Winter Escapes

People often ask me how it is I travel so much and my answer is almost always the same. It's not that I have weeks and weeks of PTO or an endless supply of sky miles. Honestly, I work two side jobs in addition to my full-time gig to keep my "travel fund" in business and am constantly watching flight prices to find the next best deal. Still, my advice to friends is this: take advantage of long weekends and cheap domestic flights. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a relaxing week in the Caribbean any day, but those quick getaways are key to maintaining sanity through the long, winter months in Minnesota. It's also usually a lot cheaper and may allow some of you with kiddos or demanding jobs to sneak away for a few days.

So in no particular order, here are my top 5 weekend getaway picks:

San Diego, CA

California seems like an obvious choice based solely on the unlimited availability of sunshine, beaches, and In-N-Out Burgers. Fly in Friday night and enjoy a relaxing dinner downtown within walking distance from your hotel or AirBnb. With endless pubs, breweries, and fresh seafood, there really is no wrong choice. On Saturday, hit up the beach on Coronado Island (my personal fave) and take a tour of the historic Hotel del Coronado (or skip the tour and grab brunch and champagne on their fabulous, ocean side patio). Explore the downtown district, walk through the shops at Ferry Landing, bike along the boardwalk, sample some gelato at Mootime Creamery, or cool off with a margarita at Miguel's Cocina. And if you're not completely spent or sunburnt at the end of the day, go back to my recommendations for Friday night and repeat. Spend your Sunday at the San Diego Zoo or if you're feeling especially adventurous, explore some of the city's hot spots on foot, bike, or trolley. 

Big Sky, MT

My family has graciously hosted us at their gorgeous home in Big Sky each year for Christmas and it has easily become one of my favorite places to visit. Minutes away, Big Sky Resort offers 5,800 acres of skiable terrain, affordable lodging, and some of the most spectacular views I've ever seen. If downhill is not your jam, I highly recommended staying at Lone Mountain Ranch, a perfect destination for those looking to disconnect for a few days. Stay in one of the historic cabins, cozy up next to the fire in the main lodge, or enjoy a relaxing massage at the spa. Feel like getting outside? Flyfishing, nordic skiing, sleigh rides, and snowshoeing are just a few of the options available to you during your stay. Yellowstone National Park is also only about 50 miles away, so if time allows, I suggest making a visit to see Old Faithful.

New York City, NY

If you haven't already, check out B's post In a New York MinuteThis is one of my favorite weekend getaway spots, but there is SO much to see and may require a return trip or two. Flights are usually pretty reasonable out of MSP, typically running around $200-$250 round trip. 

Las Vegas, NV

I'll be honest, I've never been a huge fan of the "Hangover" Vegas experience. I've never woken up to a tiger in my room or with someone else's last name, and I've probably gambled $20 in total, ever (which I'm sure I lost immediately). But there is also so much more to the City of Lights, all of which can be experienced in 48 hours or less. Just know that you will be running on little to zero hours of sleep most of the weekend. With that being said, I've yet to see a Cirque de Soleil show that I wasn't obsessed with (although the Michael Jackson "ONE" and "O" are my absolute favorites). Spend Saturday lying by the pool, exploring the forum shops at Caesar's Palace, or visiting the Secret Gardens at the Mirage. Dinner options are endless and cater to any and every palette. For happy hour, I would recommend drinks at The Chandelier bar at the Cosmopolitan (their variation of the classic Old Fashioned is unparalleled) among the shimmering, beaded curtains of lights. Scott Conant's Scarpetta usually requires a rezzy well in advance, but the Italian cuisine is well worth the hassle. For seafood and major ambience, check out Mastro's tree-house inspired Ocean Club at Aria. The chilled Alaskan crab legs alone will have you returning for more. Don't skip on dessert; the chocolate martini will not disappoint.

Food, shows, spas, comedy, concert...it's Vegas people, pick your poison.

Midwest Stay-cation

Who says you need to book a flight to sneak away for a few days. Some of my best weekends have been less than a few hours from my home base. Most recently, I took a trip with some gal pals to Elkorn, WI to bunk up at Camp Wandawega. The camp prides itself on being a rustic retreat versus a proper resort, and offers simple, yet immaculate accommodations. The camp is situated on acres of forest, wetlands, and has full access to one of the clearest lakes I've ever skinny dipped into. Sip coffee on your private patio, while spending a few hours pouring over a vintage puzzle or board game. Try archery, hatchet throwing, or take a canoe out for a spin. Cozy up in their shared tree house for a game of cards or sneak away to read a book by the fireplace. And if the place itself wasn't enough to win you over, the staff is unbelievably friendly and helpful, happy to make your stay one you won't ever forget. Wandawega really is one in a million, a true gem that has the ability to transport you back to a place of simpler times. Do yourself a favor and book a cabin. Seriously, do it. Like right now. 

I hope you find these suggestions helpful! Be sure to share your adventures with us, we'd love to hear from you!! #trouvailletravels 

XO, S

Stephanie Zillmer