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8 Great Alternative Spring Break Ideas for Every Budget

Liz Weiss

Celebrate the season in an affordable, crowd-free locale.

If you're clamoring for a spring getaway away from the party set, you'll want to steer clear of hot spots like Miami Beach, Florida, and South Padre Island, Texas. And fortunately for crowd-averse travelers, this year there are plenty of attractive locales with favorable exchange rates, inexpensive lodging choices and affordable flight options. From secluded beach escapes to striking desert retreats, here are eight wallet-friendly places to embrace the season without swarms of students at your side.

Sedona, Arizona

"When people think of spring break, they tend to think of warm-weather beach destinations, but there are a ton of fun options for those who'd rather avoid the sand," says Kelsey Blodget, executive editor of Oyster.com. "And with the Zika virus scare, more travelers may choose to avoid tropical climates this year," she adds, pointing to Sedona as an ideal pick for those looking to soak up the great outdoors, with plentiful hiking opportunities and striking red rocks. Plus, with Google Flights currently showing round-trip flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in April for as low as $75 and flights from Portland International Airport starting at $174 in April, it's a great time for frugal travelers to plan a trip.

Reykjavik, Iceland

"It's certainly not your typical spring break spot, but with WOW Air flying its ultra-low-cost routes from Boston, D.C., LA and San Francisco, it's hyper-affordable," says Christine Sarkis, senior editor of SmarterTravel.com. Google Flights currently shows flights from Washington D.C. airports to Reykjavik's Keflavik International Airport in April for as low as $408. Plus, Iceland offers plenty of fun and revelry without the young, student-filled party scene, Sarkis adds, noting that visitors can enjoy both the city's vibrant music scene and inspiring scenery that caters to outdoorsy types looking to enjoy time in the great outdoors. "And if it's just not spring break without a dip in warm waters, there's always the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa," she says.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is best known for its world-class country music scene and genuine Southern hospitality, but it's also a great place to visit come spring, when college students head to the beach, the temperatures hover between the 50s and 70s and the humidity isn't unbearable yet. With pleasant temperatures, the season is an excellent time to explore the great outdoors and iconic sights like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grand Ole Opry and the Belle Meade Plantation. "Break out of the spring break mold this year," says TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals spokesperson Laurel Greatrix. According to Greatrix, you can nab excellent deals by opting to stay in an urban condo or home rental. In fact, TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals found the average nightly rate for a two-bedroom property in Nashville to be $222 in March.

Dublin

Boisterous pubs and historic cathedrals may come to mind when you think of Dublin, but after the festive St. Patrick's Day celebration in mid-March, you can enjoy quiet, leisurely exploration as you take in iconic sights like St. Patrick's Cathedral, stroll along Grafton Street or meander through St. Stephen's Green. Plus, there are plenty of serene hideaways to check into, including cost-effective vacation rentals, Greatrix says. TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals found two-bedroom properties priced at just $205 for weeklong stays in March, Greatrix notes, adding that, with the average nightly rate per person costing just $51 in March, "you'll feel like you have the luck of the Irish on your side." Plus, Google Flights shows round-trip flights to Dublin Airport from New York City airports starting at $571 in March and $524 in April.

Sonoma, California

For a classic wine getaway that won't come attached to a steep price tag, consider a trip to the rolling vineyards of Sonoma this spring, where inexpensive accommodations abound during the offseason. "Vacation rentals make group travel so much more affordable; a week in Sonoma enjoying wine country becomes just $71 per person, per night, with a two-bedroom home," Greatrix explains. However, the popular season starts in April, so for the best deals, you'll want to plan a March trip. During your visit, make sure to check out the area's top-notch restaurants and, of course, heavenly Cabernets and Zinfandels at one of Sonoma's many scenic vineyards.

Montreal

If relaxing along powdery sands isn't really your thing, consider a trip to Montreal, where graceful boulevards and storied 18th-century buildings replace crowded boardwalks and cerulean waves. In spring, when the air is crisp and the temperatures stay between the high 30s and mid-60s, you can comfortably explore the city's vibrant shopping districts, the lovely Parc du Mont-Royal and the Montreal Botanical Garden. Plus, the advantageous exchange rate ($1 Canadian dollar equates to roughly 70 cents U.S.) is easy on your wallet. "Anywhere in Canada is pretty much 30 percent off," says Johnny Jet, creator of the popular Johnny Jet site and a travel expert. He also cautions the importance of factoring in that Easter falls at the end of March this year, making the last week of the month especially expensive, so it's a smart idea to travel during the shouldering weeks before or after the holiday to secure the best bargains.

Guadeloupe

Golden beaches, picturesque parks and mouthwatering Creole cuisine are just a few enticements for visiting Guadeloupe's cluster of enchanting Caribbean islands. Whether you're a nature seeker, a beach bum or a history buff, there are a wealth of sites to explore, from dramatic waterfalls and La Soufrière volcano in Guadeloupe National Park to centuries-old sugar plantations and secluded sands at Marie-Galante. Plus, unlike popular Caribbean destinations such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, you'll find few crowds and affordable lodging options. Though you've likely never considered Guadeloupe, you should, says Clem Bason, CEO of goSeek. In fact, luxury hotels like the four-star La Plantation Resort Golf & Spa are offering nightly rates as low as $157 for stays from March 27 to April 2. Plus, plane tickets are a steal, with Google Flights showing round-trip flights from New York City airports to Aéroport International Pôle Caraïbes in Grande-Terre's main city for as low as $201, and flights from Washington, D.C. airports for as low as $207 in March.

Delray Beach, Florida

If you are set on heading to Florida this spring, Delray Beach in Palm Beach County, makes a great alternative to Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Jet says. He highlights the excellent cuisine, palm-lined streets, championship golf courses and great resorts as top selling points. Best of all, the crowds empty out following Easter, making spring an ideal time to soak up nearby Palm Beach's lovely beaches and reduced hotel rates. And for those looking to splurge, there are iconic properties such as The Breakers Palm Beach and The Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club, and for those on a tighter budget, the Delray Beach Marriott is offering nightly rates starting at $324 from April 3-9. Plus, Google Flights shows round-trip flights from New York City airports to Palm Beach International Airport starting at $177 and round-trip flights from Boston Logan International Airport starting at $100 in April, making getting there a breeze.



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