Why book a flight to a touristy beach resort when you can try one of these off-the-beaten-path weekend escapes? By Maggie Shi
Rent a House
It has all the comforts of home but provides the excitement of something new. Renting a house for the weekend gives you plenty of freedom-cook, watch movies, take naps on the couch, play board games…the possibilities are endless. Most rentals are available on a nightly basis and come fully stocked with kitchen equipment, bedding, towels, and more-it's all up to the individual owners, so make sure you check what's included before booking. House rentals are also a great option if you're planning on getting away with a group; you'll have plenty of time and space to bond, and many larger rentals are cheaper than booking several individual hotel rooms.
Search homeaway.com for available properties and refine by date, size, and amenities. That three-bedroom lake house with a Jacuzzi and an outdoor deck you've been dreaming of? It can be yours-at least for a weekend.
Cruise to Nowhere
A cruise is always a great vacation option, but a weeklong affair is a big commitment. Try a cruise to nowhere-a quick one- or two-night getaway on a cruise ship that goes, literally, nowhere. There are no ports of call, so you can focus strictly on relaxation and enjoy the ship's amenities, including restaurants, spas, entertainment, shopping, swimming pools, and more. Sign up for a yoga class, watch a movie, hit the midnight buffet, and take in a comedy show-it's all right there under one roof. If you decide you love the cruise line, you can always book a longer vacation to the Bahamas or Alaska. Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and many other major cruise lines all offers cruises to nowhere from various cities.
A weekend in the woods communing with nature is the perfect antidote for your hectic daily life. First, decide how much you want to rough it: You can stay in a rustic cabin, book a site with room for your car or RV (which means you get the perks of outdoor camping without lugging all your equipment on your back), or just sling on a backpack, go for a hike, and pitch a tent. Some campgrounds offer bathrooms with running water and hot showers, while a more bare-bones option, such as a boat access-only island, may only have pit toilets and lack drinking water (bring your own). Whatever your style, once you're ensconced in nature, there's usually plenty to do-hiking, swimming, fishing, and the all-important s'more-making around the campfire. Check out reserveamerica.com to find campsites and make reservations.
Feeling lucky? Make like a high roller and head to a casino resort near you-they're located in most states in the country (find one at americancasinoguide.com). While amenities and types of games vary widely, you'll hit the jackpot if you seek out one that tries to replicate the Vegas experience-fancy restaurants, an all-you-can-eat buffet, upscale shops, and live entertainment. For example, The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, boasts restaurants by Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, marbled bathrooms, and a high-end spa offering a range of beauty and body treatments. The Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, has nine restaurants, a 42-inch plasma TV in every room, and a movie theater, and has hosted live performances by Melissa Etheridge, LL Cool J, and more.