Kids are back in school and that means your vacation time is more limited, but not completely cut off. This is the best time to explore close to home or take a mini road trip over the weekend. Local exploration is just as good as those longer, far away trips. You just need to start planning.
Look at your map to see what is within a three-hour radius of your house. Get your kids involved by having them look up the towns you find. Are there any festivals in town? Everyone celebrates the winter holidays in some way. Find out how that town does it. Are you interested in arts and crafts? Chances are there is a quilt shop in that tiny town you just passed on the map. Nature is everywhere, especially when you travel outside of a major city. Find the state and national parks within a few hours of your house. Get out and explore all of that fresh air.
I can see you cringing already as you think about packing everyone up for a mere three-day trip. "It’s painful and just not worth it," you say. It is. You have to entertain your kids at home on the weekends (I know I do, because they sure don’t seem to think that pile of toys is interesting). Add some adventure into your lives by telling the kids to pack three shirts, pants, pairs of underwear and socks, and get in the car. It’s true, your kids may think you have lost your mind, and maybe you have, but adventure waits, so stop stalling.
Now where will you go? Yes, you can go out into nature, or hit up a few small towns, but let’s get more specific with some simple weekend getaways from coast to coast.
Weekend trip ideas
- California has it easy. Pick any direction and you either hit a national park or the beach. You can easily visit the Redwoods, Yosemite, Big Sur or even L.A. over a weekend if you are within driving distance. Pack the kids up after school and get driving.
- Texas is big, but does have a lot to do. If you live in Dallas you can get to Austin, Fort Worth, Waco and San Antonio all under three hours. Houston residents can hit the Woodlands, Big Bend National Park, Galveston, Brazo Bend State Park or Lake Conroe.
- Midwesterners up in the Chicago area don’t have any excuses. Wander over to Traverse City, MI to hang out by the lake, Bloomington, IN for a little theater fun, or check out the art and dining scenes in Milwaukee, Madison or Beloit, WI.
- New York screams day trips, especially if you live in Manhattan. It’s pretty easy to get back to nature in the Hamptons thanks to the Long Island Railroad, especially on the off-season. Pop up to Connecticut for small town festivals; go further north to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to ski some of the best powder on the east coast, or to the Jersey Shore for some beach and boardwalk time.
- South of the Mason-Dixon you will find big cities like Washington, D.C., Richmond, Atlanta and Miami, as well as smaller places known for their history like Savannah and Charleston. Florida is always a good idea from Miami to Tallahassee to a beach weekend on Amelia Island, there’s something for everyone around the state.
No matter where you live in the U.S. you can find a weekend trip worth taking with your kids. You may have to get creative, yes, there will be tears, but as you return home there will be smiles too. You just went on an adventure with your kids. There is magic and a whole lot of memories in that.
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