8 Spring Trip Ideas to Start Planning Now

written by LAUREN BLUE
Source: Unsplash | Samantha Sheppard
Source: Unsplash | Samantha Sheppard

We are truly in the dog days of winter, and TBH, I’m over it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a night in, but there are only so many times I can romanticize cuddling up in my bed with a good book and avoiding the bleak weather outside before I start to go stir-crazy. After months of prioritizing comfort indoors, I want to get outside! From the moment Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, I’ve dreamt of ending my winter slump with the best remedy I know: a vacation. The glimmering hope of an upcoming trip on the horizon is the perfect push to get you through the final weeks of winter.

If you’re like me and jet-setting is all you can think about lately, prepare to buy those plane tickets and pack your bags because we’ve rounded up the best spring vacation ideas to try this year. Read on for spring trip ideas that will put an end to your winter blues.

1. Austin, Texas

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Tomek Baginski

Take it from a local: Spring is the perfect time to visit Austin. Once June rolls around, the temperatures are so blisteringly hot that your trip will be centered entirely around when and where you can get some air conditioning. The spring weather, however, is ideal for Austin’s nature-centric activities, like walking the trails of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, taking a dip in Barton Springs, and standup paddle-boarding or kayaking on Lady Bird Lake.

If the outdoors isn’t your thing, indulge in some retail therapy on South Congress instead. Browse local boutiques and pop into Allens Boots or Tecovas to find your new favorite pair of cowboy boots. Once you’ve got your new kicks, take them for a spin out on the town and grab a drink in the infamous entertainment district Dirty 6th Street. Or go bar-hopping along Rainey Street, where you’re sure to stumble upon plenty of live musicians and quickly see why Austin is dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

Where to stay: Hotel Van Zandt (from $203 a night), The LINE Austin (from $215)

2. Newport, Rhode Island

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Ryan Gerrard

Lobster rolls, sailing, and classic New England architecture? Yes, please! Visiting during spring will avoid peak summer crowds, and you’ll be able to see the flowers around the town in bloom. Depending on where you’re traveling from, Newport may be a bit more difficult to get to, but it’s an easy drive from northeastern cities, including New York and Boston. Once you arrive, stroll along the Cliff Walk, where you can take in incredible views of lavish Gilded Age-era mansions owned by Kennedys, Vanderbilts, and the like. For a closer look, take a self-guided tour of The Breakers, a mansion once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II (though he referred to it as a humble summer “cottage”).

After you’ve finished taking in the gorgeous homes, head over to Bowen’s Wharf and Bannister’s Wharf to enjoy beautiful sights, do some shopping, and, of course, grab a bite of fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants. Lastly, a trip to a nautical town like Newport wouldn’t be complete without setting sail. If you’re a seasoned sailor, you can rent a boat to take out on your own, or if you prefer to enjoy the waves from the back seat with a glass of wine in hand, you can enjoy the ride with a captain-guided tour.

Where to stay: Serenity Inn (from $109 a night), The Cliffside Inn (from $199)

3. Sedona, Arizona

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | @m_hampi

After a long, cold winter, a desert detox is one of the best spring vacation ideas we can think of. With striking scenery and a mystical reputation, Sedona offers the perfect energetic reset. The city is home to four significant vortexes, sacred sites where the Earth’s energy is believed to be intensified. These spots are said to be places for self-reflection and discovery. If you want to experience one for yourself, hike to Bell Rock (which is great for beginners) or try Cathedral Rock if you’re a more experienced hiker.

If vortexes are a little too out there for you, Sedona still has plenty to do. Try hiking to Devil’s Bridge, one of the city’s most popular destinations, or book a Jeep tour to see the canyon in style. When you’re exhausted from all your outdoor adventures, unwind at one of the many wineries in Sedona or take in some local art along the Sedona Art Walk, which features more than 80 galleries.

Where to stay: Sky Ranch Lodge (from $222 a night), Hilton Sedona at Bell Rock (from $400)

4. Lake Tahoe, California

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Ben Carless

With both beaches and mountains, Lake Tahoe has the best of both worlds. While cool spring weather might sway you from wanting to take a dip, the views alone are reason enough to make the trip. Depending on what the temperature and conditions are like when you visit, buy a day pass and drive up to one of the many ski resorts in the area (Palisades Tahoe and Northstar California Resort are highly rated) to shred the slopes.

If “slow travel” is more your vibe this spring, keep it chill by hiking Cave Rock, one of the area’s most accessible and most loved trails, or take a walk or bike ride around the lake on East Shore Trail. You could also go kayaking or paddle-boarding on the crystal clear waters of Sand Harbour (get there early to ensure parking, or you’ll have quite a long walk to the beach). To unwind afterward, find a spot on the patio and enjoy the mountain air at one of Lake Tahoe’s craft breweries, such as South Lake Brewing Co.

Where to stay: The Landing Tahoe Resort & Spa (from $199 a night), Marriott Grand Residence Club (from $280)

5. Hilton Head, South Carolina

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Camylla Battani

Hilton Head is the perfect destination if your spring vacation ideas revolve around a quintessential beach vacay. With stunning beaches and year-round pleasant weather, this island is the ideal spot to kick back with your toes in the sand and nose in a beach read. Rent a bike to continue enjoying the sunshine while exploring all that the island offers. Be sure to bike over to Harbour Town to see the famous Harbour Town Lighthouse (you can even climb to the top if you’re looking to get your steps in), shop around local boutiques, and admire all the boats docked in the wharf. Once you’re done seeing the sights on land, check out one of the many water excursions on Hilton Head. From a sunset sail to dolphin watching, there is something for everyone.

Where to stay: The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (from $179 a night), Hilton Grand Vacations Club Ocean Oak Resort (from $250)

6. Palm Springs, California

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Aran Mtnez

Nothing says relaxation like soaking up the sun poolside with a drink in hand, and Palm Springs is the city to do just that. With spring temps averaging in the 80s, you’ll definitely want to take this trip before summer hits. While Palm Springs is a great place to unwind, there is no shortage of things to do, including riding the aerial tramway with spectacular views of Chino Canyon. To continue sightseeing in nature, stroll through the gardens at the historic Sunnylands estate, tour the Moorten Botanical Garden, take a dip in a hot spring, or even hop in the car for a drive (about an hour long) to Joshua Tree National Park.

Palm Springs is also well known for its shopping district on Palm Canyon Drive, which is packed with vintage shops and restaurants. Once you’ve finished shopping, take a guided architecture tour to explore the city’s famous mid-century modern homes in more detail. And if you’re an avid golfer, get ready to tee up. Palm Springs has plenty of famous courses for you to play at. Just be sure to avoid booking your trip to Palm Springs during Coachella (the second and third weekends in April) to dodge peak crowds.

Where to stay: The Saguaro (from $139 a night), The Ace Hotel & Swim Club (from $299)

7. Washington, D.C.

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | Andy He

Sometimes, you’re not looking for a vacation where you sit around and relax. You want to distract from the hustle and bustle of your own life by exploring a new city and packing your day with fun activities. If that’s your vacation vibe, start looking for plane tickets to D.C. One of the biggest perks of visiting the nation’s capital in the spring is, of course, the stunning cherry blossoms, which only last about two weeks. The Washington Post predicts they will peak between March 25 and 29 this year, so plan your trip accordingly if that’s a priority.

For the remainder of your itinerary, there’s obviously no shortage of museums and historical sites to see downtown: The White House, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol, and Smithsonian museums—just to name a few. Another area worth visiting is Georgetown, where you can marvel at the stunning houses, walk along the water, go shopping, and grab a sweet treat from TLC icon Georgetown Cupcake.

Where to stay: Lyle Hotel (from $228 a night), Kimpton George Hotel (from $274)

8. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

spring vacation ideas
Source: Unsplash | mana5280

This charming seaside town looks straight out of a fantasy novel, but shockingly, it isn’t located in Middle-Earth—it’s just a little over an hour’s drive from San Jose. This storybook-esque city is the perfect escape from everyday life. The streets are incredibly walkable, and you’ll want to spend plenty of time strolling through the neighborhoods and appreciating the unique architecture.

Another must-do is ambling around Ocean Avenue, full of cute boutiques, art galleries, and cafes. You can take the street all the way down to the beach to continue your journey—talk about a hot girl walk! Though Carmel is small, the food scene is mighty, including Michelin-star restaurant Chez Noir and celeb-frequented Aubergine (where the Obamas reportedly dined for their 30th anniversary). To continue visiting beautiful beaches, drive to nearby Monterey or Pacific Grove while in town.

Where to stay: Monte Verde Inn (from $239 a night), Carmel Beach Hotel (from $356)