Ah, spring break! The only week-long break during the spring semester that gives students a momentary reprieve from the over-looming thought of finals and the crushing weight of homework (that is, if you haven’t already followed our advice on how to manage stress effectively).
Take it from a senior: take time out of your busy life to relax. Spring break is perfect for that. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably taking 18 hours of classes with plenty of assignments that could be completed over the break. I understand the temptation to stay in town and complete work over the break to get ahead of assignments. But no good comes from pushing yourself constantly. In fact, a study published by the American Psychological Association revealed that overworking yourself can lead to poorer mental health, physical health, performance and an increase in injury rate.
Utilize spring break to get some fresh air and see some new sights. Even a few days out of town can help recharge your mindset, boost happiness and prepare you for the last push to the semester. Lucky for you, Murfreesboro is conveniently within at least five hours of a few great destinations that work great for two to three nights out of town.
Atlanta, Georgia (3 hours, 25 minutes)
Atlanta is one of the most interesting multicultural cities in the southeastern United States. With a rich civil rights history and serving as a major contributor to music movements and as a secondary filming location for the movie industry, Atlanta lives and breathes art and culture.
The Georgia Aquarium and Coca Cola Museum are probably Atlanta’s two biggest attractions that you have to experience at least once in your life. The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and High Museum are two central points in Atlanta that offer some breathtaking art exhibits. If you want more greenery, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is a step away from the city life and even offers the Keneda Canopy Walk over the botanical gardens.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee (3 hours, 45 minutes)
If city life isn’t for you but you still want to get out of town, Gatlinburg is a beautiful destination for nature lovers and bear enthusiasts. Yes…bear enthusiasts! Have you seen the number of bear statues located around the town?
For the complete Gatlinburg experience, I’d recommend renting a cabin in the mountains; there are plenty of cabins up for rent on Airbnb for decently affordable prices. Even if you decide to stay in town for your trip, you’re still within eyesight of the mountains and the national park wherever you go. Aside from the 800 miles of hiking trails, Gatlinburg also has multiple outdoor events like white water rafting and horseback riding. The old-timey town of Gatlinburg has plenty of quaint shops and diners that have some of the nicest owners I’ve ever met. In town, you can drop by the Ripley’s Aquarium or ride up to the top of the mountains with the Aerial Tramway.
Asheville, North Carolina (4 hours, 30 minutes)
Asheville was one of the cities I was always encouraged to visit but I never felt like it was worth the drive – boy, was I wrong. A short drive past the Smoky Mountains lands you in the beautiful, vintage town of Asheville. If you have the financial capability I would highly recommend visiting the Biltmore Mansion. The Biltmore, aside from the elaborate decor inside, includes a botanical garden and offers daily wine tasting events. Besides that, walking around the city is always a great way to see what small gems hide in the city. If you’re more of a night owl looking for some supernatural spook, the city offers up numerous nightly ghost tours.
St. Louis, Missouri (5 hours)
I must admit, St. Louis is probably my favorite city on this list. While it’s the longest drive out, it’s by far the most worth it for the number of attractions and cheap prices. Forest Park has several attractions scattered throughout the park such as the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum and St. Louis Zoo that are all free to the public. If you want to feel like a child again, the City Museum is an adult-sized playground with repurposed objects. Yes, it costs a bit, but it’s definitely worth it.
And don’t forget: your student discount can get you reduced prices at some attractions – most art museums offer student discounts. Hotels can be super affordable if you look around for places in the outskirts of the city. I’ve stayed in St. Louis and Gatlinburg for $80 and $65 a night, respectively. Split that hotel fee with a friend or two and you’ve got a very affordable trip.
Staying on campus?
MTSU hosts the Alternative Spring Break program to offer volunteer opportunities to those who want to make a difference in their community. It’s a good opportunity to still go out of town all while making an impact in the community.
Rebekah Juergens, a senior in the Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Studies program, works as a student worker in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL) and had a chance to take part in the program during her undergraduate career.
Alternative Spring Break is an opportunity for students to make a difference in the local community. Over the course of four days, participating students will focus on a different need in our community each day. From hunger to homelessness, Alternative Spring Break’s mission is to provide experiences that will directly benefit our local community while also leaving an impact on the lives of the participants who are using their spring break to help others.
Applications for the Alternative Spring Break program in the Spring 2019 semester are due on February 22nd so don’t hesitate to sign up and make a difference in your community.
The team at Student Voice hopes you have a great spring break, and we hope that you’re ready to ace your finals when you return!