The inevitable and long-awaited week during spring semester filled with sun, friends, food and ridiculous behavior. What better time is there to act like a true college student? Whether you’re going to the beach, road-tripping or tourist-ing in a major city, a spring break getaway is never boring. So pack your bags, grab those snack and don’t forget your sunscreen. It’s that time of year again! And seriously—don’t forget your sunscreen.
Check out the best college spring break destinations that will make your friends green with envy over your Insta posts.
1. Panama City Beach, Florida
If you try to book an Airbnb for anywhere in Panama City Beach this late in the spring break game, you won’t find anything available below $400 a night. The area has been booked to the brim—as it is every year. If there were ever a Spring Break capital, here we have it my friends. All you could ever ask for right in the Florida panhandle. Lots of sun, warm Gulf-of-Mexico waters and an insane amount of same-minded people just looking for a good time. If you find yourself with some free time, venture off to Destin Beach. A few waves away from the central of Panama City, it’s idyllic beaches make it worth the trip.
2. Miami, Florida
When people ask you where you’re going for Spring Break? “Miami. Where else would you go?” said Andrew Gonzalez, New York University alumnus and Miami native. In comparison, Miami and Panama City Beach are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to spring break. Though on opposite ends of Florida, but they party just as hard. Emphasis on the party hard. Miami just does it the Latino way. With one of the largest enclaves of Cubans in the country (Little Havana), Miami is loud, proud and full of delicious food. South Beach? A typical spring break destination and rightfully so. Why? The parties, the people, the traffic—wouldn’t be Miami without it. Make sure you visit Calle Ocho, one of Miami’s world-class streets, where you can find a string of the hottest restaurants and clubs in the city.
3. New York City, New York
Not your typical sunny, sandy beach vacation, but definitely still a strong contender. And for good reason. Few places in this country compare to Central Park in the springtime, full of outdoor activities. Snow has melted, leaves have greened and ice cream can finally be eaten outside again. Go to Sheep’s Meadow and pack a picnic. It’ll be one of the best afternoons you spend in NYC. Want something different from the typical city atmosphere for your spring break? See how the other half lives in the Hamptons and take some time on the beach. You might even spot some hot celebs or be invited to a party? It’s New York. Anything can happen. Not to mention, there’s always that New York slice of pizza to make the whole trip worth it.
4. Los Angeles, California
Oh, the city of stars. You can’t go wrong here, can you? Looking for a tourist-packed spring break? The Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign and a celebrity bus tour are a start. Make your way to Anaheim, only a 30-minute drive, and spend your break in the happiest place on Earth. “Disneyland is Disneyland. I live in NYC and still have an annual pass because it’s so much fun!” said NYU senior and California native Daphne Sigala. You could also go on a studio lot tour and awe over some of your favorite TV shows. What else could you possibly need? Oh, right. There’s the shopping. And the famous California surf and turf. And In-n-Out. You could go to LA just for In-n-Out. And yes, you want fries with that vacation.
5. Orlando, Florida
So many tourists come that these parks have set up “blackout dates” for employee guest passes to reduce unpaid entry during this time. “It gets crazy. They’ve even had to close down Magic Kingdom for near over-occupancy,” said University of Central Florida junior Ashley Berrios. If you’re going to Disney, here’s a pro tip: Unless you want to spend $6 on a water bottle, bring your own, aka not a very budget friendly place. Also, make sure you get the Dole Whip only available at Magic Kingdom. That frozen pineapple goodness will cool you in the Florida heat (temporarily). “I always get the Dole Whip. It’s so sweet and delicious. It’s my favorite Disney staple,” said Berrios. Also, despite popular belief, Orlando also has some other awesome perks aside from theme parks. It is an hour away from either beach coast and home to the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, where you can often see touring broadway shows and orchestras.
6. Daytona Beach, Florida
Another Florida destination, but don’t be fooled. They are not the same. Daytona Beach, located on the East Coast of Florida, holds some of the year’s most anticipated events: Bike Week and the Daytona 500. But the area is more than just that. As one of Florida’s cleanest and most family-friendly beaches, every Daytona trip is a good one. Go to the beach, get some sun, hit up the pier, get some ice cream. Spend a sunset afternoon strolling down the boardwalk where talented street artists sell some breathtaking pieces. Talk about an amazing spring break vacation.
7. Cancun, Mexico
An international destination? No fear! While traveling to Cancun, Mexico might be a little out of your #brokecollegestudent budget, your time there will be a breeze. The drink deals, the club deals, the food deals? You’ll be overwhelmed with the possibilities—and money won’t be a huge problem. The area offers great excursions for friends and family, as well. Go on a boat tour and see some of the most colorful sea life in the world. Rent a jet ski and jet the day away or go scuba diving and see the life down there up close. Not to mention the Xcaret, Cancun’s botanical water park, uses only natural sources of water. Consider Cancun an absolute get-away paradise.
8. Laguna Beach, California
Are you hearing Hilary Duff’s “Laguna Beach” theme song in your head? Don’t worry, so is everyone. Here’s a forewarning, though: Laguna Beach is way better in real life than it was on MTV. “The beaches are amazing and you could spend a full day there and still not want to leave,” said Sigala. Feeling like heading to the west coast this Spring Break? This might be just the spot for you. Like Sigala said, Laguna Beach seems like a never ending paradise—you’ll never want to leave. With clear blue waters, long reaching shores and crisp Pacific Ocean air, it could be the destination of your dreams. You can also try exploring the area itself. “I loved going to Thousand Steps beach. It’s not a secret anymore, but worth the trek!” said Sigala. You ready for the road trip of your dreams now?
9. Nassau, Bahamas
Imagine sitting in the Atlantis resort, sipping on your fresh tropical smoothie, watching the pure pink skies turn to purple as the sun sets. And then the party begins. The Bahamas are just as beautiful, as clear-watered and as exciting as any travel brochure sells them off to be. You could head off on an excursion and go island hopping, scuba diving, travel along hiking trails, and climbing waterfalls along the way. Plus, Atlantis Resort sits in the heart of Nassau, ready to grant you your dream vacation. From the water park to the gorgeous aquarium, you could probably spend your whole time there.
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
When you think Las Vegas, you usually think gambling, partying and weddings, right? It doesn’t really equate with long walks on the beach or fresh seafood after a long day of tanning, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Nevada has more than enough sun to go around and Vegas is always down for a party—especially the spring break kind. NYU senior Kimberly Howland suggested visiting the Stratosphere, the wax museum, the Aria Hotel, New York and a gondola ride in the Venetian. There’s more than enough to do. You could even check music festivals and see which one is heading Vegas’s way. “Go to the Luxor to go on the elevator that goes diagonally!” said NYU junior Kailley Callamras. Even the quirkiest ideas can turn into a fun time.
Don’t want to have FOMO during spring break? Check these 11 best spring break destinations.
Written by Amelia Lytle.
Whether you plan on tanning on the beach, partying by the pool, clubbing with the world’s best DJs at night or even exploring old towns throughout your vacay, you have a lot of options. Get ready to whip out your instagram and head to these beautiful spots for some serious fun in the sun.
11. Gulf Shores, Alabama
The hunt for the perfect– and inexpensive– place to party on the beach without having to cram the entire squad into a single hotel room can rule out a lot of places, but not Gulf Shores. It has great nightlife and beautiful beaches, so you’ll find tons of college kids here for spring break. You can rent beach houses and spend the week living it up on the beach. “The best part was the easiness of getting everywhere, everyone was very close and it was fun to walk,” said Texas Christian University senior Courtney Tate. After a long day of partying and tanning, head down to The Hangout, a beach shack with seafood, burgers and unique summer drinks that happens to be the favorite food spot for college kids.
12. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Sometimes you just have to splurge for your perfect spring break trip. Cabo San Lucas might be one of the more expensive spots, but that only means bigger and better beach parties. At Medano Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Cabo, you can find crystal clear waters, boating trips and activities like jet skiing and paddle boarding. At the beach, bars like Mango Deck and Tabascos line the sand– one of the most popular all inclusive resorts, Hotel Riu Santa Fe, has swim up bars right on ocean’s edge. And in the nearby town, lots of clubs party all night long, making it the perfect spot to stay for #SPRINGBREAK2K18.
Ireland strays from the “Spring Breakers” stereotype, but that doesn’t make it boring. Ireland has it all—cities, beautiful countrysides and beer. “We ventured outside of Dublin and into the countryside for five days and it was so beautiful. Dublin was also unreal. It was fun, lively, the food was great and the people were so kind,” said prospective University of Chicago freshman Vicky Berman. If you want to experience both the city and country, Ireland makes a perfect mix of culture natural beauty. Plus, the Guinness Brewery lives in the heart of Dublin.
14. Honolulu, Hawaii
Where you can go parasailing, snorkeling, surfing and bar hopping all in one day? Honolulu creates a tropical paradise for spring breakers with the nightlight of Ibiza and without the masses of Mexico. The many condos available to rent in the city will save you some extra cash for some beachside margs, but if you want the full resort experience, check out Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort or Kuhio Banyan Club. And for nighttime attractions, you and your friends can barhop down the Waikiki strip to keep the party going all night.
An island off the south of Italy, Malta’s wild parties, concerts and stunning views have made it a prime destination for European students for years. The crazy nightlife only counts for one aspect of the island. You and the squad will find tons to do in Malta during the day. You can cliff dive, visit the neighboring islands or explore the town of Paceville, where the nightlife takes place. If you like going on adventures and love to curate an incredible Insta story, you’ll find all that and awesome bars in Malta.
If you love the cold and snow, Colorado makes a perfect alternative destination for your spring break. Daytime activities in Colorado include exploring the best slopes to ski, seeking out the best hot tub parties and of course, bungee jumping. With some of the best mountains and snow in the country, ski resorts like Breckenridge, Whistler, Vail, and Steamboat also have lively aprés-ski (after ski) nightlife. You’ll find no shortage of bars to hop and parties to attend. Breckenridge even has its own brewery. “Colorado is just as good as spring break in warm weather because it’s the best time for snow and everyone who comes to ski would rather be in the cold than the sun, so you know they’re seriously ready to ski,” said freshman Maggie Maher at the University of Colorado Boulder.
17. South Padre, Texas
South Padre checks off all the items on your spring break bucket list: concerts, pool parties, booze cruises, you name it. The best part? While you won’t need to spend thousands on international flights or worry about losing your passport, you’ll still get to enjoy the Mexico-like weather and endless beach parties. “There is no schedule and the whole island is in slow motion. It is the perfect place to destress, have fun and do you,” said Purdue University freshman Colleen Yang.
With an abundance of parties and natural beauty, Ibiza gives you a spring break location with the best of both worlds. With an old town filled with stone steps and walls, a cliffside view of the Balearic Sea and beaches like Cala Pluma with caves carved from water, the beauty (and Instagram pics) will never end. And don’t let the island’s small size fool you—the nightclubs of Ibiza have world-famous reputations. You’ll find plenty of other college kids all around the island on booze cruises, resort pool parties or in clubs listening to DJs like Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Kygo, and The Chainsmokers.
19. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
If you end up at Puerto Vallerta, your week may look something like this: tanning on the beach while sipping Pina Coladas, partying by the poolside in the sun and dancing the night away at popular clubs. “It’s popular because there are night clubs in the town with a legal drinking age of 18 and there are tons of other college kids,” shared Tufts University freshman Grace Fagan, who experienced PV as a senior in high school. During the day, you can relax on the long stretches of white sand beaches or go exploring with friends in the island’s hidden coves. And when the sun goes down, the nightclubs and bars come alive with college students all looking to have a great time.
Interested in palm trees, dreads and chill vibes for spring break? Jamaica is the perfect spot for a balance of fun and relaxation for you and your squad. This beautiful country doesn’t have as many crowds as the typical hotspots, so you may actually have a chance to relax on your spring break. Jamaica can make for an inexpensive vacation with all inclusive packages for hotel accommodations, airfare and parties— so you can save that extra cash for where it really matters: the bars.
21. Montreal, Canada
Montreal may not be the first place that comes to mind when most people think of spring break, but it will definitely call all cold weather lovers. Its unique atmosphere pairs with a drinking age of 18 and beautiful skiing close by for an amazing cold weather spring break destination. If you want the quaintness of Europe without spending money on insanely expensive flights, here’s your spot And with McGill University nearby, you won’t have to go far for cheap drinks and fun activities.
Need a spring break location that won’t break the bank? Make sure to check these 10 destinations out.
Written by Francesca Furey
Remember when you didn’t have to care about how much airfare and hotel costs were? The good ole days of being under your parents’ wing may have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own fair share of traveling. Finding a spring break destination that offers a college-friendly budget can be difficult at first—but far from impossible. From exploring Cajun cuisine in New Orleans to partying on black-sand beaches of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, make your next spring break something you’ll never forget for a college-friendly budget.
22. New Orleans, Louisiana
Average hotel: $85 per night
Average Airbnb: $65 per night
Average meal cost: $7 to $15
Want to explore the land of voodoo culture and seafood for spring break? New Orleans provides an unforgettable experience for any student, whether they’re looking for new cuisine, some awesome bars to check out or to embrace its lively history on garden and architecture tours. Take a walk down the famed Bourbon Street, whose atmosphere will dazzle you with neon signs of restaurants and local hotspots. When you’re not walking around the French Quarters—a hub of history and delicious Cajun meals for cheap—you can check out affordable rides to nearby beaches. You can even check out the relaxing (and free) areas of Grand Isle or Holly Beach in Louisiana.
23. Puerto Rico
Average hotel: $78
Average Airbnb: $55
Average meal cost: $5 to $12
Soak up the sun as you stroll along the many crystal blue beaches of Puerto Rico. While you might be tempted to stay in the capital of San Juan, it can get pretty expensive. Instead, try heading southwest to the less-traveled towns of Guánica, Cabo Rojo and Ponce. Here, you can enjoy the warm water and classic Creole touches of Puerto Rican meals at a lower price. The further outside of tourist hotspots, the more likely you’ll actually have something in your wallet for the way home. And if you want to spend a day away from partying, you can easily book some cheap and quick rides to El Yunque National Rainforest. “Staying away from resorts is basically key to exploring what the country actually has to offer,” said Temple University freshman Nicolette Buoncristiano. It’s even cheap to get there. Buoncristiano booked a round-trip flight for only $180 for her own spring break.
24. Mexico City, Mexico
Average hotel: $45
Average Airbnb: $25
Average meal cost: $7 to $15
Mix the party scene with day adventures when you travel to one of the most cultural and history-packed cities in the world for spring break. Mexico City sits upon the foundations of the Aztec Empire: the once enormous and dazzling capital Tenochtitlan. Despite this marvelous city being landlocked, you’ll never get bored. Whether you want to explore the various ruins and temples of the Aztecs or hop on some thrill rides at Chapultepec amusement park, a spring break in Mexico may be the best decision. And if partying’s on your to-do list, don’t worry. The city has tons of bars and clubs scattered throughout its streets with cheap meals, too. Make sure to add the marvelous waters of the Pacific Mexican beaches to your itinerary, too. With a day trip to Acapulco Beach, your trip will make for picture perfect Instagrams. “The hotels were absolutely no higher in [Mexico City] than $75. I worked on developing my Spanish skills … and the airfare was about $400 but I bought it a few months in advance,” said Temple University freshman Haley Kowal.
25. Nashville, Tennessee
Average hotel: $65
Average Airbnb: $65
Average meal cost: $5 to $20
Get ready to live in a world of classic tunes and instruments for your spring break in Nashville. Known as Music City, this southern area will keep you rockin’ and boppin’ from landmark to landmark. While walking around popular streets like Broadway, your nose can hunt down some quality southern comfort food. Luckily for your stomach (and your wallet), an affordable restaurant will call your name just about everywhere you turn. Stop at the famous Arnold’s Country Kitchen on 8th Ave, a diner known for its cafeteria-style setup, and grab some mac and cheese and roast beef. After eating to your heart’s content—a spring break dream for some—make some time to visit the popular landmarks of the city. From the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum to the Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Nashville will keep you moving and grooving during your stay. Round off the night with a cheap evening river cruise as well. You’ll definitely want to see Nashville’s glowing skyline from the Cumberland River.
26. Toronto, Canada
Average hotel: $50
Average Airbnb: $48
Average meal cost: $12 to $20
Want to stay at one of the nicest cities for spring break? Not only does Toronto hold plentiful adventures and opportunities, but the people are pretty awesome, too. Skyscrapers burst into the clouds and look over the vast Lake Ontario. Toronto welcomes travelers on a budget, especially since you can do so much with a discount or for free. Create your own tour of some of the most famous streets in the city by taking a cheap ride on a streetcar down Queen Street. At the end of route, you’ll find yourself at The Beaches, a clean neighborhood along the front of the lake. Don’t forget to visit the markets either. Check out the Kensington Market or the St. Lawrence Market for some eclectic indoor scenery and cheap, delicious food you can’t get elsewhere. And for that spring break necessity (a.k.a. partying), Toronto holds dozens of bars and nightclubs like Uniun Nightclub or Cube to suit your fancy.
27. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Average hotel: $50
Average Airbnb: $52
Average meal cost: $7 to $17
If you seek a tropical flare for your otherwise not-so-beachy school life, head over to Punta Cana in Dominican Republic. Its crystal blue waters and bright beaches beckon students who want a fun social scene and affordable prices. Don’t pay ridiculous resort prices. Find a cheap Airbnb and take quick taxi rides to Macao Beach, White Beach or Juanillo Beach, all open to the public. You can always find bars and clubs to order some fruity drinks, too. When you’re not soaking up the sun, head into one of the many authentic restaurants with extensive Dominican menu items to dine locally for cheap. You’ll experience some seriously awesome cuisine that combines Spanish, Taíno and African influences into one dish. And pro tip: if you make your way past the beaches of Punta Cana into the heart of the Dominican Republic, you can find lots of cheap excursions like horse rides on the beach and explorations to rainforests.
28. Phoenix, Arizona
Average hotel: $60
Average Airbnb: $48
Average meal cost: $10 to $20
Why did Bella from Twilight leave the marvelous city of Phoenix? Who knows. This southwestern city basks in the sun year-round with wonderful temperatures, with national parks and authentic landmarks scattered throughout it. Whether you’re into nature (especially the desert) or exploring new cultures for your spring break, this destination deserves a spot at the top of your travel list. Hiking around South Mountain Park or Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon will not only keep you in shape—for free!—but provide you with all sorts of amazing views of ancient rock formations and desert plants, like cacti, that you’ve never seen outside a magazine. The best time to go? Sunrise or sunset. If you want to stay on lower ground for spring break, visit one of the many bars in downtown Phoenix, like Valley Bar on Central Avenue, after dropping by other museums and city landmarks. “My family and I drove [to Phoenix] and stayed in a vacation rental … for two weeks. It was completely worthwhile because my parents both grew up in Phoenix and they want to move back to Arizona next year … it is probably my favorite vacation to date,” said Temple University sophomore Zoe Hoffard. Hoffard recommends taking trips to the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest and Flagstaff if you want to explore more of Arizona.
29. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Average hotel: $45
Average Airbnb: $50
Average meal cost: $5 to $15
Time to unleash your inner child for spring break and throw back to your fave family vacations. At Myrtle Beach, tons of amusement parks and water parks are at your very fingertips. From Family Kingdom, Myrtle Waves and Freestyle Music Park to the various pop-up rides and boardwalk games, the thrill is on. Cheap tickets to these parks allow you to party all day with your friends kid-style. Not a fan of rollercoasters? Hop on over to the beach and splash around or tan. And when you leave, multiple bars line the way out, perfect for a quick marg or summer-y cocktail. Myrtle Beach provides a spring break get-away for students who truly just want to have fun. Make sure to stop at one of the many mini-golf courses, go-carting raceways or Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
30. Costa Rica
Average hotel: $40
Average Airbnb: $38
Average meal cost: $5 to $16
Spend your well-deserved spring break in a lush, picturesque country—something everyone wants and needs. As soon as you touch down in Costa Rica, you’ll be surrounded by rainforests and one-of-a-kind beaches. Extensive wildlife like Capuchin monkeys and three-toed sloths roam this natural land full of waterfalls: all sights you can see on cheap rainforest tours of the national parks. Not a fan of hiking? You can find tons of options for ziplining excursions through the canopies of Costa Rica. For the ultimate affordable experience, stay to the west that borders the Pacific, where you can travel down the spine of the country. Stop at public beaches like Lagartillo, Los Cedros or Manuel Antonio for some quality beach-time fun. The best news: Food and alcohol stay pretty cheap no matter where you go.
Average hotel: $85
Average Airbnb: $65
Average meal cost: $10 to $20
Looking for a different type of beach scenery for your spring reak? Check out Maine, one of the U.S.’s northern states and land of many lighthouses. Here, you can enjoy various types of Northeastern seafood cuisine, like lobster, crab, shrimp and clams. After stuffing yourself with clam chowder and lobster rolls, you can book cheap whale-watching tours in the Atlantic for an experience—and Insta post—of a lifetime. After all, when else will you ever get to see these humungous mammals in their natural habitat? On top of an alternative spring break setting, you can visit historic lighthouses and walk around the shopping district of Old Port in Portland before hitting up its eccentric restaurants and bars, like DiMillo’s On The Water or Andy’s Old Port Pub. Make sure to grab your binoculars and camera when you pack your bags to fly or drive up to this unique travel spot.
Ready for spring break? You’ll need these essentials before you take off.
1. Tank Top
4. Bathing Suit
5. Water Bottle
*Updated on November 14, 2017 by Amelia Lytle to include spring break destinations 11-21.
*Updated on February 1, 2018 by Francesca Furey to include 10 more destinations.