Quick US Trips: Spots to Travel To For The Day Or Weekend | Part One
Sometimes whether it be work or family obligations, lack of vacation time, or a limited budget, you don't always have the time to take a lavish two-week vacation to some far-off land. But that doesn't mean you can't still explore!
I asked a few fellow travel bloggers for their favourite destinations for a quick day or weekend trip in the US. This is the first installment of an ongoing series dedicated to these quick trips. This time we have submissions from Florida, New York, Illinois, Nebraska, California and Washington State.
Submitted by Margie of DQ Family Travel
"One of my favorite weekend trips from Miami, Florida is driving south to the Florida Keys. You are transported from city life into chains of islands, bridges and blue water everywhere you look. There are plenty of stops along the way on the islands of Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West. There are also numerous quaint shops, seafood restaurants, and charming waterfront inns to stop and visit. Driving through, you can spot people fishing off bridges, boats and jet skis cruising on the water, and bike-friendly paths. One of our favorite activities is renting kayaks and snorkeling around the beautiful water. To us, this is the best weekend trip because a quick 1-2 hour drive gets you away from the hustle and bustle of Miami and into the slower pace of island life."
Submitted by Aafje of Kids Love Travel
"A well-hidden gem at Florida's west coast: Sanibel Island!
With its 33 sq miles (half land half water) it's the perfect weekend getaway destination. As the island is small you can explore it by bike. We rented 3 and cycled from beach to beach to find the most beautiful shells. Of course, we stopped at one of the island's cosiest restaurants “The Island Cow” for a tasteful lunch.
Sanibel has some cute inhabitants as well! We loved "meeting" the manatees and dolphins during a guided boat trip at Tarpon Bay Explorers.
We had the best weather but when the weather lets you down you can spend a perfect weekend at Sanibel Island, visiting museums, shopping and eating the best food!"
Submitted by Ena of Musings and Adventures
"Hudson is a small town in Columbia County, New York State, and is considered Upstate New York's Downtown because of its delicious mix of small-town charm with modernity, like upscale galleries next to antique shops and herb stores alongside hip cafes.
Hudson was once a whaling town and after that career ended, a hub for activities of the day like brothels, illegal smuggling during Prohibition and ne'er-do-wells. It is a fascinating history so look it up.
It is a 2hr trip via Amtrak from Penn Station, NYC, and is a very walkable city. Everyone walks and very few drive, as I was told, but there is parking available for out-of-towners. You can walk from the quaint station to the main thoroughfare, Warren Street, which is chock-full of stores, shops, restaurants, BnBs and many more services.
In the Hudson Historic District, buildings are Queen Anne architecture and some date back to the early 1800s. They are painted beautiful and vibrant colours and the architecture is beautiful.
You will never tire of going into unique stores or buying things to take back home and in fact, Hudson is one of the places that organic grocery stores in the city get their organic produce from. I brought back organic relishes, honey, pastries and an elderflower tincture from the herb store. Lol.
In addition, there are playgrounds and green spaces in the area and a waterfront to chill on or take the ferry across to Athens for a lighthouse tour. Spring sees a parade and/or fairs every other month till December and fall is a great season to visit because of the fall colours on display.
I stayed overnight in Hudson but you can do this as a day trip from NYC/NJ/Philly area. It is a perfect escape from the rapid pace and hustle and bustle of NYC and I will be returning in fall for the colours and more food hauls. It is highly recommended."
Long Island Wine Country
Submitted by Karen of Wanderlustingk
"If you’re looking for a great day trip from New York City, consider taking a day trip out to wine country on Long Island! Some of the best wines in New York come from the North Fork and there’s nothing like sipping a glass of Chardonnay while listening to fantastic music. My parents and I go out almost every year as there’s so many wineries as well as events that are worth the two-hour journey for."
Submitted by LeAnna of Well Traveled Nebraskan
"When I tell most people that I am from Omaha, Nebraska, I get a few responses.
1) Where is THAT!? or
2) Oh, Nebraska? There must be nothing to do there.
Well, here's the deal. Omaha, Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of the US, is often cited as one of the most overlooked destinations in America. Sure, we may not have huge skyscrapers or a major league athletic team, but most visitors to the Big O are typically shocked at how much there is to do here and just how perfect it is for a weekend getaway from nearby midwestern cities!
Omaha is a big Southwest Airline hub, meaning we have tons of great, quick and often cheap options to get to bigger destinations in the US.
In just barely over an hour, you can get to Omaha from either Denver or Chicago, making it an ideal weekend trip for those living in those bigger Midwestern cities.
But don't think that by coming to Omaha, you'll be stuck in the middle of cornfields in a podunk Nebraska town. Nope! The Omaha Metro area is home to almost 1 million residents and we all love to get out and have a good time in our city! A few of the local (and tourists alike) favorite things to do are:
- Visit one of the top rated zoos…in the world!!!
- Grab a craft beer at one of the numerous Microbreweries ALL over town
- Stroll the cobblestone streets of the Old Market while shopping, eating and people watching
- Eat a famous (and delicious) Omaha Steak
- Ride in a Gondola (yes, Gondola!) at the Heartland of America Park
- Take in a concert at an Indy underground venue, a pop concert at the arena or any other musical style at one of the many other outdoor venues. (We have most big musicians come to Omaha!)
So, next time you are in a mid-western city wondering where you should head to for the weekend, Omaha is a must!"
Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks, IL
Submitted by Roxanna of Gypsy With A Day Job
"Sometimes everyone needs a break from city life, and for those living in Chicago, a weekend or day trip to Starved Rock or Matthiessen State Parks is a fabulous way to get back to nature. City residents sometimes assume the land south of I80 is filled with nothing but corn and soybeans. These two fabulous parks prove this theory wrong.
Starved Rock is Illinois most popular state park for good reason. It is a stunning area along the Illinois River, filled with bluffs, ravines and 18 different canyons, formed by glacial melt. There are miles of gorgeous hiking trails, some with scenic overlooks on the river. The park also features a historical lodge and camping areas. There is enough area to explore to spend a few days. The only downside to Starved Rock is that being the most popular state park in Illinois, it can be quite busy on the weekends.
Those looking for smaller crowds, and somewhat easier hiking trails should go a bit further down the road to Matthiessen State Park. Though not quite as dramatic, Matthiessen is also filled with ravines and gorges, and some beautiful waterfalls. The park is easier to hike, and even young children can handle many of the trails. What's more, on warm days the waterfalls and pools provide a fun way to cool off. There is no lodging in Matthiessen State Park, but it is available close enough to get in and out of the park quickly."
Hug A Few Trees
Submitted by Delisa of Destination: Overlooked
"Preliminary studies in the U.S. and Japan have shown that spending time in nature (forests in particular) may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins and boost general immune function in the human body. These effects can last up to seven days after a visit to the woods.
If you are in Northern California and need a dose of green to combat your Nature Deficit Disorder (Google it, it's a real thing), head on over to one or more of California's 31 national and state parks where you can visit the redwoods and gaze up at some of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet! Also, give one a hug. They deserve it.
Popular spots to visit these majestic giants include Redwood National and State Parks, Muir Woods National Monument, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve just to name a few."
Bainbridge Island, WA
Submitted by Lisa of Cultural Foodies
"Located only a 30-minute scenic ferry ride from the downtown Seattle ferry terminal lies a beach town called Bainbridge Island. With a quaint neighborhood feel to it, this chic, local adorable town is packed with artisan sandwich shops, locally made ice cream, Turkish rugs, and a museum! Bainbridge Island is a great day trip from Seattle, and easily seen all within one day. If you're wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Seattle city life and retreat to a laid-back island vibe without going too far, this is the perfect place for you.
Downtown Bainbridge is small and completely walkable, so if you don’t have a car, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to experience the essence of this wonderful town. If you do have a car, there is free angle parking all along Winslow Way for up to three hours. During summer and busier times, they can be quite strict, so don’t surpass your three hours. Biking is also a popular activity, especially during warmer months. You can simply ride on with your bike and use it as your vehicle once you arrive on the island!
Here are the stops I recommend to visit during your day trip to Bainbridge Island:
1) Breakfast & coffee at Blackbird Bakery
2) Eagle Harbor Book Company
3) Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
4) Lunch at Hitchcock Delicatessen
5) Lunch at Mora Ice Cream
6) Nature walk around Fort Ward State Park
7) Kombucha on tap at Willowtree Health Market
8) Pizza & beer at Bruciato"
Mount Rainier National Park, WA
Submitted by Rebecca of Away From The Office
"If you've spent any time in Seattle on a sunny day, you've probably seen 14,000-foot tall Mt. Rainier calling to you from afar. While hiking is best during the summer months, skiing and snowshoeing are available during the winter months. The Mt. Rainier are is also free of light pollution, making it an ideal place to stargaze on a clear evening.
From Seattle, Mt. Rainier is a 2-hour drive to Sunrise Visitor Center and 2.5 hours to Paradise, assuming no traffic. Paradise features several trails with wildflower meadows in the summer months, such as the Alta Vista Trail, Nisqually Vista Trail and Skyline Trail. You can stay overnight at Paradise Inn, a historic national park lodge built in the early 1900s.
Sunrise is also well worth a visit, located at 6,400 feet, the highest point visitors can reach by car in Mt. Rainier National Park. Make sure to check the current road status because the road is usually open late June through late September. While there, visit the Sunrise Nature Trail and Tipsoo Lake."
Stay tuned for the next installment of the series for more US day and weekend trips. What is your favourite destination for a quick getaway in the US? Let us know in the comments!
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