When spring break rolls around, most college students long to trade in hours of studying for a little fun in some exotic destination. With far-off, tropical destinations out of the picture for many, however, the hunt is on for the best spring break destinations for students on a budget. Luckily for college students in and around the Philadelphia area, there are plenty of reasonably priced and easy-to-get-to destinations within half-day’s drive of the City of Brotherly Love. From the shore to the mountains and everywhere in between, these top spring break destinations for college students near Philadelphia are sure to fit the bill.

The Grand Hotel
2100 Baltimore Avenue City
Ocean City, MD 21842
(410) 289-6191
www.grandhoteloceancity.com

Located right on the Boardwalk, The Grand Hotel is one of the largest in the area and features a number of on-site amenities students are sure to enjoy. In addition to well-appointed rooms with features that can include a Jacuzzi tub, ocean-front views and a balcony, guests will also enjoy a fitness center, restaurants, oodles of nearby shopping and both indoor and outdoor pools. Of course, it goes without saying that the main attraction for many is the famed Ocean City beach itself. For stays ending by March 25, 2015, this hotel is running a special that saves guests up to 35 percent if they stay five nights and reserve with the promo code STPL5. Other specials include a local brew package (for those of legal drinking age) and weekend escape packages valid through the end of April, 2015.

The Hay-Adams
800 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-6600
www.hayadams.com

The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington D.C. overlooks the White House and Lafayette Square, and offers a very reasonably priced spring break package that is available from March through April of 2015. When choosing a must-visit destination that offers plenty to do on a dime, Washington D.C. should top the list for students traveling from the Philly area. A mere morning’s drive from the City of Brotherly Love, our nation’s capital offers an incredible amount of sights to see and things to do, and many of the most popular attractions are free! There is no charge to visit the Smithsonian or the National Zoo, for example, and self-guided walking tours through the plaza to see the many monuments and memorials are not only free of charge and highly informative, but make for some incredible backdrops for selfies, especially during the springtime when the famed cherry blossoms are in bloom.  

The Hotel Hershey
100 Hotel Road
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 533-2171
www.thehotelhershey.com

Sure, Disney World would be fun to visit over spring break, but just because Orlando is out of the question doesn’t mean you and your friends need to miss out on a fun theme park and hotel package. An assortment of coupons and online discounts are available to help you save when visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Sweetest Place on Earth, and there are also some excellent packages delivering sweet deals to visitors year-round. Go for one of the hotel/theme park packages and enjoy the perks that come with it, like the indoor pool, tennis and a number of other amenities available to you. Another popular (and free) attraction to sweeten the deal is Hershey’s Chocolate World, where you’ll discover plenty of shopping and tasty treats at an assortment of Hershey candy-themed venues.

Related: Top Weekend Getaways In The Philadelphia Area

Tioga State Forest’s Pine Creek Gorge
2053 Route 660
Wellsboro, PA 16901
(570) 724-0635
www.dcnr.state.pa.us

Pine Creek Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is a popular Pennsylvania destination for camping, hiking and exploring. Lodging choices range from hotels and motels to mountain lodges, camping and cabins. Hiking and camping options draw many to the area, not only because of the abundant, wide-open spaces to explore, but for the stunning views – it is known as the “Grand Canyon” after all. Other popular activities in the area once springtime arrives are horseback riding, boating, biking and fishing. The drive from the Philadelphia area is a scenic one and only takes a few hours to navigate.

The Westin Jersey City Newport
479 Washington Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07310
(201) 626-2900
www.westinjerseycitynewport.com

While it’s not the only reasonable option to consider when visiting the Big Apple – a number of hotels from uptown to Brooklyn are relatively inexpensive – lodging on the New Jersey side of the Hudson is often a better bang for the buck, even for top-notch venues like the Westin Jersey City Newport, located just across the river from NYC. For what you’ll save staying at the Westin – up to half of what it could cost you to stay in a similar hotel in Manhattan – guests can enjoy luxuriously appointed rooms and the stunning skyline as well as easy access to all NYC has to offer. From touristy destinations like Times Square and Central Park to window shopping, people watching and even some museum specials, visitors will find plenty to do that doesn’t cost a dime. Treat yourselves to dinner in a posh Manhattan eatery if it’s in the budget, but if not, you’ll find plenty of tasty and inexpensive fare from delis, pubs and even street vendors. Transportation is also reasonably priced if you stick to the buses and subway, although a cab ride in NYC (especially with friends along to share the fun and cost) is an experience in and of itself that you won’t want to miss.

Related: Top Cheap Holiday Escapes Near Philadelphia

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.