Quick vacation ideas?

I may have a few days off coming in July, and I thoght I might take a quick vacation. Trouble is, I’m having a hard time finding something I feel comfortable with. I also dislike trying to roam seven hundred travel sites looking for deals. Basically, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the car. (Perhaps no time at all, and just grab a flight somewhere.) It’s likely to be just me.

Basically, I know nothing of Florida (or for that matter, ) beaches, not having been to one since I was a child. Since I live in Atlanta, the beach seemed like a good bet (I could kinda go for some fresh seafood). However, I’d like to try a place not utterly packed in mid-July. Granted, such a place may not exist.

I considered that I mgiht be able to get a deal by not specifying where I was going, and just heading to the airport, clothes and stuff in my carry-on, and grabbing the first discounted or underused flight to a beach location.

Basically, any goopd ideas for a travel n3wb like me?

This is what my husband and I often do. We book the time off then search kayak.com or something similar a week before we leave and find the cheapest last minute flight. Don’t do it at the airport - doesn’t work that way anymore! You have to book before hand.

You can google ‘Last minute flight deals’ and get lots of good sites. Travelocity, Kayak, etc.

Cool. Assuming that works for me, do you have any hotel-finding tips?

You’re right, finding a beach location that’s not packed in mid-July could be tough. The crowds will be not quite so bad if you go mid-week instead of on a weekend, but it will still be crowded.

You might consider going north (where it’s cooler) instead of south. How about Maine? Fly to Boston and rent a car, it’s not a long drive from there. A beautiful coastline, and the seafood is fantastic!

If you don’t mind driving the 750-some odd miles, and the heat & humidity, the drive to Key West is gorgeous - a string of islands connected by bridges over crystal-clear aqua water and light-colored beaches. Reminds one of the Bahamas. It won’t be crowded because of the summer heat, and the town is small enough to easily walk it. The boat ride out to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson is a nice treat, and you get a little history of the Civil War and John Wilkes Booth (actually, of Samuel Mudd who aided Booth), to boot.

My family and I did Key West one Jul/Aug a few years back and it was great. We wanted a warm & humid destination, and were very pleased. Key West doesn’t get unbearably hot because of the Gulf breezes. The beaches aren’t fantastic there, but nice enough, and there are many beaches on the other Keys along the way. If you want fantastic beaches, head over to St. Pete Beach.

I recommend driving to near Miami on day 1, then do the drive on the Keys at a leisurely pace on day 2. It’s doable in one day if you’re a true Road Warrior like me, but be sure to drive the Keys during daylight hours to enjoy the fantastic scenery.

Good luck on your vacation, and let us know what you choose to do.

How picky are you? If budget is your primary motivator, use Priceline. You get a description of the hotel, number of stars, etc., and a super low rate. You don’t get to know the hotel until you buy.

Otherwise, try Travelocity and check the reviews before buying. They have some good information and a lot of people write reviews of their stay.

Or, stay in a hostel (that’s what we do). Cheap, meet lots of cool people, and they’re generally in good locations. Check out Lonely Planet for advice.

I would love to do that, but unfortunately I just don’t have the time. I have a grand total of four days off, including the weekend. I’d could go there, and then immediately leave.

For clarity’s sake that I can leave after work Wednesday, if I go in early, and then have until Sunday. There’s also a non-trivial chance I’d have to cancel all my plans and work, and it’s a rare week that I don’t get in 55-some-odd hours. This is one reason I aiming to avoid any drive time if possible: time travelling is time not spent actually enjoying myself.

I would check Groupon Getaways, and choose something that appeals. Usually they are very good deals on less well-known resorts and properties. The four-night Cozumel all-inclusive, for about $460, is appealing, as is the 4 nights at the “Palmas de Cortez”, for $335 (no meals included, but you do get a zipline tour).

I always thought “showing up at the airport” was the absolute most expensive way to fly. No?

It used to be that airlines would fill in empty seats for cheap at the last minute from people on standby, but the net businesses who do that for them have kinda killed that outlet. I think. It still may happen for seats that are booked but people miss their flights, but I imagine it’s a much rarer occurrence.

Fernandina Beach is historic AND not too crowded. It’s on the Atlantic side of Florida, right over the state line.

I recently spent a long weekend at a resort and loved it. It wasn’t all-inclusive as meals weren’t included, but it was an easy vacation. We were at Chateau Élan, which may be too close to home for you, but I bet you could find something similar easily.

I think Key West would be a great idea, we were there this past March and it was lovely. We stayed at Southwinds, but since they are a very small mom&pop place they are probably full up. I also know one of the bar tenders and rum specialist at a bar known for over 150 different rums [and killer burgers]. Of course you don’t have to stay on Key West itself, there are a whole string of keys, and a fair number of small motels dotting them so you can get a rather nice vacation along there somewhere if you try. You could fly into Miami and rent a car if you don’t want to drive.

smiling bandit - I’m in the Fort Lauderdale area. You can fly into Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach, and be less than an hour from a nice beach. Much of Fort Lauderdale beach is less than 10 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Of course, what ‘nice’ means is different for different people.

Do you want a laid back, quiet beach? Do you want lots of alcohol options? Do you want parties?

Be aware that it is very humid this time of year. People from out of town sometimes find it oppressive. And we have almost daily afternoon thunderstorms. But they pass, and it can be quite nice in the mornings and evenings.

If you ended up headed this way, feel free to post here or PM me if you want any more specifics.


Check Priceline for hotels in the main hotel zone.

Atlanta should have some competition on flights.

Caribbean tends to empty out a bit in July as hurricane season starts.

Well, I can’t say I’ve ever be been invited to a party. I hosted one once, but everyone fell asleep. It never occurred to me that beaches had character beyond “busy”

Good point. I’m not sure Atlanta is much better, though. :slight_smile:

Oh, sure they do!
South Beach has lots of party sections. Southern Fort Lauderdale beach has some pretty famous long term bars, like the Elbow Room.
A little more north and you have Beach Place.

North of that is a quiet, family section, a predominantly gay section, a section dominated by retired condo people…we’re all over the place here. :slight_smile:

Do you like to lay out and enjoy the sun? Play volleyball? Get drunk? People watch?
Do snorkeling? Scuba diving? Parasailing?


I’ve never really one any of it, so… maybe! I would like to try snorkeling. I drink, but I’m not really into “getting drunk”. I admit, though, that I tend to be totally “on” or completely “out” and asleep.

Ok…my part of the beach…Fort Lauderdale - is a good location for most of that. There are bars…everything from “loud music and party” to “there are only five other people here, but the staff is attentive!”. Ten minutes north, near Commercial Blvd, you can swim out to the reef for snorkeling without too much effort. Lots of good restaurants on and near the beach…some of them with outdoor seating.

I’m sure the other beaches in the area are great too, but I can speak to the specifics here. So…yeah. If you end up in this part of town, make sure to touch base with me.

Something my wife and I like to do when we have unexpected free time is to check into a nice hotel that has a pool for a few days. It could even be in the same city, but we like to go somewhere nearby that has cheaper hotel options than our city. Take the money you were going to spend on airfare and add it to your lodging budget, pack a swim suit and a book and you’re good to go.

Are you bent on a beach stay? Drivable from Atlanta, you have nice stuff to see in Kentucky (Corvette factory & museum, Mammoth Cave, Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger factory), Nashville (Country music) and Huntsville, AL (Space Center). If you want to range a bit further out, you can try Memphis (Graceland, Beale Street blues) and it’s probably not peak tourist-crowd season in New Orleans.