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BY TRACY ATWOOD
Best Spring Break Destinations for Every Bucket List
Spring break vacations are an enduring tradition celebrated by college students and families alike. Every year, people make a break for destinations for a week of fun and festivities. Now that the season has arrived, it’s time to decide: Where will you go and what will you do? The options are seemingly endless, but here are some bucket list-worthy favorites. Whether you’re into family vacations, the beach scene, or bustling cities, there’s a spring break destination for you.
U.S. News & World Report named Orlando first for best family vacations in the country. From the big-name favorites to budget-friendly theme parks, there is so much to do in Orlando for everyone in your family. Try mini excursions and tasty restaurants along ever-popular International Drive. Get an unforgettable blend of comedy theater and music with the Blue Man Group show. Spend the evening in a castle as you enjoy dinner and a tournament with Medieval Times. Plus, you could even squeeze in a short day trip to the Space Coast where you can explore the world of NASA at The Kennedy Space Center.
Washington, D.C. is a fun family vacation destination that won’t break the bank. You simply can’t beat the quality of all the free things to do. Take traditional tours around the White House, Washington Monument, and U.S. Capitol, then make sure to save multiple days to explore all of the Smithsonian museums. If you can only visit one, make sure to wander the Smithsonian National Museum of National History. Plus, during this time of year, the capital’s abundant cherry blossom trees are in bloom. It’s a gorgeous sight not to be missed, and you can even check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Branson is an unforgettable showstopper of a family spring break destination. Famous for its live entertainment, this town offers shows to suit all tastes, from live music to comedy to dinner cruises. Beyond the theater, check out the Branson Landing Fountains, take on the physical challenges of Fritz’s Adventure, visit the Titanic Museum, or venture through the World's Largest Toy Museum. And if you do only one thing, don’t miss the theme park, Silver Dollar City.
Make sure to pack your flip flops. From clear waters and jaw-dropping views to hidden coves and snorkeling spots, it’s easy to see why St. Thomashas some of the most popular beaches in the world. One of two favorites, Coki Beach is considered to have the best snorkeling on the island. It’s great for first timers and seasoned pros alike, and there are many area dive shops where you can rent gear to save some space in your suitcase. Sapphire Beach is one of the most picturesque, with beautiful views of St. John. It’s great for relaxers and adventurers alike — you can wind surf, kayak, snorkel, Jet Ski, or parasail here.
Fair warning: Clearwater Beach is a popular spring break destination for travelers from all over the country. But there’s a good reason why this beach town is so beloved. Beyond the 3-mile stretch of pristine beach on the gorgeous Gulf Coast, there’s a plethora of restaurants serving up freshly caught local seafood. Don’t miss the nightly sunset celebration at Pier 60, and take a day trip to nearby Tampa or St. Petersburg.
With its near-perfect weather, San Diego is a great spring break beach destination. Coronado Beach literally sparkles above all the rest, thanks to mineral mica glinting in the sand. This gem boasts truly spectacular sunsets with the iconic Hotel del Coronado as your backdrop. Or head to Oceanside for the classic California beach experience. Stroll along one of the longest wooden piers on the west coast, then grab your surf board. The Jetties is a popular surfing spot, but you can also grab a boogie board for the little ones to ride the waves.
Spring break is an exceptionally good time to visit San Francisco. The weather is still chilly, but there are fewer crowds than during the summer months. You might just fall in love with its patchwork of shops, diverse cultures, and eclectic neighborhoods. Tour TheMission Districtwhere artists have transformed facades, fences, walls, and sidewalks into what has been called the largest concentration of street art in the world. Stroll through the historic heart of the city’s Chinatown, and immerse yourself in a shopper’s paradise at Union Square.
When it comes to cities, Austin is one of the coolest. It’s known for its trendy festivals, food, and live music, ranging from small venues with packed dance floors to large events on stage. During spring break, Austin hosts the annual South by Southwest festival. It’s a giant mesh of film, conferences, interactive media, and concerts all rolled into one massive good time. SXSW Music is particularly worthy of spotlight — it’s arguably the largest music festival of its kind. Plus, track down some meals on wheels. Food trucks have taken Austin by storm, and you can order everything from breakfast tacos to late-night snacks.
Culture, coffee, and cool views collide in Seattle. This spring break destination is best for those looking for a fresh city experience. Fuel up on gourmet food and fresh produce at Pike Place Market, then tour some of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks. See a unique collection of outdoor sculptures at Olympic Sculpture Park, or browse the Museum of Pop Culture. Hit the local craft beer, wine, and coffee scene, and be sure to stop by the famous Space Needle observation tower.