This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Read the full disclosure policy here
It is the bane of every college student. Where to go for Spring Break? That same bane is the bane of any adult looking to take a family vacation during a school break. It is even worse for young professionals who want to relive part of college but don’t feel like dealing with thousands of hormone young adults just figuring out the world of drinking and adventure. Here are some amazingly unique spring break destinations to visit without having to deal with hordes. All of these destinations are within a short flight of the continental United States.
Help support this site by purchasing one of our National Park Shirts, Poster, and other gear. Every purchase includes a donation to the national parks and helps keep National Park Obsessed’s website free to use and producing more national park guides.
Looking for more help planning your next adventure? Join the National Park Obsessed Facebook Group here to connect other national park lovers, trade advice, or see inspiring photos of the National Parks?
- Unique Spring Break Destinations in the United States
- Unique Spring Break Destinations Internationally
Unique Spring Break Destinations in the United States
Black Hills, South Dakota
The Black Hills, South Dakota is full of things to do and makes for a great road trip. There are quirky roadside attractions such as Wall Drug. It’s hard to miss the numerous sizes advertising Wall Drug. It’s basically a miny carnival with a western theme. The Black Hills is home to Mount Rushmore National Monument and the still being carved Crazy Horse Monument. The Black Hills played an important part during the Cold War. The region was home to 500 minuteman missiles. You can visit one of the silos at the Minuteman Missle National Historical Site. There is Badlands National Park with plenty of badlands to explore and if you are lucky to see find some fossil. Two of the world’s largest cave – Wind Cave and Jewel Cave are located in the area. The caves are not connected but each is unique and a cave tour is a must-do.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park is located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. Despite being in Florida the park rarely sees more than 150 people per day. The park is only accessible via boat, ferry or seaplane. The park offers white sand beaches, a historic pre-Civil War fort (that was used to house the doctor who set John Wilks Booth’s leg after he shot President Lincoln), and snorkeling. At night there is no light pollution making it one of the best places in Southern Florida to see the stars. The best part of the park is to take the ferry and spend a couple of nights camping in the park. This allows you to access the fort and the beaches after the ferry has left (taking at 125 of the other tourists with them).
Durango, Colorado could be considered an outdoor adventure and beer hub. The city is home to eight different breweries plus several bars that serve other Colorado microbreweries. In the areas, surrounding Durango is Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is home to the famed cliff dwellings which you can purchase tickets to tour as well as several hiking trails along the mesa. The Colorado Trail offers mountain biking, hiking, and more outdoor opportunities. The region is also home to climbing, ziplining, and whitewater rafting.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee / North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains straddle the border of Tennesse and North Caroline. The mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The Smokies are an excellent place to get some spring hiking before the summer crowds show up. The trees have started to green up and animals are starting to become more active. The snow melts have increased the size of many of the waterfalls. If you are lucky, there may still be snow on the ground. In addition, you can check out the cities of Asheville and Gatlinburg for some fun like Dolly’s Dixie Stampede.
Get help planning your trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas / New Mexico
Surprisingly there is a mountain range along the border of the southeastern border of New Mexico and western Texas. This range is called the Guadalupe Mountains. The region is home to two national parks. In Texas, there is Guadalupe Mountains National Park and in New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The two parks are about a two and half hour drive from each other. Guadalupe offers nice hiking and backpacking in the mountains. You can even climb up El Capitan (just don’t tell anyone it’s not the El Capitan in Yosemite National Park). My favorite hike is Guadalupe Peak which offers an amazing view of El Capitan and the surrounding landscape. Carlsbad Caverns is an amazing cave that they offer a range of tours. I highly recommend the wild cave tour back to the hall of the white giant.
Unique Spring Break Destinations Internationally
South Coast, Iceland
Iceland is a hot tourist destination right now but it isn’t a typical spring break destination. Spring is the low season for Iceland right now. The weather is still unpredictable and it could snow but it could also be sunny and warm. The winter activities are getting limited but the summer activities are just starting up. Don’t let the weather get you down. Be prepared for anything and take a road trip along the south coast of Iceland. The road trip will take you around the Golden Circle, down to the black sand beaches and the glacier lagoon. You can hike on a glacier if the weather is right check out the ice caves. It is still possible to see the northern lights during the spring.
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
If you are looking for a hiking and beach adventure then there is no better spot than Colombia’s Tayrona National Park. The funny thing about Tayrona is that you have to hike through the jungle to get to the beaches. There are several options for where to stay in Tayrona. There are some small lodges, campsite or hammocks for rent along the way. The best spot to stay is about 2 hours hike along to the San Juan beach. If you have a group rent a tent and camp. If not I loved my two nights in a hammock. There are several trails along the beach as well as into the jungle to visit a few archeological sites.
Ottawa, Canada is a great international destination that will not break the bank. It makes for a great place to visit and explore the history of Canada. Ottawa offers a great number of activities. As the capital of Canada, the city is home much of the government and many of the national museums. If you would like to tour the Center Block of Canada’s Parliament Building and see the famous library now is the time to do it. Center Block will be closing at the end of Summer 2018 for a 10-15 year restoration project that is basically a complete rebuild of the entire building. The city features museums such as the Canadian War Museum and the National Art Gallery. Across the river in Quebec is the Canadian Museum of History. The city has a great food scene in the Byward Market. Take a guided food tour to explore the very best of the city.
Mexico City, Mexico
Get away from the party zones of Cancun and Cozumel, check out Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. Mexico City offers a unique look at Mexican culture thru the many museums such as Museo Nacional de Antropología, Frida Kahlo Museum, and Museo Nacional de Arte. You can learn the history of tequila and mezcal at the tequila museum. There are several day trips to historical sites such at Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Moon and Sun.
San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica. This lively Central American city is a quick flight from most of the southern United States. The city is modern with typical Spanish colonial architecture. The city has many plaza and parks to explore. The cities museums highlight the history of the region from early Americans to the present day. The highlights of the museums are the Museum of Jade and the Museum of Gold. They feature artifacts from the region made of the precious resources. The Costa Rican volcanos and jungles are perfect for a day or two trips from San Jose.