What happens on fall break, stays on fall break. Nowhere is that more true than in Las Vegas, where truly anything goes. Even a lowly college kid can be who they want to be in Sin City. So, go ahead, make up a gambling moniker, drop a few Hamiltons at the poker table and flirt with a few cocktail waitresses. Paging Mr. Papagiorgio.
What to do: That there's gambling is obvious, and trying the slots at least once can be fun. But Vegas is also known for its crazy nightlife. Some of the best venues include the Tropicana's Club Nikki, decadent JET Nightclub at the Mirage, LAVO at the Palazzo Resort, LAX at the Luxor, and Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where the day party merges right into late night. The pool party scene in Vegas is on fire these days, and dayclubs seem to be the new nightclubs.
Getting there: Fly to Vegas' McCarran International Airport, which sits at the south end of the strip.
Grab a corona, hit the beach, and feel free to let those college party habits loose in Key West. With temperatures averaging between 75-85 degrees in the fall, it'll feel like spring break came early this year. Frat boys and sorority girls who love to party will feel right at home in this sub-tropical paradise.
What to do: While not getting some serious color on the beach, go scuba diving or snorkeling. By night, stroll down Duval Street, which has an abundance of nightclubs and bars, and take part in the "Duval crawl." During the crawl, hop from bar to bar along this north-south drag, which boasts a mix of themed venues to fit any party crew's preferences. For a week in October the streets and bars of Key West come alive with Fantasy Fest — a carnival-like celebration with late-night themed parties and loads of kitsch.
Getting there: For those who fly there's Key West International Airport and incoming flights from Miami International Airport or Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. Or, visitors can rent a car at the airport and drive. A 3.5 hour ferry runs from Ft. Meyers and Marco Island for $146 round trip.
Photo: Stig Nygaard/Flickr
South Padre Island is the perfect pseudo-tropical getaway for you and the bros. It's a majorly sought-after destination for spring break, but beat the crowd (and expensive air fare) by going during fall, which is off-season. Located on the southern tip of Texas and bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay, South Padre offers some serious R&R, and a chance to get a warm-weather fix -- temperatures are in the mid-80s -- without leaving the country.
What to do: By day, enjoy the warm gulf waters, silky soft sand and a fruity bev on the beaches. Since all are publicly owned, the consumption of alcohol is legally allowed. When the sun goes down, oceanside club Louie's Backyard attracts college vacationers that are looking to bring a little bit of the spring-break mentality to fall. Another college-friendly hot spot on South Padre is Chaos Night Club, a dance club, karaoke bar, live music venue, restaurant and tattoo parlor rolled into one.
Getting there: Fly to one of three airports in the Rio Grande Valley: Brownsville South Padre International Airport, Valley International Airport, or Miller International Airport.
As the epicenter of the food truck revolution, Portland, Oregon is a popular destination for foodies. Mobile restaurants have invaded the city's streets serving everything from cheesesteaks to vegan barbecue.
What to do: Whether it's Indian, Thai, Mexican or burgers, there's sure to be a food truck for everyone. Track them down through twitter or on foodcartsportland.com. For a more refined dining experience, book a table at il Piatto, a local favorite with a delicious Italian cuisine and a romantic, cozy ambience. Lastly, Voodoo Doughnut is an amusing tourist attraction for it's unique donuts — think a raspberry jelly filled voodoo doll or a donut sprinkled with breakfast cereal — located in the heart of downtown Portland.
Getting there: Fly to Portland International Airport, which is a 30 minute drive or shuttle ride from downtown.
Combining a tropical Cuban vibe with a big city feel, Miami has everything you need for a break from reality.
What to do: Get a taste of MIA's famous nightlife at LIV nightclub at the Fontainebleau. Other popular hotspots include Louis Bar-Lounge at the Gansevoort hotel and Wall lounge at the W. While recuperating during the day, check out the spectacular art deco architecture of South Beach, particularly along Collins Avenue, where The Delano is one of the city's most luxurious hotels. A stroll through its lobby is a great way to get a taste of famed architect Philippe Starck's work.
Sushi Samba is a popular destination with amazing rolls, and even better cocktails. If you can get a reservation, Tantra is another hot spot, famous for having fresh grass for flooring. But don't leave Miami without trying Cuban food at one of many Cuban restaurants — pop into local landmark Versailles for a café Cubano and a hot, pressed Cuban sandwich.
Getting there: Fly to Miami International Airport. From there it's a 20 minute drive to South Beach.
A popular beach retreat for the East Coast set, North Carolina's Outer Banks is one of the best places to travel en masse. While independent hotels and B&Bs are options, the real fun of the Outer Banks is in renting a beach house with a few -- or twenty -- of your closest sorority sisters, frat bros, dorm mates or teammates. Check out towns like Duck, Kill Devil Hills and Corolla or the "4x4" beaches like Carova where houses are only accessible by driving over the dunes. Though, if you want to rent one of these houses, make sure you arrive in an SUV.
Given the current events surrounding Hurricane Irene, the OBX sustained some damage in the storm. Hopefully the area will be up and running come fall break, but it's a good idea to check with your hotel or rental to make sure.
What to do: The OBX doesn't have a raging party scene, but it's perfect for those looking to chill -- bonus points if your rental comes with a hot tub. There are many beaches, restaurants and bars at which to unwind, plus activities like wind surfing and hang gliding that provide some action.
And, don't forget to check out one of the south's greatest inventions, the Brew Thru drive through "convenience" store that sells adult beverages in the convenience of your car.
Getting there: This one's a bit remote, so it's best to fly to Norfolk International Airport and hop a shuttle or rent a car.
Located on the border of California and Nevada, this massive freshwater lake is a must for nature-lovers.
What To do: Mountain biking and hiking are popular activities in the fall. The climate will be mild enough to enjoy the outdoors &MDASH; temperatures should be in the 50s. There are hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails around the lake to explore. One of the more favored trailheads is the Eagle Lake Trailhead. Visit Tahoe's website to find more. Or, to get out on the water, rent a boat -- jet skis are also an option for the warmer months.
There's plenty to do in Lake Tahoe that doesn't require any athleticism. Lakeside restaurants have sublime views, and since gambling is legal on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, casinos like Harrah's, Horizon and Harveys are options.
Getting there: Drive from California or Nevada, or fly to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is a little over an hour's drive away from the recreation area.
Photo: David Berkowitz/Flickr
Montreal is a good destination for college who want to have some (legal) fun during fall break, as the drinking age is 18. An abundance of clubs give way to after-hours parties that can go as late — or as early — as 10 a.m. Starving college students will appreciate that drink prices here are pretty reasonable, averaging between $4 and $8.
What to do: Make sure to take a night (and day) off from partying to take in Montreal's unique blend of French and Canadian cultures, the product of the city's Francophone founders. Get in touch with the city's French history at the Basilique Notre-Dame, an exquisite Baroque-style church. Then try shopping on Amherst Street, known for its antique shops and restaurants housed in Art Deco buildings.
Getting there: Fly to the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, or consider driving if you're from a Northeast state. Some areas of upstate New York are only an hour's drive away.
Photo: Joey DeVilla/Flickr
Fall break time is an off-season for Mexican tourism, making it a perfect destination for the budget-conscious. College kids can score super-cheap flights south of the border and save on last minute all-inclusive deals that hotels and resorts typically offer to groups.
What to do: Water sports and other outdoor activities abound with mountain biking, zip-lining and some of the world's best scuba diving and snorkeling topping the list of must-dos. In keeping with the money-saving theme, group rates and discounts can make activities very affordable.
Getting there: Fly to Cancun International Airport, which is 25 minutes from the city of Cancun, and hop hotel transportation.
Photo: kyle simourd/Flickr
Music aficionados, especially country music fans, will appreciate the crazy cool music scene that Nashville has to offer. It is, after all, the music capital of the nation.
What to do: With more live music venues than one could possibly count, strolling downtown Nashville promises great live music options. Fans of all genres should hit the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame, a monument to some of the biggest stars that ever recorded, with excellent multimedia exhibits including one of Elvis' tricked out Cadillacs.
Also check out Music Row, an area near downtown Nashville that's home to hundreds of businesses and recording studios dedicated to the country, gospel and contemporary Christian music industries. Noteworthy historical site RCA's Studio B, where many famous musicians like Dolly Parton, Elvis and Willie Nelson have recorded, can be accessed via a tour from the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Getting there: Fly to Nashville International Airport, which is a 15-minute drive from downtown Nashville.