Spring Break Alternative Destinations
By Annie Osteen
Now that winter break is over; the talk has turned to what’s going on for spring break. 30A becomes Williamson County each year during the spring break season as this has become the destination of choice amongst so many families in the area. What’s not to love about the region? Sandy beaches, blue skies and plentiful amounts of sunshine. However, for some, traveling to the same location for each break ends up growing old. If Florida’s panhandle isn’t cutting it anymore, what are the alternatives?
If a family doesn’t mind traveling six to eight hours to reach the Emerald Coast, where could other destinations be located within the same amount of travel time? Instead of heading south, let’s look to the east.
Asheville, North Carolina is a good place to start. Asheville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and about a five-hour drive from Nashville, is home to the exquisite privately-owned Biltmore Estate. Biltmore is a 19th century estate that not only displays an amazing array of artwork but has landscape that is breathtakingly magnificent, especially in the springtime when the flowers are starting to make their seasonal appearance. While the children may not be over-the-moon with touring such a place, the historic Southern charm of the property will surely impress them. Asheville, because of its location in Western North Carolina, offers the “outdoor” family with an opportunity to hike, kayak, bike ride and raft in many different locations. Scenery that will offer anyone a spectacular glimpse of natural beauty
If one decides to head west of Nashville for spring break, what’s a good destination? About a five-hour drive, St. Louis may be a good option. While you won’t find the mountainous region that a town like Asheville would provide, St. Louis has some fantastic opportunities to engage in some memorable activities with the kids. For instance, St. Louis is not only home to the Cardinals baseball team and Gateway Arch but is also the location for the City Museum. While a child may baulk at the idea of spending the day at a museum, the City Museum is anything but that. It’s a 600,000 square-foot interactive discovery center housed in a former International Shoe Company. It features an infinite mixture of engaging activities such as a children’s playground, surrealistic pavilion, funhouse, tunnels and slides. Every kid from a toddler to a teen will be consumed by the Museum’s uniqueness and will sure to be wiped out at the end of the day. Another option, especially for Major League Baseball fans, would be to take in a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium or to visit Grant’s Farm where you can visit the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables. St. Louis, while never mentioned as a spring break area, has demonstrated that it can certainly compete with other popular destinations.
What’s north of Music City, within a day’s drive, that would provide a family with ample opportunities to enjoy themselves during spring break? That’s easy… Chicago. Chicago, home to the most recent World Series Champions, the Cubs, boasts with pride regarding the activities, events and attractions offered for kids and families. While it may take a few more hours in the car compared to Asheville or St. Louis, Chicago is home to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Grant Park, LEGOLAND and some of the best pizza on the planet. If a family with boys travels to Chicago, LEGOLAND is a popular venue with an indoor Lego playground that offers ten different build and play zones, a 4D cinema theater and much more. Yes, it may not be the most thrilling stop for adults but kids are sure to have a blast. Taking a ride in to the 103–story Skydeck in the Willis Tower, but still known to many as the Sears Tower, to observe all of Chicago is a great option for the family. And while some consider it “too touristy,” taking a few pictures in front of Cloud Gate or more commonly referred to as “the bean” at Millennium Plaza is still too good to pass up!
One of the marvelous things about living in Middle Tennessee is that we can essentially travel in any direction and find some enjoyable things to do whether it’s for a short weekend getaway or for a longer family vacation. Florida’s sunshine is going to be around for a while but one can never be too sure about some of the historical and popular attractions that are within a day’s drive from our home. Taking the kids to a city they’ve never been to, to experience different things will always come back as some of their greatest memories.