There’s nothing quite like a summer vacation. Between the sun’s warm rays, the excitement of a new adventure, and a week or two away from the office, summer vacation just might be one of my favorite times of the year. But what I love most about summer getaways is the way they seem to rejuvenate my soul. Let’s be real. Life can be hard, exhausting, and stressful, but regardless of what’s going on in my life, blocking off a few days to literally get away always helps me relax and remember just how good life is and can be. So whether you’re in the midst of some pretty hard times, weary from everyday life, or are simply planning your next annual vacation, here are seven summer trips you can take that I’m sure will help to rejuvenate your soul.
Asheville, North Carolina
Known as a mountain retreat, Asheville is a haven for outdoor fun. While parents can find their zen at local spas such as Asheville Salt Cave or Sensibilities Day Spa, older children can opt for hiking, kayaking, waterfall hunting, and even zip lining. There’s even a 60-foot natural waterslide in the heart of Pisgah National Forest that’s sure to lift everyone’s spirits and is said to be a once in a lifetime experience. As nightfall hits, you can dance the night away at Shindig on the Green Music and Dance Festival, watch amazing sunsets or take a scenic drive on the infamous Blue Ridge Parkway. More adventurous types can even bike the Blue Ridge region. Whether you find your calm while exploring luxury estates like the Biltmore, America’s largest home, or by engaging in a mean game of pinball at the city’s Pinball Museum, Asheville is sure to help you and your loved ones alleviate some stress. So forget about your worries for a while, explore some mountain culture, let your imagination flow in the River Arts District, attend one of the city’s many music festivals, swing by a few independent bookstores, let your kids run free (or your own inner child) and indulge in a relaxing hot tub at Shoji Spa & Lodge.
Ocean City, Maryland
With 10 miles of beautiful white sand to take in, Ocean City Maryland is the kind of place that invites you to kick back and relax. Not only is the three-mile-long Boardwalk nostalgic for adults, but it’s an idyllic vacation spot for kids with games, exciting entertainment, shopping, tasty restaurants, and Jolly Roger, Maryland’s largest amusement park. But rest assured, Ocean City has tons of relaxing things to do as well. Not only can you watch wild ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore, but you can also go fishing, hiking, golfing, kayaking, and canoeing. The city even offers free movies on the beach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the summer. Another summer favorite is the OC Air Show where jets fly high in the sky across the city beach and boardwalk. And of course, watching dolphins as the sun rises and sets is always a natural way to remember how awesome and beautiful the world really is. Regardless of your personal preferences, Ocean City has something to do for everyone. From spa treatments to Clay-a-palooza to holistic body and mind festivals on the beach to art shows like Art Paint OC to Jesus at the Beach Music & Ministry Festival, the city is full of experiences that will help calm you and reinvigorate your zest for life.
Are you the kind of person that thrives on music? Does it seem to calm you down, put you in a good mood and make your soul smile? If so, Memphis, Tennessee is for you. Known for its musical history, the city is a popular destination for music lovers. In addition to visiting the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, Stax Museum of American Soul Music or the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Beale Street is said to be one of America’s most iconic streets. Of course, the city offers a range of family-friendly attractions as well. The Children’s Museum of Memphis, Pink Palace Family of Museums, and watching the Peabody Ducks are great options for young children. Those looking to explore nature will enjoy biking, kayaking, and searching for bison at Shelby Farms Park. The Memphis Zoo and Mud Island are also great ways to unwind, relax, and enjoy the moment. Whether you’re looking to simply stroll through the city enjoying the “I Love Memphis” murals, walk along the Mississippi River, or travel back in time at Malco’s Drive-in Theatre, the birthplace of rock n’ roll is sure to move you and put an enjoyable pep in your step.
Navarre Beach, Florida
Known as “Florida’s most Relaxing Place,” Navarre Beach is an easy-going city that provides a serene escape from everyday life. Just 30 to 40 minutes east of Pensacola, this hidden gem has 12 miles of glistening white sand and shore. Animal lovers and kids can happily explore the Sea Turtle Conservation Center, Panhandle Butterfly House, the Gulf Breeze Zoo, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, and the Pensacola Beach Dolphin Cruise. Thrill seekers will enjoy flying above the treetops at Adventures Unlimited. After you’ve exhausted all your energy, head on over to Tommy’s Snoballs or Donuts in Paradise for a sugary treat your taste buds are sure to love. For those who enjoy hiking and are willing to take a little bit of a drive, Blackwater River State Park is a must. You can camp, canoe, or simply have a laidback picnic with the ones you love most. Navarre Beach is for those looking to relax. It’s a small town full of good-hearted people, great food, and lots of outdoor fun. So grab your family and head south. Orlando isn’t the only place in Florida known for good, honest family fun.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is another amazing family-friendly vacation. Home to some of the city’s best attractions, Broadway at the Beach is an incredible spot for family fun. Myrtle Waves Water Park and Wild Water and Wheels are all about having fun in the water, while Kokopelli Surf Camp actually teaches adults and kids how to surf, paddleboard, and kayak. Once you and your family have dried off a bit, make your way to WonderWorks for indoor science fun, extreme laser tag, a mirror maze, the alligator farm, and zip lining. Younger kids will enjoy the build-a-bear shop, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the city’s Pavilion Park. Even better, Broadway at the Beach becomes a perfect date night location for parents as the sunsets. Why not try out one of the restaurants and hop on the Sky Wheel for a nice night out on the town. And if you’re lucky, catch a little “me time” at Awakening Spa at Anderson Ocean Club or take up one of these 60 ways to relax in Myrtle Beach.
Despite its reputation for being extremely rainy, summer in Seattle is actually quite beautiful. While the city is known for the famed Space Needle, the Seattle Great Wheel, and Kerry Park, the city also has a large range of activities for the entire family. Toddlers and young children will enjoy the Pacific Science Center and Ride the Ducks of Seattle while older kids will enjoy the Theo Chocolate Factory Tours and the Pop Culture Museum. But that’s not all. Seattle also offers a few nice beaches as well. Alki Beach and Golden Gates Park (which features a beach) are two popular family-friendly destinations. Of course, those looking for a bit more tranquility can find it at Soap Lake Resort and Spa, Sun Mountain Lodge, or Willows Lodge.
A Creative Staycation
Last but certainly not least, is a well thought out and creative staycation. As much as I love traveling and exploring new places, sometimes staying local and finding creative but relaxing things to do is what I need most. So here are a few inventive ideas to make your staycation the best one yet. First things first, mute those phone notifications and be sure to put an out of office reply on your email. Even if you’re not traveling, be sure to set this time aside for relaxation and rest. Now for the fun part. When was the last time you had a picnic in your favorite park? Of course, if you’re more keen on eating out, conducting a food tour in your city is always a good time. Once you’ve had your full (literally) head indoors for a movie marathon or venture out into the city for a refreshing hike. If you’re an artist, paint, sculpt, knit, write, or draw. Take advantage. Play your favorite songs over a fire in the backyard. Run through sprinklers in your yard with your kids. Have a baking contest with friends. The options are endless. The key is to do all the things you’d love to do someplace new at home. So get creative. But whatever you do, have the time of your life. You deserve it.
Often times summer vacation is exhausting and extremely expensive. But it doesn’t have to be either if you plan early and get creative. This year, make a decision to rejuvenate your soul. Reinvigorate your spirit. Inspire your friends and family. Let your inner child roam free. You’ve accomplished so much in life with grit so give yourself the grace and rest you need. Both are needed in this wild, beautiful, and sometimes messy thing we call life.
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