Spring Breaking Off the Beaten Path - Spring Break Week

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Courtney Garcia

Everyone’s looking for a good time over spring break, but not everyone has the same idea of what kind of adventure they’re looking for. For some, it’s one of peace and quiet while others aim for bottomless cocktails and raging music. Whether you’re on the hunt for upscale extravagance or extreme low maintenance, here are some options to suit a variety of moods and goals, from climbing high peaks to surfing abbreviated tides. Go prepared to toast the good times and relish the brief taste of freedom, and beware of a few trips along the way.

Cheers to the end of winter!

Cultural Exploration: Guatemala

Parque Central in Quetzaltenango, Gatemala, known as “Xela” among locals. Photo by John Barrie.

Not as typical as Mexico, yet not as expensive as South America, this Central American region offers warm temperatures, ethnic food, and an expansive take on the arts and history of the earliest civilizations. From the remnants of Mayan ancestry to the daunting religious peaks, Guatemala’s archaeological sites are closely rivaled by its dramatic terrain, with three volcanoes draping its famed town of Antigua. There are markets to carouse, rituals to observe, and a wealth of Hispanic food to feast on along the journey.

Don’t miss: The secret Mayan villages hidden in the Cuchumatanes Mountains.

Watch out for: Thieves hiding in the brush, waiting to pick your pockets.

Supreme R&R: St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Hawksnest Bay in St. John, the Virgin Islands. Photo by Skellig2008.

Affordable yet serene, St. John shies away from the popular attention of its neighboring harbors, offering more flora and fauna and less commotion and tourist traps. Snorkeling, hiking, and sipping cocktails on the beach are all a go, and there are great local restaurants to sample the fresh catches of the day.

Don’t miss: A day at Trunk Bay Underwater Trail, the prime area for coral reef, and also a common spot to see a sea turtle float by amidst a plethora of fish.

Watch out for: Overpriced restaurants hoping to capitalize on left over traffic from its more commercialized relative, St. Thomas.

Crazy, Good Times: Panama City, Florida

Panama City Beach at St. Andrews’ State Park in Florida. Photo by Ray Devlin.

If you’re going for the party, though it’s painful to say, this Floridian trademark destination for Spring Breakers may be your best bet. A guaranteed rave, it’s hard to even navigate the trip without a little buzz in your system, and it falls into the MTV mayhem world of drink and dance till you drop, morning, noon, and night.

Don’t miss: Take a drive down the main drag at night – that, in itself, is an event. Windows down, music up — it’s tacky but hilarious, and you’ll undoubtedly make a few friends along the strip.

Watch out for: Alcohol poisoning. It may not be you, it may not even be someone you know, but you will face it eventually no matter where you go.

Knocking Off Your To-Do List: Vegas

The Las Vegas strip in the present-day. Photo by xiquinhosilva.

Everyone has to go at some point in their life, thus, spring break provides ample opportunity to indulge in this glittering spectacle. You’ll waste a lot of money, partake in gaudy senselessness, and have the time of your life doing so. There’s something for everyone in Sin City, from cheap motels to thematic resorts; music, live shows, and of course, endless lines of slot machines. Travel to make a dollar or lose one, or just enjoy all the ways you can spend it.

Don’t miss: Mike Tyson’s one-man show, The Undisputed Truth, running for a week in April at the MGM Grand. The former boxing extraordinaire is practically a walking advertisement for the city, so it will be interesting to witness if nothing else.

Watch out for: The grunge… It’s Vegas – it’s gonna be dirty.

Most Well-Rounded Experience: Cancun

Cancun, Mexico. Photo by Mutant Monkey.

Margaritas, sunshine, blue water, and white sand — Cancun’s got tranquility during the day, and vibrancy at night. Because of the wide range of sites to see, this Mexican hotspot draws a diverse crowd of people; yet its prime demographic is the young and restless, ready to go hard and bask hung-over in the sun. If you stick around town, you’ll keep with the party, but just outside the edges are historic sites to visit and trails to wander for a more culturally-enriching affair.

Don’t miss: Take a day trip to Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan capital; it comes complete with an observatory, ball court and castle.

Watch out for: Less than Grade-A health conditions.

Adventure: The Sequoias

Sequoia National Park along the Crescent Meadow Trail. Photo by bumeister1.

Beware of the bears in this California wilderness; there are many and they are not afraid to make their presence known, though it’s a bit of thrill at the same time. The Sequoias are an excellent place to go camping, as the woods give way to clearings perfect for a campfire and grill. Throughout this national park, there are day-long hiking trails, waterfalls and rivers to swim through, and the full gamut of natural history before your eyes.

Don’t miss: The trees of course! The ancient sequoias are 2,000 to 3,000 years old and some are wider than several cars put together.

Watch out for: Mosquitos. They are even worse than the bears.

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