10 places to skip during spring break and where to go instead
Skip: Ft. Lauderdale
Instead: Hollywood, FL
You can avoid out-of-control college students wreaking havoc throughout Ft. Lauderdale, if you head just fifteen minutes outside of the city to Hollywood, FL. There you’ll find the protected North Beach, an eco-friendly oasis that has a sea-turtle hatchery. For water adventures, the nearby Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park offers canoes and kayaks to explore the marine life through mangrove channels. For dinner, head to open-air bar Le Tub Saloon for its celebrated sirloin burgers and chili.
Skip: Cancun, Mexico
Instead: Tulum, Mexico
You'll want to steer clear of Cancún, home of MTV U's Spring Break Village. A less stressful experience is waiting just two hours' drive away on the powdery white sands of Tulum. Instead of beaches strewn with beer bottles, you'll find quiet jungles and Mayan ruins; instead of rowdy, all-day pool parties you'll find peaceful, secluded resorts like Playa Mambo.
Skip: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Instead: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head earned a spot on our readers' list of the Top 10 Islands in America, but that's not the only South Carolina island they love: The resort island of Kiawah ranked even higher. A reader described it as a prime spot for a "vacation away from all the hustle and bustle of mainstream America." It also boasts an impressive nature preserve, so between trips to the expansive beaches and afternoons on the renowned golf course, make sure to check out the exotic wildlife. Don't miss a day trip to charming and historic Charleston either—our readers voted it the No. 1 city in the U.S. for three years running, and the friendliest.
Skip: Las Vegas
Instead: Henderson, NV
If nonstop partying, gambling and overall debauchery is not your thing, there’s a desert oasis just 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas in the city of Henderson. As the second largest city in Nevada, Henderson offers calmer activities for the nature and outdoorsy types with the Bird Viewing Preserve and the scenic River Mountains Loop Trails, where you can rent a bike and take in views of Lake Mead.
Next Skip: Negril, Jamaica
Instead: Treasure Beach, Jamaica
Don't get us wrong—we love Negril. Just not during Spring Break, when its otherwise-relaxed beaches are taken hostage by obnoxious reggae dance parties and partygoers drunkenly stumbling out of Margaritaville. Two hours' drive away, you'll find the quieter and prettier Treasure Beach, what many locals say is "what Negril used to be—30 years ago." The area is peppered with casual beach shacks, peaceful coves and bays, mineral springs, waterfalls, and scenic cliffs perfect for hiking.
Skip: Disney World
Instead: Disney Cruise
Everyone loves Disney World…it is the happiest place on earth after all. But during Spring Break, it's also the most crowded. Leave Orlando to the masses and get the same Disney dose at sea. The Disney Dream was one of Wendy Perrin's favorite family 'resorts' of 2012, and the fleet has since expanded. "Cruises work well for my family, thanks to the kids’ clubs," she wrote. "My children love them because they’re like day camp, and Tim and I love them because we get free child care for a week" And on a Disney ship, she adds, "your child can procure every Disney character’s signature for his autograph book without you having to race around a giant park; you need only race around a giant ship." If cruises aren't your thing, consider a different kind of themed break: an indoor water park at one of 12 Great Wolf Lodge resorts.
Skip: Daytona Beach, FL
Instead: Palm Beach, FL
If you want Atlantic Ocean views without the screams of college cheerleaders and NASCAR fans, then head a little further South to this perennial prepster hotspot. We suggest a stay at the top-rated Four Seasons Palm Beach which is home to one of our readers' favorite spas, the Eau Spa.
Skip: Panama City Beach
Instead: Apalachicola, FL
Leave the drunken beach antics behind, and head just a few minutes east to Apalachicola, a sedate waterfront town known for excellent seafood, moss-strewn live oaks, and not much else. Forget bar crawls: It's all about the raw bar crawl here.
Skip: A Caribbean cruise
Instead: Take a cruise back to Europe, or from South America to North America
Boats are packed at this time of year with huge groups students, probably not the type of shipmates you were hoping to share your cruise with. On the other hand, if you have the time, a repositioning cruise offers a much more relaxed—and relaxing—sail across the Atlantic as lines move ships from the Caribbean back to Europe or from South America back to North America.
Skip: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Instead: Todos Santos, Mexico
Just a few miles Northwest of the frat boy favorite is a surfer's haven filled with the freshest fish tacos, stiff margaritas, and a tiny town lined with cafes, galleries, and boutiques. Stay at the Ranch Pescadero hotel which offers both private and group surf lessons.