Whether it’s from hearing crazy stories in the news or seeing a stream of tropical Instagram photos, you probably know that March is the month when college students go on their spring break. In some ways, the middle weeks of March are not the best time to travel, as hordes of wild, drunken young people clog up everything from beach resorts to airports. However, March and April can be a nice time to get away, because it is a sort of halfway point in the canyon between the holidays and the arrival of summer, making a vacation the perfect way to break up the late-winter blahs.
If you feel like you need a break just as much as any college student (probably more), then check out three destinations that are perfect for a spring getaway.
Although it doesn’t involve the sun, sand, and surf that is normally associated with spring break, Boston is a great place to visit in March, and the reason actually has to do with college students. Boston has the highest percentage of students per capita of any city in the US, so when they’ve all flown south it becomes a tourist’s dream as there are no attraction lines or crowded subway cars to be found.
Boston is perhaps best known for its role in the American independence movement, but experiencing its history in a few days can be daunting, as practically every downtown street has a least one building that served as a secret meeting room or housed a famous patriot. The best way to take it all in in just a few hours is to go on the Freedom Trail Tour.
For less than 20 bucks, a guide will walk you around Boston’s most historic neighborhoods and will point out 11 famous sites, including the church where the Boston Tea Party was planned and the square where the Boston Massacre took place. The guides are regular comedians and manage to interweave current events into their presentation so even people who aren’t history buffs will have a great time.
Many of the tours end at Faneuil Hall, a marketplace and meetinghouse built in Colonial times that now serves as the city’s best food market. Inside the stunning stone building, you’ll stroll through rows and rows of everything from lunch and dinner fare to desserts and edible gifts. While deciding what to eat will seem nearly impossible, you can’t go wrong by sticking to seafood, especially the clam chowder, as Boston’s harborside location ensures that it’s always fresh and delicious. Before you leave, make sure to stroll around the area surrounding the market, as it is filled with a nice mix of chain stores, souvenir shops, and boutiques, making it a perfect place to shop for yourself or others back at home.
Once you have done the tour and visited the Faneuil Hall, you’ll probably want to be done with touristy areas for a while. To get a more authentic sense of Boston, had back to Boston Common, where the Freedom Tour began. The common can be thought of as Boston’s version of Central Park, as it is centrally located and always filled with people strolling, sunning, and just enjoying a little spot of nature in the city. As you walk through, admire the elegant homes and gold-domed statehouse, and also think about the history of where you are, as the common is the country’s oldest park.
While you’re in Boston, you can also check out the Boston Common, or Boston’s Central Park. It’s a perfect spot of nature in the big city. The Common leads right into Newbury Street, a shopping and dining hub for tourists and locals alike. It’s the perfect place to end your trip!
St. Simons Island, GA
If it’s still chilly where you’re from, though (or worse yet, if there’s still snow), you might want to go somewhere that has the feel of a traditional spring break destination. A group of small islands off the southern coast of Georgia fit the bill, as they have a distinct resort feel yet do not attract raucous spring break crowds. While you can easily visit many different islands, it is most convenient to stay on St. Simons Island, which is the largest and most developed.
St. Simons also has the most to do of all the islands.
The highlight is the downtown area, known as The Village. There, you’ll find a collection of pastel-colored storefronts containing charming boutiques that sell preppy, coastal-themed wares. You’ll also find brunch spots serving breakfast favorites in southern-style portions and award-winning seafood restaurants. The Village is also walking distance to many of the island’s best attractions, such as a pier offering amazing water views and a historic lighthouse.
The historical event that St. Simons is best known for, though, is the Battle of Bloody Marsh, during which British colonists prevented the Spanish, who occupied Florida, from advancing further into what would become the US. You can learn about the battle at the site where it occurred, and can also experience the fort and town that grew up during the tense years of conflict between the two colonial powers at Fort Frederica National Monument.
If you only get to one of the other islands that are less than an hour from St. Simons, make sure that it's Jekyll. During the Gilded Age, this small island was the private playground of the rich and famous, as nearly every one of the country's wealthiest families, from the Vanderbilts to the Rockefellers, spent time there. The center of life on the island, both then and now, is the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, which, as the name suggests, was once a country club and is now a luxury hotel. Inside the hotel, you can see pictures and read material on the time when it was the place where the country's most powerful people came to dine, play sports, and participate in the social scene. If you want a more in-depth explanation of the island's past, visit the museum, which is only steps from the hotel. If it isn't spring break without a beach in your mind, Jekyll can help out.
There are many beaches to check out, but the one that cannot be missed is Driftwood Beach, as it is littered with massive pieces of wood and even whole downed trees that have been bleached by the water. The beach's unique scenery makes it photography gold, as well. You can even post your photos on Instagram to feel, just for a minute, like a college student on spring break.
Some destinations let you return home truly feeling better than before you left (meaning you won't have an extra five pounds as a vacation souvenir as with traditional college spring breaks). The destination resort and spa Travaasa Austin is one of those places. Just miles from downtown Austin (which also provides an oasis from the busy South By Southwest festival that Austin hosts in March), it not only allows you the space to reflect but also offer programs that can help you discover new interests or jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.
You can try outdoor adventures (such as the Prickly Pear Challenge Course); cooking classes (using veggies from their onsite farm); cultural encounters (learn the Texas Two-Step); fitness classes (they offer a mechanical bull-riding workout); and wellness workshops (such as breath work). Or find your Zen with an energy balancing and healing spa treatment or admire the view overlooking 210 acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and Lake Travis.