You don’t have to do five-story beer bongs off a beachfront balcony to have a great spring break. Though let’s be honest, it’s a better story if you do.
The anvernual respite from school and work that runs from the beginning of March to mid-April is one of the great American traditions, where college kids create memories they won’t remember, and families finally have time for some peace and quiet. Even if you can’t afford a week of debauchery in Mexico or a family jaunt to Europe, each state has somewhere that’ll offer a little something different to start out the warmer months. So whether it’s a big city, country escape, rollicking beach party, or one last ski getaway, here’s the best spot for spring break in every state.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Though it’s still a couple of months until the Hangout Music Festival hits the sand in Gulf Shores, you’ll get a pretty good preview of its parties during spring break. The beach outside the Hangout restaurant is packed with the SEC’s finest, while the condo towers along the beach alternate between relaxing families and all-night ragers. To escape the crowds, head to Gulf State Park, which in addition to over 17 miles of biking and hiking trails, also opened a brand new Hilton lodge late last year.
Not many people spend spring break chasing the northern lights, but a March trip to the Alaskan interior is one of the most unique spring break experiences in America. The lights are never a guarantee, but March and April move toward your last chance to catch them until winter comes again. Fairbanks is home to the Aurora Pointe Activity Center, which sits on 280 acres and offers guided Aurora-viewing tours, dog sledding experiences, and other winter activities none of your friends who went to Daytona will be able to touch.
Lake Havasu, Arizona
A spring break favorite for the Pac-12, Havasu is chock full of resorts, houseboats, and lakefront vacation rentals teeming with parties that start well before noon. After spending the day jet skiing around the lake and meeting all sorts of people whose names you’ll immediately forget, head to the sprawling Kokomo Beach, Surf, and Party Bar, a 10,000-square-foot drinking complex where you can feel the next day’s hangover almost as soon as you walk in.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Before spring break was about destroying your body and beer-soaked romances, spring vacations meant doing stuff like relaxing in natural thermal baths and communing with nature. This kind of throwback spring break is best experienced at Hot Springs National Park, where you can book a full day of treatments like mineral soaks, sitz baths, steam cabinets, and Swedish massages. Then spend the evenings perusing the historic old resort town, complete with its own brewery at Superior Bathhouse, and live music at the Hot Springs Bathhouse Dinner Theatre.
Lake Tahoe, California
The beaches in Southern California are inviting this time of year, and you can’t go wrong, really, planning a spring trip in San Diego or LA. But the state’s best true spring break is a ski mission to Tahoe, where this year’s snow is especially robust after an exceptionally stormy winter. The runs at Heavenly, Squaw Valley, and Kirkwood will all be in top form, but the real draw here is what happens after you get off the slopes. The après skic at Heavenly is among the best in the world, where you can drink right on the state line before heading down to the casinos. There you’ll finish the night in clubs like Opal at MontBleu and PEEK at Harrah’s, that feel more like a night in South Beach than a hill in California.
Skiing pretty much anywhere in Colorado is going to be a first-class spring break, but the most fun you’ll have is in the little town of Telluride, which offers a smaller, more-relaxed atmosphere. After spending the day on the slopes you can cruise the city’s scenic main street, where bars like the Last Dollar Saloon and the New Sheridan still feel chilled out and local, even when they’re full of tourists. You can also stave off the ski-induced munchies at Brown Dog Pizza, one of the few places outside the mitten you’ll find Detroit-style pizza.
New Haven, Connecticut
Where better to celebrate those staples of the college diet of pizza and hamburgers than a city renowned for both? Louis’ Lunch is the birthplace of the burger, and though the line here is never short it’s worth waiting in to try the original. Round out your spring break diet at Frank Pepe’s, the world’s most famous destination for New Haven-style apizza, then visit the rest of New Haven’s Little Italy to see if anyone else makes it better. If your spring break didn’t line up with cherry blossom season in DC, New Haven has you covered, where late-season blossoms abound at the 46th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival on April 28.
Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, Delaware
Delaware’s a small state, so just go ahead and combine the best of the Delaware coast by spending spring break in Rehoboth and Dewey beaches. Feel the warmth return as you walk along Rehoboth’s famous boardwalk or pop in and out of the shops along Rehoboth Avenue. Watch the sunset over the bay as you enjoy happy hour in Dewey Beach followed by drinking your way through the town’s many bars. If you can stand a little chill, you’ll get the best of the state’s nature along the Delaware Outdoor Trail. Or taste test the best new beers for spring by stopping in for a drink at a Delaware on Tap favorite, like Dewey Beer Co. or Big Oyster Brewery.
Key West, Florida
The state that invented spring break has turned its back on the monster it created in recent years, with SB stalwart Fort Lauderdale turning into a luxury destination, Panama City banning alcohol on the beach, and Daytona courting families. The only place that still embraces spring break with open arms is this quirky little island at the end of the state, where the bars along Duval Street become clogged with college kids and well liquor, and the beaches have almost no sand to spare. Much like New Orleans, Key West brings the state’s most uninhibited parties all year long, with a clothing-optional bar at Garden of Eden and two levels of mayhem at Rick’s.
The secret’s been out for a couple of decades now about Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and the bedlam it brings. So if your spring break falls around March 17, you’re in for one of the best St. Paddy’s parties in the nation. But even during other weeks you won’t find a better place to party in Georgia, where you can take your drink from bar to bar along River Street. Savannah has more to eat than hard liquor and Pringles, too. So get a good base at Narobia’s Grits and Gravy before you head out. Or class yourself up for a minute and enjoy a meal at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.
The Big Island, Hawaii
If you’re looking for beach parties and wild nightlife, Hawaii’s not your spot. The spring breakers who make it here are often with their families, and typically aren’t in the islands to rage. But for an exotic, rough, natural spring break you can take helicopters over active volcanoes in Hilo, bike through lava fields in Kona, relax on black sand beaches in Punalu’u, and enjoy the only Kona Brewing beer actually made in Hawaii at one of its breweries. The island is one of the most geologically diverse places in the world, with eight different climate zones within 4,000 square miles. Though the waters off the coast are just as fascinating for divers.
Sun Valley, Idaho
We already told you why going to Sun Valley in March is ideal, with its Sundance-light film festival running from March 13-17. Cinephilia aside, the skiing in the Sawtooth Mountains is spectacular well into April, especially after the exceptional snowfall Idaho saw this year. America’s original destination ski resort is also right near plenty of places for fly-fishing and snowmobiling, and you’re not far from spring break stargazing at the states’ Dark Sky Reserve. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare, splitting a room at the Hotel Ketchum puts you square in the middle of it with prime star-spotting real estate.
The last time I went to Chicago for spring break I was introduced to the lovely Midwestern concept of freezing rain. Which isn’t to say Chicago isn’t a fun place to visit this time of year, it’s just saying don’t go for the weather. The upside for college students, of course, is that since this isn’t exactly prime visitation time, hotels are about 70 percent of what they are during summer. But the bars, restaurants, and clubs are even more packed than usual, since nobody’s going outside. Come around St. Paddy’s Day, and you get to see the extremely weird tradition of dying the Chicago River green. Get here in April, and you can spend an afternoon drinking around Wrigleyville before a Cubs game, where you don’t even need tickets to fully feel part of the party.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is the new Fort Lauderdale. You heard it here first. Okay, so maybe this charmingly livable town in northeast Indiana doesn’t have a beach. Or palm trees. Or temperatures above sweater weather. But it does have bars that stay open until 3:00 AM, full of the same colorful characters you’ll find in Florida, minus the leathery skin. It also has the world famous Vera Bradley outlet sale from April 10-14, where 100,000 square feet of deeply-discounted handbags draw visitors by the thousands. If you’re more into baseball than bags, catch a game at Parkview Field, one of the best parks in the minors and the anchor of Fort Wayne’s surprisingly-entertaining downtown.
Nothing screams “wild spring break” like a Dutch theme town, right? Well, this tulip-and-windmill-filled hamlet southeast of Des Moines is quite the Midwestern oddity. More than just kitschy, Pella is perfectly suited for a short spring getaway with an 18-hole golf course at Bos Landen Golf Club and a full-on opera house with seasonal performances. After strolling the colonial streets you can stretch your legs a little more along the Howell Starion Prairie Trail, then do your requisite spring break drinking at the Cellar Peanut Pub.
Kansas City, Kansas
Since we’re not going to tell you the best place for spring break in this state is in another state entirely, we’ll assure you that there is plenty to do in the Kansas side of Kansas City. But once you’re done stuffing your face at Arthur Bryant’s and Joe’s BBQ, had enough of the early-season Royals, and gotten your fill at Boulevard Brewing, head back across the border to KCKS. There you’ll find hiking and zip lining at Zip KC, one of America’s biggest marble stores at the Moon Marble Company, and the home stadium of the MLS’ Sporting KC. Who, because nobody’s quite sure when MLS season is, does indeed have home games all throughout March and April.
Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Kentucky might not be top of mind when it comes to rock climbing spring break getaways, but anyone who spends a weekend traversing the 2,000 climbing routes of the Red River Gorge knows otherwise. This top climbing destination is at its scenic best in spring, when the epic canyons are dotted with wild geraniums, red trilliums and pink lady slippers, creating a blanket of color under 100-plus natural arches in the park.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras might be coming to a close but that doesn’t mean spring break in New Orleans won’t still be a glorious blur of sweet drinks and bad decisions. The French Quarter will still be there, with all the sazeracs, Pat O’Brien’s hurricanes, and Lafitte’s purple drink your stomach can handle. Spring also brings the New Orleans Jazz Festival’s 50th edition in late-April, meaning you can do stuff like watch the Rolling Stones and Dave Matthews Band instead of the standard hangover-making New Orleans trips entail.
Bar Harbor, Maine
If you’re looking for a waterside New England escape for spring break, you’d be hard-pressed to beat little Bar Harbor. During summer this quiet town is often overrun with tourists headed to Acadia National Park, but in spring it’s only got a smattering of families and rock climbers. The weather isn’t a guarantee, but catch it on a pleasant week and you’ll be able to climb Cadillac Mountain and take in its famous panorama with nary a tourist in the way.
Ocean City, Maryland
Mid-Atlantic beach towns are never a guarantee in spring, but if you’re headed here in April your odds are still pretty good. You won’t be going in the ocean, but you can still enjoy strolling the boardwalk and stopping to warm up with Thrasher’s Fries and Fisher’s Popcorn. You’ll also enjoy pure, childlike fun at riding go-karts at Baja or playing laser tag at Planet Maze. Most of the bars and restaurants are open on weekends in the spring, so you won’t be stuck in an abandoned ghost town and will still enjoy a little taste of OC nightlife.
Another month into the year, and you’re looking at prime time to hit Cape Cod and Nantucket. But since it still might be the opposite of beach weather, head to Beantown, where the defending champion Red Sox start up play at Fenway on April 9 against Toronto. Sports-mad Boston will also have plenty of home action with both the Bruins and Celtics nearing the playoff push. And if the weather cooperates it’ll be a perfect time to stroll the Freedom Trail and enjoy Boston Common under the warm New England sun.
Boyne Mountain, Michigan
Inviting as the phrase “spring break in Detroit” sounds, skip the Coneys and techno and head north to Boyne Mountain, a small-hill ski resort that parties a lot bigger. It’s good for families, with a tubing hill and splash park making it an entertaining spot for kids on break. But this is still Michigan, so you’ll find plenty of beer on hand from the Apres Ski Pub to the Snowflake Lounge which, despite its name, isn’t full of people instantly offended by everything you say.
This April is exceptional in Minneapolis, when the city plays host to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four from April 5-8. This year also marks the third anniversary of Prince’s death, and his estate at Paisley Park will host Celebration 2019 from April 25-28, a four-day celebration of all things Prince. Candytopia is also opening at Mall of America, which should be as stomach-churningly delicious as it sounds. If you’re traveling with kids, the Minnesota Zoo hosts Farm Babies from March 22 to April 30th, where you can get up close and personal with the zoo’s youngest residents.
The casinos along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi aren’t exactly the Vegas Strip, but that’s precisely why going there is so absolutely fantastic. You can snag rooms at the Golden Nugget and IP Casino for under $75 a night this spring, and most casinos still bring free drinks to anyone who’s playing. With pool parties at the Hard Rock (weather permitting) and clubs in nearly every hotel, it’s like a much-cheaper Sin City with a more down-to-earth crowd. Plus you’re just across the bridge from one of America’s most under-appreciated beach cities in Ocean Springs.
The real spring break-style partying in the Show Me State doesn’t get going until summer at Lake of the Ozarks. In spring, spend your break enjoying slightly-more-wholesome fun along the bevy of thrill rides in Branson. Have some adrenaline-inducing fun by hurdling your stomach through the air, whether it’s on the world’s biggest and steepest spinning coaster at Silver Dollar City’s Time Traveler, the Runaway Mountain Coaster, or the giant slingshot along the strip at Bigfoot. The city is pure Americana, with a massive Titanic Museum and one of the country’s great variety stores at Dick’s 5 & 10.
Montana skiing might be the last, great, untouched alpine in the country, a destination so hard to reach tourists haven’t ruined it en masse. This has left Bozeman — the nearest town to the Big Sky Resort –a fun, rugged college town free from much pretension. You’ll only drive about an hour to the resort over well-groomed roads, then once you’re finished on the slopes you can enjoy your nights cruising the city’s renowned breweries like Bozeman Brewing and Bridger.
North Platte, Nebraska
You know who else enjoys traveling in large groups during March and April? Cranes. Specifically sandhill cranes, who flock to North Platte like 19-year-olds to Cabo during spring break, part of what Jane Goodall described as the most impressive animal migration in the world after that one in the Serengeti. Bird watching not your idea of a slammin’ spring break? Well, Nebraska, like the tourism slogan says, is not for everyone.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tough call here over Elko and Winnemucca, but Sin City juuuuust edges them out as the top spring break spot in Nevada. Ignore for a moment that the usual uninhibited Vegas crowd is joined by an even-more-careless spring break crowd. This is also your chance to make the most insane parlay bets of your life on the NCAA tournament, and watch the entire thing while sipping free drinks in a sports book. The weather is also still pleasant this time of year, on the off chance you want to get some fresh air and explore the desert beyond.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
Maple syrup and spring break go together like Christmas and palm trees. Maybe it’s not a tradition, but if you’ve experienced it once, you kind of want to make it one. This is what will happen when you do the New Hampshire Maple Experience, a quintessential part of March maple harvest where a three-hour carriage ride has you tree tapping, touring a sugar house, and most importantly tasting maple syrup to your heart’s content. The White Mountains also have New Hampshire’s best skiing at Loon Mountain. After a day on the slopes you can relax and go wine tasting at the Riverwalk Resort’s onsite winery, or enjoy local beer at the legendary Woodstock Inn.
Seaside Heights, New Jersey
It’s not quite shore season in New Jersey, and that’s a good thing. Any Jersey Shore local knows the best time of the year to snag a beach house is during the shoulder seasons, when the prices to rent are dirt cheap, and the beaches are not yet crowded with bridge and tunnel day trippers. You can’t go wrong with any central Jersey shore town if the only item on your agenda is to get wasted in a beach house. But if you actually want to have fun outside, head to Seaside Heights. By Easter all the rides are open, and you can spend the afternoon racing and dropping 72-feet down the speedy new Hydrus roller coaster, or hitting any of the other classic rides along Casino Pier. The weather might not be ideal, but think of spring break as a chance to enjoy this part of the Jersey Shore before the crowds that made it MTV-famous show up and ruin it.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
If this winter’s weird weather patterns hold up, Santa Fe should still be a pretty solid spring ski vacation, with challenging runs and colorful views from atop the 14,000-foot Ski Santa Fe. Even if you can’t ski, you can still eat your way through one of the best small food cities in America, grabbing classic southwestern food at La Choza or the La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel. Or America’s best Mexican fine dining experience at Sazon. If your definition of spring break involves drinking your body weight in margaritas, Santa Fe’s got you covered with a full-on margarita trail traversing over 45 of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
New York City, New York
Granted, one drink in Manhattan will cost more than your friends’ entire booze budget in Punta Cana. But it’s the Greatest City in the World! Spring is the odd time of year when even the most hardened New Yorkers say is pretty darned pleasant in the city, where the freeze of winter has moved on but the stench of summer hasn’t wafted in. You can pack more into a spring break in New York City than you can anywhere else in America, between museums, shows, and cultural education on the subway. And though you might find yourself sharing it with every middle school tour group outside of the tri-state area, you didn’t come to NYC for personal space. Spring also brings the beginning of baseball season, and when you see Yankees tickets cost more than your airfare, there’s always the Mets to fall back on.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
People outside of the southeast don’t think too much about coastal North Carolina as a crazy spring break destination. But Wrightsville Beach on the right weekend can get crazier than a lot of spots in Florida. You’ll find the usual array of seaside drinking at classic beach bars like the dollar bill-lined Jimmy’s, complete with fruity slushies and boiled peanuts. Or Tower 7, a Mexican bar and restaurant that boasts an inexplicable line. But to get the real insanity of Wrightsville you’ll need to find some friends with a boat and head to Palm Tree and Masonboro islands, where you’ll happen upon the infamous “Sink the Island” parties. To date nobody has succeeded, but you never know.
Fargo, North Dakota
You’ll never really have a bad time in Fargo, unless you end up in a wood chipper. And funnily enough you can take pictures in front of the famous Fargo Wood Chipper here, as the movie prop is on display in the Fargo visitors center. Once you’ve snapped that selfie, hit the city’s numerous breweries like Pixeled and Kilstone, and make plans to hit the Fargo Bacon and Beer Festival on March 16, with over 100 to sample. Or spend a week in the historic Fargo theater from the 19-23 for the Fargo Film Festival.
Don’t get us wrong, a trip to Put-In Bay feels exactly like spring break. If you go in July. Ferry service out there doesn’t even start until May, so for now your best spring option is Cincy, where the oldest team in baseball celebrates its 150th year on opening day March 28…You can pregame the game along the city’s new-ish Brewing Heritage Trail, that teaches you the role this hub for German immigrants played in American brewing history. After the game you can keep the party going at Krueger’s or Rhinehaus, as the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood has developed a reputation as one of the top party districts in Ohio.
Tulsa is best known for its Oktoberfest insanity, but go in spring and you’ll have a chance to enjoy one of America’s most surprisingly fun cities without the madness. St. Patrick’s Day is big here, with multiple street parties at both the Blue Dome District and downtown near McNellie’s. You can also enjoy the clear Oklahoma skies at the rooftop bar at Welltown Brewing. If you’ve got kids, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum is always a child-pleaser. As are the animal-feeding experiences at the Tulsa Zoo.
Cannon Beach/Seaside, Oregon
Pacific Northwest beaches aren’t the stuff of spring break fantasy, but for a cool, peaceful getaway they’re just about perfect. Hike along the trails that dart out from Highway 101, bringing you past the most scenic roadside viewpoint in Oregon out to sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. You won’t be boozing hard here, but it’s worth stopping at the Wayfarer on Cannon Beach to enjoy a drink right next to Haystack Rock. Or hit Pelican Brewing nearby for Oregon’s closest brewery to the sea. In Seaside, you can also bring your kids to the Seaside Aquarium, where they can visit with the aquarium’s resident family of harbor seals.
Your average Yinzer will probably be a little offended their beloved Steel City is associated with Spring Break. But Pittsburgh is lowkey one of the best party cities in the country, with the most bars per capita of anywhere. Pittsburgh’s got a bar for any flavor, whether it’s craft cocktails at Bar Marco in The Strip, rooftop beers at Il Tetto downtown, or tiki drinks at Hidden Harbor. The NHL’s Penguins will be home all spring, and the Pirates begin play at PNC Park in April, argued by some to be the best stadium in baseball.
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is home to five full-scale universities. If you go to one of these universities, this is probably the lamest spring break suggestion imaginable. However for everyone else who doesn’t go to those schools, it’s like visiting to a northeastern city that’s perpetually on spring break. The insanely young population gives this city a wild and carefree feel, where spots like Rooftop at the Providence G and the Courtland Club are filled with crowds you’d swear should be in South Padre. You can also eat with reckless abandon in one of America’s best Little Italys at Federal Hill. Or drink beer that’s far better than the 77-pack of Natty Light your friends are chugging in Florida at Union Station Brewery and Long Live Beerworks.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
With 60 miles of beach you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger spring break destination than Myrtle Beach, if not a better one. The place once affectionately known as “Dyrty Myrtle” has cleaned itself up considerably in the past five years, developing its spacious downtown boardwalk area with a ton of new restaurants and its iconic Skywheel. Aside from the requisite boardwalk attractions, this year Myrtle Beach also welcomes TheBLVD, a 55,000-square-foot entertainment complex with the city’s best new live music venue at Tin Roof.
Deadwood, South Dakota
Yes, there is an actual town that was the impetus for SoDak’s most famous TV show. But the famous Saloon #10 that used to serve straight up shots of whiskey now has IPAs on tap, and the casinos that line the historic Wild West streets won’t shoot you if you lose a hand of poker. Wild Bill and Calamity Jane have been replaced by throngs of bachelorette parties, who come to Deadwood because in many ways it’s still as wild as it was 150 years ago. Though it doesn’t have the devil-may-care party rep of Nashville or Las Vegas, a spring break here can still yield some interesting stories.
Music City’s not home to every bachelorette party north of Charleston because it’s boring, as seemingly every weekend the city fills with people who treat their trips like grown-up spring break. That means plenty of time cruising the live music along Broadway, waiting in line for chicken at Hattie B’s, and ironically wearing boots you bought for Halloween in 2014. Nashville locals may lament its slide into Vegas-like tourism, but it’s now squarely in the upper echelon of American party cities, and easily Tennessee’s best spring break destination.
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre is as spring break as spring break gets, and it still holds strong as America’s wildest. Over 50,000 people descend on this little Island off the southern tip of Texas, where Clayton’s Beach Bar is a nonstop shitshow, and Rockstar Beach brings a festival full of performers old people can’t stand. The insanity carries far beyond music on the beach, too, as the Schlitterbahn Water Park turns into the biggest water park party in the world.
It might be tempting to go with Park City here, what with its bougie film festival bringing the only thing that might resemble “nightlife” to America’s softest partying state. But lest we forget Ogden was, once upon a time, an outlaw’s crossroads boasting one of the wildest streets in America. It’s died down a bit since then, but the bars along 25th Street still have a hard-partying edge, where hard liquor flows even at the Beatles-themed City Club, and at the seedy underground Funk n’ Dive. Ogden is also right at the base of two of the best ski resorts in America, the classic Powder Mountain and the Olympic runs at Snowbasin. Meaning you can combine skiing and cheap bar hopping in Ogden better than any other spring break destination in Utah.
Ski season in Vermont goes well into April, and if you’re looking to hit the slopes during the break nowhere makes a better getaway than Stowe. The massive Stowe Mountain Resort has enough terrain to keep your whole group busy, plus a solid après ski spot at the adjacent Spruce Peak Lodge’s WhistlePig Pavilion. There you can load up on Vermont’s famous local beers, or try and score an invite to the secret Linehouse Speakeasy, hidden somewhere in the village. You can also relax in the most Vermont way possible at Spruce Peak hotel’sspa , who offers treatments utilizing hard cider, craft beer, and CBD oil.
For those not so familiar with beltway geography, Alexandria sits right outside Washington, DC, offering easy access via the Metro to all the monuments, museums, and historical sites that draw throngs here every spring. It’s also cherry blossom season along the Potomac River, and from Alexandria you can take a water taxi tour to enjoy them all slowly, rent electric bikes in Old Town to roll under the blossoms, or take a cherry blossom food tour where you can eat a progressive dinner through half a dozen of Alexandria’s best restaurants.
Lake Chelan, Washington
The central and eastern parts of Washington aren’t nearly as gloomy as the western part of the state, so a March getaway to Lake Chelan means a chance of seeing some actual sunshine. It’s still a little cold to be playing in the lake, but Chelan offers about 20 wineries, many right on the lake with perfect views of the mountains. If drinking your way through spring break isn’t the plan, you’ll find plenty of golf in the area, as well as scenic hikes throughout Lake Chelan State Park.
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Summer’s high season hasn’t quite kicked off in the most Rocky Mountain town in the east. But most experienced rafters will tell you the high water levels make spring the absolute best time to raft the New River, with speed comparable to what you’ll find on the Colorado River. The terrain along the river is different too; with less foliage you’ll see more of the boulders and crevices that make the New River Gorge such an incredible feat of nature. Once you’re done rafting, you’ll still be able to enjoy copious pizza and beer at Pies and Pints, or hit one of America’s best sandwich shops at Secret Sandwich Society.
Door County, Wisconsin
Wisconsin in March can still bring plenty of snow, and if you’re into cross-country skiing through thick forests to remote lakes this is one of the best destinations in the country. After trekking through the Wisconsin wilderness you can enjoy the rest of your afternoons touring the best wine region in the state, where four wineries along the the eight-stop wine trail offer free tastings. You’ll have to pay a fat $12 at Stone’s Throw, but many say it makes the best wine in America’s Dairyland.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Once a Wild West frontier town, Jackson Hole has turned into the picture of bougie ski resort, replacing covered wagons and whiskey with private jets and expensive wine. Cheap it is not, but if you’re looking for the state’s best vacation spot in spring it’s here, where the skiing is first rate, the scenery is spectacular, and you can still get a stiff drink at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and Silver Dollar Bar and Grill. If you’ve tired of the wealthy masses in town, you’re walking distance from Grand Teton National Park, where you can easily escape into nature for a couple of days.