Birthday solo vacation ideas needed
April 28, 2023 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I have a milestone birthday coming up and I want to take a solo mini-vacation in the US. Where should I go?

I’ve had a stressful couple of years (who hasn’t?) and I want to treat myself to a relaxing solo vacation for my birthday this summer or possibly early fall—maybe four days. Ideally I’d like to go somewhere where I can read a lot, be outside, relax, maybe get some spa treatments, be in nature, have good food with a minimum of effort. Anywhere in the US is fair game, flying there is fine, but I don’t want to rent a car once I’m there and I don’t want to camp out. Let’s pretend there aren’t any budget restrictions, because I do have some money available for this (but super expensive isn’t a requirement).
Where should I go?
posted by bookmammal to Travel & Transportation around United States (21 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
It's not the U.S., but Bermuda checks my boxes for what you describe. It will be humid, but less so in June.
posted by jgirl at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

Taos, New Mexico seems pretty walkable if you stay in town.
posted by soelo at 8:45 AM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

You should come to Minneapolis and stay in North Loop. The Hewing Hotel has a great roof pool and really cozy rooms. Tons of great food you can walk to. A quick walk to the Mississippi River, or take the light rail to Minnehaha Falls for a much bigger park with some waterfalls. There's a new bathhouse across the river, a 1.4 mile walk but also easy enough to take a rideshare or bike share.
posted by advicepig at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

You can fly into Asheville - excellent food and breweries, and some great nature within the city limits - including on the grounds of the Biltmore estate. I've never gone to any, but there are some pretty nice looking spas. I'd go in the early Fall rather than summer to avoid crowds.
posted by coffeecat at 8:59 AM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Fly to San Francisco, take the train into the city, then stay at the Lodge at the Presidio. It's inside a National Park and you'll have access to nature (ocean and bay beaches, trees), plus all the access to great food, spas, etc that the city has to offer.
posted by vunder at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2023 [5 favorites]

(I should add that flying into OAK for an SF trip is also fairly easy.)
posted by vunder at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2023

If you're not renting a car, it's going to be somewhat difficult to get truly into nature, since that's usually well outside the walkable parts of the city. The exception is going to be where nature is part of why the city exists in the first place, and by that, I'm generally referring to ski resorts, which are generally smallish towns, but with excellent food (because the hospitality economy is supported by affluent out-of-towners); good quasi-public transportation (glorified hotel shuttles, but still...); easily accessible hiking, cycling, and climbing (because there's a big mountain right in the middle of all the hotels); and conveniently-located airports (those affluent out-of-towners don't want to fly into a big airport and drive another three hours). As an added bonus, late summer and early fall are the off-season, so prices are generally lower. And also, because they're at altitude, it's not as blisteringly hot and humid as most of the rest of the country is in August.

Southwest flies into Steamboat Springs and Montrose, Colorado. United flies to Montrose and Vail, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. American goes to all of the above, and Delta goes to all of the above, plus Aspen, Colorado, and Kalispell, Montana. Those would be the first places I would look, although I've never been to any of them, so I'll let people who have argue for their individual merits.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2023 [3 favorites]

kevinbelt's comment went in the same direction I was going to go. There's not a long list of places where you can easily get in to nature AND you wouldn't need a car to do it. But they do exist! If you can get yourself to Telluride, for instance, you'll have everything you need to achieve all your list items.
posted by saladin at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2023

Mohonk Mountain House in NY is a possibility. You can get there without a car in all sorts of ways that let you trade your time for money, as their directions page gives you everthing from take a bus to take a helicopter. If you're a place that has direct airport access to Newburgh / Stewart airport it's even easier.

It's not the cheapest, but I think it checks all your boxes - especially in early fall.
posted by true at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also came in to say Mohonk Mountain House! You can fly into a few different NYC airports and either bus to a nearby town then uber/private car or private car all the way from one of the airports.
posted by greta simone at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2023

Some years ago, I took a solo vacation and stayed at Rancho de la Osa, a dude ranch in southern Arizona, and had an absolutely lovely time. It has changed hands, perhaps a few times, since then but still looks very nice.
posted by DrGail at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2023

2nd kevinbelt's thought processes. Steamboat is lovely and the airport isn't far away from the town although it is a tiny airport so i don't know how many summer flights there are.

Montrose is 45-60 minutes drive away from Telluride (There is a Telluride adjacent airport but I don't think there is much in the way of public commercial flights).

Park City, Utah is where the Sundance film festival is held and is a big resort town on the other side of the mountains from Salt Lake City. It too would be a 45-60 minute drive but there should be lots of options for transportation considering SLC is a big city and Park City attracts tons of visitors.

Apsen is an amazing suggestion as there is a free public bus that will take you from the airport to the heart of Aspen in a few minutes. Like Park City, the ski slopes literally end at the beginning of the town. There will be tons of excellent food and spa choices.
posted by mmascolino at 12:51 PM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Harpers Ferry might work for you. It's accessible by commuter rail or airport shuttle from Washington DC, and there are Airbnbs and a couple of hotels that are walkable to the historical town areas, restaurants and shops, hiking trails etc. There are a couple of places that do e-bike rentals that would allow you to get out and explore a bit further afield. 4 days would allow time to see the sight and also have plenty of time for chillaxing in a quaint setting.
posted by drlith at 12:51 PM on April 28, 2023

You could fly into Seattle and then use the ferry system to access quieter places (eg renting a place on one of the San Juan islands).
posted by janell at 1:07 PM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Not sure where you are coming from, but I have a couple of ideas. First, some general stuff:

First, early September, after Labor Day, is a great time for this -- kids are back in school and so families aren't vacationing, but weather is usually pretty good (depending on where you are going), and many lodges are still open with services (but check hours in advance, of course).

I'd avoid the southeast and Caribbean because of hurricane season. I'm also thinking it might be good to avoid wildfire prone areas if you go in fall, but that's harder to isolate.

Next, a few specific places:

The (horribly-named) Amtrak Empire Builder goes through Glacier National Park. Perhaps you could fly to a city along the line and take a train to Glacier and stay in a lodge in the Park. I don't know how you'd connect from the Amtrak station to the lodge, but if the idea's intriguing enough, I bet there's some information on that somewhere.

And for something a bit different: you could travel to Portland, Oregon, stay downtown or somewhere on the Max line in a nice hotel, and then use the Max to get to Washington Park and Forest Park (the biggest or one of the biggest urban parks, I think?). You can walk for miles in the woods there. You could also take the CAT bus to Multnomah Falls and do some waterfalls-viewing and hiking there. You could also visit other gardens in the city and bike along the river in Waterfront Park (for some urban nature). And the good food and spa parts will be easy. The weather is usually pretty perfect that time of year.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

The Omega Institute is accessible by train.
posted by oceano at 2:23 PM on April 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

Nthing taos/Santa fe
posted by brujita at 2:28 PM on April 28, 2023

Nthing Minneapolis in the summer, I had a good time some years ago when there was a music festival along some street - many bands playing on street stages, some free, local bars/restaurants along the street. Cool coffee houses too. Of course this was about 25 years ago so who knows
posted by TimHare at 7:09 PM on April 28, 2023

Umpteenthing Taos and/or Santa Fe. It’s everything on your list.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on April 29, 2023

Niagara Falls!
posted by kiwi-epitome at 6:01 AM on April 29, 2023

Fly to Seattle, then take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Stay in or near the downtown. Absolutely beautiful, relaxing, exactly what you’re looking for.
posted by lunasol at 11:39 AM on April 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Indoor wiggle extracting machine   |   Convince me to love Sweeney Todd? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.