a 350-foot long Serpent sculpture to the collection of prehistoric animals on display at Galetta Meadows. Photo via Shutterstock.

10 Lowkey Spots For An Incredible Spring Break

BY Matt Meltzer | March 12, 2024

Spring Break isn’t just a time for hard partying college kids to find new and inventive ways to play beer pong on the beach. For those who aren’t in school anymore, the holiday’s purpose is in its name: Spring has come, and it’s a time to break the couch-centric monotony of those long winter months, finally get outside, and hit the beach, the mountains or an unfamiliar city. Certain destinations are spring break classics, like Las Vegas and nearly all of Florida, both sacred places for those who need a fake ID to buy Pabst Blue Ribbon. However, if you want something a little off-the-radar and a little less fratty, but still fantastic, these 10 places make for an ideal spring break, no matter your age.

Anchorage, Alaska

Let’s party. A Grizzly Bear in Alaska taking a rest on a fallen tree. Photo via Shutterstock.

Telling people you’re spending spring break in Alaska seems like telling them you’re spending Christmas in Morocco, but don’t sleep on the Last Frontier during March and April. Is it cold? Yes, it’s cold. But since mosquitoes don’t like the cold either, you can hike around Chugach State Park, the largest urban park in the world, without dousing yourself in Deet. And though it doesn’t guarantee clear skies, April brings Alaska’s driest weather of the year as well as a reasonable amount of daylight – around 14 hours – meaning you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore but won’t go all Al Pacino with insomnia. Humpback Whales are a frequent sight this time of year, and crowds are, well, scared of spending spring break in Alaska.

Asheville, North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, NC, USA-10 JUNE 18: A street performer sings and plays guitar, while patrons dine outside at Carmel’s Kitchen and Bar.

What says “spring break” better than mornings spent traversing mountains with your crew and late afternoons spent sampling some of the best craft beer in the country? That’s the vibe in Asheville, N.C. where you can escape into this brewery-filled corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A typical spring day here might include hiking past waterfalls on the Greybeard Trail, then kicking back in the sun with a beer at nearby Black Mountain Brewing. In all, you’ll have over 50 breweries to pick from, including the Disneyland of beer, Sierra Nevada. The city’s got more than just suds for your spring breaking, though. No trip here is complete without a meal at the acclaimed  Indian restaurant Chai Pani, and there’s plenty of other great restaurants to hit up, BBQ and otherwise. March and April have only a fraction of the summer’s bachelor-partying masses, leaving the trails relatively empty and the beer halls just a wee bit quieter.

Boca Grande, Florida

Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Boca Grande, Florida, USA. Photo via Shutterstock.

Retirement, if you think about it, is like an eternal spring break. You poke around Florida on a golf cart, rarely think about work and generally leave responsibility in the world of other folks. Get a taste of it in Boca Grande, a stunning white sand beach community in western Florida. If you don’t feel ready to outsource walking to a small electric vehicle just yet, you can opt to explore undeveloped islands off the coast or cycle up the Boca Grande Rail Trail. The Gasparilla Inn & Club is a must-see, even if you don’t book a room there: it’s an Old Florida wooden masterpiece that looks much like it did when it opened in 1911.  Sunsets in Boca Grande are some of the finest in the state, and in this small, under-the-radar town you can typically enjoy them without the spring breakers who descend in other Gulf Coast locations.

Borrego Springs, California

BORREGO SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: A 350-foot long Serpent sculpture to the collection of prehistoric animals on display at Galetta Meadows. Photo via Shutterstock.

Plenty of people travel for spring break, soaking up sun on some far-flung beach. But how many people travel back in TIME? That’s close to what you’ll get in the tiny California desert town of Borrego Springs, home to the Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort. The trippy, throwback getaway is crafted to look like an old California mining town, but somehow stops short of getting too kitschy or overdone. When you’re not getting your Wild Bill on, take the short trip into Anza-Borrego State Park, where Burning Man-like sculptures and uninterrupted desertscapes await. Spring is the perfect season to visit the desert, too, when nights won’t freeze you and the days are still tolerable. 

Golden Isles, Georgia

Beautiful Jekyll Island beach. Landscape of dunes, beach and ocean One of the Golden Isles barrier islands off of Georgia, USA. Photo via Shutterstock.

Collectively, the Golden Isles are composed of Jekyll, Brunswick, St. Simons, Little St. Simons, and Sea islands. Each has its own reputation as a seaside getaway, but during the spring, you’ll find the Isles delightfully uncrowded. While it’s not quite perpetual tanning weather here, if the sun is shining, you can post up on over 20 miles of beaches with a book and a sweatshirt, or hit the 25 miles of bike trails along Jekyll Island. Better yet: you can golf. Golf is a time-honored spring break pastime, and the Golden Isles have half a dozen courses, including the Sea Island Golf Club, home to the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic. The Golden Isles aren’t a party destination, but that’s kind of the point. If you’re looking for a low key place by the ocean to unplug with your family, these islands are the place.

The Hamptons, New York

Hamptons Beach on Long Island. Photo via Shutterstock.

Perhaps your last memory of the Hamptons exists in a 20-something haze: you vaguely recall waiting in a long line at Surf Lodge before bouncing to a random house party where you couldn’t get an Uber home. Leave that bit of unpleasantness in the summer and visit the Hamptons during the off-season, where the parties might not be as crazy, but the scene is far more tolerable. Spring brings life back to the Hamptons, thankfully at a slower pace. The beaches aren’t warm enough for tanning yet, but believe it or not, you can surf this time of year and lessons with Surf Co are easily booked. You can also meander among the Hampton’s ample cherry blossoms that bloom in April and May without the hoards you might find in D.C. and enjoy the fresh seafood at spots like Cowfish and The Palm without having to fight for a reservation. Best of all, when you go visit again in the summer, you can be that guy who constantly tells everyone how much better the Hamptons were in April.

Taos, New Mexico

Woman tasting red wine by view of Taos Sangre de Cristo mountains from Ranchos de Taos valley background in backyard vineyard. Photo via Shuttestock.

Skiing is probably the second most popular spring break activity after beachside bad decisions. While you can’t necessarily complain about a late-March trip to Lake Tahoe, there are ski destinations far more relaxed. Enter Taos, the upscale New Mexican ski valley that sees its best snow of the year in March. Much like its more famous neighbor in Santa Fe, Taos is an architectural treasure, filled with historic adobe buildings built around a main plaza. When you’re not tearing up the terrain at Taos Ski Valley, take a hike along the Rio Grande Gorge, an underrated natural wonder that looks particularly majestic under a soft layer of white snow. At night, snuggle in at one of the more oddball examples of sustainable lodging, Taos Earthships, an artsy collection of luxury desert dwellings.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah at night. Photo via Shutterstock.

Once upon a time, spending spring break in a city with 4% beer seemed to go against everything spring break stood for. But Utah has brought its alcohol laws into the 21st century in recent years, increasing the legal limit of alcohol by volume (ABV) for beer sold in grocery stores or on tap to 5%.  Today you can find fantastic local beers at breweries like Uinta in SLC and top-flight whiskey at High West in nearby Park City. The city’s big spring break draw isn’t booze, though, it’s the abundance of skiing you can access within an hour of downtown. Base yourself at the sprawling Grand America or the new-ish Hyatt Regency, and you’ll be on the slopes in Park City, Alta, Snowbasin or Deer Valley in just a 30 to 45 minute drive.  That means you can hang out in SLC for a week and hit a different mountain each day without ever having to check out of your hotel. 

Sedona, Arizona

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona in the beautiful colors of sunset. Photo via Shutterstock.

Let everyone else have spring training and spa days in Scottsdale, Ariz. Arizona’s true spring break gem sits a little north in Sedona, the upscale hippie red rock enclave that’s packed with outdoor adventure. Sedona is a perfect place to break out of the doldrums of the year’s early months, where you can challenge your endurance with a strenuous hike up the Bear Mountain Trail or test your heat tolerance in one of Sedona’s famous sweat lodges. The city is considered an “energy vortex” by some, and its streets provide plenty of chances to try far-out things like reiki healing and psychic readings. For something a little more mainstream, hit the wineries in Cottonwood or Camp Verde for some surprisingly good desert wine.

U.S. Virgin Islands

St.Thomas island port, U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo via Shutterstock.

Somehow we forget that the United States still has a little slice of the West Indies within our borders: the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John beckon from the Caribbean. For nature lovers, few islands can top St. John, most of which is Virgin Islands National Park, and its unblemished tropical beaches. March marks the tail end of tourist season, and the park will be relatively free of selfie-snapping visitors. In St. Thomas, the last weekend of March hosts the St. Thomas International Regatta and the luxe parties that come with it. For an immersion in crucian culture, spend a couple of days on St. Croix, where you can try delicacies like roti and doubles in Christiansted, then enjoy the sunset from the easternmost point in the United States.