Help me dream up a 40th birthday getaway!
April 17, 2017 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm turning 40 in mid-July (the date is on a Saturday) and I'd like to go out of town with my husband to celebrate. Having a bit of trouble coming up with/sorting through my options, though. Would love suggestions from the hive mind about where to go and what to do!

My budget is around $700 total for the entire shebang, for both me and my husband. I would prefer to do something (kind of) lavish over the course of three days than eke out the budget over a week.

We live in Chicago. I considered a staycation, but decided it wouldn't feel special enough, since we already do a lot of dining out, seeing shows, and generally taking advantage of the awesomeness of Chicago.

I'd prefer not to spend too much of the vacation in the car (maybe 3 hours tops, each way). Flights are fine, but will eat up budget. I'm undecided about a relaxing vibe versus a stimulating one, so feel free to suggest itineraries that are either, or a mix of both. I'm more interested in cultural/food/booze destinations than outdoors-y adventures (pretty walks are fine, but vigorous hikes are not my jam).

The most important thing is that the time should feel celebratory and special. So given all of that, if you were me, what festive thing would you do with 3-6 days, $700, within a 3 hour drive or a cheap flight from Chicago?
posted by merriment to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have suggestions for nice places close to Chicago (like Geneva IL or Door County WI), but they're more relaxing than celebratory. And while I love Geneva, I couldn't spend more than a day and a half there.

Personally? I'd book a weekend in Montréal. I did a quick check on packages and you can possibly do a flight+hotel for $350/pp. If you can squeak out a little more budget for food I'd totally look into it.

If your budget is firm, maybe Madison Wisconsin?
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:01 PM on April 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're willing to stretch your car trip to about 4 hours one-way, that will get to you Ann Arbor. The weekend of July 21st-23rd both the Ann Arbor Art Fairs and the Michigan Summer Beer Festival down the road in Ypsilanti are happening.

Art Fair is crowded and kinda crazy but is also great for street food, people watching and the occasional art find. Beer Fest is awesome. If your booze tastes swing toward craft beer I'd think you could have a wonderful celebratory weekend hanging in the park drinking Michigan beers then hitting a local restaurant to soak it all up.

Of course both these events the same weekend means hotels are going to be pricier than normal and possibly sell out, so you'd have to make a reservation soon. The hotels by the mall still have stuff available from $150ish per night currently.

Good luck and happy (early) birthday!
posted by thatquietgirl at 2:56 PM on April 17, 2017

Milwaukee could be a cool trip. It isn't Chicago, but it definitely has its charms. And it's much more accessible too. Kohler might also be a good choice. Depending on where you live in Chicago, Galena would be within your three-hour magic window as well.
posted by DrGail at 5:27 PM on April 17, 2017

So if you're looking for a resort, you can check out French Lick, Indiana. I've never been there, but my grandparents loved it. I'm guessing it may skew a little toward older folks, but I don't know for sure. Just wanted to throw it out there as an option.
posted by hydra77 at 6:40 PM on April 17, 2017

These are all awesome options. Thanks for giving me some directions to explore! Best answers for everyone!
posted by merriment at 7:57 AM on April 18, 2017

I've done both Madison and Milwaukee as short trips from Chicago, and in my experience Madison has the better downtown/food if you like to just wander around and I can think of a few nearby breweries. The Madison Concourse hotel has a separate floor with its very own happy hour that I really enjoyed. There's a couple of cute art museums (small but cute compared to Chicago), and the capital in walking distance. The botanic garden is also worthwhile.

I've yet to hit Talesin/Spring Green and House on the Rock near Madison, but that's a possibility.

If it was me planning, I'd probably do three days split between House on the Rock and Madison. As an alternate to Concourse, Hampton Inn has a nice king suite with a whirpool and is also walk-able to downtown (an extra few blocks) if the happy hour doesn't appeal.
posted by typecloud at 6:01 AM on April 21, 2017

Typecloud, you are SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE. Thank you for the lovely additional suggestions.
posted by merriment at 2:29 PM on April 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

For posterity, here's our plan for the b-day weekend! Thursday: tubing on the Sugar River in Albany, WI, Friday: New Glarus brewery and House on the Rock, Saturday: the Madison farmer's market and Cave of the Mounds (staying over at the Madison Concourse, thank you, Typecloud!), Sunday: the Milwaukee art museum and probably some more breweries. Thank you to everyone who suggested bits of the itinerary and offered so many good thoughts! Looking forward to a very festive 40th birthday!
posted by merriment at 5:07 AM on July 13, 2017

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