April is a popular month for spring break vacations for youth and adults alike. This month we’re going to explore popular vacation destinations and adventures all over the country. Today we’re starting with great spots to check out on the West coast of the United States.
1. Take a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, California
The Pacific Coast Highway, formally known as California State Route 1, is the ultimate road trip route, whether alone, with family, or with a couple good friends. It’s been designated an All-American road for its scenic views, but be wary of the narrow shoulders and sharp drop-offs; the route can be a bit tricky for RV’s or other oversized vehicles.
Though you will be captivated by the beautiful coastal views, don’t forget to stop and enjoy some of the many sightseeing and activities on offer. Have a seal lover in the group? Stop by The Children’s Pool to check out all the harbor seals lounging in the sun! Just remember not too get too close; they are wild animals after all. Perhaps the excitement of the drive renders the passengers eager to relax? Check out the Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa for a soak in their mineral water baths. Looking for a unique place to stay along the route? Might we suggest The Queen Mary Hotel? It’s the historic luxury ocean cruise liner that sailed the open seas from the 1930’s-1960’s and is now a tourist attraction, museum, and hotel. For a quintessential California experience, check out the historic Santa Monica Pier for a spin on the carousel, a visit to the aquarium, or just enjoy the beach and people-watching.
Is there a maritime history buff in your midst? We’d advise making some time for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, which covers every aspect of coastal living. For the wino in your group, plan a visit to Palmina Wines for a laid back afternoon of wine tasting and charcuterie. To enjoy some amazing views on foot, consider the Fiscalini Ranch preserve, which features some of the best hiking in the area! To savor a taste of boozy history, check out the Haunted Moss Beach Distillery, which was a popular celebrity watering hole during the Prohibition era.
No matter where you choose to stop, or whether you just want to drive and enjoy the scenic views, a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway is a great spring break vacation destination!
2. Visit the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located on the southern end of the Puget Sound, between Olympia and Fort Lewis, in Washington State. It’s home to myriad animals and offers a variety of trails for hikers of all ability. When planning your trip, be sure to pack binoculars or rent some from the visitor center so that you don’t miss a thing!
While you’re hiking, you can hope to see all manner of wildlife, including seals, otters, beavers, minks, several species of ducks, and even birds of prey. There are several great lookout points as well. The Twin Barnes Observation Platform is a popular stop for those hiking with children, which offers views of the Puget Sound to the west and the tidelands just below your feet. The highlight of the area is generally considered to be the Puget Sound Viewing Platform, however, which provides a 360-degree view that includes McAllister Creek, the Olympics, Mount Rainier and several islands in Puget Sound.
Whatever you hope to see or accomplish at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, you’re sure to enjoy every moment of your trip!
3. Experience Beautiful Moloka’i, Hawaii
If you’re thinking a more tropical destination will satisfy the travel bug in you this spring, consider a trip to the remote Hawaiian island, Moloka’i. A visit to Moloka’i will not include the glitz and glamour you might associate with other islands, yet it offers what many consider “The Most Hawaiian experience.” With its 8,000 residents, desolate beaches, modest buildings and breathtaking natural beauty, this island offers an unparalleled and relaxing vacation experience.
For fun, consider hiking, diving or a round on the links. There are a few fishing boats which will take you out to catch your dinner; who wouldn’t enjoy some fresh fish tacos? Certainly consider an ocean kayak trip or two. If you’re visiting from December to March, it’s peak season for whale watching!
Most importantly, engage with the locals. They’re invested in a non-commercial, spiritual, aloha lifestyle and are very friendly to visitors. Moloka’i is the perfect locale for a low-key, off the beaten path, tropical vacation.
4. Cycle Moab, Utah
If an active spring break vacation is more your speed, consider a cycling trip in Moab, Utah. Moab offers trails for mountain bikers and cyclists, alike, and for all skill levels. It’s best known for the world famous and highly technical Slickrock Bike Trail. It is considered by many to the ultimate biking experience. Yet if you’re angling for a bit less challenging ride, an assortment of trails of varied terrain are available.
It’s also worth noting the beautiful scenery you’ll enjoy, riding through beautiful canyons and mesa tops. Plus, you can’t miss views of the neighboring Arches National Park.
Moab isn’t just for cyclists, however. It’s also a popular location for all manner of outdoor adventures, including rock climbing, hiking, and running. Whatever your pleasure, Moab offers a number of options for an adventure-heavy trip.
5. Explore Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Famed for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, and for Tunnel View, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, the park receives an estimated 4 million visitors per year.
For your trip, first spend a couple days in Yosemite Valley. Widely considered the busiest part of the park, it has much to offer. Take an easy stroll up to the base of the double-tiered Yosemite Falls. Check out the picture-perfect Tunnel View of the valley floor. Later, ascend the slick granite-rock staircase on the Mist Trail; it runs so narrowly along Vernal & Nevada Falls that you’re likely to receive a refreshing spray of water from time to time. You might also consider a day hike to Half Dome, or take a rock climbing lesson at the Yosemite Mountaineering School. For something more relaxed, enjoy a picnic in El Capitan Meadow. Bring a pair of binoculars though because you’ll love watching the pro climbers scale the daunting granite face.
After a few days in the valley, make the hour drive to higher elevations, up to Glacier Point. You’ll wind through a beautiful pine forest which offers stellar views down into the valley and over the rocky rooftop of the Sierra Nevada. Stop along the way and walk through the beautiful wildflower meadows. For a more jaw-dropping scenic route, consider driving the historic Tioga Road to high-altitude Tuolumne Meadows, which beckons climbers and hikers alike.
However you choose to enjoy your visit to Yosemite National Park, you’ll be glad you did it!
6. Visit Sonoma County, California
Our last suggestion for an amazing spring break this April is a visit to California’s Sonoma County. Whether you want to visit for the wine, the beach, the food, or Safari West, there’s something here for everyone.
Though Napa Valley may be the famed king of wine tasting and charm in California, Sonoma is considered its more charming cousin, and for good reason. Sonoma County boasts 60,000 acres of vineyards and is home to more than 425 wineries. It is also frequented by fewer tourists than Napa, for those looking for a slightly less crowded and tourist-heavy experience.
If wine isn’t really your taste, never fear, Sonoma has much more to offer. Consider the Riverfront Regional Park, a fairly desolate oasis for canoeing, hiking, and biking on the Russian River. If you’re looking for more of a coastal experience, check out Bodega Bay, a town popular for its great fishing, beaches, surfing, hiking, and whale watching.
Love animals, but not the water? Plan a visit to Safari West, the 400-acre nature preserve located in Sonoma County. The preserve hosts a variety of wildlife, specializing in species native to Africa, including giraffes, rhinoceros, cheetahs and myriad bird species.
Whatever your flavor this spring break season, choose the activities and location that suit you best. Whether you’re traveling alone, with family, or with friends, you’re bound to have an amazing getaway. It just requires a little planning on your part and then you’ll be on your way!
If you prefer a staycation this year, or perhaps would like to reference a few guidebooks, worry not, we’ve rounded up a few for you here! See below:
Napa: An Architectural Walking Tour
A Guide to Historic Hollywood Through Place and Time
Exploring Camano Island: A History & Guide
Backroads of the California Coast: Your Guide to Scenic Getaways and Adventures
Colorado Excursions with History, Hikes, and Hops