The Southwest isn’t just good for the typical, rowdy college spring break. There are plenty of ways to hit some of the region’s coolest cities in ways that don’t involve the need to pack a beer bong. Whether you’re looking for food, art, relaxation, music, or all of the above, you’ll find more than enough reason to jet off for the West’s warmest regions this spring. Here, just a few city suggestions to get you started.
1. Indulge in Austin
You know that old saying “everything’s bigger in Texas?” Austin’s food, music, and shopping scenes are all testament to that truth. If you’re looking to eat well on your spring break, you can’t go wrong with Texas BBQ. Head to Austin’s East Side and you’ll find plenty of options, like John Mueller Meat Co., La Barbecue, and Franklin. If burgers are more your style, Hopdoddy’s on South Congress Avenue is a must—order an alcoholic milkshake to sip while you wait for your bleu cheese bison burger, plus parmesan truffle butter fries.
Speaking of South Congress: This avenue is your new favorite place. Stay at Hotel St. Cecilia, located just off South Congress and named for St. Cecilia the patron saint of music. Each guest room has a turntable, and guitars are available to borrow. Wander the avenue during the day, stopping for oysters at Perla’s, shopping at Uncommon Objects, and used books at South Congress Books.
When dusk hits, make your way back to the East Side and catch a show at White Horse Tavern, arguably Austin’s coolest music scene right now. Or, step into the shoes of an artist and follow Beyoncé’s lead on how to pull off a Texas road trip.
2. Heat up in Santa Fe
You can, quite literally, taste the heat in Santa Fe. Start at Vinaigrette, a trendy soup-and-salad bistro that sources its produce from the owner’s nearby organic farm. The menu is divided into sections like “bright and zippy,” “savory,” and “a little sweet,” and add-ons range from the fresh catch of the day to Hibiscus-cured duck confit.
Green chiles are another Santa Fe favorite, and you’ll get the best of them in the green chile enchiladas from the Shed. Finish the food marathon with a drink at Santa Fe Spirits. Try the osha root and sage-infused gin for a bit of a kick, or the signature Slow Burn—a combination of the former and smoked hickory and apple wood—for a hearty flavor that is distinctly New Mexico.
3. Surprise yourself in Scottsdale
Yes, Scottsdale still screams golfer’s paradise, but that’s not all it has to offer. Two more areas the city excels in are world-class spas and, perhaps surprisingly to outsiders, art. The city and its surrounding regions are home to over 125 art galleries and museums, including the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the unique Musical Instrument Museum. Make sure you’re in town on a Thursday night, when all of downtown Scottsdale’s galleries are open for the Scottsdale ArtWalk. Check out Italian artist and Frank Lloyd Wright student Paolo Soleri’s studio in nearby Paradise Valley, or just see his work in the form of the famous downtown Scottsdale Soleri Bridge. Once you’ve tired of your artistic endeavors, spa-hop through Scottsdale’s many unbelievable resorts.