Recipes for a rescued day, please.
August 24, 2008 7:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you get away without going away?

I understand that life, to an extent, is learning to make a heaven of where we are, but adult life, at least from my perspective, is aiming for contentment while in a grind of necessary work and rewarding parenthood. My question: serious vacation-- the thing of real time in a other-place of startling beauty and relaxation-- is at least a few years away. What do you do to bring a bit of notable temporary bliss, either daily or occasionally? Looking to avoid inventing the wheel when clearly, the Hive Mind has them already. And no, not looking for the pat pharmaceutical or proselytizing answer, please.
posted by Arch1 to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
State parks.
posted by The Straightener at 7:42 PM on August 24, 2008

Public parks (when weather's good) and art museums are my usual options for this.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:43 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Music and food! I have to make dinner anyway, and music is pretty cheap.
posted by mdonley at 7:43 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I go read books by the river or in a big windy clutch of trees. Just the non-human noise and getting totally engrossed in a good story outdoors presses my reset button.
posted by jessamyn at 7:49 PM on August 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

Parks, museums, botanical gardens, day spas, and baseball games are all time-honored ways I've gotten a little minibreak.
posted by scody at 7:50 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

go feed the ducks at the lake. and yes, parks are good for getting away.

occasionally - a massage certainly seems to get me away from the day. also, not sure if youre into the whole day spa thing, but my ex-girlfriend swear by them for the escape factor.
posted by gcat at 7:52 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

dancing always makes me blissfully unaware of any stresses I'm under (at least, while I'm dancing :)
posted by inatizzy at 7:52 PM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Jessamyn's got it. Grab a book on your lunch break and get outside.

Wear bug spray, though. I found out the hard way hanging out in the woods without shoes is a good way to get lyme disease, even when not camping.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:01 PM on August 24, 2008

Depends on where you live and what you like to do, but every now and then, take a day for yourself (or yourself and a friend) and go do something that's out of your routine. Example: I'm a college student living in a sort-of-suburb of a big city. I don't get out into the city proper all that much, but when I do, it feels like I'm somewhere else. There's streets I don't know as well, coffee shops I've never been to, architecture and parks and gardens I only see once in a while. Or go to a museum. Or whatever - the point is, you're breaking out of your routine, both in terms of activities and location, and that can make you feel like you're "on vacation".
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:04 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Go play disc golf. Go play real golf. Go take a day hike. Go shoot some hoops. Go throw your dog a stick until he begs for mercy. Go drink beer and watch porn. Go smoke a joint and get out the telescope and stargaze. Go splash in the tub with Bach's Goldberg Variations blaring and reread your favorite novel. Go to your room, unplug the phone, turn off the lights, recline on your bed, and practice being very, very still. Go eat a bacon double cheeseburger and wash it down with a chocolate malt. Go to the farmer's market and buy some great veggies. Play your favorite song on your commute. Play the guitar. Put your kids in your lap and smell their hair. Sign up for boxing classes, then don't go. Entertain your cat. Make love with your spouse. Breathe.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:10 PM on August 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

Bike rides
posted by shamble at 8:19 PM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Some of my favourite travel memories are from when my son was less than a year old (albeit we were living in Japan, so there was a ton of stuff to do compared to where I live in Canada now). Since we lived in a small and somewhat isolated small town, we always took car trips on the weekend, usually just for the day. I had this really cool baby carrier that snuggled my infant son up to my front, so we could go window shopping and sightseeing in Kyoto or Nagoya or Nara or Kanazawa or wherever.

Later on we bought an inexpensive baby backpack and took our son hiking or on longer walks.

I think a common theme I'm discovering here is that we would drive for one or two hours and go take a walk. As Kierkegaard says, I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one can not walk away from it.

Walking outside is invigorating and refreshing.

Ironically, we haven't been walking as much in recent years because of my workload (for a while I was working seven days a week, 18 hours a day - looking back, I should have probably turned down the work), and because our son is too big to carry around in the backpack (man, we loved that thing) but too little to go for an extended walk. And the presence of cougars and bears in this part of Canada has acted as a deterrent.

Maybe it's time to dust off the walking shoes!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:20 PM on August 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Headphones, an iPod and a park.

Also, how well do you know your city? Probably not as well as you think. Try to see the city as a stranger would and go exploring in the various nooks and crannies, say for an afternoon. These are social adventures, where you find some old shops, manned by a person or two and just wander in and strike up a conversation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 PM on August 24, 2008

Years ago my sister introduced me to the idea of "Going off planet" for a weekend. It's temporary shielding yourself so that to the rest of the world you might as well be on Mars. Here are the steps:

1) Don't make any appointments, plan any meetings or anything at all for the weekend. Nothing at a specific time. No obligations to anyone else.

2) All phones are off/unplugged/etc the whole time.

3) Email and computers too.

4) Notify those closest to you/those who might freak out if you don't answer the phone for 48 hours that you are going off the grid for the weekend. But don't tell them what you're doing.

4) Hide or turn off all your clocks, alarms, etc.

Then just do whatever the hell you want to for the weekend. Pick the suggestions above and below about books and parks or whatever. Or scrub the bathroom floor. Whatever you feel like! No one can tell you different, no one can bother you and get in your business. You don't have to worry about being late for something, having a time conflict, or missing something you were supposed to do. Reclaim that time for yourself.
posted by Ookseer at 8:26 PM on August 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

a massage certainly seems to get me away from the day. also, not sure if you're into the whole day spa thing, but my ex-girlfriend swear by them for the escape factor.
posted by gcat at 9:52 PM

Even a half day at a local spa can be great: Take a shower, a swim, another shower, get a massage, get in the sauna, get in the steam room, another shower, sauna, steam room again, shower again, walk in the woods if the place is sortof outdoorsy, take a favorite book of poetry and read under a tree, or take a sketch book and pencil and draw if you enjoy that, meditate if that works for you, scratch yourself, what have you, and a nice lunch or dinner at their cafeteria, good healthy, pretty food -- you're in and out in four hours, or five, maybe eighty bucks, a hundred; you're clean, shiny as a new whistle, relaxed, you've had sun and water and words and care heaped upon yourself, drive home at peace with yourself and the world.

An art museum also works for me but might not for you, and you can find out the free day and go every three weeks, get to know the collection real well, stand in front of a painting by Twatchman and ache for the beauty that's in it, you can cry a winter scene painted before there were automobiles, before there were cameras, or stand in front of a Matisse and smile at his humor, damn near winking at you off the canvas. Rinse and repeat.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:54 PM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Drive to the beach, find a deserted area. Stand in the surf up to your knees and turn your face towards the wind. Close your eyes, then sing every song you know, breathing deeply of the salty air. As the wind carries your voice away, let it blow cares and worries away with it.
posted by gemmy at 9:08 PM on August 24, 2008

Your profile says you live in Mpls, so if museums are your thing, you can get into many of them for free thru Museum Adventure Passes from your local library.
posted by marsha56 at 9:48 PM on August 24, 2008

My boyfriend and friends and I have a tradition of going on an ADVENTURE every weekend. It doesn't have to be big, but we make an effort to go somewhere none of us has been before within a short drive, within the city or nearby suburbs/towns. An important part of this is knowing it's coming up and planning the details. You could do it just by yourself, one other person or even large groups. Variety is what makes it fun. And always following through, so even if you are super busy, you commit to even a short adventure.
-research your city parks online and learn about obscure ones, or unique offerings at parks you hadn't known about, choose one to explore and have a picnic
-pick a restaurant across town that you've never been to...quirky casual places are the most adventurous, i find. ice cream places, places with absurd fried foods. also, exclusive neighborhood joints or "ethnic" restaurants can make you feel like you're faraway from home
-taking your picture next to a landmark or statue...the fun is in the chase, research your city on the internet, find somewhere with a history and make it a treasure hunt
-anyplace with a carousel or a ferris wheel or go carts or similar
-if you're strapped for time, you could simply pick a tall or historic building and ride to the top in the elevator (if they don't have armed guards, ugh)
-go pick apples, raspberries or whatever at a farm outside city limits
-drive-in movie theater
-I highly recommend looking up local ghost towns on the internet, very interesting
-take a factory tour, i have been surprised several times to find out some random product is produced in my town. ooooh, similarly, BREWERY, winery or distillery tours especially those with free/cheap tasting rooms

If you are in Minneapolis, the twin cities has SO MANY awesome parks of all different sizes. Similarly there are well established suburbs, while some are gross, some are more rural and you can still get a taste of their separate unique history. Also, the Franconia Sculpture Park is an awesome day trip and then you can go see cute Taylor's Falls. Also, the Wabasha Street Caves.
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:11 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

In addition to the suggestions above, go to a park, a restaurant, or (if you're desperate) a store (not a Wal-Mart, I mean a boutique or something unique) you've never been to before. A change of pace and scenery can really refresh you. Like spaceman_spiff said, break your routine.

I love to go to the beach and sit at the picnic tables and listen to the waves. It's great when I'm going somewhere afterwards and don't want to get covered in sand.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:35 AM on August 25, 2008

Go fly a kite.
posted by Iteki at 3:10 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're not in the mood for an outdoorsy day, or the weather isn't cooperating, do what I used to do.

Go to a bookstore with big cushy chairs. Grab a huge pile of books and plop yourself down to look at them. When you're done, take the books that you want or grab a few interesting magazines and buy them. The walk over to a restaurant nearby and get yourself a table. Have nice meal with yourself while you look through your magazines. Order a starter, main meal and dessert. After this, take a leisurely stroll through the area. If you have your camara, try to get a few interesting pics. Now, either go to a movie you've been wanting to see or rent a movie and go home to watch it. Don't feel bad if you want to have some ice cream - you're on vacation. Go home for a nice hot shower and a nice long night of sleep.

I used to do this all the time. Everything I love in one day. It was bliss.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:22 AM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Libraries. Austin doesn't have a cool library that I've been able to find but Houston has great ones (for studying hard, there's no way to beat the library down in the Med Center, you the vibe of all those medical students -- man, those folks are seriously studying), Phoenix has a super-cool library downtown, Chicago has one nice one downtown and almost certainly others. I'd bet that Minneapolis has a great library or two.

If it's a pretty building, just being there is nice. And it's quiet. Find an old favorite or maybe just nose around, find a new favorite, sit down in the stacks and read.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:29 AM on August 25, 2008

acupuncture. really zens me out.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:21 AM on August 25, 2008

It's not for everyone, but you could consider becoming a Servas host. Servas is a traveller/hospitality organisation where you open your house to strangers for 2 days. All of the servas guests I've hosted have been interesting and entertaining people - from the retired Italian latin teacher looking to improve her English to the Hungarian IT consultant who was stopping off on her way to the Dales. You get to talk to people from other countries (and what is travelling about, if not the people) and you get to show them around your home town. It can be quite fun, being a tourist in your own town - checking out the museums and galleries.
posted by handee at 7:23 AM on August 25, 2008

Wait, you're in Minneapolis?

Do what I've always threatened to do, take a weekend vacation in St. Paul. Choose a neighborhood and pretend you're staying there and do all the things you would do if you were there on vacation. No cheating by crossing the river.
posted by advicepig at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2008

Hit a bike trail in the woods. You vs. the singletrack. Lebanon Hills is great, it's close, it's a lot of fun, and it's challenging without being too intimidating (my wife loves it, I've seen pretty young kids there with their parents, it's fun for all!). Check out the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists website for more.

Join a running club. Marathon Sports has a running team, many gyms in the Mpls area also have some. Run with friends, or by yourself. Or road bike, if that's more your style. With the Grand Rounds in town you can't go wrong. Minnehaha Parkway is a nice windy shady green place to go zone out and work out your inner demons.

Take a weekend and treat yourself to a hotel or bed and breakfast stay. Stillwater has some really nice places, and it's a short drive.

Of course I guess my preferences are to do something outside. If you aren't an outside type person, there's no end to museums in the area. Or make a deal with yourself to try one new restaurant a week (or once a month, if that's what you can budget). Try things you wouldn't otherwise have eaten, or places that seemed too exotic for you to try before, just for fun.

Really, anything other than the usual "go to work, come home, turn on TV, go to sleep" routine is a good break. Mix it up a little. If you have a friend willing to try a bunch of new things on a semi-regular basis, even better, because if you have company you're less likely to back out of it or stop doing it.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:45 AM on August 25, 2008

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