Spring break on a budget

Spring break’s here. You have a full week of school off, but there’s one little problem. You wasted all your money getting wasted on St. Patrick’s Day.

You’ve gotten down the basics on how to travel on a budget, but you’re thinking you might not get too far out of the Boulder Bubble. There’s nothing wrong with a little staycation, after all, Colorado is one big, beautiful box.

Breckenridge (2 hour drive)

Spring Fever is a month-long series of events that kicked off last week and is no doubt about to bring the heat this year. A lot of students are familiar with Breck’s resort, but don’t know what else this mountain town has to offer.

The Bud Light Concert Series is bringing big name acts to the base of Peak 8. The best part? They’re all free to the public. Julian Marley (March 24) and the Soul Rebels Brass Band (March 25) kick things off, while Boulder-based jam-band Leftover Salmon (March 31) and surf-rocker Donavon Frankenreiter (April 1) finish up spring break weekend.

In addition to the free music, Breck gives you even more reasons to celebrate at elevation. Every Friday, Park Lane stays open until 5 p.m. with jam-style competitions and free food, drinks and other giveaways. This Saturday, solve riddles for badges in the EpicMix scavenger hunt. It’s $25 for a team of five, and pizza and beer is included.

Cripple Creek (2 hour, 40 minute drive)

Cripple Creek is basically the Rocky Mountain Las Vegas. Downtown in this scenic city is a little different than the shining lights of the Vegas Strip, but what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in charm.

Try your luck at one of the triple “C’s” 14 unique casinos or take time out to watch a show at the Butte Theater, go to the Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum or take the Molly Kathleen Mine tour.

Saguache (4 hours, 30 minute drive)

Spring break is the perfect time to make the trip down south to check out the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Entrance fees are $3 per person for a week’s stay, but a lot of times during the off-season, you can get in for free. Walk-in camping sites are usually available every day of the week, and individual sites are $20 a night.

The dunefield is 30 square miles, so there’s plenty of space to explore. If you’re feeling really adventurous, trek to Star Dune, which at 750 feet, is the highest dune in North America.

The sand can reach temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, so going in the spring is a perfect plan to escape the heat. Plus, with snow starting to melt, Medano Creek is beginning to gently flow at the base of the dunes.

When you’re there, be sure to check out the great Mexican food Southern Colorado has to offer.

Glenwood Springs (3 hour drive)

Glenwood is a city basically designed for vacationers. Check out the spectacular views on the one mile climb to Hanging Lakes. The steep hike to the lake is well worth the trip, just be careful of the snowy and sometimes slippery trip back down.

Spend your final Sunday of break on the slopes. April 1 is closing day at the Sunlight Mountain Resort. The “beach party pond skim spectacular” includes $35 lift tickets, live music, drink specials and giveaways.

Or get wet and wild at Glenwood Hot Springs, a pool the size of over two city blocks that averages a temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Admission is $13.75, but when else do you get the chance to be in an outdoor pool when it’s snowing?

Boulder/Denver area

Don’t want to leave the 303? Stay close to home and do something you’ve been putting off for no good reason.

Who needs Mexico when there’s Casa Bonita? The often parodied Mexican restaurant is famous for its unique atmosphere and cliff divers. Or check out other Denver hot spots like CityGrille, the Downtown Aquarium or the Denver Zoo.

Want to work on your tan? Try bars with patios and rooftop terraces like Jackson’s and LoDo’s in Denver and the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, West End Tavern or Lazy Dog in Boulder.

Finally, why not take a tour? Hear ghost stories and historical facts on the 90 minute trip on the Banjo Billy’s bus. Or head to Golden for a free brewery tour where you get to sip on some Coors while relaxing on an ice cube seat.

By Marlee Horn for the Colorado Daily

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