Last minute ideas to put some spring in your break

By Kristin Sherrard

Spring Break is right around the corner, the much-anticipated week-long vacation where students can forget about school, jump in a car or on a plane, and head off to exotic lands.

If you planned ahead for Spring Break, your mind is probably already on the beach. But if you’ve been too busy studying for midterms to plan that dream vacation, here’s a few ideas for travel destinations that will satisfy your adventurous appetite without breaking your wallet.

Cincinnati, Ohio

If you’re looking for something a little closer, Cincinnati is an easy day-trip that still offers a change of pace, and just because it’s Spring Break doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few things along the way.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a popular attraction. Home to 500 animals and 3,000 plant specimens, it is the nation’s second oldest zoo and a national historic landmark. Admission is $12.95.

New to the Cincinnati Museum Center is “BODIES…The Exhibition,” which makes anatomy a little more interesting with preserved human cadavers. Unless you’ve got a weak stomach, you’ll want to check out this traveling exhibit that shows how the human body functions and the effect diseases have on it. An OMNIMAX film called “The Human Body,” which describes a day in the life of the human body, is also showing at the museum. Admission to the exhibit and the film is $26.50 and $23 for the exhibition only.

Other museums in Cincinnati include The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center ($10 for students), the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum ($8) and the Taft Museum of Art ($5 with a student ID).

If money is a little tight, Cincinnati offers a few cheaper options: the Krohn Conservatory, with more than 3,500 plant species from around the world, and Jungle Jim’s International Market, with food from 75 different countries.

Rooms are available at the Days Inn Central Parkway located downtown, minutes away from many of the attractions listed. The nightly rate of a standard room is $68 per night, so a six-night stay with four people is about $100 per person.

Folly Beach, S.C.

For many students, the beach is the traditional Spring Break destination. Unfortunately, Kentucky doesn’t have much to offer in oceanfront relaxation. If you want to avoid the crowds of Panama City, Fla. — and shave roughly two and a half hours off the trip each way — you’ll find Folly Beach is a satisfactory alternative.

“Everybody goes to Florida, as they say, so Folly Beach gives you that Florida kind of feeling. Not everybody is going to be there,” said Timothy White of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In addition to working on your tan, Folly Beach also offers other activities you can enjoy while having fun in the sun, including parasailing and riding jet skis. OceanAir Sea Kayak offers year-round classes for all skill levels. Prices vary from $75 to $125.

For local entertainment, try the Folly Beach Bluegrass Society at the Folly Beach Crab Shack. The group performs bluegrass tunes every Thursday night from 7 to 10:30.

Minutes away from Folly Beach is the city of Charleston, S.C., with a wide array of shops that cater to everyone, whether your interest is in crafts or Prada and Coach. Charleston is also home to a variety of art galleries and theaters.

Rooms are still available at the Holiday Inn Charleston-On the Beach. The hotel sits right on the water and an oceanfront room with two double beds for four people is $164 per night. Split your beach excursion with a few friends and a six-night stay will run roughly $250 per person.

Gatlinburg, Tenn.

For those who are tired of the beach crowd, the mountains could offer a pleasant alternative.

Roughly three and a half hours away from Lexington, Gatlinburg offers both the peacefulness of nature and the excitement of a small, tourism-driven town.

“If you are trying to save a little money on gas, this would be a good place to come and enjoy yourself,” said Vicki Simms, executive director of the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce.

Nature-lovers will enjoy hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors may also want to view the 384 miles of mountain road. Highlights include Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove.

“You can come to the mountains and enjoy hiking and backpacking and white water rafting and all of those exciting fun things when you feel like doing something, and when you feel like relaxing, you can sit by the pool,” Simms said. “Many hotels have heated indoor as well as outdoor pools.”

Shoppers will enjoy strolling along the streets of downtown Gatlinburg. With over 400 shops and five malls to browse through, it is practically guaranteed that any dedicated shopper will come home with plenty of souvenirs to commemorate the trip.

Gatlinburg also boasts a variety of Ripley’s activities, including the Believe It Or Not! Museum. Admission to see the exhibits is $14.99 plus tax.

Students can also visit nearby Pigeon Forge, Tenn., less than 15 minutes away and home to the Dollywood theme park.

Best Western Crossroad, located in downtown Gatlinburg, has standard double queen rooms available for $57.50 per night. Divide that by four people, and you have a six night stay for roughly $87 per person.