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11 Best Spring Break Vacations in California

Each year in March or April, spring break rolls around and offers opportunities for fun and relaxation for college students and families with kids. Cancun and Miami are always spring break hot spots, but there are also lots of amazing places to spend a few days or a week in California. Whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, epic mountain landscapes, or the last great ski runs of the season, here are our favorite spring break vacations in California.

Monterey Cannery Row and Beach in Monterey
Credit: Cannery Row and Beach in Monterey by bigstock.com


Monterey is an easy spring break destination for students and families from the Bay Area. There are plenty of fun things to do, including an awesome aquarium in Monterey that’s a favorite among families and a must-visit spot on your trip. It’s also fun to walk down Cannery Row to see the shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Other top things to do on spring break here are going for a scenic drive on 17-Mile Drive, biking the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, and riding the local trolley.

Mammoth Mountain Mammoth Mountain
Credit: Mammoth Mountain by Wikimedia Commons

Mammoth Mountain

If you’re looking to squeeze in a little late-season skiing before the weather gets warm, then plan your spring break adventure in Mammoth Mountain. This skiing and snowboarding destination stands at over 11,000 feet of elevation, which makes it perfect for spring skiing. Some years, the ski resort is even open until June!

San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo from Bishop's Peak
Credit: San Luis Obispo from Bishop's Peak by © Jeffrey Kreulen | Dreamstime.com

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is a laid-back California destination that’s perfect for spring break. Families love it here because of the weekly downtown farmers’ market, the local children’s museum, and the beaches. Meanwhile, college students love SLO for spring break because of the lively nightlife scene, breweries, comedy shows, and free beaches. The weather is pleasant here year-round, so you can expect nice days for your spring hikes and bike rides too.

Yosemite National Park Yosemite
Credit: Yosemite by bigstock.com

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of the most popular places to visit in the world with its epic vistas and outdoor adventures, which means it’s typically packed with crowds in the summer. Although it is a busy national park in the springtime, too, the crowds are often more manageable over the spring break weeks. This means you won’t constantly be fighting traffic or waiting for other tourists to get out of the iconic waterfall photos you’re trying to take. However, be mindful that it is still usually quite cold in March and April, so you’ll likely see a fair amount of snow here before it begins to melt away for the season.

San Diego view of San Diego from Coronado
Credit: view of San Diego from Coronado by Bigstock.com

San Diego

By far, one of the best places to spend your spring break in California is San Diego. This is an epic place to visit for foodies, beach lovers, and travelers of all kinds. Families who visit during spring break love the zoo and Sea World, as well as Legoland California in nearby Carlsbad. College students love the San Diego bar and brewery scene, all the great restaurants in town, and mingling with locals and other travelers at the region’s beaches. Early spring is a nice time of the year to go whale-watching, too, so you might even get some wildlife-viewing experiences out of your spring break vacation.

Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe
Credit: Lake Tahoe by bigstock.com

Lake Tahoe

Nature lovers enjoy visiting Lake Tahoe at any time of the year, but during spring break, you can celebrate your love of winter with some skiing here. This is an easy spring break trip from Reno and the Bay Area. Ski resorts in Tahoe are often open in March and April, making it perfect for enjoying some spring skiing with pleasant temperatures. You can find lots of great vacation rental properties in the Tahoe area that put you up into the mountains near snow sports or also down by the lake, where it’s warmer, and you can rent a boat to get out on the lake.

Sonoma County Sunset over vineyards in California's wine country in Sonoma County
Credit: Sunset over vineyards in California's wine country in Sonoma County by bigstock.com

Sonoma County

Sonoma County is an ideal place to visit for wine lovers and an adults’ getaway for spring break. Join a guided wine tour that includes transportation, so you don’t have to deal with driving after your winery tastings and tours. Some of the best things to do here include visiting local towns like Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Petaluma, which are fun to explore. The Russian River Brewing Company has become world-famous if you’re more into beer than wine. The river the brewery is named after is nice for tubing, and the redwood forests aren’t far away either.

Big Sur McWay falls in Julia Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
Credit: McWay falls in Julia Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California by © Luckyphotographer | Dreamstime.com

Big Sur

Big Sur is one of the most stunning natural areas in California and a great place to embrace the hippie vibe over spring break. This is a great spring break destination for nature lovers and anyone who enjoys scenic views. It’s also fun to check out the nearby Carmel, San Simeon, and Cambria areas while you’re here on spring break.

Palm Springs Palm Springs
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Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a great break destination because it offers warm weather and top-notch resorts. For college students, there are some excellent resort pools and spas here, as well as endless shopping opportunities for your luxurious trip. For families, Palm Springs has kid-friendly resorts with lots of amenities for children and opportunities to get active while learning about nature at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens or nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

Disneyland Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif.
Credit: Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif. by bigstock.com


If you’re celebrating spring break with kids, Disneyland in Anaheim is always a great choice. The weather in Southern California at this time of year is wonderful, and since school systems in California take their spring breaks during different weeks, it’s not much more crowded at this time of year than at any other time. If you want to stay on site and are looking to go “all out” with your Disneyland experience, consider staying at the Disneyland Hotel for a special treat, while there are also plenty of vacation rentals with extra space nearby.

Santa Monica Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
Credit: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California by bigstock.com

Santa Monica

Another wonderful spring break destination in California is Santa Monica, which is usually warm and sunny in March and April for your days at the beach. Come here for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and people-watching, and discover all the SoCal charm you could want. The Santa Monica Pier is always a popular place to be. Other highlights are the Pacific Park amusement park rides for families and street performers showing off their skills for tips. College students can get to downtown Los Angeles easily from here for some exciting nightlife.

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