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VOL. 132 | NO. 14 | Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Spring Break Ideas From Memphis

BY LANCE WIEDOWER, Special to The Daily News

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Spring break is right around the corner and if you’re still thinking of ideas for the family – even ones that have you joining the crowds – I have some thoughts.

Beaches. This is the obvious choice, but also a good one. We Southerners are guilty of spending much of our vacation time at the Gulf Coast beaches of Florida and Alabama. 

If you’re a fan of the Gulf Coast, you probably have your favorite beach in mind already. St. George Island east of Panama City Beach could be a good, quiet alternative. And if you’re up for driving farther south, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island or even Fort Lauderdale provide nice options as well as possibly warmer waters.

Spring Training. Florida’s Grapefruit League offers the opportunity for baseball fans to catch Major League players in minor league settings. Fifteen teams – including the Braves and Cardinals – play their spring games across the southern half of Florida, from as far north as Lake Buena Vista (Braves) and as far south as West Palm Beach (Nationals and Astros).

It won’t be easy to catch games at every park; about 170 miles separate the Braves’ complex near Disney World and the new park in West Palm Beach. But Port St. Lucie (Mets), Jupiter (Cardinals and Marlins) and West Palm Beach are separated by less than an hour along Interstate 95. Stay a few nights near one of the many beaches and catch a few games.

Walt Disney World. Your kids have the week off and they seem the right age to visit Disney World, so why not spend a few days enjoying the Magic Kingdom? In one word: crowds. If school is out of session, you can bet Disney World is crowded. If you’re willing to accept larger crowds, be prepared for higher hotel costs, too.

If you are going to Disney, you need to be planning the details. The most popular dining options, for example, book months in advance.

Cruises. Various cruise ports are reachable from Memphis: New Orleans, Mobile and Fort Lauderdale. There are solid options for people with smaller budgets and less time, too. Basic four-night cruises from New Orleans with one stop in Cozumel, Mexico, for example, cost as little as $300 per person during March. 

Caribbean. It doesn’t cost as much as you think to head to warmer beaches instead of shivering on the Florida sand. Consider the family-friendly resorts in Jamaica or Dominican Republic. If you don’t have a passport, you’re in luck with Puerto Rico, one of my personal favorites.

Smoky Mountains. We all know about the fires that hit Gatlinburg. We also know those businesses could use visitors, and spring break is a great time to head that way. Cabin rentals shouldn’t be as high as the summer and fall seasons, and the weather could be good for some great hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also consider adding a day or two with a visit to nearby Asheville, North Carolina.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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