While we’re well past the days of pop quizzes and all-night cram sessions (and good riddance!), there are a few school-year traditions we wouldn’t mind keeping around. Kindergarten naps could make a comeback for one. Something else at the top of that list? Spring break. When the weather warms and flowers begin to bloom, a week of uninterrupted fun is in order. We’ve survived the drab post-holiday months of January and February, and just like restless school kids and burnt-out college students, we deserve some time off to frolic in the sun.
This March or April, make dedicated time for an adults-only spring break. If you’ve got kids, give them a week of adventure at one of the South’s many camps, or better yet, send them to Camp Grandma . Then, pack your bags and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. These destinations offer something for every type of traveler. From the tried-and-true beach bums to the culinary enthusiasts and mountain mamas, here are the best places for an all-grown-up spring break.
You get the best of many worlds—gorgeous white-sand beaches, a charming historic district, vibrant art, and delicious food—in this classic old Florida city. Book a room in the iconic Pink Palace, also known as the Don CeSar. From there, you’ll have easy access to downtown St. Pete, as well as popular beaches like St. Pete Beach, Pass-a-Grille, and Treasure Island. Outside of many long hours spent sunbathing by the Gulf, fill your week with visits to national treasures like living botanical museum Sunken Gardens, the Dali Museum, and Egmont Key State Park and National Wildlife Refuge to see gopher tortoises, gulls, osprey, a historic lighthouse, and the Fort Dade ruins.
Charleston may dominate the national conversation when it comes to Southern vacation destinations, but Lowcountry locals know that Folly Beach is the true gem. Skip the crowds congregating around Rainbow Row and set up your own personal oasis on Folly Beach’s sandy shores. Watch the surfers battle the waves, paddle the serene tidal creeks, or break out your fishing pole for an afternoon of fishing at the famous Folly Beach Pier (set to reopen in spring 2023). It stretches 1,000 feet into the ocean and gives Folly Beach its nickname as the Edge of America.
The Crescent City brings the party no matter what time of year you visit, but spring is ideal for an adult spring break. Choose your level or revelry, then offset your meanderings with a more-than-comfortable stay at a plush hotel like the Ritz-Carlton, Maison de la Luz, Roosevelt, or Four Seasons. Spend your days exploring the French Quarter, beginning with a stroll around the always scenic Jackson Square and an order of beignets at Café du Monde. Then, make your way down Frenchmen Street for a stellar Cajun lunch at divey Coop’s Place. If there’s a line, grab a frozen Irish coffee next door at Molly’s at the Market and settle in for some excellent people watching to the tune of jazz buskers.
North Carolina might not be the first—or second, or third—place you think of when you consider beach destinations, but it absolutely should be. This 85-mile stretch of serene coastline includes the charming towns of Beaufort and Emerald Isle , both of which are strong contenders for an adult spring break. If you go, make time for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing wild horses gallop along the shores and marshy grasses of barrier island Shackleford Banks. Daily ferries take off from Beaufort, Harkers Island, and Morehead City.
Explore the endless joys of grown-up grape juice in Texas Hill Country. Hit up the Texas Wine Trail, where you can pick and choose your own adventure from 50 unique wineries, each offering stunning vistas of the rolling countryside and their own spin on Southern wine. Set up home base in two of the Lone Star State’s most charming small towns, Fredericksburg and the oh-so-appropriately-named Grapevine .
If you want to feel like you’ve escaped to an exotic locale in the middle of the Caribbean but aren’t in the mood to dust off your passport, this island in the Keys is your spot. Treat yourself to a stay at Little Palm Island Resort and Spa , America’s only private island resort. The adults-only, luxury resort is a sanctuary of swaying palm trees, thatched-roof bungalows, oceanside cabanas, and crystal-clear water. Grab a Mai Tai, crack open a good book, and enjoy watching the gentle waves lap ashore.
Head to the Golden Isle for a nature-filled getaway in Jekyll Island. Take a long walk along the picture-ready Driftwood Beach, visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and take a sunset cruise to see dolphins flip over the pink-and-purple horizon. Part national park and part resort town, you’ll find laidback luxury at the Jekyll Island Club Resort and all the wild adventure you want just outside your well-appointed room.
Each year, Louisville captures the country’s attention for a precious few days in May, but we’re making the case to visit this Southern city before the pomp and circumstance of the Derby arrives. Rolling green hills, the country’s best bourbon distilleries, and the hustle and bustle of historic Whiskey Row are just a few of the reasons to go. If you do, don’t ignore the city’s burgeoning craft breweries, panache for art, or diverse dining scene.
With 13 miles of pristine beaches on the Atlantic Coast, this barrier island just 30 miles from Jacksonville is a warm-weather dream. While college students flock to Daytona, Miami, and West Palm Beach for their yearly springtime break, Amelia will be left a little slice of untouched heaven. Book a stay in a charming bed and breakfast, then spend your days exploring the island. From the historic downtown at Fernandina Beach to Marlin & Barrel Distillery, your days will only be as dull as you wish them to be.
If the thought of sandy toes gives you the heebie-jeebies, a mountain escape might be in order for your springtime trip. Asheville is everything a great mountain town should be—beautiful and bucolic with just the right amounts of quirk and artsy funk. Of course, you’ll want to sample a half-dozen or so of the city’s top breweries and make reservations at classic restaurants like Curate and Rhubarb. And while the Biltmore is a major holiday attraction, it’s just as stunning in spring when the 8,000-acre property is bursting with new blooms and color.