It’s never too early to start planning your spring break getaway, even if college is pretty far in the rearview mirror at this point. Sure, you could go all out and relive those college years, but you might not recover as well as you used to. In the interest of our worse-with-age hangovers, why not avoid the partying coeds and go for a more relaxing and cultured vacay? We asked Sara Gilliam, a Senior Interactive Producer for TravelChannel.com, to share her picks for a more grown-up spring break. From island paradises to ski resorts to sleepy surf towns, these vacation spots will satisfy all your travel needs. Check out these 10 destinations that offer plenty of classy relaxation, and we promise you won’t find a bikini contest for miles.
1. Amelia Island, FL: What Amelia Island thankfully lacks in theme parks, nightlife and traffic, it more than makes up for in elegant Victorian inns, stone crabs and unspoiled shoreline. “Amelia Island is a more affordable alternative to Palm Beach or Singer Island,” Sara tells us, “even though the sea island was a playground for the rich in the 1890s.” Just 13 miles from the Georgia border, Amelia boasts an appealing hybrid of Southern charm and laid-back beach culture. (Photo via Conde Nast Traveler)
2. Mt. Bachelor, OR: If you missed out on a ski trip this winter, there’s still time to hit the slopes. In fact, Sara says, “You’ll still find ideal conditions in Mt. Bachelor, where the ski season generally stretches into May.” Throw in a little mountain biking, hiking or rock climbing, and you’ve got a spring break perfect for your inner adventurer. Just make sure not to miss the shopping, galleries, beer tasting and amazing restaurants in downtown Bend. (Photo via Where to Ski)
3. Sonoma, CA: “Consider this an alcohol-fueled spring break,” Sara says, “but for a more refined palate.” Each spring, Sonoma County hosts 3-Day Barrel Tasting Weekends where you can weave your way through more than 100 wineries situated on the Russian River Wine Road. Not only can you taste straight from the barrel, but you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase “futures” of the wine at a discount before it’s bottled 12 to 18 months later. In between wineries, make sure to indulge in a gourmet meal or scenic bike ride to keep from ending up sideways. (Photo via Sonoma Magazine)
4. Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula: “Costa Rica has been a perennial spring break favorite for a few years now,” Sara says, “thanks to many direct flights from the East Coast and all it has to offer.” From surfing and zip-lining to whitewater rafting and rainforest adventures, the resort town of Tamarindo, midway down the Nicoya Peninsula, is full of action, nightlife and, of course, stunning beaches. Paired with a thermal spa-resort stay near the Arenal volcano, you’ll return exhilarated, tanned and relaxed. (Photo via Huffington Post)
5. Barbuda: When you think of “all-inclusives” and the Caribbean, you probably think they’ll be crawling with coeds, right? That’s not the case at Coco Point Lodge on Barbuda, an island paradise few know about. Sara suggests you Google Antigua’s little sister immediately if you’re craving some unrivaled R&R. Channel your inner Princess Di, a frequent visitor who was able to escape prying eyes on the vast, empty beaches. How’s that for seclusion? (Photo via Yacht Crewsing)
6. Savannah, GA: “A spring break in Savannah is genteel, not Jello shot laden,” says Sara. Strolling past elegant verandas and lush green squares, you’ll find trendy boutiques and microbreweries tucked between local art galleries and antique shops. Unwind with a handcrafted cocktail at one of the many charming restos or get slightly rowdier bar hopping in the historic district (to-go cup in hand, of course). (Photo via Conde Nast Traveler)
7. Southern Coast of Puerto Rico: With so many direct flights (and no need for a passport), Puerto Rico is an effortless escape. While you may be tempted to stay in San Juan thanks to its European flavor and bumping casinos, Sara says you should head west to Ricon instead for the best surfing, or south to Cana Gorda for a peaceful beach so beloved by locals that many of them keep vacation homes there. (Photo via Laho Wind)
8. Amsterdam: Spring is an ideal time to visit much of Europe and take advantage of airfares that have yet to skyrocket. When you think of spring break, Sara says, “Amsterdam might conjure up images of pot-smoking backpackers and the infamous Red Light district, but that shouldn’t overshadow everything else the city has to offer.” From breathtaking canals (best seen by boat with a beer in hand), impressive Van Gogh and Rembrandt collections and the kaleidoscope of just-bloomed tulips, Amsterdam is a great, though unexpected, spring break destination. (Photo via Huffington Post)
9. Nicaragua: “If you’re looking for a true escape from your typical day-to-day, Nicaragua is it,” says Sara. From volcano sledding to horse-drawn taxis to howler monkeys, Nicaragua is unlike anywhere else. You’ll find the perfect hybrid of safe, sleepy surf towns, undeveloped beaches and jungle adventures with the added bonus of the colonial city of Grenada – one of Central America’s oldest. (Photo via Lonely Planet)
10. Tulum, Mexico: Cancun — with Señor Frogs and mega-resorts — is a spring break cliché, but Sara insists you can bypass all that if you head about an hour south down the gorgeous coastline. The Mayan Riviera is home to some of Mexico’s most pristine beaches, and in Tulum you can expect sugary-white sands, jade-green water, Mexican cenotes (or natural swimming holes), dramatic Mayan ruins and a range of accommodations fit for every budget. (Photo via Lonely Planet)
Have you started planning your spring break vacay yet? Let us know where you’re going in the comments!