At this point in my life I should be better at planning trips since I am a travel expert. But honestly, I am more of a wing it kind of gal. I know that no matter where we go or what we do, we are going to have a great time.
Does this mean sometimes I miss seeing the “must see” tourist attraction? Yes, yes I do. But does it even matter if I didn’t know I was missing it. Plus, if you have teenagers you are trying to get off the computers or other devices the best way I know how is to get them away from the house.
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7 Tips for Going on a Last Minute Family Weekend Getaway
1. Do not stress out about going somewhere. Just do it!
I think what really matters is the quality time you have with your family. A simple weekend getaway can provide quality time and memories to last a lifetime. If you have teenagers you are trying to get off the computers or other devices the best way I know how is to get them away from the house.
2. Pack quickly, keeping in mind you will be back home in 3 days.
Also, keep in mind that most hotels have something if you forget an item. If they don’t the local store does. I’ve yet to visit a destination that doesn’t have a store nearby! Here is a printable packing list you can use.
3. Pick a place no more than a 3 – 4 hour drive.
You do not want to spend a bunch of your free time driving to the destination. The closer it is the more time you will have for having fun.
Here are some fun suggestions if you happen to live somewhere in the south:
Experience authentic, Old Florida in Washington County, in the state’s predominantly rural northwestern region. Located north of the Panama City beaches along Interstate 10, Washington County was created in 1825 and has been formed by Native American, Spanish and English cultural influences. Chipley has also preserved a special part of its history in the South Third Street Historic District. This downtown area includes 13 historic homes displaying Queen Anne Victorian-style architecture–many say the best examples in Florida. The history of the homes can be found at the nearby museum.
Named the Forgotten Coast because it’s one of the last remaining stretches of low-rise, unspoiled Gulf Coast beaches. Nearby, un-crowded and un-developed St. George Island State Park was named one of America’s “Top 10 Beaches for 2021” by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, AKA “Dr. Beach.” As Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University since 1991 he has based his reviews on conditions conducive to family outings.Natchitoches, LouisianaThe oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase territory features brick-lined streets, double-galleried, wrought-iron-trimmed storefronts and mix of ornate architectural styles make the town so cinematic that the Christmas festival scene in the movie “Steel Magnolias” was filmed here. Named after an American Indian tribe, Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish) is easy to access via I-49 which connects to I-20 to the north in Shreveport and to I-10 in Lafayette, to the south. Restaurants and food vendors along the banks of the river, Front Street and downtown ensure that no one goes hungry. Dine on classic Creole and flavorful Cajun cuisine. There’s so much to see and do that a weekend stay is the best way to take it all in, and advance reservations, even for restaurants, are strongly suggested. Accommodations range from budget to flagship brands to the newly opened Chateau Saint Denis Hotel, the largest inn in downtown historic Natchitoches. Film buffs are attracted to the 1830s Steel Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast, the centerpiece of the Southern classic movie of the same name.Cleveland, Mississippi
Midway between Memphis and Vicksburg on historic Highway 61, Cleveland, Mississippi, is known as a hip little town in the Mississippi Delta, one of Southern Living’s “Best Small Towns” and a Smithsonian Magazine “Small Town to Visit.” The Crosstie District, including Cotton Row, can be seen on a paved rail-trail that runs through the city’s quaint downtown, anchored by the Railroad Heritage Museum, home to one of the largest “O” Gauge model train exhibits in the country. Cleveland is also home of the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, an interactive and engaging attraction including films, memorabilia and more, and the town’s unique music vibe combines signature Delta blues with rock, new country and other genres. Stay at the boutique Cotton House Hotel and have a drink overlooking the colorful sparkle at Bar Fontaine, its rooftop bar and restaurant. Explore the 19 sites of The Mississippi Blues Trail in the surrounding Bolivar County, including the Dockery Farms home of blues pioneer Charley Patton.
Thoroughbred Country, South CarolinaExperience undiscovered South Carolina in Thoroughbred Country, just east of Augusta, Georgia, along I-20 and west of Columbia, South Carolina. Comprised of Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell counties and bordered by Interstates 20, 26 and 95, this region showcases rolling countryside, equestrian events, wide open greenspaces, nature and history, in addition to picturesque downtowns with unique shops, restaurants, museums and lodging. Hopelands Gardens is a 14-acre former estate park featuring wetlands, an arboretum trail with cell phone tour and a labyrinth.
4. Utilize an app or website to find a hotel quickly.
Here are some apps and websites I like:
- Hotel Tonight – An app that releases hotels each day at noon. These can be incredible deals.
5. Book a hotel that includes breakfast if possible.
Since this is just a quick trip having one meal a day taken care of makes everything easier. Then you are only left trying to figure lunch and dinner. I lean pretty heavily on Yelp to find good restaurants. I also look up places to eat on Instagram. For example, if we are going out to eat in Dallas I will search #dallaseats or #dallasfood. You will quickly find some good -ooking food.
- If your hotel doesn’t have breakfast just take a box of pop tarts with you. (But they are not healthy? Who cares, you are on vacation.)
- If you cannot afford a hotel, then consider camping instead.
6. Stay at a Hotel that is a Full Experience
You could even book a hotel where staying there is an entire experience all on its own. Just showing up will fill up your weekend so no other planning is needed. Here are some of our favorites.
- Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound
- Gaylord Texan
- Omni Rancho Las Palmas the Perfect Place for Families to Stay in Palm Springs
- Silvies Valley Ranch: A Luxury Dude Ranch in Eastern Oregon
- Hotel Emma a Luxury Boutique Hotel in San Antonio
- Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
7. Leverage an Itinerary
Find an itinerary online that someone has created and use it for your own family. We’ve spent a lot of time creating itineraries based on our own experiences. So you are guaranteed that it will be a good one. Here are a few of them.
- 3 Day NYC Itinerary with Teens
- Weekend in San Diego Itinerary
- 2 Day Atlanta Itinerary for Families
- 3 Day Asheville Itinerary For Families
- 4 Day Salem, Oregon Itinerary
- 4 Day Vail Itinerary
- Weekend Ski Trip to Bend, Oregon
- Weekend Getaway Scenic 30A in the panhandle of Florida
- Experience an Epic Cincinnati Weekend Getaway
- Getaway to Addison, TX
Do you have any great tips to help others head out on a spontaneous weekend getaway? If so, share them in the comments below!