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How to Plan Spring Break – 4 Ways

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0220homespunweb.jpgRISMEDIA, Feb. 20, 2008-(MCT)-Everyone needs a spring break, right? For the twenties crowd, it can mean partying in Cabo or volunteering in New Orleans. Families will find March opening dates at kid-friendly attractions. The rest of us? Check out these ideas for sophisticated city getaways.

FOR ART LOVERS

Degas is doing Denver. Frida’s opening in Philly. And L.A. is unveiling a whole new museum devoted to modern art. It’s a good time to plan a city getaway with art, shopping and dining. Among this spring’s notable museum shows:

- The much-anticipated Broad Contemporary Art Museum opened recently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art complex with works by Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman and others.
- Using hundreds of artifacts, “A Day in Pompeii” at the San Diego Natural History Museum transports visitors back to the eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius (through June 15).
- San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor puts on display “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005″ (March 1-May 25). The de Young will host the 24th annual Bouquets to Arts (March 11-15).
- Already home to “Nighthawks,” the Art Institute of Chicago will feature 50 oils and 30 watercolors in the “Edward Hopper” show, along with a companion “Watercolors by Winslow Homer” exhibit (both through May 10).
- At the Denver Art Museum, “Inspiring Impressionism” pairs paintings by impressionists with the old master works that inspired the artists. It features works by Cassatt, Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Pissarro and more (Feb. 23-May 25, then on to Seattle).
- “Frida Kahlo,” a centennial exhibit, opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Feb. 20-May 18, then on to San Francisco).
- At the Seattle Art Museum, see the gilded bronze panels of “The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece” (through April 6).
- Dallas Museum of Art, “J.M.W. Turner” (through May 18).
- High Museum, Atlanta, “The Louvre and the Ancient World” (through Sept. 7), and “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” (through May 4).
- Milwaukee Art Museum, “Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945″ (through May 4).

Family Fun-Seekers
Spring break is a huge week for theme parks and other family amusements. Here are some highlights:

- Monterey Bay Aquarium is doubling the size of its Splash Zone fun gallery for children. The games and interactive exhibits reopen March 17.
- A young bottlenose dolphin calf, Mavrick, makes his debut when Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., opens for weekends starting March 8.
- Two new attractions open March 14 at Disney’s California Adventure: Pixar Play Parade, with characters and floats from every Pixar movie, and Playhouse Disney Live. That park, and Disneyland, are open every day in March.
- Universal CityWalk, the entertainment area just outside the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, has a new indoor skydiving wind tunnel called iFly Hollywood. Universal is open all of March.
- Near Orlando, Fla., Disney’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 19-June 1.

The Beach Crowd

The beach often beckons those who need a break from the late winter air.

Mexico’s Baja resort towns are always popular with California’s twenties crowd. “A lot of people were going to Rosarito Beach last year because you didn’t need a passport to cross the border-just a car,” said Debbie Gibb of the Student and Youth Travel Association. (You still don’t need one if you’re driving to Mexico, but don’t forget your birth certificate and photo ID.)

Nationally, Gibb said, top spring-break destinations remain Panama City Beach, Fla., and South Padre Island, Texas.

Also popular this year are Las Vegas; Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Breckenridge, Colo.; Miami’s South Beach; and Myrtle Beach, S.C., she said. Top picks outside the United States include other Mexico destinations-Cancun, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta-as well as Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Panama City Beach expects 250,000 spring-breakers this year, including those in town for the annual spring break party, March 9-22, sponsored by television’s mtvU channel.

“The kids want to go there because that’s where the celebrities are going to be and that’s where everybody else is going to be,” said Joe Bush of First Choice Student Travel, which represents 16 of the largest providers of student trips.

Bush said emerging destinations include Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. “There’s been a trend toward more all-inclusive, and Punta Cana just has really nice resorts and a great value for the college kids,” he said.

For Volunteers
“Spring break is growing up,” said Debbie Gibb of the Student and Youth Travel Association, who reports “a steady decline in traditional party trips.” Instead, people “want to make a difference in the world. They are more informed, more socially responsible.”

From San Jose State University, 36 students will spread their volunteer efforts around during what’s called Alternative Spring Break: One group will head to Mexico to help build schools, bibliotecas or community centers outside Tijuana, along with visits or tutoring at orphanages; another group will construct homes and tackle environmental safety projects in New Orleans; and a third trip has been added this year to the Central Valley, where students will volunteer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the National Chavez Center.

“We’ll be staying with host migrant families, serving in the local community, possibly working a morning or afternoon alongside farmworkers in the fields, visiting Cesar Chavez’s grave site and finishing the week by driving to L.A. to join the Cesar E. Chavez Day Walk & Festival,” said Michael Fallon, associate director of the San Jose State Center for Community Learning & Leadership.

Hybrid spring breaks where students volunteer and get some R&R too is also a trend. Joe Bush of First Choice Student Travel said fraternities and sororities heading to Cancun sponsor food and clothing drives; others spend three or four days working in New Orleans and a few days hanging out in the French Quarter.

It’s not too late to book alternative spring breaks. A major provider of student travel, i-to-i, still has room on student trips to do conservation work with sea turtles in Costa Rica, build homes in Honduras and work in Ecuador’s Mindo forest. Details: www.i-to-i.com/springbreak.

© 2008, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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