Image: Poipu Beach, Kauai
Justin Horrocks / iStockphoto
Nature still takes center stage on green, clean Kauai. The island has always maintained a refreshingly serene ambience that separates it from its more highly-developed island sisters. Poipu Beach may be the island’s best, with its looping golden-sanded crescents, one of which forms a natural wading pool.
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updated 3/9/2009 11:02:48 AM ET 2009-03-09T15:02:48

You’ve worked much too hard to have your spring break ruined by a bunch of kids who aren't your own. The thousands of spring breakers and their teen dramas, drunkfests and wet T-shirt contests fly south for the winter right when you are getting sick of the sleet and snow.

But from early March to mid-April, just steer clear of go-to Spring Break spots like these: South Padre Island; Negril, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; or Cancun, Mexico.

It’s not that every square inch of these deservedly popular destinations will be jammed to the gills with rowdy, insomniac, beer-guzzling and nauseated high school and college students. It’s just that you’ve likely been there, done that, and now you’ve earned the right to celebrate the rites of spring your way, the civilized way.

Adult travelers aren’t the only ones “over” Spring Break, says John Frenaye, a 15-year travel industry veteran and analyst, former retail travel agency owner and now Chief Single Dad at SingleParentTravel.net. “Look back at Fort Lauderdale, which was the place to go; the city got tired,” he points out.

And even though Fort Lauderdale has cleaned up its image, we recommend an alternative Florida destination: Amelia Island, filled with quaint B&Bs and the type of low-key lifestyle in which hopping on a bike to explore the island's 13 miles of beaches is just another day in paradise.

You can also enjoy “The Paris of the South” — Asheville, N.C., with an eclectic downtown and 30-plus art galleries all framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Renowned accommodations include the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa and the Cottage on Biltmore Estate (that’s George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre place and site of America’s largest home). Richmond Hill Inn also has an elegant, B&B-inspired ambience. March’s variable weather could bring either snow tubing downhill or rafting on the French Broad River.

On the other coast, or about 99 miles inland, is the prince of kitsch resorts: Palm Springs, Calif. It’s a haven for mature adults, yupsters and anyone else who craves golf, tennis and swimming with a retro vibe. Sure, the main drags bustle a bit more during Spring Break, but in a matter of seconds you’re in the slower-paced streets that back up to the towering San Jacinto Mountains. Vintage modernism and a George Jetson vibe predominate at the Orbit In Hotel, while the Korakia Pensione welcomes you with Mediterranean and Moroccan-flavored villas, plus two sexy swimming pools.

Spring Break, Frenaye says, can overburden cities with additional security and police wages, heavy impact on the judicial system, inconvenience to residents and businesses, not to mention damage control to the destination’s image.

For hotels, there’s a nasty mess to clean up, plus higher insurance rates. “People begin to ask: Is this good business or bad business?” To safeguard yourself against a hotel packed with spring breakers, ask how many guests, maximum, are allowed per room and whether any groups are expected during your stay. And in hard times like these, a savvy travel agent will know exactly which tour operators cater to budget-conscious, grown-up spring breakers.

Image: Riviera Maya, Mexico
paraisodelabonita.com
With the peso recently devalued against the dollar, almost everywhere in Mexico offers high value. As the peso cascades against the dollar, your vacation values increase as does the popularity of the Riviera Maya, 72 miles of coastline along the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana Roo. Trendy meets quaint, lush jungles and underground rivers, and there’s plenty to keep an adventuresome family busy too.
To be super safe, suggests Frenaye, consider “adults-only” resorts in Mexico such as Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Resort and Thalasso on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. If you want to skip that area altogether, head across the country to Zihuatanejo, home to gorgeous resorts like The Tides, Casa Que Canta and Capella Ixtapa.

We’ve assembled our own righteous list of diverse places where you can bravely stake out your pristine plot of sand without dodging flying Bud suds. Instead, order a tart Appletini or sparkling flute of Dom and be blissfully at one with spring — on your terms. You can do Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii, even the San Diego stretch of southern California.

And don’t forget that Spring Break can be an ideal time to head for still-snowy climes, especially our choice of Park City, Utah. Some hotels are smaller, but big on ambience and savoir-faire; others are large, with options guaranteed to keep the restive guest away from an iPhone.

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