Finals week is the most soul-crushing week of our lives. That’s no exaggeration. It’s filled with stress, all nighters, crying, Adderall, tests, and papers. By the time you reach your last final, you are so out of fucks to give that you contemplate just handing in the test blank, saying “Fuck it all!” to the professor, walking out of the classroom, and listening to your classmates cheer behind you as you greet summer head on.
Chances are, though, you’re not going to do this. Instead, you’re going to drown in a classroom or the library, pretending to study. I can’t give you the courage to walk out of your finals, but I can give you some awesome eye candy of places that aren’t a stuffy library or a jail cell of a dorm room.
1. Key West, Fla.
Key West is one of my favorite places in the entire world. Yes, I’m cheating by putting the whole island on the list, but that’s just because it is literally Disney World for adults–which we kind of are now. Most of the island is accessible by bike, which you can technically get a DUI on, but it’s harder to get a DUI on a bike than in a car. If biking isn’t your thing, there are cab services all over the island. My favorite is Five 6’s. Plus, the island is so small that area codes aren’t exactly necessary, so just type 66666 in your phone and get a cab. It’s blackout-proof! Anyway, to go cups for alcoholic beverages are completely normal, which makes hopping from bar to bar on Duval Street very simple. Nurse your hangover beachside with a fruity cocktail and make plans to visit Dry Tortuga Island, Robert the Living Doll (if you want to shit yourself, that is) and see if you can win the Sloppy Joe’s karaoke contest. Also, if you don’t go to a drag show, you’re doing Key West wrong.
2. Seacrets Bar & Grill, Ocean City, Md.
I spent literally the entire day and night of my 21st birthday at Seacrets, and I regret absolutely nothing about that decision. First off, it’s HUGE. Think Jamacian water park, but add in about 10 bars and the fact that it’s in Maryland. Second, half of the bar is in the water, so you can spend all day in the water either making new friends or hanging out with the people you came with. They have inflatable tables and rafts to float around on, and music blaring a mix of reggae and whatever’s popular. I heard you can get food here, too, but I usually just stick with pizza when I go to O.C. At night, they close off the water part (for obvious reasons) but don’t worry–there are still at least six bars where you can get a Pain in de Ass, which is Seacret’s signature drink. It’s half rum runner and half pina colada. On Saturday nights, they have live music, so dance your heart out on the sand. If there is a paradise for college students or young adults in Maryland, it’s Seacrets. Grab your bikini, order a Pain in de Ass, and join me on a raft in the bay. Just watch out for horndog bachelor parties. They’ll buy you drinks, but make sure you avoid their closing lines. What happens in O.C. doesn’t always stay in O.C.
3. Cafe Wha? Greenwich Village, New York City, N.Y.
For the city girls, get your faux-hipster on at this famous club, where the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan have all played. It’s a smaller club, which always has live music playing and plenty of room to dance. The club’s house band plays Wednesdays to Sundays, and it’s billed as “The Best Damn Band in NYC.” When you first step inside Cafe Wha? you wonder how they can fit all the customers in there, let alone a 10-piece band. Their signature drinks, for the most part, aren’t extremely imaginative. Even though the bar offers your typical LITs and Alabama Slammers, they do have a couple gems, such as the Woo Woo, which is peach schnapps mixed with vodka cran, and the Voodoo Child. If you’re a fan of live music and prime drinks, get here now.
4. Blue Sushi Sake Grill, Omaha, Neb.
Okay, I’m going to be 100 percent honest right now. When I heard about this place and where it was located, I was hesitant. Nebraska isn’t the first–or second, or third, or even twentieth–place I think of when I hear “sushi.” After doing some research, though, I may head out to Nebraska (something I never thought would come out of my mouth) to check out this place. Reverse happy hour on Saturdays with sushi included makes my heart sing. Not only do they have traditional sushi and sake, but they have mouth-watering martinis (Bluetini for me, please), fishbowls, an enormous beer selection, and an American twist on some of their sushi rolls. Hamachi Pop Rocks Sashimi, Cherry Bomb Nigiri, and Killer Bee rolls? Yes, please. Luckily for you Texas and Colorado natives, there are locations in your states, too. I guess I’ll just have to make some road trips soon.
5. Crystal Lake, Mich.
When my friend goes to Crystal Lake, she doesn’t shut up about it for, like, two weeks afterward. But I really can’t blame her after hearing her talk about it and looking up pictures of it. The water is completely clear–you can see your feet while treading water. What YOU should do is rent a lake house with your friends and have bonfires on bonfires up there. Get drunk enough to swim to the “blue line,” where it suddenly gets really deep, and have your friends come rescue you on kayaks. (It’s always a good idea in the beginning, isn’t it?) Or maybe rent a boat and pee yourselves as you watch your friends get launched off a tube. There is only one bar, which is filled with townies, so you might just want to stay at the house and drink. That could be great in the long run, because who has money anymore? I’ll let my friend take it away with this one: “You’re writing about Crystal Lake? CRYSTAL LAKE IS THE ABSOLUTE TITS!”