"Spring break" means very different things to different people. For all, it's a chance to get away from daily obligations and do what makes them happy. For some, that means long, quiet walks in the beach or hikes along rugged mountains, while to others it translates to booze-fueled beach parties or climbing about on complex water parks with the kids. For the former, we made a list of amazing alternative spring breaks away from the crowds. But for those who take "spring break" in its most literal sense, here are 10 spring break destinations that may be typical, but are nonetheless totally awesome.
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Dubbed by many as the “Spring Break Capital of the World,” Panama City Beach hosts nearly half a million co-eds every spring and keeps them entertained with outdoor concerts and contests, popular restaurants and bars with extended happy hours, and even an amusement park. Families can enjoy many of these perks as well, and often appreciate the destination’s relatively low prices. There’s also miles and miles of white sand, beautiful state parks, historic sites, and great fishing. If you go during spring break, you’ll miss the jellyfish that become prevalent in the late summer.
Where to Stay: Majestic Beach Towers
Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular spots on the East Coast for spring break, thanks in large part to its being simultaneously college-friendly and kid-friendly — and budget-friendly. On the family side, this South Carolinian city is filled with inexpensive beach resorts that are home to game rooms, water parks, and apartment-size accommodations, as well as over 100 golf courses and 60 miles of sandy shoreline. This shoreside mileage is shared with partiers; during spring break, Senor Frogs hosts nighttime beach parties as well as foam parties, and there are numerous other bars and night clubs where spring breakers can rage.
Where to Stay: Captain’s Quarters Resort
An English-speaking archipelago that begins about 50 miles off the south coast of Florida, the Bahamas attracts spring breakers of all ages; college students often pick it because it’s easy to reach, has plenty of beach party staples (such as Senor Frogs), and the drinking age is 18. Families are attracted to the beaches, golf courses, delicious seafood, and mega-resorts offering tons of kid-friendly activities.
Where to Stay: Atlantis Paradise Island Resort
Galveston’s economy relies on shipping and tourism. Visitors don’t mind that the sand isn’t white and the ocean can be murky; instead, they’re there for the warm weather, inexpensive dining and lodging, and historic attractions like old buildings and museums. Only an hour from Houston, Galveston welcomes plenty of party-focused spring breakers every year, but the scene is a little more low-key than the one found at Texas neighbor South Padre Island (up next). In Galveston, students simply enjoy time on the sand or hanging out along the seawall for the most part.
Where to Stay: Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel
A thin, tiny island off the southeast tip of Texas, connected to the mainland by a highway, South Padre Island is a popular spring break destination among students who attend schools in the south. Not only is it affordable and easy to reach, but every spring it is home to “Coca Cola Beach.” Attended by tens of thousands of co-eds, this massive party features all-day concerts, contests, and games. South Padre Island’s beaches also boast volleyball, banana boats, snorkeling, and parasailing, and families can relax on the sand or visit sights like South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center, Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, and Port Isabel Lighthouse & Museum.
Where to Stay: Pearl South Padre
Puerto Rico has become an increasingly popular spring break destination as flight prices have dropped and students have discovered the lively casinos and clubs that line the streets. By day, huge malls, golf courses, casinos, and of course, beautiful white-sand beaches attract partiers and spring breaking families alike. However crowded this island might seem, Puerto Rico as a whole is not a tourist trap, and there’s always a secluded spot — it’s only a matter of choosing the right place to go.
Where to Stay: Caribe Hilton San Juan
Basically part of Charleston — which is known for its delicious food, amazing weather, fun nightlife, and beautiful people — Folly Beach is where locals and visitors hit the South Carolinian sand when the weather really warms up. A six-mile-long island, Folly Beach is called “the edge of America” by locals, but it’s only 15 minutes from historic downtown Charleston. Activities include swimming, fishing, jet-skiing, dolphin-watching, kayaking, and surfing. There are also some fun bars and restaurants, but those looking for a raucous nightlife can easily head into Charleston to party once the sun goes down.
Where to Stay: Tides Folly Beach
Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters — is one of the world’s top beach destinations, and it’s also one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you’re looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of mega-resorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun, margarita in hand. And while partiers are prevalent, families can find plenty to be entertained by here as well. If you’d prefer a more authentic experience and don’t mind being a 10-minute cab ride from the beach, consider Ciudad Cancun with its cheaper, smaller hotels, and wide array of traditional and international restaurants and shops.
Where to Stay: Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
Young families, jet-setters, retirees, and college kids buying six-packs with spare change unite, brave the humidity, and celebrate the Sunshine State in style every spring break. Miami’s neon-lit South Beach (or “SoBe”) might be the sexiest beach town in America. Chic clubs with discerning bouncers draw the fashion-industry elite, the occasional celebrity, and plenty of 20-somethings ready to party. Miami Beach is the quieter, more family-friendly alternative; it still has the white-sand beaches, but fewer crowds and a more low-key scene.
Where to Stay: Fontainebleau Resort Miami Beach
Home to party-friendly Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic is one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean for spring break. Located on the D.R.’s easternmost tip, Punta Cana is characterized by near-perfect weather, as well as dozens of all-inclusive mega-resorts ranging from cheap to chic. Spring breakers flock to these hotels, where highlights include unlimited booze, beachside games and contests, and swim-up bars. But families will also find plenty to do here, and areas that aren’t congested with partiers. Activities include everything from banana boat rides to snorkeling day trips.
Where to Stay: Paradisus Punta Cana
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