Editor’s note: This story was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated.
If you haven’t made plans yet for a spring vacation, it’s not too late for an easy last-minute escape to a place where the sun shines year round. East Coast or West Coast, these U.S. cities make for a great quick-trip without breaking the bank.
The Orlando area offers many outdoor activities for families or those just looking for more than a beach party. Check out Black Hammock Adventures on Lake Jesup for its free live gator exhibit. And if you’re keen on the spring break frenzy that is Daytona Beach, it’s only an hour’s drive away.
Budget tip: Take advantage of special theme park events included with regular ticket purchases, like one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations outside New Orleans (that’s also family-friendly) at Universal Studios.
Head to South Beach, a popular spring break spot, to soak up some rays on its colourful art-deco-lined shores. For culture seekers, break away from the sand and tour Miami’s many lively neighbourhoods—savour authentic Venezuelan cuisine in Doral, check out art galleries in Little Haiti or go dancing in Little Havana.
Budget tip: While you may spend more on hotels here, you can save money at one of Miami’s many free or low-cost events like the Miami International Film Festival. This month is also the Calle Ocho Festival, Miami’s largest street festival, celebrating Latin culture in Little Havana. Or, of course, stroll to one of the area’s many public beaches.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is perfect for a last-minute trip with friends who share a love of sports. Bring the clubs and tee off at one of the area’s many affordable and renowned courses. Go deep-sea fishing, cast a line off the pier for just a few dollars or get a thrill on the water in a kayak or Jet Ski.
Budget tip: Because the American spring break season is so long, many hotels are offering discounts on stays now through the end of May. Consider a vacation condo rental if you’re travelling with friends and split the cost—sites like Dunes Realty Vacation Rentals and Beachcomber Vacations have hundreds of options.
Palm Springs, California
Pack your bags and head to the desert, where perfect weather is practically a guarantee. Spend the day lounging poolside or take a hike through the Indian Canyons, just minutes from downtown Palm Springs, where you can see stunning rock formations and waterfalls.
Budget tip: Browse more than 180 vendors at VillageFest, a free weekly street festival downtown held every Thursday night.
Santa Monica, California
If sand and surf make up your picture-perfect getaway, jet to laid-back Santa Monica. Wake up early, grab your wetsuit and enjoy some sunrise surfing, or take a lesson with one of the many surf schools in the area, as this mild spot is popular with beginners. Spend the afternoons strolling or biking Santa Monica Pier, and don’t miss a ride on the iconic ferris wheel.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Goodbye, winter. Hello, Las Vegas. On and off the Strip, activities include more than Blackjack and slot machines. Art lovers can explore 18 blocks of galleries, studios and vintage shops just south of downtown in the Arts District. On the Strip, check out must-see affordable sites like the free Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Budget tip: Shopping is all about the outlet malls in Vegas. Score amazing deals at Las Vegas Premium Outlets on the south and north ends of the Strip.