Turn your weekend getaway or mini vacation into an adventure

Handsome man at the top of a bridge over a highway

I’m heading to Las Vegas as I’m writing this for work for the rest of the week. Even though it’s for business, I still like to spend my off hours enjoying the city I’m visiting. I treat it like a mini-vacation. Sometimes you don’t have enough time, money or both to do a week or longer vacation. You can take advantage of any long weekends you may get through statutory holidays or by taking a couple of days off of work.

There are some trips you can do in three or four days that can energize you, or work great as a surprise for Valentine’s Day or a special birthday.

My main caution when you’re going away for a short time: Stay away from places that are in a different time zone (like I have to for this trip!). It’s not enough time to adjust, and you’ll feel tired when you get back.

These suggestions work if you want to travel alone or with one or a couple more people. I’ve left out all-inclusive resorts because I’ve written about them in a few posts. I’ve also left off a staycation because I touched on it in Plan last minute travel like a boss and will cover it in detail in another post.

For all suggestions, Google or check Groupon and LivingSocial for any deals.

Learning adventures

Return to nature

Attractive guy with jeans and white jersey next to a river

Almeria, Spain

Find a quiet cabin somewhere where you can set up camp and take in nature at its finest. There are many places within reach, across the world, to spend a few days getting back to basics.

  • If it’s warm: Fish, camp out, roast marshmallows, bird watch and do a little hiking. Check for guided tours of the area.
  • If it’s cold: Ice fish, sit by a fire, paint (even if you’ve never really done it before!), snowshoe or ski.

For example, the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York and Canada has all these options.

If you really want to get into the nature spirit, go on a wildlife learning retreat. Spend the weekend learning about animals and nature, and subjects like nature photography and writing. In some of them, you also prepare your own meals as a group and learn how to kayak.

For additional deals for any learning adventure:

By the sea

Young shirtless athletic man jumping in water by ocean shore

Sicily, Italy

If you are within driving distance from water, think about a water adventure.

Go kayaking, rafting, surfing, wind sailing, or deep-sea fishing, and diving. In some places around the world, depending on where you live, you can even whale watch.

Some places offer great eco-adventures for a long weekend like in parts of the USA (California), Canada (British Columbia), South Africa and Australia to name a few.

Cooking classes

One amazing way to eat well and learn as you go is to take a cooking class. If you don’t know how to cook, you can start with the basics. Or if you do, try stepping out of your comfort zone and learning new recipes, you can find cooking classes in many major cities.

Some courses offer two-three nights’ stay in their package price, along with breakfast and the meal(s) you make.

Book ahead of your trip to make sure there’s space.

Expand your cultural knowledge


Guggenheim Museum, New York

You can find a cultural hub anywhere in the world. If you don’t already know, Google what a city or town is known for and book it! From theater, music, food, art, dance, wildlife or education, you can take in an enlightening and entertaining weekend.

Even though I’m on a business trip, I will be taking in a show, eating some of the excellent food, and going to the Grand Canyon before I leave. People mostly think of gambling when they think of Las Vegas, but there is so much more.

Pamper yourself (reasonable and indulgent options)

Spa days

If you really need to relax and unwind, spas are a way to go. Find a hotel or bed and breakfast that has a well-reviewed spa attached to it or within quick walking distance. Ideally, you want to find one that has water features included with your spa service. You can take advantage of swimming pools, saunas, and steam rooms as part of your package.

If you’ve never been to a spa before, or haven’t been in a while, you want to try it out. You may never look back, especially if you have stress. Spa treatments can make you feel a million dollars, and some of them seem like they cost almost that much!

At home treatments can help you create your spa day at home. How to give yourself an amazing spa day from can show you how to do it.

Foodie adventures


Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Check sites like Tripadvisor, OpenTable, Zomato and Yelp (there are lots, these are just a few examples) for the best restaurants in the areas you’re visiting. The data comes from reviews from people that have visited before. Check online for local food markets, farms, and any food festivals or tours that are happening at that time.

What better way to get an authentic food experience than from someone who lives in the area you’re visiting? There are a few websites that will pair travelers with residents for dinner in their home.  Sites like EatWith or BonAppetour are great sources to check and see if anything like this is available in the city you’re visiting.

Get some additional tips on my post Eat like a foodie when you travel.

Shop till you drop

If money’s not an object, go to one of the top shopping districts closest to you. They’re almost everywhere now! New York, Milan, Paris, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Miami, Hong Kong, and so much more. It doesn’t even have to be clothes shopping; spend a weekend looking for furniture to redecorate a room in your place or go to the Caribbean for some great prices on jewelry.

If money is an object, and it won’t make you feel like you’re missing something, go anyway and window shop. It never hurts to plan for your dream room or wardrobe.

Wine or beer weekend

I’ve gone wine tours in California, New York, Ontario, British Columbia, France, Italy, and Austria. I’ve also tried beer tours in Germany and Ireland. I have liked all I’ve been on so far. Not all are created equal, but they are all experiences. The food offered at some of them is excellent too.

You want to stay on the property if possible or within walking distance.

Healthy exploration

Get sporty

people snowboarding on the snow

Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Why not get fit while you’re taking a few days off, especially if you don’t feel you have enough time during your busy schedule. Go on an organized fitness retreat. Check out Money Crashers top list of fitness retreats on a budget.  There are locations around the world, depending on where you are from you can find one that works for you close to home.

  • If you prefer to do something on your own: book a place that offers you the workout options you prefer.
  • If it’s warm: Go hiking, swim, kayak, snorkel, surf, hang glide, cycle, the possibilities are endless.
  • If it’s cold: snowshoe, ski, ice skate, snowboard, go hiking or on a cave exploration (especially if you’re anywhere near Iceland!).

Serenity now

There are different levels of healthy living retreats that depend on what you want. You can learn stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, stretching, and have consultations on fitness and nutrition. Or you can amp it up and learn all that plus get acupuncture and give up wheat, alcohol and red meat for the weekend. For some, it might seem devastating to have to give up everything, but it’s only for a weekend and it’s a great way to detox.

The top 10 wellness retreats around the world lists the best ones in the world; from here you can search for deals on reasonable similar places.

These are some of my ideas for a weekend getaway or mini-vacation, what are some of yours?

29 replies »

  1. Thank you Aldo for writing a great blog and providing a variety of options for all kinds of travellers. Speaking of Las Vegas, I found out that there is so much more to do in the city and surrounding area than just gamble. Two years ago, I stayed in Vegas for a week and barely had the time to gamble since I was so busy immersing myself with sightseeing and eating at nice restaurants in the city, visiting Death Valley, Grand canyon, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Marko! I am glad you found the blog great. I appreciate it. I agree about Las Vegas. I don’t gamble and find there is so much more to see and do there. The food is exceptional in some places. It’s a really great place! Thank you for your comment


  2. Awesome article Aldo. Thanks for mentioning all the important websites and for sharing all the travel tips. Well done ! Traveling for work this week as well so I’ll take you up on some.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent tips! I never thought of some of these ideas for a getaway. I will admit to being the one that likes the spa days and shopping ones! But I like the idea of learning and a health retreat as one of my next ones

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot! Spas and shopping weekends are a lot of fun but I find the learning and health retreats more interesting because you can’t fit them in as easily into a day as you can a spa or shopping.


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