A&E’s guide to spring break

No James Franco allusions included. Promise!

The Gateway Arch as seen in St. Louis, Missouri on the Mississippi river by night.

Courtesy of Daniel Schewn, Creative Commons

The Gateway Arch as seen in St. Louis, Missouri on the Mississippi river by night.

Sophie Vilensky

Remember that time freshman year when you and your friends made a pact to go to Cabo in 2018?

It’s not happening anymore.

So instead of waiting to see if someone will get the flu and offer up their ticket to paradise, make or find your own Shangri-La. Someone you know definitely has a car, and they sell mini drink umbrellas at Target.

Buy the snacks, set up the collaborative Spotify playlist and get going. There are, indeed, more destinations in the world than the St. Paul campus. There are more roads than 4th and University.

The Fox Cities, Wisconsin
Drive time: 4 hours

We all know someone from Wisconsin, don’t we? Now’s the time to see the places that made them who they are!

Start your upriver journey in Neenah before heading to Menasha. In Neenah, check out Mihm’s, a greasy-spoon known for its burgers and — yes — cheese curds.

End your journey in downtown Appleton. We recommend a night at Cleo’s — a bar known for year-round Christmas lights — and the Houdini Plaza for some live music. Yes — Harry Houdini. Appleton’s own.

Lutsen, Minnesota
Drive time: 4 Hours

It’s not Aspen, but you can pretend! While Lutsen doesn’t have hills quite as high as other American cities, it certainly has slopes.

On the way up, pop into Duluth for a half-day and compare the Electric Fetus to it’s Minneapolis counterpart. Just make sure to get out of there early enough so you can catch the sunset over the Sawtooth Mountains.

Besides (downhill and cross country) skiing, you can rotate downtime with snowshoeing, skating and snowmobiling. When you’re feeling tired pop over to Fika and partake in the Swedish tradition by the same name of afternoon coffee and sweets. For dinner? Fresh North Shore fish of course.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Drive time: 7 hours

People from all over America travel to the Badlands; people from all over the world want to.

We’re so close, so why not utilize them? They’re beautiful.

Start by renting winter camping gear from the Rec for cheap. They have Osprey backpacks, so you’ll feel really serious.

Then head out and prepare for a trip chock-full of stargazing and the kind of soul-baring conversations that only the great outdoors can inspire.

And if you start to miss Starbucks? Wall Drug’s five cent coffees are only 11 minutes away.

Winnipeg, Canada
Drive time: 7 hours

You might as well put your passport to good use. Pop in your old “My World” CD and head north. Will you see a moose on the way?

When you arrive, it’ll be poutine time. Try Smoke’s Poutinerie for classics and Boon Burger for vegan options. While you’re in the land of free health care check out the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, then hit up Goodwill for some nice Canadian vintage.

The big question: Is Tim Horton’s really better in Canada? You’ll have to let us know.

St. Louis, Missouri
Drive time: 8 hours

Minnesota to Missouri! Head over to Kansas if you want and we can call this the Judy Garland tour of the USA.

St. Louis is the spot if you’re looking to get somewhere warm-ish — it’s been in the sixties and is hopefully only getting hotter.

For a classic tourist experience, check out the Cathedral, the Gateway Arch and a museum (there are plenty).

And if you’re not used to the warmth and need to cool down check out Clementine’s or Serendipity for ice cream. The first is a modern “micro-creamery” and the second boasts old fashioned scoops. You can have both.

Staycation, Minnesota
Drive time: None

Check out a cheap Airbnb in a fun neighborhood, buy a terry cloth robe and treat yourself to a restaurant that out-of-towners would go to (Hell’s Kitchen? Matt’s?).

Honestly, there has to be something you’ve wanted to do close to home that you haven’t had time — or money — for. Take your mind on vacation and pretend you’re shopping for a dream house by Lake of the Isles! Imagine you’re going to open a brewery in Northeast! Go to the Galleria and pick out something locally designed, then don’t buy it. They won’t mind.