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VOL. 131 | NO. 35 | Thursday, February 18, 2016


Lance Wiedower

Think About Spring Break A New Way


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If you’re planning a spring break trip to the Gulf Coast or Orlando, you’re not alone in that decision. College students and families alike flock to popular beach communities and Florida theme parks year after year.

But instead of running into co-workers and neighbors from home at the beach in Destin, why not consider a new destination for spring break? Yes, spring break is next month, but it’s not too late to make plans.

If going to the beach this year and you haven’t booked a condo, consider traveling farther south where the water will be warmer, maybe somewhere such as Sanibel Island near Fort Myers. All beaches have crowds, but Sanibel is beautiful, quiet and has beautiful sunsets looking west over the Gulf of Mexico.

Also consider staying closer to driving distance with a stay on St. George Island near Apalachicola, a name that should be familiar to oyster lovers in Destin and Panama City Beach.

Not all spring break experiences center on sand and sun. The Memphis area sits in proximity to great outdoors options in Arkansas, for example. I’m not an outdoors guy, but some of my childhood memories in central Arkansas are of spending spring and fall weekends exploring the Ozark Mountains.

Blanchard Springs Caverns, a three-level cave system located near Mountain View, Ark., is one such place I enjoyed. There are various trails through the caverns, and with campgrounds nearby, it’s a good way to explore the outdoors in springtime.

If you’re looking to try an outdoors adventure off the Memphis radar a bit, consider the hills and forest of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Waterfalls, rock formations and deep forests provide an abundance of day-hike options, along with lake kayaking, fishing and camping opportunities.

For those families looking for a city getaway I’m thinking Dallas and Fort Worth this year.

Yes, Six Flags Over Texas opens for the season in March, so the kids can get a theme park fix. But also consider some of the cultural learning experiences in Fort Worth while having some fun. Art fans could spend a couple of days exploring Fort Worth’s cultural district that includes the world-class Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

The Dallas Museum of Art, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas World Aquarium and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza give visitors reason to consider Big D’s downtown.

And no matter the destination, there are some ways to make a spring break getaway more affordable. Some beach condos and houses rent Saturday to Saturday. Extend your search and find a property that will allow a shorter stay, four or five nights instead.

And don’t be afraid to take the kids out of school an extra day or two, especially if flying. Finding a flight that departs on a Thursday evening or Friday might be too good to pass up. Those savings for a family of four can add up to another night or two of hotel stays.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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