As students crammed for tests and pulled all-nighters to finish assignments during this past week, there was one thought in the back of their mind keeping them motivated: spring break is almost here.

For some Mississippi State University students, they have known how they will be spending March 9-13 for months, counting down the days until their European vacation or beach trip. Some may have even been gearing up for a relaxing week in their hometown.

For others, they have no set plans for this upcoming spring break. They either do not have the funds for a luxurious vacation or have not had a spare moment to plan anything. 

Thankfully, for those seeking a spring break adventure more on the inexpensive way, there are many cities in the South filled with cheap thrills that still offer a great time. 

One nearby city not commonly thought of as a spring break destination is Birmingham, Alabama. Located a little over two hours from Starkville, the “Steel City” is constantly growing. The downtown area offers a big-city feel with some southern hospitality on the side. 

For history and culture buffs, the Birmingham Museum of Art is ranked highly among museums, is free and offers a lot of unique exhibits. According to the museum’s website, the newest exhibit opens March 7 and is titled All Things Bright and Beautiful and “illustrates the importance of being seen.” There is also the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which traces the journey of the civil rights movement during the '50s and '60s.

Downtown Birmingham also features unique restaurants, perfect for every meal. For breakfast, popular options include Bandit Patisserie and Over Easy. For lunch, Saw’s Soul Kitchen and Melt are trending choices. For a more elegant dinner, Highlands Bar and Grill and El Barrio are both ranked high by TripAdvisor.  

If a local beach trip sounds more appealing, the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama are only a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Starkville, making it the perfect option for a quick trip. 

Vivian Summerlin, sophomore educational psychology major, plans on visiting Gulf Shores.

 “I’ll be going to Gulf Shores because it’s smaller, a little cheaper, but still lots of fun,” Summerlin said.

Also located on the Gulf Coast is Escorbina Point Campground. This is a free campground on Blackwater Bay perfect for hanging hammocks and enjoying a beautiful sunset. This is perfect for first-time campers who also love the beach. 

Another city that is easily accessible to college students is Memphis, Tennessee. The city is a little under three hours from Starkville, making it about half the distance from Nashville while also offering a unique change from the typical Nashville scene. Memphis is known as the home of the blues, soul and rock n’ roll, so music lovers can conveniently discover local artists around every corner, especially on the famous Beale Street. 

Beyond music, Memphis is also known for its stellar barbecue. Restaurants such as Rendezvous, Central BBQ or Interstate to satisfy those meat cravings. Payne’s is also a local favorite, with a one-of-a-kind grilled bologna sandwich and original mustard-based slaw.

Catherine Scates, freshman public relations major and Memphis native, recommends her town to anyone looking for a last-minute spring break adventure and mentioned her favorite things to do.

“Something to do would be going to the Bass Pro Pyramid Hotel and going to the top of it. From there, you can see the whole Memphis skyline, and it’s beautiful. Also, going to get a snowcone from Jerry’s is a must,” Scates said.

For those looking for more of a road trip, grab some friends and head up to Cincinnati, Ohio which is a nine-hour drive from Starkville, Charleston, South Carolina which is a nine hour and fifteen-minute drive from Starkville or Chicago, Illinois which is a 10 and a half-hour drive from Starkville. These take longer to drive to, for sure, but they will likely prove worth it to students who need to escape the Deep South for a few days.

Derrick Echols, a freshman broadcasting major and Chicago local, praised his city for its historical significance.

“Go to the Field Museum. It has dinosaurs, different cultures and everything else,” Echols said.

For those not planning to travel far from MSU for spring break, planning a stay-cation in Mississippi is easier than it may seem. Staying in Starkville? Stroll the Cotton District for shopping and dining unique to the town. The Noxubee Wildlife Refuge is perfect for hiking, setting up hammocks and enjoying the spring weather. Conveniently, it is also only 15 minutes from MSU’s campus. 

Jackson, Mississippi is only two hours from Starkville and has a lot of historical significance. Visit the Mississippi State Capitol, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science or the Mississippi Museum of Art for an educational, yet exciting, spring break trip.  

For those Starkville locals and students seeking to take roads less traveled this spring break, a last-minute adventure is easier than you may think. 

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