After the chill of winter, for many people spring break is all about sinking your toes in the sand. All along the southeastern coast and the Gulf of Mexico, beach-goers yearn for an excuse to test out new spring break vacation ideas, lay out their towels and soak up the warmth of the sun, trying to get a sneak peek at summer. When school breaks, here are the best spring break beach destinations to visit, beach bags in hand:
One of the top vacation spots on Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is a lively, local beach town. You’ll find emerald green waters and sugar-white sand, perfect for building a sandcastle or two. For some adventure, book a dolphin cruise or join a deep sea fishing charter. If you’d rather just indulge, visit one of the many local seafood restaurants and dig into some fresh Gulf fare. Other fun activities in Destin to enjoy include an interactive pirate ship excursion, a bungee trampoline park, nightly performances at the marina, and fireworks displays.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
A quieter spot to roam the beach, Gulf Shores is a good choice for families. You won’t have to contend with as many crowds as some of the more traditional spring break locales, but you’ll still enjoy time on the sand. Soak up the area’s beauty at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge with nearly 7,000 acres of coastal trails to explore. Or take the kids to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo to see monkeys, lions, tigers and more. Gulf Shores vacation spots like the Waterville USA Park let kids burn off some energy with water slides, mini golf and go-carts.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a favorite spring break destination for East Coasters who drive down to visit its 60 stretching miles of shoreline. There’s a growing arts and culture scene, along with a culinary scene definitely worth a taste. The best Myrtle Beach attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium and the Broadway Grand Prix Go-Kart Park are kid-pleasers, while adults can enjoy the vibrant nightlife and entertaining variety shows at spots like the Alabama Theatre. The Tanger Outlets are a draw too with more than 200 brands to browse and good deals.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach regularly tops lists of the country’s best spring break destinations. It’s for good reason too with its beautiful, white-sand beaches and loads of entertainment options. While you might think it’s a college spot, it’s filled with plenty of family-friendly attractions in Panama City Beach including an interactive science museum, a marine park, a water park, splash pads and more. Shop until you drop at Pier Park, a scenic outdoor shopping center designed like a boardwalk. If it rains, head to Dave & Buster’s for some arcade games.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Located near Gulf Shores, Orange Beach is another place to consider if you’re looking to avoid the usual crowds. The beaches are pristine, and you’ll find plenty of other things to do too. The Southeast’s tallest Ferris Wheel sits at The Wharf, giving you views from 120 feet above scenic wetlands and the marina. Order up some fresh Gulf shrimp, and then browse the Wharf’s boutique shops. Orange Beach is also home to a variety of dolphin cruises from glass-bottom catamarans to sunset outings on climate-controlled boats.
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Another gorgeous choice along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pensacola Beach has the crystal white sands and turquoise waters beach lovers want. It’s quieter too than bustling Florida spring break spots like Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Spend time in areas like Fort Pickens, where the beaches are more private than other public access points. The kids will love exploring the tunnels and real cannons there, which date back to the 1830s. Downtown Pensacola is fun too with its collection of museums, tours and living history exhibits. The spring break beach destination’s Minor League Baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, starts up in April, if you’re looking to catch a game.