Spring break activities to do for cheap

By Katie Finlon

Some have concrete plans—maybe a weeklong trip somewhere with the family–and others have no desire to move from the couch for spring break.

What if you want to go somewhere but don’t have the funds for a trip to, say, Walt Disney World?

Don’t you worry, broke-as-all-get-up NIU student; I’ve got you covered. Below are a few ideas for spring break if you need to fix your itch to travel but don’t want to completely break the bank.

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. in Chicago, always has something going on, whether it’s an art exhibit or a live performance every Wednesday.

The Cultural Center is known for showcasing national and international acts in music, theater, dance and the visual arts. In particular, the North African desert rock band Terakaft has its Chicago debut 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. This is also part of their first U.S. tour.

My personal favorite aspect of the Cultural Center? Unless noted otherwise, every performance or exhibit is free. The most you may spend there is about $4 for a cup of coffee on the first floor–maybe even less.

Of course, bear in mind the cost of a train ticket or gasoline to get there, but not once have I regretted my time spent at the building that used to be the Chicago Public Library.

For more information and to see the performance schedule for the Chicago Cultural Center, visit www.chicagoculturalcenter.org. Follow the Chicago Cultural Center on Twitter @ChiCulturCenter.

Don’t Spend $9 for a Ticket if You Don’t Have To

“Oz the Great and Powerful” is set to release on Friday in all movie theaters.

Not digging the Oz? Take a look at Fandango.com to see what other movies are running during spring break. Better yet, visit your local theater and ask what their matinee rate is on any given day of the week.

For example, at Carmike Market Square 10, 2160 Sycamore Road, the regular rates for adults are $9 Sunday through Thursday and $9.25 Friday and Saturday. If you attend a show with a start time before 4 p.m., the rate changes to $6.75 Sunday through Thursday and $7.25 Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $5.50 for shows with start times between 4 and 5:30 p.m. every day.

Finally, I can justify spending good money on movie popcorn.

Meet an Author

Naperville’s Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., brings in authors for book signings almost every weekday. During spring break, novelists Stephenie Meyer and Jodi Picoult are scheduled to make appearances in the area.

Meyer will bring actors Max Irons and Jake Abel from the film adaptation of her book, “The Host.” Picoult’s signing is to share her latest book, “The Storyteller,” with the general public.

Meyer will be signing from 2-5 p.m. Monday at Anderson’s Bookshop. Picoult will start signings at 7 p.m. March 16 at Kennedy Junior High School, 2929 Green Trails Drive in Lisle.

For tickets, visit AndersonsBookshop.com and click on the “Events” tab.

For Those 21 and Older

I personally will be going for some Spotted Cow sometime during this break.

If you were ever curious as to how beer is made, New Glarus Brewery, 2400 State Highway 69 in New Glarus, Wisc., offers free self-guided tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

The tasting room samples, also available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., are $3.50 each. If you have a military ID, your samples are free.

It’s a two-hour drive from DeKalb, and it could easily be made in a day, round-trip if you leave early enough. With the cost of gasoline, the only added expense is a six-pack of any New Glarus brews of your choosing for $9 and any souvenirs of your choosing.

For more information, visit NewGlarusBrewing.com.

This beer is only available in Wisconsin, so stock up if you make the trip—I promise, you won’t regret it.

Picasso Comes Back to Chicago

You know the sculpture in Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St. in Chicago? That is the work of Pablo Picasso.

The Art Institute of Chicago currently has a Picasso exhibit running until May 12. If your inner art nerd is going berserk, it might be something worth checking out.

But how much, you ask? If you remember your student ID, you pay only $14 for general admission if you’re an Illinois resident.

I come bearing good news if $14 is still too much to fork over—admission is free to Illinois residents 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

Get a group together and enjoy a night of Picasso on Thursday. Again, bear in mind the cost of a train ticket to Chicago, but depending on where you live, it might be worth the free admission for a good exhibit—how often do you see an exhibit focused on a famous artist in Chicago?—and enjoy a night of artistic conversation.