9 Most Photogenic Spring Break Destinations in the U.S.

With winter (almost) in the rearview, travelers across the country are gearing up for one of the best — and most photogenic — times of year: spring break! Destinations across the U.S. come alive during spring break season, and we’re not talking party scenes. From waterfalls in the national parks to diving with wildlife in the Keys, spring is one of the best times to travel and experience the most picture-worthy experiences in the country.

Whether you’re checking out the beaches on the east coast or exploring the wilderness out west, here are nine of the most photogenic spring break destinations to consider.

Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Key, Florida
Image via Shutterstock

This barrier island right outside Sarasota is famous for its powdery white sand beaches and colorful bungalows. In fact, Siesta Key tops TripAdvisor’s list of America’s best beaches almost annually. Beyond the beach (and its particularly dazzling sunset), photographers can enjoy the Siesta Key Rookery, an uninhabited mangrove island with hundreds of nesting birds including white pelicans, egrets, and herons. At the dune-filled Turtle Beach, visitors can also spot dolphins, manatees, and nesting turtles.

Key Largo, Florida

Key Largo, Florida
Image via Shutterstock

The natural, palm-fringed Key Largo is one of the most easily accessible and photogenic Keys for spring break-goers. A scenic 90-minute drive from Miami offers numerous photography opportunities, including the 70 nautical-square-mile John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Sightseeing opportunities abound at this natural park, with snorkeling, kayaking, and glass bottom boat tours. Cannon Beach, one of the park’s highlights, has 17th century cannons all over the shoreline.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina folly beach
Image via Shutterstock

Charleston is a great option for travelers craving a tropical city getaway. The port city circa 1670 is filled with photogenic locations like the pastel-colored homes on Rainbow Row or 52 Meeting Street, which comes alive with wisteria every spring. For a quick beach day trip, head to the nearby Folly Beach. The small city on Folly Island has a dramatic pier stretching 1,000 feet into the ocean, as well as a lighthouse and pelican rookery.

Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas Pleasure Pier amusement park
Image via @Matthew_T_Rader on Unsplash

This Gulf Coast island is a playground for photographers. A one-hour drive from Houston, Galveston offers a variety of unique photo opportunities including the historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, which juts out over the ocean. Downtown Galveston’s 19th-century architecture paired with the serene Crystal Beach make this destination a must-visit spring break destination.

Catalina Island, California

Catalina Island, California
Image via Emma Svalstad on Unsplash

Off the coast of Los Angeles, this California Channel Island is a haven for wildlife and landscape-loving photographers—particularly come springtime. Catalina Island’s diving opportunities put travelers face-to-face with sea lions and fish, while scenic hikes such as the challenging Trans-Catalina Trail take travelers all over the peaks and valleys of the island with nonstop ocean views.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California, Bixby Bridge
Image via adrian on Unsplash

After several years of tumultuous natural disasters, the Big Sur is ready and open for spring break business. Jaw-dropping scenery along this 90-mile Highway 1 stretch is virtually endless, including the historic Bixby Bridge, a wildflower-filled Garrapata State Park (blooms peak in May), and the “purple sand” Pfeiffer Beach, which is particularly great for sunset. Picturesque hotels such as Ventana Big Sur and Treebones Resort provide mountaintop views across the sea.

Yosemite National Park, California

yosemite national park
Photo by Jordan Pulmano on Unsplash

Yosemite draws millions of year-round visitors, but springtime is particularly special. Waterfalls flow more fiercely than ever thanks to thawed snow; the most photogenic falls include Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Ribbon Falls. With the rushing water, spring is one of the likeliest times to see a moonbow — a photographer’s dream!—in the park. Here’s a quick guide on how to find these bows at popular spots like Lower Yosemite Falls.

Note: Winter damage has a number of Yosemite facilities on delay for spring; check the National Parks website for updated information.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

great smoky mountains national park
Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

While the weather is a bit unpredictable, spring is a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because visitor numbers are down while wildflower colors are way, way up. April and May bring bright and cheery color to the park, with wildflower, redbud, and dogwood blooms across the mountains. Popular lookout spots such as the 6,643-foot-tall Clingmans Dome also reopen come early April.

Death Valley National Park, California

Death valley national park
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Travelers flock to Death Valley every spring for the chance to see the park’s epic wildflower “superbloom.” Blooms of this magnitude are not guaranteed—they require perfect conditions like rain, sunshine, and lack of wind — so the National Park Service keeps travelers updated on its website. Even without the bloom, Death Valley National Park is a picture-perfect spring getaway with otherworldly landscapes like Artists Drive, Badwater Basin, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Don’t wait too long, though. Come summer, temperatures in this park — one of the hottest places on Earth—can reach up to 90°F and 100°F (or even the record-high 134°F)!

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