The Best Spring Break Alternatives

San Francisco Mission Dolores Park

Now that the excitement and sparkle of the holiday season has worn away and the white, fluffy snow has melted, it’s time to start planning your alternative spring break escape. What is an alternative spring break?

Your common spring break locations include Miami, San Diego and South Padre Island which are known for their hot weather and beach parties. Alternative spring breaks see travelers visit more uncommon locations or hidden gems if you will.

Top 10 Alternative Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas

Most spring break destinations cater to college students during their spring semester, but what family vacations are available at this time of year?

Fear not! Here are 10 best alternative family-friendly spring break destinations to escape to and enjoy with the family.

  1. Sedona, Arizona
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Napa Valley, California
  4. Denver, Colorado
  5. Nashville, Tennessee
  6. Austin, Texas
  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  8. Boston, Massachusetts
  9. New Orleans, Louisiana
  10. Atlanta, Georgia

Before you jet off, make sure to get your airport hotel & parking secured in advanced for the best rates.

Sedona, Arizona

A great option for families that want to get away from partying college students, the striking Sedona red rock park landscapes offer the perfect place to enjoy family hiking trips and desert view picnic areas and provide a great alternative spring break trip.

Sedona’s art galleries showcase a diverse range of artistic expressions against the red rock landscapes. Renowned for its thriving art community, Sedona boasts galleries that feature a rich blend of Southwestern, contemporary, and Native American art. Visitors can explore these creative havens.

Amidst the awe-inspiring red rock state park scenery, Sedona’s spa resorts offer a place of relaxation providing a blend of indulgence and natural beauty. The spa resorts are renowned for their rejuvenating treatments, from therapeutic massages to holistic wellness experiences. On a Sedona spa day, guests can immerse themselves in luxurious amenities, surrounded by the serene ambiance.

If you are looking to explore unique trinket shops, we recommend the short drive into Scottsdale just south of Sedona, where you can buy your own mini-Cactus!

San Francisco, California

San Francisco - Chinatown
Dragon Gate, Photo by Daniel Zimmerman / CC BY-SA

Heading over to California for your alternative spring break trip is also a great option for students, couples, and family vacations.

Whether you are getting away with a loved one, taking the family to see the Sea Lions at Pier 39, or are a college student wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beach, San Francisco is the place for you. Pier 39 offers the most trinket and attraction shops, as well as independent eateries, whilst Pier 33 gets you on to the Alcatraz boat tour and prison exploration.

The iconic Golden Gate Park unfolds as a sprawling green paradise in San Francisco, offering a myriad of attractions and recreational opportunities. Boasting over 1,000 acres, the park encompasses gardens, lakes, and cultural centers.

Visitors can wander around the Japanese Tea Garden, paddle across Stow Lake, or revel in the blooming flora of the Conservatory of Flowers, making Golden Gate State Park a diverse and enchanting escape within the heart of the city.

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley
Napa Valley, Photo by SD Dirk / CC BY

Napa Valley, synonymous with world-class vineyards and picturesque landscapes, is a premier wine region in Northern California. This one has something for everyone and is especially geared towards couples looking for an alternative spring break. If you’re feeling more sophisticated, hop in the car for a day trip to the world-famous wine region.

Renowned for its rolling vine-covered hills, Napa Valley is the place for wine enthusiasts, offering exquisite Napa Valley wine-tasting experiences and guided tours through its lush wineries.

Things to do beside wine? Beyond the Napa Valley wine tours and vineyards, charming towns, Michelin-starred restaurants, and hot air balloon rides contribute to the region’s allure, making it a destination that seamlessly blends culinary delights with breathtaking scenery.

Interested in a more international experience? Head on down to Chinatown for a delightfully authentic tea ceremony. End your day by stretching your legs (and glutes!) and take a stroll in the surrounding hills.

Denver, Colorado

Denver Skyline
Denver, Photo by Sheila Sund / CC BY

The beautiful capital of Colorado, Denver is a fantastic option if you are wanting a more adventurous spring break trip this year.

At the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a gateway to unparalleled natural beauty, offering opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it is known for its jumping-off point for Denver ski resorts, so perfect for the adrenaline junkie wanting to avoid busy beaches.

This city is well known for its historical ties to the Titanic too, wherein the famed survivor, Molly Brown resided in her mansion. After exploring the ski slopes, why not head into town to view the ultramodern Denver Art Museum for a slower-paced afternoon?

The city’s cultural scene thrives with world-class museums, thriving neighborhoods, and a rich history, making spring break in Denver an enticing destination for those seeking a dynamic mix of urban exploration and outdoor escapades.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville - Broadway
Broadway, Photo by Mark Stephenson / CC BY-ND

If you’re more of a music buff who prefers cowboy boots, head on down to “Music City,” Nashville, Tennessee for your alternative spring break this year! Explore the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, where country legends have performed for decades.

Beyond its musical allure, the city offers a diverse culinary scene. So, after dancing the night away, make sure to get a great big southern sized helping of local favorites like fried chicken and biscuits at Loveless, or fried green tomatoes and banana pudding at Arnold’s Country Kitchen. Most importantly, end your night at any one of Nashville’s scores of music venues for the best live music experience in the South any night of the week.

Whilst you’re in Nashville, be sure to check out The Parthenon, located in Centennial Park in Nashville; it stands as a remarkable replica of the ancient Greek temple in Athens.

Now, if you’re a Swifty, Nashville is home to the super star songstress, Taylor Swift so you can find some of her most cherished spots such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, her favourite coffee shop, Fido and the place where she was discovered, the Bluebird Café, at 14 years old. The perfect Spring Break for Swifties.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, emerges as an ideal alternative Spring Break destination, offering a dynamic blend of live music, outdoor activities. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin welcomes visitors with its eclectic music festivals, diverse venues, and a buzzing nightlife on Sixth Street.

The city’s lush green spaces, including Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake, provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation. Austin’s food scene, featuring renowned barbecue joints and innovative cuisine, adds a flavorful dimension to the Spring Break experience.

Beyond its musical and culinary allure, Austin boasts a vibrant arts scene, with street art adorning city walls and the contemporary galleries of the East Austin Studio Tour. Visitors can also embrace the city’s weird and wonderful spirit at iconic spots like the Cathedral of Junk or by taking a dip in the natural spring-fed Barton Springs Pool.

Austin’s warm weather during Spring Break complements its diverse offerings, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a blend of creativity, outdoor adventure, and a uniquely Texan experience.

With its laid-back atmosphere, quirky charm, and a mix of cultural attractions, Austin promises a memorable and unconventional Spring Break.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is steeped in American history, offering Spring Break visitors the chance to explore iconic landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The diverse neighborhoods, like Old City and Fishtown, provide unique cultural experiences, with street art, extensive boutiques, and thriving food joints.

Philadelphia’s museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation, cater to art enthusiasts. Additionally, the city hosts a variety of festivals and events during the spring, adding a lively and celebratory atmosphere to the visit.

Outdoor spaces like Fairmount Park, Boathouse Row, and the Schuylkill River Trail offer opportunities for scenic walks, bike rides, and picnics. With its rich history, cultural offerings, and diverse activities, Philadelphia provides a well-rounded and engaging destination for an alternative spring break experience.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, with its blend of history, culture, and lively city, makes for an excellent alternative Spring Break destination. The city’s historical significance is evident in landmarks such as the Freedom Trail, where visitors can explore key sites like the Massachusetts State House and Paul Revere’s House. The Boston Common and Public Garden offer picturesque green spaces for leisurely strolls and picnics.

Boston’s diverse neighborhoods, from the historic North End to the trendy South End, provide unique cultural experiences, diverse dining options, and boutique shopping. The city’s world-class museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, cater to art and history enthusiasts.

Boston spring break brings a burst of color with blooming flowers and the Boston Marathon, creating an energetic and festive atmosphere. The city’s proximity to the coast allows for scenic harbor walks, ferry rides to nearby islands, and fresh seafood experiences.

Whether enjoying the academic atmosphere around Harvard Square, attending a performance in the Theater District, or exploring the innovative exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science, Boston offers a diverse range of activities, making it an appealing destination for an alternative and enriching spring break vacation.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, with its unique culture, history, and lively atmosphere, is an exciting choice for an alternative Spring Break destination. Known for its iconic French Quarter, visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s rich musical heritage by exploring jazz clubs, street performances, and festivals.

The diverse and delicious Creole cuisine is a highlight, with iconic dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets awaiting adventurous foodies. The French Market and Magazine Street offer a variety of shops and art galleries for a memorable shopping experience.

New Orleans’ historic Spanish and French Creole architecture, including the St. Louis Cathedral and charming shotgun houses, provides a picturesque backdrop for exploration. Take a leisurely stroll along the Mississippi Riverfront or hop on a streetcar to soak in the city’s ambiance.

Spring in New Orleans is marked by pleasant weather, making outdoor activities enjoyable. City parks like Audubon Park and City Park provide green spaces for picnics and bike rides. Additionally, the city’s lively street life and vibrant nightlife, including the famous Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter, ensure an entertaining and spirited New Orleans Spring Break experience.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia, offers an experience rich in modern history, making it an enticing alternative Spring Break destination. The city is a cultural center with a rich history, modern attractions, and Southern charm.

History enthusiasts can explore the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, including the King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church, to gain insights into the Civil Rights Movement. The Atlanta History Center and the Swan House provide additional glimpses into the city’s past.

Atlanta’s dynamic neighborhoods, such as Midtown and Buckhead, offer a mix of trendy shops and diverse dining options. The BeltLine, a former railway corridor turned multi-use trail, provides a scenic route for walking, biking, and exploring public art installations.

Families can enjoy the perfect Atlanta spring break attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the interactive exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. The city’s diverse culinary scene, ranging from traditional Southern cuisine to innovative dining experiences, adds a flavorful dimension to the trip.

With its mild spring weather, Atlanta encourages outdoor activities in Piedmont Park or the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The city’s cultural events, including festivals and concerts, contribute to a lively atmosphere during spring break, making Atlanta an engaging and well-rounded spot.

Where are you going for your alternative Spring Break?

Beyond the familiar choices lie hidden gems and unique experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Philadelphia, the culture of New Orleans, the beauty of Atlanta or the music of Nashville, each destination offers its own blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural enrichment.

If you’re traveling through this period take a look at our Spring Break airport hotel and parking deals to see if you can save yourself some money.

Embrace the opportunity to break away from the ordinary and create lasting memories in these diverse and captivating regions. Whatever your preferred escape, may your alternative Spring Break be filled with new discoveries and unforgettable moments. Safe travels!