Shermans Travel » Blog » Weekend Getaways
National wildlife refuges — protected lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service — offer many of the same recreational opportunities as national parks at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free, unless you plan to hunt, fish, or camp. We love these (mostly) gratis activities for experiencing the wilderness in a whole new way:
As Michigan’s supremely serene and car-free getaway, Mackinac Island is characterized by the ubiquitous clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages and a history rich enough to excite any U.S. travel nerd. The island, which is accessed via ferry during the warmer months and snowmobile during the coldest months, offers so much in its relatively small 3.8 square miles of space, including a former military fort and several well-known hotels (you may have heard of The Grand Hotel, which was the setting of the film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve). It also features too many fudge shops to count and a biking/walking circumference (Lake Shore Boulevard) that offers idyllic views of lighthouses and the often moody Haldimand Bay.
If you have just a weekend to spend on Mackinac, there are plenty of ways to get maximum mileage of this car-free getaway, and to experience the island as the Islanders do. Here are a few suggestions.
Napa and Sonoma both offer great wines, great food, and incredible experiences, but because there’s so much to do in each county that visitors usually focus on one or the other. Which is the best option for you? Here’s a guide for how to choose.
Why spend a fortune for just a few hours at a fabricated haunted house when you can explore truly spooky sites for a whole day in the wild? Some of the most haunted sites in America are part of the National Park system, with varied histories from Civil War bloodshed to tragic love stories. Here are seven with spectacularly spooky reputations:
We have lots of love for London, but there’s much more to England. If you’re looking to explore further, consider York, less than two hours away by train. Given its proximity, this historic walled city can easily be a day trip — but with its affordable B&Bs, free activities, and other cheap thrills, we suggest thinking about an overnight.
Any good hotel can offer high end amenities, plush mattresses, and fine linens. But to truly capture the tastes and textures, history and culture, and people and personalities of a city is a much harder feat. Sometimes, it’s impossible.
That is, unless the hotel is ingrained in the founding and very being of that city. Then the hotel is no longer just a nice place to sleep within it, but a living part of it and a representation of what makes that city what it is. Such is the case with Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton, a true Grande Dame hotel that is as much a part of Chicago as deep dish pizza and Wrigley Field — and is affordable to boot.
The Hamptons may steal the vacation spotlight during the summer season, but once autumn arrives, it’s all about the North Fork of Long Island — where farm stands and wineries offer peak-season products. If you crave fresh produce and local wines, this area is the perfect destination for a quick getaway. Weekends in October draw extra traffic, so consider a weekday stay to relax and enjoy the area like a local.
Frequently a stopover on the way to the Niagara Falls, the town of Rochester in upstate New York deserves a few days of exploration, especially in fall. The city’s history as the birthplace of the Kodak company has paved the way for an under-the-radar but robust art scene, while a wealth of college campuses keep the dining and entertainment options fresh. And in October, there are endless opportunities for foliage peeping. Here’s what to do over a weekend in town.
Sure, Napa and Sonoma are stunning, but the United States is chock-full of smaller wine regions worth a visit — in particular, the North Georgia Mountains. This hamlet of America offers hiking, river rafting, and dozens of vineyards and wineries that makes for an ideal romantic weekend or girlfriend getaway from Atlanta. Pack your bags for a tasting and be sure to save room to bring back a bottle (or three).
Wineries to Visit
Crane Creek, pictured above, is a stunning 1886 farmhouse-turned-winery and event venue. You’ll feel like home when sipping a glass of Sweet Sally, the fruity dessert blend named for the winery’s pup.
Hightower Creek is a family-run winery that fully celebrates the area’s heritage, particularly with their Deliverance red blend. Soak up inspiring views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip a robust red.
Cavender Creek in Dahlonega hosts wine tastings and live music every weekend — it’s the perfect time to sample their Farmhouse Peach, a blend that incorporates local peaches and muscadines for a tart and sweet dessert wine.
Where to Stay
If you’re staying for longer than a day, base yourself in Helen, Dahlonega, or Young Harris, as these picturesque stowns have the most options in terms of accommodations. We recommend the range of choices at Unicoi State Park and Lodge, which boast camping and hotel rooms, as well as the luxurious suites at Brasstown Valley Resort.
Driving the area is your best bet if you can manage it, as most of the towns and wineries are 20-30 minutes apart. But if you prefer the ease of a tour with the benefits of a designated driver, you can visit with VIP Southern Tours, which visit many of the wineries in full- or half-day tours.
Autumn in the Southeast is a glorious time to visit as summer’s humidity dies down to make way for cooler days. And there is nowhere more posh than Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a former private retreat turned tony hotel on its namesake barrier island off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia.
Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?
No matter the season, there’s always a good reason to visit New Orleans. The city’s party-hearty spirit knows no seasonal boundaries, despite revving up for major notable events, like Mardi Gras. But what if you want your New Orleans vacation to be leisurely and (a little) quiet? We recommend visiting the Crescent City during early December, in between major holidays.
Most travelers taking a weekend trip outside of Boston typically head to Cape Cod, Newport, or Provincetown. But just two hours south by car, New Bedford boasts an enthralling history for an unexpected escape. Hiding in the restored cobblestone streets of downtown — designated a national park less than ten years ago — is a trove of whaling history, a thriving art community, and an international dining scene. The diverse population is made up of 100,000 friendly locals with a strong pride in their hometown, and while they dislike the term “up-and-coming” for a city that was once one of America’s wealthiest and most progressive cities, New Bedford has all the makings of the next great weekend destination returning to its former glory.
It’s a problem nobody really minds having, but picking a Caribbean island for your vacation can be tough. The dozens scattered throughout the Caribbean Sea offer diverse experiences, from diving to fine dining to just lying on the beach all day. Take our quiz and find your perfect match.
Just a 90-minute drive from Boston, Falmouth and its neighbor Wood’s Hole are two of the most accessible destinations on Cape Cod. While Wood’s Hole is largely characterized by its ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and the academic presence of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Falmouth boasts a historic downtown area that’s laid-back but not boring. Between these towns, and the endless stretches of beach and ocean — plus the possibility of day trips — you’ll have plenty to do, whether you’re staying for a day, or a week.
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