While it may seem like the entire state of Michigan packs up and heads south to Florida for spring break, not everyone wants to brave the traffic and spend days in the car to spend a week on the beach. This year my family is going against the grain and choosing a different route (literally!). We’ve chosen to stay closer to home and do something more unique. Sure, we still want to thaw out from our blisteringly cold winter, but we’re choosing to minimize our time in the car and maximize the fun factor. And so should you! Here are some warm weather spring break vacation destinations you can reach in a day that are guaranteed to deliver fun that’s worth the (short) drive! So leave the blowing snow in the rear view mirror this year and give one of these great destinations a try!
Talladega National Forest, Alabama
Take your spring break trip to new heights by visiting the highest point in the state of Alabama in Cheaha Resort State Park. Located at 2,407 feet above sea level, this gorgeous state park offers breathtaking views of the Talladega National Forest, where this state park is located. Perfect for nature lovers, there’s plenty of outdoor fun here and the spring temperatures of around 70° will help melt the winter blues away. Bring your hiking boots and take to the Cheaha Trailhead of the Pinhoti Trail. It connects to the Appalachian Trail and accesses the Odum Scout Trail and the Chinnabee Silent Trail. Or if you’re heading out with your new toy hauler from Lakeshore RV, load it up with your ATVs for extreme fun on the Kentucky ORV-ATV Trail that is nearby. Bring your pets, swimsuits, mountain bikes, rock climbing gear, fishing poles, and cameras! With an abundance of outdoor activities and spectacular waterfalls to visit by foot, you’ll be glad you made the 10-hour trip down south and left the chilly northern temps behind!
This 2,799-acre mountaintop resort offers great camping opportunities for both primitive and improved camping. Here are the details:
Primitive tent sites for a “back-to-nature” camping experience: No electricity, no picnic table, community water faucet, bathroom but no bathhouse, fire ring at campsite; $16/night
Improved RV sites for comfortable camping: Water, sewer, electrical hookups; picnic table & grill, new bathhouses as of 2014; $27.50/night
Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
Head out of Michigan on I-75 and leave the freezing temps behind as you head south to beautiful Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, Kentucky. An 8 ½-hour drive will land you in “the Niagara of the South,” where you can view the largest waterfall south of Niagara Falls that drops a 125’-wide wall of water into a gorge filled with boulders below. Head out at nighttime to see something that’s found only here in the Western Hemisphere—a “moonbow!” Lit by a full moon and complemented by a clear night sky, a lunar rainbow can be spotted at the base of the waterfall! Definitely a photo-worthy opportunity! Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, this park is an outdoor-lover’s paradise! Leave your flip flops and beach towels behind because on this trip you’ll spend your days hiking the 17 miles of scenic trails, taking a guided horseback riding tour, fishing for bass and catfish in the Cumberland River, gem mining, birding, and so much more. After a quick day trip on the road you’ll step out into temps in the 60s, perfect for hiking and exploring the gorgeous green hills of Kentucky!
Within Cumberland Falls State Resort Park there are two campgrounds that offer 49 campsites to choose from. Ridgeline and Clifty Campgrounds have tent (20) and standard electric (29) sites. They’re all pet friendly and some are back-in up to 28’ in length. Tent sites range in price from $17-29/night and RV sites are $22-34/night.
Mammoth Caves, Kentucky
Go underground on your next spring break trip by visiting Mammoth Caves in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Spend your spring break traversing the dark, mysterious caves that lie underneath the hilly terrain of south central Kentucky. If hanging out with bats instead of playing with beach balls on your trip doesn’t entice you, consider that this national park is home to the world’s longest known cave system at more than 400 miles long. During the spring months, the nearby forest is blooming in color and the temperatures are soaring into the 60s. However when you descend into the cool, moist caves, you’ll want to have a sweatshirt or light coat with you since the air has a chill to it.
Ranger-led tours are offered throughout the day and there’s one for every age level and physical ability. The shortest tour lasts 1 ¼ hours and is just a ¼ mile long, making it perfect for young kids or older visitors who just want a taste of the caves. For longer tours that take you deep underground, there are plenty that last from 2 hours to 6 hours and span a ½ mile to 6 miles long. Just a note: leave your camera behind, as flash photography is not allowed in the caves.
If you’re heading south from West Michigan, a straight shot down I-65 will take about 7 ½-8 hours. For overnight camping, the park offers over 100 campsites in three developed campgrounds to choose from. Here are the details:
Mammoth Cave Campground: The 105 tent and RV sites offer vaulted toilets, water, a dump station, laundry facilities, showers, a general store, and more; $20-25/night.
Maple Springs Campground: This quiet, remote campground offers seven (7) campsites that have accommodations for horses. You’ll find drinking water, hitching racks, and vault toilets; $25/night
Houchin Ferry Campground: The 12 primitive sites offered here are $12/night. Each has a picnic table and fire grate. Not suitable for large trailers or RVs, the sites are first-come first-served.
For music lovers, Nashville is a no-brainer for a quick, easy spring break getaway! Leave Muskegon, MI, at 7am and you’ll be there by late afternoon or early evening (depending on how many rest areas you hit). I-65 will take you straight to “Music City,” where you can catch a concert at the Grand Ole Opry or at the Ryman Auditorium, or tour the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum where you can see Elvis’s gold piano and a collection of Taylor Swift’s outfits. Also known for its amazing restaurants and nightlife, Nashville is a great destination for a fun spring break trip in the city!
There are a few great campgrounds near Nashville to choose from. Here are a couple we like:
Two Rivers Campground: Quiet and peaceful, this campground is just 2 miles north of Opryland. Here you’ll enjoy a pool, bathhouses, playground, free Wi-Fi, concrete patios, live entertainment (seasonal), and more. 30-amp without sewer range from $47-52/night. 30-amp full hookup range from $52-58/night. 50-amp full hookup range from $57-63/night.
Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort Campground: To complement your busy days in the city, choose this over-the-top resort-style family recreation area to park your new bunkhouse- rig from Lakeshore RV. Just 10 miles from Nashville, this 385-acre park located on J. Percy Priest Lake offers a first-class waterpark, zip lines, aerial ropes, pontoon boat and jet ski rentals, and more. The campground has 84 RV sites that range in price from $50-65/night. Your furry friend will love playing in Pooch Park, located near the campground, so make sure you bring them along for the fun. A stay at the RV park qualifies you for exclusive waterpark discounts, and with temps in the mid to high 60s, you might just want to splash around after a day of exploring in the city!
St. Louis, Missouri
Brush up on your American history with a quick trip to St. Louis, Missouri, where you can set your eyes on where Lewis & Clark embarked on their historic western expedition. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial marks this notable location. While you’re at it, hop on a replica of a 19th century paddle wheel-style boat and enjoy a narrated cruise down the Mississippi River. Or ride to the top of the 630’-tall stainless steel Gateway Arch, St. Louis’s most recognizable attraction, and enjoy a jaw-dropping view of the city (and beyond!). Or head out to the ballpark for a fun spring Cardinals game at Busch Stadium. Make sure you pack your glove—maybe you’ll go home with a fly ball! An easy drive down I-55 from West Michigan will get you there in about 7 hours.
Babler State Park is located just west of St. Louis and offers gorgeous accommodations with both basic and electric campsites. Here you’ll find biking, hiking, and equestrian trails to enjoy on sunny, 60° days. As one of the state’s most popular parks, it offers you a chance to enjoy lush green space just outside the bustling city. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy lunch at one of the many picnic sites in the sheltered valleys and towering forests of the park. With modern restrooms and showers, the sites range in price from $13-23/night.
Do you have a favorite warm-weather destination that you can reach in a day? Tell us about it in the comments!