Quick Spring Weekend Getaways
The snow has melted and there's a hint of warmth and the scent of blooming buds in the air. For a quick weekend jaunt to get a head start on spring, ShermansTravel.com editors have compiled its annual Top 10 Quick Spring Break Getaways - from the Caribbean to California. This year's picks are a just a quick flight from many U.S. cities.
Antigua and Barbuda
Constant trade-winds and idyllic harbors make these island coasts a perfect boating destination and attract a mélange of sailors, yachters, and admirers. However, on-land pursuits are just as appealing with 365 sugar-white-sand beaches and historical attractions on Antigua, and fabulous resorts, pink-and-white shell beaches, and untouched Caribbean life found on Barbuda.
Asheville, North Carolina
This emerging destination has it all for both nature-lovers and those seeking arts and culture. Asheville offers a thriving downtown arts scene complete with lively cultural offerings and delightful Art Deco-influenced buildings - all surrounded by the majestic Smoky Mountains bursting with spring's lively palette of wildflowers. Plus, beautiful Myrtle Beach is just an hour away.
Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World" with nearly 200 venues. The laid-back vibe makes it's a haven for the musicians, artists, and performers who live and thrive here. Austin is also the state's most culturally rich city, with museums aplenty and art galleries galore. Springtime is ideal with temperatures averaging in the low 80s and it's also when bat-viewing is at its best - up to 1.5 million bats take off every night from Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge in search of food.
Charleston, South Carolina
Few cities are lovelier, more genteel, and more downright Southern than Charleston, South Carolina. Spring getaways to Charleston offer bearably warm temperatures perfect for a walking tour or a carriage ride through the historic city. The pace is a little slower and the people are a little nicer here. Blooming flowers, fantastic restaurants, upscale shopping, and a plethora of beach and golf options nearby are more than enough to make visitors feel rested even if they're only here for a weekend.
Death Valley, California
This underrated national park gets beastly hot - above 120 degrees-- in the summer and deathly cold in the winter but in the spring, it is prime season and the park comes alive. Explore this 3.3-million-acre park's many wonders: vast open spaces, arid mountains, rolling sand dunes, old ghost towns, and barren salt pans of Death Valley. Hike the lowest place in North America (almost 300 feet below sea level), surf a sand dune, and visit a Moorish-style castle.
There's no better way to discover the city where jazz was born than by attending its crowning fête, Jazz Fest (April 29-May 8, 2011), a 10-day event where musical acts from across the globe perform on multiple stages all over town. Home to the richest musical heritage in America, always colorful and soulful New Orleans is a city on the rise once again and John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Lauryn Hill, and Allen Toussaint are just a handful of the big names on hand in 2011.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen, situated on Mexico's Caribbean coast, just 42 miles south of Cancun, attracts a different kind of Spring Breaker than its northern neighbor - one that wants quiet white-sand beaches, eco-parks, and nearby Mayan ruins. Mayan monuments at Chichén Itzá are close enough for a day trip.
Santa Catalina Island, California
Freeway-free Catalina Island is an idyllic seaside escape with a year-round Mediterranean climate. Avalon, the only real city on this 75-square-mile isle, is a postcard-perfect place where the mode of transport is by golf cart rather than car. The crystal clear Pacific is great for diving and inland, visitors will discover indigenous foxes, bald eagles, and the modern-day offspring of a bison herd brought to the island for a silent-screen-era movie shoot.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Harmonious Santa Fe, New Mexico, truly lives up to its moniker, "the City Different," thanks to its combination of surreal desert landscapes, sprawling adobe architecture, and the third-largest art market in the United States. Spring visitors experience fewer crowds, lower prices and yucca flowers in full bloom. Sample the best of native cuisine; shop for eclectic pottery, jewelry, sculptures and paintings; or take a leisurely stroll down popular Canyon Road.
Whistler, British Columbia
For die-hard snow-lovers, Whistler, British Columbia, is where they'll find one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Snow season lasts as late as early June on over 8,000 acres of ski-able terrain, 12 alpine bowls on three glaciers, and more than 200 marked trails. As an added bonus, the beautiful village has enough shops, nightlife, restaurants, and events to keep even non-skiers happy - and plenty of shiny new Olympic-legacy attractions (from 2010's Winter Games) worthy of exploration.
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