Top Tips for Terrific Last-Minute Weekend Getaways

The daily grind can chip away at your state of mind, leaving you longing for a change of pace. When the planets align and you create the opportunity for a short trip, use these top tips to help you plan fantastic last-minute weekend getaways.

Set a Budget

Because you’re only going away for a weekend, your travel budget may stretch further than it otherwise would. Determine how much you can spend for transportation, lodging, meals, shopping and activities. If you can afford a short flight, you will definitely ramp your getaway up a notch or two as you get outside of your hometown area to explore somewhere new and exciting.

Celebrate Spontaneity

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Last-minute travel arrangements can be challenging, but when you are able to pick up and go with little notice, you often enjoy attractive rates for travel and lodging. Try waiting until midday Friday to see if any upscale hotels within a couple hours of home have weekend vacancies to fill. You might be pleasantly rewarded for your willingness to book at the last minute with significant savings that make your weekend that much more enjoyable.

Try Something New

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Why not take the weekend to discover something completely outside of your comfort zone? If you’ve never tried skiing, you could book a couple of nights at a ski resort. Even if you don’t end up liking the downhill sport, there are plenty of other things you can do to entertain yourself at a ski resort, including snowshoeing, hiking, shopping or just hanging out in the ski lodge with a warm beverage.

Embrace the Road Trip

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When you find yourself with a free weekend and a modest travel budget, pack up the car and see where you can drive to in four or five hours. You don’t even have to get bogged down in planning when you take off on this kind of adventure. Just choose a direction, possibly one you’ve never taken before, and drive until you find a place you’d like to stop. You can fill a cooler with snacks to really make this a budget-friendly adventure. You might even find some lodging deals by dropping in at a hotel or bed and breakfast on a Friday evening.

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A last-minute weekend getaway can be full of excitement and adventure, which can help power you through the upcoming work weeks. Try to step outside of your comfort zone as you explore your world.

Explore Portland Oregon: Top Activities by Season

Portland is a beautiful and unique city with hundreds of sights to see and activities to enjoy all year long. There’s no single best time to visit Portland, and you can find plenty of things to do each season. Check out these top activities in Portland by season to help you plan your getaway.

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Autumn in Portland

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Portland is filled with beautiful leaves and fall colors once the summer temperatures start to cool down and autumn sets in. Enjoying the fall leaves in Sauvie Island is one of the top things to do when you visit Portland in the fall. Only a few minutes from downtown, this rural haven is a popular place to spend the fall months. In addition to the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows of the trees, you’ll find several pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

Winter in Portland

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Mount Hood is Portland’s winter playground. Ski enthusiasts flock to the snowy peak that’s just a 90-minute drive from many vacation rentals in Portland, Oregon. However, skiing isn’t the only winter sport you’ll see at Mount Hood. Tubing down the mountain offers thrills for people who aren’t seasoned skiers or snowboarders. While it’s a lot of fun in the daytime, be sure to check it out at night, too. Mount Hood lights up the slopes with over 600,000 LED lights, black lights and lasers.

Spring in Portland

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Spring is the best time to visit Portland parks and other green spaces. Portland is known as “The City of Roses,” and what better time to see the roses than when they’re just starting to bloom? The Portland International Rose Test Garden offers free admission and is home to more than 10,000 roses. Visitors come back year after year to find their favorite beautiful blooms in the spring and see what new varieties they’ve introduced. Getting to the rose garden from vacation rentals in Portland, Oregon is simple via light rail, bus and other public transport.

Summer in Portland

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Most of the year, Portland endures a consistency of rain and gray skies. Though, in the summer months, the clouds part and the sun shines through. That’s why summer is the best time to visit Portland for people who want to spend their time doing outdoor activities — and there are tons to choose from. Farmers’ markets, Saturday Market, beer festivals, and outdoor concerts abound in Portland. For a bit of laid-back fun in the sun, head out to one of the many parks, including Washington Park or Forest Park, to enjoy the great outdoors. Hop on a bike and head out on one of the many trails for a fun ride. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, strip off your clothes to participate in the Naked Bike Ride that takes place every summer.

Things to Do Near Jacksonville, Florida During a Holiday Trip

What could be better than spending time in Jacksonville during the winter holidays? This warm and sunny destination won’t have snow, but that’s not a bad thing. Check out these suggestions for things to do near Jacksonville, FL, to celebrate the season.

Dickens on Centre

Dickens on Centre takes place in early December every year on Amelia Island. Entrance to this old-fashioned festival is free. Once in, get ready to experience Victorian performances, themed entertainment, visits from Santa and more. Wander the vendor booths to pick up a few gifts and holiday decorations. Be sure to stick around for Dickens after Dark, a special affair for adults only. This is the perfect chance to delve into some of the darker aspects of “A Christmas Carol,” with the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future.

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There are plenty of things to do in Jacksonville, FL, too. You won’t want to miss WinterFEST at Adventure Landing in Jacksonville. The kids will love a chance to visit Santa’s workshop, where they can leave their lists after having photos taken. In case you thought you’d be missing snow and ice during the holiday season, the Alpine snow village at WinterFEST will take care of this for you. You can even try the huge ice slide or go ice skating. If you need to warm up, try roasting s’mores over an open fire or grabbing a mug of hot cocoa.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens ZOOLights

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens hosts an annual holiday extravaganza between mid-December and the first week of January. This ZOOLights event gives you an amazing opportunity to celebrate all of the joys of the season at the zoo. Tour the grounds of the zoo to take in LED lights that turn the exhibits into an amazing wonderland of illumination. A special lighted train also runs through the zoo, and you might fill an empty stomach with roasted marshmallows too.

Kirby Family Farm Christmas Express

Located in nearby Williston, the Kirby Family Farm invites families out to celebrate the holidays between the end of November through the end of December. Hop aboard the Christmas train to tour the farm. As you ride, you’ll be treated to amazing light displays that will instantly get you into the holiday spirit. You can also enjoy lots of other activities at the farm, including an acrobatic show, a magic show and the showing of Christmas classic movies on a huge movie screen. Ride a carousel, play games and enjoy seasonal treats while you’re there too.

Celebrating the holidays promises to be anything but boring in Jacksonville, FL. Things to do keep the whole family happily busy for weeks and weeks during the holiday season.

Top Tips for Choosing Winter Vacations in the U.S.

Hitting the pause button during the winter months can be an excellent way to revitalize yourself. Whether you’re looking for a distinctive place to spend the holidays for a family vacation or an unforgettable way to ring in the new year, you have plentiful options for where to vacay this winter in the United States. There’s something for those looking for fun in the sun as well as seasonal activities that involve cold and snow, so get busy planning your upcoming vacation.

Chill or Warmth?

Some of the best winter vacations in the U.S. involve snow and ice. This is especially true for those who love winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating. Of course, those who are trying to escape the cold and snow are also in luck, because the United States has lots of beachfront and sunny destinations that provide all of the warmth and sun you could want.

Set Your Budget

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Your travel budget is a deciding factor in your winter vacation plans. If you’re traveling on a shoestring, you may need to choose a place that’s closer to home so you can avoid flying. You could also decide on a spot with more moderate accommodations, which could stretch your funds for activities as well. On the other hand, if your budget is higher and you’re ready to spend, you might look at some of the pricier tourist destinations in Florida, California or the western mountain states where ski resorts are plentiful.

All-Inclusive Packages

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Eliminate a lot of stress and anxiety by choosing an all-inclusive vacation package for your destination. Many resorts in popular tourist cities offer bundles that include lodging, activities and other amenities such as meals and snacks. On the beach, you may find a package that provides for all of your lodging, meals, water sports and even towels and beach chairs. In the mountains, you could book a package that includes lodging, meals, lift tickets and equipment.

Be Spontaneous

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If you can handle last-minute arrangements, you might wait to see what travel deals appear as the year winds down. This is when many airlines and hotels with loyalty programs release offers for destinations with discounted rates. You never know when you’ll happen upon a deal to visit the beach or the mountains at a crazy good price.

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Wherever you choose for your winter vacay, you can get excited about the amazing activities and unforgettable memories you’ll make. Resetting after you get back from your vacation can be that much easier as you start looking forward to summer.

Visit Madison, Wisconsin, for an Amazing Winter Vacation

Madison, Wisconsin, has the best of all worlds. Just big enough to have plenty of attractions and activities, yet not so huge that you feel lost in a concrete jungle. Visit Madison for your next winter vacation and get ready to enjoy fun in the snow and a few engaging indoor activities as well.

Sledding Madison’s Hills

Madison is home to a wealth of public parks, nine of which have hills that are steep enough to warrant winter sledding once the snow flies. Although the sledding hills aren’t maintained, if you wait until there’s several inches of snow as a base, you should have a fun and safe trip. Elver Park on the city’s west side may be the best-known spot for sledding thanks to the massive hill on the edge of the park. Happily, there’s also a warming house and concession stand that serves warm food and drinks to chilled sledders. Garner Park and Olbrich Park are two other parks with impressive sledding hills that you might want to check out too.

Ice Skating at the Edgewater

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The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison invites people to come and skate at the Grand Plaza during the winter months. Not only is this rink meticulously maintained to have ideal conditions, you can also enjoy warmth when you need it by stepping in to the Icehouse, which is the rinkside pub and restaurant inside the hotel. There you can enjoy a mug of hot cocoa and a snack before you head back out onto the ice for more skating.

Touring the State Capitol

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As it’s the capitol city of Wisconsin, you simply can’t visit Madison without seeing the capitol building. Centered in downtown Madison, the capitol building is something to behold. You can take a free tour on most days except major holidays. Check in at the information desk at the top of the hour throughout the day. You’ll enjoy a guided tour that takes a little less than an hour. If you have a group of 10 or more, you can make a reservation for your tour online or by phone.

Chazen Museum of Art

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If the weather outside is frightful and you’re just not into snow, you can explore the Chazen Museum of Art instead. This museum shows off extensive exhibitions and collections throughout the year, some permanent and others temporary. The museum also hosts lectures, demonstrations, performances and family events regularly.

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Whether you can’t get enough winter snow and you’re looking for a place to enjoy it, or you prefer the warmth of indoor activities, Madison, Wisconsin, has something for everyone. This college city offers a diverse landscape that helps it resonate with just about everyone.

Top 5 Best Things to Do in Philadelphia on a Budget

Some of the costs involved when traveling to Philadelphia are paying for a vacation rental, transportation and food during your trip. Even if you’ve blown all your money on Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies, there are tons of things to do in Philadelphia on a budget. Check out these top spots where you can enjoy history, arts, culture and adventure.

  1. The Liberty Bell

    The Liberty Bell is perhaps one of the most famous sites in all of Philadelphia. The bell itself is housed in a glass chamber with a stunning view of Independence Hall in the background. Admission to see the Liberty Bell and other exhibits in the Liberty Bell Center is free. The attraction is open daily all year long — aside from Christmas Day. Visit this attraction to learn more about the history of the bell and its use by abolitionists and women’s suffrage advocates.

  2. First Friday in the Old City Arts District
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    One of the top free things to do in Philadelphia is spending the first Friday of every month in the Old City Arts District. Gallery owners keep their doors open late to showcase their exhibits. The streets are lined with booths where artisans sell their crafts, and there’s live music all around. Many galleries also offer complimentary drinks and appetizers to whet your appetite.

  3. Free Events at the Kimmel
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    The Kimmel Center is a large performing arts center located on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia. It offers world-class concerts, plays and other performances throughout the year. On occasion, the center also hosts free events. Check out a free concert, enjoy a festival or take the kids to an interactive demonstration.

  4. The United States Mint
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    Another one of the top cool things to do in Philadelphia is to visit the U.S. Mint and see where money is made. Located in Independence Mall, the mint offers free self-guided tours of the facility. The mint produces one million coins every 30 minutes, and the 45-minute tour walks you through the entire process. Kids have an opportunity to design their own virtual coins and see if they’re strong enough to lift a sack full of nickels.

  5. Franklin Square
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    Located in Historic Philadelphia, Franklin Square is one of the five original open-space parks. It features a miniature golf course with each hole designed as one of the city’s famous landmarks. You can walk around the fountain located at the center of the park, which has been restored to its original greatness. This spot is a must-see for visitors with children, so they can enjoy its classic carousel and exciting playground.

The 5 Most Exciting Things to Do With Kids in Jacksonville, FL

Located just south of the Florida-Georgia border, Jacksonville is a favorite place to many, both to live in and to vacation in. People come from all over the country to experience the city’s unique culture, temperate climate, fresh seafood restaurants, pristine beaches, thrilling history and so much more. Best of all, it’s a welcome place to bring the kids. From a day at the beach building sandcastles to a trip to one of the biggest zoos in the country, there’s so much for family members of all ages to enjoy. Here are some of the most exciting things to do with kids in Jacksonville, FL.

Go to the Beach

Of course, the number-one favorite thing for families to do in Jacksonville is head to one of the city’s famous white sand beaches for a little fun in the sun. While there are plenty to choose from, the four-mile Jacksonville Beach is a family favorite. There’s a boardwalk, fishing pier and plenty of recreational activities to enjoy.

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Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is another kid-friendly favorite beach in Jacksonville. In addition to beach access, it has a freshwater pond for fishing, hiking and biking trails, a picnic area and a kids’ splash park.

Check Out the Local Wildlife

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Kids love getting up close and personal with animals they may not see at home, and Jacksonville is the perfect city in which to do that. Starting with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, explore over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plants from around the world. There’s also a splash park and playground on the zoo’s 120 acres.

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The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is another exciting place in the Jacksonville area that allows kids to see animals they may never spot in the wild. This nonprofit organization takes in big cats, like lions, tigers, pumas and leopards, along with a few other exotic animals in need of a place to live.

Learn About American History

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There’s no shortage of history in the Jacksonville area. After all, nearby St. Augustine is considered the oldest continuously inhabited European and African American settlement in the United States. Fort Caroline National Memorial Park is an excellent place to learn about how the Timucua Indians lived before European settlers came to Florida, and it’s home to Fort Caroline, which was built by the French in 1564.

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Castillo de San Marcos is just a quick drive from Jacksonville, and it’s considered the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Explore the fort and its exhibits, and see live reenactments.

Visit a Museum

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Jacksonville is home to several museums that explore the area’s history and culture. The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is a favorite with kids because of its planetarium shows and interactive exhibits.

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Kids get in free to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens that features art from the past 8,000 years and two acres of gardens. The museum has been serving the area since 1961.

Enjoy a Yummy Meal

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After all of that excitement, it’s time for a delicious family meal. M Shack has four locations in the area, and it’s a great place to grab a burger and a tasty homespun milkshake.

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For dessert, consider a trip to Dreamette, a quaint little ice cream shop that began serving ice cream in 1948. Just walk right up and order a cone or another old-fashioned sweet treat, like a banana split.

Top U.S. Destinations for a 2019 Weekend Getaway

The menu of choices can seem overwhelming when you’re planning a weekend getaway. Should you head to a sandy beach or travel up to the tree line on a mountaintop? Is the coast calling you, or the Midwest, or the East? To help narrow it down, we asked over 1,000 people about their favorite weekend getaway destinations they want to explore in 2019. Here are the cities that came up and how you can stretch a short trip into a lifelong memory:

Favorite U.S. Destinations for Weekend Vacation

  1. San Diego, California Beaches and sunshine welcome you with open arms in San Diego. If you’re looking to swim, surf, or build a sand castle, the city has different beaches for different vibes – even one for dogs! San Diego’s La Jolla is full of spectacular views from cliffs overlooking the ocean, or you can check out Mission Beach for classic slice of California life – full of volleyballs, rollerblades, skateboards, and even a seaside amusement park. If you’re bringing the pooch, grab a frisbee and head over to Dog Beach where four-legged friends are allowed at all hours of the day.

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    Bringing the kids? Stop by Legoland for life-sized brick dinosaurs or Seaworld to stroke the back of a sting ray. The San Diego Zoo is worth a consideration for your itinerary, known for its giant pandas and filled with over 4,000 rare and endangered animals. The zoo also has more than 700,000 exotic plants and makes for a great botanic stroll. For a unique wildlife experience, try the Zoo’s Safari Park to see animals roam in large tracts of their natural habitat. In the evening, you can take a walk through one of San Diego’s nine different Arts Districts to experience the works of local artists on display and catch some great food and shopping.

  2. Cape Cod, MassachusettsWith its shingled cottages, sand dunes, long beaches, and wonderful seafood, Cape Cod has something for every kind of weekend traveler. For an east-coast beach experience, visit Lighthouse Beach for an iconic lighthouse shoreline, perfect for flying a kite or a walk through the sand. You can spot dolphins offshore at Race Point Beach or, if you want to get even closer, you can board a cruise to meet the seals and humpback whales. Looking for an adventure away from the beach? Rent a bike and peddle along the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail for a beautiful ride through stunning scenery, complete with cyclist-friendly cafés along the way. In the evenings, you can catch a show at the Monomoy Theater or visit the Sandwich Glass Museum to travel back in time through the art of glassblowing.

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  3. Park City, UtahPark City is an outdoor paradise, with close to 400 miles of maintained trails for biking and hiking, world-class fly fishing, zip line rides, and a host of other way to get outside. It even has one of the longest slides in the world called The Comet at Utah Olympic Park; a bobsled ride that sends you down 3,000 feet of gliding and sliding. For the summer travelers, try renting a bike and riding through Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, or Canyons resort, which offer lift-served mountain biking in the summer so that you can focus on flying downhill through the trails you want to blaze.
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    If you’re traveling in the winter, Park City plays host to some of the world’s best skiing and snowboarding. Check out Park City Mountain for the largest ski resort in the country, or head over to Deer Valley Resort to experience the terrain parks that hosted the slalom and freestyle ski competitions in the 2002 Winter Olympics. When you’re wiped from the slopes, head down to Historic Main Street for great food, great museums, and great shopping.

    For a different kind of getaway, head to Park City at the end of January for the Sundance Film Festival to experience one of the world’s most famous indie film festivals full of showings, daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music.

  4. French Lick, Indiana Whether you enjoy golfing, hiking, camping, or fishing, French Lick has an outdoor experience perfectly tailored for your weekend. With Hoosier National Forest in its backyard, French Lick offers over 260 miles of Southern Indiana trails for hiking or horseback riding. Take a trip to Patoka Lake just on the edge of the forest for fishing, swimming, or boating. You can bring the family along for a lake tour or rent a pontoon boat to spend a day out on the water.
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    Travelers have historically sought out French Lick for the restorative power of its mineral springs, available for a dip with a visit to a spa in one the area’s legendary hotels. In the evenings, you can taste award-winning wines at the Indiana family-owned French Lick Winery, or visit the French Lick Resort to see a fascinating blend of 173 year-old history with modern facilities and amenities.

For a weekend you won’t forget in 2019, check out one of these four destinations. VacationRenter can help you find the perfect stay for a getaway – one that will leave you wondering how you fit it all into a single weekend.

Easy Tips for Enjoying a Santa Barbara Getaway

Located about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles in Central California, Santa Barbara is a beautiful city on the West Coast that offers both natural and historic charm. Often called the “American Riviera,” it’s a favorite for Hollywood’s elite when they just want to get away from it all, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to have a good time here. Plan the ultimate Santa Barbara getaway, no matter your budget, with these tips.

How to Get There

Santa Barbara may be right on the coast, but it’s easy to access, no matter your mode of transportation. As a matter of fact, the Pacific Coast Highway (or State Route 1) runs right through the city, making it a favorite stop for people driving up this all-American highway. The city is also home to the Santa Barbara Airport, which offers daily flights to and from many Western locations. If you’re not in a hurry and would like to enjoy some of Central California’s beautiful scenery, take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train into town. It makes daily trips between Los Angeles and Seattle. Once you arrive in Santa Barbara, you can drive around town, or you can park you car and walk to your destinations. After all, the city is considered one of the most walkable communities in the country. Trolleys, water taxis, pedicabs, bicycles, buses and airport shuttles are also available.

Where to Stay

No matter your budget, you’re sure to find a place to stay in Santa Barbara that suits your needs. Like many beach towns, you’ll find your share of luxury homes, villas, hotels and resorts along the waterfront. Head into the downtown area for a selection of quaint inns and bed and breakfasts. The further inland you go, the better prices you’ll find on hotels and other vacation rentals.

When to Visit

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Spring and fall are considered the optimal times to visit Santa Barbara, but there really isn’t a bad time to come for a romantic or family-friendly getaway. Temperatures remain in the 60s and 70s year-round, but if you come between March and May, you’ll beat the summer crowds and avoid higher prices. If you plan to swim in the ocean, the water is much warmer during July and August. If you come between September and November, you’ll get here ahead of the rainy season that lasts through the winter. That said, the city experiences over 300 days of sunshine every year. The weather truly is gorgeous in Santa Barbara.

Which Beaches to Visit

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No matter the time of year, you’ll probably want to take a trip to Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches, whether it’s to swim and sunbathe during the summer or just take a quiet stroll during the winter. Arroyo Beach is popular with pet owners because of its dog-friendliness. It even has a washing station for pups that like to dig in the sand. East Beach is considered one of the most family-friendly beaches in the area, and has lots of volleyball courts set up. Butterfly Beach is where you may spot a celebrity (but even if you don’t, you’ll definitely catch a beautiful sunset in the evening). For surfing and excitement, head to Leadbetter Beach, and for a laid-back kind of beach day, try Summerland Beach.

Where to Eat

When it comes to food in Santa Barbara, you’ll find that many restaurants are serving up something fresh, whether its seafood straight from the Pacific Ocean or locally grown produce. Take a stroll downtown to find cafes, taverns, restaurants, lounges, bars, farm stands, craft breweries and gourmet shops. It’s truly a foodie’s dream. You may even opt to take a cooking class or tour a winery in the area. Some local favorites are 1880 Union (a 19th century-style saloon that serves up locally sourced food and craft beers) and Intermezzo Bar + Cafe (a vibrant eatery that serves up sandwiches, burgers, salads and other casual meals in a historic courtyard.)

Where to Explore Nature

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While man has had a hand in carving out beautiful spaces in Santa Barbara, it’s a great spot for nature lovers to visit as well. The ocean waters just off the city’s coast are excellent for whale watching, and you’ll find several companies that offer boat tours. You’ll also find Channel Islands National Park out in the waters off the coast of Santa Barbara. Take a kayak tour around this protected marine sanctuary, and keep an eye out for whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and sea birds. If you prefer to stick to land, take a hike or mountain bike ride through the trails at Los Padres National Forest. If you want to make sure you spot some wildlife before you go, take a trip to the 30-acre Santa Barbara Zoo, which features over 500 creatures.

What Else to Do

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If you’re looking for even more exciting things to do, you’ll find several of them throughout Santa Barbara. Learn about the area’s history at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Old Mission Santa Barbara or the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. For shopping, take a stroll down State Street, where you’ll find brands and boutiques you love mixed in with locally owned beach and surf shops. Paseo Nuevo is a fun, open-air mall filled with shops and restaurants. There are also four theaters in town where you can catch everything from plays and ballets to film screenings and stand-up comedy. For a more relaxing day, check out one of the city’s many spas and wellness centers.

The Family Travel Guide for the Best San Antonio Vacation

San Antonio has been named one of the most family-friendly cities in the United States, and part of the reason for that may have something to do with just how many kid-friendly activities there are throughout town. Zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, museums, the River Walk — the city is almost like a playground for family members of all ages. And you’ll have to stay for more than a few days if you want to even attempt to experience it all. If your family is planning a San Antonio vacation in the near future, you can’t go wrong by adding these activities to your itinerary. There’s truly something for all ages.

Six Flags Siesta Texas

When it comes to things to do in San Antonio, Six Flags Siesta Texas should top the list, no matter your age. At one of the most popular amusement parks in the country, you’ll find a combination of thrilling roller coasters, cool water rides, classic rides, kiddie rides and more. Batman: The Ride, Boomerang and Fireball are some of the park’s exciting coasters. There’s also a seasonal water park with slides, a lagoon, rapids and a lazy river. If you need to seek shade after a day in the hot Texas sun, take in a show, visit one of the restaurants at the park or check out one of the gift shops. Look for special events throughout the year and at special times, like Halloween and Christmas.

San Antonio Zoo

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Over a million visitors come to the city to visit the San Antonio Zoo each year, and there’s a good reason why. You’ll discover over 750 unique species as you explore over 56 acres of exhibits. There’s Africa Live!, Amazonia, Bear Corner, Big Cat Valley and even a fun petting zoo with domesticated animals. Take part in experiences, like a giraffe feeding, animal encounters and a train ride. There’s even the Tiny Tot Nature Spot, where the youngest members of your family can crawl, play, climb and have a good time.

Sea World San Antonio

Not everyone realizes it, but San Antonio has its own Sea World, and it’s packed with rides, shows and animal encounters. Swim with dolphins, beluga whales and sea lions, or hang out with penguins. Catch the Killer Whales Up Close show, laugh at Pets Ahoy or check out a show featuring your favorite Sesame Street characters. If you feel daring, take a ride on a roller coaster, like the Shamu Express, Journey to Atlantis or the Wave Breaker.

Splashtown San Antonio

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Temperatures in San Antonio can reach well into the 90s during the spring, summer and early fall, so if you’re here during that time, it’s important to find a place to cool off. The Splashtown San Antonio water park is an excellent place to do just that. The park is located on over 20 acres of land just a few minutes north of downtown, and it’s home to over 50 rides. There are lifeguards on hand for safety and free life jackets, along with souvenir shops, restaurants, concession stands, picnic areas and even “dive-in” movies.

Witte Museum

Kids and museums aren’t always the best combination, but all of that changes when you visit the Witte Museum. Kids can get a hands-on look at Texas culture, art, history, nature and science through permanent and special exhibits that give you an unprecedented look at the Lone Star State. The HEB Body Adventure, which is all about health and wellness, is a favorite with young people who want to learn how their bodies work and what they can do to make them work better.

River Walk

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When many people think of the city, the San Antonio River Walk is one of the first attractions to come to mind. This park and its series of walkways sit along the San Antonio River in the downtown area at a level below the city’s streets. Grab a map and take a tour, go shopping or grab some Tex-Mex and other cuisine at one of the many restaurants. Enjoy art displays, live music or one of the many attractions or historical sites located along the way.

The Alamo

The Alamo also tops the list of beloved San Antonio attractions. History buffs and those eager to learn about the past can enjoy a tour of this old Spanish mission. As a matter of fact, it’s easily accessed via the River Walk. Millions of people come to the site each year to check out its chapel, museum, gardens, reenactments and other exhibits.

Alamo Plaza

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After you visit the Alamo, take the kids to nearby Alamo Plaza for plenty of fun activities. The Guinness World Records Museum is here, and it’s got interactive displays, bizarre artifacts, trivia and more attractions related to some of the world’s biggest records. You can also check out Ripley’s Haunted Adventure if you’re brave enough. This haunted house isn’t for the faint of heart with its live actors, realistic props and optical illusions that will blow your mind. Another cool place to visit here is Tomb Raider 3-D. It features laser tag and an interactive ride to Ancient Egypt.