Spring Break on a Budget

Plan an Affordable Spring Break

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC

Brianna May

A great spring-break vacation doesn't need to break the bank. Whether you're exploring a cool city or lounging on the beach, you can beat the winter blues with a budget spring break.

Washington, DC
It doesn't cost a dime to enjoy Washington, DC's culture and history, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival when the city is awash in delicate white and pink blossoms. Free events during the 2-week-long festival in early April include cultural performances, fireworks and a parade. There's no charge for the main event -- the stunning trees framing the Tidal Basin and around the Washington Monument. The bargain continues at the city's renowned Smithsonian Institution, the network of 19 free museums and galleries. Kimpton Hotels frequently offer special packages at any of their 7 chic and quirky hotels in the district.

Ochos Rios, Jamaica
Jamaica is a popular spot for the spring-break party crowd, but families can find fun for a bargain at the Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club. This all-inclusive resort boasts 5 restaurants, 6 bars and 1 super cool water park with 9 twisting slides and kiddie pools. This particular Beaches is a steal for serious golfers as unlimited green fees are included in every vacation package. A wide selection of supervised kids activities are part of the package, including Sesame Street events for the preschool set and gaming for tweens and teens at the XBOX 360 Game Garage.

Sanibel Island, Florida
Spring break falls during Sanibel's high season from February to April when the weather is perfect and shelling along the sandy shores is at its best. However, you can save money by bypassing the fancy resorts. The Sanibel Anchor Inn has basic efficiencies and cottage accommodations with a kitchenette while Reservation Central can help you find an affordable condo or home for the week. Rent a bike and explore the 22 miles of bike paths and you'll not only save on gas, but explore the island's beaches and parks more easily.

Seattle, Washington
Plan a vibrant city spring break in Seattle with culture and urban fun. Depending on your timing, you may even get a reprieve from the city's legendary rain as the wet season generally runs from November through March. You can explore Pike Place Market with your wallet intact, if you can exercise willpower at the nearly 200 shops and restaurants, and both admission and parking are free at the Frye Art Museum. You can even find a view of the city at a bargain price. The Space Needle may be the skyline's defining characteristic, but the Sky View Observatory offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Playa Del Carmen is Cancun's classier neighbor with the same stunning beaches, but a more refined atmosphere. It's a spring-break bargain less than an hour from the easily accessible Cancun airport. Even the priciest resorts in the chain of Riu Hotels are under $200 a day per person for all-inclusive beach fun. But if the resort atmosphere and 24-hour free-for-all isn't your thing, try a dive package with Tank Ha Dive Center. Divers set off on intimate tours to explore the area's reefs and cenote caverns and spend the night in budget accommodations around the town square.

Montreal, Quebec City
If a weeklong European excursion is out of the picture, consider a French adventure in North America in Montreal. Start your worldly adventure in Vieux-Montreal, the city's old town with a distinctively Euro flair, cobblestone streets and breathtaking architecture. Next, celebrate the worldwide phenomena of the Cirque du Soleil in the city where the troupe got its start. The nonprofit organization La TOHU brings the avant-garde and artistic circus to the public with free performances and inexpensive guided tours celebrating the city's place in circus arts. Finally, explore the animal and plant life of 4 distinct ecosystems at the Biodome.

Willemstad, Curacao
Even the Caribbean's more exotic islands can qualify for a budget vacation if you stick with an all-inclusive resort. Located on the Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela, Sunscape Curacao Resort Spa & Casino is the chain's first Super-Inclusive resort in the southern Caribbean. Adults can laze on the beach, sip cocktails poolside and challenge lady luck at the casino. Tropical beaches, savory dining, unlimited drinks, exciting activities and entertainment are all included in your Unlimited-Fun® package.

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