Girls gone mild
Visit these low-key spring break destinations and save the body shots and other drunken activities for home.
Think you can’t take a spring vacation without experiencing overcrowded beaches filled with intoxicated, half-naked undergrads? Think again. Sure, the usual suspects (Cancun, Daytona Beach and Miami) should be avoided at all costs, but there are hot spots (some literally hot, others on the cooler side) that make perfect spring getaways—without the hangover.
Run for the border
Yes, Cancun soon will be invaded by MTV and drunken coeds, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid Mexico altogether. According to Laura Veglia, vice president of sales for travel site Bookit.com, destinations on Mexico’s west coast offer more laid-back options. “Puerto Vallarta (pictured) is a really fun place, and people aren’t going there to just drink as much as they can,” she says. For accomodations, Veglia recommends opting for all-inclusive resorts for the best deals. For April 5 through 12, we found a $98-per-person, per-night rate at Melia Puerto Vallarta (meliapuertovallarta.travel), a deal that includes beach access, water sports, food and unlimited premium alcohol. (Purchase the package through Bookit, and you’ll get a free American Express gift card.) Another option on Mexico’s west coast is Los Cabos. “Everybody parties, but it’s not like a Girls Gone Wild video,” Veglia says. For that same week in April, we found a two-bedroom apartment on Bookit for $193 per person, per night. That’s just for the lodging, but because it’s equipped with a kitchen, you don’t necessarily need an all-inclusive deal.
Because it’s easier for Chicagoans to find more affordable flights to Mexico’s east coast, Veglia advises travelers to fly into Cancun and take a 25-minute drive to the white-sand beaches of Riviera Maya. “Down the coastline, there’s been a ton of development on all of these really beautiful resorts,” she says. One standout spot is Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya (valentinmaya.com), an all-inclusive, adults-only, five-star resort. While normal rates go for around $350 a night per person and up, we found deals starting at $149 per person, per night.
Spring breakers won’t skip Costa Rica entirely, but instead of nonstop partying, most visitors spend their time surfing or exploring the country’s volcanoes and rain forests. We found a four-day trip in April on iExplore.com touring the country’s lush Corcovado National Park for about $1,200; and a seven-day surfing tour on Bookit.com for a $91 a night rate per guest that includes transportation (from the San José airport), hotels and breakfasts. Airfare isn’t included, but Delta and Continental both have flights to San José for around $350.
Hit the slopes
While our snow season might be over (fingers crossed!), ski resorts out West still have another month before the slopes start to get slushy. All the popular spots, including Vail, Aspen (pictured) and Lake Tahoe, offer deals around this time of year. On Travelocity, we scored Aspen airfare and hotel deals starting at $750 per person for a seven-day stay beginning April 5. We found lodging, like Northstar at Lake Tahoe (northstarattahoe.com), through Bookit.com for $164 a night, with the fifth night free. The resort offers discounted spring ski packages for around $54 per day (normally $216).
Don’t dismiss the Sunshine State
While you should steer clear of rowdy Florida locales such as Panama City, Daytona Beach and Miami, cities like Orlando and Clearwater offer fun in the sun without the scourge of beer bongs. “Orlando is a destination that’s big enough to contain everything,” Veglia says. In addition to the obvious Disney and Universal theme parks, there are also water parks and golf courses. And if you act fast, you can even get a deal for this weekend through one of the city’s corporate-catering hotels. “Hotels that are primarily used for business meetings and conventions have better prices around holidays,” she says. Rooms at the fancy Peabody Hotel are normally $395 a night, but since it’s Easter weekend, we found rates that had dropped as low as $99 a night. If you insist on spending the majority of your time on the beach, Fort Lauderdale, Destin and Clearwater Beach are Florida destinations without the hustle and bustle of wet T-shirt contests.