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Parks and Recommendations

Learn to climb at Red River Gorge outside of Lexington, Kentucky.
Learn to climb at Red River Gorge outside of Lexington, Kentucky.

Your roommate booked a cruise to Cancun. Your sorority sister is headed to Breckenridge to hit the slopes. Even your Stats professor is bragging about their planned trip up to Windsor to win big at the blackjack tables.

And you... well somewhere amid the stress of Fall finals and the rush of the holiday season, you forgot to make spring break plans. And now you're staring down the barrel of a lonely week in Oxford while your fellow Miamians are living it up abroad.

Well, worry not -- there's still time. And though it's probably too late to plan a quintessential trip to a tropical beach filled with free-flowing booze and scantily clad co-eds, there's still plenty to do a little closer to home. If you're still looking for something to do come March 17, here are a few recommendations.

Learn to climb at 'the Red'

About an hour east of Lexington, KY, the picturesque route 11 Mountain Parkway snakes its way through granite cliffs and placid forests, every winding turn giving way to a new clearing of sheer rock faces. This is the Red River Gorge (or, "the Red"), a mountain oasis in the middle of the Bluegrass State that's known the world over for its fantastic sport climbing opportunities. With a wide variety of towering rock walls featuring plenty of crags and grips, there's no shortage of spots where you can throw on a harness and scale your way to the top.

If you're experienced and belay certified, grab some rope and quickdraws and climb away. If you don't know the difference between El Capitan and Captain Morgan, then opt for one of the Red's many guiding companies, such as Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure, where you can hire a professional to, literally, show you the ropes.

And whatever you do, make sure to stop by Miguel's, the tiny and eccentric pizza parlor at the center of this thriving climbing community.

Explore a new city

Some of you might argue that because you don't have a car on campus, you couldn't travel anywhere even if you wanted to. But, with the ubiquity of travel apps like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, it's never been easier or more affordable to get around and explore in urban areas. You can Uber down to Cincy, take a bus to a nearby metropolis and rent a room for the week while you see the sights around town.

You've heard the complaints that Oxford is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by nothing but corn, but in actuality, there are plenty of big cities within just a few hours. Maybe you want to marvel at the artwork on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, or maybe you'd prefer to catch a Blue Jackets game in Columbus. You could set off to Louisville or Lexington, or if you're willing to venture a little farther, maybe check out Nashville, Pittsburgh or St. Louis.

Wherever you choose, don't feel bogged down by the planning process. Just focus on getting there and finding a place to stay, and then just get out and follow whatever interests you!

Camp at a National Park

Apart from a minimal admission fee and possibly a backcountry permit, all you need to enjoy the brilliant landscapes of America's National Parks is a tent and a sleeping bag (and for legal reasons, I have to note that you also need food and water, proper clothing, a first aid kit, water filtration, sturdy boots and emergency gear, but you get the picture). And with the current administration threatening the future of "America's Best Idea," there's never been a better time to take advantage of these beautiful natural areas.

Depending on how far you're willing to go, you've got a few different options. If you want to keep the journey under a few hours, opt for Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia or Great Smoky Mountain National Park by Gatlinburg, TN. If you're willing to drive a little farther, venture to the underrated Congaree National Park in South Carolina or Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

If you're really up for an adventure and aren't opposed to a multi-day road trip, then your options truly open up. Maybe you want to hit up Yellowstone and Grand Teton in Wyoming, or push a little farther to Glacier in Montana. Or, if you're a fan of the Rocky Mountains, hit any of the many parks congregated around the Four Corners, such as Mesa Verde, Arches and Capitol Reef. And, after a couple days in the backcountry, kick back and relax in Denver with some ... ahem... herbal remedies.

Whatever you choose, don't feel trapped in Oxford just because you don't have a big beach week planned out. If you've got a car, or even just Uber, your opportunities are endless.