The 8 Best Affordable Spring Break Destinations in America

Lake Mead

Spring is around the corner, and whether you're a weary student or just someone who finds winter exhausting, there's probably only one thing on your mind — spring break. As it turns out, our national parks are some of the best destinations in America, especially if you're looking for a fun, affordable spring break.

Joshua Tree National Park

Two people hiking through desert-like terrain below a bright blue sky in Joshua Tree National Spring.
Sierra White, Share the Experience

Sleep out under the stars, explore the wide-open places, or simply bask in the warm desert air. Joshua Tree National Park is a perfect place to spend your spring break in a sunny, one-of-a-kind landscape. Be sure to check out some of the ranger-guided hikes that take place throughout spring, including those to the Oasis of Mara and Mastodon Peak.

Padre Island National Seashore

Person strolling down the quiet beach of Padre Island National Seashore.
Rithvik Ramesh, Share the Experience

This 70-mile stretch of untamed barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast couldn't be a more perfect spring break setting. Just south of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore offers unique bird-watching opportunities, beach camping, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and beach driving.

Hot Springs National Park

Waterfall cascading into a warm spring over boulders covered in greenery at Hot Springs National Park.

What better time than spring break to treat yourself to a soak at Hot Springs National Park? Take a traditional bath at Buckstaff Baths, or explore the historic facilities at Fordyce Bathhouse, where guided tours are available every day of the year. You can also sample some drinks at Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery, which uses water from the area's natural hot springs. 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Kayakers traveling through the stunning green waters of Emerald Cave at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Cheryl Hobbs, Share the Experience

Lake Mead is a popular spring break destination, with thousands of boaters and partygoers attracted to its clear water, sandy beaches, and steep canyon walls every year. Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers an opportunity to either join the party or seek solitude, exploring the 1.5 million-acre landscape by bike, kayak, on horseback, or on foot.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park


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Nothing says "spring break" like New Orleans, and this park puts you right at the heart of the action. With its headquarters a stone's throw from the French Quarter, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is your gateway to NOLA's best food, drink, and music. 

Canaveral National Seashore

View of the Canaveral National Seashore during sunrise from a nearby boardwalk.

Unlike a lot of Florida's beaches, Canaveral National Seashore stays relatively quiet during spring break season, which is good news for anyone who wants to hit the beach while avoiding the crowds. Camping is permitted, but there are no developed facilities in the park, so be sure to bring everything you need, including food and drinking water.

Blue Ridge Parkway

a river running through green grass reflecting the blue sky as the green hills disappear into the horizon at Blue Ridge Parkway
Philip Varney, Share the Experience

For your spring break road trip, there's no better route then the Blue Ridge Parkway. Traversing 469 miles of the Appalachian Mountains' most beautiful terrain, the parkway provides access to dozens of hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and historic sites. With trees and wildflowers coming to life all over the mountains, spring is one of the best times to visit. 

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Sailing along open waters under a clear blue sky in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Robert Davies, Share the Experience

This urban oasis includes several different sites in and around San Francisco. Whether you want to swim at a nearby beach, hike through the redwoods, take a guided tour of Alcatraz Island, or explore the sights and sounds of Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate National Recreation Area provides an idea spring break experience like no other. 

National parks provide an enticing alternative to predictable getaways this spring, offering a variety of fun and affordable spring break destinations. Whether you go hiking in the wilderness, swimming on a secluded beach, or exploring in the big city, national parks are where it's at for spring break.


Cape Canaveral NS: Good article, but about that camping. You must be off the beach by sunset. They close the gates shortly after. Otherwise, a wonderful place to spend at the beach.
Canaveral National Seashore: Primitive Island camping on the most diverse estuary in North American is awesome. You need a boat to get there. Canoes can be rented for 5 of the campsites
What about Great Smoky Mountain national park? No park admission fee. Lots of wildlife, beautiful flowers, great for hiking, full of history!

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