Don’t have the budget for a big road trip, or even a short getaway? Only have one day available in your calendar, but you want to make the most of it? Two words… Day Trip!
We have had a busy summer and with the kids getting older, they have busy schedules of their own, with work and friends. Because we haven’t had a lot of time to work with and we still wanted to make memories together, we landed on Day Trips as the only logical solution. I had everyone take a day off here and there throughout the summer months and got to work planning.
Obviously, with only a day to fit everything in, you can’t go too far. I would limit your travel time to 3 hours maximum. If you get up early and drive 3 hours, you still have time to play the tourist and get home in time for a decent bedtime. If you find cool destinations even closer, all the better!
There are a couple of different ways to handle Day Trips. You can either choose a specific destination to spend your day and just hop in the car take the highway to get there as quickly as you can, OR you can make the travel time itself the focus of the trip. You just choose a two- lane road that runs a decent distance through and into some fun or quirky small towns and just drive, taking your time and stopping often at whatever strikes you as interesting, taking the opportunity to turn down “Main Street” and do a drive through if you so desire. Even on this sort of Day Trip, you will want a general idea of a destination, the point at which you will turn around. Do some research ahead of time and see what restaurants you might want to stop at along the way. Try something new, a place that isn’t a chain. If possible, and it usually is, take a different route back home again.
Here in Michigan, the place we call home, there are interesting and fun little towns to tour all over the state. I would venture to guess the same is true for you and your home state as well:) We are also within a couple of hours from northern Indiana where we live, making that an option for us as well. We have done both types of Day Trips over the spring and summer, some with the whole family, some with just my husband and I (we are practicing for an empty nest:).
One day we got up early as a family and headed to Frankenmuth, a Bavarian themed town that is known for the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s. Bronner’s is all you could ever want from a Christmas store, it has everything you would ever need or want. They even have a full- sized replica of the chapel where ‘Silent Night’ was written. Besides the Christmas Store, there are other historic attractions like the Bavarian Inn where at 3, 6, and 12, you can watch the glockenspiel tell you the story of the “Pied Piper of Hamlin” from the watchtower. They also have a storybook Bavarian village themed outdoor mall where you can get authentic New Orleans beignets and dipping sauces- having nothing whatsoever to do with Bavaria but delicious all the same! There is also a large outlet mall nearby. Outside of gas and food, the trip is free if you want it to be!
On another day, my husband and I got up an jumped in the car and headed east. We took a small MI two- lane highway along a river and through several small towns we were unfamiliar with. We stopped and admired historical markers we didn’t know existed previously, drove down Main Street here and there, and did some wine and hard cider tasting at a large cider mill. We kept driving east and stopped for lunch, trying a new restaurant in an old refurbished factory building, viewed a historic ‘castle‘ built on the river by the author James Curwood. Who knew?! We turned around and headed toward home using a different route on the other side of the river, taking our time and searching for beautiful old farmhouses. It was a great day and it didn’t cost any more than your average date night!
We’ve explored other towns and areas near us as well and found some gems! It is such a great way to stay connected and make memories while saving time and money. It’s good for the budget and the schedule as well as for your marriage and family. I dare you to set aside your next day off and go exploring!