Let's be honest now: Summer is the time when we all dream of embarking on long trips to faraway locales, taking an extended leave of absence to live that dream. While work and responsibilities may prevent that from being your reality, weekends still exist -- which means it's time for some mini-road tripping.

Even if you don't have lots of vacation time lined up, the weekend is a great time to get away and unwind -- and hopefully not spend eons of time in a car getting there. From NYC to Los Angeles there plenty of fun getaways that can you have you relaxing on the beach or nestled in the woods in no time -- but still make you feel like you are a world away.

So pack a few things and make sure your ride is in check because these little treks are bound to rejuvenate, and hopefully make clocking back in on Monday not so rough.


New York: Motor Through the Mountains

Leaving New York City on a Friday can feel like being led into the heart of darkness, but once you get past the traffic it can be pure bliss. Many New Yorkers strive to hit the Hamptons but those that don't aspire to pose and preen with the other half opt for the lovely Catskills region. Located just a few hours outside of NYC, the Catskills -- once known as the "Borscht Belt" -- is a popular destination for city folk that want to recharge their batteries. And one of the finest places to do that is The Roxbury (tel. 607/326-7200; www.theroxburymotel.com), located in Roxbury, NY. After driving through the lush landscape of the Catskills Mountains you will be treated to a boutique motel (yes, boutique) that is both quaint and modern at the same time, with lodging starting at just $99 a night. The staff treat you like family and will make sure you utilize your weekend to the fullest -- whether that is by hiking, biking or just relaxing in one of their lavishly designed themed rooms.

Los Angeles: Coastal California Cruising


If you love scenic drives, and live in the Los Angeles area, head less than 90 miles up the old Pacific Coast Highway to Ventura, California and the Cliff House Inn (tel. 800-892-5433; www.cliffhousein.com) for a real treat. Not only will you be able to enjoy a gorgeous trek along the spectacular California coast, but also you will get those same majestic views when you check into this old school inn. Located within the Cliff House you will find some of the freshest seafood to be had at the Shoals Restaurant -- with gorgeous sunsets included in the bill. And if you're lucky, you might be able to see the outline of a dolphin gliding through the surf while you dine. With rooms starting at only $140 a night this is bargain that can't be missed.

Seattle: B&B by the Bay

The Pacific Northwest has a vast amount of breathtaking vistas and you can witness many at the Skagit Bay Hideaway (tel. 360/466-2262; www.skagitbay.com), a beautiful B&B on Puget Sound that is the personification of relaxation. At the Skagit Bay, located less than two hours north of Seattle, you will instantly feel secluded from the world and ready to take part in a myriad of activities from kayaking to birding or just reading the day away. If human interaction is also on your agenda head into the nearby historic town of La Conner to indulge in great food, museums and an art scene that would make any big city proud.


Atlanta: Historical Hopscotch

If you are a music fan living in Atlanta consider taking a weekend sojourn to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (GMHF) in Macon, Georgia. Just 75 miles south of Atlanta, this Georgia peach is a music mecca that is fun for youngsters and hipsters alike. Not only is this a great place to learn about the Georgians that helped to create, refine or revolutionize soul, rock, country -- and everything in between -- you will be within walking distance of other noteworthy institutions such as the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Tubman African American Museum. After getting all sorts of historical check into the 1842 Inn (tel. 877/452-6599; www.1842inn.com), a stately country inn with rates starting at only $139 a night. At that point it will be time to wrestle up a mint julep, relax on the veranda and thank your lucky stars the weekend exists.

Chicago: Camping Caravan


For Midwestern camping and hiking buffs, one of the most expansive and easy-to-reach destinations for such activities belongs to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park (tel. 866/622-6746; www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/properties/park_dunes.html)-- located only 50 miles southeast of Chicago. Stake out your territory at the Dunewood Campground (http://camp.in.gov)-- which has a fee of $15 a night -- and from there you can explore miles of beaches, trails and wetlands.

Dallas: Southwest Safari

Just because you don't have the time or money to go on safari in Africa that doesn't mean you can't roll up on wildlife, especially if you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. A mere 90 minutes from Dallas, in the town of Glen Rose, Texas, is the Fossil Rim Center (tel. 254/897-2960; www.fossilrim.org), a wildlife center that allows you to drive -- or be driven -- through an expansive wonderland and come face to face with giraffe, zebra, antelope, rhinos and more. At Fossil Rim you also have the opportunity to bunk onsite at either The Lodge or The Foothills Safari Camp which are safari-style tent cabins. Call it Botswana-lite. With animals roaming around, and hearing the call of the wild as you fall asleep, you're bound to have a few good stories to tell back at work.


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