Think spring break destinations are just for college kids? Think again! These iconic spots offer plenty of decidedly grown-up fun.
Much like you, many spring break hot spots have grown up. Also, like you, these destinations – while more mature – are still loads of fun.
What we’re getting at? It’s time for a spring break do-over because you’ve graduated from cheap beer, crowded nightclubs and MTV-ready beach parties.
These five spring break cities are worth re-visiting and can offer itineraries that nudge you to tap into your halcyon college days while also enjoying the finer things you can appreciate in adulthood.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
“Where the Boys Are,” a 1960’s film about midwestern college students flocking to Fort Lauderdale, originally put this South Florida city on the spring break circuit. But a booze ban on the beach in more recent years, which is strictly enforced during spring break season, helps dial back the raucousness.
A better place to enjoy a cocktail? Inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale, a luxury hotel that faces the beach. At Atlas, the talented bartenders craft their margaritas with cilantro foam and put a smoky spin on an old-fashioned, presenting it in a special cocktail smoke box. Allow the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi to be your designated driver, shuttling you around town and making a stop near Las Olas Boulevard.
The adult thing to do? Order your next set of business cards from Hoffman’s Chocolates, a local chocolatier with an outpost on Las Olas. The edible cards are white chocolate-covered graham crackers with your contact information printed on them. Randall Vitale, President of Hoffman’s, quips that people are more eager to have meetings with him since he’s started passing them out.
Beaches are a magnet for Spring Breakers looking to thaw out. But Aspen Snowmass, a four-mountain destination, proves mountain towns can throw a great party.
“Visitors to Aspen can combine great conditions and plentiful sunshine with parties, concerts and competitions for an unforgettable mountain vacation at any age,â€ says Dan Sherman, chief marketing officer of Ski.com.
During the spring, Aspen Snowmass offers a range of events from concerts to rail jams to moonlight dinners. Plus, Colorado’s mountains are headed into the spring ski season with plenty of powder. Snowmass received more than seven feet of snow within a few weeks, surpassing the average for February snowfall, points out Jenna Dellert, concierge at Viceroy Snowmass, a ski-in, ski-out hotel.
Guests here can enjoy more refined aprÃ¨s options, including a happy hour at TORO Kitchen and Lounge, a pan-Latin restaurant led by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval. Of course, to feel youthful once again, take a ride on the Breathtaker Roller Coaster, a mountain coaster that riders control with foot brakes and that traverse through a mile of forest at speeds up to 28 miles per hour.
Panama City Beach, FL
Chances are if you partied on “PCBâ€ during your spring break glory days or watched one of the MTV concerts staged here, you only saw a sliver of this city’s beaches. In all, Panama City Beach boasts 27 miles of white sand beaches. To escape and feel like you have a beach to yourself, slip away to Shell Island, which is an undeveloped seven-mile stretch of white sand beach flanked by emerald water and pine forest. You can arrive at the barrier island for a picnic or snorkeling via a private charter or boat rental.
After a relaxed morning there, Visit Panama City Beach CEO Dan Rowe recommends a choose-your-own-adventure for the afternoon, spent fishing, jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling or kayaking. In 2018, the “SkyWheelâ€ made its debut, and the giant Ferris Wheel gives visitors panoramic, 360-degree views of the Emerald Coast from 180 feet up in the air.
One of the best-kept surfing secrets is kept on this Gulf Coast island. In Galveston, longboard surfers can snub the beaches of Hawaii or California and go on a wave-chasing excursion with Tanker Surf Charters. The way it works: You hop on a charter boat and scout out waves generated by large tankers in the ship channel. Then, you achieve next-level surfing nirvana – riding uninterrupted waves for minutes and miles at a time. (Don’t you wish you knew this during your spring break years when you were waiting in crowded surf line-ups for short, 5-second waves?)
Jimmy Buffett once took the charter and was wowed by his experience, which included a 4 minute, 21-second ride on a wave. “Any serious surfer who is looking for adventure and waves best point their boards in the direction of Galveston,â€ he concluded.
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has all of the expected spring break amenities, i.e., a SeÃ±or Frogs and Top 40 dance clubs. But head about 100 miles southwest and you’ve arrived in Charleston, a much more sophisticated spring break destination that exudes Southern charm with its cobblestone walkways and shutter box planters. Some photo-worthy spots for Spring Break include the pastel-painted Georgian row houses along Rainbow Row and the pineapple fountain along Waterfront Park.
Head to the Prohibition-style bar inside The Spectator and redeem yourself for all those poorly made Long Island Iced Teas from your college years. Cocktail artisan Allen Lancaster will point you in the right direction, but might we recommend his “Repent and Redeemâ€ tequila cocktail made with a blood-orange chili oil foam? Or set your sights on Ã‰levÃ© Lounge, the whimsical rooftop garden at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. The art deco-inspired spot specializes in cocktails and has an extensive wine and craft beer list.