Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Springbreak Destinations

Part of allowing your teens to “grow up” and spread their wings can be scary, but eventually they will leave the nest.  Most teens love to hit the beaches of Florida or some coasts with water.  But what happens if they don’t want a beach break?

20 Spring Break Ideas for People who Hat the Beach

Let’s face it: spring break is pretty played out. We’ve long since passed the point where doing anything depicted on MTV’s Spring Break coverage looks like fun; there are only so many red Solo cups full of trashcan punch one can drink before wondering if there isn’t something better out there. The answer for college students is yes, yes there is. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways to spend your spring break that have nothing to do with beaches or any of the stereotypical destinations that attract most visitors. If you hate the heat and sand, are tired of the same old thing, or are just looking for a more personalized experience, consider one of these trips.
  1. Las Vegas: All the same basic levels of debauchery, just with better food and drink options. Las Vegas, like any good addiction, is always ready to take you back after you’ve been away for a while. It doesn’t matter if you drive all night to get there or take a quick flight; Vegas makes for a great way to blow off some academic steam for a few days. You don’t even have to be a high roller. Hit the cheap tables, kick it old school on Fremont Street, and enjoy yourself.
  2. New York City: New York is not without its flaws, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to get away for a few days. Obviously, NYC is not an ideal spring break destination for anyone looking to escape crowds. But if you’re tired of the beach scene and looking to ornament your March holidays with good food and smart culture, you could do a lot worse than New York. Pro tip: eat at The Meatball Shop.
  3. Road trips: What’s more collegiate than a road trip? Everyone from Otter Stratton to Homer Simpson has taken one. The beauty is that you don’t need to do much planning. Aside from making sure you’ve got enough cash and supplies, and that your car can survive a week on the road, this is one of the least structured and most spontaneous spring break plans you can make. And thanks to the proliferations of smart phones, it’s even easier to navigate yourself out of potentially confusing bits of wilderness. The journey is the destination here.
  4. The Grand Canyon: No one can ever be prepared for how staggeringly huge the Grand Canyon is. It’s almost 300 miles long, stretches up to 18 miles wide, and goes as deep as a mile down into the Earth. A legit contender for Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grand Canyon is one of those things most Americans think of fondly but never take the time to see in person. Don’t make that mistake. Whether you road trip out to the desert or stay in a nearby town (and there are plenty to choose from in multiple states, thanks to the sheer size of the canyon), it’s worth taking a week to get out there.
  5. Big Bend: Big Bend National Park is located in that weird crook out in west Texas that dips south and then north again along the border of Mexico. The park covers more than 800,000 acres and boasts geographical and temperate extremes that make for interesting visits. It’s one of the largest parks in the U.S. but also one of the least visited, meaning a spring camping trip here is like getting your own private planet.
  6. Disney parks: Yes, Disney parks are located near beaches (Anaheim, Orlando), but they’re so huge that you’ll never see the sand. These aren’t mere theme parks, either, but full-on vacation experiences. Pony up a few bucks to stay at an on-campus hotel (or one of the resorts), and you’ll start to forget there’s a world outside. Just don’t eat too many treats before going on the Teacups.
  7. Washington, D.C.: Our nation’s capital makes for a great destination for students, mixing compelling history with even more compelling free tourist spots. Tons of museums, restaurants, and chances to get a feel for how the country got its start.
  8. Wisconsin Dells: Wisconsin Dells only boasts a metro population of 5,000 people, but it bills itself as the water park capital of the world thanks to the indoor and outdoor parks that cover close to 70 acres. The outdoor ones are probably closed during spring break — even if they aren’t, it’s probably too cold in Wisconsin in March to use them — but that won’t stop you from using the indoor parks. A great spring break destination for anyone who just wants to take a week off and be a kid again. Seriously.
  9. Dude ranches: Granted, the phrase “dude ranch” tends to call to mind superficial, cheap tourist traps or the kinds of gimmicks seen in films like City Slickers. But getting away for a week on an actual ranch can be a great way to see the country and rack up experiences far more interesting and affecting than just going to a beach town and partying. Yes, you’ll probably wind up doing some actual work on your holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to do something outside your normal routine.
  10. Theme park resorts: It’s not just Disney’s world any more. Staying at a theme park resort is tricky but not impossible on a student budget, especially if you go in with several friends to split the costs. Better service and much cleaner than your standard spring break beach vacation, which should be more than enough to sell you on the prospect.
  11. Ski trips: Mid-March isn’t too late to get some skiiing done. In fact, you can often get milder temperatures and a nice snow pack. It’s late enough in the season that you can avoid most other tourists. Plus how often does anyone think of going skiiing for spring break? The fact that it’s outside the box means you’re likely to have a lot more fun and make more lasting memories than the students who slog down to the beach like everyone else.
  12. London: If you haven’t been using Student Universe, you’re missing out. The site verifies you’re a student and offers accordingly lower air fare, which makes spring break getaways to places like London feasible for those with typically skimpy student bank accounts. Crash in a hostel, see some historic landmarks, and travel to a place you might never see again.
  13. Italian countryside: If you’re looking at Europe, consider Italy. Tons of small towns and villas to visit and stay in, affordable (and amazing) food, and gorgeous weather. Just don’t forget to go back to school when the week is over.
  14. See the Mall of America: Because what’s more American than paying homage to mass consumerism? Although it’s the second largest mall in the country in terms of actual floor space, it’s the biggest in terms of stores, boasting more than 520 retail outlets ready to take you off your coin. The movie theater has motion seats. There’s a flight simulator and a roller coaster. It demands to be seen and reckoned with.
  15. San Diego Zoo: If you’re into wildlife, the San Diego Zoo is a must. With more than 4,000 animals across 800 species on 107 acres, the sprawling facility is one of the biggest and best in the world. Popular exhibits include the panda research station and monkey trails.
  16. The Thing: Located in the middle of the Arizona desert of I-10, there’s a rest stop and convenience store with an attraction titled simply The Thing. The Thing isn’t necessarily life-changing — it’s surrounded by rooms of similar junk — but half the fun of seeing it is getting there. Makes for a great road trip idea. Speaking of trips…
  17. See weird American landmarks: … there’s often nothing better than hitting the open road to explore just how weird the country can be. If you’re looking for road trip ideas, or if you just want to see unusual sites near where you live, sites like Roadside America can help you come with up good ideas. Trips like these are always way more interesting than beach vacations.
  18. Graceland: There’s carpet on the ceiling. On the ceiling! Graceland is still preserved to look the way it did when Elvis died in August 1977, which means it’s shag-tastic and gloriously tacky. There are different levels of tours you can take, so you don’t have to blow all your cash on the King, but this cornball American palace is not to be missed.
  19. The Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail is more than 2,100 miles long; needless to say, this is not something you can just breeze through during spring break. But it covers so much ground and is easily accessed from so many states that it’s perfect for weekend- or week-long excursions. The official site can help you plan your trip.
  20. Volunteer: If you want to do something really different with your spring break, you can volunteer your time and give back to your community. There are dozens of charity groups that organize spring break campaigns for college students (Habitat for Humanity is just one), and your counselor can direct you to more. It’s a great way to share your time with those less fortunate.
Special contributor: Florine Church of College Crunch

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