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15 Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Travelers on a Budget [2024]

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Lori Zaino
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Lori Zaino

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Lori is an intrepid traveler who loves creating itineraries that exude “luxe on a budget.” She’s written for CNN, NBC, The Infatuation, and more, and loves to muse about points-fueled trips to Sri Lan...
Edited by: Michael Y. Park
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Everybody wants to go on spring break. But travel is expensive, especially to peak spring break destinations like Miami or Cancún or during peak dates like Easter.

If you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy a spring vacation, there are some destinations out there that are more affordable than others, from free U.S. national parks to emerging countries to destinations that have many options for spending your points and miles (in the case that you’re points rich but cash poor).

Here are the best affordable spring break destinations to consider in 2024.

How To Make Spring Break More Affordable

Before we get into where to go, consider these spring break budgeting tips that run beyond just choosing an affordable destination.

  • Dip into your points and miles stash. Using points and miles for airfare and hotels frees up cash for other travel activities such as tours and dining.
  • Avoid a spring break vacation over Easter (March 31). If you avoid the peak Easter dates, you may find cheaper airfare or hotels.
  • Consider traveling at the beginning or end of the spring season. A trip at the end of February or early May can be more cost-effective, depending on the destination.
  • Consider all-inclusives or home rentals. These may be more affordable than staying at a hotel and eating out.
Hot Tip:

Use the right credit card to earn the most points on travel. Even if you’re paying cash, you can maximize points earnings to save on your next trip. Cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or American Express® Green Card allow you to earn either 3x Chase Ultimate Reward points or 3x Amex Membership Reward points per dollar spent on both travel and dining.

1. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Nature Buffs: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Enjoy scenic vistas when driving through the Smoky Mountains. Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

There are more than 60 U.S. national parks, but less than 20 of them are free. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the parks that doesn’t charge an entrance fee, making access for large families or various carloads easy. Just know you have to pay a parking fee of $5 per day or $15 per week.

The Great Smoky Mountains are a spectacular place for a road trip, especially for those who live in neighboring states. With endless scenic drives and many vantage points perfect for snapping that iconic shot, those who want to enjoy nature but not necessarily get out in it will love a trip to this destination. Likewise, if you want to get out into the wilderness and camp, fees start at just $30, with cabin fees starting at $200.

2. Best Budget Spring Break Destination That’s Easily Accessible: South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island
A sunrise on South Padre Island in Texas. Image Credit: Charles Golden via Pixabay

This affordable spring break destination is within the continental U.S. and is close to 2 different airports: Valley International Airport (HRL) and the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO). South Padre Island is also just a road trip away from Houston, San Antonio, and Austin and not too far from Corpus Christi Airport (CRP) and Padre Island National Seashore.

Although South Padre Island has a reputation for being a party area and cheap spring break destination for college students (who may or may not enjoy the laid-back scene at the newly opened Margaritaville Beach Resort), there are quieter parts of the island that welcome families who are on the hunt for affordable activities and warm weather. Half of the area’s 24 beaches are even handicapped-accessible with Mobi-mats. Check out nature sites like the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a marshland where you can spot pelicans and other avifauna, and Andy Bowie Park, a coastal recreational area.

3. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Sun Seekers: Tampa, Florida

Clearwater Beach
Tampa is an ideal alternative to other Florida destinations. Image Credit: Cody Board via Unsplash

If you’re jonesing for that Florida sunshine but Miami is out of your budget, Tampa is your destination. It’s recently been known as a hot spot for people moving there during the pandemic, but the same things that make it a great (and affordable) place to live also make it a great (and affordable) place to vacation. You’ll find plenty of free activities, like strolling the Tampa Riverwalk, viewing manatees at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, or lounging on the soft sands of Clearwater Beach. And if Disney is too expensive, you could always opt for Busch Gardens in Tampa instead.

And you can still have a cool hotel stay without overspending. For example, prices for a stay at The Tampa EDITION are nearly $300 less on random April dates than The Miami EDITION. If you do have a stash of points, Tampa’s larger hotel chains also have lower budget options — think Sheraton, La Quinta Inn, Aloft, DoubleTree, and Holiday Inn (as well as fancier options like Westin and Grand Hyatt) if you’re looking for a deal in either cash or points.

4. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for All-Inclusive Resorts: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana DR
Fans of all-inclusive resorts should head to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Image Credit: Marko Rajevic via Unsplash

If you want everything — accommodation, meals, and activities — all in 1 easy package, Punta Cana is an excellent destination for spring break all-inclusive resorts for all budgets. From more affordable hotels to luxury resorts to several different all-inclusive hotels you can book using points, travelers looking for a deal on fun in the sun should head to this Caribbean hot spot. If you’re flexible on your spring travel dates, you may be able to find an all-inclusive resort option for less than $200 to 250 per night (double occupancy).

A cheap spring break destination for families, many Punta Cana all-inclusive hotels, such as the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana and the Finest Punta Cana, offer features like on-site water parks or kids’ clubs, while others are adults-only — an ideal, inexpensive spring break for college students or couples.

5. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Explorers: Guatemala

Guatemala
Semuc Champey’s stunning waters. Image Credit: Alexander Schimmeck via Unsplash

Guatemala is filled with exciting adventures. Start by discovering the peaceful, mystical shores of Lake Atitlán, which rests in a volcanic crater surrounded by Maya villages and the Guatemalan highlands. Visit colorful, welcoming, historic towns like Chichicastenango and Antigua, where you can easily save money by staying in local guesthouses and eating street food like tamales, pupusas, and tasty stews.

Hikers should trek up the active Pacaya or Acatenango volcanos, while those in the market for a little soul-searching should head to hippie village San Marcos for cacao, temezcal, or other wellness ceremonies and rituals. Meanwhile, outdoorsy types can dip into Semuc Champey, a stunning set of turquoise pools that are part of a limestone bridge.

6. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for College Kids: Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu is ideal for college students, but there are quiet corners. Image Credit: Susan Weber via Unsplash

An easy drive for students out west, Lake Havasu is a cheap and warm spring break destination for college students, young adults, or, yes, even families (hear us out). While college kids can hang out on boats, enjoying the lake’s party atmosphere (12-person party boat rentals start at about $100 per hour, meaning each young adult will pay less than $50 for a 5-hour booze cruise), families can head to more tranquil beaches and roam off-road trails.

In the evening, college kids can enjoy the town’s lively atmosphere. Those looking for something quieter or more affordable should camp — beachfront camping is available year-round and starts at $40 per night, and cabin pricing starts at $119 per night.

7. Best Budget Spring Destination for Culture: Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Portugal Rooftops
The red roofs of Lisbon, Portugal. Image Credit: Steffen Zimmermann via Pixabay

One of Europe’s most affordable capitals, Lisbon is one of the best cheap international spring break destinations. You’ll likely have bright, sunny, and mild weather in Portugal in spring, especially if you head over in April. While Lisbon offers historic attractions and monuments like the Fado Museum and São Jorge Castle, visitors can have budget experiences like enjoying the city’s red-roofed vistas from different hilltop viewpoints (we like Santa Catarina), getting lost in the winding streets of the Alfama distinct, riding vintage trams around the city, or admiring the unique and colorful Portuguese tile that covers nearly every building.

Lisbon’s most famous pastry, pastéis de nata, consists of a flaky crust filled with egg custard and costs less than a couple of euros each. You wouldn’t be the first traveler on a budget to eat a couple of them for lunch instead of a more traditional meal.

Hot Tip:

TAP Portugal is the national air carrier of Portugal, and rewards like Capital One miles transfer to TAP’s Miles&Go program. While there are many ways to earn lots of TAP miles, we recommend getting the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, earning miles, and transferring them at a 1:1 ratio. Redeem TAP miles to fly between U.S. hubs and destinations like Lisbon (LIS) and Porto (OPO).

8. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Couples: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah Georgia
Forsyth Park in Savannah is a charming place for a stroll. Image Credit: Philip Arambula via Unsplash

Savannah is the perfect destination for an adult spring break. The city’s serene, leafy corners, Southern charm, and haunted history make it the ideal destination to wander around hand-in-hand with a loved one, all while staying within your budget. Many destinations, such as the romantic, 30-acre Forsyth Park and the flowering Savannah Botanical Gardens, are free to enter. If you tire of exploring as a couple, you can always join a free walking tour of the historic center.

Tybee Island is also free to visit (though you have to pay for transportation and parking) and is about a 20-minute drive from central Savannah. Here, you can frolic on sandy beaches and explore the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum ($12 to enter).

9. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Adventurers: Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech
Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the most popular squares in Marrakech. Image Credit: CALIN STAN via Unsplash

Be ready for an assault on the senses as you traverse the labyrinth that is Marrakech’s souk. It’s completely free to admire the snake charmers, steaming food, and market wares in the chaotic Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Visitors looking for more adrenaline-pumping action can ride camels, drive ATVs, or trek through desert sands and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, all for a relatively affordable price (3-hour quad tours run as low as $25 per person).

Lodging in Morocco can be done on the cheap, too. Forgo the luxury digs and consider a boutique riad or guesthouse. As there are so many, you can find comfortable ones tucked away in the bazaars that are actually incredibly charming, often for less than $100 per night. Many have rooftops or pools from which you can enjoy the warm Moroccan sunshine.

And whatever you do, don’t let scammers convince you to buy overpriced carpets, which will take all the budget fun out of your spring break.

10. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Off-Season Deals: Greece

Greek Islands
Greece is sunny and beautiful in the spring. Image Credit: Johnny Africa via Unsplash

Those looking for a spring Greek getaway find the numerous islands full of sunshine without the tourists. A romantic trip to Santorini, a party vacation to Mykonos, or a family getaway to Rhodes can easily be hot and frustrating in the summer months, thanks to tourist crowds and sweltering temps. But spring is when the islands’ concessions open up (ferries often pick back up in March or April), and you can enjoy the beaches, attractions, and local Greek cuisine in a crowd-free and more affordable way.

And don’t discount some of Greece’s lesser-known islands and wonders. Destinations like the charming Peloponnese region and the Athens Riviera are popular among locals but not often frequented by tourists. Islands like Amorgos, Antiparos, Folegandros, Kythira, Milos, Symi, Tinos, and many others can often be cost-effective and more authentic, as opposed to the more popular islands.

Hot Tip:

The most expensive part of visiting Greece is probably airfare and hotel. Cut costs by using points and miles to fly to Greece.

11. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Golfers and Activities: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach
Choose Myrtle Beach for a budget spring break. Image Credit: Colin Lloyd via Unsplash

Although spring is slightly more expensive than winter in Myrtle Beach for golfers, it’s the perfect time to putt along the area’s 90 golf courses with ideal weather — and it’s still significantly cheaper to visit in spring than summer.

If golfing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities to do there, starting with the Myrtle Beach Marathon (March 2) and Run to the Sun Car Show (March 14-16).

April brings events like the Myrtle Beach Food Truck Festival (April 5-7), the opening of Pelicans baseball (April 5), and the SOS Spring Safari Festival, where thousands of shag dancers descend on the city (April 18-28).

May offers a family-friendly concert series, special bike days, the Myrtle Beach Classic, a PGA Tour event (May 9-12), and the Blue Crab Festival (May 15-17).

12. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Beach Buffs: Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores Alabama
Gulf Shores, Alabama, is ideal for fans of the beach. Image Credit: Steven Van Elk via Unsplash

The budgeting secret to this Alabama spring break spot is visiting before Memorial Day when prices rise and the summer season begins. Although the water may be chilly for swimming in the spring months, beach bums can still affordably enjoy the sunshine and expansive sands.

The white sands and turquoise waters of Orange Beach are inviting to all types of travelers, whether you want to relax and sunbathe or enjoy water sports and beach activities.

Looking for cheap places to go in Florida for spring break? You can easily cross state lines and arrive at Perdido Key in a mere 15 minutes from Gulf Shores. The barrier island is rife with wildlife and home to a few state parks worth visiting to explore the wetlands and wildlife, such as Perdido Key State Park and Big Lagoon State Park.

13. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Foodies: Mexico City, Mexico

Tacos
Foodies should head to Mexico City. Image Credit: Jeswin Thomas via Unsplash

Tacos, tacos, and tacos — need we say more? Street tacos may be enough to get you there, but visiting Mexico’s capital in spring offers so many more budget delights. The city is relatively affordable to visit year-round, but spring sees low humidity and rain, abundant sunshine, and you can expect the jacarandas to be in bloom, too.

A typical lunch at a restaurant or food stall in Mexico City shouldn’t cost you more than $10, and there are lots of other free and affordable activities to do, too. Coveted cultural attractions like the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Chapultepec Zoo don’t cost anything to enter, and you can always sign up for a free walking tour to understand more about the city’s culture and history while enjoying the sites.

14. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Wildlife Enthusiasts: Florida Keys

Key West FL
The Florida Keys are a sunny spot full of marine species and wildlife. Image Credit: Dayron Villaverde via Pixabay

The Florida Keys aren’t the cheapest spring break destinations on this list, but there are ways to save money when visiting. You’ll find many affordable home rentals (versus pricier hotels), and for those that want to enjoy the warm sunshine outdoors, there are lots of easy and enjoyable activities that go far beyond bumming around the beach, including 3 national parks: Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and the Everglades.

Spring brings sightings of white herons, deer, and sea turtles (May is the start of nesting season). Visiting Key West National Wildlife Refuge is free, though you may want to pay to rent snorkel gear or kayaks to better explore the area. You can also wander through the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center free of charge — you may even catch a pelican feeding.

Hot Tip:

Flying into Miami (MIA) and driving to the Florida Keys may save you money. If you plan to spend some time in Miami, here are the top cheap Miami hotels and affordable activities to do when there.

15. Best Budget Spring Break Destination for Families: New Orleans

New Orleans
NOLA is all about laughter, fun, and enjoyment for people of all ages. Image Credit: Aya Salman via Unsplash

New Orleans made the cut for our list of the best spring break destinations for families in the U.S., a destination that, at first glance, may appeal to partiers and foodies but also has lots to do for every type of traveler and every family member. You’ll never be shushed for the little ones making noise, as NOLA is lively and fun, with live musicians marching the streets and plenty of chatter.

Although we love the Louisiana Children’s Museum, if you don’t want to pay $18 per visitor, you can simply roam around the French Quarter and delight in all the action, or wander City Park in search of some greenery (and a more tranquil place to get beignets). If there are any surprise rain showers (though spring is usually warm and sunny), pop into Arnaud’s Mardi Gras Museum for free.

Final Thoughts

From Guatemala to Alabama to Lisbon, there are many affordable spring break destinations to visit worldwide, especially if you think outside of the box from the more traditional Cancún and Orlando.

Just remember that you can make any spring break trip an affordable one by dipping into that stash of points and miles, which can help you score plane tickets and hotels for (almost) free.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest place to go on spring break?

Any place can be cheap if you use your points and miles to save on hotels and flights. But generally speaking, destinations like U.S. national parks, New Orleans, the Florida Keys, Myrtle Beach, and even international hubs like Mexico City, Punta Cana, or Lisbon can make for affordable spring break getaways.

Where do most Americans go on spring break?

Many Americans in search of sunny, warm weather head to Florida or Mexico for spring break. According to our research, some of the most searched spring break destinations are Cancún, Montego Bay, the Outer Banks, Punta Cana, Puerto Vallarta, and Saint Thomas.

What is the cheapest day to fly on spring break?

In most cases, days like Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays are the cheapest days to fly. When it comes to taking a spring break vacation, avoid traveling on peak dates such as around the Easter holiday, when flight prices are often higher.

How can I save money on spring break travel?

Save money on spring break by comparing the cost of home rentals and hotels, choosing a place that’s affordable and a good fit for you and your travel companions. Be flexible when it comes to dates, avoiding Easter and other peak spring travel moments. Picking an affordable destination from this list means your money will go further. And always dig through your points and miles stash to see if or when it can help you save money.

Lori Zaino's image

About Lori Zaino

Lori is an intrepid traveler who loves creating itineraries that exude “luxe on a budget.” She’s written for CNN, NBC, The Infatuation, and more, and loves to muse about points-fueled trips to Sri Lanka, Sicily, and Myanmar.

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