We know you’re all students and funds may be limited, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip out on Spring Break all together! Here’s your chance to travel on a shoestring budget. Head out West and check out the National Society Collegiate Scholars’ list of the top 5 destinations for Spring Break 2012.

This post is part of a spring break series. Be sure to check out our posts about Southern destinations and West Coast destinations.

New York City, New York

New York City is best explored by foot, allowing you to slow down amongst the hustle and bustle, and explore the hidden gems NYC has to offer.

Spring Break in NYC doesn’t have to break the bank! New York City is best explored by foot, allowing you to slow down amongst the hustle and bustle, and explore the hidden gems NYC has to offer. There are plenty of events to check-out on Governer’s Island, take a trip to the Brooklyn Flea to pickup interesting and unique items. And, just wander around neighborhoods like the West Village, Lower East Side, Astoria, Flushing, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, etc. Also, a walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge will present an amazing photo opp and a real NY experience. An alternative to visiting the Statue of Liberty is to take the Staten Island Ferry – it’s a great way to catch a glimpse of Ms. Liberty without having to spend the money on the ferry). Get lost exploring Rockefeller Center and Times Square during the day or night.

NYC is a Mecca for museums, especially art museums. Many popular museums offer specials once a week – take advantage of “pay what you wish” evenings, or Friday, when they offer free admission.

For cheap theater tickets, you can check with the TKTS booth in Times Square and ask what’s available. Or, you can get half price Broadway tickets by joining the early morning line-up/crowds.

NYC also offers an amazing alternative to viewing films – by projecting them onto sides of buildings. A personal favorite is Rooftop Films, a film-festival that offers indie films in interesting and unique locations across the city.

If you’re looking for a place to drop your things before heading out into the city, try checking out. For the more adventurous Spring Breakers checkout http://www.couchsurfing.org/, which now not only offers both a listing of locals willing to host travelers, as well as locals looking to meet up and catch up in the area. Cut the cost of transportation within the city, by walking and by buying a Metro card, which is only roughly $29 for a week of unlimited rides.

Check out the never ending battle, between the Carnegie Deli on 7th Ave and Katz’s, for the best pastrami in town.

Check out www.midtownlunch.com it’s consider the bible for street food, a provides a comprehensive list of cheap eating.

Chicago, Illinois

Fewer cities soak up the warmth and enjoy the Spring months, like Chi-town does. The city throws a plethora of parties in its own front yard, including the annual Taste of Chicago, which features culinary tastings from all over the world. There is also the less advertised Grant Park Music Festival, which offers a seasonal series of classical concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion. The open air, Sunday-only Maxwell Street Market is Chi-town’s premier destination for a little bit of everything, including the city’s best street food (mostly Mexican). It’s most definitely an interesting way to start your Sunday! (S. Des Plaines St., south of W. Harrison St.). Speaking of Mexican heritage, after you stop by the market, head over to the Pilsen neighborhood, where you can get your fill of the National Museum of Mexican Art and hit up the Chicano-cool Café Jumping Bean for an espresso and great people watching (1439 W. 18th St.).

“Go Chicago” card offers various attractions and if you’re still unsure of what you want to do during your stay in the Windy City, you don’t have to make your choices in advance.  With the “Go Chicago” card you can see main attractions for free and in many places, there is no waiting in line. Enjoy Chicago’s scenic downtown and lakefront areas while catching a ride on the Double Deckers and Trolleys (reminiscent of San Fran’s cable cars). With the “Go Chicago” card, you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses Contemporary Art spanning 67 years. The Museum of Contemporary Art, along with the Art Institute of Chicago are free every Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

Another option to checkout all the attractions Chicago has to offer is purchasing a Chicago CityPASS. This PASS includes a one-time admission to five (5) of Chicago’s most famous attractions. Once you have the pass, why not visits the Skydeck Chicago – the highest observatory in Chicago (1,353 feet) and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Think Ferris Beuller’s Day Off with 360-degree views and access to The Ledge glass floor balconies.

Drop by the Parrot Cage Restaurant, which serves as a teaching site for the Washburne Culinary Institute. Getting there:

Alternative suggested route? Buy a train ticket and hop on! You’ll get the chance to take in some pretty up-close views of the countryside.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland could be considered one of the most serene, pristine, untouched places left on the East Coast.  And thanks to the National Park Service it seems it will remain that way. Did I mention wild ponies often roam the seashore? Imagine mountain a rugged barrier isle where wild horses graze the grass and the Atlantic Ocean rumbles just off Maryland’s sandy coast. Shades of autumn and misty waterfalls welcome you to this enchanted place. Treat yourself to a meal of superb blue crabs, caught fresh from the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland offers its visitors a multitude of natural and unforgettable vacation experiences. In addition, Maryland offers awesome campgrounds, which welcome travelers in both summer and winter months.

The area is a perfect oasis for surfers and sunbathers. You can explore the bay by canoe, kayak or paddleboard, all of which can be rented locally. Camping, nature walks, bike trails and Park Ranger-led activities to join are also highlight.
 Entrance Fee – $15 for your car to enter and it’s good for 7 days.  This pass is purchased at the ranger gate entrance after the bridge past the visitor center.

If you’re feeling adventurers, head over to the Virginia end where you’ll find a dirt access road off the Wildlife Loop. An hour’s hike will put right in the middle of a herd of wild ponies.

Virginia Beach, Vermont

Virginia Beach Boardwalk is the Guinness book of World Records longest recreational beach in the world. Aside from the beach, you’ll find two amusement parks (consider it “a vintage touch of fun”), bike rentals, and even fishing off the pier. Sandbridge Beach is a clean, quiet beach great for escaping the crowds at the Boardwalk. Sandbridge Beach is a clean, quiet beach great for escaping the crowds at the Boardwalk. Tula Adventure Sports provides Stand up paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours. Explore beautiful secluded waterways, hidden from most visitors, or paddle out to sea to greet friendly, playful dolphins. Stand up paddle boarding is easy and fun. Tula Adventure Sports also offers wakeboarding, waterskiing and tubing.

Mayflower Cafe Incorporated serves up great Middle Eastern food. While the Surf Ride Grill let’s you come by car or boat and is considered a true locals spot. The Coastal Grill serves unique, good food. Although it’s somewhat pricey, it’s definitely worth it.

If the weather permits, why not try spending Spring Break camping outdoors – you’ll be sure to save money and come home with not your typical Spring Break stories! Scope out VenturePax.com to find great campsites and other activities in the area. Check out Tripadvisor.com or Hostels.com to find affordable fair in town.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach showcases 60 miles of beach, all with-in walking distance. Everything imaginable is offered in Myrtle Beach, including: Jet Ski Rentals, Parasailing, Kayaking, Boat Rentals, Scuba Diving, Windsurfing, Surfing & Surf Lessons, Catamaran Rentals and Lessons, Ocean and Bay Fishing and more. Try climbing the ropes challenge at Coastal Scuba in North Myrtle Beach. The outdoor Challenge Towers Ropes Course at Coastal Scuba, allows you to lock into a safety harness and climb the tower as well as walk the ropes. There are easy, medium and hard courses, depending on your level of skill, and confidence, with climbing. Dance your way into North Myrtle Beach making sure to stop at the clubs lined along Main Street and Ocean Boulevard. Options include Fat Harold’s Beach Club, Ducks, the Spanish Galleon and O.D. Arcade & Lounge.

The vibrant Myrtle Beach nightlife is well stocked with nightclubs, discos, sports bars, beach clubs, and other hot spots. The best advice is to match your mood. Feel like dancing? The Myrtle Beach area has a plethora of dance clubs. If you like to sing, test your talent at one of many popular karaoke clubs. Sports fans will feel right at home in one of the Myrtle Beach sports bars, all while sipping on an ice-cold brew. Dig live music? It’s everywhere, in every style imaginable.

Hamburger Joe’s in North Myrtle Beach is a full-service restaurant, with a reputation spanning 18 years. It offers favorites, like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, barbecue, onion rings, wings and chicken fingers – all at reasonable prices.

Bianca Williams graduated from the University of Arizona where she spent 4 years as a DJ and PA for KAMP Student Radio, as well as interning for a local record/concert promotion company. She possess a love for all things New Media, traveling, languages, film, radio, photography, vintage bikes, snowboarding… everything! and is in pursuit of a career in freelance writing. All of her musical tastes and influences come from her world travels and the amazing people who have shared their lives with her along the way. Bianca is a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and works as an NSCS Social Media Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter @biancadene.