As midterms come to an end, spring break will just be starting. Droves of students will pack up their cars on Friday afternoon and head out for a week filled with relaxation, family and new destinations – hopefully.
If you are one of those students who will be staying close to home-sweet- USM, don’t panic. There’s still plenty of cheap and fun ways to enjoy your Spring Break while also finding out exactly why we call it The Hub City.
Explore Downtown Hattiesburg
Distance: 3 miles
Get a head start on that paper your professor assigned you over the break while exploring one of the hidden gems of Hattiesburg. Sip on a “hardy” in the upstairs loft of The Depot coffee house, or have breakfast at the corner café called Southbound Bagel. After you finish that paper, head across the railroad tracks to Bianchi’s pizzeria for some lunch. Explore the various abandoned buildings (Instagram photo op!) until it is time to make your way over to The Porter or The Thirsty Hippo. Both have live music and great food. A day downtown is the perfect way to unwind from the stress you’ve been carrying through the semester. If you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, The Lotus Spa is even located downtown.
Kayak the Okatoma
Distance: 15 miles
Just 30 minutes away from campus, the Okatoma Outdoor Post can be found down a dirt road in Seminary, Miss. The post offers camping, but it is most used for its kayak and canoe rental services. Pricing can be a little steep with kayak rental coming in at $30 and canoe rental at $40 per day.
However, a group of six or more can knock $5 off kayaks and $10 off canoes. For this price, the Okatoma will provide your kayak or canoe, life vests and transportation to and from the river entrance with the option of two different pick up points. We suggest you bring your own sunblock and waterproof phone case.
Have a Camp Out at Paul B. Johnson State Park
Distance: 16 miles
If you feel like your dorm room just isn’t cutting it anymore, rent some camping equipment and head down Highway 49 to Paul B. This state park offers “primitive campgrounds” rental for less than $20 a night. If you forgot you tent and sleeping bag at home, Outdoor Adventures at USM offers gear rental for single items as well as packages.
Paul B. also offers use of a bath house and laundromat. Gather your friends and have a mini adventure kayaking, fishing and gorging on fire-side junk food.
Spend the Day on the Finding the Perfect Beach Spot
Distance: 70 – 80 miles
When the sun comes out, pull out your sun shades and head down Highway 49 to one of the many cities that line Mississippi’s coast. Between the outlet mall in Gulfport, the casino in Biloxi, the fishing in D’Iberville and the fresh markets in Ocean Springs, there’s something for everyone along the coastline.
While we cannot suggest getting in the water at one of our Mississippi beaches, they are still perfect for short trips and other beach activities such as working on those tan lines or playing a game of volleyball. Whether you enjoy a crowded beach or a peaceful one, carpool with your friends down the coast line until you find the spot for you. If you’re willing to make the trip, Gulf shores is less than three hours away. Here the water will be cleaner, the beaches fuller and the nightlife college- oriented.
Spend A Day or Two in New Orleans
Distance: 112 miles
Growing up in Hattiesburg, it always surprises me how many of my fellow students have never experienced The Big Easy. Guys, go! This trip ranges on the expensive side because of the gas you’ll spend to get there, but after that your budget can range from just a few dollars to a few hundred.
If you have never been to New Orleans, do not try to drive around it. Park your car in a safe area and utilize the city’s public transportation such as buses or trolleys. Prepare for this trip beforehand and make a plan of action. From the aquarium, zoo, Bourbon Street, World War II Museum, countless city parks and great food, you can easily spend a few days exploring this city and blowing off steam.
I suggest having Google Maps at the ready and not carrying anything in your back pocket.