Happy Friday, travelers! I don’t know about you, but fighting the rat race all week has made me appreciate my weekends even more, especially when I can squeeze in a little getaway. Whether it’s a road trip or a quick dash across the pond, weekend getaways are a great way to get your travel fix, see something new, and ditch the weekday blues.
In no particular order, here are my Top 5 trips that only lasted a weekend:
1. Tennessee Road Trip
When I lived in Chicago, my sister, mom and I decided to take advantage of the fact that I-57 goes straight from the Windy City to Memphis and made a great road trip weekend out of it. Driving from Chicago to Memphis, then to Nashville, and finally Pigeon Forge (shame on you if you don’t know what is in Pigeon Forge), we packed a week’s worth of road trip fun into one long weekend. It was my first foray into the American South, and we had the perfect mix of delicious Memphis barbecue, great live music in both cities, classic kitsch at the home of the King, and backwoods theme park action at Dollywood. No joke, I think Dollywood is my all-time favorite theme park.
2. Eurotripping in Amsterdam
As Kelly has already pointed out, the city is great for wreaking Amsterdamage, whether you choose to partake in the coffee shops or not. While studying in England, my good friend Allison and I were determined to take advantage of the cheap flights on RyanAir and Easyjet that allow for a quick jaunt on the Continent. During a long weekend break from classes, we got our chance and headed to the Venice of the North to see what all the fuss was about. Although it was fall and no tulips were in bloom, the city was beautiful and we made the most of our short time there. Ladies night at a bar we happened to pass turned into a weekend of fun and cheap drinks with friendly Dutch and Australians; we got cultured with a visit to the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house; discovered late night food in the form of vending machine restaurants; and spent very little time in our hostel. Also of note, I think there are about 562 H&M clothing stores in Amsterdam. While wandering the circular streets late at night, we must have passed every single one.
3. SoCal Coastline
Even though I grew up in California, I haven’t lived there since graduating high school, so I relish every opportunity to spend some time in the great Golden State. Last year I booked a spontaneous flight for a weekend at home and ended up taking one of the best weekend trips I can remember. My family and I drove up the coast on the beautiful PCH to Vandenberg Air Force Base. We lived there when I was little and my dad was stationed there, but now it is a great place to stay to enjoy the Central Coast. Highlights of the weekend include a day on the beach, Aebleskivers in the quaint town of Solvang (a kind of tourist trap, but definitely worth it for the aebleskivers), a wine tasting at Firestone Winery, tri-tip sandwiches cooked over a fire on the side of the road at a biker restaurant, and the flower fields in Lompoc. Although I had visited these places many times before (except the winery I guess…my parents frowned on that when I was 10), the weekend was a happy reminder that there is always something new to experience, even close to home.
4. The Great American (Southwest) Road Trip
Yes, it’s another road trip. In case you haven’t picked up on the theme – I love road trips, and they make for fantastic weekend getaways. This particular trip was in celebration of my youngest sister graduating high school, and even though we didn’t have much time, we wanted to experience the great American road trip. Our solution was a circular 4-day route around the Southwest, incorporating a portion of historic Route 66, and other cheesy sites along the way. This trip had everything – roadside attractions that aren’t very impressive but built up for so many miles that you have to stop; a night in Roswell, New Mexico with the aliens; great times on Route 66 (my favorite was the corner in Winslow, Arizona where they blast Eagles music from loudspeakers and have a giant mural of a girl driving a flat-bed Ford); camping under the stars at the Grand Canyon (note to self: it’s cold there – don’t decide to go camping the day before and forget to bring sweaters, sleeping bags, lanterns, or any of the necessary camping paraphernalia); one night in Vegas; and finally the Hoover Dam before heading home. Besides getting to spend some quality time with my sisters, this trip gave us the memories of a classic cross-country road trip without the time or miles required.
5. North Carolina Beaches
Since moving to DC, I’ve taken a number of weekend trips, mainly to get the precious “outside the Beltway” time that is needed to stay sane, but one of my favorites was when a friend invited a group of us to her family’s beach house in North Carolina. The house was on an island near Kitty Hawk, and was like something you’d see on a postcard for Carolina beaches. As a West-coaster, I have very little experience with East coast beaches, but always pictured the Carolinas with tall grass near the beach, and houses with white porches. That’s pretty much what it was, but it was also relaxing and beautiful, even without going in the water. While I’ll always be a California girl, I’m willing to grant the Carolina beaches their due when it comes to Southern charm.
So there you go, readers. This weekend, hit the road, hop a flight, or just get moving to see something new. Is it 5 o’clock yet?