Spring Break – A Time to Travel
It's springtime and the weather beckons for you to get out of town. Who wants to stay home when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming? It's the perfect time for travel. But not all trips are the same. It's the unique ones that matter. College students get a break from studying, while families who have kids that are out of school are itching to escape the everyday. Or maybe it's just you and your sweetie, wanting to have a romantic rendezvous. Any which way, traveling is an experience for growth, fun and expanding your horizons.
Here's to your perfect spring break getaway.
College Students Studying and exams are over – for now at least. Which means a break to relax. Spring break! This once a year experience is where college students head out to cities and beaches around the world and party. No matter which place you decide to go, a good time is ready and waiting.
What kind of Spring Breaker are you? Not everyone is the same. Here's a breakdown.
Beach Lover What's better than the sun, the water and a drink in your hand? Hundreds of thousands of college students each year go to beach cities like Panama City Beach, Cancun, South Padre Island, Acapulco and the Caribbean. These places are great for students because they cater to them. They know you are itching for that cabana, and they are ready to provide it – for a price. There are tons of activities, nightclubs, and sandy beaches to catch some rays.
Going Off on an Adventure Your idea of a good time is hoofing it on a trail and examining the natural beauty that surrounds you. Hiking, camping, white water rafting, backpacking around Europe…that's your kind of vacation. And there are so many ways to get out there and explore. Head to Colorado or Utah for snowboarding and mountain hiking. Or take a one way ticket to Europe and begin wandering the continent, backpacking from country to country.
Southern California's Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Summit keep the snow coming even in spring. Catch a ski or snowboard session. Or if the snow is gone, go boating, wake boarding or waterskiing around the lake, or hike mountain trails.
Pamper Yourself Spring break is the perfect time to take time for yourself and just relax. Your spring break getaway should be just that – a getaway from the stress and challenges of school that you contend with on a daily basis. What could be more relaxing than a spa? Get pampered for the week with a soothing massage or a rejuvenating facial.
Get away from it all without even leaving Los Angeles at The Spa at the Four Seasons Westlake Village. It's an amazing retreat offering over 40,000-square feet with 28 treatment rooms, each with a private terrace. Four ultra posh suites have plunge pools, day beds and whirlpools. Or rent an enclosed, poolside cabana. www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage/spa
Giving Back You are a do-gooder who loves to help others. Organizations like United Way and Habitat For Humanity have spring break options for college students to spend the week rebuilding poor communities or places hit by natural disasters.
Find what dates your spring break falls on and start making plans at http://www.ststravel.com/college-spring-break-dates
To find out about all-inclusive student spring break packages check out these websites. http://www.studentcity.com/trips-and-destinations http://www.paradiseparties.com/all-inclusive-spring-break.asp
Staying Local – World famous attractions, such as the Grammy Museum at LA Live, Universal Studios and Disneyland, all offer student discounts. Take a day to have fun! Party the night away at LA nightclubs such as Lure Nightclub, Boulevard3, the Mayan and AV Nightclub, along with the originals – Whiskey A-Go-Go, the Troubadour, the Roxy and the Viper Room.
Families The kids are out of school and it's a great time to do a fun spring break experience for the whole family. There are many opportunities for this. Entertain the kids, relax with your wife or hubby, and enjoy. Family trips have it all in entertainment these days.
Atlantis Resort and Casino – Paradise Island, Bahamas Your family becomes explorers as you discover a lost civilization in the Atlantis Resort. Here you can find adventure and intrigue. There are 20,000 guest rooms, 38 restaurants and tons of fun stuff to see and do, including 11 lagoons and over 50,000 animals like sharks, lionfish and stingrays. Swim to your heart's content in one of the 11 pool areas, or slide down 7 different water slides. For the brave at heart? The Mayan Temple's Leap of Faith slide has a 60-foot drop into a tunnel immersed in a shark-infested lagoon.
Tanque Verde Ranch – Tucson, AZ The 640-acre Tanque Verde Ranch is an idyllic spot within the Sonoran Desert and is adjacent to Saguaro National Park. This dude ranch lets you ride (there are over 120 horses) in the traditional sense or on one of their specialty rides. Try the Breakfast Ride (where you end your time in the saddle with a scrumptious meal at the Old Homestead), 6-hour-long Day Rides and Picnic Rides with lunch in Cottonwood Grove. They offer a variety of lessons for newbies. If go at it with your own two feet try their hikes through the desert wilds, where you can check out canyons, cacti and amazing secret waterfalls. The Kids Program (ages 4 - 11) treats kids to riding lessons, tennis, swimming and arts and crafts.
Loews Coronado Bay – Coronado, CA The Loews Coronado Bay resort caters to kids and teens with club activities, water sports, surfing classes and gondola rides through the Coronado Cays canals. Views of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico are on one side, and gorgeous bay waters and the San Diego skyline on the other. http://www.loewshotels.com/coronado-bay-resort/
San Diego is amazing for families who want spring break fun. Of course there's the beach, but there are some amazing parks, informative museums and the zoos! The San Diego Zoo is made up of 9 separate zones over 100 acres. Visit the polar bears, elephants and gorillas. The Wild Animal Park is a safari experience as you wander the 1,800-acre park in an open bus where you can see wild animals like rhinos and giraffes in their own environment.
Club Med Dominican Republic The Club Med Punta Cana is perfect for moms and dads. They offer oceanfront family suites and even help out parents by making baby essentials, like bathtubs, strollers and baby food, available for your use. There are massive activities for parents and kids including infant classes at the Baby Gym and catamaran adventures. Supervised camps are included for kids over 4 or for an extra cost for babies through preschoolers.
Legoland Hotel in California Legoland Hotel is great fun for kids. There are 250 cheery rooms themed after LEGO toy lines: Adventurer, Pirate and Kingdom. Guest rooms feature a separate sleeping area for the kiddos. There is interactive LEGO fun throughout the hotel, play areas, a heated pool, and a kid-friendly buffet restaurant. The atrium also features a knight's castle for kids to explore and a 32-foot high pirate shipwreck and river of Lego.
Staying Local – You can't go wrong with our local theme parks. Pick a nearby hotel and enjoy the attractions that only Southern California can offer.
Six Flags Magic Mountain features some of the fastest and scariest roller coasters around. This park is great for teens and tweens.
Universal Studios California is where you see Hollywood magic happen! Also Universal City Walk, located right next door, offers great restaurants and shopping.
Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Everyone in the family will enjoy spending time with Mickey and the gang.
Couples Sometimes you just want to get away with the person that you love most. And spring break is the perfect time for that.
The Caves – Jamaica This could well be Jamaica's most romantic vacation spot. The Caves has 12 unique, private cottages and suites – and one 4-room villa – along with lush garden paths and gorgeous seaside cliffs. Yummy and locally grown food, a top-shelf bar and intimate, incredibly attentive service make this all-inclusive resort hard to beat.
Finger Lakes Region – Upstate New York An amazing romantic spring break escape. The Finger Lakes region is the second-largest wine-producing region in the United States with more than 110 wineries and 9,000-plus acres of vineyards, The area also is home to hiking trails, antique shops and gorgeous galleries and artist studios. Go for a wine tasting or a hot air balloon ride. Different packages are available for the Black Sheep Inn (http://www.stayblacksheepinn.com), a stately, restored historical house with customized organic meals.
Sedona – Arizona Outdoor lovers and spa enthusiasts will love the natural beauty of Sedona. Hike or bike one of Sedona's numerous trails. Go for a horseback ride into a red rock canyon or feast on a picnic next to the lovely creek in Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona is also a New Ager's heaven. It is known as a vortex for spiritual energy. Rosalie Bay (http://rosaliebay.com) is an eco-conscious haven offering lovely rooms, organic food, yoga and Pilates, and spa treatments like seaweed and lava mud body wraps. In the spring, three species of sea turtles reside on the resort's beach. You can learn about these beautiful animals and watch them nest.
Staying Local – Palm Springs isn't just for student spring breakers. It's also is a romantic paradise for lovers. Lounge at the pool or gaze at the starry desert night sky. The Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa is an upscale, adults-only relaxation spot best known for its natural mineral springs – it features a gorgeous grotto with a waterfall. The resort is set on 56 acres of nature, so relax and take advantage of the stunning spa, hot springs, hiking, lakes, and free yoga classes.
Get out there and explore. It's spring!
Sidebar: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day takes place every year on March 17th to honor the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick. Celebrations typically revolve around the color green and are Irish themed. People all over the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Irish food, including corned beef, corned cabbage, coffee, soda bread, potatoes, and shepherd's pie are the typical menu. Other traditions include:
Parades – Why a parade? It's the best way to celebrate with the whole family!
At the Hollywood St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival you can watch talented Irish dancers perform jigs to Gaelic pipe music. Each year the City of Hollywood and Hibernians of Hollywood team up to host this annual, free celebration of "all things Irish." This year’s parade and festival takes place on Sunday, March 15th. Radio personality Footy will emcee the parade featuring dozens of floats, local marching bands and spectacular bagpipe and drum corps including the famous New York Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. http://www.stpatricksparade.com
The 27th Annual Ventura St. Patrick's Day Parade takes place on Saturday, March 14 at 10 a.m. on Main Street in Downtown Ventura. The parade starts on East Main Street in front of the San Buenaventura Mission and continues up East Main Street and ends at the corner of North Chestnut Street and East Main Street. The theme is "Honoring our Troops" Bring your family and your American Flag and join the festivities. The parade will step off with Grand Marshal Jeff Gorell, veteran of the Afghanistan War, in honor of his service to our country. Parade entries will include floats sponsored by civic groups, nonprofits and local businesses and restaurants; marching bands; car clubs; horses; clowns and the Biggest Green Pig in the World. There also will be high school pep bands, youth groups and fun-loving adult groups entered in the parade.The Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is presented by the Ventura Elks Lodge #1430. http://www.venturastpatricksdayparade.com
Festivals – A great way to get the kids involved.
The Saint Patrick's Day Celebration at Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center takes place on March 14. Come for food, entertainment by the Claddagh School of Irish Dancers and the Tribal Caravan Belly Dancers, live music, face painting, rock climbing, moon bounce, sports and more for the kids. There will be raffles and prizes too. 27040 Malibu Hills Rd., Calabasas. http://www.ahccc.org
Drinking – Getting sauced is a St. Patrick's Day tradition. But where does it stem from? Since many Catholics are Irish-American, some fast from drinking during Lent. But on St. Patrick's Day, they are excused and allowed to break this fast. That means imbibing for everyone! Put those Shamrocks on and get your drink on at these local watering holes.
The Tipsy Goat – The friendly staff and laid back atmosphere will make you feel like you are at a traditional public house in Ireland. Enjoy a pint, great atmosphere conversation and yummy Irish food. Ping pong, shuffleboard, darts, pool, video games and more. Sidle up to the bar or warm up and socialize by the fire pits on their expansive patio. There is something for everyone. 159 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. http://thetipsygoat.com
Brendan's Agoura Hills – An Irish Pub with a unique outlook on life: Helping make better days one guest at a time. Enjoy the Irish atmosphere and kick back with a pint of Guinness. Eat Corned Beef and Cabbage, Steak and Mushroom Pie or a yummy Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy bagpipers, Irish dancers, and the Shenanigans Irish band. 30315 Canwood St., Agoura Hills. http://www.brendans.com
Ireland’s 32 – You'll have to fight the crowds at this quaint San Fernando Valley pub. Throughout the day, the grill will serve corned beef sandwiches and large portions of bangers and mash. Live music is the order of the day, while Guinness beer and Irish whiskey are on tap. 13721 Burbank Blvd., Van Nuys. www.irelands32.com
Timmy Nolan’s Tavern and Grill – A staple for more than 20 years, this Irish pub and sports bar will be hosting an all day St. Patrick’s Day party starting at 8 a.m. Its two full-service bars will be serving dozens of classic European and American beers. The alcoholic beverage menu also extends to include a range of rare Irish whiskey, scotch and bourbon. Only two food items are on the menu – corned beef cabbage and Irish stew. 10111 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake. www.timmynolans.net
The Irish have their own spin on drinking games. Here are a few.
McNickels – This isn't just the Irish version of “Quarters.” If you bounce your nickel into the glass you are supposed to drink the nickel too. And if you barf it all up you get a free drink.
Fisty Kisses – Each player puts on a heavy coat of lipstick and drinks from a communal glass going clockwise. The last person to drink pretends to be angry and yells, “Hey! There’s lipstick on my glass! Who did this?!” The first person to crack up gets punched in the mouth. Ow!
Blarney Ball – Keep drinking until you have the balls to throw a green softball at somebody. Head shots are 100 points. Bar mirrors are 1000 points. And off-duty police officers are a whopping 5000 points (unless you get arrested).
The color green – This is the color on St. Patrick's Day. Chicago dyes its river green, and pubs sell green beer. The White House fountain is dyed green. In Seattle, parade routes are painted in green. And make sure you wear green or you'll run the risk of being pinched.
Religious services – There are people that view St. Patty's in a religious context. They go to services and then usually hold a feast. And of course there is always drinking involved.
Pea planting – In the Northeast, many people observe the holiday by planting peas. This is largely due to the color (green of course) and that March offers prime pea-planting conditions.
The History of St. Patrick's Day – The first St. Patrick's Day celebration in America took place in 1737, and was organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. The occasion included a feast and religious service. This first observance of the holiday was due to celebrating Irish culture that was no longer available to many colonists. In New York, the first affair took place as a modest gathering at the home of an Irish protestant. Then St. Patrick's Day parades started in New York in 1762 by a group of Irish soldiers in the British military. This is why there is now a tradition of a military theme in many parades. The holiday eventually grew from a religious dinner into the party hearty holiday of today.
Sidebar 2: Seasons on Other Planets
We know that our own planet, has four seasons: Fall, winter, spring and summer. And we know what those four seasons mean weather-wise. But interestingly enough, our closest celestial neighbors have seasons too. Here is a breakdown of what the seasons of the other planets in our solar system are like.
Mercury is unusual when it comes to its seasons. It has a highly elliptical orbit and the planet rotates three times around its axis for two of its years. At some longitudes the sun appears to rise and then slowly get bigger size-wise as it painstakingly moves toward it's zenith. Then the sun pauses, shortly reversing its path and then resumes its path going to the horizon (which makes it look like it is getting smaller). So that makes it hard to determine when one season ends and the other begins.
Venus has relatively stable weather, although it's super hot (it can melt lead) because of the large amount of carbon dioxide greenhouse effect. It's tilted just 3 degrees on its axis and carries a small orbit around the sun. Venus seasons last just 55 to 58 days with only slight temperature changes.
Mars' distance from the sun alters between 1.64 and 1.36 astronomical units (1 AU is the distance between the sun and Earth). That creates some extreme seasons. When closest to the sun, Mars' north pole is plunged into winter, with temperatures so cold that carbon dioxide freezes.
Jupiter carries a 3-degree axial tilt and has basically no difference in temperature between seasons. Because it is so far from the sun, Jupiter's seasons are long, lasting about three years.
Saturn's place is in the outer reaches of the solar system. The gas giant's seasons last a whopping seven years.
Uranus orbits the sun in a relatively circular orbit, but it tilts a huge 82 degrees on its axis, which creates extreme seasons that last about 20 years. For about a quarter of a Uranian year, (equaling 84 Earth years), the sun shines directly over one of the poles leaving the other half of the planet in complete darkness.
Neptune is the farthest gas giant from the sun and it doesn't experience strong seasonal changes. However seasons there last 40 years.