17 Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations
Cheap spring break trips for college students and families are not hard to come by if you know where to look.
March and early April are an ideal time to visit the southern United States, the Caribbean, and Central America. Those looking for beautiful beaches and a seaside atmosphere have plenty of affordable choices, even in some of the most popular classic spring break destinations.
There are also several excellent alternatives that cost less than the high-profile destinations but offer just as much, if not more, excitement and relaxation.
For ideas on the most affordable places to visit, see our list of the best cheap spring break destinations.
1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
With 60 miles of white-sand beaches, it's no wonder that Myrtle Beach is South Carolina's top beach destination for college students. Since spring break isn't during peak tourist season, rates are lower, but the weather is still great for enjoying all the things to see and do in Myrtle Beach.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a good time on the beach, and people-watching is one of the best things to do here. Other inexpensive activities include kite-flying, tossing a frisbee, shell collecting, and, of course, swimming.
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is where visitors will find most of the tourist attractions and restaurants, as well as a huge selection of resorts and hotels for every budget. This is also where you'll find rental kiosks for water sports equipment, instructors offering lessons, as well as plenty of tour operators who will take you out on the water for a cruise.
After the sun goes down, tourists use the SkyWheel as a landmark and reference point, its one million lights an unmistakable beacon on the sand. A ride on this massive gondola-style observation wheel is great for photos, and especially stunning at sunset.
If you're looking for a break from the sun, check out Ripley's Aquarium, where you can walk through a reef, watch a mermaid show, or even swim with the sharks. If you've got kids with you (or just want to feel like a kid again), head to WonderWorks to see fun science exhibits, play laser tag, and zipline 1,000 feet above the water.
If you're looking for evening entertainment, be sure to check out Dolly Parton's "Pirates Voyage" dinner show. It's a crowd-pleaser for all ages, so be sure to get your tickets ahead of time.
2. Cancún, Mexico
Cancún is one of the world's most iconic spring break spots, a planned resort destination with 21 kilometers of white-sand beaches and plenty of resort options for families.
Visitors have plenty of options for inexpensive things to do, from sunbathing and people-watching to snorkeling the huge barrier reef that protects the narrow island. Evenings are full of options, too, with plenty of live music and events happening year-round.
If you need a break from the sun, visit the inexpensive and fascinating Cancún Mayan Museum (Museo Maya de Cancún) and the adjacent El Rey Maya Archaeological Site (El Rey Zona Arqueológica) to get a look into the ancient Mayan world.
Land-lovers who want to get up close to marine life can check out the Interactive Aquarium Cancún, and anyone looking for a truly unique experience should visit the Cancún Underwater Museum, a submerged sculpture exhibit.
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cancún
3. Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach has everything you need to have the most memorable spring break, from sandy beaches and people-filled boardwalks to a wide range of dining and entertainment options.
Despite the notoriously high prices of the trendy Art Deco Historic District and South Beach area, college students can easily plan a cheap spring break trip by booking a hotel on the northern end of the barrier island and taking advantage of the free trolley to get to and from the area's hot spots.
South Beach is one of Florida's top beaches, often crowded but always a great place to find good food and nightlife.
Just over the causeway in downtown Miami, tourists will find even more shopping and restaurants, as well as free entertainment at the Bayside Marketplace, a huge outdoor mall. It's also home to the Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel, which provides passengers with gorgeous views over the city and Biscayne Bay from the comfort of air-conditioned gondolas.
Tourists who want to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature can visit nearby Jungle Island animal sanctuary, or take a day trip to the Everglades National Park for an unforgettable adventure.
Accommodation: Best Resorts in Miami Beach
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Miami
4. South Padre Island, Texas
This tropical barrier island sits in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Corpus Christi, Texas. South Padre Island is the perfect choice for spring break trips for both families and college students thanks to plenty of outdoor activities and entertainment that cost little or nothing.
Beach Activities: After a day of swimming, sunbathing, dolphin watching, and kite-flying, spring breakers can relax and enjoy public performances on the beach or live music at many of the local restaurants. Those who really want to play like a kid can even take one of the many sandcastle building classes.
One of the best things about this destination is Padre Island National Seashore, home to pristine beaches, grassy dunes, and marine life including sea turtles. It is also in the path of the Central Flyway migratory route, with a total of 350 species making the island their temporary home. The Malaquite Visitor Center gives tourists a good introduction to the area.
South Padre Island is also home to many activities that aren't typical of beach resort destinations, making this a great choice for those who want a unique spring break experience. Visitors will find an abundance of things to do, including art classes, comedy shows, and lively market days.
Accommodation: Best Resorts on South Padre Island
5. Nassau, The Bahamas
Nassau is the best-known tourist destination in the Bahamas, home to a variety of resorts, attractions, and shopping. The most popular attractions and things to do are on Paradise Island, home to the Versailles Gardens and French Cloister, as well as a fantastic water park at the Atlantis resort, an imaginative representation of the legendary city.
You don't have to stay at the high-end expensive resorts to enjoy their best features, so budget-savvy spring breakers can take advantage of the lower rates at beachfront lodgings like the Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas while enjoying the best the island has to offer.
If you love animals, consider splurging on a swim at Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island, or take a trip to Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre to hand-feed rainbow lorikeets. If shopping is more your style, head to the Nassau Straw Market on Downtown Bay Street.
6. Orlando, Florida
Orlando's popularity as a top family vacation destination makes it surprisingly affordable, with a wide range of excellent resorts and hotels to choose from, fitting all budgets and group sizes.
These savings on lodgings leave more for enjoying the attractions and things to do, the most popular of which are obviously the Walt Disney World parks of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, and the Universal Studios parks including the Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Both of the major parks also operate dedicated water parks, and favorites include Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Universal's Volcano Bay. SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove are great options for animal lovers, and Exotic Animal Experience is a real treat for those who want to meet a two-toed sloth or owl monkey.
Money-Saving Tips: To make sure you stay on budget during spring break, be sure to book a hotel that provides shuttle service to and from the parks and attractions you're most interested in, since a taxi and rideshare services can get very expensive, especially at park closing times.
You can also save money by booking a room with a kitchen—Disney and Universal are both great about allowing guests to bring in their own food, which can be a big help when you're trying not to break the bank.
7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic's top beach destination has a surprising number of affordable resorts, many of which offer money-saving all-inclusive options. Among the most popular spring destinations, Punta Cana is especially well-known for its ideal parasailing conditions, and tourists will find it easy to get lessons and inexpensive equipment rentals.
Bávaro Beach, which lies at the northern end of the resort town, is among the most popular, and is always bustling with activity. Here, you will find a selection of ocean-view resort restaurants for midday refreshment, as well as entertainment right one the beach, day and night. Those who want to get away from the crowds can follow the shoreline south to some of the quieter spots.
Another option in the Dominican Republic for a package vacation is Puerto Plata. More subdued but still home to some of the country's best beaches, the resorts in Puerto Plata are sometimes even more affordable than Punta Cana.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Family Resorts in Punta Cana
8. Montego Bay, Jamaica
Known for being one of the Caribbean's top resort destinations, Montego Bay has some surprisingly affordable hotel options and budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts that can make a spring break in paradise a reality.
Things to Do: Vacationers love MoBay for its swimming, snorkeling, and variety of activities in the warm waters of the protected bay. Those who want to venture beyond the expansive palm-lined beaches will find adventures waiting in Montego Bay, from guided tours on bamboo river rafts to thrilling zipline tours of the jungle canopy.
9. Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach is a popular spring break destination that offers 23 miles of beautiful beaches. Budget-conscious spring breakers can find plenty of things to do and see along the Boardwalk, where the lively crowds make for an exciting atmosphere, and there is always free entertainment, including street performers and live music to enjoy.
For a great variety of classic, family, and thrill rides there are 10 amusement parks located along the beach, as well as a full selection of carnival games and street food.
If you are looking for free things to do in Daytona Beach, start with a tour of the Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory — free samples included.
10. Destin, Florida
Destin's beaches are some of the most spectacular in Florida Panhandle, making it a fantastic destination for spring break.
This is truly a resort destination, designed for an all-in-one, zero-stress vacation. Like any popular vacation spot, some resorts can be expensive, but Destin is also home to a good selection of excellent resorts that don't break the bank.
One of the best, and most affordable, resorts in Destin is the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, which offers plentiful amenities. The resort offers options for families and large groups, including four-bedroom hotel-style rooms and a variety of condos and villas.
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Destin, FL
11. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta face the protected waters of Bahia de Banderas, making this an ideal place to visit for swimming and snorkeling, with plenty of room for more adventurous sports like jet skiing and parasailing.
Once known as an exclusive resort town for the wealthy, Puerto Vallarta now offers plenty of inexpensive and dependable hotels to choose from, as well as affordable all-inclusive resorts that allow for a spring break trip on a realistic budget.
A great all-inclusive resort with affordable spring break rates is the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, a beachfront complex that has several pools, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities, as well as conveniences like water sports equipment and bicycle rentals.
There is also a full-service spa on site, and the property is centrally located in the heart of the Marina Vallarta district.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Puerto Vallarta
- Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
12. Las Vegas, Nevada
Travelers on a budget can see plenty of great entertainment for free, especially in the Freemont Street pedestrian area, which has nightly public shows. If you're traveling as a family, Las Vegas has a number of great hotels for kids.
A walk down the world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard, also known simply as The Strip, offers a plethora of sights and excitement. This is where you will find iconic Las Vegas landmarks, like the dancing fountains at the Bellagio, the Paris Hotel's scale model of the Eiffel Tower, and the volcano show at the legendary Mirage.
Spring is a great time of year to visit Las Vegas thanks to the milder temperatures, allowing tourists to warm up from the long winter without melting in the heat of a desert summer.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Las Vegas, NV
13. Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is a great cheap spring break trip for families thanks to its numerous free attractions and museums.
Top family attractions include the National Zoo, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of American History. Families will also want to visit D.C.'s iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the reflecting pool and memorials along the National Mall.
Spring break coincides with the Cherry Blossom Festival in late March and early April, an annual celebration that fills the city with performances, special events, and throngs of tourists. There are also many options for day trips from Washington, D.C., especially historic attractions like Colonial Williamsburg and Gettysburg.
14. Moab, Utah
Moab is the ideal spot for active vacationers and thrill-seekers, with an abundance of natural attractions. Those who love the outdoors can save money by staying in one of the Moab area's campgrounds.
Hiking and exploring Utah's stunning landscape is some of the top things to do in Moab during warm weather, and a hike in Arches National Park should be the first destination on your spring break adventure itinerary. The Must-do hike here is Delicate Arch but there are many to choose from. Nearby, the Mesa Arch trail in Canyonlands( Island in the Sky section) offers scenic vistas that rival the Grand Canyon's.
15. New Orleans, Louisiana
Spring break tends to land in between Mardi Gras and the French Quarter Festival, so the city's festive atmosphere is in full swing. As long as your spring break vacation doesn't coincide with Mardis Gras celebrations, New Orleans is a great destination for college students looking for a budget-friendly trip.
The French Quarter is the epicenter of New Orleans tourist activity, offering historic buildings, excellent restaurants and cafés, and shopping at boutiques and galleries. The famous Bourbon Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfare that comes to life at night, home to a wide range of entertainment options, including street musicians and the city's hottest restaurants.
Beyond Bourbon Street, the French Quarter's Jackson Square is also home to plenty of free entertainment, with more musicians, street performers, and local artists, as well as many restaurants and shops. Sitting at one end of the square is the picturesque St. Louis Cathedral, with the Moon Walk promenade and Riverboat Docks nearby.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in New Orleans, LA
16. Savannah, Georgia
Spring break is the perfect time of year to visit Savannah, with warm but comfortable temperatures and an abundance of things to see and do. Although you won't find the rowdy spring break scenes of the better-known destinations, there is plenty of nightlife and entertainment for college students, as well as a great variety of affordable family attractions.
One of the things that makes Savannah such an affordable option is that tourists can enjoy many of the top attractions just by taking a stroll. Walking is the most enjoyable way to get around the city, and the historic buildings, beautiful parks, and abundant public squares are all free to enjoy.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Savannah, GA
17. Austin, Texas
College students and families looking for a spring break destination that breaks all the stereotypes will love the capital city of Texas. The city's motto, "Keep Austin Weird," is an homage to its variety of unique things to see and do.
One of Austin's most unusual attractions is the nightly feeding flight of the city's population of Mexican free-tailed bats; the sight of 1.5 million bats emerging from their home beneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is unforgettable.
Downtown Austin is full of a variety of cultural attractions, entertainment venues, and excellent restaurants, as well as many free and low-cost activities at its parks. Zilker Metropolitan Park is home to the majority of attractions, including a public pool; a botanical garden; the Austin Nature and Science Center; and the Zilker Hillside Theater, which is home to numerous events, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Austin, TX