Spring break is coming up soon, and it doesn’t have to be synonymous with expensive or crowded. You can get away from it all on a dime if you know where to go. Plus, you’ll find plenty of good reasons to travel at this time of year, from blooming wildflowers to corn snow.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
The wildflowers in 620,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, two hours northeast of San Diego, are stunning come springtime. Take a hike along 18.9 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which cuts through it, or the four-mile Palm Canyon Trail, and you’ll spot blooming yuccas, cacti, sunflowers, dandelions, and desert lilies. The flowering usually starts in late February or early March and lasts through May, but call the park’s wildflower hotline (760-767-4684) for the latest update. Stay at the 15-room Borrego Valley Inn (from $175), or use Hipcamp to find a rustic cabin at a nearby retreat center (from $80). Bike Borrego rents mountain bikes and offers guided bike tours in the park.
Rossland, British Columbia
Hostels aren’t what they used to be. Expect the affordable, communal vibe but in a much more upscale package. Take, for example, Nowhere Special, a design-forward hostel that opened in late 2018 at the base of Red Mountain Resort, outside the town of Rossland. You can get private rooms or bunks starting at $30 a night, whip up a meal in a sleek shared kitchen, and tap into high-speed Wi-Fi in the lounge. Plus, spring skiing at Red Mountain is always a good time. The resort closes for the season on April 5, but before then, you’ll find zero crowds and plenty of corn snow, as well as pond skimming, concerts, and end-of-season parties.
Reed Bingham State Park, Georgia
Want to stay on your own private island for just $35 a night? At Reed Bingham State Park, 20 minutes east of the town of Moultrie, Georgia, you can do just that. Rent a canoe from the park (from $60) and you can paddle a short distance to a primitive, remote campsite on Eagle Island, smack in the middle of the park’s 375-acre Lake Reed Bingham. From there, you can fish, swim, or explore the island. Or paddle back to shore to hike seven miles of trails. In spring, keep your eyes open for baby bald eagles hatching and leaving their nests.
So you want to go camping for spring break, but you don’t want to fly with all your camping gear. Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel in Portland recently partnered with gear-rental company Xscape Pod on a package deal that solves that problem. Stay a few nights in the hotel and then a few nights road-tripping and camping along the Oregon coast. The package starts at $210, which includes one night in the hotel and one night of camping. That also includes 20 percent off your room rate and gear rental. Your kit—sleeping bags and pads, tents, a propane stove, kitchen supplies, camp chairs, a cooler, and more—can be arranged for pickup or delivered directly to the hotel. Xscape Pod’s campsite concierge can help you book a location, or try central Oregon’s Beachside State Recreation Site (from $21), a stunning campground on a sandy beach, perfect for whale-watching.
Playa Guiones, Costa Rica
Located on the Pacific coast’s Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Guiones is a four-mile-long, white-sand beach with a stellar surf break. Stay at the Gilded Iguana (from $179), a shorefront hotel that has an on-site surf school for lessons, rentals, and guided outings. Don’t miss the property’s weekly live music and daily yoga classes. Nosara MTB rents mountain bikes and leads tours of surrounding trails, and just north, you can watch nesting turtles this time of year at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Liberia International Airport is about two and a half hours away, and the hotel can arrange for an airport shuttle, but flights from the U.S. into San José International (five hours away) tend to be considerably cheaper.
In the spring, the nation’s capital city turns pink with blooming cherry blossoms. The four-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 through April 12 and includes free events like kite festivals on the grounds of the Washington Monument and street parades down Constitution Avenue. The Moxy Hotel (from $153), minutes from the National Mall, has a hip bar and lounge stocked with board games. Take a hike or run in 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park, one of the country’s largest city parks, which has 32 miles of trails.