Most people plan their big vacations for summertime. Big meaning those trips span more than a few days and can run typically between one to two weeks. It makes sense to take long road trips come summer as schedules are lighter, students of all ages are typically on a summer break, and you don’t really have to worry too much about a snowstorm coming out of nowhere to put a wrench in your travel plans.
But what if you just can’t wait until summer to get away? We’ve got some quick road trips that can serve as a dry run for the big trip or just a way to get out of the city and relax a bit for a day or two. That said, you certainly don’t want to spend too much time traveling, so we’ve targeted some great locations that are short drives from some of the major cities in the country.
Philadelphia to Gettysburg: Historic Gettysburg is only about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Philadelphia but it’s almost like a step back in time. From the historic battlefield to the charming downtown, it’s quaint, quiet, and chock-full of history. Plus, it’s consistently named one of the best small towns in America. Drummer Boy Camping Resort is one option when planning a Gettysburg getaway. It’s a wooded campground with cozy cabins for rent and offers a host of amenities. Your pet is welcome here, too. Gettysburg Farm in nearby Dover is another option and the working farm on this 120-acre campground, complete with horses, goats, and turkeys, will make you feel like you’ve left the city really far behind. If you want to mix relaxation with things to see and do, Gettysburg highlights include visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park, taking one of several ghost tours offered (this is one of the most haunted places in America), or visiting nearby craft breweries and distilleries. Speaking of haunted, the Sachs Covered Bridge, which dates back to 1854 and was used by both the Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War, is said to be the most haunted place in the U.S. and it’s right here in Gettysburg!
Boston to Sturbridge: Trade in cobblestone streets, loads of tourists and the buzz of Boston for a bucolic camping experience at Sturbridge RV Resort. Rent a cottage and kick back and relax at this 200-acre campground that offers both woodlands and lake fun. The bike and hiking trails can be an option for outdoor fun as can the lake, which offers fishing and boating opportunities (boat rentals available). The Basketball Hall of Fame is a worthy nearby attraction as is Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum that depicts life in New England from the 1790s to the 1830s. Brimfield State Forest has more hiking opportunities as well as horseback riding while Wells State Park offers hiking trails and great fishing for largemouth bass, yellow and white perch, and pickerel. If you’re into antiquing, mark your calendars for the Brimfield Antique Flea Market. Billed as America’s Oldest Outdoor Antique Flea Market, there are three show dates scheduled this year: May 10-15, July 12-17, and September 6-11.
Chicago to Door County/Madison to Door County: Road tripping from Chicago to Door County or Madison, Wisconsin, to Door County will run you about three hours and change, with Chicago being the longer of the two trips. But the trip is well worth the drive as the beautiful Door County peninsula has plenty to do both inside and out. Festival-wise, there’s Maifest, which runs May 28-29 or the Roofing of the Goats Festival, set for Saturday, June 11. If you’re not familiar with Door County, then you’re wondering, “what is the roofing of the goats all about?” Check out Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay and you’ll get the idea. Goats aside – there is plenty more to do in Door County. There are several wineries (check out doorcountywinetrail.com); a thriving art scene; the Peninsula Players Theater in a Garden, whose season opens June 14; and the Skyway Drive-In Theater, which opens in May. Camping reservations at Tranquil Timbers RV Resort are a must-do for a Door County adventure and cabin and cottage rental options, as well as an opportunity for a very unique yurt accommodation, are available here. Outdoor adventure in Door County can be found at Potawatomi State Park which offers hiking, biking, canoeing, and fishing and some pretty breathtaking limestone cliffs.
Portland to Cannon Beach: Leave the city and head to the beach and before you know it, you’ll be staring at one of the most iconic landmarks in America. After an hour’s drive west of Portland, you’ll find yourself looking at Haystack Rock, which can be found off the waters of Oregon’s Cannon Beach. Book a cabin or cottage at Seaside RV Resort and you’re just 14 minutes from Cannon Beach. Other Cannon Beach getaway to-dos include hiking in Ecola State Park, exploring Hug Point (which has caves and waterfalls), or heading into the quaint town of Seaside where you can bike or stroll the 1.5-mile promenade, which offers great views of the beach. Seaside is also home to the Seaside Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, and has great underwater and seaside exhibits. Seaside also has plenty of shops and restaurants. Fun weekend events to consider could include the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest set for June 11, or the monthly First Saturday Art Walk, a free event that takes place in Seaside’s historic Gilbert District.
Tampa to Wauchula: The distance between Tampa and Wauchula is less than 75 miles but they are worlds apart when it comes to vibe. Tampa is big city, go-go while Wauchula is all country from the orange groves to the grazing cattle. It’s where you can find Peace River RV & Camping Resort and, of course, the Peace River for which the campground is named. The Peace River offers the perfect spot for relaxing with canoeing and fishing opportunities. Or, the Paynes Creek Historic State Park is ideal for birdwatching and wildlife viewing and also has plenty of nature trails. An onsite museum showcases the life of the Seminole Indians. The campground has cottage rentals available and plenty to do if you just want to relax without leaving “home.” There’s bocci courts, pickleball, mini golf, horseshoes, and nature and hiking trails. There’s also fishing and swimming, and pets are welcome!
Houston to Lake Conroe: Another short drive getaway that takes you miles away from the big city in terms of vibe is Houston to Willis – home to Lake Conroe RV & Camping Resort and the adjacent 22,000-acre lake prime for fishing and boating. There’s also a marina and bike trails, a fitness center, horseshoes, and sports courts including pickleball, volleyball, and tennis. In this area, it’s all about fishing, boating, and being outdoors. That’s a pretty relaxing getaway. There’s also the Sam Houston National Forest which offers bike trails, nature and wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and picnicking. What sounds more relaxing than a dinner cruise or maybe a cocktail cruise? If you want to explore Lake Conroe but want someone else to do the driving, consider one of the many cruises offered by Southern Empress Cruises (southernempress.com).