SAU Buzz

Spring Break Staycations

by Becca Herrmann
Posted on Mar 03, 2018

College students procrastinate on everything from reading that chapter by Thursday’s 8 a.m. class to completing the final project that they’ve known about since January. Turns out, college students procrastinate spring break plans too.

While many SAU students have been making big plans for spring break, whether it’s a mission trip or Florida beaches, others have let spring break creep up on them—this article is for those students. Here we are, one week until the coveted halfway point of the semester. It’s too late to book a flight to a southern state, but it’s not too late to schedule a weekend getaway within the Midwest. Here are a few ideas for any last minute spring breakers.

Oldie but a goodie—Chicago, IL

At this point in life, most of us are sick of scrolling through Instagram and seeing the plethora of pictures in front of the Bean. I’m sure we’re even more sick of the plethora of “witty” but basic captions like “I’ve never Bean more happy” or, my personal favorite, “Have you even Bean to Chicago if you don’t take a picture like this?” But, there are many other things we can do in Chicago without being that person on social media. While many people travel up to the top of Willis Tower, very few make the venture to the top of the John Hancock building. Home to the Chicago 360º and Tilt attractions, it’s the perfect spot to hangout over spring break. It’s $21 to get up to the top where you can take in the views of Chicago from all sides. I don’t say this very often, but the view is breathtaking. There is also a café with a built in bar for any 21+ students. Another not so well known Chicago attraction is the year-round Randolph Street Market, where spring breakers can pick up all the antiques they desire and maybe even bring trinkets back for their roommates. And it just so happens that this year, spring break lines up with St. Patrick’s Day, so you can catch the Chicago River in bright green instead of it’s usual I-don’t-really-know-what-kind-of-chemicals-have-been-dumped-here-but-it-looks-pretty-disgusting green. The parade is also on St. Patrick’s Day and free for everyone.

Let’s head out west (sort of)—Des Moines, Iowa

For the Iowa natives, this may not seem an intriguing spring break destination, but many of us Illinois folk have never been there. If you’re in spring break for the Instagram pictures, be sure to visit Pappajohn Sculpture Park—not named after the go-to late night pizza place. The park, located on Grand Avenue, is home to over 20 sculptures that will ensure maximum likes on any post, and it’s free. If you’re not in it for the likes, another place that may interest you is the Blank Park Zoo. With the weather warming up, it’s the perfect time to go see some animals, and it’s only $14 for admission which can be cut down further with Groupon deals. Before you leave town be sure to try Mosquedas tacos, which have been voted best in town for years. The business has been making their deep-fried flour tortillas for 50 years at multiple locations—sounds like a must to me. And if none of that interests you, you’ll surely be able to find something to do at The Outlets of Des Moines, home to outlet stores like Express, Nike, Converse and Under Armour.

Get off the Grid—Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park, Ill.

While these parks are located a little ways off the mainstream map, they offer just as many Instagram opportunities as the previous destinations. There’s a lot of history in these parks, and even more stairs to climb, but for outdoorsy students, it could be the perfect option. There are many trails leading to majestic waterfalls and rock features. There are several places to take a break from the hiking too.

Nearby towns offer some options for the 21+ crowd. August Hills Winery, in nearby Utica, offers several tasting options in a setting that will make you think you’re in the middle of a swanky city.

Tangled Roots Brewing Co. in Ottawa has crafted several original beers for tourists and townies to enjoy over live music, which plays in the tasting room. Tangled Roots is also hosting a St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring plenty of live music, Irish beer and other drink specials. For overnighters, there’s a small nearby resort or several commercial options like the Hampton or Holiday Inns in neighboring Peru.

Headed North—Milwaukee, Wisc.

Before you say it, yes Wisconsin will still be a little cold during the week of spring break. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as fun as the typical tropical destinations. Walk down the cobblestone brick of Old World 3rd Street and take in the old-style atmosphere. If you’re looking for more modern fun, hit up Brady Street where younger crowds flock to cafés and bars. Another reason for visiting Milwaukee for those who are 21 years old, are the breweries—there’s 47 of them. Miller Coors is by far the biggest—the warehouse contained over 8 million barrels of beer in 2016. They offer daily tours every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Some other smaller breweries to try are Lakefront Brewery and Sprecher which also offer several tour options. And I can’t leave out one of my favorites: Horny Goat Brewing Co. They offer several high ABV craft beers that you won’t find anywhere else like the Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter and the Tango Delta Tangerine IPA.

Milwaukee is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a little early on March 10. The parade is free and snakes through downtown Milwaukee. You could also catch a Bucks game if you go the weekend of March 17 when they play the Atlanta Hawks.

A hidden gem of Milwaukee is the swings under the water street bridge. They're by no means a necessity, but it’s pretty cool that they made a playground in the middle of their urban jungle. And while it will be too cold to take a dip in Lake Michigan, Bradford Beach still offers some pretty awesome views.

So when your friends brag about flying to Panama City Beach or South Padre Island, you can brag about your Midwest staycation and how much money you’re going to save for the same amount of fun. No matter where you go or what you do, have a safe and fun spring break from all of us here at the Buzz!