Spring Break should not be spoiled on pizza bagels and “Friends” reruns. Alright, maybe it should—but in case you get tired of watching Ross and Rachel break up, get back together and then break up again, you might want to prepare a backup plan. This year we asked our staff to share their most memorable travel experiences, and per request, they have divulged some must-see locales. Whether you’re itching to take a plane to Shanghai to see the cityscape from The Bund skyscraper, or you’d prefer to stay put on the California coast browsing State Street in neighboring Santa Barbara, you can read all about it here. The world is here for you to explore, so please, do consider getting up off the couch. We promise it will be there when you return.
by Nathan Cook
Fun fact: Granada, in southern Spain, is in the heartland of “tapas.” In many of its restaurants, when you order a drink, you get free food with it, and the more drinks, the more food!
As the last bastion of the multicultural caliphate in Spain, Granada has always occupied a romantic place in the Spanish cultural consciousness. Granada is dominated by the bright red and fantastical Alhambra — crouching on a hill over twisty Moorish market streets and broad boulevards. The city is a contradiction, with an intensely personal and intimate layout, clustered around two neighboring hills with a small valley in between, contrasted with ample opportunities for sightseeing, hiking and relaxing in southern Spanish style. With the tombs of the Catholic conquerors of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, just a stone’s throw from the traditional caliphate-era Albaycin, Granada in many ways is both the most solidly Catholic and Spanish of cities, as well as the last representative of a lost and poetic Moorish style.
by Devon Munos
Fun Fact: The White House was actually burned down during the War of 1812 and then rebuilt.
I’m sure you’ve heard that it is your civic duty to the nation to see its capital —and you may have even gone on a school trip to see it when you were younger — but Washington, D.C. has more to offer than an obligatory walk through history. D.C. offers a different way of living and an intricate subway system that can take you anywhere you want to go. Should you decide to move above ground, in just a short distance, you can find tons of places to eat, hit multiple national monuments and even run into a state official or two (#selfieopportunity). The capital even has an amazing nightlife that includes everything from clubs to sports bars and karaoke. It is a beautiful place to visit during the winter while it’s covered in snow or in the spring when it’s sunny and the cherry trees have blossomed. Washington, D.C. should always make your list of top places to visit.
by Devon Munos
Fun Fact: Mission Santa Barbara is one of the oldest edifices in California.
If your budget doesn’t quite allow for a trip around the world, you can take a short drive up the coast to find stunning beaches, fun places to shop and wonderful sights to see in the gorgeous city of Santa Barbara. You could spend almost your entire trip working your way down the famous State Street while visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and many shops and dining spots until you make it down to the beach. Once you do eventually hit the sand, you can enjoy a bike ride up and down the coastline, taking in the scenic view and salty air. Then, as the sun cools down, you can finish your day by walking across the pier where they have stores filled with tourist keepsakes and restaurants that overlook the ocean as the sun sets and sailboats come in to dock for the night.
by Brittney Lu
Fun Fact: In Shanghai, time and location is transcended — anything is available for delivery, from groceries to flowers.
Rapidly becoming one of the world’s largest industrial hubs, Shanghai is an epicenter of power and progress. With skyscrapers towering over the skyline, advanced technology accessible at every corner and extravagant nightlife at places, like the exclusive bar No. 88, it’s clear why Shanghai has become such a popular destination for the sophisticated traveler or entrepreneur. Yet within the bustle, tucked away from the elusive high-rises, are small eateries, serving xiaolong bao — steamed buns filled with succulent pork and aromatic soup — along with bowls of rice noodles, beef and delicately sweetened rice adorned with red beans wrapped in banana leaves. Ornate tea houses serve freshly brewed oolong, while market vendors sell their decorative items. Juggling an advancing global influence with traditional Chinese culture, Shanghai is the perfect balance of the old and new.
by Adam Fisher
Fun fact: Amsterdam is located two meters below sea level.
Amsterdam feels quaint — wound with lazy canals and lined with charming townhouses — yet there’s no lack of things to see or do. Peruse the galleries, from the famous Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum to the unusual Museum of Purses and Bags. Stroll through the scenic Vondelpark or the botanical Hortus Botanicus. Visit Oude Kerk, literally “Old Church,” ironically located in De Wallen, the infamous red-light district. Outside of the city, the cheese markets of Edam and Alkmaar and the blooming tulip fields of Haarlem are just a train ride away.
Amsterdam has all the advantages of a small city: It’s quiet, uncongested and clean. Many attractions are within walking distance, and the extensive public transit covers the entire city. Bike lanes line the streets and paddle boats provide an alternative, albeit exhausting, route to see the city from the picturesque canals. The railway on the edge of the city provides convenient transport to the rest of the country.
Flowers drape the light posts, and beautiful parks fill the space between inviting cafes. In Amsterdam, there’s never a drab moment.