Unusual Destinations for Spring Break

When spring break rolls around, many young people head for popular party places such as Cabos San Lucas, Cancun, and Panama City Beach. Crowded and over-priced in March, these locales are more suited to college students. If you're looking for somewhere different—whether you want peace and quiet or a unique cultural experience—consider these alternative spring break destinations:

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, La.

Visit New Orleans during spring break, when the Mardi Gras celebrations will have ended but you can still find a party around many a corner. The venues and bars are filled with the sounds of blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll, especially along Bourbon Street. The French Quarter is lined with what's left of the French colonial architecture after the city's great fire as well as old Spanish structures, including some charming New Orleans bed and breakfasts,

While Carnival is over, there are still plenty of exciting festivals going on throughout March in NOLA. Soul Fest for instance, runs March 8 and 9, 2014, and celebrates African-American history with authentic cuisine and musical performances. If you come in the second or third weeks of the month, you can join in on the fun of Food Fest or the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival .

Guatemala City

 Guatemala City

Guatemala City provides a fascinating alternative to the standard Cancun spring break. After you drop off your things at a Guatemala City inn, head out to explore the sparkling lakes and resting volcanoes. You can check out archaeological sites such as Mixco Viejo, a Mayan ruin that dates back to the 12th century and lies just north of the city. The heritage and culture of the city can also be found in its galleries, including the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress and National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

While its history is certainly a draw, the sprawling metropolis of Guatemala City has vibrant nightlife as well. Catch a show at the Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias or Instituto Guatemalteco Americano . There are two main areas that house the best watering holes: the Cuatro Grados Norte and Zona Viva zones. These parts of the city also contain many of the top restaurants, such as Del Paseo and San Martin & Company.

Destin, Florida

 Destin, Fla.

If you're seeking a little serenity on your March excursions, Destin has what you need. You won't even have to pass through the major Floridian party spots to get to this beach-side destination. It was once a drowsy town filled with fishermen and families, and while it's grown in popularity as of late, it still retains that tranquil charm. Set yourself up in a private, quaint Destin bed and breakfast and, if you feel like it, spend the whole time lazing on the beach. Golfers will love this city for its excellent off-course opportunities: Bring your clubs to the beach and tee off on the cliffs, dunes, and seaside bunkers scattered about. Get in touch with your inner child and check out Destin's water adventure park, Big Kahuna's .

Austin, Texas

 Boston, Mass.

For an offbeat vacation, book an Austin inn and head to the capital city of Texas, While it's become a more popular tourist spot in recent years thanks to its growing music and film festivals, the vibe here is truly laid-back and ideal for spring break relaxation coupled with enough entertainment. Start your discovery of the city with a show—Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," and you can find performances by local and international artists in venues throughout downtown. While you're in town, be sure to take some time to sample the local flavors. Ask a resident where to find the best barbecue and there's a good chance you'll be pointed to the Salt Lick. Order up the brisket, pork ribs, or sausage plate, all of which are created from old family recipes that date back to the mid-19th century. Other top eateries include Maudie's for Tex Mex, Uchi for sushi, and Lamberts for modern Texan cuisine.