July 18th, 2011 Jamie
I’m all for fun in the sun, but when I read College Candy’s spring break article suggesting that you skip the beach this year, it got me thinking. Summer break sur la plage may let you work on your tan, but there’s nothing like taking a crazy, kitschy road trip to liven up your “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” storyline. Here are some funky alternatives to the typical beach-bum break.
Graceland (http://www.elvis.com/graceland/) is a sight whether or not you’re an avid Elvis fan. Visit his personal home, learn some rock and roll history, and hey, pick up a T-shirt to prove you were really there.
Dollywood (http://www.dollywood.com/) is another hot spot for music lovers (well, Dolly lovers, anyway), but it isn’t just about the music–Dollywood also has it’s own roller coasters, festivals, and even a water park.
Madonna Inn (http://www.madonnainn.com/) is famous for it’s waterfall urinal and 109 uniquely vintage-kitschy themed rooms, like the cave room, which looks to be made entirely of rock. (And if you need the kinks worked out after sleeping in a cave, they have an on-site spa, too.)
Solvang (http://www.solvangusa.com/) is a little slice of Europe in southern California. A Danish-style “village,” it has quirky old-European style hotels, lots of pastries, and a unique shopping experience. Definitely a cute and giggle-worthy vacation spot.
Hearst Castle (http://www.hearstcastle.org/), pictured above, is an extraordinary “castle” built as a seaside getaway by media baron William Randolph Hearst in the early 1900’s. Take one of four tours of the insanely gaudy-but-fascinating house, but try to resist jumping into the indoor pool.
The Wigwam Motel (http://www.wigwammotel.com/) in CA or Teepee Motel in TX (http://www.teepeemotel.net/about.html) give you what is probably your first chance to stay in a hotel shaped like a teepee–that should make for some good photo-ops.
The Biltmore (http://www.biltmore.com/) touts itself as “America’s largest home,” this castle style house in Asheville, NC has amazing gardens, an incredible house tour, a farm, and more. You can even stay on the estate if you’re willing to pony up and pay the price.
This last one may not be quirky, but it is an excellent spot for a week-long trip. I went for a few days before my Junior year of college, and I will never forget it!
New York City (http://www.nycgo.com/) is the perfect collision of culture and history. Take in a Broadway show, explore the ins and outs of Chinatown, and shop (or daydream) at Tiffany’s. Then take in the historical side of the Big Apple by visiting historical icons like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the NY library. The list, obviously, goes on and on. My best tip for NY travel? Grab some friends and look on travel sites like Priceline–you could split a really nice suite for a pretty good price. Why not live in style for a few days–especially if you can do it on a budget?