Last minute spring break vacation ideas

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February 23, 2007

7:37 PM

It’s Feb. 23, and as we approach the month of March, spring break is already creeping into the minds of scores of exam-weary students.

p. One problem: you haven’t made plans yet.

p. Sure, it’s been on your to do list for a while now, but somehow it just keeps getting pushed back in favor of the reading you can never seem to finish. Or perhaps Mug Night is the culprit. Regardless, with two weeks to go until the big week, you need a plan and fast.

p. A quick online check reveals a new problem: airplane ticket prices have skyrocketed and cruises have filled their guest lists. What is an fun-starved student to do?

p. Luckily, you’re almost certainly not the only poor, unfortunate soul in this dilemma. What would the point of this article be if that as the case? And lucky for you, there are several options still open.

p. Travelocity.com may be telling you that the beaches of sunny Florida are out of your financial reach this late in the game. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a roundtrip ticket to Florida or Cancun in the neighborhood of $400 to $600. But that doesn’t take into account hotel, food or, perhaps most importantly, beverage.

p. If you are set on the beach experience, you might want to look to the Outer Banks along the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. This is not peak season right now, so it’s likely that there are several decent houses still available for the week, not to mention at a discounted rate. Sure, the water may be cold, but with a handful of friends, you’re almost guaranteed a stress-free week.

p. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the Outer Banks, but don’t want to give up on the beach, check up north in Delaware. Like the Outer Banks, the beaches along Delaware’s coast are very popular summer vacation spots, but in the off-season, realtors are more interested in filling as many rental houses as they can, which means good prices. Although the commute is a bit farther from Williamsburg, Delaware has the added advantage of no sales tax, making shopping a popular pastime.

p. So what if the beach isn’t your thing in early March? Perhaps a road trip would better suit your preferences. Like the movie of the same name, hilarity is almost guaranteed to ensue on any trip involving friends on the open road. Bonus points if you have a far-fetched goal, like retrieving a poorly conceived revenge sex tape accidentally sent to your girlfriend across the country.

p. More likely, though, your trip could involve several stops, at which you spend a day or so before moving on to the next. A good way to accomplish this is to string together home cities of several friends. That way, you’ve got a guide and free lodging.

p. Another option is the marathon car trip with a single destination where you stay for a few mostly sleepless nights before packing up and returning home. An excellent destination for this latter form of road tripping is Montreal. Roughly a 12-hour drive from the Williamsburg area, Montreal has many attractions, especially for the under-21, crowd given the fact that the legal drinking age is 18. If you’re among the age challenged, Montreal may be the perfect city for you; that is, if you can stand the frigid temperatures.

p. If you’re simply interested in escaping the wintry weather, south is probably the only direction to go. Baseball fans know that Major League Baseball’s spring training is underway.

p. By the time break rolls around, the pre-season exhibition games will have started. If you’re a sports fan, entertain the thought of road tripping down to catch a few games. Tickets are generally easy to come by and are far cheaper than those you’ll find during the regular season. The games offer a far more intimate setting than you’ll find in big league stadiums and the experience is entirely different than a regular Major League game.

p. For a shorter road trip, find your closest Northern Virginia friend (you’ve got to have at least a few) and suggest a trip to the nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. is a city full of touristy activities. The museums that make up the National Mall are all free, as are the monuments and art galleries. Other popular museums, such as the Holocaust Museum and the Spy Museum, are also possible stops. However, take note that the Spy Museum has an entry fee, while the Holocaust Museum only allows a set number of people inside for a given time slot.

p. In addition to its regular attractions, the District is also currently hosting the Shakespeare In Washington festival at the Kennedy Center. The festival features interpretations of the Bard’s work through the media of theater, music, dance, film and art. So, if “The Tempest” or “Romeo and Juliet” are your cup of tea, perhaps this is the vacation destination for you. For more information on the Kennedy Center’s Shakespeare programming, check out Kennedy-Center.org.

p. Washington will also play host to the Washington, D.C. International Food and Wine Festival March 9 through March 11 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which is close to the National Mall. Ticket prices are a bit steep at $65 for a single day ticket or $85 for both days, but the festival promises to be a high-end event, and should be considered by the aspiring gourmets among us. For more information on this event, check Wine-expos.com/dc.

p. For those looking to escape the city and civilization, this next trip might be more up your alley. Check out a few backpacks and some camping equipment from the Rec Center and go backpacking through the Shenandoah Valley. There are seemingly endless trails running through the mountains and the valley, leaving the possibilities for an outdoorsy trip completely up in the air.

p. While the weather will probably be chilly, taking such a trip will help you escape from the stresses of academia, at least for the week you’ll be trundling through the wilderness. Be advised, though, that there are some costs associated with this trip, including the equipment rental, passes to get into the park and overnight permits.

p. With spring break arriving in two weeks, the time to finalize your plans is now. Use one of these ideas, modify one to make your own plans or simply come up with one of your own. Whatever you do, don’t be the only person at the Green Leafe for Mug Night come March 11.

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