Ever since MTV’s “Spring Break” aired in the late 1980s, the week-long holiday has been synonymous with college students doing tequila shots at beach parties in paradise. To be sure, a week of lounging on sandy beaches, dancing into the wee hours, and imbibing from margarita fountains may well be the epitome of the average college student’s dream vacation. But, considering the average college student is also wrestling with a mountain of debt, while also holding down a part-time job, it doesn’t always seem realistic. The good news is you don’t need to be loaded to have an awesome vacation. Just like you’ve told your family in defense of your liberal arts major, money can’t buy happiness. Here, we’ve compiled a list of great spring break destinations that won’t break the bank.
South Padre Island, Texas
Just a quick Google Image search for South Padre Island during spring break reveals this place is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of liver. It’s basically a haven for beer-fueled debauchery, not unlike a frat house but in a much more attractive location. Many of the island’s bars even proudly boast their emphasis on character, rather than class. When you need to sleep off all that booze in time for the next day’s festivities, there are plenty of chain motels offering cheap rooms at $60 or less per night.
Puerto Rico has a little something for everyone, from calm waters fit for families to the 20-foot waves surfers’ dreams are made of and the historic El Morro to the contemporary Calle del Cristo. Its astonishingly beautiful landscapes, including the jungle of El Yunque and the caves of Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy, are nothing short of amazing. If you need a break from civilization entirely (and who doesn’t, once in awhile?) you can venture to the gorgeous islands of Vieques and Culebra. Afterward, enjoy the pulsating nightlife of the capital city of San Juan. Sounds great, right? And expensive. But in fact, Puerto Rico is one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations year-round.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
When it comes to spring break, most people think the closer a location is to the equator, the better. And if you’re looking to laze in the sun, that’s probably your best bet. But if you’re willing to think outside the box a little, Atlantic City is a cheap northern alternative. It’s easy to get an affordable waterfront motel room with a scenic ocean view. Or, you can book a room at one of the city’s many casinos —all of which have pools and plenty of fun to offer. There’s also the boardwalk and a thriving nightlife with clubbing and live music.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
US News & World Report ranked Myrtle Beach, SC, as its number one affordable spring break destination. And it isn’t hard to see why. Aside from 60 miles of pristine sandy beaches, it also has a slew of amusement parks that will make your inner child jump for joy. After you’ve ridden the roller coasters and water slides to your heart’s content, stop by the outlet malls and treat yourself to a new summer wardrobe. Then stop into Senor Frogs for a hopping night of clubbing to live DJs. Though some of the more upscale hotels can run you $100 or so, there are plenty of beachside motels available for around $50 a night. It’s no wonder this is one of the East Coast’s most popular family vacation spots.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach is a heat-lovers haven, regularly hitting 80 degree averages during March and April. Like most of the locations on our list, the beach here has much more to offer than scenery. It’s also bouncing with parties during the spring break period. The city also has a Big Red Party Bus that runs along the beach, as well as a lively club scene. Motel rates start around $40-50 a night, so you’ll have no trouble fitting it into your budget.
We couldn’t call this a proper spring break destination list without some mention of Cancun. For years, this has been the international spring break destination. With its epic parties and star-studded live music festivals, it’s a college-students’ mecca. Resort stays can be pretty pricey, but there are plenty of affordable motels suitable to a student budget. The place is practically made for spring break. Even the flights are typically cheap; with a little hunting and the right timing you can score deals as low as $200 roundtrip.spring break