Vacation, all I ever wanted...vacation, had to get away
June 20, 2016 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Paralyzed by vacation options, restrictions, and desires. Please help.

I'm pretty sure I've asked a similar question before but with slightly different parameters.

My family (husband, me, two late-teenaged kids) have the first week of August to do SOMETHING. Three of us are more than willing to go somewhere we've gone before (Lake Michigan, NYC, upstate NY, Boston, Washington D.C., Montreal, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Cleveland). The other person is very, very against that idea. And before you tell us to just forget that person and do what the majority wants to do, the rest of us ALSO are more than willing to go somewhere new. We just DO NOT KNOW where.

We live in Cincinnati and the destination must be in driving distance. One full day's drive is really all I want to do, but I know that really limits us so I will accept a day and a half, POSSIBLY two days if the destination is WOW. We cannot fly (it's generally too expensive) although we'd absolutely love to go to the Pacific Northwest.

Two of us prefer cities (museums, shows, etc. but will pretty much do anything), one of us prefers beaches and nature (again, will pretty much do anything), and the fourth wants to do some sort of "theme," i.e. a nature theme or culture theme or something. It's all very vague. This is also the person who doesn't want to go somewhere we've gone before.

I personally would really not rather go south. It's too hot. I don't like it when it's hot. I get grumpy and short tempered and I'm not fun to be around.

Maine has been put on the table and it seems like it would be fun (Acadia/Bar Harbor area probably) but I wonder if there's really enough to do for a week's cabin/apartment/home rental, which is all I see when I start looking at places to stay. Plus it's far. 17 hours by car. Two full days driving. Ick. But it seems WOW.

We don't mind destination-hopping. We like being together. We're not taking the dog.

Where should we go?
posted by cooker girl to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Madison WI and Door County. Theme: cheese.
posted by Liesl at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I spent a long weekend in Door County, Wisconsin years ago and have always wished I had an excuse to go back. It's gorgeous. It would definitely be more of a relaxing vacation than a museum/cities/doing stuff vacation, but you could always spend a couple days in Milwaukee seeing some sights on the way there or back.

On preview: jinx, Liesl!
posted by something something at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2016

Is a road trip out of the question? you potentially have 4 drivers, so what about a road trip through Canada? Valid only if you have passports/passport cards handy, but the CAD 20% off sale is still a thing...

Drive to Toronto, spend 2 days there, then drive to Montreal for 2 days, maybe spend 2 days on the St. Lawrence river? and then drive home with a pitstop via the NY finger lake regions for wine? It would combine both City, and Nature, and the Theme could be "Canada"
posted by larthegreat at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

How about a variation on 5-3-1? Each person makes a list of three or five ideas. Each person selects one thing from each other-person's list that they like. This list is winnowed down by removing any remaining options that someone definitely doesn't want to do (maybe each person gets one veto). This should get you to a handful of options you can select from either by parental fiat or maybe you can task the kids into researching and deciding the best choice to avoid teen-style complaints.
posted by rhizome at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Philadelphia - fun, relatively inexpensive for a city trip, opportunities for city and nature time. You could add in a trip to the Pine Barrens in NJ to see the pygmy pines, and there are plenty of opportunities for swamp tours and canoeing there. There are also cedar water beaches, which I thought were much cooler than normal beaches as a teenager.

Themes could be: history or mysteriously named food (water ice, scrapple, philly combo).
posted by snaw at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2016

posted by xo at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2016

Buffalo with a day or two in Toronto.
posted by Riverine at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2016

What about Michigans Upper Peninsula? It's beautiful there along Lake Superior and you could see things like the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The towns aren't very big but you could drive east into Sault Ste Marie assuming you have passports - I don't know much about that city though but maybe look into it. Munising is only about 10 hours from you and you can easily bang out that drive in one day. That's where you'd start to see Pictured Rocks. There's also beaches and waterfalls and some nice hikes.
posted by FireFountain at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I vote that the picky person has to do the planning. :) But that's just me.

We were recently in Bar Harbor/Acadia and it was amazing! It would definitely be more the beaches/nature/hiking style of vacation. I personally am fine with a slower pace, hike/beach/etc. for half the day and chill at the cabin with a book the other half of the day, find yummy food (lobster!) for dinner, so if that's good with your group, you can definitely get a week out of this. Alternately, you could break up the drive + add some city to the mix by adding a city on the way there and/or back -- maybe New York, Boston, or Pittsburgh? Or you could combine Maine with a drive down the coast to some slightly warmer beaches in the Connecticut area. That could actually combine nicely with New Haven, which while not exactly "city" in an NYC sense, does have awesome art museums at Yale (and insanely good pizza).
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:39 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your problem is the vagueness and the general willingness to do whatever. You must make some decisions.

Step 1. Plan an easy relaxing vacation to a place you have already been that Persons #1-3 would be happy with.

Step 2. Tell Person #4 that if they are not happy with this plan, then they have 48 hours (or whatever is reasonable given their other commitments) to present a fairly detailed outline of an alternative trip to the rest of the party for a Go/No Go vote. If the vote is Go, then various details of the alternative trip can be hashed out amongst the group, but you've got to have something specific to work with, not vague ideas.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:43 PM on June 20, 2016

Jumping on the Wisconsin bandwagon: Madison and Door County are both great!
posted by sarajane at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2016

Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands (featuring Fallingwater and two other Frank Lloyd Wright houses)?
posted by fedward at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2016

WHAT ABOUT if you all get on your bikes and go for a multi-day bike ride? It's themed, it's nature, there's NO driving, and it is so much fun.

I have done this a million times but I still remember what it was like the first time. Let me know if this is something you want to pursue and I would be happy to answer your every last question.

See Ohio with new eyes.
posted by aniola at 4:42 PM on June 20, 2016

If you want biking maps, (and these are great maps: waterproof, campground listings, easy to use, the works) it looks like the Underground Railroad is the mapped bike route near you.
posted by aniola at 4:46 PM on June 20, 2016

I knew I'd forget something: absolutely positively no camping (sorry aniola!) for Reasons.
posted by cooker girl at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2016

I amend my proposal! Biking day trips from a fully-roofed home base.

There are bike tour and/or rental companies if you're also not into packing four bikes. (Chicago also has Spinlister, which is crowdsourced bike rentals.)
posted by aniola at 6:23 PM on June 20, 2016

Pittsburgh, theme: reclamation! There is a lot of really cool history and rustbeltiness which has been turned into neat and interesting things. Rivers of Steel has a bunch of things about the region's industrial history, including bike tours, museums, etc. The Mattress Factory is a crazy contemporary art museum in an old industrial building. The Carnegie Museums have taken gilded age millions and turned them into really amazing accessible art, science, and natural history museum - and there's an Ai Wei Wei exhibit that's all about coopting and reclaiming symbols from history and authoritarian governments! Go up the Duquesne Incline, which was once used for coal mining before it became part of the transportation system before it became a tourist attraction! The riverfront and parks which were reclaimed from polluted industrial land and turned into really nice riverfront parks. The Wheel Mill, which is a similar reclaimed industrial space but looks like they have really cool biking trails. The Botanical Gardens, which have rehabilitated old coal mines and exceptionally polluted waterways.

Other things that are cool but I can't think of a way to link them to the theme though I'm sure you could, include the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Cathedral of Learning.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:48 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

When we went to Maine and Acadia from Pittsburgh, we treated it like a road trip. It was an amazing trip. I have more details if you want.

8/14 Pittsburgh
New Haven Pizza 7.5 hours driving
Mystic hotel 1 hour driving, 2 nights
8/15 Mystic Seaport
8/16 drive to Boston hotel, 2 hours, 2 nights, tour Boston
8/17 tour Boston
8/18 finish Boston, through Rockport (adds 1h driving), to Portsmouth Hotel, 2 hours, for 2 nights
8/19 tour York and Ogunquit, walk Portsmouth
8/20 drive to Acadia hotel via route 1 (adds 1.5m driving) (could do this route 1 on way south), 5 hours, 3 nights
8/21 tour acadia
8/22 tour acadia
8/23 finish acadia, drive freeport (3 hours), sign up for classes at LL Bean, 1 night Portland
8/24 drive halfway home, 7 hours - Hampton Inn Hazelton
8/25 drive home - 4.5 hours
posted by RoadScholar at 7:06 PM on June 20, 2016

St. Louis? City Museum is AMAZING. And there's all the Ozarks right there. See a ballgame. Go up the Arch and watch the kids freak out that it flexes in the wind. Six Flags if you're into that sort of thing. Then go back to City Museum.

(Disclaimer: I'm not from St. Louis so not the best source of all the fun things to do there, but - City Museum, zomg, the trip is worth it for that place alone.)
posted by sldownard at 11:56 PM on June 20, 2016

Nthing Pittsburgh for totally unbiased reasons. (Sort of.)

If you your trip is the first weekend of the month, you could check out Unblurred, the art gallery First Friday on Penn Avenue, which could feed into a possible Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory, and Carnegie Art and Natural History Museum trifecta for an arts/culture theme.

As far as nature is concerned, Frick Park is MASSIVE and has a lot of great hiking trails, and Schenley Park has a disc golf course. And that's just within city limits--there are some excellent hiking trails a little outside of city limits, like the Rachel Carson Trail.

Also, Great Allegheny Passage is a great flat little bike trail, if you're down for biking. Gorgeous scenery, and there's a couple of Healthy Ride bike kiosks nearby if you want to just rent a bike and ride.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:52 AM on June 21, 2016

Update for the curious: Epic Road Trip! Mammoth Cave, St. Louis (City Museum YAY!!), Chicago (college tour for the 16-year-old), Noth Woods of WI (courtesy of an invite from my sister), and then home.

Wanted to do Maine but couldn't find less-than-expensive lodging, and the invitation from my sister clinched the direction.

Thanks everyone!!
posted by cooker girl at 5:12 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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