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11 cheap spring break trips
Book great hotels for less than $100 nightly and see our favorite free or inexpensive activities.
After so many months spent cooped up inside, a cheap spring break trip can help weary winter warriors refresh, reset and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. To help you relax, unwind and have a good time without suffering from sticker shock, we researched dynamic destinations with cheap hotels and lots of free activities — that are actually fun. Plus, you can buy roundtrip, nonstop airfare to many of these cheap places for less than $100 per person.
Whether you’re traveling with family, friends or solo, here’s where you should go to make lifelong memories on a dime.
When is Spring break 2021?
Spring break in the US ranges from late February through mid-April, depending on the region and school calendar. But March is the most popular month for spring break nationwide.
Top cheap spring break destinations
To find the cheapest spring break destinations, we researched cities around the US and abroad that are known for having affordable hotels, reasonably priced restaurants and plenty of free or cheap activities. We also checked to make sure there are hotels and flights available for affordability.
The hotel rates we quote for each destination were obtained in February 2021 for six nights in March, from Sunday to Saturday, based on accommodations for a family of four at properties that have been rated very good by past travelers (8 out of 10 stars). For flights, we researched nonstop fares from major metropolitan areas, also from Sunday to Saturday, so you can get an idea of what getting there might cost.
This deep-south town with a hippie twist may have gained mainstream popularity in the last few years, but it’s still possible to find cheap hotels and vacation rentals. Plus, the downtown area is super-walkable, which makes getting from place to place a breeze. You can eat well at its charming bakeries and cafés without needing to splurge.
Pack a picnic and dine in Forsyth Park to watch the locals and Savannah College of Art and Design students commute to and fro. Tybee Island is only a 30-minute drive away for when you want to spend the day at a beach — catch a shuttle for $20 round trip.
Fly into Atlanta for cheap flights, then rent a car and enjoy the beautiful three-hour drive to Savannah, surrounded by luscious southern forest and marshland.
- $70 nightly for a week at Best Western Central Inn, a two-star hotel less than five miles from the city center ($420 for six nights).
- $35 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Atlanta, with Spirit.
- A pancake breakfast at The Diner on Abercorn — a local favorite — costs just $6.
With only 10,000 residents, this town may be small, but glorious red rock formations, pleasant dry heat, local wineries and vibrant art scene offer a fascinating getaway. And it’s possible to book a comfortable Airbnb or hotel room for less than $100 per night.
In the surrounding Coconino National Forest, you’ll find over 400 miles of trails in the Red Rock Ranger District. Combine your Sedona spring break with a sojourn in lovely Phoenix to make the most of your Arizona getaway.
- $84 nightly for a week at Sugar Loaf Lodge, a two-star hotel ($530 for six nights).
- $168 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Phoenix, with Frontier and Allegiant Air.
- Entry to nearby Red Rock State Park costs $7 daily for adults 14 and older, $4 per day for ages seven to 13. Little ones age six and under get in for free.
3. St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine has it all — an 18th century fort, a charming colonial quarter, uncrowded beaches and a range restaurants ranging from fancy to down-home (check out Blue Hen Cafe for amazing chicken and biscuits.) It’s an hour south of Jacksonville by car, though during spring break season it’s usually cheaper to fly into Orlando, which is two hours away.
- $98 nightly for a week at The Flagler Inn, a 2-star hotel ($588 for six nights).
- $201 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Orlando, with Spirit and United Airlines.
- Explore the historic Castillo de San Marcos for free, and watch volunteers demonstrate how cannons and muskets were fired back in the 1740s.
4. Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is a haven for history buffs, beer lovers, ice cream aficionados and artsy folks. The best part? It’s relatively inexpensive to visit. Check out Jamestown for a colonial experience, then head to the free Richmond Museum of Fine Art. The Monument Avenue Easter Parade is a spectacular street fair celebration complete with a petting zoo. Plenty of beaches are within driving distance. And King’s Dominion — a major amusement park — is a 30-minute drive north.
- $74 nightly for a week at Sleep Inn Richmond North, a 2-star hotel ($441 for six nights).
- $197 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Richmond, United Airlines.
- Enjoy free entry to the Institute for Contemporary Art, which usually has interactive exhibits. Rub shoulders with local artists and entrepreneurs at The Veil Brewing Co. in Scott’s Addition, where 12 oz pours of homemade brew start at $6.
5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This palm-tree paradise is one of the cheapest locations to fly to in the Caribbean. Its all-inclusive resorts are relatively affordable compared to what you’d find in, say, Cancun, and the list of family-friendly activities is practically endless. Snorkel, kayak, zip-line, surf and more.
- $34 nightly for a week at Bavaro Green, a condo hotel with a pool ($200 for six nights).
- $162 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Orlando and Punta Cana, with Spirit and Frontier Airlines.
- Soak up the sun on Macao Beach or Playa Esmerelda for free.
So you have a brief respite from homework, exams and longs days spent studying. These spring break destinations for college students offer a laid-back vibe, cheap food and high times.
6. Birmingham, Alabama
In this sophisticated southern city, you’ll find hip artisanal breweries, chic coffee shops and some good ol’ sloppy BBQ. It’s also wonderfully walkable, and with daily highs between 63° and 71° in March. Stay in the Avondale, Woodlawn or Crestwood neighborhoods for close proximity to some of the best local digs.
Head to Oak Mountain to get lost in nature, and visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to learn about this landmark time in our nation’s history through multimedia exhibits.
Fly into Atlanta, GA and rent a car for a pretty two-hour drive west through Talladega National Forest to Birmingham.
- $94 nightly for a week at Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Birmingham ($561 for six nights).
- $43 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between New York City and Atlanta, with Spirit.
- Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Birmingham Museum of Art are both free to visit. Walk the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail for a self-guided, historical tour downtown.
7. New Orleans
New Orleans is one of those cities that can be pricey or cheap, depending on how you play it. At it’s core, it’s a bohemian mash-up of Creole spice, Cajun flair and a dozen other flavorful cultures. Save money by buying meals from food trucks and street vendors, avoiding restaurants in pricey tourist areas.
Wander along Woldenberg Riverfront Park to watch ships sail the Mississippi and window shop in the St. Claude Arts District without paying a cent. Catch a free jazz concert on Wednesday in Lafayette Square or Thursday in Louis Armstrong Park.
Book a walking tour with Free Tours by Foot to get the lay of the land, tipping what you can afford.
- $86 nightly for a week at Holiday Inn French Quarter-Chateau Lemoyne, a 3-star hotel that’s a nine-minute walk from Bourbon Street ($516 for six nights).
- $105 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Los Angeles and New Orleans, with Spirit.
- Admission to the Lower 9th Ward Living Museum is always free.
8. San Antonio
For a Texas triangle of culture, history and sunshine, we recommend flying into Austin, driving an hour and a half to San Antonio and spending a few days eating Tex Mex, touring the Alamo (it’s free!) and cooling off by the Paso del Río (the riverwalk) before hopping in a rental car and driving south to Corpus Christi or South Padre Island for the second half of your vacay. You should be able to find a cheap hotel in either of those oceanside towns for less than $100 nightly.
- $70 nightly for a week at La Quinta Inn by Wyndham, a 2-star hotel with a pool in San Antonio ($414 for six nights).
- $157 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Austin, with United Airlines.
- The Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park is free, as is San Pedro Culture Park. Don’t miss Art Space San Antonio, a nonprofit artist residency that’s open to the public seven days a week.
9. Leadville, CO
Leadville makes for an amazing cheap ski vacation and even more amazing views, tucked in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. When you aren’t skiing at nearby Cooper Mountain, spend your time hiking on hundreds of free trails around the area, visit the National Mining Hall of Fame or go tubing on the Dutch Henry Tubing Hill.
Fly into Denver, and from there it’s about two hours southwest to Leadville.
- $93 nightly for a week at The Abbey, a cozy lodge about six miles from Cooper Mountain where you’ll have a private patio ($556 for six nights).
- $93 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Atlanta and Denver, with Frontier
- Ski passes only cost $40 for adults and $30 for kids during the week. That’s crazy cheap compared to nearby Vail, where adult passes cost $199.
10. Ocala, Florida
Since Florida is synonymous with spring break and a relief from grueling winter weather to so many people, we decided to include another option — Ocala. It’s especially great for active families, since you’ll be close to Indian Lake State Forest and Halpata Tastanaki Nature Preserve, which both offer birdwatching and hiking trails. Gorgeous and uncrowded Fort Island Beach is about 50 miles away, for when you want to relax beside the Gulf of Mexico.
- $86 nightly for a week at Silver Princess Motel, which has an outdoor pool and is ($516 for six nights).
- $29 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between New York City and Orlando, with Spirit.
- Fort King, a National Historical Landmark, is free. Take a walk through Tuscawilla Art Park , and check the community calendar to see whether any events are scheduled while you’re there.
11. Las Vegas
Obviously, Las Vegas won’t be cheap if you’re pounding pricey cocktails and hanging out at the casino. But that’s only one aspect of Las Vegas. Flights and hotels are super cheap right now as the city recovers from a drop in tourism due to the pandemic, and there are lots of activities you can do for free, including:
- Catch mermaid shows in the aquarium at Silverton Casino Hotel, from Thursday to Sunday throughout the day
- Wander through The Arts Factory, a collection of artist workshops and galleries
- Stop to smell the roses at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
- See Chilean flamingoes and parrots at Flamingo Hotel & Casino’s wildlife habitat
Avoid the strip if you’re looking for cheap food, and head to the Arts District, Boulder City or Henderson.
- $69 nightly for a week at Courtyard by Marriott Las Vegas Convention Center — including an outdoor pool ($414 for six nights).
- $68 per person for roundtrip, nonstop flights between Chicago and Las Vegas, with Frontier.
- Drive to nearby Valley of Fire State Park for stunning desert hikes. Also check out the Arizona Hot Springs in the Lake Mead National Recreational Area.
Can’t choose just one destination? Consider a cruise.
With cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, it’s possible to book cruises for less than $100 per person, per day — and that includes unlimited amounts of food, entertainment, accommodations and transportation from port to port. Especially for families of four, cruises can be a cost-effective way to escape to the tropics without dropping loads of dough.
Spring break cruise deals
Spring break vacation deals
Even if it means you set a budget, spring break trips are a wonderful way to reward yourself for surviving the winter blues. Plus, we’ve never heard of anyone regretting a spring break vacation.
If your sunny sky wardrobe needs a little freshening up, check out our list of top spring break retailers — complete with coupons, discounts and deals.
Frequently asked questions
Can I finance a spring break flight?
Yes, probably — though it depends on the airline or travel agent that you book through.
Are there deals for ski and snowboard spring break trips?
Yes! We’ve got a full list of the best ski and snowboard packages that can help you save money while hitting the slopes.
What is the minimum age for reserving a hotel room?
It varies — though most hotel rooms require guests to be at least 18.
If you’re planning a spring break trip and are under 21, you could also consider booking an Airbnb. The minimum age for these is 18.
If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.
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