Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.
Spring break’s traditional recipe of sun, sand, and booze can be a tempting respite from an unrelenting winter. But if a week of fist pumping and doing body shots isn’t what you or your family have in mind, it can be tough to decide where to go. For a trip without all-night ragers, we found six quiet spring break destinations where you’ll be able to secure some warm-weather R&R.
If it’s good enough for Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, it’s good enough for us. Since the 1950s, Palm Springs has been the glamorous weekend getaway for celebrities hoping for a respite from Los Angeles, a place filled with mod architecture, retro-cool pools, and luxurious resorts. These days, the town is filled with spa-going and golf-loving retirees more than party animals, so it’s one of the most quiet spring break destinations you could find.
Scottsdale has more spas per capita than any other American city, which is enough to distract visitors from its lack of beaches. The always-warm weather still begs a trip outdoors—it’s best experienced during a hot-air balloon ride over the desert or a kayak trip on the Salt River in search of wild horses. Just outside of town is Four Peaks Wilderness; here, you can climb mountains and swim in serene lakes amid multicolored canyons. See, who needs the coast?
Mayan ruins? Check. Postcard-worthy beaches? Check. Organized beer-pong competitions? Um, no.
With party-centric Cancún two hours to the north, quiet Tulum invites guests to a beach bum’s paradise. But there’s more to do if you can tear yourself from the soft white sand. Besides scuba diving and snorkeling, you can go windsurfing, climb ruins dating back to 250 AD, and explore caves. Get to know the locals over a margarita and a Cuban cigar (they’re legal here!) in the small downtown area. The siesta is widely practiced here; we suggest eating a big lunch and sleeping it off.
As quiet vacation spots go, few display such charm and southern hospitality quite like Savannah, Georgia. Known for its historical 18th- and 19th-century squares with sprawling fountains and its drooping live oaks, Savannah invites you to slow down and take a leisurely walk through the past. If you want a little coastal scenery, the town is a mere 30-minute drive from Tybee Island, which has sprawling sandy beaches that are unlikely to attract a rowdy crowd.
Between Los Angeles and San Diego, there’s coastal Carlsbad, whose soothing mineral springs cemented its status as a spa town in the 19th century. Carlsbad’s uncrowded beaches are among California’s best, drawing fewer partiers for spring break than nearby San Diego. Go surfing with a backdrop of stately cliffs at remote Terramar Beach, or kick back on roomy Carlsbad State Beach. Had enough sun? Take the kids to Legoland, or shop and sample cuisines from around the world in Carlsbad Village.
Many of Belize’s more than 400 cayes are uninhabited, but a few, like Turneffe Atoll and Coco Plum Caye, are home to a quiet resort or two. These are no Vegas-style properties; most are eco-resorts and cabana complexes that let guests commune with nature.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef—the world’s second-largest reef system—offers prime snorkeling and scuba diving between the islands and mainland. Go island hopping to find natural treasures such as mangrove forests and underwater caves. Or simply lay back along the coast and enjoy one of the hemisphere’s best warm vacation spots (where average highs never dip below 82 degrees).