The arrival of spring often inspires wanderlust as we shake off the chill of winter, but finding an affordable destination to plan an escape can sometimes be a challenge. Thankfully there are some prime spots both in the U.S. and abroad where you can avoid the crowds and oppressive heat that summer travel often brings. From beautiful escapes where spring is the off-season to under-the-radar getaways, here are the best cheap destinations to visit this spring.
While San Antonio is a popular spring break destination, once April and May roll around, you'll steer clear of the crowds and avoid the scorching heat of the summer. The extensive River Walk with its cyprus-lined paved pathways and charming stone bridges offers a wide range of activities from dining, shopping, and nightlife, as well as museums, leisurely boat cruises, and bike paths. Check out free guided tours of the nearby historic missions, and save on local attractions with an Explorer Pass.
Spring is one of the best times to visit Amsterdam for plenty of reasons, not least of which are the spectacular blooms of the legendary Dutch tulips. A visit to the nearby Keukenhof flower gardens is essential — accessible by boat, bus or train and only open from March to May — where you'll encounter the dazzling array of tulips and other bulb flowers. April is the second-driest month (after February), perfect for enjoying canal tours, outdoor cafés, bicycle rides, and the King's Day festival at the end of the month. Meanwhile, May brings warmer temperatures, as well as the festival season for music, film, and culinary events. And be sure to check out the free performances at Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, which start in May.
April and May offer the perfect window for visiting Tucson as the snowbirds have flown away, temperatures haven't reached scorching triple digits, and you can find reasonable hotel rates. Warm temperatures make for perfect hiking conditions to witness beautiful wildflower blooms in Saguaro National Park, as well as comfortable weather for spotting wildlife at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and historic "aircraft boneyard" of the Pima Air and Space Museum. Music lovers will want to catch the Tucson Folk Festival in early April, while film buffs have the middle of the month earmarked for the Arizona International Film Festival.
Colombia's proximity to the equator makes for warm weather most of the year, and while April through July can bring intermittent rainy weather, it offers better deals in between the busier holiday months and the vacation months of July and August. Medellín — also known as the "City of Eternal Spring" thanks to its temperate climate — has worked hard to shed its notorious crime-filled past and now offers a delightful destination with excellent public transportation (don't miss the cable cars), colorful streets full of music and food, public art, parks and museums, and more. All set against the stunning backdrop of two Andean mountain ranges. Be sure to make time to visit the surrounding coffee plantations, as well.
There's good reason that there are scores of songs and movies about Paris in the springtime — it's one of the most magical times to visit the City of Lights. It's also become one of the most affordable European destinations in recent years. Parisians are ready to enjoy the sunshine after the winter rains and can be found lounging in beautiful parks, bustling cafés, and rooftop bars. Flowers are in bloom everywhere you look from small neighborhood parks to the grand Tuileries Garden, and May brings the Saint-Germain Jazz Festival and Nuit Européenne des Musées (European Night of the Museums), which offers free access to exhibitions and performances around the city. The city also has numerous other free attractions, too.
Spring offers plenty to do in Baltimore, including visiting the re-opened farmers markets, catching an Orioles game at Camden Yards, or cheering on the horses during the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. April also brings blue crab season to Maryland, so don't forget to tie on a bib and get cracking. The final weekend of the month, check out the 7th annual Charm City Bluegrass and Folk Festival.
ST. MARTIN / ST. MAARTEN
While Hurricane Irma battered much of this Caribbean island in 2017, most businesses have rebuilt and reopened, and deals on travel can still be found. April through June is typically less expensive and not as busy. Water sports abound from boat excursions to snorkeling, or you could always just relax on the beach and enjoy views of crystal clear water. Nature lovers will definitely want to visit The Butterfly Farm, while thrillseekers will want to catch the views from the various ziplines around the island.
While the rest of the Bay Area is still shaking off the fog of winter, Oakland offers an affordable, and underrated destination for spring with plenty of options for all stripes. The area's food renaissance continues to expand with buzzy spots like Commis, along with comfort classics like Brown Sugar Kitchen. Sip local vintages on the Urban Wine Trail, beer on the Ale Trail, and spirits at nearby St. George Spirits. Outdoor enthusiasts should visit Redwood Regional Park, Morcom Rose Garden, or take a hike around nearby Lake Chabot.
After the rowdy Mardi Gras tourists have left town and before the muggy heat of summer arrives, New Orleans is an excellent destination for a spring getaway. Music fans will want to catch the New Orleans Jazz Festival, (April 25 - May 5) which features top performers from around the world playing everything from blues, jazz and zydeco to rap and country. The warmer weather is also ideal for strolling through the city's Botanical Garden, and numerous parks, dining and drinking in courtyards and on patios (spring is peak crawfish season), learning about the city on historical and haunted walking tours, along with plenty of other fun and inexpensive activities.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
While many travelers shied away from Puerto Rico following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the island is well on the road to recovery. Spring offers prime weather conditions, typically in the mid-80s and mostly dry before the summer rains. Spend a day exploring the colonial fortifications and cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan, or discover the island's rich artistic tradition at the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico in the neighborhood of Santurce. The lush El Yunque National Forest, the only rain forest in the U.S. national forest system, is less than an hour away from San Juan by car. Best of all, you don't need a passport to visit if you're a U.S. citizen.
There are plenty of ways to save money on a vacation to Hawaii, and visiting in the spring when airfare and hotel rates are low and the weather is beautiful following the rainy season is one good option. Kauai, nicknamed the "Garden Island," offers even more of an escape with fewer crowds and its stunning coastlines, rainforest, waterfalls, and beaches. Must-see highlights include Waimea Canyon — known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" — Wailua Falls, Na 'Aina Kai botanical garden, and the Na' Pali coast, which can be seen from hikes, by boat, or by helicopter. Fans of pineapple, rum, and history will want to take a train tour at Kilohana Plantation, where you can also catch dinner and a show with Luau Kalamaku.
By late spring, the snowbirds and spring breakers have departed Florida, and the high heat, crowds, and higher hotel rates have yet to arrive. Clearwater offers spectacular white sand beaches, great boating and water sports, hiking and biking, as well as shopping and dining options in the Cleveland District. Other highlights include the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, easy and inexpensive transportation on the Jolly Trolley, and performances at the historic Capitol Theatre. If you're visiting in mid- to late April, you'll also see the incredible sand sculptures of the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival.