Tiny flower buds blooming on tree branches, the crisp, fresh smell of dewy grass, the spring in students’ steps as they slowly conquer exam after exam — these are the hallmarks that spring break is approaching. As you finalize your plans, whether they include going home for some well-deserved relaxation and rejuvenation with friends and family or continuing the grind at Emory, consider these six getaway locations around the country to plan a trip with some friends or by yourself.
San Francisco, Calif.
The site of the popular ‘90s sitcom “Full House,” this bustling city’s scintillating skyline features the orange Golden Gate Bridge against a backdrop of a silver-lined sky. Sightseeing options include the now-defunct maximum-security federal penitentiary Alcatraz Island, the internationally renowned waterfront community at Fisherman’s Wharf and the crystal clear koi ponds of the Japanese Tea Garden.
Despite being over 2,000 miles away from campus, San Francisco is worth visiting for everyone — from aspiring Silicon Valley inhabitants to architecture buffs — who will find themselves busy all day exploring this topographically challenging city. Visit the renowned Victorian row houses on Haight-Ashbury, the seven pastel-colored Victorian “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square and the oldest and largest Chinatown in America.
Feasting at Pearl 6101, an authentic San Franciscan eatery where simple Californian cooking meets zesty Mediterranean fare, is a must. Little Gem Lettuce and Kobe Bavette Steak are just two delicacies that you can enjoy in the rustic ambiance of this noteworthy restaurant.
New Orleans, La.
A melting pot that fuses French, American and African cultures, New Orleans offers much more than the annual Mardi Gras carnival, including its round-the-clock nightlife, effervescent live-music landscape and flavorful Cajun cuisine. Retaliate against your friends who plagued your Instagram Stories with inexorable Mardi Gras content.
When in New Orleans, live as carefreely as the Louisianians by taking a leisurely nightly stroll around the historic French Quarter while sipping a signature “Cocktail à la Louisiane.” The raucous, nocturnal Bourbon Street has one of the most vivacious nightlife scenes in the country, glowing with neon signs, throbbing jazz music and the palpable energy of the locals.
Jambalaya is almost synonymous with Louisiana dining. You cannot leave the “Creole State” without trying a spoonful of this bold dish, which blends Spanish, French and West African influences. Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop and Mother’s are two of the best restaurants to try out this culinary staple.
Explore the exuberant art landscape by browsing the artists selling their unique works in Jackson Square while munching on a beignet. Admire Creole architecture by visiting the beautiful Spanish colonial St. Louis Cathedral and Presbytere and Cabildo, Louisiana state museums that narrate the distinctive story of Louisiana’s resistance, celebration and laissez-faire attitude.
Named after American Revolutionary War hero Francis Nash, Nashville oozes Southern hospitality and guarantees a groundbreaking culinary and cultural adventure. The city offers many iconic country music locations, authentic Southern comfort food and the gorgeous Nashville outdoors.
For country music fans, the legendary Grand Ole Opry stage and the famous Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of American vernacular music, are a must-visit.
Quench your thirst for an eclectic art scene three-fold by sightseeing at the Ryman Auditorium, Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Centennial Park, which encompasses the only replica of the Greek Parthenon. Treat yourself to the iconic local hot chicken and prepare to incessantly hound your friends about it for the subsequent months to follow. If it’s a tad too spicy, you can always refresh yourself with a cooling mint julep at Bishop’s restaurant in midtown Nashville.
Apart from being the hometown of the ultimate American cowboy Matthew McConaughey, Austin is also synonymous with one of the most radiant live-music scenes in the world, revolving around country, blues and rock.
One of the most innovative ways to enjoy Texas’s capital is by enjoying the evening flight of the Mexican free-tailed bats that have made the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge their home. Comprising the world’s largest urban bat colony, up to 1.5 million of these insect-devouring critters take to the sky at dusk each evening from March through November in a stunning display of batshit crazy proportions.
Between your mandatory sightseeing of the memorable Texas Capitol, hiking and biking through lush Zilker Nature Preserve and swimming in the three-acre wide Barton Springs Municipal Pool, be sure to devour a succulent steak at Vince Young Steakhouse, a locally owned fine-dining joint named after the Longhorn football legend that continues to prevail as the Texan king of ribeyes, filets, strips and more.
Referred to as the “Cradle of Modern America,” the birthplace of the American Revolution exudes history at every cobblestone corner. The Freedom Trail is an excellent way to experience 16 historical sites across the city, including the location of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, the U.S. Constitution and the Paul Revere House during this two-hour tour.
Take a break from all the walking and historical jargon by relishing a scrumptious Boston cream pie at Mike’s Pastry and chowing down on a bowl of signature New England clam chowder at the waterfront eatery The Barking Crab in America’s seafood capital.
Absorb a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the Massachusetts capital’s old-world architecture skyline from the top of the Prudential Tower before visiting the onsite Dreams of Freedom Museum or heading to the Skywalk Observatory and enjoying a meal at the Top of the Hub Restaurant and Lounge. Alternatively, watch a baseball game at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912 or schedule a tour of “America’s most beloved ballpark” if you’re unable to snag a ticket.
Seattle, also known as the set of the television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” is surrounded by the sparkling ripples of Puget Sound, the captivating snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Range and evergreen forests full of towering Douglas firs. While here, your eyes will automatically draw to Mount Rainier, a stratovolcano that dominates the Seattle skyline, towering over the metropolis in all its breathtaking glory.
Notable sightseeing attractions in the “Emerald City” include the iconic Space Needle, built in the Seattle Center for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture, the Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibit showcasing the sculptural glass artworks of Dale Chihuly, and Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the U.S. that also overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront.
Be sure to sample the specialty foods at Pike Place, including the vendors Indi Chocolate, who make “bean to bar chocolate,” Chukar Cherries, who make batches of freshly-made sweets and treats using local fruits, and Mick’s Peppourri, who claims to “make the best pepper jellies in the world” by incorporating “eight levels of heat in pure pepper jelly.”
The next time you try to silence the tiny voice in your mind persuading you to go on a spring break adventure, confidently convince yourself that you deserve a holiday after enduring the torrential monsoon season disguised as the month of February coupled with the unrelenting Emory grind — a heady cocktail with a horrible hangover. Whether you are yearning to relax by the beach, party all night, peruse historical artifacts or sample exquisite food, these six cities have your interests covered.
If this article has been a grim reminder of how difficult it is to budget as an adventurous college student, there are always more economic options a little closer to home. Start packing your bags and treat yourself to the vacation you know you’ve earned!