribbean’s most stunning views. In late April and early May, visitors can experience the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival -- a 12-day festival that showcases the island’s history and culture. 960 1280
TokyoAs the largest city in the world, Tokyo is chock-full of museums, monuments and attractions for visitors looking to experience the Japanese culture. In the spring, visitors can explore the 140 acres of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden or experience the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park. Located at the cultural center of Tokyo, Ueno Park has more than 1,000 cherry blossom trees and is the top destination for Hanami -- the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the blossoming of flowers. Between March and May, locals and tourists alike flock to Ueno Park to celebrate the blossoming with parties and romantic picnics.
San DiegoWith its beautiful beaches, San Diego is the perfect springtime destination for travelers wanting to experience the laidback California lifestyle without having to worry about bad weather. During the day, visitors can catch some sun (or some waves) at the city’s 2 most popular beaches -- Mission Beach and La Jolla, or tour the USS Midway aircraft carrier -- the most-visited naval ship museum in the country. Located downtown, the Gaslamp District is full of great restaurants and nightlife, and sports fanatics can attend a Padres game at Petco Park. 960 1280
MiamiThe warm sun, beautiful beaches and popular nightlife make Miami a top vacation destination no matter what time of year. In the spring, when the beaches and attractions are less crowded than in the summer, travelers can indulge their taste buds at VeritageMiami (formerly the Miami Wine and Food Festival), or participate in the Miami Beach Gay Pride celebration, the city’s largest 2-day event of the year. 960 1280
ParisEveryone dreams of spring in Paris. Each year, millions of visitors travel to the City of Light (and Love) to witness the spring blooms and elaborate gardens that grace some of the city’s most historic landmarks this time of year. Travelers can experience the beauty and romance of the city atop the Eiffel Tower, as well as during a stroll along the River Seine or through the Jardin du Luxembourg at Luxembourg Palace. 960 1280
New YorkAs the largest city in America, it’s no secret that NYC has a lot going on throughout the year. However, in the spring when the freezing winter temperatures begin to heat up, more and more people travel to the city to experience the blossoming trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre garden in the heart of Brooklyn. Other big draws include opening day for the Yankees and the Mets, and the annual Tribeca Film Festival. 960 1280
Puerto RicoAmericans can explore the beauty and history of Puerto Rico without having to travel too long. A few hours from Miami, Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan is chock-full of historic landmarks such as Fort San Cristobal and El Morro, exquisite beaches and various cultural experiences for springtime visitors. March’s Heineken Jazz Festival has become one of the leading festivals in Puerto Rico, showcasing traditional Latin music and Latin jazz for more than 20 years. For foodies looking to experience authentic cuisine from the island’s best restaurants, the Saborea Culinary Festival in April is a must-do. 960 1280
New OrleansFrom the French Quarter to the Garden District, the historic city of New Orleans is full of charm and soul year-round. While Mardi Gras is the city’s most well-known festival, the parties don’t stop there. In April and May, before the sticky summer temperatures set in, thousands of people flock to the Big Easy to experience other festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, where they can get a taste of the city’s authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine.
San AntonioBest known for the Alamo, San Antonio welcomes visitors year-round, especially during the spring months when they can enjoy the attractions before the summer heat and humidity set in. In April, Fiesta San Antonio -- one of the country’s oldest festivals -- celebrates the heroes of the Alamo with a variety of parades and free entertainment. Located a short distance from the Alamo, the River Walk is lined with restaurants, shops and entertainment, and is a great place for couples to experience the city’s history and culture. 960 1280
Austin, TXA popular destination for music fans, movie buffs and techies, Austin provides a variety of springtime activities and attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages and interests. Each March, the city hosts South by Southwest (SXSW) -- a multi-day music and film festival with more than 2,000 performers set up on stages across the city. For travelers more interested in gourmet food and wine, the Austin Food and Wine Festival takes place in April, and features top chef talent and winemakers from the local area and around the nation. 960 1280
Lake NakuruDon't go diving into the picturesque waters of Lake Nakuru in Kenya -- the mass of pink flamingos are one of the few species that can stand the hostile conditions. Visitors can spot up to a million birds wading side by side as well as baboons and black-and-white rhinos.