The Top 25 Cities for a Spring Break Girls Trip

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Spring break is around the corner, and for seven days you can forget about linear algebra, agoraphobic roommates, and creepy professors who make eye contact while reading Shakespearean sonnets. After a grueling term it’s a much-needed release, and whether you’re looking for warm sand or just a change of scenery, it’s time to get outta town.

Unfortunately, spring break also has a reputation for being kinda skeezy. Think casual hookups, wet t-shirt contests and frat bros in Hawaiian-print board shorts playing beer pong. Not your ideal vacation? May we suggest: a spring break girls trip.

Instead of spending your vacay watching college wrestlers try to wrench open a Corona Lite with their teeth, ditch the dudes all together and travel to one of our top 25 cities for a spring break girls trip. (Or if getting turnt is your primary spring-break objective, you can instead check out our rankings for the “Biggest Party Hubs in the U.S.”) While seasonal spikes might make flights too expensive, consider instead booking a bus or train through Wanderu for a more affordable, friction-free option.

The rankings below are based on composite data for a range of factors that’ll make for the perfect week with your gal pals. Most important in our calculations were, of course, safety and weather— baseline requirements—then we took into account various essentials from cheapest rideshare pricing to overall Instagram worthiness.

Enough mansplaining—let’s show you the numbers so you can see for yourself.

Map plotting the best cities for a spring break girls trip, along with a ranking of the cities below it.

It’s no coincidence that all five of our highest-rated cities—Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, San Diego and San Francisco—are in either California or Florida. From relatively warm weather, even in winter, to camera-ready ocean views and highly rated nightclubs, these destinations might as well have #squadgoals sewn into the city flag.

Sure, consensus top picks L.A. and Miami are no strangers to spring breakers, but these two hubs have a lot going for them beyond the beach. Dense with fashion boutiques and the best nightclubs in the world, you can buy designer heels and dance till you drop at The Echo or LIV, or lay low and sip on bottomless Mimosas at a hot new brunch spot.

Chilly New York and rainy Seattle slip in at #7 and #9 respectively, making up in safety and scenery what they lack in degrees Fahrenheit. An underrated duo, Savannah and Charleston also show some leg in the top 10, and may be good options for groups looking to avoid more traditional spring break locales.

Best Girls Trip Cities for Spring Break by Category

To begin, we looked at the 50 most popular spring break destinations according to the booking platform Priceline. The rationale was simple: These cities see significant traffic over spring break for a reason—either they offer a sunny escape, are dense with activities, can be done on a budget, etc.—and that filtering allowed us to narrow our scope.  

From there, we analyzed these locales specifically through the lens of a girls trip. We formulated a scoring methodology based on the total number, quality and price of specific goods and services crucial to a kickass getaway. Finally, we gave outsize importance to what we deemed to be the two most important factors: 1) the likelihood of nice weather, and 2) the destination’s relative safety for females.

What follows is a breakdown for how each of these cities rank by category.

Cities With the Best Spring Break Weather

Infographic showing the top 10 spring break destinations with the warmest average temperature in March.

Let’s start with temperature, because spring break is supposed to be about sunshine and sangria, not sudden Nor’easters. Granted, you may find a better deal to a colder place, but you’ll also be wearing a parka, sooooo… ¯_(ツ)_/¯   

The four cities with the warmest average temperature in March are all in Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando), every one of them sitting at a comfortable 67 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The rest span the Southwest and Southern U.S., none dipping lower than 59.

Maybe you want to take advantage of the warmer weather to break out that cute neon crop top you bought at the end of last season—you do you, girl—but the universal benefit of the warm weather is that it makes these cities more walkable. Hopping jazz bars on Frenchman Street or checking out the graffiti walls in Wynwood is far more fun when you’re not shivering your shoes off. (Unless that actually appeals to you.)

Safest Spring Break Cities for Women

Spring break has historically had some serious predatory associations.

Which is why safety is such a crucial component of our calculations. Our rankings here come from a study by ValuePenguin determining “The Safest Cities for Women in America,” which bases their composite safety scores on figures from the CDC estimating the likelihood a woman will be stalked in the state; FBI comprehensive crime statistics that break down the total number of sex crimes by city; and a study from the Violence Policy Center that looks at the number of women murdered by men in each state.

Of the cities we examined, Tampa scores best, followed closely by San Francisco and Savannah, meaning those destinations may offer more comfort and security than some of your other options.

Cities With the Best Shopping Scene

Infographic showing the top 10 best cities for women's clothing shopping based on Yelp data.

Not that you’d have any trouble filling a girls trip with things to do, but for cities with good shopping the fun is basically built-in. From trendy boutiques to international chains, the stores in these cities are legit fire.

While shopping is (arguably) always a good idea, it can be a particularly fun activity while traveling with friends. Not only will your girls hype you up in the fitting room, but you can experience certain stores and styles not available in your hometown.

The destinations that dominate these rankings have a high number of shops highly rated on Yelp in the categories of “Fashion” and “Women’s Clothing.” Your typical tastemakers take over the top spots: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco.

Then dark horses Dallas and Houston drop in out of nowhere like a surprise Beyoncé album to tie for #6, where you can feel free to go full Texas and rock the boots with the spurs.

Cities With Cheapest Average Price for Rideshares

Let’s be real—walkability is great, but after dark or a few drinks Lyft and Uber are the smarter, safer ways to get from Point A to Point B. (PSA: Always check the license plate before climbing into a rideshare to confirm it’s the car you requested.)

For this category, we looked at the average price of an UberXL ride in each city. Requesting an SUV means that your group won’t have to split up (and the extra leg room is a must). Plugging in Uber’s national average for distance, duration and speed then allowed us to compare the price differential in each destination for the exact same trip.

To that end, Orlando and Tampa tie for cheapest, followed by Phoenix, Cincinnati and Dallas. The most compelling find, though, is Los Angeles going full peekaboo at #9. For a city so sprawled that driving is a necessity, and where food and lodging can be pretty spendy, saving a few dollars on rideshares can really add up.

Cities With the Best Nightclub Scene

Infographic depicts the top 10 cities with the most high-quality (4 stars or higher on Yelp) nightclubs in the U.S.

When deciding where to go for spring break, finding a place with a dope dance scene is 🔑.

Everyone knows that the best place to get loose is far away from familiar eyes—where you’re less likely to run into your ex, your bio professor, or your crush from Spanish class who pronounces “Barcelona” with a “th.”  

Quality matters, and unless your squad prefers clubs packed with polo-wearing brotein shakes flossing to the Weezer cover album, it’s best to do some thorough vetting in advance. Here we’ve done that for you, ranking destinations based on their total number of nightclubs tagged “Good for Dancing” on Yelp, with a rating of 4 stars or higher.

L.A. tops the list at 200, while New York stands at second with 105. The real surprise, though, is San Francisco, which beats out both Miami and Las Vegas for third place at 88.

Most Instagrammable Cities

Last but never least, your spring break destination must be picture-perfect: Those #nofilter photos of you and your crew in a stunning setting should provoke FOMO in all who scroll past.

To quantify which places are the most Instagrammable, we had to get clever. Counting up the total number of geotagged pictures for a city was no good—for example, search “Los Angeles” on Instagram and most results are In-N-Out photos and mirror selfies. To filter down those results, we narrowed our search to travel-oriented posts tagged with “#visit” in front of the city name (e.g., #visitseattle, #visitboston, etc.). These pics are more scenic, uploaded by out-of-towners showing off the sites and drool-worthy eats experienced on their trip.

It’s no surprise, then, that our top 10 most Instagrammable cities are each aesthetically pleasing in their own right. Sandwiched between majestic mountains and the Puget Sound, with incredible food and iconic attractions like the Space Needle, it’s no wonder Seattle is #1.

Sexy Savannah lands at #2, its historic district dripping with Southern charm. And beautiful in both sun and snow, the coastal culinary capital of Boston barely beats out Orlando (whose score is inflated by Disney World), snatching up spot #3.

City-to-City on Wanderu

So you’ve picked a place, got deets on dates and your squad is psyched. It’s time to get gone, girl—which is where Wanderu comes in. Maybe you’re eying a flight from Atlanta to Orlando, or from Phoenix to San Diego, but the fares are expensive AF. Did it all just fall through? Is the forecast for your spring break another week at the lake with dad and his new wife?

We think not. At Wanderu, travel meets at the intersection of fast and cheap: Search train and bus itineraries between cities across the U.S. (and Europe!). Compare routes, prices and schedules across major carriers and book your tickets on a single platform without paying more. Download the Wanderu app to find fares on the go, or check out Wanderu.com. Freedom is at your fingertips.

Now round up your friends and get those bus or train tix on lock—to the spring break destination that’s right for you. Whether the focus of your girls trip is scenery or shopping or sunshine, you can always find fares that fit your budget on Wanderu.

Methodology

  • We analyzed the following categories to determine the best cities for a spring break girls trip:
    • Popular spring break cities
    • Best weather in March
    • Safest cities for women
    • Most high-quality dance clubs
    • Most high-quality clothing retail
    • Most photogenic cities
    • Cheapest avg. price for a rideshare
  • Data Sourcing
    • For popular spring break cities, we used data published by booking platform Priceline listing their “Top 50 Most Popular Spring Break Destinations.”
    • For the best weather in March, we analyzed U.S. Climate Data, calculating the midpoint between the average low and average high in degrees Fahrenheit for each city.
    • For the safest cities for women, we used rankings based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control estimating the likelihood a woman will be stalked in the state; FBI crime statistics that break down the total number of sex crimes by city; and a study from the Violence Policy Center that looks at the number of women murdered by men in each state, as combined into a comprehensive score by ValuePenguin.
    • For most high-quality dance clubs, we looked up the total number of nightclubs rated 4 stars or higher and tagged “Good for Dancing” on Yelp for each city.
    • For most high-quality clothing retail, we looked up the total number of “Fashion” stores in each city rated 4 stars or higher on Yelp.
    • For most photogenic cities, we calculated the total number of photos and videos posted to Instagram with “#visit” tags for each destination (e.g., #visitmiami, #visitphoenix, etc.).
    • For the cheapest average price for a rideshare, we analyzed UberXL data for base price, price per mile and price per minute for a ride of “average” time and distance, as defined by RideshareDashboard.com.
  • After collecting, analyzing, and normalizing all of the data for each individual category, we weighted the two factors we determined to be of outsize importance for a spring break girls trip, safety and weather.
  • Finally, we combined the category scores into an overall score to rank all 50 cities on a 1- to 100-point overall scale, and plotted the top 25 on a map.

You are welcome to use the information and graphics on this page, crediting Wanderu. If you do so, please link back to this page, so that travelers around the world can see all the data and find out how we came up with the ranking.

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About the author
Tyler Moss

Tyler Moss

Tyler Moss has danced on tables at Oktoberfest and petted alpacas in the Andes. He prefers to eat at restaurants where the menu is in a language he can’t understand, and likes bars where the lighting is dim and the drafts are cheap. His writing has been published by Condé Nast Traveler, The Atlantic, New York, Outside, Atlas Obscura, Playboy and other fine venues.
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