10 great spring break getaways
Americans are gearing up to hit the road and the air during the upcoming two months in search of the ultimate spring break destination—and record-breaking gas prices don’t seem to be holding them back. Despite the squeeze on family budgets, hotel and air bookings have increased significantly over 2011, according to American Express booking data.
“Everyone seems to be ready to get away for spring break or visit family in another part of the country,” says Katie Bower, an American Express travel specialist, citing statistics that show air sales have increased by 13% and hotel sales are up by more than 8%.
Top domestic destinations this year include cityscapes such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and warm-weather hot spots such as Miami, Honolulu, and West Palm Beach.
The top spot for hotel bookings? Las Vegas aces it. Meanwhile, college students will rock out at Arizona's Lake Havasu and the Colorado River; South Padre Island on the Texas gulf; and assorted beaches along the Florida coast. If you want to avoid the girls-gone-wilder scene, shake off winter doldrums with one of our Top 10 Ultimate Spring Break Getaways.
Sun and baseball
Hey, batter: Swing into spring and get a head start on the MLB season in Scottsdale, AZ, where Cactus League games are scheduled through April 4. Scottsdale, just east of Phoenix, is the off-season home to the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. You don’t need to be a baseball fan, however, to get excited about spring training games. There’s nothing better than sitting in the stands on a balmy day eating a hot dog and drinking a beer, even if you don’t know the difference between a Bronx cheer and a bullpen.
The region has much to offer in addition to baseball. Scottsdale is known for its luxury hotels, high-end shopping, 100-plus art galleries and world-class golf courses. In addition, Phoenix offers non-stop nightlife, major museums and the Desert Botanical Garden, featuring some of the world’s most unusual plants. A spring bonus: many wildflowers and cactus will be in bloom.
Also on tap; Every year through April the outdoor amphitheater at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall comes alive with Native American music, dance, art and traditional foods. And people interested in learning more about local tribes can visit the Heard Museum, which specializes in Native American art.
Celebrate spring with a red-white-and-blue holiday in the nation’s capital. In addition to its historical significance and spectacular museums, you’ll be there in time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which this year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of 3,000 trees to the United States from Japan.
The festival, which focuses on the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees on the Tidal Basin, is scheduled March 20 through April 27, but officials are always a little worried about the peak bloom date. This year they’re more nervous than usual because of a mild winter, which may mean an early bloom. But that hasn’t affected plans for a major centennial celebration, which will include a parade, concerts, fireworks and a kite-flying festival.
And there’s much more to see and do in the capital: monuments, museums, the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, the list is long and impressive. One popular way to tackle the city is with a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour, which is flexible enough to give you time to see the things that mean the most to you. Another favorite is a nighttime tour of the city, which is stunning when lighted. And if your timing is right, there’s always the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, scheduled for April 9.
Yosemite National Park
A natural high
Park it at one of the natural wonders of the world, awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park. Spring is one of the best times to visit Yosemite, if you want to avoid the crowds. And there's plenty to see, whether or not there's snow on the ground. Waterfalls will roar, the lakes will mirror the crystal clear sky and Half Dome will rule over its subalpine domain.
One of the first wilderness parks established in the United States, Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, there are deep valleys, wide meadows, ancient giant sequoias and a vast wilderness area. Many areas are closed in spring—in fact, some may not open until summer—but Yosemite Valley is accessible by car all year. Year-round lodging is available, ranging from tent cabins to a high-end motel, and shops, museums and information centers welcome guests.