I’m excited to start a new post series here on IGE – Just 5 Things! Every week or so I’ll share a post of 5 things ranging from my 5 favorite drug store finds to 5 best productivity tips, 5 favorite things to splurge on – you get the idea (and let me know if you have any requests!)
Today’s Just 5 Things post is my 5 favorite spring break spots here in the US, because in this stage of my life the thought of being cramped in a tiny seat with a bacteria-covered swivel tray for longer than 3 hours with a toddler, newborn, and husband who hates flying is enough to send me into an emotional tailspin. ?
If you can relate – fear not! There are tons of destinations here in the US that don’t require a passport and are full of good fun. And warm weather. That was a requirement for making my list – the weather had to be nicer there than it is here at home, and since spring is right around the corner I thought this would be the perfect time to share.
If you’re longing to leave but aren’t sure where to go, check out my 5 favorite spring break spots in the US below (plus 5 runner ups because I just can’t control myself when talking about vacation!)
Do me a favor and leave your favorite spots in the comments section below!
Ben and I visited San Francisco in late March a couple years after we were married and it was absolutely gorgeous! I mean, we weren’t wearing tank tops and shorts, but jeans and a light spring jacket kept us warm enough to explore San Fran staples like the Ferry Building, Alcatraz, Lombard Street, and Coit Tower on foot. One day we took a ferry to nearby Sausalito (#lifegoals) to hike and explore art galleries all afternoon, then another day we rented a car and drove to Muir Woods. If you’re heading to San Francisco, you MUST see the redwoods which can live to be 2,000 years old. Absolutely unforgettable.
We also drove down the coast to Half Moon Bay to walk the beach and tide pools, and ate as much seafood as humanly possible. Don’t forget your walking shoes – one day Ben and I trekked 9 miles whilst sightseeing. Needless to say, there is no shortage of things to do in San Francisco. It is such a great getaway!
While it stinks that my in laws don’t live close by anymore, we have enjoyed getting to explore their new hometown of Washington DC immensely over the past, gosh, 6, 7 years? Anyway, what a city, you guys!! There is so much to do beyond visiting the monuments (which I actually love and never get sick of.) The surrounding area is rich in outdoor activities and history from Great Falls in Maryland, to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (and surrounding wineries!) historic Jamestown and of course Ford’s Theater. I mean I could go on, and on, and on about all there is to do in DC and the surrounding states and cities. Blows my mind. Oh, can’t forget about Georgetown – might be my favorite little neighborhood in the entire world to explore and house hunt.
Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you which restaurants are the best because there are so many good ones, but some of my favorite spots in the city are The Hamilton, Round Robin Bar at The Willard Hotel, POV, and Old Ebbitt Grill. There are trendier restaurants for sure, but I like these establishments because they feel uniquely DC. Like, you can visit a good ramen restaurant anywhere in the country, but you can’t sit and enjoy cocktails on the roof of a hotel overlooking the White House just anywhere, know what I mean?
As far as weather, DC is consistently 15-30 degrees warmer (sometimes more) than it is in central Iowa, which is why it makes the cut for a great spring break destination. You’ll miss the cherry blossoms this year, but keep them in mind when booking next year’s trip. If you’re looking for an on-the-go vacation with more stuff to do than time to do it, DC is your destination.
3. Key West, FL
Oh, Key West. What a place. Land of flip flops, frozen margaritas, and all the fresh fish you can eat. Plus wandering wild chickens. What can I say, Key West is a place that feels like you’re getting away from it all without having to open your passport.
I’ve stopped at Key West a couple of times on cruises and have been itching to get back for a dedicated visit for years. Jamaica has some serious competition for the title of “land of no worries,” because even during my brief stays I could clearly see there’s everything to do but worry in Key West!
Key West is definitely family friendly, but if we get the chance to return in the next 5-7 years it will probably be without the boys. We’d fly into Miami then rent a convertible and cruise through the keys listening to Jimmy Buffett, then fill our days with snorkling, deep sea fishing, and stuffing our faces with conch at sandy bottomed establishments.
The one city in the US that’s had the biggest impact on both Ben and me is Charleston, SC. I love their little slogan – “everything you’ve heard is true.” This place is magical. From the blooming flowers to historic homes, boundary-pushing cuisine, and shopping (oh my word the shopping. I hate shopping and even I couldn’t believe the shopping!) there is nothing about this city that we didn’t love. I’m so glad we went pre-Celiac Disease too because the chicken and waffles we had at Rarebit were unlike anything I’ve ever had.
Ben and I went in early April and a light jean jacket was the most I ever needed against a slight evening chill. When we weren’t walking on cobblestone streets gawking at historic mansions and secret gardens, we were eating. Oh man, did we eat! Our favorite restaurants were Husk, SNOB, and Kaminsky’s for dessert. The Bar at Husk is a must see, too. There are tons of adorable cafes and shops to stop in at for a cold bev and bite to eat – we definitely didn’t go hungry.
If you or your family likes history or eating, or history AND eating, Charleston is your spot. It’s also great because it’s a short distance from a lot of other fun cities/towns like Savannah, Folly Beach, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, and Kiawah Island so day trips are an option. Just could not recommend Charleston enough. I think it’d be wonderful to visit all year round, but the freshness and flowers of spring are such a treat.
If you like the idea of Las Vegas but just…can’t…head to New Orleans. Oh my gosh it is so fun! Ben and I went for a week in late March several years ago and not only was the weather gorgeous (not too hot, not too cold,) but we did not want to leave. That’s truly the sign of a good vacation, right?
The atmosphere was perfect for us young 20-somethings at the time, but there’s lots to do as a family too. We went on a couple plantation tours including visiting Laura Plantation, which was incredible, and the city’s Creole cooking blew us away. Emeril’s NOLA was a show stopper and Mother’s is a can’t miss. Of course we stuffed our faces with all the po’ boys, beignets, shrimp and grits, and red beans and rice we could get our hands on over the course of the week!
Bourbon street is as bonkers as you think it is (hello no open container laws,) and we witnessed more than one parade materialize seemingly out of thin air. If you’re looking to have lots and lots of fun on your spring break trip, NOLA is where it’s at. Be sure to visit LaFitte’s and Chart Room for an ice cold Abita (RIP gluten-filled Abita!)
5 Honorable Mentions:
- Seattle, WA – I went to Seattle in late March a few years ago expecting it to be cold and drizzly the entire time but it ended up being deliciously sunny and warm – such a treat! Seattle has a great food scene and there’s p-l-e-n-t-y to do – great for girl’s getaways, a couple’s retreat, or family vacation.
- San Diego, CA – there’s never a bad time to head to SoCal, but San Diego’s sunny blue skies are especially appreciated in the spring. Rent a car and head to La Jolla and Cardiff by the Sea (be sure to eat at Pipes if you go!) – two of Ben’s and my favorites.
- Napa, CA – again, there’s never a bad time to go to wine country because WINE but you’ll save a boat load of money heading there in the off season. Use some of the money you saved to take a hot air balloon ride over the valley – you’ll remember it forever.
- Savannah, GA – we took Lincoln to Savannah in the dead of summer and it was hot. Like, roasting inside of an oven, hot! We still had a blast, but I think spring would be a gorgeous time to head back.
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – ok, had to sneak this international destination in. I’ve been to a bunch of spots in Mexico but Puerto Vallarta is my favorite. It’s the most beautiful place with the nicest people and the most delicious food. I’d return every year if I could.