Photo source: Flickr - Breezy Baldwin
When hearing the words "Spring Break," many travelers see mental images of raucous beach parties and boozing into the wee hours of the night. The truth is, there are many great Spring Break destinations that offer more than just drinking. Whether you're looking for beautiful stretches of coastline, adventurous activities or interesting history, you'll find it in the follow destinations. To help you plan your trip, here is a guide to Spring Break vacations beyond boozing.
This unincorporated US territory offers a Caribbean spring break getaway - no passport, currency conversions or special cell phone plans required, at least for US citizens. Spring is a great time to visit Puerto Rico, as weather is sunny and it's no longer high season, meaning you'll find great deals and avoid crowds. San Juan is the capital, and offers plenty of heritage experiences through castles and cathedrals (the 16th century El Castillo San Felipe del Morro is highly recommended). For those who want to enjoy a Spring Break beach getaway, Ocean Park, Pine Grove Beach and Flamenco Beach are great suggestions, as is taking a 25-minute flight to the serene island of Vieques. Tip: Make sure to book a Bioluminescent Bay tour when visiting Puerto Rico to experience the wonder of paddling through waters illuminated by neon colors due to oceanic plankton that light up when agitated.
California is full of great Spring Break destinations, one of which is Santa Monica. During spring, temperatures reach in the high 60s/low 70s Fahrenheit for an enjoyable warmth that's not overpowering. The Santa Monica Pier is an attraction in particular that makes this city stand out from the rest, home to fishing (there's a bait and tackle shop right on the pier), the nostalgia-inducing Playland Arcade, amusement park rides, an aquarium, live entertainment, a trapeze school, shops - even free historical walking tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and noon. Beyond the Pier, Santa Monica State Beach offers 245 acres of beautiful beach and recreation. Other unforgettable Spring Break experiences in Santa Monica include getting inspired at the Bergamot Station Art Galleries or Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA), cycling or rollerblading the boardwalk, enjoying the view from the Santa Monica Place shopping mall roof, wandering the rose garden at Palisades Park, and seeing live music at venues like TRiP (2101 Lincoln Boulevard) and The Basement Tavern (2640 Main Street).
Along with having a great party scene - check out Duval Street for nightlife - this Florida island offers warm Gulf of Mexico waters, pristine sugar sand beaches and exciting outdoor activities. The best beach in Key West is Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, with opportunities to go fishing, cycling, swimming, hiking, snorkeling, diving and even enjoy yoga on the beach (8:15-9:45 am daily). As Key West is the former home of greats like Jimmy Buffett and Earnest Hemingway it's also worth it to explore the arts through attractions like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the Key West Museum of Art & History. During spring the weather in Key West is warm and sunny, perfect weather for outdoor adventures such as mangrove kayaking, snorkeling and diving shipwrecks, cycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and skydiving. Note: While travel insurance is always recommended, it becomes especially crucial when adding active adventures to your itinerary. This allows you to enjoy your trip without having to worry about trip mishaps ruining the fun.
British Columbia is absolutely breathtaking in spring, as this is when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. In fact, in April each year Vancouver hosts their month-long Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, worth a seasonal trip in itself. During the event, there's poetry, concerts, colorful light installations, cherry blossom picnics, Japanese fairs and more. Another reason to make Vancouver your choice for Spring Break is the outdoor adventure opportunities, from zip lining Grouse Mountain (up to 200 feet high!) to sailing (Jericho Sailing Centre offers lessons) to driving exotic cars up the Sea to Sky Highway with Scenic Rush.
You really can't go wrong with a Caribbean Spring Break getaway; however, for those looking for paradise outside of rainy season, the Exuma Cays are where it's at. Located about 30 minutes from Nassau (mainland Bahamas) or 90 minutes from Miami (Florida) by airplane, the Exumas contain 365 cays and islands worth exploring. Along with translucent sapphire blue waters and white sand beaches, you'll find unusual experiences like swimming with pigs at Big Major Spot Cay, hand-feeding stingrays on Stocking Island, swimming with nurse sharks at Compass Cay and snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto, James Bond's hidden lair in Never Say Never Again and Thunderball. Moreover, there are seemingly endless opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and diving in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a protected area containing 176 square miles of islands and dazzling waterways.
Where are your favorite spring getaways that go beyond stops at the local bar?
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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