Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grown Up Spring Break…

Do you remember your college spring break?

Did it look Something like this...
Do you remember your college spring break?

I believe the wish to escape from frosty locales and cut loose for a week is one that never goes away, even for grown-ups. If there was any group that most needed a mid-season break from the daily grind, it would be those who have long since graduated.

Grown Up Spring Break…
Are you in this group; the individuals who have worked too hard to have their spring break ruined by a bunch of rowdy collegians who aren't your own? Like me, you've probably already been there, done that, and now you've earned the right to celebrate the rites of spring your way — a more tranquil way.

Is it possible to take the classic spring break experience and make it a bit more grown-up? The answer is…yes!  Turns out, there's more to spring break than just Girls Gone Wild— think luxury accommodations, soothing spa treatments, serene beaches, and handcrafted jewelry that you'll want to wear long after your tan has faded.

It can be a bit scary for grown-ups to imagine a vacation in a warm place during the peak drunken revelry times of March and April, but it’s by no means impossible—if you know where to go.

My picks for a “Grown Up” spring fling:

Grown Up Spring Break…

Savannah, Georgia
Historic Savannah is a beautiful and warm city to visit in the spring. Remarkable architecture from centuries ago mingles with trendy downtown boutiques, bistros and microbreweries. Visit the local art galleries and antique shops, stroll through the peaceful historic squares and parks, and sip sweet tea at a sidewalk cafe with your sweetheart. While not directly on the coast, the city does have a riverfront district that comes alive in the evening with street performers, many dining options, shops, and bars.

One hotel that I love is the Mansion on Forsyth Park, a grand 125-room restored Victorian Romanesque mansion. When you stay at the Mansion, you can stay busy or find a peaceful spot to relax. Instead of spending an afternoon tanning on the beach... you can be pampered at the Poseidon Spa, take a hands-on cooking class or simply lounge poolside. Throughout the Mansion there is an impressive art collection of more than 400 original pieces to be discovered.  Once you venture out, cross the street and explore the beautiful Forsyth Park and the surrounding Savannah Historic District.

The city is also filled with amazing bed and breakfasts which offer the best of her charm and Southern hospitality. Most of the inns are in the historic district and furnished with antiques and period pieces. Many offer romance and spring packages.

One word of warning – do not book your visit to Savannah on or near St Patrick’s Day; the city does have one of the largest green beer celebrations nationwide. 

Grown Up Spring Break…

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
If you long for a week at the beach, Santa Rosa Beach may be your perfect spring break destination. Tucked away along Florida’s “Emerald” Gulf Coast, Santa Rosa has become a luxury escape for those looking for a vacation destination to unwind and indulge in a natural paradise without masses of spring breakers.

Known for its sugar white beach and beautiful turquoise water, Santa Rosa also has hiking trails, beautiful bays, and state parks to explore.  Or maybe a round of Golf at one of the many exquisite courses found in the area would fulfill your grown up spring break travel plan.   

With warm Southern hospitality, the intimacy of a bed and breakfast, and the fun of a classic beach house, the WaterColor Inn & Resort creates the ideal setting to relax and unwind. Freshly redecorated beachfront rooms bring the beach within footsteps of your door. From the soft linens to the spa-inspired toiletries, every well-appointed room has been furnished for the full comfort of its guests.

Offering everything from local produce and dairy to baked goods and other local specialty items like handcrafted soap, the Seaside Farmers Market on Saturdays is a fun way to get to know the locals. Instead of buying a “Spring Break 2014” souvenir T-Shirt or a Wet Willie’s Slushy Mug, you can pick up a locally handmade necklace, a fragrant exfoliating sugar scrub, or maybe some organic orange blossom honey to remind you of your grown up spring break in Santa Rosa Beach.

Grown Up Spring Break…

Ashville, North Carolina
Known as “The Paris of the South” Asheville is a good option if you are not looking for a warm waterfront vacation.  The weather in March is variable; you could be tubing downhill in the snow or relaxing in the same tube on a spring float trip down the French Broad River.  If you are weather flexible, Ashville has an eclectic downtown with 30-plus art galleries to explore. The town is framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains which offer many opportunities for outdoor adventure.

If you enjoy touring castles, sampling local wines, or visiting spring gardens in bloom, a visit to the Biltmore Estate is a must.  The main house, built by George Vanderbilt, is America’s largest home. Designed to rival the castles of Europe, the 8,000 acre estate boasts an award winning winery, a working farm, amazing formal gardens and the Vanderbilt home. The estate is open daily for visitors.

Asheville restaurants run the gamut from Mediterranean to vegetarian, four-star cuisine to down-home cooking. The city's vibrant restaurant scene goes well beyond its Southern cooking and roots. You can expect the extraordinary in Asheville.  Instead of raucous upside-down tequila shots, order a tart Appletini or sparkling flute of champagne and be blissfully at one with your grown up spring break.

Notable accommodations in Ashville include the Historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa and The Inn on Biltmore Estate. The Lion and the Rose is a good choice if you are looking for elegant, B&B ambience; tell their friendly house pup Cedric hello for me.  

Grown Up Spring Break…

Tulum, Mexico
If you really want to get away from it all this spring, grab your passport and head to the sunny shores of Tulum, Mexico. It's quickly becoming the "it" beach destination for the stylish crowd, with its eco-chic hotels, fantastic dining, gorgeous beaches, and the only major Mayan ruins along the coast, but still remains less developed (less student appealing) than Mexico's other resort areas.

I can't imagine a more perfect beachfront hideaway than Encantada Beachfront Boutique Hotel. The small, intimate, family owned and operated hotel is situated on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. It is an environmentally conscious hotel in a remote jungle location. The palapa style buildings were built by Mayan craftsmen incorporating the traditional high thatched roofs using hardwood from the jungle. The rooms do not have air conditioning but were designed to take maximum advantage of the natural ocean breezes through 3 walls of floor to ceiling, screened sliding glass doors. The friendly staff is dedicated to making you feel at home, schedule activities, provide bikes, offer advice on local restaurants, shopping, and yoga classes, or they can also help you schedule tours and activities to make your grown up spring break extraordinary.

If your perfect vacation includes cenote cave diving, sailing, off-shore snorkeling, fishing, golf, exploring a wildlife preserve or Mayan ruins, all are accessible during your stay in Tulum. If you enjoy listening to live music, check out the Luna Maya Hotel on Tulum Beach- Sit back and take in the sounds while enjoying tapas and a killer margarita.

No matter what your taste this season, there’s a stretch of sand, a tranquil mountain town or even a historic southern city that won’t be clogged with collegians. Yes, even during spring break.


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