6 Spring Break Destinations That Aren’t Cancun
Get ready to bike, surf, and hike your way out of winter on these killer warm-weather adventures
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After this winter’s drought-ending downpours and blizzards that buried cities under snow, it’s time to thaw out. We’ve packed these six warm-weather springtime destinations with enough adventure to make you feel like you’ve earned that cocktail on the beach.
If you’re after relaxation and warm weather, then you can’t beat the laid-back vibe at Camp Comfort, a historic bowling alley and social club converted into a funky retreat amid the Texas Hill Country, not far from Austin and San Antonio. Opened in 2014, the place feels like old-school summer camp meets hip B&B. Score a cabin overlooking the creek, mountain bike at nearby Flat Rock Ranch, or hike among wildflowers at Joshua Springs Park. Don’t miss High’s Café in town for house-made hot sauces and killer huevos rancheros.
Hollywood investors created Pioneertown in 1946 as a film set for Western flicks. Once a favorite of Roy Rogers (who was also one of the founders), this place in the California desert includes the newly renovated Pioneertown Motel. The Western-themed rooms might sound kitschy, but the location can’t be beat for its proximity to Joshua Tree National Park, 20 minutes away. Grab brunch at La Copine Kitchen before enjoying the park’s legendary climbing and desert hikes through cactus gardens. At night, check out live music at Pappy and Harriet’s, a surprisingly bustling spot in an otherwise empty town.
The best time of year to visit Moab is in spring, before the summer crowds and scorching heat take over the place. The area is known for its slickrock mountain biking—including world-famous trails like Porcupine Rim and Captain Ahab—but the road biking is also a blast, especially if you climb into the La Sal Mountains or cruise along the Colorado River for views of Arches National Park. Camp at Sand Flats Recreation Area. After riding, enjoy a dip in the Mill Creek swimming hole, and grab a pint of Derailleur Ale at Moab Brewery.
Charlotte, North Carolina
For Charlotte’s adventurers, there’s no place like the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Established in 2006, the center boasts 1,300 acres of woodlands, putting bouldering, kayaking, and trail running within easy reach of downtown. Just west of the city, hikers can check out Crowders Mountain State Park or the six-mile trail at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve. Afterward, score pork belly tacos at the Tin Kitchen food truck, and spend the night at Treehouse Vineyards, where you can taste wine, listen to live music, and sleep in a 100-square-foot treehouse on a 200-year-old family-owned farm.
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is the perfect antidote to winter blues: a laid-back Southern California town with quality farmers’ markets, a bustling wine scene, and hiking trails with views of the Pacific. Sleep in a renovated Airstream trailer at AutoCamp or book a poolside room at the Goodland. Surf Driftwoods or El Capitan, hike Gaviota Peak for a dip in the hot springs, and catch a tangerine sunset from Butterfly Beach. Afterward, head to the Mill, a market of local merchants, for beers at Third Window Brewery.
Tulum is Mexico’s quieter coastal getaway, known for its Mayan ruins, white-sand beaches, and jungles rich with coconut trees and banana orchards. You’ll fly into Cancun and head south along the coast, passing all the sprawling mega-resorts and tourist bars thick with spring breakers before arriving at Papaya Playa Project, a rustic yet lavish eco-resort. Among the amenities: no internet in any of the hotel’s oceanfront thatch-roofed cabanas. Sign up for kiteboarding or yoga, detox in a sweat lodge, and dine on cold-pressed juices and vegan tacos.