So you didn’t plan enough in advance to afford some big, all-inclusive resort on an island south of the US. Boo hoo. Let’s be real, renting a car and just driving off without a destination in mind is my kind of vacation kink. While the city of Columbus is exciting enough alone (peep “New Year, Same City”), I want you to expand your horizons a bit more. Let’s talk about some Spring Break escapades to do on a super tight budget. For most of these, I’m assuming you have a car. Alternatively, there’s always the Greyhound. (And yes, it’s safe to ride.)
1. Pittsburgh, PA
Guys. I’m obsessed with Pittsburgh. Did you know that the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has one of the largest dinosaur exhibits in the United States? I’m telling you, being able to see all the dinosaur skeletons blew my Jurassic Park-loving mind. Pittsburgh has a little bit of everything for everyone. There’s The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest museum in America dedicated to a single artist. Or, you can check out The Mattress Factory, (not what you think it is), a modern, pro-artist museum that pushes boundaries in what art can mean for the viewer and the artist. However, my fondest memory of visiting Pittsburgh was making my way across one of the many bridges in the city after having filled my belly with stuffed pierogies (from Stuff’d Pierogi Bar) and getting drunk on local beer across from the the Pirates stadium, PNC Park. Because I’m not a quitter, though, I then took an Uber to Arsenal Cider House, where I had cider ice cream. This was not before almost getting attacked by a goose. This is all to say, Pitt has a soft place in my heart.
2. Chicago, IL
I don’t think I have to talk this one up too much. A lot of people don’t realize Chicago is only a five hour drive away. (I’ll say that again: ONLY FIVE HOURS!) There are so many amazing things to do here that I don’t even know how to begin selling it to you. The Museum of Contemporary Art has some of my favorite paintings of all time, like Nighthawks and American Gothic. Yes, you heard that right. The American Gothic. While you’re in the city, you could grab a bite at the first Uno Pizzeria & Grill. Or honestly, grab a deep dish anywhere! I haven’t even mentioned the Willis Tower glass ledge, which is super freaky and kind of scary but a gorgeous view and exhilarating experience, if you like heights. Honestly, there’s just so many things to do in Chicago. It has everything. You won’t regret this trip, or finally being able to put the giant bean on your Instagram page.
3. Niagara Falls, ON, CA
I know it sounds mad dumb but listen to me. You can get to Niagara Falls in less than six hours. It may be a bit much, I understand, but Niagara Falls is kind of worth it. Of course, if you really want to have fun, update your passport to explore a little more of the area. There’s countless horror houses like Nightmares Fear Factory (which has a “chicken list” of people who quit halfway through the experience of 160,000 and growing), Ripley’s 4D Moving Theatre (yes, as in Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not!), delicious restaurants featuring some Canadian specialities (get la poutine before you leave the country), and The Great Canadian Midway (not to be confused with our campus Midway – this one is like the greatest arcade you’ve ever seen). None of these are even counting the actual falls, or the fact that Canada has legal weed. (Take a train to Toronto to find dispensaries in just under two hours!) Niagara Falls has been a hot tourist destination for years, and the activities and businesses surrounding the falls really show for it, making it my go-to for a quick and cheap getaway.
4. Frankenmuth, MI
This one’s a bit weird, I know. It’s also a city in that state up north that we don’t talk about. However, before you write me off… THIS CITY IS GORGEOUS. It looks like a German town, and the Bavarian-style architecture coined this town as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Frankenmuth also boasts a store where it’s Christmas all year round: Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, or the “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” I’m telling you, this city will make you feel like you left the United States and landed face-first into a Christmas card. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Grab a 16-seat PedAle Trolley with the group to the town’s Frankenmuth Brewery for a sip of Christmas Town ale. Think of all the Instagram thirst-traps you’ll be able to post, and the trip that didn’t have to break the bank.