One-Day Getaway: 12 Places to Explore When You Need a Vacation

Traveling can improve your mood, help relieve stress, refresh your outlook, and re-motivate you to accomplish your personal and professional goals. But amidst our busy lives we don’t always have the time to go on a full vacation or trip away from home. We’ve got packed schedules, full to-do lists, and budgets to stick to, so traveling might seem out of the question. With these ideas for daytime adventures and short overnight trips, it’ll be easy and affordable to quench your thirst for adventure without majorly disrupting your routine and schedule.

Day Trips

1. Spa Day

What could be better for relaxation than heading to a spa and treating yourself to a facial, massage and manicure? You won’t have to travel too far to achieve ultimate relaxation and bliss. Capture the feeling of a vacation’s luxury and refresh your skin while taking care of yourself with a spa trip. Plus, you can spend as much or as little time as you want on a spa day, making it easy to customize and work with your schedule.

2. Amusement Park

Whether you’re a true thrill seeker or more of a kid-at-heart, amusement parks offer an opportunity to escape, have a blast, and spend quality time with the people you love. Gather up a group of friends, your family, or your significant other and head to a nearby amusement park. Make memories while you take a break from work and schedules.

3. Shopping Spree

This could be a pricier trip to go on, but taking a little road trip to the outlets or a nice mall, and spending some time browsing can feel like a getaway in itself. Treat yourself to something nice, especially if work or school has been particularly stressful. Budgeting is important, but sometimes being spontaneous allows you to re-focus on what’s important and feel happier than if everything is carefully planned.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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4. Tourist-for-a-Day

Take a step back from where you live and think about it in a completely new and exciting way. If you’d never been there before, where would you go? What would be on your bucket list? What restaurants would you be excited to try out? Visit travel websites for your city or check out the newspaper, and then spend a day exploring your city with a completely new set of eyes. You might just discover a new favorite restaurant, study spot, or hiking trail. Sometimes, taking a day to explore can reveal that even if you’ve lived somewhere for a really long time, there’s always more to discover and do!

Related: How I Travel the World Without Going Broke

5. Food Trail

Every foodie knows that the only way to find the best of something is to explore and try everywhere. Whether you’re passionate about ice cream, donuts, pizza or tacos, make a list of all of the best-reviewed spots near you. Spend a day (or a few days!) visiting these places and trying the food. Eating somewhere new can feel completely refreshing, like you’ve just gone on a vacation without having to get on a plane! There are plenty of food and travel guides for every city scattered across Pinterest, and most cities offer guided food tours, like this one in Charleston, South Carolina. 

6. Hiking Trail

Going on an extended hike you’ve never done before is an adventure like no other. Getting out in nature will totally relax you, and exploring a new place without time constraints is exciting and rejuvenating. If hiking isn’t really your thing, try a zoo or aquarium instead and spend a day visiting with animals, or go sit at a park to get some fresh air.

7. Museum

Sometimes, we live somewhere for years without ever going to visit the museums nearby. You never know what hidden gems lie within the walls of a local museum. If you think history is a bore, try and find something unique nearby, like the museum of ice cream or even a museum of oddities like the famous Ripley’s attractions.

Overnight Trips

While day trips are a great alternative to a typical vacation, sometimes you honestly just need a night away from your home in order to relax and recharge. These trips are short enough to do in one night, and don’t require extreme amounts of planning or money

1. Local hotel or bed & breakfast

You don’t have to travel far to have a vacation experience. Checking in to a hotel or bed-and-breakfast for the night and switching up your surroundings has proven benefits for your body and mind. Psychiatrist and writer Jean Kim, M.D., explains that “Travel disrupts your routine and introduces novelty to your brain, which improves cognition and helps reactivate reward circuits” in an article she published on Psychology Today. A change in surroundings can help you appreciate your home while exposing you to something new, an opportunity that promotes creativity and will help you feel recharged after the trip.

2. Visit family or friends

If you have family or friends that you don’t go visit enough, make a plan to go spend some quality time with them. Stay at their house or a nearby hotel afterward to get the full one-day getaway experience. Not only will you feel recharged from getting out of town, but you’ll also experience the joy that comes seeing the people you care about.

3. Mini-Roadtrip

Of course we had to include a classic roadtrip. Brainstorm some places within driving distance that you’ve never been before, pack some quality roadtrip snacks, plan a good playlist and get away for the night. Especially if you go with friends, quick trips are some of the most fun ways to make memories and come back completely happy and relaxed. The trip may not go completely according to plan, but you’ll have so much fun making memories that you won’t even care! You’ll come away from the trip recharged and with some great stories.

4. Camping

This one definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but camping out in nature can de-stress you and be a really fun experience, especially with a big group of friends. As long as you're safe about it, camping switches up your routine, allows you to bond and forget about everyday stressors, and helps you reconnect with the world around you. Choose a weekend with good weather and pack some supplies! 

5. Bucket list destinations

Alright, we all know that there are places we've always wanted to go but never have. Whether that's because we don't have the time, the money, or simply don't make it happen, we all have bucket list items just begging to be accomplished. Use one night and get creative to accomplish a bucket list item. There's a concert in a city a few hours away? Make a night of it and enjoy yourself! You've always wanted to visit a bakery that's a little far from home? Take a day trip, spend the night, and do the things you want to do! 

When you’re craving a vacation but don't have the time to take a full trip, these easy one day getaways can serve as amazing replacements and bring you back to an energetic, creative, and productive mindset.