A full-blown vacation can provide a much-needed opportunity to de-stress and recharge yourself, or even be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Those take a lot of planning and money, though, so they're not often practical as a spur-of-the-moment escape. Weekend getaways, on the other hand, can be as fun and impulsive as you need them to be.
1. Hit the Trail
Getting out and stretching your legs in the fresh air is a perfect antidote to a long week indoors. No matter where you live, there's likely to be a hiking trail or a park where you can spend the weekend happily rambling through grasslands or forest, or alongside the nearest body of water. Take along an NX System Camera, with its lightweight interchangeable lenses, to capture everything from the tiniest flower to the broadest, most breathtaking scenery. Pack a tent and sleep under the stars, or consult the Airbnb app for a casual, low-key place to spend the night. Don't forget sturdy boots, your favorite trail mix for snacking, and lots of water to help you stay hydrated.
2. Offbeat Attractions
Is there anything more innately American than a truly odd roadside attraction? You'll find them in every region, in varying degrees of strangeness. Giant ball of twine? Check. Basket factory shaped like a seven-story basket? Check. Guitar-playing giant robot? Check. Pick two or three within a convenient weekend's drive, and spend a couple of days glorying in the world of small-town kitsch. Your Galaxy Note® 4 has Multi-window capability, so you can look up your next stop while the crowdsourced Waze GPS app simultaneously guides you through local roads and traffic. Up the fun factor by packing along the funkiest hats and sunglasses you can find, and a selection of childhood-nostalgic snacks.
3. Winery Tour
Thanks to improved grape varieties and advances in cultivation, winery tours are an easy weekend option almost anywhere. Stroll through the scenic vineyards, dally in the tasting rooms, and seek out local chefs who work with the wines of their region. Some areas offer bus tours of local wineries in season, so you can sample the wares to your heart's content. If you're driving yourself, take full advantage of the "spit bucket" and stay safe. If you live in a wineless area, or if wine isn't your thing, substitute craft distilleries or microbreweries for an equally enjoyable outing. Load up a cooler with artisanal meats and cheeses, to complement your favorite finds.
4. The Destination Restaurant
Even if your favorite restaurant meal ordinarily comes in a cardboard takeout container, the work of a truly good chef can make for a lifelong memory. Wherever you live, there's probably a "destination" restaurant near enough to serve as the centerpiece of your weekend away. Consult food-loving friends, the Yelp! app on your Galaxy Tab® S, or—if you're going all-out—the Michelin app. Even if you never do it again, you'll be in for a life-changing experience that can transform your appreciation of food. Some restaurants will even let you bring along that special bottle from your winery tour, though you should expect to pay a “corkage” fee.
5. Chasing History
No matter where you live, the scene you see outside your window is a thin veneer laid over centuries of history. Chasing that history can lead to some of the most fascinating weekend getaways. Most of them don't center around great battlefields and national monuments. Instead, think small. Look for local museums and historic properties that embody the past, rather than telling you about it. The daily life of earlier Americans is more vivid and real when it's right in front of your eyes. Some even offer accommodations, so you can spend the night surrounded by 18th- or 19th-century trappings. It'll resonate more if you have context, so pick out historic maps or books by local historians to pack along with you.
6. The Bucket List
Is there something you've always wanted to do? Climbing Mount Everest isn't exactly a weekend project, but you might find other "bucket list" opportunities closer to home. Perhaps you've dreamed of taking to the track with a professional race driver, spending the day on a tall ship, parachuting from an airplane, or visiting a legendary music venue. Don't forget to capture the moment on video, so you can use the Vine app on your Galaxy Note® 4 to share it with your envious friends. Bring appropriate accessories, such as a swimsuit and sunscreen if you're on the water, or binoculars if you're scouting wildlife on its own turf. Don't forget to journal your experience, to keep the memories fresh.
7. Follow Your Nose
Sometimes, the best getaways have no plan at all. Just point the car out of town, pick a direction, and see where it leads you. Follow those back roads you've always wondered about, and explore small towns and neighborhoods you've previously driven past or flown over. The Waze app on your Galaxy S 5 will keep you from getting lost, and the Hotels.com or Booking.com apps can help you find a place to spend the night. This kind of unplanned ramble requires a leap of faith, but leaves plenty of room for you to experience moments you could never have anticipated. Fill the glove compartment with snacks, put down the convertible's top, and tie that scarf over your hair. It's time for adventure.
Photo Credits: Kris Robertson/Demand Media
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