The 6 Best Memorial Day Getaways That Require Zero Time Off

Updated 05/23/17
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Let's be real: If you haven't already booked a flight and accommodation for a Memorial Day vacation, chances are it's going to be tough to find availability. That doesn't mean it's too late to plan a getaway, though. If you're still hoping to make the most of the long weekend, opt for a day trip instead. Here, we've gone in search of the best places to visit for a short respite from city life. Whether it's wandering the vineyards in the Texas Hill Country or exploring art galleries in upstate New York, these mini road trips from major cities prove that you don't have to travel far to have a relaxing long weekend.

 It's not too late—these six easy day trips beckon.

Picnic Under Flowering Trees in Door County, Wisconsin

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Drop a Pin: There's no shortage of great day trips to take from Chicago, and Door County is just one of the gorgeous spots that beckon in spring. Located on the very tip of the Wisconsin peninsula, it's a great spot for swimming, hiking, and biking. 

Must-Do: Hundreds of flowers are in full bloom in spring, so pack a picnic and sprawl under one of the fragrant trees. If you're planning more than a day trip, head to quaint Washington Island, a short ferry ride from the mainland, and stop at the Danish Mill for lunch. The island has Scandinavian influence, so you'll find lingonberry preserves and other regional delicacies. 

Extend Your Stay: Not ready to drive back to Chicago? Spend a night (or two) at Double S Lodge, a rustic luxury retreat in the village of Sister Bay, Wisconsin.

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Escape the Mainland to Catalina Island, California

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Drop a Pin: It's hard to believe this idyllic island is off the coast of Los Angeles. Just an hourlong boat ride from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point aboard the Catalina Express, it's the perfect mini vacation to escape the city. 

Must-Do: There's an exhaustive list of activities to do on Catalina Island. Indulge in a seafood spread, take a Jeep tour inland, go zip-lining, or relax on the beach. 

Extend Your Stay: Head back to the mainland and spend the night at Terranea Resort and Spa. The destination hotel is large enough that it still has available rooms for the long weekend but is far enough away from the city center to make you feel like you're on vacation, even if you're an L.A. local. 

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Get Lost in an Art Gallery in Beacon, New York

Dia

Drop a Pin: Located just an hour and a half north of New York City by train, Beacon is the perfect place to visit for the day. The train ride traces the Hudson River and drops you a few streets away from the famed art gallery Dia.

Must-Do: Spend a few hours wandering through Dia, which is housed in a former Nabisco box printing factory. Venture to the town center to explore the excellent vintage stores and take a few souvenirs back to the city. 

Extend Your Stay: If you fall in love with the quaint town and want to plan a trip back after the long weekend, book a room at Roundhouse, a boutique hotel with rustic, minimal décor and unbeatable standalone tubs. 

Kara Black Small Ring Leather Backpack $475
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Explore the Coastline at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

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Drop a Pin: Just one hour's drive north of San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore is a haven for seabirds, elephant seals, and elk.

Must-Do: Wildflowers are in full bloom, so now is the best time to visit the national park. Hike down to the Lighthouse Visitors Center to take in the churning blue ocean and rugged landscape.

Extend Your Stay: Loved your day trip? Return to Tomales Bay to spend a few nights at Nick's Cove, which has a collection of rustic coastal cottages.

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Wander the Vineyards in San Antonio, Texas

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Drop a Pin: Texas Hill Country is a vast region that touches both Austin and San Antonio. Lonely Planet dubbed it "one of America's great unsung wine regions … which makes a fine setting for an epic, Texan-style road trip."

Must-Do: Try to time your visit for when the bluebonnet flowers blossom in spring; fields are blanketed in vivid blue petals. Be sure to stop off at Fredericksburg, which has great cellars, antique stores, and German restaurants. 

Extend Your Stay: Finish your road trip in San Antonio, and stay the night at La Cantera Resort and Spa. Don't miss a meal at Signature Restaurant, an ambient space decorated by Jill Giles and Jiles Parscale of Giles-Parscale, with an excellent wine list. 

RBT Decanter $100
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Visit the Lighthouse at Biscayne National Park, Florida

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Drop a Pin: Located just an hour and a half's drive from Miami, Biscayne National Park has a mix of scenic preserves and pristine offshore reefs. 

Must-Do: Most of the national park is water, so opt for a boat tour or hire a kayak to explore all that the landscape has to offer. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for gorgeous views of the coastline. 

Extend Your Stay: Given its close proximity to Miami, we'd recommend heading back to the city to stay the night. If you can't secure a room at the newly reopened The Surf Club, stop by for a cocktail—it's well worth a visit. 

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What's your favorite place to visit for a day trip? 

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