Spring break has always worn two faces, if you ask us. On the one hand, we love the idea of escaping to a tropical paradise for a week of poolside lounging while awaiting thaw outs in the stubborn Northeast and Midwest. On the other hand, we’d rather be stuck in winter slog than suffer a bacchanal week of collegiate hi-jinks, including some of the worst decision-making ever made under the sun. Fear not. If you’re craving vitamin D without the tomfoolery, these classic spring break destinations are still for you. Here are 5 spring break destinations where you can easily avoid spring breakers.
Fort Lauderdale, FL: This South Florida city is the birthplace of America’s spring break. Connie Francis sang about it in the 1964 spring break movie Where the Boys Are which further popularized the city as a destination for collegiate tomfoolery.But by the mid-80s, Fort Lauderdale had officialy had enough and outright told teens to stop coming. Today Fort Lauderdale has successfully refashioned itself as a high-end resort town that is also popular with the LGBT community. Kayak or go boating along 165 miles of navigable waterways, enjoy fine dining and shopping along chic Las Olas Boulevard or hit the still sparkly beaches along A1A. Make a chic beachfront lodging like the W Fort Lauderdale or the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort your hideout for the week. Gay men, meanwhile, should check out—or check in rather—at the Grand Resort and Spa or the lively Worthington Guesthouse.
Las Vegas: NV: If you think the bikini and beer bong set don’t have Sin City ontheir radars think again. Pool season kicks off in Vegas in March and parties like Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel and Daylight at Mandalay Bay have become legendary. Yet even when desert temps are just right, you can easily swing a Sin City visit without ever having to lay eyes on a single coed. Consider off-Strip resorts like the upscale Green Valley Ranch which is miles from the Strip but doesn’t sacrificing creature comforts like expansive gaming andgood food. Downtown Vegas, meanwhile, is popular with entrepreneurs, artists and hipsters and vaunts cool crash pads like the Oasis at Gold Spike and chic bars like Commonwealth and Downtown Cocktail Lounge. Even on the Strip you can largely avoid spring breakers by checking in at upscale lodgings like the Encore, Cromwell or Wynn.
Cancun, Mexico: The drinking age in Mexicois 18, the pesos is weak against the dollar and bargain all-inclusives abound so you can imagine this longstanding vacation destination for Americans and Canadians is especially popular among the college crowd. But the Yucatan Peninsula is a vast and diverse region and the youngsters stick largely to Cancun‘s Hotel Zone and the nightlife along Avenida Tulum leaving plenty of elbow room for anyone seeking a less frenzied vacation experience. You won’t for example, see many bronzed bodies guzzling rum drinks out of oversized sippy cups in the Mayan ruins which dot the peninsula including some right along the coast. Another place you won’t come face to face with unruly spring breakers is underwater and the peninsula is flush with snorkeling and dive sites. Tulum has become a fashionable destination of late while Playa del Carmen is considered the more fashionable, more European and less rowdy antidote to Cancun.
Puerto Rico: Cheap air rates from the U.S., a legal drinking age of 18 and awesome beaches and nightlife have turned this enchanting Caribbean island into a prime spring break destination. You can bet the youngsters flock to Condado, an oceanfront neighborhood bursting with fantastic beaches, tree-lined sidewalks and a range of lodging options and you’ll also likely spot them kicking up their heels along the streets of romantic Old San Juan as well. But this is a big island that offers elbow room for all so if it’s a co-ed free vacation you seek there’s no reason to despair. The bioluminescent bay at Vieques isn’t the only reason to visit this nearby island which boasts wild horses, secluded beaches and a 19th century Spanish fort and museum (even quieter is the island of Culebra). There’s also Rincon, a corner of Puerto Rico beloved by surfers where you can ride waves while riding away from beach tomfoolery. If you’re stuck in San Juan, there’s always respite to be had at lovely Luis Munoz Rivera Park and at upscale corners of cosmopolitan San Juan like at the Ritz-Carlton or at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.
South Padre Island, TX: A barrier island whose average daily high temperatures hover around the mid-70s, South Padre has a long history as a spring break magnet. It might seem hard to seek shelter from beachfront shenanigans in this tiny sliver of a town, so instead claim nearby Port Isabel–which boasts the only town square with a lighthouse in Texas—as your base of operations. From here, wander north to Padre Island—the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world according to the National Park Service—and plop down along 70 miles of protected and unspoiled coastline. At Malaquite Beach you can watch baby sea turtles hatch (only between July and August) and the island is also home to more than 380 species of birds. Elsewhere, you can don your hiking shoes and spend a day trekking through the 45,000 acre Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.