Sunny and serene locales to plant your beach chair for spring break.
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Dolphin Beach at Hilton Head, South Carolina
Credit: Rachid Dahnoun/Getty Images

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:

Texas

South Padre Island, Texas

Every year the island is transformed into spring break central for college kids, 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, and Sea Turtle Inc, an interactive center dedicated to preserving marine turtles.

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.

South Carolina

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.

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. Take in the expansive views from the Folly Beach Fishing Pier (which stretches over 1,000 feet into the ocean), and you'll soon discover why the locals refer to this barrier island as the "Edge of America."

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.

Louisiana

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.

Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia

Searching for a bit of coastal rustic charm after visiting the bustling cities of Savannah, Atlanta, or Charleston? Well, look no further than the east of Savannah, where the long stretches of beaches and salt marshes of Tybee Island await you. Experience local history at the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, Georgia's oldest lighthouse that dates back to 1736, and browse the Tybee Island Farmers' and Artisans' Market.

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, the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, Driftwood Beach, golf and tennis, sailing, dirt track racing, and beautiful shops. This coastal destination is the South's best-kept secret.

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, Margaritaville at Lanier Islands,, which houses Georgia's largest wave pool, waterslides, and a mile-long beach.

Virginia

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.

Alabama

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 International Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast's Greatest Beach Party. Speaking of fish, there's no shortage of seafood along the powder white beaches here.

North Carolina

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. The beach opportunities are endless–rent a Jet Ski, book a fishing charter, or go tubing. 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.