Spring Break vacation spots are fun and affordable

VANNIA ZELAYA

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The days are getting sunnier, warmer and longer, and they serve as a reminder that the second biggest break of the semester is right around the corner. With some research assistance from Lonelyplanet.com and Expedia. com and tips from President of the New Orleans Concierge Association Justin Fauth, we have compiled a list of places that are both friendly to the college student budget and within a 10-hour drive from New Orleans.

GULF SHORES, Ala.                                                                                                                                                                                 The closest of our options to New Orleans, this coastal city offers a calm environment to disconnect from your college life. For those with the beach in mind, there are several public beaches with white sands and equipment rental for water sports. Beaches also make up part of Gulf State Park, another attraction that offers cottages, camping, fishing, golf, picnic areas and trails. Another popular attraction is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which has more than 290 animals including tigers, monkeys and macaws.                                                                         ~ Hotels/Inns start from: $65 ~ Driving distance from New Orleans: 3 hours and 7 minutes

PANAMA CITY, Fla.

Although it’s considered a beach town, there is more to this place than beaches. There is an upside-down museum called WonderWorks, which features virtual reality soccer and a laser tag maze. Another is the Man in the Sea Museum, which showcases the history of diving. Getting lost in a giant maze can be part of the adventure at the Coconut Creek mini-golf course and Pier Park is the place for shopping, dining and live music. If you’re feeling more adventurous (and to avoid paying hotel fees), you can camp with foxes and alligators by the waterfront at St. Andrews State Recreation Area for $28 per night.

-Hotels/Inns start from: $78 -Driving distance from New Orleans: 5 hours and 2 minutes

GALVESTON, Texas

In existence since 1839, this city offers plenty of sightseeing with several historic districts like the Strand District featuring Victorian homes, mansions and shops. Other attractions include Moody Gardens, an entertainment complex that features attractions such as an aquarium, a golf course, a spa, a paddlewheel boat, museums and 3D and 4D theaters. If you want a sunny day at the beach, Galveston has that too.

-Hotels/Inns start from: $35 -Driving distance from New Orleans: 5 hours and 39 minutes

AUSTIN, Texas

The phrase associated with the city, “Keep Austin weird,” makes reference to the city’s great cultural variety. The city is also known as the “live-music capital of the world,” so there are many venues worth visiting, particularly on 6th street. If you’re of age, one of the famous bars on this street is Brew Exchange, where the price of their large selection of beers fluctuates depending on popularity. For more typical Spring break activities, there are many rowing docks that rent kayaks and water cycles. -Hotels/Inns start from: $40 -Driving distance from New Orleans: 7 hours 40 minutes

STAYCATION : NEW ORLEANS THE CRESCENT CITY CLASSIC

March 28 – March 29

The largest 10k in the country with runners in costumes and locals cooking hot dogs for runners along the way

Location: Downtown New Orleans Total cost: $35

Included in cost: goodie bag, race expo activities and exhibits, after- race party with performers Papa Grows Funk and Marc Broussard.

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS

March 29 – March 30

The Hornets against Miami Heat and against the Cleveland Cavaliers Location: New Orleans Arena Total cost: $45 per game

Included in cost: pre-game concert, discounted drinks, half-time show, giveaways and contests.

TIPITINA’S

March 29 – March 30

One of the most historic and iconic music venues in New Orleans Location: Uptown New Orleans Total cost: $12-15 per show Included in cost: George Porter, Jr. performing a funk show and 101 Runners performing Mardi Gras Indian music.

Vannia Zelaya can be reached at [email protected]

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