Sure, you know where all of the party spring break destinations are: Cancun, South Padre Island, Key West, Miami, New Orleans and Panama City Beach. But where can the person looking to relax and collect their thoughts go for spring break? In short, avoid any area where bikinis and wet T-shirts are the standard attire. Otherwise, here are some great places to visit if your version of R and R doesn’t include rum and raging parties.
To do: Rent a bike or bring your own to explore the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, also known as the American River Bike Trail, a paved trail that follows the American River for 32 miles to Folsom Dam. Water fountains and restrooms are all along the way on the mostly flat route with gorgeous natural scenery.
To explore: While you’re in Sacramento, visit the Crocker Art Museum, which features paintings in various mediums, sculptures, drawings and photography, from years ago to today. Also stop in at the California State Railroad Museum, Sutter’s Fort, California State Capitol Museum and California Auto Museum. Tour Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park, and unwind at McKinley Park, a photogenic park with baseball fields, horseshoe sand pits, tennis courts and a wooden playground, as well as a jogging trail.
To do: Wander through Victoria, British Columbia (don’t forget your passport), for its gorgeous architecture and expansive gardens. Get your fill of fried fish and chowder at Pike Place Market, and enjoy sitting in a restaurant that overlooks the water. Drive to nearby Vancouver, British Columbia, for a stroll through Chinatown or down to Portland for plenty of local culture, live music and food trucks.
To explore: Of course, when you go to Seattle, you have to go to the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (located nearby), where rock legends sometimes show up to view the exhibits featuring them. Ride a ferry to Bainbridge Island, where you can shop peacefully in the upscale boutiques and dine on Pacific Northwest cuisine.
To do: Early in the morning, hike Mt. Lemmon, a 6,700-foot mountain in the Coronado National Forest, or bike around the city, as Tucson is one of only nine cities in the U.S. to receive a gold or higher rating for cycling friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists.
Known for its heat because of its proximity near the Sonora Desert, Tucson is lovely to visit in the spring before the temperature rises. Highs can still soar into the mid-80s, but nights are cool and pleasant.
To explore: In case the days are too warm, cool off on a stroll through the University of Arizona Art Museum, which includes works by Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, as well as a large collection of European works from the 14th to 19th centuries. Multitask at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a zoo, museum and botanical garden in one, and Trail Dust Town, an outdoor shopping mall built from the remnants of a 1950s western movie set.
To do: Bicyclists can take the Jamestown Ferry across the James River and ride the length of the river for gorgeous views and great exercise. Dance the nights away at the Classic Amphitheatre at Strawberry Hill, a great spot for spring and summer concerts.
To explore: Visit the Byrd Theater, a 19th-century movie theater that shows second-hand movies, to escape the heat. Unwind in Shockoe Slip, a historic area known for its sightseeing, shopping, dining and entertainment. Since the city is on the Chesapeake Bay, you won’t hunger for outstanding seafood restaurants featuring the area’s crab, oysters and fish offerings.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/tonda