Spring Break three different ways
By Keith Still
Spring Break. From the earliest days of kindergarten, we are conditioned to anticipate the annual spring holiday. We look forward to it. We count down the bleak mid-winter days until that breath of fresh Spring Break air arrives. It’s our reward for all of those mornings standing out at the bus stop in the cold and the dark.
Then we go off to college, and Spring Break takes on a whole new meaning. It’s no longer a few days off with the chance for a small vacation. It’s a weeklong party designed to blow off the collective steam of thousands of collegians at once. It’s an American bacchanalia, held wherever they will let us get away with this kind of behavior – but preferably with a warm beach nearby.
Obviously, not every college student rushes off to MTV-style Spring Break locations, but you would be hard-pressed to find a single student who isn’t looking forward to a few days away from the books – especially right now, in mid-February.
Given those years of Spring Break conditioning, it’s no wonder that even as adults far removed from the rigors of school many of us still have the urge to nip out for a few days come March or April.
If you’re eyeing a vernal getaway, here are a few things to keep in mind – as well as few places to consider.
- First, unless you’re a college student, you probably want to avoid booking a Spring Break trip in early March. That’s when most universities are having their break, and places like Cancun and Panama City Beach will be crawling with partygoers. If you’re in college, you’re probably already aware of (and have booked accommodations) Cancun’s and PCB’s reputations. If you can’t make it to either of those, other popular college student destinations this year include South Padre Island, Miami, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Punta Cana.
- Second, because of Easter’s late date in 2011, this is the year that Spring Break meets Mardi Gras for one massive party in New Orleans. Those Mardi Gras/Spring Break stars won’t align like that again until March 2038 – so enjoy the party this year.
- If you have schoolchildren, your getaway time will likely come a little later in the spring – around the first week of April. That means temperatures at the beach – and in general – will be a little warmer, which will make it easier to get outside for any number of family-friendly activities. The many attractions of Orlando, including the Walt Disney World and Universal theme parks, are a huge Spring Break destination for good reason. It’s a great time of year to be in central Florida – warm, but not unbearably hot. That said, everyone else thinks so too – so be prepared for crowds.
- Other family-friendly options – with perhaps fewer crowds – include Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (no beach, but you do get the attractions of Dollywood and the nearby mountains), Chattanooga, Tenn. (the Tennessee Aquarium and other riverside attractions, combined with the iconic Chattanooga Choo-Choo will keep the whole family entertained), Washington, D.C. or the many family-friendly beaches along the Georgia, South Carolina and Florida coasts.
- If you’re not in school and you’re not bound to a child’s school calendar, then you may have the best pick of spring vacation spots. You can hit the traditional SB sites like Panama City and Cancun in the off-weeks this spring, take in the sun and fun, avoid the sheer madness and probably pay a little less than the college kids. Or you can hit Orlando just before or after the grammar school kids are out on break and enjoy the rides among more manageable crowds.
- You can also do what a lot of people are beginning to do. They’re making non-traditional Spring Break destinations their tradition by heading to colder climes, where skiing or rugged outdoor adventures take the place of sunning, partying or standing online for Splash Mountain. Think Montreal, Colorado, Utah or Vancouver.
Where are you spending your Spring Break? When did you begin planning your trip? How did you decide where to go? What are your Spring Break prerequisites?