5 unusual spring break destinations

Try hiking in Utah’s national parks instead of traditional spring break spots like Florida and the Caribbean


Not sure where you’re going to head for spring break? Here are some great alternatives to traditional spring break spots like Florida and the Caribbean, which may be expensive to book this time of year.

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Not sure where you’re going to head for spring break? You sound like my family! We always have the most difficult time picking a destination for spring break of any time of year.

We usually want to go somewhere warm because after a long Indiana winter – we are ready to thaw. Additionally, we’re always looking for airfare that we can book for the fewest points on Southwest Airlines and use our Southwest Companion Pass, so one of us flies free.

That usually means the typical spring break destinations of Florida and the Caribbean are out, because they’re more expensive fares, so we always struggle with an alternative.

After several years of doing this, I’ve got some ideas for you!

1. Hike Utah’s national parks

One of the most interesting spring breaks we’ve ever taken was to Utah to explore several of their national and state parks. We flew into Las Vegas and spent a few days checking out the hotels and playing at Mandalay Bay’s waterpark and then drove north into southern Utah.

We spent a day each hiking Zion National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grand Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon State Park, as well as sand-surfing at Coral Pink Sand Dunes National Park. Utah’s landscape feels like you’ve landed on another planet, and we never failed to marvel at the next beautiful view.

Zion was plenty warm during the day, but it cools off in the evening. It was actually snowing at Bryce Canyon when we arrived, however, so you should be prepared for all types of weather if you choose Utah for your spring getaway.

See related:  Southwest is now flying to Hawaii; these are your options

2. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Another great spot for families is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. While it’s not as warm as Florida by end of March and early April, you’re likely to enjoy some mild days with sunshine. We last visited in February and got some high 50s and low 60s temperatures, which were quite nice.

There are endless things to do in Pigeon Forge, from the Titanic Museum and Alcatraz East Crime Museum to The Island entertainment district, which has a Ferris wheel, a ropes course, shopping, and dining, plus go-karting galore.

This is also a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park –  it’s not as busy as it is during summer or fall months.

3. Palm Springs, California

If you’re looking for warmth, head to California’s desert. Take advantage of a HomeAway vacation rental, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home without a pool in this desert oasis. If you enjoy architecture, you can get your fill of authentic mid-century modern homes and also head over to nearby Joshua Tree National Park for some spring break hiking.

See related:  These rewards cards can help you book a free summer vacation

4. San Jose, Costa Rica

This year, my family has booked a trip to Costa Rica. We love to be on-the-go and adventurous on vacation, so it’s tough for us to spend much more than a day or two lounging on the beach.

We were able to book a flight to Costa Rica for three of us using our Southwest points and bring our fourth family member using the Southwest Companion Pass. Since it’s known for all sorts of adventure, from wildlife to zip-lines, we felt like Costa Rica was the perfect choice.

We’ll be flying into San Jose via Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and then plan to make our way to the country’s coast, as well as its many volcanoes and national parks for hiking, zip-lining, kayaking and other adventurous activities.

5. New York City

Sometimes a big city getaway can be just what the doctor ordered for spring break, especially if you like to be on the move like my family. There’s never a shortage of things to do in New York City, and better yet, free things to do.

The weather can be a bit risky in late March or early April in New York City. You might happen upon a late snowstorm or an unseasonably warm day, so have indoor and outdoor plans. A walk through Central Park is a great outdoor activity, as is strolling the High Line in Chelsea or taking a water taxi over to Brooklyn and back.

For indoor activities, take your pick of museums or head to the abundance of shopping options like The Shops at Columbus Circle or the awesome Strand Book Store.

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