Spring break: Dates to mark -- and avoid

Spring break: Dates to mark -- and avoid


Drone aerial view of Panama City Beach, Florida during spring break.

Spring break, generally before and after Easter Sunday, is observed by a large majority of U.S. elementary, high, and college schools. Families with young children head for theme parks and other such attractions, while teens and college-age kids head off in bunches to a beach destination or cruise. A secondary break period, often called "Ski Week," leverages the Presidents Day holiday to extend to a week or two. Families and kids head for either the beach or the mountains.

If you have one or more student-age kids in your family, you're probably already aware of the dates their schools set spring break and ski week and you're maybe already planning what to do. I have nothing more to say to you in this column. Instead, I'm addressing the large number of you who don't have kids and don't have to worry about school schedules. And my take is that most of you will probably want to make sure you don't head for the same places the spring break families and kids do.

Although -- fortunately -- different schools observe different ski week and spring break dates, ski week concentrates around Presidents Day and spring break generally clusters the weeks before and after Easter. The folks at Your First Visit (yourfirstvisit.net), a leading guide to the Disney parks, compiled a useful tabulation of the dates when most kids are out of school:

-- Ski week is concentrated, with more than 90 percent of kids out of school on February 15, 16, and 17 (Presidents Day). Only around 20 percent are out February 14 and 18 to 23, with even fewer before or after.

-- Spring break also shows a pronounced peak of more than 80 percent on April 10, 11, and 12 (Easter Sunday), the weekend when the pre-Easter and post-Easter periods overlap. But lots of kids are out April 4 to 9, and lots of others are out April 13 to 19. All in all, you're better off avoiding the entire April 4 to 19 period.

What's to avoid? Unless you're looking at the single weekend of February 15 through 17, other February dates should not pose much of a problem either at the beach or on the slope. Mardi Gras, February 25, may be a big deal in New Orleans, but it hardly matters as far as student-age populations around the country are concerned.

Spring break is another matter. If you enjoy mingling with -- or even joining -- raucous, rowdy, and often drunken teenagers, head for the popular break spots. Although the "in" spots may change a bit from year to year, you generally find spring breakers in the U.S. concentrated at beaches in South Florida, especially Daytona, Ft. Lauderdale, and Key West; the Florida panhandle around Panama City, and the Texas beaches from Galveston to Padre Island. Further afield, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Punta Cana have become famous (or notorious) spring break centers. Non-beach centers such as Las Vegas and Lake Havasu City also attract crowds. A big attraction for offshore destinations is that most beaches in the Caribbean and Mexico either have a minimum drinking age at 18 years or no minimum at all.

If you're longing for a relaxed time at sea, your worst nightmare is to get on a cruise overwhelmed by spring-breakers. In general, the kids choose relatively short trips on mass-market lines like Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean, to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. If you want to cruise during this time, to be safe, book through a travel agency and ask the agent to make sure any cruise you're considering hasn't been heavily booked for spring break.

If you still want to visit a beach center during spring break period, concentrate on centers farther down the Caribbean or Central America than Cancun, or head for Hawaii, which doesn't seem to get as much spring break traffic as other popular beaches. For a cruise, you won't find many spring breakers in the Mediterranean or on a Danube or Mississippi river cruise.

(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Also, check out Ed's new rail travel website at www.rail-guru.com.)

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

Need to get away?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

So will snow resorts and Orlando because spring breaks are so staggered through March and Easter. It isn't the same as everyone trying to get away at the same time, say Thanksgiving, Christmas or the Fourth of July. With our friends at Family Travel Forum, we've compiled Spring Break Ideas to Meet Every Family's Wish List-- and ones that won't bust the budget,...

It is also celebrated in Canada and Britain. Philadelphia's National Constitution Center celebrates the anniversary of the 15th Amendment with an entire month of programming, including "The Road to Freedom," an interactive program that examines slavery, key events and important historical figures from the time of the Constitutional Convention to the Civil...

  • 8 min to read

GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, Calif. - I recently violated federal law high in the Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. How? By riding an electric bike for a mile along the Julian Trail, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The trail is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. It was an accident. That old fire road is part of a vast regulatory ...

There's an oasis where people from around the world come to soak in warm mineral springs, where locals and tourists alike search for shark teeth on the beach and perhaps kayak into the sunset alongside friendly dolphins. The sunshine is usually abundant for visitors, snowbirds and residents of Venice - Florida, not Italy - looking to enjoy any number of the city's nature-based recreation ...

  • Updated

Get ready for growls and howls. Watch out for whimpering and whining. Be prepared for snappishness and snarling. The federal Department of Transportation is proposing new rules for emotional support animals, and those regulations may be coming to an aircraft near you. Some of you will applaud; some of you will be appalled. Of one thing I am fairly sure: Everyone will have an opinion by the ...

If you're planning an airline trip this year, for the lowest economy class airfare on a domestic flight, buy your ticket 77 days in advance and fly on a Tuesday in January, September or October. That's the nominal take from the latest "when to" study. This one is from Qtrips.com, an upcoming and innovative online travel agency, and it's based on extensive mining of...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alert

Breaking News