These days, we could all use a vacation. Who wouldn’t love a trip away from the stress, the deadlines, and the burnout from everyday life? Getting a big dose of rest and relaxation, maybe a little adventure, possibly some sightseeing, and generally a solid change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. We all need a little time to refuel the body and mind. But of course, there are work commitments, family schedules, and budget constraints that may put a damper on a lavish, full-week holiday. That’s why if you live near the Eastern seaboard, taking mini East Coast vacations is the perfect solution.
A mini-vacation is a break from the ‘everyday’ without the long, seven-day, full vacation cost and time away from life. It’s slightly longer than just a weekend, and even a three-day weekend. Typically a mini-vacation is a full four days. And if you live near the Atlantic Ocean, mini East Coast vacations are great because they don’t require a lot of days off from work. Even better, when they straddle a weekend, only two vacation days from work and life are required.
The Top 10 Types of Mini East Coast Vacations
When people think of East Coast vacations, many go to the beach in their heads. Maybe it’s the sand between their toes or the rhythmic waves crashing on the shoreline that automatically says “relaxation” in one’s mind. The East Coast alone has 2,069 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline. That’s plenty of beaches that need to be enjoyed.
In the summertime, if you’re anywhere on or near the ocean, a mini East Coast vacation to a local beach is easy to be had. Just a drive away from any East Coast state, there’s plenty of shoreline from Maine to Florida to dip your toes in (except for Pennsylvania and Vermont, though both are within a short drive from their state line). There are very populated beaches and more secluded beaches for those who crave the warm blue water, and those that are happy sitting on the shore reading a book. Taking beach-focused mini East Coast vacations, fitting all travelers’ needs, is the key when planning a trip.
In winter, Florida’s warmer weather is the best bet. Getting a flight to Miami, Tampa, or Fort Lauderdale is not only easy, but pretty budget-friendly, especially when an airline has a sale. And regardless of the location, condos, house rentals, and hotels are abundant, so reserve a few nights and get away for some vitamin C and salty hair. No one regrets a beach trip.
A Ski Lodge
For avid skiers during wintertime, heading to a ski lodge for mini East Coast vacations is a no-brainer. The state of Vermont (technically not part of the actual East Coast because it doesn’t have beach access from the state, but is part of the East Coast region) has the top two largest East Coast region ski resorts. Many more of the largest resorts are found in the northern East Coast states, like Maine and New Hampshire. Even for our mid- to southern-region friends, mountain resorts can be found as low in latitude as North Carolina.
For those Florida residents itching to ski without a trip out of state, Orlando has Winterclub Indoor Ski, an indoor location where Floridians can learn to ski, even in warmer weather.
Though only a small percentage of the United States population skis, many ski lodges know this and have plenty to do besides actually skiing. Some have snow tubing (no skill needed!), snowshoeing, sleigh rides, ice skating, snowmobiling, and even non-snow and ice activities like spas, pools, and bowling.
Still, for those up for learning something new, there are plenty of lessons each day for both kids and adults to learn to ski or snowboard.
READ MORE: Amazing Valentine’s Weekend Getaways on the East Coast
Big City or Small Town
Could a city ever fully be explored? Who knows, but it’s totally worth a try! The East Coast is home to some of the biggest cities in the U.S. There’s New York City (the biggest!) and Philadelphia, both rich with history and diversity. Then, of course, some slightly smaller, but just as amazing and notable cities are Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. Washington, D.C. also doesn’t disappoint. As our nation’s capital, it’s a city everyone should visit for the sights and history lessons at least once.
Cities are filled with so much to see and to do. Though not so much for the quiet, relaxing type, the hustle and bustle of an urban area is perfect for those who love adventure and plenty of activity. From museums to shopping, street food to fine dining, spa services to walking tours, there really is something for everyone.
Have you already been to the big city, or maybe you are just looking for something slightly slower? The East Coast also plays host to plenty of cool smaller cities, just waiting for exploration. In no particular order, our favorites would be Savannah, Georgia; Annapolis, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Portland, Maine.
An Indoor Waterpark
Looking for mini East Coast vacations for the colder seasons, but the kids are craving some water fun? An indoor waterpark should hit the spot for everyone. It’s an easy vacation location to stay and play for a couple of days without getting bored. Typically family resort-style, no one will ever need to leave the premises with food options, dry activities, and of course, plenty of wet and wild fun!
Indoor waterparks are peppered up and down the East Coast, with various resort amenities – some at ski resorts, some with outdoor waterparks, too – so there are plenty of options. Which are our favorite mini East Coast vacations?
- Pump House Indoor Waterpark, Jay, VT
- Kahuna Laguna Indoor Waterpark, Conway, NH
- Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Lake George, NY
- Aquatopia, Kalahari, and Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos, PA
- Massautten Indoor Waterpark, Massanutten, VA
A Theme Park
Theme parks are the perfect locale for mini East Coast vacations, as they usually take a couple of days to thoroughly max out all the rides, shows, and delights, but maybe not enough for a full week. Not just for kids, and certainly full of plenty of activity, adults can hit up theme parks alone and ride the scariest rides as often as they’d like! From the small to the big, there’s an abundance of theme parks up and down the East Coast.
There’s a theme park for Sesame Street enthusiasts, for those who just love construction vehicles, sweet-toothed chocolate lovers, those that have a thing for the Western, Old West-style towns, and even a theme park on the East Coast for those who just can’t get enough of Santa Claus.
Of course, then there are the larger theme parks like Six Flags, which has multiple locations up and down the coast, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, VA and Tampa, FL, and the creme de la creme of theme parks, Disney World in Orlando, FL, which also just happens to be next to Universal Studios for Harry Potter fans.
READ MORE: Vacationing in the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Taking mini East Coast vacations to go camping is perfect, because, let’s face it, a few days of roughing it is about as long as most people can handle. But it’s also because the East Coast has an abundance of beautiful, serene, and scenic camping locations up and down the entire coast. From camping in Acadia National Park in Maine up north to camping near the southernmost point in the continental U.S. at Boyd’s Campground in Key West, Florida, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of campsites to choose from.
Pack up a tent, some sleeping bags, and a stack of wood, or rent a full-service RV for the “hotel on wheels” experience. The real reason camping makes a great mini-vacation is getting refreshed and renewed outside in the wilderness, away from the everyday.
A Spa Resort
Though arguably one of the more expensive mini East Coast vacations, it’s probably also the one with the most ability to relax and rest – visiting a spa. It’s certainly a treat for most of us to visit a spa resort over the course of a few days. If splurging is on the menu, this is the trip we’d take.
The most popular spa resorts on the east coast are:
- Canyon Ranch in MA
- Castle Hill Resort and Spa in VT
- Mirbeau Inn in NY
- Gurney’s Newport in RI
- The Lodge at Woodlock, in PA
- The Greenbrier in WV
- Westglow Estate in NC
- âme Spa & Wellness Collective in FL
A spa-specific resort isn’t typically a place where children are welcomed, so heading there should probably be adults only. That said, there are certainly a few that have plenty of other family-focused activities like the Nemacolin Luxury Resort and Spa. Located in Pennsylvania, this location also has plenty of fun stuff for the little ones, like their own pool, climbing wall, and their own Kids Klub for supervised activities without the parentals.
A Mountain Cabin
Getting a dose of nature for a few days doesn’t have to mean setting up a tent and cooking food outside. Renting a cabin for a mini vacation is as easy as checking out the Airbnb app, or VRBO.com.
Up and down the East Coast, from Maine to Georgia, there is an amazing selection of mountain cabins from which to choose. Go small with a rustic cabin for two and minimal amenities, to luxury cabins that hold entire extended families, complete with hot tubs, game rooms, and waterfront views. Pack up and get out of dodge for a few days, while still enjoying a comfortable bed indoors, just in case the weather isn’t as great as the location.
READ MORE: Everything You Must See on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Taking a cruise on a ship doesn’t mean having to get away for a week. Many cruise lines offer mini-vacation getaways for three nights. And with ports up and down the East Coast, it’s easy to access one without actually having to book a flight, too.
Head to the Bahamas for a few nights from Ft. Lauderdale, spend three nights on a 150-year-old schooner around the waters of Maine, or take a four-day cruise to Bermuda from Norfolk, VA. With so many ports up and down the eastern seaboard, so many ports of call and destinations, as well as itineraries and activities, just planning the right cruise is a project in itself. But once on the boat, it’ll be time to kick back and relax for a few nights.
For those on a tight budget, taking a mini East Coast vacation doesn’t actually mean one needs to pack up and go. In fact, if one actually lives on the East Coast, there’s most likely plenty to do right at home. Taking an extended weekend, or a few nights away from life may be all that’s needed to get out and explore the local life. And by sleeping in one’s own bed, the savings on hotel or house rental is money that can be spent on some fun activities.
Plan a mini-vacation right at home with an itinerary and special day trips. Visit museums, hike some trails, take a tour around town, book some spa services, go day skiing, and make it a few extra special days right in your own backyard.
The East Coast is full of so much to be explored. From winter to summer, and year-round, there are plenty of mini East Coast vacations waiting to be planned, booked, and experienced.
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