Spring break isn’t just for college co-eds… except in some places, it is. As you plan your spring break getaway with the family, know which destinations to avoid and consider our suggested alternatives — all of which include warm weather, beaches and/or resort pools and plenty of things to do in between.
We always recommend a visit to Cancun with the kids — just not during the months of March and April, when college kids descend upon the Hotel Zone to take advantage of its many all-inclusive options.
Try Instead: Riviera Maya
Located just 45 minutes from Cancun, Riviera Maya offers luxurious, all-inclusive resorts and beautiful beaches. And with less nightlife, a vacation in Riviera Maya will ensure a peaceful getaway for your family. Plus, a stay in Riviera Maya means you’re closer to the ancient ruins of Tulum and the area’s famous cenotes — natural sinkholes in which you can swim and explore.
Recommended Riviera Maya Resort: Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Avoid: Panama City Beach, Fla.
MTV documented many a spring break in Panama City Beach, Florida, and its reputation as a spring break destination remains.
Try Instead: Pensacola Beach
About an hour from Panama City Beach, Pensacola Beach attracts some, but not many college crowds. Instead, it’s a quiet oasis for families to enjoy snorkeling, swimming and building sandcastles. Be sure to visit the Pensacola Lighthouse.
Recommended Pensacola Beach Resort: Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach
Avoid: South Padre Island, Texas
We love South Padre Island; in fact, it was named to our list of the 10 Best Beaches for Families in 2016. We just can’t recommend it to families during spring break, when college crowds head to the island for cheap vacation rentals and parties on the beach.
Try Instead: Galveston Island
Nearby Galveston Island is a nice alternative for families, with beaches, a boardwalk, and restaurants aplenty. Don’t miss Sclitterbahn’s 26-acre water park!
Recommended Galveston Island Resort: Hilton Galveston Island Resort
It goes without saying that Miami — specifically South Beach — is a hot spot for college co-eds on spring break.
Try Instead: Fort Lauderdale
Yearning to break free of its spring break days, Fort Lauderdale shut down the riff-raff bars in the ’90s and rebuilt itself as a clean, beautiful and family-friendly oceanfront town, just two hours north of Miami’s beaches.
Recommended Fort Lauderdale Resort: Pelican Grand Beach Resort
Avoid: Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Once a remote destination, Lake Havasu is now a famous spring break spot; so famous, in fact, that it was featured in “Piranha 3D,” a movie about a prehistoric, human-eating fish that attacks a crowd of students during spring break. In the movie, the kids are enjoying what’s known as “floating parties” on boats — and that’s exactly what they do in real life. Another draw to the area is its affordable vacation rentals for large groups.
Try Instead: Sedona
Sedona is much quieter, in comparison, offering opportunities to hike and bike the Red Rocks, or take a tour on one of the iconic Pink jeeps. While you won’t find a beach in Sedona, you’ll find plenty of resorts with stunning pools, plus special programming for families. Be sure to visit Snoopy Rock while you’re in town, too!
Recommended Sedona Resort: BEST WESTERN PLUS Inn of Sedona