While spring break may sound like a distant memory, there's no reason you shouldn't plan a fabulous spring vacation simply because you're no longer enrolled in a university. With warm weather on the brain after a brutal winter, there's no better time to plan a trip to a sunny destination where bikinis and fruity drinks reign supreme.
In order to find the absolute best locations for spring travel, we tapped Lonely Planet's team of destination editors. According to the people we talked to, you'll want to book a ticket to the beaches of Jericoacoara, Brazil; the otherworldly landscapes of Moah, Utah; and the diverse island of Sint Maarten (otherwise known as St. Martin). Ten of the best spring vacations await.
Big Sur, California
"It's a true getaway from everything," says Sarah Stocking, Lonely Planet's California and Mexico destination editor. "Commune with the wild, and spoil yourself a little in the process."
Sleep: Glen Oaks Big Sur. This hotel has been around since the '50s and offers a rustic-modern experience close to nature of Big Sur.
Eat: Sierra Mar. Dine with a view of the ocean at this gorgeous cliffside restaurant.
Adventure: Take a hike though Garrapata State Park and Cala Lily Canyon to take in the sites of the famous Pfeiffer Falls and walk among the redwood trees.
"Moab is southern Utah's adventure base camp. Spring is the perfect time to visit this high desert; in the summer it's just too hot to enjoy, and in the winter the weather is unpredictable," says Lonely Planet's Western U.S. and Canada destination editor Ben Buckner.
Sleep: Sunflower Hill Inn. This early 20th-century home turned bed and breakfast offers quaint rooms in a unique setting.
Eat: Desert Bistro. Fuel up after a day of hiking at this whimsical restaurant situated in what used to be a dance hall built in 1892.
Adventure: Rent mountain bikes, and explore the famous Slickrock Trail. For those with serious mountain-biking experience, Buckner recommends looking into the Maze.
Punta Gorda, Belize
"With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea, Belize may be small but it's packed with adventure and culture," says Alicia Johnson, Lonely Planet's Caribbean and Central America destination editor.
Sleep: Head to Beya Suites for a colorful retreat complete with a rooftop terrace and plenty of oceanfront views.
Eat: Fajina Maya Food. You'll find soups made from local farm fresh ingredients at this small restaurant located right on the water.
Adventure: Plan your trip to fall during the chocolate festival (May 18 to May 20). Enjoy street fairs, concerts, and as much chocolate as you can eat.
"Spring doesn’t get any more beautiful than Birmingham, Alabama, where a rainbow of bright azaleas, cheerful yellow forsythia, lacy dogwoods, and romantic, twining wisteria vines deck the city’s lawns, parks, and patios," according to Eastern U.S. destination editor Trisha Ping.
Eat: Stop in for a bite at Niki's West for the best seafood and steaks Birmingham has to offer.
Adventure: A trip to Birmingham wouldn't be complete with a visit to the Civil Rights Museum Trail, which is lined with statues and photography memorializing the complicated history of the city.
"Maui lures travelers with an invigorating mix of natural beauty and outdoor fun, all shared with warm alohas," says Buckner. "For those looking for a bit of the tropics in their getaway, it can't be beat."
Sleep: Wailuku Guesthouse. For a local experience, book a stay at this affordable tropical hotel that offers suites with private entrances to make you feel right at home.
Eat: For an amazing meal sourced from local ingredients, head to Lahaina Grill. The contemporary bistro has long been a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
Adventure: Rent a car, and go for a drive on the Road to Hana. Buckner describes it as "a serpentine road lined with tumbling waterfalls, lush slopes, and rugged coasts."
"Cartagena de Indias is the undisputed queen of the Caribbean coast, a fairy-tale city of romance, legends and superbly preserved beauty lying within an impressive 13 kilometers of centuries-old colonial stone walls," says South America and Antarctica destination editor Bailey Freeman.
Sleep: Friends to Be Hotel. This rustic, beachy hotel built inside a colonial mansion is perfect for anyone looking for an authentic experience in the city.
Eat: If you love ceviche, you have to eat at El Boliche, a restaurant that's managed to stay relatively under the radar despite its exquisite offerings.
Adventure: Spend a day kitesurfing on the open water off the coast of Cartagena. It's the best way to experience the Caribbean Sea.
Sint Maarten (St. Martin)
"From feet-in-the-sand beach bars to haute cuisine, it’s all here. Not to mention lively nightlife, great shopping, and a few peaceful, picturesque beach towns where you can get away from it all," Johnson says.
Sleep: Enjoy a luxurious oceanfront stay a Holland House Beach Hotel in Philipsburg.
Eat: Ocean Lounge Restaurant and Bar. This fine dining restaurant is located at Holland House, so you won't have to go far to savor the fresh food and delectable wine offerings.
Adventure: You'll want to plan your vacation around Carnival, which runs from April 12 to May 3. "There are endless concerts, numerous fêtes, and, of course, colorful parades down Front Street in the capital of the city of Philipsburg," Johnson says.
"Yes, the white-sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are glorious, but Sarasota is also a surprisingly arts-centered city full of galleries, entertainment options, murals, and statues," according to Ping.
Sleep: Hotel Ranola. This boutique (adults-only) hotel located in the heart of downtown Sarasota is covered in urban décor.
Eat: Marina Jack. When it comes to waterfront dining in Sarasota, this is the place to be. Enjoy a delicious meal with a view of the water at this award-winning eatery.
Adventure: Spend an afternoon taking in the culture at The Ringling. From artistic masterpieces to a tour of Ca' D'Zan, there's something for everyone.
San Diego, California
"This classic Southern California getaway is a perfect spring travel option. The water may still be a little cold, but cooler temperatures mean more time for all the fun," Stocking says.
Sleep: Hotel Del Coronado. Book a stay at this iconic hotel located on Coronado Island. You'll be steps from the beach but not too far from the bustling Gaslamp Quarter or idyllic Balboa Park.
Eat: Pacific Beach Fish Shop. You can't visit San Diego without indulging in a serious plate of fish tacos. This restaurant is just the place to get your fix of the SoCal favorite.
Adventure: Cross the border and spend a day in Tijuana where the craft beer and food scenes are blossoming.
"During the day, its beaches, dunes, and lagoons are as postcard-worthy as any destination in South America; at night, illuminated by moonlight and by the lights of inviting boutiques and restaurants, its enchantment cannot be overstated. In a word: magical," says Freeman.
Sleep: To enjoy both luxury and local culture, stay at Vila Kalango, located right on the beach. You'll sleep in round brick bungalows under canopy beds built from native wood for a beachy chic experience.
Eat: Peixe Brasileiro. This restaurant serves up some of the best seafood in all of Jericoacoara. "Just a few tables in the sand alley where local fisherman grill fresh catch nightly," says Freeman.
Adventure: Take a Samba class as the Academia de Samba to learn the Brazilian art of dance. You'll come back home with a new skill that will always remind you of the best spring vacation.