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Spring break road trips offer budget-conscious adventure

With the much-anticipated spring weather comes the break many of us need after this cold winter. Spring break is a much-deserved holiday for the kids, but it can also be a great time for some outdoor adventure and family time for adults. Some may be planning a cruise or trip to Disney World during the holiday, but airfare and hotel prices are elevated during spring break and many popular destinations will be crowded.

When planning what my family was going to do for the break, I looked for somewhere we could be outdoors, experience a new place, and get away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. After some research and advice from friends, we chose Gatlinburg, Tenn. Many things about this vacation spot appealed to us, but most importantly, it was within driving distance. Being only eight hours away by car meant that we could avoid the high price of airfare. With gas prices so low, the idea of a road trip is now much more budget-friendly.

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Gatlinburg is a town in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee that has a great deal of culture — including many local artisans and shops — as well as a bustling music scene. There are also many outdoor adventure spots including hiking at Smoky Mountain National Park and Cades Cove, as well as several zip-lining tours. Because it is south of Maryland, we are counting on the weather being a bit warmer there.

During our planning, we researched a bunch of places to visit within driving distance of Reisterstown, and were surprised at how many fun areas there were that we had never experienced. One of our favorite potential destinations was Charleston, S.C. Charleston is a wonderful, historical town, and is not as crowded as Myrtle Beach, another popular vacation destination. Charleston is steeped in history and southern food. While you are there you can tour gorgeous historical homes and churches, visit the nearby beaches and explore my son's favorite site, Fort Sumter. With the city being eight hours south of us, the weather is bound to be much warmer, so in the beginning of April, you should be able to enjoy plenty of outdoor time.

If you are not interested in chasing the warm weather, a spring break road trip north may be a great adventure for your family. When I was around 12 years old, my family took a road trip to Providence, R.I. I still have the images ingrained in my mind of the gorgeous city, tall sailboats and delicious seafood. Providence, like Charleston, is one of the oldest cities in the United States and has many historical buildings and homes. A road trip to Providence can also include many fun New England cities, including New York City and New Haven, Conn.

If you only have a few days of the break for a road trip, you may want to visit the Shenandoah Valley region in Virginia. This area is one we have visited many times and is only a two-and-a-half hour drive away. It has many campgrounds that are open for tent camping — which could make for an even more affordable trip — as well as cabins for rent. One of the highlights of this region is Luray Caverns, a truly must-see natural area. Shenandoah National Park offers breathtaking views of the valley, as well as amazing hiking trails.

Whether you visit one of the areas listed above, or plan your own spring break adventure, a family road trip is always a memorable and adventurous way to get outdoors and enjoy the season.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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