Travel is blooming: 5 destinations for last-minute spring break getaways

Published March 2022

row of beach houses in Navarre Beach, FL
large oceanfront vacation home in sea ranch, california

Depending on where you call home, the beginning of spring is often the light at the end of a chilly tunnel. Not only does March bring us an extra hour of daylight (thank you, daylight saving time), but many calendars are marked with a week of uninterrupted vacation. According to Vacasa’s 2022 Spring Travel Trends, we were thrilled (though not necessarily surprised) to find that the annual vacation tradition is on the rebound, with 37% of Americans planning to travel over spring break specifically, compared to the 29% who planned a spring break vacation last year.

While the return of tourism brings a sigh of relief to travelers, it also brings back the crowds—which was the #1 reason survey respondents said they’re avoiding spring break travel this year. So, whether you’re seeking less-crowded destinations to visit this season or simply behind on spring break planning, we looked at popular spots that still have plenty of vacation rental availability in March and April to bring you our five best bets for a relaxing spring getaway.

1. Orange Beach, Alabama

Southern charm and sunny shores meet on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where 32 miles of pristine beaches have become well known as a water sports hub. The state’s Gulf Shores often see an uptick in both snowbirds and spring breakers this time of year, so our pick is just east at Orange Beach, where there’s always plenty to see and do.

Open year-round, Orange Beach Waterfront Park invites everyone from families to fisherfolk to take advantage of its pier, picnic areas, trails, and playgrounds for a peaceful reprieve among nature. And if shopping, dining, or drinking is more your thing, The Wharf will be your best bet for snapping up deals or enjoying an evening of buzzy entertainment and fine food. No matter how you choose to spend your days, you’ll find plenty of places to recharge among our vacation rentals in Orange Beach, like the aptly named R & R.

2. Navarre Beach, Florida

Nestled between Gulf Islands National Seashore and Navarre Beach Marine Park, relaxation is the main attraction in this off-the-beaten-path beach community. The area’s pristine beaches and emerald waters entice visitors to explore via boat, canoe, kayak, or a good old-fashioned swim.

The place is a joy for sun-seekers, nature lovers, adventurers, and water sports enthusiasts. Animal lovers can also interact with sea animals at Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Whether you’re trying to find quiet solitude or a laid-back alternative to Florida’s theme parks, this is the place to find your own Peace of Paradise surrounded by white-sand beaches and less-busy stretches of shoreline.

3. Sea Ranch, California

For those looking to reach peak tranquility, it doesn’t get more peaceful than a private seaside community. The 53-acre area known as The Sea Ranch Association (or simpy, Sea Ranch) is just north of San Francisco and was originally designed as a gated community by a collective of notable architects in the mid-1960s. While it’s still considered an exclusive neighborhood, visitors have an opportunity to enjoy its distinctive timber-frame structures and recreational amenities in a number of ways—one of which is via a vacation rental.

By renting a vacation home in this cliffside retreat, guests have access to The Sea Ranch’s facilities, scenic coastal trails, and 10 miles of unspoiled beaches along its rugged shoreline. Spring is the perfect time to embrace the area’s nature-immersed architecture by settling into one of the stunning wooden homes like The Thirsty Whale, perfect for a family-friendly or group vacation.

4. Folly Beach, South Carolina

Just minutes south of the popular town of Charleston, you’ll find Folly Beach—a charming 12-mile barrier island where the pace is slow, and the hospitality is southern. The isle extends 1,000 feet into the ocean by way of the Folly Beach Pier, and many believe the area offers the kind of fishing that an angler's dreams are made of—surf fishing, river fishing, pier fishing, and deep-sea fishing are all an option. However, there’s a lot more to Folly Beach than fishing.

Check out Center Street, lined with surf and souvenir shops, or Folly Beach County Park for picnics and wildlife watching at the pelican rookery. Both are within easy walking distance from numerous charming vacation rentals, like Sunset Point, for visitors who want to be near the heart of it all. At the far end of the island, the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve is another must-see. It takes you through a funky graffiti-filled walkway to catch a view of the Morris Island Lighthouse at sunset.

5. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the perfect place to set your sights if you’re not ready to hit the beach just yet. This is the destination to be for a springtime escapade packed with live performances, colorful culture, and mouthwatering food. While the Music City is a consistently hot spot for travelers from all over the country, spring sets off the shoulder season, so visitors at this time of year will find the perfect balance of a lively, yet not overrun, experience paired with primetime weather. Nashville’s vacation rentals, like The 1865 #203, boast an aesthetic harmony that’ll please anyone from city slickers to southern belles with luxe amenities and a touch of country-chic style.

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