Toward the latter part of the school year, colleges and universities in the United States suspend classes for one to two weeks, usually in the month of March or April. Known as spring break -- or in some countries, reading week or spring recess -- this recess from classes is generally observed by colleges and universities, as well as K-12 schools throughout the United States and Canada, as well as several other countries. Spring break has evolved from a week-long break during which students caught up on school work into a time during which students often travel to warm climates and exotic locales.
Spring break generally happens in March, but in some parts of the United States, it occurs in April instead. The timing of the break is generally left up to the school or school districts; some schools and districts prefer to hold this break to coincide with Easter or Passover while other schools or districts prefer to schedule the break at or around the midpoint of a semester. The week-long break gives students the opportunity to travel home from colleges or universities to see family at the holidays, to complete school work, or to simply unwind from the stress of the semester. A more popular use of the break, however, is leisure travel to a variety of locations.
Over the course of several decades, several exotic locations have become synonymous with spring break. Students often travel to places like Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which became a popular spring destination after World War II. More recently, Cancun, Mexico established itself as a popular spring vacation destination, as well as other locations in Mexico. Tijuana was another popular destination within Mexico until the escalating drug wars in the area made the city a hotbed for violence and murder. Because of the early spring timing of the break, many students seek out colder climates to enjoy spring skiing.
Several tourist industries cater specifically to "spring breakers" looking to escape school life for a week. Airlines often offer discounted fares to certain locations, and popular spring vacation destinations have developed bars, clubs, and beaches to cater to students on break. Travel agencies may offer spring break packages that include airfare, hotel accommodations, daytime activities, and night time entertainment.
Of course, students are free to do as they please with their break. Many colleges and universities, however, close their facilities during this week and students therefore will not have access to them. Dormitories may be closed for cleaning or repairs as well, which may force some students to vacate the campus.