9 Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Travelers on a Budget

Welcome to March … that time of year when we shed our wool winter coats for light outerwear and spend our days in the office dreaming about shorts and flip-flops. The worst of winter is behind us, and spring is well on its way, yet we’re not quite out of the woods. March is one of those months that can throw us for a loop. Sometimes it teases us with sparkling, sunshine-y days, but it can hurl frigid snow flurries, trapping us in a snow globe. Thankfully, spring break is coming up. Spring break is the perfect excuse to pack our bags and set off on a new adventure. It is a week that frees us from the real world and gives us a mental break. I compiled a list of nine fun yet cheap spring break destinations. The article below offers something for everyone, whether you are a broke college student looking for a party, a fun-loving family in need of activities for all ages, or a group of friends seeking a cultural alternative to the well-known tourist spots. Happy travels!

Top Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Travelers to Have Fun in the Sun

Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

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Daytona Beach ranks as one of the top spring break destinations for a reason! This popular Florida city is situated along the Atlantic Ocean and offers 23 miles (37 kilometers) of pure sandy pleasure. Roll out your towel, lather on the sunscreen, and people watch or take a swim. Enjoy other water activities, such as snorkeling, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, jetskiing, and parasailing. Check out a variety of free activities the Daytona Beach Tourism Board recommends. To keep costs down, eat breakfast in and pack a picnic for lunch. Feel like going out? There are a ton of restaurants and nightlife options from which to choose, suitable for all price ranges.

The area also offers other attractions. Daytona Beach is a MUST if you are a car lover, especially a NASCAR fan. Daytona is home to the world famous Daytona International Speedway, known for the Daytona 500. You can even visit the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Alternatively, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida. Climb 203 steps to the top of the 175-feet tall lighthouse. The view is rewarding. The Cape Canaveral Space Center is about a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive from Daytona Beach. This is definitely worth a visit! On your way down to the Space Center, stop in Cocoa Beach and visit the original Ron Jon surf shop.

Avoid the Daytona 500 (February 18, 2018) and Bike Week (March 10-19, 2017). During these periods, accommodation prices peak. During Bike Week, for instance, half a million motorcyclists flood the city. If you are looking for another spring break option in Florida, look into Panama City.

Average Temperature (March): 64.3°F (17.9°C)

Airports: Daytona Beach International Airport. Orlando and Jacksonville are both about 1.5 hours away by car

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Cancun, Mexico

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How does the song go, “We like to sleep all day, and party all night”? Well in Cancun, the nightlife options are endless, which enables you to party until the sun comes up. Instead of sleeping all day, though, move your recovery to the beach. Whether you want to hang by the sea or engage in one of the many water-related activities available, a tropical paradise awaits you. Cancun offers 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) of pristine white sand coastline and is also home to the Great Mesoamerican Reef, which is the second largest reef in the world. Love sea turtles? Check out Tortugranja (a turtle farm) in Isla Mujeres. The beauty of Cancun is that if you are traveling with a group, there is a little something for everyone depending on your style – sand, sun, surf, shopping, history, golf, adventure, entertainment, and more. Mix and match!

Don’t miss out on the amazing culture and history that surrounds you, though. The culture will astound you. The Mayan civilization was one of the original cultures in the New World, and the area is dotted with ruins. Chichen Itza, about 117 miles (188 kilometers) west of Cancun, was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Tulum, about 82 miles (132 kilometers) south of Cancun, is one of the best-preserved Mayan ruins. The architecture will amaze you.

Looking for a quieter retreat? Visit Playa del Carmen, about 45 minutes away. Playa del Carmen is a more peaceful alternative to the cosmopolitan Cancun.

Average Temperature (March): 77°F (25°C)

Airport: Cancun International Airport

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South Padre Island, Texas, USA

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Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Texas. Photo by Vince Smith.

South Padre Island is not the destination to visit if you need R&R during your spring break. At this time of year, South Padre Island is known for its non-stop party mentality. It is the place people flock to for a good time. Be careful if you stay up super late; the sun may blind you the following day. The island is said to have 300 days of sunshine per year, so best bring your shining personality along with you (let’s be honest; we know you will). Following a fun night out on the town, head down to the beach and mark your territory. Settle in comfortably along the 34 miles (54.7 kilometers) of beautiful white sand coastline. The blue water and soft, rolling waves will rejuvenate you. From boating and fishing to swimming and windsurfing, all sorts of watersports are possible down here. Even if you just hang out and build a sandcastle, watch the day transition into night, or chat with friends, an adventure awaits. Still figuring out the logistics? A free shuttle service is offered to and from Brownsville Airport. Plus, there is free public transport on the island called the Island Metro. The area is walker and bike friendly, so explore away!

Average Temperature (March): 76°F (24.4°C)

Airports: Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) (30 minutes away), Valley International Airport (HRL) (45 minutes away) and McAllen International Airport (MFE) (1.5 hours away).

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Top Family-Friendly Spring Break Destinations

Washington DC, USA

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Washington DC holds a special place in my heart. I spent two summers living in the U.S. capital, which enabled me to explore its astonishing culture and history. DC attracts people of all ages for a variety of reasons. History buffs love the huge number of museums and monuments. Political enthusiasts delight in walking the halls where legislation takes root. Architecture aficionados appreciate the variety of styles presented around the city. Foodies find comfort in cuisines from around the world, while nature lovers take solace in the city’s green spaces.

Walk through the National Mall and admire the magnificent memorials, such as the powerful Lincoln Memorial, striking Washington Monument, the moving Vietnam and World War II memorials, the Jefferson Memorial along the Tidal Basin, and the inspirational Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. All of the Smithsonian museums, including the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, American Art Museum, and the National Zoo, are free to the public. You will find a plethora of free attractions to enjoy, and as a bonus, the city is absolutely radiant in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. One of the best spots for a stroll – and picnic – is along the Tidal Basin.

Still looking for more? Take a tour of the Capitol Building and The White House. Learn about the legislative process and life in office. Try to reserve your tickets at least three weeks in advance. Is the sun shining and you want to spend your time outdoors? Once you’ve wandered around the National Mall, make your way to the Arboretum just outside the city, where they have a beautiful bonsai exhibit. Food lovers will not want to miss Eastern Market. Support local vendors and explore the surrounding area, too. You’ll find restaurants galore. You’ll find magic in all of DC’s colorful neighborhoods. Utilize the easy-to-navigate metro system to get around.

Average Temperature (March): 47°F (8.3°C)

Airports: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) (3 miles/5 kilometers away), Dulles International Airport (IAD) (about 40 minutes away), Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) (about an hour away)

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

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Myrtle Beach is a nirvana for golf lovers. The immediate vicinity boasts 100 different choices. Are you traveling with golfers in training, little ones learning to putt? Myrtle Beach is the place to go. Perhaps the family just wants to get out for a friendly game of miniature golf or is looking for a fun activity to break up a day on the beach. Doesn’t matter the reason; Myrtle Beach is home to a copious amount of miniature golf courses, but they are not your average run-of-the-mill holes. The miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach are absolutely remarkable, with each one embracing its own creative storyline.

Hawaiian Rumble Golf is rated one of the top mini-golf courses in the world. This course is set near a rumbling volcano. Other themes include a dragon’s lair, ones with looming rock formations, waterfalls, and rivers that will throw you for a loop, a course where you hunt for lost treasure, and multiple places dealing with pirates. The themes are endless and provide fun for the entire family. Some courses even offer discounts during the day. Other activities in the area include the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Aquarium, the Carolina Opry, and The Family Kingdom amusement park.

But don’t forget that the best activities for a budget are the beautiful beaches and the miniature golf. May the best one win!

Average Temperature (March): 53°F (11.7°C)

Airport: Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR)

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U.S. Virgin Islands

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St. John. Photo by Erika Hart.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, comprised of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, are consistently warm year round. Situated in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands provide fun in the sun for visitors of all ages. The views are postcard perfect, with sparkling blue green waters, white sand beaches, and lush green nature. Water surrounds you, providing numerous opportunities to engage in a variety of activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. Whether you take a tour or explore on your own, be sure to explore the ocean in some capacity, so you can see all the amazing wildlife underwater. On land, nurse your drink and lay in a hammock as you unwind or explore the interior of one of the islands.

Hop from island to island, as each one has its own vibe. St. John is a nature lover’s paradise, as two-thirds of the island is a national park. Hike one of the trails or relax on one of the pristine beaches, such as Trunk Bay. St. Croix targets culture enthusiasts, offering attractions including a rum distillery, sugar cane plantations, historic town centers, and golf courses. St. Thomas is home to a major harbor, but there are activities for everyone by land and sea. Water Island is a hidden favorite. Whichever island you choose, the scenery is spectacular. At the end of the day when you close your eyes, tired from the sun, sand, and surf, the images of this Caribbean paradise will be imprinted in your dreams. No passport is required for US citizens travelling to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Average Temperature (March): 79°F (26°C)

Airports: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (STT), Cristiansted, St. Croix (STX)

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Alternative Spring Break Destinations

Lisbon, Portugal

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Photo by Robert Hart.

Portugal did not enter my radar until I joined chats like #TRLT and #CultureTrav. The photos shared caught my eye because of the colorful architecture and magical sunsets, but the raving reviews about the city’s culture, breathtaking views, delicious food, and affordable prices made me stop and seriously consider making it one of my next travel destinations. I am incredibly thankful I did. Portugal blew me away.

Lisbon itself is full of character and demands to be explored. The neighborhood of Alfama, for instance, boasts quaint, narrow streets, while Baixa is the bustling downtown center. From low elevations to the highest heights, Lisbon presents you with one great view after another. After climbing a steep set of stairs, pause for a moment to reflect on what lies behind you. You’ll probably find a fantastic new angle. Travel tip: bring good walking shoes. Alternatively, you can hop on tram 28, a historic line, that rides through some of the most picturesque parts of the city. The food is surprisingly delicious and affordable, from the fresh seafood to the melt-in-your-mouth custard tarts, called pasteisdebelem. Do you have a little extra time and are looking for a daytrip outside of Lisbon? Journey to Sintra, where you’ll find magical castles that look to be straight out of a fairytale.

Average Temperature (March): 57°F (14°C)

Airport: Lisbon International Airport (LIS)

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Nicaragua

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Surfing in Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of Soma Surf Resort.

Nicaragua is one of those budding destinations that has not quite entered travelers’ radars, but will soon. This Central American country has so much to offer. One of the top reasons to visit, however, is its world-class surfing. Nicaragua boasts some of the best surfing in the world and provides waves for every expertise, from beginner to advanced. With 215 miles (346 kilometers) of coastline and 16 world-class surf breaks, it’s hard to find a better surf spot. March and April are good months to go, as the rainy season is not until September and October. Overall, you don’t have much to worry about; there are 300 days of sunshine per year and temperatures are fairly consistent.

Not a surfer? Nicaragua has a ton of other activities you can enjoy. From hiking, sport and sustainable fishing, yoga retreats, and horseback riding to soaking in hot springs, zip lining through the emerald treetops, or lounging on the soft white sand beaches, everyone in your group should find an activity they will love. Word of warning: stay away from the freshwater lake, which is the only freshwater lake in the world that has sharks. We want you to come back in one piece. Amazingly, the country is even home to 19 active volcanoes. Don’t forget to sample the local cuisine and savor the flavors. Step into the local culture and let the warmth of the climate and the people embrace you. Your spring break will be active, unique, rejuvenating and forever memorable.

Average Temperature (March): 83°F (28.3°C)

Airport: Managua International Airport (MGA)

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Savannah, Georgia, USA

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Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Nicolette Orlemans of Culture With Travel

Allow your inner Southern Belle (or Gentleman) to surface in Savannah, Georgia. Stroll through the city’s charming historic center and admire the cute 18th century brownstone houses. Spend some time in the wharf area, too. Quaint squares and green parks are scattered throughout the area, as well. In particular, Forsyth Park is popular with locals and tourists alike. The wide pathways are picturesque and synonymous with the Southern image, with large, looming trees arching over one another to create a natural cover. The ornate fountain serves as a centerpiece and simply sparkles in the sunlight. Did you know the movie Forrest Gump was filmed in Savannah? As you walk around town, you’ll probably recognize some of the set locations. You can even sit on Forrest’s bench.

Moreover, Savannah is the spring break destination if you love the supernatural, ghosts, and eerie stories. The city is supposedly home to a number of haunted places, and ghost tours are available. As you are exploring, be sure to pop into one of the local cemeteries and revel at how far back the dates go on the headstones. If you love St. Patrick’s Day, and it lines up with your spring break vacation, you’re in luck. Savannah is home to a large Irish population, and therefore St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal. The water in the Forsyth Park fountain is even dyed green in color. Don’t forget to wear green that day; otherwise you’ll get pinched.

Still want beach time? Don’t worry! There are a number of options in the area, including Hilton Head, Tybee, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island. Nature lovers should visit the marsh and estuary areas to experience wildlife like alligators and a variety of birds. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, there are a ton of great restaurants where you can enjoy Southern hospitality. You’ll feel right at home in Savannah.

Average Temperature (March): 60°F (15.5°C)

Airports: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV). Charleston International Airport and Jacksonville International Airport are two hours away.

To cut down on costs, stay a couple of miles outside of the downtown area or in the arts district. Search for hotels in Savannah

Plan Your Spring Break Trip

Please let me know in the comments below where you are going for spring break. Which cheap spring break destinations from this list would you like to add to your wander list?

Don’t have plans yet? Let’s book your trip! Depending where you are starting, you’ll need to arrange transportation and accommodation. Use a platform like TripStreak to book your flights, hotels, and car rentals. Online tools like TripStreak make the process easier and free up your time, so you can focus more on researching all the fun activities at your destination!

Additional sources such as The Travel Channel, U.S. News and World Report, Money Crashers, Coastal Living, Soma Surf Resort Nicaragua, and Bustle were used to research this article.

This post was sponsored by TripStreak.

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