Tag Archives: spring break

10 New video games to play this Spring Break

It’s been a year of whiplash. With the US’ tense relationship with other countries, the wildfires in Australia, tornadoes in Nashville and the coronavirus, things can seem pretty bleak. Now that the world has essentially isolated itself for the next two weeks, a lot of events you may have been looking forward to have been cancelled. 

There’s a silver lining, though. We may all be on house arrest and it’s the perfect time to log countless hours into a video game and add new ones to your wishlist. 2020 is a year of new titles and long-awaited sequels, so check out the list below for franchises you should catch up on and hopefully, something to look forward to. 

  1. The Last of Us Part II
Courtesy of Eurogamer

This is probably the most anticipated game of 2020. Fans have been waiting seven years for news on the fate of Joel and Ellie and Naughty Dog is ready to deliver. It’s been a long time coming, but developers have specifically stated that they want to make Last of Us 2 a sequel worth telling. The game is scheduled for a summer release on May 29 for the PlayStation 4. 

2. Half Life: Alyx 

We really have been living in an alternate timeline since 2016 because Valve has finally announced “Half Life 3.” Well, kind of.

“Half Life: Alyx” is a prequel, set before the events of “Half Life 2” and while it’s still a PC release, it’s a virtual reality shooter. Valve has marketed Alyx as its “flagship” VR game with gravity gloves replacing the iconic gravity gun.

The game is a PC exclusive, set to release on March 23. That gives you a whole week to sink into this game before classes start!

3. Cyberpunk 2077 

Courtesy of Gamesradar

CD Projekt Red can delay this game all they want; I’d wait a million years for it. Cyberpunk 2077 has already swept the award circuit, winning best game categories and people’s choice awards at E3, Game Informer, IGN, PC Gamer and Gamesradar+.

It’s got character customization like you’ve never seen before, a complex open world and Keanu Reeves. It’s breathtaking. While delayed back in January, “Cyberpunk 2077” is set to be released September 17. 

4. 12 Minutes

If you’re a fan of “What Remains of Edith Finch,” the publisher, Annapurna Interactive, is set to release another time-bending game this year. “12 Minutes” caught my attention with it’s birds-eye-view trailer at E3 2019 and it’s unique twist on replayable games; the character remembers all past loops. The trailer teases possibilities of arrest, death or a cozy night in. The game is scheduled to be released this year on PC and Xbox One and I’m ready to play this again and again and again.

5. Animal Crossing: New Horizon 

The Animal Crossing franchise is making its Switch debut this year with console exclusive “Animal Crossing: New Horizon.” The series dominated mobile games in 2016 with the release of “Pocket Camp” and I sunk so many hours into this and I am not ashamed.

One drawback; similar to “Pocket Camp,” “New Horizon” will have the dreaded microtransactions. “Pocket Camp” was a free mobile game where in-game purchases are more appropriate, but the inclusion in a $60 console game has some fans disappointed.

Perfect for your self-isolation, “New Horizon” is available for pre-order and set to launch March 20. 

6. Carrion

This is a horror game where you play as the monster. Need I say more? I will anyway. The game is set in some kind of scientific facility where the player is a shapeless red worm-spider monster hellbent on growing stronger, killing scientists and breaking loose. This has just the right amounts of chaotic energy. 

However, I’m interested how this will feel as a “reverse horror” experience, as horror games derive their entertainment from fear. Perhaps what’s truly terrifying is the monster inside us all.

Anyway, “Carrion” is set to be released on PC and consoles sometime this year.

7. Ghost of Tsushima

Yet another PS4 exclusive, “Ghost of Tsushima” is an action-adventure game set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in the 1270s. It’s an open world game where you can fast travel by horse, so like a feudal Red Dead Redemption 2. 

The developers have emphasized the attention to detail and their desire to emulate 13th century Japan as much as possible. Any history buff should get a kick out of the setting.

This ancient adventure will be released this summer on June 26.

8. Ghostrunner

Here’s a game to scratch that “Cyberpunk 2077” itch while waiting for it’s inevitable release. “Ghostrunner” is a first person parkour game set in a futuristic world where classes are more divided than ever and everyone has cool neon lights. Textbook cyberpunk aesthetic. 

The freerunning and flips and tricks look incredibly fun. The movement is graceful and smooth, set against a beautifully designed set. If nothing else, this game is very pretty. 

“Ghostrunner” is set to release sometime this year.

9. Little Nightmares 2

“Little Nightmares” was a horror hit when it came out in 2017 and left fans hungry for more. The sequel is set to release this year with a new protagonist and the return of the last game’s protagonist, Six, as an NPC. 

It’s been a minute since a horror game was able to execute such an interesting and nuanced world, and hopefully “Little Nightmares 2” brings more of that storytelling. The game has no specific release date but is slated for 2020.

10. Tell Me Why 

A choice-based mystery game featuring twins and LGBTQ+ representation. That both excites and scares me. “Tell Me Why” is from one of my favorite studios, Dontnod, creators of “Life is Strange.” 

“Tell Me Why” will follow similar themes to “Life is Strange,” as the story follows a pair of twins who return to their childhood home in Alaska, one of whom is a transgender man, Tyler. He’ll be the first playable transgender character from a major studio and Dontnod has stated they worked with GLAAD to make Tyler feel authentic.

Dontnod nailed the Pacific Northwest setting in “Life is Strange” and it looks like they’re taking their animation one step further. “Tell Me Why” is episodic and set to release all parts over summer 2020 for Xbox One and PC.

Need a Break from Spring Breakers? CHeck out these vacation destinations

The best locations in or around Texas for those who don’t want to relive a Harmony Korine film

Source: IMDb

For some, spring break is a time for booze, dancing and making new mistakes to ignore the ones made during the school year. For others, including me, it’s an opportunity to get away from those people. 

Unfortunately, the most popular places to visit for spring break are usually litter-filled beaches and party cities. Have no fear; there are some peaceful places out there. Here are some options for a tasteful spring break:

Fredericksburg, TX

Distance from Austin: 81.5 miles (approx. 1.5 hr drive)

Source: Wikipedia

Located in the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is home to tons of activities to do with family and friends. This little German town features winery tours and tastings, an array of shops, history museums, and several art galleries to admire. It’s usually full of middle-aged people and families so it’s a quiet escape during one of the noisiest breaks of the school year.

Big Bend National Park, TX

Distance from Austin: 440 miles (approx. 7 hr drive)

Source: NationalPark.com

Big Bend is one of the most beloved national parks in Texas. Although it is a bit of a grueling drive, the sights and hikes are well worth the miles. There are all kinds of scenic drives, hiking trails and a Fossil Discovering Exhibit. It’s a perfect opportunity to see the natural wonders of Texas while avoiding the unnatural horrors of drunk college students.

Cascade Caverns, TX

Distance from Austin: 95 miles (approx. 2 hr drive)

The oldest living cave attraction in Texas is perfect for those who want to camp but don’t want to drive too far to get away. Located near San Antonio, this campsite features lots of spots for tents and RVs alike. During your stay, you can get a tour of the ancient caverns, participate in a flashlight evening tour, visit the “rock shop,” or dig up some fun at the Gem and Rock Quarry.

Dinosaur Valley State Park, TX

Distance from Austin: 162 miles (approx. 2 hr 45 min drive)

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife

For every child who loved “Land Before Time” or “Dinosaur,” this is a dream come true. At this cherished yet lesser-known state park, you can walk in dinosaur tracks left millions of years ago, hike on the numerous trails, swim or fish in the lake, and, of course, buy lots of souvenirs at the gift shop. Be forewarned; it might be full of children but at least they’re not obnoxiously partying.

Mustang Island State Park, TX

Distance from Austin: 240 miles (approx. 3 hr 40 min drive)

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Spanning over five miles of beachfront, Mustang Island is a state park akin to a quieter South Padre Island. Swim and surf on the Gulf of Mexico, build a sandcastle, camp along the shore, go fishing, watch the birds, or dare to tread the Mustang Island paddling trail. Regardless of what you do, it’ll be a wonderful day down by the sea.

Port O’Connor, TX

Distance from Austin: 175 miles (approx. 3 hr 15 min drive)

Source: texasescapes.com

Even though it’s not “technically” a city (it’s an “unincorporated community”),  Port O’Connor is one of the more peaceful coasts in Texas. Be sure to visit the Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area for some tranquil beach camping, go fishing on any coastline you choose, kayak on the ocean, or visit one of the many quaint shops dotted around the area, including The Treasure Chest. If you’ve never been to a cozy beachfront, now’s your chance.

For those that can afford to spend a little more for the break, here are some places a little farther from home:

Amelia Island, FL

Distance from Austin: 1,066 miles (approx. 16 hr drive/2.5 hr flight)

Source: visittheusa.com

“One enchanted island”; or, at least, that’s what their website claims. Amelia Island has proudly won numerous accolades and awards, proving that they are a favored spot for travel critics and tourists alike. Located on the northeast coast of Florida, Amelia Island is home to pristine beaches, delicious cuisine, boatloads of history, incredible nature sights and even features a ghost tour! They’ll be the classiest damn ghosts you’ve ever seen.

Hilton Head Island, SC

Distance from Austin: 1,162 miles (approx. 18 hr drive/2.5 hr flight)

Source: Wikipedia

This island seems exceedingly fancy but it’s nice to dream, isn’t it? Like previous beaches, explore this island by swimming in the open ocean, biking along the shores, visiting the boutiques, or, if you’re brave enough, complete the Aerial Adventure ziplining course. While on the beach, keep an eye out for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles!

Healdsburg, CA

Distance from Austin: 1,822 miles (approx. 27 hr drive/3.5 hr flight)

Source: sonomacounty.com

Finding an idyllic small-town feel in California may feel like a daunting task but Healdsburg has got you covered. Only about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Healdsburg offers an abundance of wineries, an array of wonderful food and lots of natural wonders that lay far from the smog of Los Angeles.

Nashville, TN

Distance from Austin: 856 miles (approx. 12 hr 45 min drive/1 hr 40 min flight)

Source: departures.com

Nashville: a city that has been called home by stars such as Dolly Parton, Keith Urban and Evan Rachel Wood. There are countless things to do in the Music City, including a number of live shows and events, restaurants filled with mouth-watering food, museums, art galleries, and so much more. Hopefully, you’ll run into a celebrity or two while you’re there…

10 Things to do in new mexico

Okay, so maybe every state’s nickname is a little biased, but New Mexico dubbing itself the “Land of Enchantment” happens to be extremely fitting. Between the diverse landscape, great food, rich history, and stunning sunsets, it is hard not to fall in love with our neighboring state. The state line is just over 6.5 hours away and two major cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, are both within a 12 hour drive. If you have room in the budget to fly it’ll definitely cut down travel time, but no matter what your mode of transportation is there is plenty to do once you get there. Here are my top 10 picks for things to do in New Mexico.

Take a Ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway

Photo by Courtney Smith

Located in Albuquerque, the Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest tramway in the Americas and offers amazing views. A round-trip ticket costs $25 for adults, but there is also a student ticket option for $20 for those aged 13-20. The tram runs every 15-30 minutes but once you’re at the top you can spend as much time as you’d like taking in the view, dining, or hiking on one of the many trails. Plus it’s cooler at the top of the mountain which is a bonus when trying to beat the heat. This was probably my favorite thing I did in Albuquerque and I can’t recommend it enough. More information and tickets at https://sandiapeak.com/.

Take the Train to Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Rio Metro

The Rail Runner Express is another way to take in some of the scenery New Mexico has to offer. A day pass from Albuquerque to Santa Fe costs only $9 and this online schedule easily gives you departure times and information. Taking the train is a good alternative to driving or using a rideshare because it’s cheaper and allows you to see more of the state. While you’re there, check out The Shed for delicious New Mexican food! 

Visit White Sands National Park

Photo by Courtney Smith

Anyone who has been on Pinterest has likely seen photos of this exquisite landscape. The white gypsum sand dunes seem never ending and offer a great backdrop for photos, sledding (yeah, sledding!), and hiking. Although White Sands is about 10 hours from Austin, it is a quicker day trip from destinations in New Mexico such as Ruidoso, Albuquerque, or Carlsbad. If you’re traveling solo the admission is $15 but loading up your car with family or friends will cost only $25. 

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Photo by Courtney Smith

For the adrenaline junkies out there, going up in a hot air balloon will get your heart pumping while allowing you to take part in a true New Mexican experience. This was at the top of my list the first time I went to New Mexico and I was blown away by the experience! Most balloon experiences happen really early in the morning or at sunset, so either way you’re guaranteed a gorgeous view of the sunrise/sunset. If you’re really into hot air balloons or prefer to see them from the ground, check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! It is an annual event that takes place in October and allows guests to witness hundreds of balloons taking flight. Tickets to attend are also easy on the wallet, where a flight itself will usually set you back around $250-300. 

Meow Wolf

Photo by Courtney Smith

Meow Wolf is another Instagram popular spot in New Mexico. Located in Santa Fe, this unique and interactive art experience is wildly fantastical – and even that is an understatement. The easiest way to describe it is the mixture of a fun house, art exhibit and LSD experience. Student tickets cost $25. More information can be found here.

Go Shopping

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Shopping in any new place is a great way to see more of the culture and trends in the area. New Mexico is no different! Old Town in Albuquerque is a cute area to bop around in if you’re looking for souvenirs and in Santa Fe all you have to do is head to the plaza to find gift shops and Native American goods for sale. No matter where you are in the state there are fun curio shops and local stores that are easy ways to knock out souvenir shopping while beating the heat.

Tour the Historic Churches of Santa Fe 

Photo by Courtney Smith

Downtown Santa Fe is full of churches that are not only architecturally stunning, but also affordable to see. The San Miguel Chapel calls itself the “Oldest Church in the United States,” with origins reportedly dating back to 1610. Another chapel, the Loretto Chapel, features a famous spiral staircase that has mysterious history due to its perfect smooth design. There are a plethora of other churches to visit as well and most still hold services for those who are interested. 

Get Far Out in Roswell

Photo by Courtney Smith

Whether you’re a believer or not, visiting the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell is a must do while in New Mexico. The museum has an admission fee of $5 and for that price you have the opportunity to take pictures with alien sculptures, look over historical documents, and check out the gift shop. The museum itself is pretty small so while it is an entertaining stop, I recommend visiting as a stop in your trip to another destination. 

Explore Carlsbad Caverns

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t know the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite now- you will once you visit the caverns. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is the home of over 100 caves and on your way into the park you’ll be greeted by the natural beauty and diversity of the desert. These caverns are absolutely huge and, because of this, cave enthusiasts will likely be able to spend an entire day here. Ranger guided tours are offered but must be reserved in advance and most of them are an additional fee on top of the $15 entrance fee. With the entrance fee alone you can go on a self guided tour of the Big Room. An elevator will take you directly from the ticket counter to this portion of the caverns but you can also opt into taking the Natural Entrance Trail for an added workout. I explored Carlsbad Caverns while road tripping back to Texas so for time’s sake I only explored the Big Room, but I feel like that is plenty if you’re wanting to experience Carlsbad without too long of a time commitment. More information can be found by clicking here.

Eat at El Pinto 

Photo by Courtney Smith

Established in 1962, El Pinto is both an Albuquerque must and a New Mexico favorite. It is the largest New Mexican food restaurant in the state and seats over 1,200 guests in one of their nine different dining areas. On a good weather day, enjoying El Pinto salsa on one of the patios is a must! Their menu is expansive and features everything from margaritas to stuffed sopapillas. If you look carefully on the walls you’ll see El Pinto is a popular spot for celebrities who are visiting the area, too. This family owned spot is a must if you’re looking for tasty local cuisine and a good atmosphere. 

For these 10 things to do and more, New Mexico should definitely be on your travel bucket list. Amazing food, beautiful sunsets, and fun activities for art enthusiasts and outdoor lovers alike make this a great and (fairly) close travel destination for Texans. Let us know if you try anything on our list or what your favorite things to do in New Mexico are in the comments below.