Last Minute Spring Break Ideas
Okay, so you didn't have the couple grand you needed to get to that beach Cabana in Punta Cana, or you forgot to reserve your room at South Beach's famous Fontainebleu hotel in Miami, or you just couldn't figure out any feasible plans and now it's the week before spring break and you are stuck muddling around campus. Well I am here to tell you: do not fret, my friend! While I cannot offer you an all-expenses paid vacation to Belize, I can give you my personal recommendations for some last minute, low budget trips that will spice up your week of schoolwork freedom. Although the destinations I have selected will be a divergence from the typical spring break experience, I guarantee that you can make these ventures just as fun (if not more so) than lying on a sunny Jamaican beach. So while your roommate may be sipping some ridiculously overpriced fruity frozen in Puerto Rico, you can be lounging in a posh SoHo loft after a day on 5th Avenue, eating at one of America's best restaurants or sipping cocktails next to Kim Kardashian. And did I mention saving a boatload of money? All of the locations I have selected are all easily accessible via use of one the East Coast's finest qualities: cheap transportation! (Hello Megabus!) So grab a couple of friends who, like you, are sadly sulking around campus and get to planning a long weekend (or maybe even a whole week), exploring and taking advantage of the East Coast. Get ready to start writing your "wish you were here" postcards.
New York, N.Y.
New York, New York. (Can't you almost hear Frank Sinatra's crooning in your ear?) There really is no place like the Big Apple and we are lucky enough to be just a little skip away from the city that never sleeps. (Thanks Megabus and BoltBus!) I could easily write a travel guide now of all the "must sees" in New York (insert descriptions about the Chrysler building, Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty, Broadway, etc., etc.), but you've probably heard enough about those to decide whether you care to go or not. That said, I'm going to give my personal favorites as far as places to stay, places to eat and cost-friendly activities. For a city that never sleeps, its "temporary residing" options are limitless - yet not always cost-friendly. If you have a larger budget to play with, the famous Waldorf Astoria is my favorite place to temporarily call home in N.Y. Great location and - here's my favorite part - you're bound to meet at least five, if not 500, incredibly fascinating people in their breathtaking lobby alone. The Waldorf boasts an unsurpassable old world elegance that screams "New York" and oozes luxurious timelessness. However, as I mentioned before, it typically comes with a rather lofty price tag; but you're in luck yet again. The rates start at about $260/night during spring break time. If that is still a little steep for you budget, you can stray from the mainstream and rent a room in the 2,500 square foot SoHo loft that's been featured in the New York Times as well as Elle Magazine France. The loft itself is fantastic - as is its location. Rates for double occupancy start at $160/night, but don't shy away from asking about last minute deals (chances are you'll luck out again). Take advantage of the limitless activities that offer a student discount, such as the Modern Museum of Art, where there is a great Picasso guitar exhibition going on now until June and the New York City Ballet. Strolling Times Square, 5th Avenue and Central Park are always great sources for entertainment and they don't cost a cent. All that walking is bound to work up an appetite and while in New York I always have an appetite for Tasti D Lite, which runs a number of chains throughout NYC. I refer to the stuff as edible heaven - it's like soft serve ice cream that supposedly has a ridiculously small amount of calories. They have 100 to 200 different flavors and a various eight or so are offered daily. I would live here if they let me. If cupcakes are your thing, hit up Babycake's bakery at 248 Broome Street. This all-natural organic vegan bakery will forever change the way you think about healthy food. And for a phenomenal dinner and afterhours spot all in one, Butter Restaurant is your place (414 Lafayette Street, just blocks from NYU and Washington Square Park). It is a rare spot that has mastered the skill of having both suburb food as well as a great scene for the nights that you don't want to play "low-key."
Washington, D.C., our country's fine capital and home to some of the most important American monuments, artifacts and so much more. Unfortunately the "so much more" side of D.C. is often never experienced by the typical, well-intentioned tourist. You, my friend, will not be that traveler. The Lincoln Memorial, White House, Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery and the other 100 or so well-known places I don't have space to type are great to do and see by day, but there is so much else to see and explore in D.C.! The best way to get to there is via Megabus, using the city's public transportation for getting around day-to-day. When looking for some shuteye, the are a great option. All three of the Dupont Inns boast convenient locations to public transportation, great accommodations and incredible prices. Rooms start at $100/night, but last minute deals are offered. A great place to go that will forever change your perception of museums is the International Spy Museum, which virtually everyone will find intriguing. As far as food goes, the Palena and the Palena Café (3529 Connecticut Ave. Northwest) are regarded as two of the best eateries in the area and the prices are very moderate in comparison to the other famed D.C. restaurants. Now, to continue my being the inadvertent unofficial advocate of cupcakes, go to Georgetown Cupcakes (3301 M Street Northwest), if only for the experience. Infamous for their lunch hour lines and famous for their varying cupcake flavors, Georgetown Cupcakes has become a D.C. staple. When dusk falls, no better place to roam than the Georgetown area, the trendiest area of D.C. for 20-somethings and Georgetown University students. Try out the club Modern (3287 M Street) for a little European flair that will make you forget you're still on the East Coast. For a place that is an example of dual-purpose at its finest, go to the Beacon Bar & Grill (1615 Rhode Island Ave. Northwest). This restaurant, lounge and rooftop sky bar is set in the lovely Beacon Hotel and it is an anytime kind of place. It makes for a memorable night out as well as for an amazing brunch, voted best brunch in D.C. for its great food and atmosphere - though I'm sure the unlimited brunch champagne didn't hurt the rating either.
A big city and college town all in one. Home to a large handful of the top U.S. universities, in addition to all of the great sights to see as one of America's most historic cities, Boston has something that appeals to everyone. The best way to get there is, yet again, the Megabus. Where to stay once you arrive? The Clarendon Square is Boston's boutique bed and breakfast that offers incredibly plush amenities (including the rooftop hot tub with a delightful city view) at an especially affordable cost this time of year. Rates start at $145/night and there is a significant discount for stays lasting five nights or more. The Freedom Trail is a free venture that takes the visitor to 16 historical sites in about 2 or 3 hours and covers roughly two and a half centuries of America's most important past all in Boston. A red brick (typical style of Boston as you may come to find out) or painted line connects the sites on the Trail and serves as a guide. Food-wise, you absolutely cannot go wrong with any of the Met Bar restaurants. Each of the restaurants hosts a great atmosphere and even better made-in-house limoncello. When a restaurant brings specialty truffled French fries instead of the typical bread bowl, you know it's a keeper. Make sure to check out Newbury Street for great shopping and a delightful European flair that seems to permeate through Boston's brick streets. Complete with an abundance of sidewalk cafes and coffee shops, there is no better way to spend an afternoon with a few friends. Try Stephanie's on Newbury if you work up an appetite, especially if the weather permits you to sit on the street side patio. It's one of Boston's trendiest and most delicious restaurants, which made for slow service on my trip, but Stephanie's quickly made up for it by bringing an abundance of complimentary desserts to our table. Regardless, their "grown-up" twist on grilled cheese kept me from complaining of any slight delay. For a nightlife experience that will make any of your friends' Cancun club hopping seem like a '90s MTV fad, you must stop by Gypsy Bar (116 Boylston Street). You might just bump elbows with Kim Kardashian, Tommy Lee or the Pussycat Dolls. Another worthwhile spot for my fellow night owls is Venu (100 Warrenton Street), a sleek dance club that doesn't get going until around midnight and offers an upscale nightclub experience that keeps with Boston's European theme. For a great spot for brunch, head to Sel de la Terre at 774 Boylston Street; this ideal waterfront location will give you a taste of the Boston sea life in the cold month of March. It's also within walking distance of the New England Aquarium, if you really want to add a more nautical spice in your Boston adventures. Sel de la Terre offers a taste of Provence and Southern France that makes for a brunch you will not soon forget.
Cape May, N.J.
Often overlooked due to the glaring flash of the Las Vegas imitation that is Atlantic City, Cape May offers a more relaxed, small beach town kind of feel. Since it's the off-season, good deals are easy to find and there are plenty to go around. Transportation to and from Cape May is easy thanks to New Jersey transit buses, unless you'd prefer to make this destination a road trip (given that a car is available to you, Cape May is an easy drive and a far better place to have a car than NYC). You can stay at the famous Carroll Villa - a family-owned and operated bed and breakfast and nationally acclaimed Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar all in one! Can you say bingo? To top it off, the national Historic Landmark Inn (circa 1882) is located half a block from the beach and has great food deals. Hotel stays include $30 daily for breakfast, while multiple drink deals and rates start as low at $80 nightly. During your days in Cape May you can check out the beach and promenade, maybe do a bit of shopping, or check out the Cape May Winery & Vineyard if you have yet to experience a wine tasting. If fishing or boating is of interest, go for an outing with Miss Chris Boats and try your hand at catching some stripers, or just enjoy the ride. After you've worked up an appetite, the 410 Bank Street Restaurant is an eating must while in Cape May - an exotic New Orleans eatery that ZAGAT rates as one the top 10 restaurants in New Jersey and "top restaurants in America." After dinner, make sure to stop by The Original Fudge Kitchen (as seen on the Food Network) to appease your nagging sweet tooth.
New York, N.Y.
Waldorf Astoria Hotel: http://www.waldorfnewyork.com/
Room in Soho Loft: http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/photo-manhattan-room_in_soho_loft.html
Museum of Modern Art: http://www.moma.org/
New York City Ballet: http://www.nycballet.com/nycballet/html/tickets_studentrush.asp
Tasti D Lite ice cream: http://www.tastidlite.com/
BabyCake's Bakery: http://www.babycakesnyc.com/
Butter Restaurant: http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/butter01/
Dupont Collection of Inns: http://thedupontcollection.com/locations.html
Spy Museum: http://www.spymuseum.org/
Palena Restaurant: http://www.palenarestaurant.com/
Georgetown Cupcake: http://georgetowncupcake.com/
Modern D.C.: http://www.modern-dc.com/
Beacon Bar and Grill: http://www.capitalhotelswdc.com/BBGWDC_com/
The Clarendon Square Bead and Breakfast: http://www.clarendonsquare.com/
The Freedom Trail: http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/
Met Bar restaurants: http://metrestaurantgroup.com/the-met-bar
Newbury Street shopping: http://www.newbury-st.com/
Cape May resources
NJ Transit to Cape May: http://www.capemaytimes.com/travel/new-jersey-transit.htm
NJ Transit: http://www.njtransit.org
Carroll Villa Bed and Breakfast: http://www.carrollvilla.com/
Cape May Winery: http://www.capemaywinery.com
Miss Chris Boats: http://www.misschris.com/
410 Bank Street Restaurant: http://www.frescoscapemay.com/410bankstreet.html
Fudge Kitchen/: http://www.fudgekitchens.com/