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Sunny and serene locales to plant your beach chair for spring break.  

Michelle Darrisaw

Florida has long been the go-to spring break retreat, and for good reason. With its vast, tranquil beaches, fun-filled theme parks, and alluring nightlife, it’s no wonder throngs of college students and families flock to the Sunshine State for a mid-semester vacation. But, if you’re ready for a change in scenery and some much-needed rest and relaxation, you don’t have to travel to the Southernmost state to brave those crowded shores.

When you’re ready to ditch the jam-packed sandy beaches in Florida, journey to these 12 off-the-beaten-path locales for a warm-weather getaway not too far away from home:

1. South Padre Island, Texas

Every year the island is transformed into spring break central for college co-eds, complete with parties and DJs. But, there’s more than enough family-friendly activities to take part in both on the beach and in Corpus Christi, including windsurfing, camping, sailing, dolphin watching, and kayaking.

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 

At the heart of the Grand Strand, sits one of the most popular tourist destinations for beachgoers. Myrtle Beach attracts millions of people each year, particularly during summer, but spring is the perfect time to visit. In April and early May, you don’t have to worry about high humidity or navigating the city in congested traffic.

3. Grand Isle, Louisiana

Most vacationers will be in the lively city of New Orleans during April to attend the annual Jazz Fest, but the Grand Isle, located about 100 miles south, offers a scenic swath of sandy beaches and water sporting activities at Wakeboard Park.

4. Tybee Island, Georgia

Looking for a bit of coastal rustic charm? Well, look no further than the east of Savannah, where long stretches of beaches and salt marshes await you. Tybee Island is a picturesque barrier island that offers a peaceful escape from the bustling cities of Savannah, Atlanta, and Charleston. 

5. Chincoteague, Virginia

Nestled on the coast of Virginia’s Eastern Shore region, surrounded comfortably on either side by the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, lies Chincoteague Island. Whether you circle the island on a pontoon boat or on a guided trip, you’re going to want to pack your binoculars. This island offers an up close and personal view of marshes, bays, and the wild ponies made famous in the Misty of Chincoteague novel.

6. Austin, Texas

You’re probably well aware that the Texas state capital boasts a cowboy boot-tapping live music scene like no other, as well as sweeping raceways and plenty of green space. But, Austin’s very own Barton Springs Pool is the reason it topped our list of spring destinations. The man-made recreational pool, filled with water from one of the largest springs in all of Texas, is the perfect swimming hole in springtime. For more aquatic adventures like canoeing and kayaking, head to Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.

7. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Just south of Mobile rests Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, a little-known retreat on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. For a blissful Southern escape with lots of great food and outdoor recreation, it doesn’t get much better than these shoreline towns. Each April, you can get in on the action like a local at the Mullet Toss and Beach party. Speaking of fish, there’s no shortage of seafood along the powder white beaches here.

8. Folly Beach, South Carolina

This surf town, just 15 minutes away from Charleston, is sought after because of its expansive beaches, rich history, cozy cottages, and casual atmosphere. You’ll soon discover why the locals refer to it as the “Edge of America.”

9. Golden Isles, Georgia

The ocean’s the draw for Georgia’s Golden Isles, which consists of coastal attractions such as St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island. But, the four small barrier islands are also home to a historic lighthouse, Bloody Marsh, placid waters, golf and tennis, sailing, dirt track racing, and beautiful shops. The coastal destination is the South’s best-kept secret.

10. Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

Surf, sand, and sun. Those are the three things that come to mind when thinking of a spring vacation spent on the Crystal Coast’s Atlantic Beach. When you’re ready to take a break from the water, you can rent bikes to peddle around the Rachel Carson Reserve, where you just might see a few ponies galloping down the shore.

11. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Ah, the beloved Hilton Head, where adventure meets luxury. Known as the golfer's paradise, the beautiful resort town rounds out South Carolina's coastline. While the attractive destination is heavy on the sports and outdoor recreation, there are plenty of restaurants, boutiques, museums, and beaches to lure you to this Lowcountry favorite for spring. 

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12. Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

You only need to make a 45-minute drive to sneak away to Georgia's lake oasis, just outside of Atlanta. Once home to the 1996 Olympic water sporting events, the 1,500-acre resort offers a glimpse of nature in its full glory. Here, you can hike, bike, or walk around the shore of Lake Lanier. But, you can also visit the busy waterpark, LanierWorld, which houses Georgia's largest wave pool, waterslides, and a mile-long beach.