It’s a problem that many twenty- and thirtysomethings face: You’re too old for the body-shots-in-Cancun-style spring-break vacation, but you still want to go somewhere warm (and hopefully social) in the spring. We asked three travel experts for some alternatives.
1. Tulum, Mexico
Each of our experts recommends the Riviera Maya, which is home to Cancun. But they all pointed us to more tranquil spots. Dorothy McGivney, founder of Jauntsetter.com, a travel site for New Yorkers, recommends Tulum, about 90 miles south of Cancun.
“It’s very bohemian. It’s off the electricity grid, so it has this ‘green’ hippie vibe,” she said.
For sightseeing, check out the Mayan ruins and Sian Ka’an Biosphere (cesiak.org).
To eat, McGivney recommends the fresh seafood at Casa Violeta (casavioletatulum.com).
She likes to stay at Mezzanine (mezzaninetulum.com); though it’s a short cab ride away from the other hotels, the facility is posh and modern.
2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A more sophisticated (yet affordable) beach experience, this Cancun alternative is popular with European travelers.
Though it’s a bit more developed than Tulum, McGivney recommends Playa del Carmen for budget travelers; cabanas on the beach are a cheap option.
“They also have really nice small boutique properties,” she said.
Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor and blogger (petergreenberg.com), recommends staying at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba (banyantree.com/en/mayakoba), a “true eco-resort with excellent service.”
3. Vieques, Puerto Rico
Great for groups, this island off Puerto Rico is known for its pristine beaches and laid-back vibe, McGivney said. You can even see wild horses roaming the beaches.
There are many rental homes in Vieques, so it’s an ideal spot for a group of friends. “The nice thing is that the flights to San Juan are cheap, and it’s a puddle-jumper flight from there,” said McGivney. “There’s not a lot of nightlife and restaurant options available, so it’s great for those interested in cooking for themselves.”
If you find yourself itching to go out, Al’s Mar Azul has a fun karaoke night. Also worth checking out: Hix Island House (hixislandhouse.com/), which sits on 13 acres own private land and has a very secluded, very Zen feel. For budget travelers, Bananas Guesthouse (bananasguesthouse.com), with rates starting at $70 a night, has more of the traditional spring-break party feel. Next-door, a restaurant called Duffy’s (duffysesperanza.com) has “great food and strong drinks,” McGivney said.
4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
Chris Gray Faust, founder of travel blog Chris Around the World (caroundtheworld.com) and former travel editor at USA Today, recommends grabbing a group of friends to check out spring training. Sounds like a perfect guys’ vacation: watching baseball all day long.
“Scottsdale is centrally located for all the Cactus League teams, and there are accommodations there for all budgets,” she said. When you aren’t watching the game, you can play golf or hike Camelback Mountain. Have a guys’ night out at the Rusty Spur Saloon (rustyspur saloon.com) the oldest saloon in Scottsdale., which opened in 1951.
5. State and national parks
This is for families and outdoorsy types. “I’m a big fan of the American Hiking Society’s (americanhiking.org) alternative spring-break programs,” said CBS’ Greenberg. Though they’re designed for groups of college students, individuals over 18 can join existing groups.
“The cool thing is that trips take place in national and state parks in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, including El Yunque National Park in Puerto Rico,” he says.
Greenberg adds that this is a great time of year to go. “Some of the most popular parks in the country, like Yellowstone and Yosemite (above), have much smaller crowds in spring compared to summer months.”
When it comes to places to stay, Greenberg recommends the Ahwanee in Yosemite (yosemite park.com), a hotel that blends Art Deco, Native American and Middle Eastern styles.
6. New Orleans: Festival season
Faust recommended looking beyond Mardi Gras in New Orleans. "There are festivals almost every week in the spring," she says.
From April 7-10, the French Quarter Festival (fqfi.org/frenchquarterfest) celebrates music (and there’s plenty of great food, too).
Then, from April 29-May 8, the city celebrates the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (nojazzfest.com). "You can get all the food and fun, but nowhere near the crowds or chaos. It's a great way to see what the city has to offer."
For live music, Faust recommends Vaughan's Bar in the lesser-known Bywater neigborhood, just a few miles from the French Quarter. On Thursday nights, you can check out trumpeter and singer Kermit Ruffins, who was recently featured on HBO series “Treme.”