When you’re short on time but longing for a change of scenery, a quick getaway is just the thing to quell your thirst for adventure. Try one of these day trips to spend less time traveling, but feel a world away.
1. Harpers Ferry, W.V.
Immerse yourself in Civil War history, try white-water rafting, or traipse the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in picturesque Harpers Ferry, W.V.
This picturesque small town with a population of 281 is located where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet.
Visit the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which spans parts of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. According to the National Park Service website. Hike the Point to see views of all three states at the same time. The park is also home to Bolivar Heights, the site of the largest surrender of United States Troops in the Civil War, and the John Brown Fort, which was a prison, and ammunition supply house.
Visitors can also learn about Civil War history at the nearby Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest one-day battle in American history, which occurred Sept. 17, 1862.
Harpers Ferry also offers beautiful hiking trails, a quaint downtown with a variety of restaurants and shops, according to the West Virginia Tourism Office website. There are also ample opportunities for adventure, like white-water rafting and tubing on the Potomac River.
2. Asheville, N.C.
Interested in a Gilded Age estate and a city with a thriving arts and culture scene? Look no further than Asheville, N.C.
Asheville is known for its art and music offerings, but it also boasts the Blue Ridge Parkway, nearby lakes, skiing, horseback riding, and hiking activities, just to name a few.
Biltmore Estate, the former home of George Vanderbilt, is also in Asheville. The grand 19th-century castle has 250 rooms, including 43 bathrooms, and is built on an 8,000-acre property, according to the Explore Asheville tourism website.
The grounds have a winery, trails, and gardens. Right outside of the Biltmore Estate is the Biltmore Village, a historic district with shops, galleries, and restaurants.
The nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs from Virginia to North Carolina, offers a gorgeous scenic drive, beautiful hiking trails for hikers of all skill levels, waterfalls, biking trails, and scenic outlooks.
Visitors can spend additional time in nature with a meditative yoga hike, group hiking tours, or ziplining.
Art appreciators can try the city’s self-guided mural tour or head to the River Arts District, which has more than 200 art studios.
3. Mackinac Island, MI
The stunning beauty of the Great Lakes and unique historic charm makes for a unique vacation destination in Mackinac Island. The island is set on Lake Huron and has fine dining and shopping options, historical sites, a state park, and horse and carriage tours, according to the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau website.
Many of the island’s activities center around Lake Huron’s natural beauty, and tourists can enjoy exploring the lake by ferry, fishing on the water, kayak tour, parasailing, or a boat cruise.
Mackinac Island has two military forts, Fort Holmes and Fort Mackinac, used during the War of 1812, and there are several museums on the island and historical reenactment events. The island is known for its Victorian architecture, including charming cottages and bed and breakfasts.
Tourists can get a better taste of life in the 1800s at Mackinac Island’s antique carriage museum with a working blacksmith shop.
On the island, visitors can also choose from several horse and carriage tours, horseback riding lessons, or even the chance to drive your own horse and buggy.
4. Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe, a large lake on the California and Nevada borders, offers breathtaking views and endless outdoor fun for any season.
This destination has endless options, including lavish estates featured in movies, cross country skiing options, beaches, hiking trails, casino resorts, nearby hot springs, golf courses, nightlife, water sports, and helicopter rides, according to the Official Lake Tahoe Visitor Bureaus.
Explore the beautiful Emerald Bay State Park, Squaw Valley, which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, enjoy beautiful views at the top of a gondola, go horseback riding, or relax at the nearby hot springs.