7 spring break road trips for college kids (inspired by movies)


Whether you're a genuine college kid taking a break from the books or you're a few years out and trying to recapture those carefree days, it's time for some spring break inspiration.

Why not take a cue from a cinematic adventure?

These seven road trip movies were all set or filmed across the U.S., and offer some reasonable regional spring break trip ideas for the party animal in all of us. Some are new(ish), others are from bygone eras (like the 80s) and all of them will put you in the mood to hit it:

Tybee Island, Georgia, inspired by “Dirty Grandpa”

Let's just start by getting “Dirty Grandpa”(2016), starring Robert De Niro and Zac Ephron, out of the way. If you haven't been introduced to the time-honored spring break goals of ridiculous amounts of alcohol, beach competitions and unrealistically gorgeous bikini-clad women, take a quick look at this one. What makes it extra-inspiring is that part of the filming happened on Tybee Island, Georgia, and in several Atlanta neighborhoods. While you might not want to bring your bucket-list-completing grandfather with you, you'll definitely be inspired by Ephron's, uh, cajones.

Miami, Florida, inspired by “Baywatch”

In the same vein, but on the other coast, is “Baywatch” (2017), in which the Rock (among others) jogs in slow-mo. What makes it relevant for Southerners is that it was cleverly filmed right here on Tybee Island and in Savannah, Georgia, along with Boca Raton and Miami, Florida. If the cast can make the journey to our fine Southern beaches, so can you. Other spring break goals from Baywatch include beach bodies, intrigue and realizing who on the trip is there just to make you laugh today and who's going to be a friend for life.

Los Angeles, inspired “Rain Man”

Getting back to actual get-in-the-car-and-take-off road trip movies, there's  “Rain Man” (1988). This classic features Dustin Hoffman as a man living with autism being driven from Cincinnati to L.A. by his brother,  played by Tom Cruise, for nefarious purposes. While that's too many miles for a Southern spring break, drink in the film's road trip message and remember that gambling on cards and on life is more fun when you bring along your sketchiest family member. If you want to see actual filming sights, head up to the Cinncinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and check out Newport, Covington and Silver Grove, Kentucky.

Asheville, North Carolina, inspired by “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers”

If you prefer less sketchy family adventures, look to “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers”. The Judd Apatow-directed documentary is fresh and hip and involves a series of mini-road trips, including one from Concord to South Hipster Central (aka Asheville) North Carolina. If nothing else, consider the album made during filming, "True Sadness," as the Rockabilly soundtrack for your travels.

Austin, Texas, inspired by Honeysuckle Rose”

For another musical spring break route, how about traveling like the characters in “Honeysuckle Rose” (1980)? No one's going to argue that this Willie Nelson vehicle is great art, but the 80s flick takes you to Country Western strongholds in a big bus with "The life I love is making music with my friends" playing in the background. It was filmed at Padre Island National Seashore and in Austin, Texas, which makes a super spring break itinerary. The movie features a love triangle, but experienced road trippers will tell you to leave that back at the dorm.

Alamo, San Antonio, Texas, inspired by “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”

While we're pondering Texas destinations, how about retracing Pee-Wee's steps as he strives to recover his stolen bike in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985). Diners, a truck driver named Large Marge and roadside attractions galore all lead the way to the Alamo. What's not to love?

New Orleans, inspired by “Easy Rider”

If Pee-Wee's antics are a bit childish for your taste, maybe the road trip from Easy Rider (1969) would be more your thing. Fine acting, very adult themes, critical thinking and an understated script made this cross-country trip movie a cult classic that stands the test of time. While the experiences of Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda as counter-culture drug dealers/bikers making their way from L.A. to NOLA bear no resemblance to a frivolous spring break, there are some helpful takeaways. For one, the film reminds aspiring travelers that New Orleans is a splendid place to land at the end of the drive. 

Here’s how to catch these spring break flicks:

Watch Dirty Grandpa on Hulu, Amazon Prime or Epix.

Rent Baywatch at the PlayStation Store, from Verizon or on numerous other streaming services. It's also for sale on DVD.

Watch Rain Man on Cinemax. Rent or buy it from other sources.

Stream the Avett Brothers album True Sadness on Amazon Prime.

Rent Honeysuckle Rose on Amazon Prime, Google Play and iTunes.

See Pee-Wee's Big Adventure on Netflix. Rent or buy it from other sources.

Watch Easy Rider on Sundance or Doc Club. Rent or buy it from other sources.


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