Weekend getaways: 6 easy-to-reach scenic escapes for any time of year

Perfect for a long weekend and easy to reach from many spots in the U.S., these places are ideal for a getaway—and you’ll still have a cell signal!

Florian Trojer | Getty Images

Looking back on this summer, you probably have tons of one-big-happy-family memories, but can you recall spending alone-time with your spouse … or even snapping an iPhone selfie together? You may be due for a parents-only escape—a little relationship recharge. If venturing into the world sans kids freaks you out (totally get it), the destinations here can ease some of that angst. These places work for long weekends away, are easy to reach from many spots in the U.S., and aren’t overly adventurous or off-the-grid, meaning you’ll have a cell signal. (Before booking, you should check the CDC’s site for any up-to-date Zika-virus alerts for your destination as well as prevention advice, especially if you’re pregnant or hoping to be.)

You can do this. Why? Because breaking out of your regular mom and dad routines, even briefly, can create new memories and help you reconnect.

Gracious southern city: Charleston, South Carolina

Rainbow row in Charleston

Rainbow row in Charleston, South Carolina. Pgiam | Getty Images

Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, antebellum mansions, flickering carriage lanterns … either you’ve stepped back in time or you’re in Charleston’s historic downtown. This insanely-romantic city is a doable drive from many Southern cities, and about 70 direct flights from the East Coast and Midwest land here daily. Get acquainted with an official walking tour guide from Charleston Strolls or just start roaming past the secret courtyards, sherbet-shaded mansions of Rainbow Row, and the waterfront. If you get turned around, the prominent steeples of Charleston’s historical churches serve as North Stars (the town is nicknamed the “Holy City”). When stomachs start growling, this foodie town serves serious Lowcountry eats (highly recommend the shrimp and grits at High Cotton Charleston). Before going home, hit the open-air City Market for kid souvenirs.

Where to sleep: Centered in the historic downtown, The Vendue is a Southern-chic hotel that doubles as a museum; the property flaunts a large, ever-changing collection of cool, original art throughout the hotel and hosts a working artist in residence. Be sure to catch the music and views from the rooftop bar (starting at $299 per night, higher around holidays).

Cute beach town: Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach in Florida

Rosemary Beach in Florida. Christian Heeb | Getty Images

No exaggeration: the white sands, calm blue water, and sunsets of this quaint beach community along northwest Florida’s gulf coast rival those found on a Caribbean island; this is the perfect stateside alternative if you’re anxious about leaving U.S. soil without the kids. Another beautiful thing: whether you fly or drive, you don’t need a car upon arrival. Biking to tennis, shops, and restaurants (love Cowgirl Kitchen on Main Street), or walking along sandy footpaths, past rows of exquisitely-decorated cottages, to the beach are the preferred modes of transport.

Where to sleep: Pin the spot where Main Street meets prime Gulf views and you’ll find The Pearl Hotel. Guests at this beacon of understated luxury are treated to private balconies off their rooms and cabanas at the adults-only pool. You’ll also gain access to amenities at WaterColor Inn & Resort, a fabulous sister property nearby (The Pearl Hotel starting at $279 per night). Sale! Take advantage of the hotel’s Choose Your Savings Package that drops starting rates to $199 until Christmas Day.

Artsy mountain outpost: Denver, Colorado

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. iyd39 | Shutterstock

Boasting 300 days of sunshine a year and panoramas of the snow-capped Rockies, this laid-back, hip city (a major hub for airlines) has really blossomed in recent years, turning out amazing new restaurants, museums, boutiques, and hotels—some retrofit into beautiful old houses and buildings. Welcome to your happy place if you’re into a thriving cultural scene, craft brews, and hanging outdoors. Be sure to add Red Rocks Park (and its dramatic hunks of red sandstone) to your list for hiking, biking, or catching a concert at the amphitheater. And going to a game should be on any sports-fan list, since Denver has eight (count ‘em eight, pro teams). Keep in mind: snow can start as early as October.

Where to sleep: Right down to the tasseled “real” room keys and bow-tie wearing bellmen, The Oxford Hotel opened in 1891 and still overflows with vintage class. Its enviable location in the revitalized Lower Downtown area (or LoDo), puts you right near Coors Field and a half-block from the bars and top eateries in Union Station (starting at $249 per night).

Vibrant metropolis: Chicago, Illinois

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Millenium Park, the Bean in Chicago. Izzet Keribar | Getty Images

If you’re both sooo ready to soak in new experiences and sights (that don’t have to be tailored to kids this time), the lively, centrally-located Windy City won’t disappoint. Plus, two international airports make Chicago super-accessible. With a huge number of neighborhoods to explore, your days can be as jam-packed as you’d like. Some itinerary suggestions: Visit well-known works of Impressionism at The Art Institute of Chicago; rock climb alongside skyscrapers in Maggie Daley Park; study the city’s famed architecture on a river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation; and share belly-laughs at legendary improv comedy theater, The Second City (alums include Tina Fey and Steve Carell). No matter what, make a slice of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza a priority (Gino’s East is pretty awesome).

Where to sleep: Check into the modern Thompson Chicago, where you’ll be oohing and ahing over your room’s luxe bedding and floor-to-ceiling windows that front the Chicago skyline or Lake Michigan. Step outside, and the hotel’s Gold Coast hood is happening with shopping, restaurants, and great people-watching (starting weekend rates are $269 per night).

Cultural paradise: Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mayan Ruins seen by the ocean in Mexico

Mayan Ruins seen by the ocean near Tulum, Mexico. Florian Trojer | Getty Images

Getting to this popular vacation spot along Mexico’s gorgeous Caribbean coast usually means an easy nonstop to Cancun and a short shuttle to your hotel. Once here, the balance between familiar and foreign won’t test your comfort zone. Plenty of English-speakers and modern roads and amenities co-exist with an enchanting ancient Mayan culture that trickles into cuisine, spa treatments, and excursions (the Mayan ruins of Tulum are a must). Lodgings range from boutique hotels to huge all-inclusives. After settling in, the crystal waters, underwater adventures (the world’s second largest coral reef is off the coast), and okay, a couple of margaritas will make any worries float away.

Where to sleep: With its winding paths of palapa-style bungalows, the Mahekal Beach Resort radiates an intimate vibe, yet offers full-on amenities, including a Mayan-inspired spa, on-site watersports center, and three full-service restaurants (rates include breakfast and either lunch or dinner daily). The gem, tucked off a quiet street in the authentic town of Playa del Carmen, is just a block from the main avenue’s nightly fiesta and hits the sweet spot between all-inclusive and “you’re-on-your-own” (starting at $249, double occupancy).

Passport-free island passage: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Row of historic houses in San Juan Puerto Rico

Row of historic houses in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tetra images | hemis.fr

Coverage for the kids doesn’t always come with a lot of notice. No worries about rushing to get your passport renewed (or bringing one at all) when traveling to the nearby idyllic island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth. Just a few miles from the airport, cosmopolitan San Juan is the ideal home base to relax oceanside or discover the island. Walk around colorful Old San Juan, hike to a waterfall in El Yunque rainforest, or taste local specialties with Spoon Food Tours. Save some energy for the city’s buzzing nightlife (maybe seize your moment to salsa dance together without embarrassing kids).

Where to sleep: Because it’s located last along a stretch of hotels, the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino’s beach provides a coveted sense of seclusion—that is, if you can pull yourself away from the palm-fringed pool area, which has a swim-up bar, pop-up massage station, and gelato cart. At night, listen to live merengue or salsa bands in the hotel’s Red Coral Lounge, a hotspot for tourists and locals (starting at $166 per night).

Nancy Rones
Nancy Rones

Nancy Rones is an award-winning freelance writer and content contributor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s written on a range of topics, from honeymoons to health, for numerous national magazines and websites including Parents, The Knot, and Yoga Journal.

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