Bucket List March 28, 2022
The 11 Best Getaways In America To Enjoy A Grown-Up Spring Break
The days are longer, the temperatures are warming, and it’s the time of year where most of us are suffering from an acute case of spring wanderlust.
After all, there’s a reason why “spring break” is a popular variety of vacation! But we’re (thankfully) well past the days of college spring breaks, with their overcrowded beaches and red Solo cups. Nor are we looking for a family-friendly vacation full of black mouse ears and amusement park rides. What we’re pining for, after months of winter and years of a pandemic, are some bucket-list-level getaways for a grown-up spring break. We’re talking about fun-yet-refined spring getaways in Wine Country or a charming coastal town; all-inclusive adventures in some of the most incredible destinations in America. If that’s the kind of getaway you’re seeking, these 11 places all have something extraordinary to offer.
San Juan Islands, Washington
Friday Harbor House, 130 West St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
If you're looking for a buttoned-up, East Coast-style getaway that's not as crowded and has that special PNW
je ne sais quoi
, visit Washington's San Juan Islands. The slower pace of life on the San Juan Islands will instantly set your mind at ease, and it’s nearly impossible not to feel relaxed when surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country. The
, in particular, is amazing, and you’ll have a whole host of options when it comes to choosing how you wish to experience this bucket-list adventure. Whales can be spotted year-round, but the best time to visit if you’re hoping to see these giants is from mid-April through early October, when the whales feed on the runs of Pacific salmon and raise their young in the calm waters around the islands and in Haro Strait. Opt to embark on a chartered whale-watching tour from one of the many area guides, or explore the waterways on your own via kayak rentals and guided tours offered by local outfitters. In our opinion, whale watching in Washington might be the most epic spring break ever.
The Pacific Northwest offers some of the most sublime outdoor recreation in the country, and while the Columbia River Gorge and Olympic National Park tend to steal the spotlight, there's a place in Central Oregon that's quite possibly the coolest under-the-radar spring break destination in the country. Bend is at the epicenter of the region's outdoor adventures: lakes, forests, caves -- the landscape of Central Oregon is incredibly varied and the opportunities for adventure are abundant.
in Bend is a place that specializes in next-level outdoor adventures: epic, bucket-list level escapades. These adventures are extraordinary in every way; you won't simply go hiking, you'll trek to the top of a volcano, into the depths of an ancient caldera and over flows of molten rock. Or opt to take a sunset kayak tour where you'll paddle through shockingly blue waters, with the mighty Cascades and expansive dark skies providing the most swoon-worthy backdrop. Grab your most adventurous friends, set up a home base at the rustic-chic
, and make it a spring break you'll never forget.
Trade the turquoise waters and white-sand beaches for the verdant cacti and red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. The desert landscape of Sedona is simply sublime, providing the perfect backdrop for a range of outdoor escapades, from hiking and stargazing to meditation and yoga. But Sedona is not a one-trick pony; the town proper is
home to a thriving dining scene
, historic points of interest, as well as some exceptional resorts and luxurious accommodations guaranteed to take your visit to the next level.
Park City, Utah
It doesn't get more iconic
mountain town vacation
than Park City, Utah. Known as one of the top ski destinations in the country, Park City is a veritable playground for winter sports enthusiasts. But the town's popularity wanes in the spring and summer months, which makes it a prime candidate for a low-key, outdoorsy getaway during this time of year. Because it's nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, you'll enjoy gorgeous mountain views from pretty much everywhere in Park City --
and there truly is no "off season" for the stellar views
. There's so much to keep you occupied in this pretty mountain town: start by exploring the shops, restaurants, and pubs along Main Street. During the warmer months, the same slopes and trails that attract skiers are just as alluring to hikers and mountain bikers. And the opportunity to experience the splendor of Park City -- minus the heavy coats *and* the crowds -- is truly something worth seeking out.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Touted as one of the
top vacation destination in the world
, New Mexico's state capital is a place of immense beauty and history. Santa Fe was founded in 1609, making it one of the oldest towns in the country. It's an open (history) book for visitors; Santa Fe is home to both the oldest house and oldest church in the U.S. In addition to its fascinating history, the town is one of the most beautiful the West. Surrounded by colorful, beautiful mountains, Santa Fe offers visitors an abundance of year-round adventures; during the spring, the rock climbing, hiking, and wildlife viewing here are phenomenal. And for those looking to spend spring break immersed in this intriguing culture, the Santa Fe Plaza is acclaimed for its incredible shopping, museums, and restaurants. These are places owned and operated by Native American vendors and residents for, in some cases, generations, bringing new meaning to the concept of "shopping locally" and offering a wholly unique and authentic New Mexico experience.
With its lush greenery, quirky treasures, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences,
will challenge any preconditions you had about the Lone Star State. This iconoclast is a city where anything goes: you'll find amazing barbecue pits and vegan food trucks, Hill Country views and desert landscapes, craft breweries and swanky wineries. The town itself seems to have a pulse of its own, complete with music and museums on every street corner (including the streets themselves, as with the iconic "I love you so much" mural!). Easily one of the best vacation towns in the country, spring is an especially perfect time to visit Austin, before the summer heat sets in.
Chicago might well be the Jan Brady of American cities. This Midwest destination is generally pitted against its coastal counterparts, New York City and Los Angeles; and honestly, it has everything those cities have -- and more. While many shy away from the Windy City during the colder months of the year, spring in Chicago is positively enchanting. The bold blue skies above iconic destinations like Navy Pier and Lincoln Park provide a picture-perfect playground for adventurous tourists, and the Magnificent Mile is a must-visit for serious shoppers. Pack a coat and enjoy a week of great culture, amazing sights, and some of the best food (and drinks!) of your life,
all in this marvelous Midwest town
New Orleans, Louisiana
Offering a beguiling blend of culture, history and breathtaking landscapes, the city of New Orleans is a timeless getaway for anyone and everyone to experience --
and spring is the best time to visit
. Around this time of year, you’ll find some of the most popular festivals happening in the area, raising the appeal to visiting this destination. The French Quarter Festival is held annually in mid-April, and it's an event where you can revel in the greatness that is Louisiana culture, music, and food. In addition, the weather during this season is nothing short of sublime: warm and welcoming, without a hint of the oppressive summer heat that's to come!
Seaside is a unique waterfront community in Florida that has quietly become one of the most coveted vacation destinations in the state. In addition to incredible boutiques, charming retailers (including an independent bookstore and record shop), and an adorable grocery, the town's Central Square is
home to a world of cuisine
, from fine dining restaurants to a lineup of food trucks on Airstream Row, and has been listed as one of the most beautiful spaces in the world. The location of the picture-perfect town of Seahaven in "The Truman Show," Seaside is one of the most idyllic coastal locales in the country; and unlike its fictional counterpart, Seaside is the real deal, and as good as it gets.
Asheville, North Carolina
Surrounded by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains,
Asheville, North Carolina, combines epic outdoor adventure with mountain town charm
, for a wholly unique and wonderful experience. The city boasts a vibrant arts scene and delightful mix of quirky eateries and acclaimed restaurants; the region is also home to beautiful wineries and world-renowned attractions (see: The Biltmore). Of course, the area's natural splendor is in a league all its own, with the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville and offering visitors unparalleled outdoor recreation, adventure, and scenery. And while the fall foliage of Asheville is often praised, the spring blooms and verdant greenery of this lovely town is, in our opinion, just as magical.
If the vineyards of Wine Country are beckoning, might we suggest a visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, instead. This charming Southern town, dubbed "CVille" by residents,
is home to local restaurants, beautiful outdoor spaces, access to higher education, diversity, local art, and much more
. Charlottesville is also just a quick drive from some of the best hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park; these are places that take on an almost heavenly beauty during the spring. For oenophiles, Virginia is one of the country's top wine-producing states, and the Charlottesville area alone is home to more than 40 wineries. Some of the area's popular wineries include Barboursville, Jefferson Vineyards, Michael Shaps Wineworks, Early Mountain Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards, and both casual and serious wine aficionados alike will be quite happy sipping Charlottesville vintages whilst gazing out at the beguiling Blue Ridge Mountains.
When was the last time you planned a grown-up spring break? It’s something we highly recommend! Leave the stress and work behind for a week (or two) — it will all be waiting for you when you return a calmer, more relaxed, and happier version of yourself.
Address: Friday Harbor House, 130 West St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA