Make miles of memories this summer
By Sydni Ellis
Summertime is sipping an ice-cold strawberry margarita. It’s wearing a brand-new swimsuit and a perfectly floppy straw hat. It’s relaxing in cold water while the hot Texas sun beats down on you. It’s making memories that will last all year! But this year, summertime—and that vacation you’ve been planning—looks a lot different. Trade an international voyage for a few hours without the kids, an all-inclusive resort for a kitchen blender, and a lakeside party on Fourth of July for an inflatable kiddie pool in the backyard (complete with bits of grass and a few mosquitoes), and you’ll have my summer trip this year. Honestly, it’s paradise compared to spending another second inside!
If you are one of the 50 percent of people who canceled travel plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic still going on throughout the world, then you can relate. However, that doesn’t mean we have to completely give up on scoring much-needed rest and relaxation out of the house. Load your family in the car and set out on a driving getaway this month! Check out some nearby sights and enjoy a few days inside a charming inn or luxurious cabin.
Begin your trip in Santa Fe, N.M., about 10 hours west of northeast Collin County. Santa Fe is a historical town with Native American, Old Spain and Wild West roots. Book a room at Casa Culinaria: The Gourmet Inn near downtown Santa Fe. Walk in and breathe the sweet aroma of vanilla, saffron and lemongrass spritzed in every room. You’ll love the one-of-a-kind guest room, each with its own style featuring unique artistic and cultural details. Throughout the inn, you can spot family-owned antiques
and artwork from private collections, as well as carefully tended private gardens. Casa Culinaria also offers guests a “gastronomic experience,” including a changing gourmet breakfast menu, an afternoon
teatime, nighttime tapas, and an amazing, shared tasting menu on the weekends. Room prices vary. ccsantafe.com.
When you do venture out of the inn, be sure to visit the Santa Fe Plaza, known as the heart of the city. Check out Indian and Spanish markets, shop for custom-beaded jewelry and handmade clothes, and grab dinner in a local restaurant. You can also learn more about the Spanish colonial times at the San Miguel Chapel, the oldest church in the U.S. which is made out of the iconic Santa Fe adobe. Across the street is the Oldest House in the U.S., which offers a glimpse into life in the 1600s. And nearby, visit the El Rancho de las Golondrinas, an amazing living history museum located on 200 acres of a rural farming valley.
For a change of pace, embrace nature by spending the night near the birds. Drive approximately 400 miles from the Metroplex to Getaway 9 in Mountain View, Ark. for a chance to sleep in a fancy treehouse. Go across the wooden bridge to get to your cabin, which is nestled in the trees on the side of Dodd Mountain. This fairytale-like lodging sleeps up to four guests, with one bathroom and cold A/C for the summertime. Inside is a mix of modern amenities with a rustic touch, creating a totally cozy ambiance. Drink coffee while enjoying the view from the porch swing on the deck in the mornings, and sip wine inside the jacuzzi tub in the evenings. Average price is $150/night. getaway9.com.
During your trip, explore the historic downtown area, with live music, local restaurants, and antique shops. Or, challenge yourself at Loco Ropes, a treetop adventure park where you can spend hours mastering the ropes course with more than 30 challenges. Other outdoors activities include biking on the famous 50-mile Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, fly fishing on the White River, and hiking through the Ozarks.
If you are looking for a more lavish experience, head to Blue Beaver Luxury Cabins in Broken Bow, Okla., less than 3 hours from the area. These decadent lodgings have everything you need for a high-class stay, complete with southern charm. Fit a big family in The Bentley, containing five bedrooms, and pretty farmhouse décor. Or, go on a romantic retreat inside Texas Time, a cabin that looks like it came straight from HGTV, with vaulted ceilings, natural wood beams and shiplap, a huge walk-in shower with two showerheads, a patio with a hot tub and a cozy wood burning fire pit. (Pro tip: They will provide ingredients for s’mores and firewood if you request it in advance). Another option is Beaver’s Creek, a lovely, two-bedroom cabin that allows pets. So, you can chill out with your entire family, then take Princess on a hike or swim with you. Prices vary. bluebeavercabins.com.
Ready to rough it outdoors? Beavers Bend State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Broken Bow Lake, is just a few minutes away from the cabins. Hike through the pine and hardwood forests. Jump into the clear blue water. Go canoeing, water skiing, scuba diving or floating through the water on a tube. This is also a great place to explore on horseback, or to simply wander around with a camera or a paintbrush and canvas, letting nature inspire you.
Unfortunately, all summer vacations have a downside: they can get extremely hot! Beat the heat by taking the family to the beach instead! Drive 5 hours south to Galveston Island and check in at Barbara Hyman’s gorgeous beachfront condo on East Beach. This 1,200 square-foot space sleeps six, with two bedrooms, three bathrooms and three balconies. You will love admiring the gorgeous city skyline, the Gulf and the bay, cooking meals in the renovated kitchen or entertaining friends in the tasteful living area. There is also access to a community pool if you want to take a break from the sand. Average price is $243/night. vrbo.com/251377.
In the morning, lather on sunscreen and step outside—now, you’re just a few minutes away from the beach! Walk out on the fluffy white sand, explore some of the 32 miles of coastline or try your hand at boogie boarding. Want to relax instead? This is a great place to lay out on a towel, soak up rays and catch up on your summer reading (this definitely beats your backyard!). The new East Beach Cantina and Rentals offers chair, umbrella and cabana rentals, as well as refreshments, sunscreen and more beach fun for purchase. When you’ve had your fill of relaxing (is this possible?), then walk to The Strand on Seawall Blvd., home of shopping, dining and beautiful Victorian architecture to admire. Don’t miss Pleasure Pier, where you and the kids will love riding the amusement rides, playing midway games and grabbing a bite to eat on the beach. At the end of the day, head back to your condo, throw your towels in the washer and fall asleep to the peaceful sound of the waves.
This summer, you can still get that blissful vacation-mode feeling without putting yourself at risk of getting sick. With a little extra planning, some social distancing and a lot of hand washing, you can have the perfect getaway. Step on the gas and turn up the tunes—we’re going to make some amazing summer memories, after all!