Getting closer to the sun for Spring Break means heading to the nation's ski resorts, not the beaches. Thousands of college students will make their way to those mountains from all across the country.
Lodging deals change all the time, and sell-outs are not unusual, so checking resort and other Web pages for last minute deals often turns up bargains. Don't rule out condos or rental homes as they become reasonable when splitting costs.
Also, you may not have to give away next semester's tuition at even some of the plushest hotels. RockResorts, for example, has a promo deal called Spring Break on Us where a free night at resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge is added on to various length packages.
But, the big draws are special events and concerts, just the same as if you were headed to Daytona, Lake Havasu, or South Padre. College and university spring breaks dates start in late February and run into April so most ski resorts are ready when you are.
Just remember this when you plan to ski or ride in the morning: You're not partying at sea level.
Some resorts have noted that, unlike the beach resorts, you're probably mixing in with "normal" winter vacationers. "The average age of visitors might not be too kind to you and your friends turning the jazz club into a wet T-shirt contest," writes one Spring Break advisory website.
We've got you covered with a bunch of suggestions for Spring Break 2011. There are many more choices:
The Wild West:
Spring Break long has been a scene at Squaw Valley, USA for students from Cal Berkeley, Davis, Sacramento State, Chico, and University of Nevada, Reno and this year will be just as lively.
The big Squaw event: An April 9 Kiss My Tiara Pool Party with Olympic racing star Julia Mancuso. There are other dips in the pool on the slate, too.
Party spot for the Pacific Northwest is Mt. Bachelor, near Bend, Ore., where President/General Manager Dave Rathbun says, "Spring is our wheelhouse. The weather is less intense, our snow base is super deep, we still get frequent powder dumps and the school calendars work in our favor." He said Bachelor won't close until May 29.
The best deal at Bachelor is the new all-encompassing Springtacular: a joint venture including the resort, lodges, local breweries and restaurants in Bend and Sunriver. Buy a Springtacular pass for $149, good from April 4 to May 29, and then flash it for exclusive offers. Look for "plenty of bands, events, and animation." Skiing on the Pine Marten Express is included from 3 to 7 p.m. It all ends Memorial Weekend with a beer garden, concert, and pond-skimming.
Time your Spring Break for around mid-April and head north of the border to Whistler/Blackcomb for Canada's largest snowboard event, the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival. It is known as the "poster child" for this kind of event. Here's what the promoters promise: "We'll throw-down in ski and snowboard comps, party like rockstars, walk the red carpet to events such as the Filmmaker Showdown, Fashion Show, and Pro-Photography competitions, plus, be privy to new and improved events, never before seen." Actual festival dates are April 15-24.
Rocking The Rockies:
Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado continues to be a Spring Break hot spot, building on its January College Week events. Colleges feeding in come from Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. They've hosted big groups from All-Cal and LSU in past years.
This may be a great place choice for going easy on your wallet, with good deals at the Grand Lodge and The Plaza. Big Crested Butte events are Big Air On Elk Ave. March 12; Extreme Telemark Championships March 17; Festival Spring Concert featuring O.A.R., March 26, and Bump and Jump and Pond Skimming April 2-3.
Don't rule out Vail or Aspen just because you think they are pricey. That "Spring Break On Us" deal works well at Vail and Beaver Creek, and you'll find other good prices at places like Sun Vail and Beaver Creek West.
Vail hosts an end-of-season bash with free concerts, on-snow events, street parties, and what is billed as the World Pond Skimming Championships. Concert headliners for the April 15-24 event include Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Train, The Greyboy Allstars, Shpongle's Shpongletron Experience, Stephen Marley, Chris Velan, and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.
There are a number of college tour operators planning Aspen/Snowmass trips, and all warn they will sell out early. The Tyrolean Lodge in Aspen is advertising Spring Break rooms for $195 per night if you're booking on your own.
Utah's Canyons Ski Resort brings it on with its annual Spring Break Gruv Festival March 26-April 4. Planned are concerts, the ubiquitous pond skimming contest, Canis Lupis Challenge, and Red Bull Games. Book a reservation for Canyons lodging at one of their 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-bedroom suites in the Silverado Lodge, Sundial Lodge, Vintage on the Strand or Escala Lodges, and you get two free lift tickets and breakfast buffet for two each day of your stay.
Students from Arizona colleges and universities catch a stunning spring break for heading to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin, Mont., in the Northern Rockies. Allegiant Airlines, operating out of Williams-Gateway Airport, has nonstop flights from Mesa to Bozeman, about an hour from the two resorts.
Roundtrip airfares starts at $140 and lodging at Big Sky's Huntley Lodge matches that fare at $99 per room, per night. A condo at Shoshone Lodge is $299 per condo, per night. Your Mesa-Bozeman boarding pass gets you a first day of skiing free and an additional five days at $41 per day.
Boyne Mountain, Michigan's Carnival Weekend hits March 18-20 with a Mardi Gras atmosphere. Look for music, cookouts, silly games, costume contests, and the infamous Slush Cup. Boyne Highlands hosts Krazy Days March 19.
The Bikini Race at Boston Mills/Brandywine March 12 is, alas, for females only. The race includes an obstacle course. First place wins $100 with prizes given to the top three places.
Warming Up On The Eastern Seaboard:
Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., and EVOL Burritos have teamed up on a concert and lifestyle event called FestEVOL March 19. This year's concert will ofrer O.A.R., DJ Logic, and Pete Kilpartick Band, as well as an eco village. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 3. Barbecue, beer, soda, and other refreshments will be available. Concert ticket and lift ticket for either Saturday, March 19 or Sunday, March 20 are $94. Concert ticket and a two-day lift ticket for Saturday and Sunday are $149. Okemo also is offering special lodging packages, at 866-796-5366.
Waterville Valley, Bretton Woods, Cannon Mountain, and Cranmore Mountain Resort have teamed up on a 4-Mountain New Hampshire College Pass, good for unlimited skiing and riding on 255 trails, 37 lifts, 1.061 acres, and 13 terrain parks. The 2010-11 Pass is still a better deal than buying daily lift tickets, at $309. Students with foresight can get ready for next winter's college breaks for $259 until May 30.
Spring Break at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, means the 3rd annual IZSTYLE Winter Tour March 4-5; Bud Light Music Series March 5; and ‘80s Retro Weekend March 11-13. Comedienne Bob Marley is at the Shipyard Brew Haus March 13. Sunday River lodging deals start at $104 per person per night for weekends, for lift ticket, lesson, and lodging, and $75 per person per night midweek.
Whiteface Mountain Resort at Lake Placid in the Adirondacks of New York State has St. Patty's Day March 12-13, with Irish food, fun, and festivities. Ski or ride Sunday for $35 for adults, $30 for teens and $25 for juniors and afterward join the party in the Cloudspin Lounge with live music by Trenchtown Oddities. Reggae Weekend is March 19-20, with music in the Cloudspin Lounge from the Big Take Over Saturday, March 19. March 26-27 is a Pirate Party at Whiteface, featuring music from Y Not Blue.
Head a bit south to Sugar Mountain, N.C., and pick up lift ticket specials for college students from North Carolina and Tennessee schools with valid student photo ID. The special rates are in effect from Feb. 22 to the end of the season, Monday through Thursday days, and Sunday through Thursday nights. The rates are $25 for a full-day ticket, $19 for half-day, $25 for twilight ticket, $19 for night.
(OnTheSnow Eastern Seaboard Editor Roger Leo contributed to this article.)
Get in the mood with this video from Canyon Resorts Spring Break Gruv Festival's pond skimming event from 2010: