We may not all be fortunate enough to live in wine country, but you probably live closer than you think to a local vineyard, micro-brewery or distillery. Spend a few days exploreing the art of beverage making. Take a tour, try the concoctions and sample suggested menu pairings. Call the brewery for lodging recommendations and even restaurants that feature their products. Some good spots to try include: the Kettlehouse Brewing Company in Missoula, Montana; Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland; Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon; Moab Brewery in Moab, Utah; Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Washington; Sonoita Vineyards in Elgin, Arizona; Dakotah Winery near Gainesville, Florida; and Kite Hill Vineyards in Carbondale, Illinois.
Is there a piece of little-known history right in your backyard (or at least within a relatively close drive)? If you're not sure, check out the extensive list on the National Register of Historic Places. Pack up the family and hit the road to see some of our country's hidden treasures. Whether you're into historic districts or Civil War history, a landmark is waiting to be rediscovered by you.
You don't need a passport to experience some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, but you may need a map. From the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska to the Pinelands National Reserve in New Jersey, nature is calling you to explore, admire and stand in awe. You can find a list of national parks at the National Park Foundation website.
Some mini-vacations are meant to be relaxing, while others are meant to be invigorating. If you're ready to push yourself physically, find a running or walking race in a place you'd like to visit and plan a weekend trip around it. Arrive a day early to scope out the course, and stay a day late to explore the area. Visit RunningInTheUSA.com to search for a race near you.
Finding a restaurant chain or two to visit on the weekend is easy, but it takes a little effort to find some more unique options. Garner some recommendations for two or three fabulous restaurants in a town you don't frequent and pack your bags. Go to dinner at that amazing Italian restaurant that you read about in the paper. The next day, grab some beignets and coffee from the French bakery that usually has a line around the corner. And, of course, you can't pass up a scoop of homemade ice cream at the mom and pop shop in the town square. What better way to spend a weekend than as a gastronomic tourist? Bon appetit!
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