By Alyssa Murray, staff writer
Spring Break (March 4-11 this academic year) is always highly anticipated and majorly expensive. Finding a fun spot to relax and enjoy yourself while also staying on a budget is not exactly the easiest thing to do. It may seem long away now, but it will be here before you know it.
College kids are typically on the strictest budgets but have the most energy to go out and have fun. So, how can we find the perfect place? This list is your new bible. Find the ideal destination for you and your friends to visit this Spring Break to relax (or not relax whatsoever) all while not breaking the bank.
The drive may take a while, but just pack your best friends into your car (Don’t forget the aux cord.) and the time will pass before you even know it. Get planning ASAP. The sooner you book hotels, the cheaper it will be.
- Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This bustling ocean-side city is only about a five-hour drive from Keyser and offers tons of things to do, no matter the time of day. Spend hours surfing, shopping, enjoying the world-famous Boardwalk, fishing, etc. Don’t miss Steel Pier, a 1,000-foot pier offering plenty of amusement rides and games. It may still be a little cold part of the time you’re in town so bring warmer clothes just in case. But don’t worry, even if it’s too cold to swim, you’ll still find endless amounts of things to do no matter the temperature. Plus, if you are 21, enjoy the casinos the city has to offer.
Your best bet for cheap-yet-decent hotels would be to stay somewhere a little outside of the main drag. You’ll still be close to the attractions but won’t be spending hundreds per night. Expect to spend around $700 total for decent lodging for the entire week. It may seem like a lot but split with just four other friends and you only need to contribute $140.
- Washington, D.C.
If the beach isn’t exactly how you’d like to spend your week of freedom, D.C. may be the spot for you. It’s not as rowdy as the packed beach cities will be and will still offer fun attractions and things to do in our nation’s capital. You won’t be bored in this town that is only two hours and 45 minutes from Keyser.
Obviously, the museums must be mentioned. Be sure to check out the Museum of Natural History and the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Botanical Gardens and the National Zoo are also great places to spend the day. Catch a concert at the Fillmore or the Verizon Center, visit the iconic Washington Monument, try to see the president outside of the White House, or check out the countless art galleries scattered in the city. The Renwick Gallery and the Zenith Gallery are must-sees. You might even get to see the famous Cherry Blossoms. The greatest part? Almost all of these attractions are free.
Lodging won’t be too expensive if you stay in a city right outside of DC and catch the metro in. You can find places for about $650 per week, only $158 for you if you bring three more friends.
- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Bad news first: This Smokey Mountain city is seven hours away from Keyser. Good news: it’s worth the drive. Are you a thrill-seeker? Yes? Keep reading. Pigeon Forge has almost everything you can imagine to get your adrenaline pumping, all tucked away in Tennessee mountains. You can bungee jump, race go-karts, try the alpine coaster, indoor skydive, zip line, the list goes on and on.
Be surrounded by the beautiful Smokey Mountains and have a blast. Lodging here can be extremely cheap if you enjoy camping. Tent camp for as little as $24 a night or upgrade to a cabin for only $58 per night so you can save your money for the tons of attractions.
UPDATE (November 30, 2016): This area is currently experiencing wild fires. Call in advance to see what attractions are open.
- New York, New York
I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t this supposed to be a list of places we can afford?” But, hear me out. New sites like Airbnb.com make staying in NYC actually affordable on a budget for pretty much the first time ever. If you’re willing to share most of the apartment with the owners while still having your own private room, this trip is completely doable.
Although obviously a little pricier than the other places, you can find an amazing spot to stay for as little as $800 for the whole week. Split that with just three of your friends and you pay $200 to stay in NYC for an entire week. Start saving now so you can stroll Central Park, visit the top of the Empire State Building, and of course see Times Square and its Naked Cowboy.
5. Panama City Beach, Florida
This is the mecca of spring break destinations. Yes, it’s far away, a little over 14 hours away to be exact. But let’s face it: it’s worth it. Make a road trip out of it, take turns driving, create a road trip playlist, and hit the road. Leave early Saturday morning around 6 a.m. and you’ll be there by 9 p.m. Yeah, a whole day of driving isn’t necessarily the most fun thing, but it’s worth it for a week in the warm weather and Florida sun.
Prepare to do lots of partying and be social. You’ll have the opportunity to meet thousands of other college kids from around the world in town for the same reason you are. Mingle, swim in the Gulf of Mexico, go clubbing at night, shop at the hundreds of stores, or enjoy a day at the waterpark. I guarantee you’ll not be bored for a single minute in this city during Spring Break.
Budget about $550-$600 to stay for a week in a condo. The more friends you bring, the less money you’ll spend. Go on, invite everyone.
These five different spots offer different activities. Enjoy a week at the beach, in the woods, adventuring, thrill-seeking, or shopping in the city. Get planning now, start saving your money, invite all your friends and get excited for spring break. It will be here before you know it!