The Daily Cardinal 2015 Spring Break Travel Guide
The Daily Cardinal has the scoop on how to have the most fun, adventurous, inexpensive and/or sloppy spring break ever.
The Best of the Midwest
Forgo long car rides, delayed flights, complex packing lists and beaches filled with drunk freshmen and take a staycation this spring break. Use your free week to check out things around Madison you’ve always wanted to see but never had the time while classes are going on, like catching a Madison Capitols hockey game, going on a craft brewery tour, strolling around the Olbrich Botanical Gardens or biking the UW-Madison Arboretum. If you’re getting cabin fever, a Bucks game, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (“the Domes”) in Brew City are just a Badger Bus ride away.
Have access to a car? Drive west to hike and snowshoe Devil’s Lake State Park. Skiing and snowboarding is just a short car ride away, too, at Cascade Mountain; drive further north to explore the Apostle Islands frozen sea caves at the tip of the state. If warm temperatures are still what you’re after, though (even if they’re technically indoors), take your pick from one of the many resorts at the Wisconsin Dells. Depending on where you go and what you do around the state, your break could cost little to nothing.
Although Chicago is not the typical tropical place most spring breakers dream of, it definitely has its fair share of sights to see. One of the best things to do in Chicago is spend a day inside the famous Shedd Aquarium, which houses hundreds of sea creatures. General admission is $8. Another exciting place to visit in the Windy City is Navy Pier, which hosts several free music, art and cultural festivals in the winter. Plus, you can still ride on the legendary 150-foot Ferris wheel this time of year for $7. If you’re on a strict budget, check out the Lincoln Park Zoo, which has free admission.
There are several affordable hotels around Chicago to stay in during your visit, one being the Hilton Chicago, which offers rooms starting at only $99 a night. If you’re not picky about your accommodations (you’ll be out on the town all day anyway, right?), a bed in a shared room in a hostel downtown starts at about $32 a night. Food and drink, a hotel room, gas money/Amtrak fare and “L” fare for a week-long visit to Chicago can start at around $450, depending on how financially savvy you are and how many friends you bring along for the trip.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Spring break is a time to get away from campus and release the stress inflicted by classes. It’s as easy as crossing the state border to have a relaxing time off, on a limited budget. Taking any of the buses from Madison over to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota this upcoming break can offer an inexpensive way to go explore one of the most up-and-coming areas in the country.
The Twin Cities offers a simple public transportation route through St. Paul to Minneapolis with their light rail system. The light rail gives easy access to popular sights such as Mall of America, Walker Art Museum (famous for their statue park), Guthrie Theater and an unique selection of bars and restaurants within downtown Minneapolis. Whether a concert at First Avenue or a Timberwolves game at Target Center sounds more pleasing, Minneapolis can offer an urbanized feel with the relaxation of home. Plan on spending about $600 during your trip; you can snag a shared hostel room for about $45 a night, or find a hotel room downtown starting around $110 a night and split the cost with friends.
The Rest of the United States
Florida is an ideal spring break destination, especially for people who like booze, sex and swampland. There are options in the Sunshine State that range from Disney to disgusting, each with its own perks.
Known colloquially as PCB, Panama City Beach is the perfect place for anyone without self-respect. If you love meeting fratstars while nearly naked on a beach and drinking aloe vera martinis, or if you’re simply ballin’ on a budget, PCB is the place for you. One hotel room to share with all seven of the friends you pretend to like will only cost $59 or less per person and drinks are free as long as your bikini bod is up to par.
For uppity college students who don’t like drinking or would rather escape into their past than drink their way out of a future, Walt Disney World can be a #tbt to remember. Disney can certainly break the bank with rooms starting at $200 per night and tickets to the parks just over half that amount with tax, but your friends and you will have fun flashing cast members to skip the lines. Plan on spending at least $650 if Florida is your spring break destination.
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre, being a top college spring break destination, offers plenty of opportunities to meet new friends whilst meandering tipsy across the beach. Plus, fresh seafood—need I say more?
This doesn’t have to be your average sunburnt, sand in your pants, tequila-soaked spring break trip, though. Celebrate surviving half of the semester by combining two of your favorite things, food and drink, and driving down to sunny South Padre with plenty of famous food stops on the way there.
Because you’re a poor college students and can’t afford airfare, make the best out of your driving situation by making the ride down a trip in itself, and hit up all the cool cafés and restaurants you see on television. Check out TVFoodMaps.com, a website that allows you to type in your trip and map out all the best restaurants near you that have been featured on shows like “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.” It’s every inner fat girl’s dream.
An online hotel deal, gas, food and drink split four ways comes out to around $500 per person, although you may not fit into your bikinis by the time you get there.
Road trip out West
Escape to the wilderness this spring break with a road trip out West. Fortunately for all you poor college students out there—is there any other kind of college student?—checking out some of the best national parks, monuments and roadside attractions the region has to offer will keep your wallet comfily padded, as admission to several are free and the rest only about $5-$12 a person. Early on in your trip, hit up the Spam Museum in Minnesota and the legendary Corn Palace in South Dakota—because why not?—then make your way toward Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore with a quick stop at the infamous Wall Drug on the way. Crazy Horse Memorial, Little Bighorn National Monument and herds of buffalo await you down the road a ways. Turn around and make your way back to Madison after you explore Yellowstone National Park.
Find cutesy motels and hostels off the highway to snooze at; they’ll run you anywhere from $25 to $90 a night. Taking into consideration food, gas, room fees, admission to attractions and kitschy souvenirs, a trip out West with a group of friends can start at about $350 a person if you plan ahead, making this trip one of the more affordable, peaceful spring break options out there.
—Haley HenschelSubscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter