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California’s Best Spring Break Destinations

Spring break, the much anticipated week of non-stop partying, discovery, freedom and enjoyment, is here.

While some college students are packing their suitcases for a week of sipping margaritas on a beach in sunny Cabo or Florida, others expect a week planted in front of the TV watching Netflix at home. But not leaving California doesn’t mean spring break has to be boring. California is a beautiful state with lots to do and endless gems worth visiting. It’s the place people from other places visit to vacation, remember?

Whether it be with friends, a significant other, or family, skip the TV and take a trip to any of these California sights for great and memorable spring break fun.

San Francisco

Fall in love with the excitement, ambiance, and food of SF. Do some shopping at the famous Union Square, check out the treasures of Golden Gate Park, or tour the famous island-prison Alcatraz. San Francisco is also a famous foodie city so grab some friends and hang out at some of its hot spots such as Burma Superstar, Dandelion Chocolate or Blue Bottle Coffee (really, there’s too many to name, so check out Thrillist.com for great lists of the best SF foods). After eating your way through SF, walk it off at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and don’t forget to visit Twin Peaks to see this special city from an elevated view.

Lake Tahoe. By Jodie Wilson/CC
Lake Tahoe. By Jodie Wilson/CC

Lake Tahoe

The snow might be melting, but many ski resorts are still open. Get in one of your last chances to snowboard or ski while taking advantage of ski resort events such as Squaw Valley‘s Winterwondergrass music festival or Heavenly‘s Unbuckle Apres Party. Or take the more relaxing route by renting a cabin with friends and enjoying the mountain fresh air, sky-high trees, tranquility of the lake, and any of the variety of outdoor activities Lake Tahoe offers.

Santa Cruz & Monterey

What better way to celebrate spring break than by the beach? The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a great place take in the ocean breeze and boardwalk atmosphere while enjoying fun rides, [fried] food and games. Take a drive down the coast and enjoy any of Monterey Bay’s long, sandy beaches or soak in the natural beauty of the bay’s namesake waterfront city. Monterey is home to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row, where restaurants, shops and nightlife destinations line the famous street. And don’t forget to make the most of the area’s natural sights while kayaking, canoeing or visiting the extraordinary gravity of the Santa Cruz’s Mystery Spot.

San Jose

San Jose is your place for hikes, thrills and chills. Test your athleticism by hiking one of the 6-mile trails to the popular Mission Peak overlooking Silicon Valley. Enjoy the thrill of roller coasters and water slides at California’s Great America. Or for those who are seeking a more sinister experience, visit the historic and allegedly haunted mansion Winchester Mystery House.

Vernal Falls. By Bethany Harris
Vernal Falls. By Bethany Harris

Yosemite National Park

Bring out the nature-lover in you while basking in the natural wonder of Yosemite‘s waterfalls, streams, granite cliffs, and enormous Sequoia groves. Spring break is typically a great time to visit the National Park since there are less-than-summer tourists and spring snow-melt makes for larger-than-summer falls. Further embrace mother nature at its best while hiking one of Yosemite’s beautiful hiking trails (check nps.gov for trail/road closures—which are very few right now since we’ve had a dry season).

Disneyland's fireworks show. By Tom Bricker/CC.
Disneyland’s fireworks show. By Tom Bricker/CC

Los Angeles

Home to Hollywood Walk of FameHollywood Wax MuseumUniversal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, Los Angeles is an easy win for spring break fun. Santa Monica Pier offers a popular SoCal boardwalk with restaurants, shopping, the beach, a plethora of rides and arcade games. And there’s no shortage of great food, sunny beaches, and popular hangout spots across all of LA.

pacific beach san diego
Pacific Beach. By Nathan Rupert/CC

San Diego

San Diego’s beaches are probably the closest thing to Cabo you’ll get in California. From Pacific Beach to Mission Beach to Ocean Beach, San Diego offers lots of hot spots for surfing, sun bathing, playing volleyball and partying. If you’re looking for a more scenic vibe, head to La Jolla or Torrey Pines where there’s room to relax, kayak, snorkel or stroll the picturesque beaches. Want to check out San Diego’s non-beach attractions? Head to the renowned San Diego Zoo, which houses over 3,700 animals and is located inside the 1,200 acre Balboa Park, which itself is filled with greenbelts, museums, restaurants and shops.

Sacramentos hills are covered with hiking trails while the river offers water activities/Bethany Harris
Sacramento’s hills are covered with hiking trails while the river offers water activities. By Bethany Harris.


Staying right at home can make for a relaxing, enjoyable spring break as well as an opportunity to explore Sacramento and its surroundings. The weather will be beautiful so use your time off to discover Sacramento’s wealth of outdoor activities such as biking down the American River Bike Trail, hiking one of the many trails near Folsom Lake, or rafting down the American River. This could also be a great time to check out Sacramento’s coffee scene and good eats, see what’s new at the Crocker Art Museum, or enjoy spring in Capitol Park (and meander into California State Capitol Museum while you’re there!).

Featured image by Wonderlane/CC

California’s Best Spring Break Destinations via @sacramentopress

About the author

Liliana Nava

Liliana Nava

Liliana Nava is a University of California, Davis alumni with a B.A. in Communications and English. She is an aspiring journalist that loves interacting with people, writing, apes, Cosmopolitan and bubbles. She strives to provide readers with the utmost professional, comprehensive and reliable information encompassing the Sacramento region.

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