Despite this year’s relatively warm winter, sometimes it feels like spring will never return to Chicago. But spring break is around the corner, and students are getting ready to relax. Some students already have plans, but in case you don’t, here’s a list of popular places college students can visit during this weeklong vacation.
Dreaming of warmer days and lounging on the beach? It isn’t quite the same, but the Chicago Polar Plunge is planned for March 6 at 10 a.m. Grab your swimsuit and head to North Avenue Beach to plunge into Lake Michigan to raise money for the Special Olympics Chicago.
Registration for the event is free, but participants are required to raise at least $175 through a personal donation page after registering.
If cold water doesn’t tickle your fancy, try sampling 250 wines from around the world at Second Glass’ wine tasting event March 11 at 7 p.m. or March 12 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Wine Riot is two parts wine, one part education as you “travel around the world” by visiting booths which are staffed by wine experts at Venue One. Enjoy your wine along with a DJ, photo booth and temporary tattoos. Tickets are $60. Need to burn off all those winter calories? Check out CHIditarod, a Chicago shopping cart race through Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village that is modeled after the famous Alaskan dog race.
Teams of five dressed in wacky costumes dart between neighborhood bars with carts full of food.
Every team has to show up with at least 69 pounds of canned food donations that go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Race registration is $85 per team plus an $88 cart fee.
OUTSIDE THE CITY
The Indiana Dunes are a great place to escape the fast-paced city life. Rent cabins for two to eight people ranging from $175 to $250 per night. While you’re there, check out some of the recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, paintball and lounging on the beach.
The Indiana Dunes are located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan in the Northwest corner of Indiana. The Dunes are about two and a half hours from Loyola, and you can take the South Shore train from Millennium Station to Dune Park South Shore for $16 round-trip.
If Milwaukee isn’t on your list of places to visit, it should be. Home to more than 130 miles of bike trails and 150 state and county parks, Wisconsin is another destination to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Milwaukee is also the birthplace of Harley-Davidson, so be sure to stop by the museum. Tickets are $46.
Affectionately known as Brew City for its rich beer crafting history, Milwaukee is the perfect place to let loose after midterms. Hotels in central locations range from about $50 to $230 per night.
Milwaukee is about three and a half hours from Chicago, and you can take the Amtrak Hiawatha Service train from Union Station for $50 round-trip.
St. Louis also makes for a great change of scenery over spring break.
There’s plenty to do in St. Louis such as Arch Madness, an annual men’s basketball tournament where you can watch the Ramblers play (it takes place March 3 to 6).
You can also visit the City Museum (a museum full of all-age playgrounds and obstacles), the St. Louis Science Center and the Delmar Loop, a six-block stretch of entertainment and shopping.
St. Louis is about five and a half hours from Chicago, and you can take the Amtrak Lincoln Service train from Union Station to Amtrak Station STL for $52 round-trip.
Hotels in downtown St. Louis range from about $80 to $300 per night.
If these hotel prices feel more like breaking the bank than taking a break from school, check out Groupon. Groupon offers last-minute travel rates on hotels with huge savings.
Well-known cities such as Las Vegas, New Orleans and Miami are just a few of the top spring break destinations for 2016, according to USA Today. Austin, Texas, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, ranked first and second on that list, respectively. So what is all the hype about and how much will it cost you to get there?
Unlike the previously listed destinations, these two aren’t within driving distance. Well, you can drive if you want to, but break might be over by the time you get there.
Flights can get expensive, especially around heavy travel times such as spring break. Flights to Austin from Chicago are around $450 on American Airlines. However, American charges $25 for checked baggage both ways, so you’re really paying closer to $500.
By packing less and fitting everything into a carry-on, you can save $50. If you’re like me and this is simply not an option for a whole week of vacation, Southwest Airlines has flights to Austin for around the same price and allows two free checked bags.
Hotels in Austin start at around $100 per night. However, Airbnb is a low-cost alternative to hotels when traveling. Travelers can rent shared or private rooms or full apartments for the duration of their stay at a fixed price by the renter.
Basically, it’s the Uber of vacation accommodations. Rooms in Austin can be rented for as low as $50 per night.
Some of Austin’s attractions include warm weather, Tex-Mex (a combination of Texan and Mexican cuisine), live music and the Escape Game, an interactive puzzle where you have one hour to escape a locked room.
The second most popular destination for 2016 spring breakers is Cabo San Lucas.
Cabo San Lucas, known as Los Cabos, is a beach town on the coastline of Mexico. Flights to this destination are more than $600, and that’s the cheapest option for the next few weeks.
Luckily, you’ll save on rooms with Airbnb as low as $30 per night.
Beach bums, book your flights. Los Cabos is known for its beautiful beaches, water activities, nightlife and California-esque vibes.