Ah, spring break. You – or your kids – get to take a hiatus from school. Or maybe you've scheduled a little post-winter time off from work. Either way, it's the season of trips and travel, adventures abroad and journeys to far-flung locales.
Or maybe not. Have you seen airfares lately? But don't worry – there are ways to get away without going far. After all, our shore is a vacation destination for millions every summer. Go ahead and be a tourist in your own backyard now, while rates are cheap and crowds are nonexistant.
1. The College Beach Trip. Who needs Miami? The Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club (10 S. Atlantic Ave., Beach Haven) is one of LBI's most popular party spots in the summer, and while it's pretty quiet on the island at the moment, we'll count that as a plus. More space for you and your friends! Plus, the hotel's best oceanview rooms are downright cheap now – only $80 for a weeknight stay.
2. The Romantic Getaway. Southern Monmouth's beach towns have an abundance of cute and comfortable bed and breakfasts that make for great little escapes for two. A good bet is the Inn on Main Hotel (152 Main St., Manasquan), especially if you like the idea of B&Bs but aren't into decor that's heavy on the lace and flowers. The Inn's rooms are beautifully decorated with a lovely mix of the classic and the contemporary, and there's lots of attention to detail. Bike to the beach, walk to restaurants and shops and warm up by your room's fireplace. Off-peak rates are still in effect, which means one-night stays for as little as $109.
3. The Outdoor Adventure. Yes, you can go camping before overnight temps hit 75! Allaire State Park (4265 Atlantic Ave., Wall Township) has 45 campsites for rent for $20 a night, with fire rings, picnic tables and nearby flush toilets and showers. If the idea of only a tent and sleeping bag protecting you from the early spring elements just doesn't appeal, check out the park's yurts – round tents with wood floors and a skylight – and cabins, available for $30 and $40 a night, respectively. Each has bunks for four people, and the cabins have woodstoves for heat. The 3,000-acre park has great hiking trails and is also home to the historic Allaire Village and a railroad museum.
4. The Family Retreat. You've probably heard of HomeAway, the website that hooks up vacationers with homeowners looking to rent out their houses. Lots of people turn to it to look for lodging in far-flung places, but why not search for a not-so-far-away spot? Many shore-area listings offer rentals by the night instead of just by the week at this time of year, giving you the chance to pack up the whole crew and get a change of pace for a weekend. Check out this charming little Ocean Grove Victorian and this airy Beach Haven condo (with jacuzzi!).
5. The Splurge. Hey, you're not jetting off to Acapulco for the week, so it's not that hard to rationalize dropping a little extra cash for a couple of nights of luxury, right? Right? The Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch's Pier Village (50 Laird St., Long Branch) is a posh little boutique spot with oh-so-chic suites and an upscale lobby cafe and game room. For a little extra you can get access to the nearby beach club/nightclub, too. You can book a room for a midweek stay for less than $200 a night.