Top Weekend Getaways for Entrepreneurs
So you say you don't have time to take a vacation. That you're too busy running the ship while your crew sails off on cruises and drives to theme parks and relaxes at vacation resorts. It's not your thing, you say--the business would fall apart if you were away.
Maybe you're right: You know your business better than anyone else. Still, you're only human, and all of us can use a break every now and then. And while we understand you might not have time for a long vacation, you still need some time away to refresh and recharge, so why not take a weekend trip? A quick three-day outing--or at least an overnighter? Either way, if you're open to recharging, no matter where you live or what your personality type, there's some weekend wonderment out there tailor-made for you. We're just sure of it.
And, no, nobody paid us to put these places on this list--we wish!--this is just a gathering of great getaways we selected at random. It's been designed to inspire you to go anywhere, be it to one of the following destinations, or even your Aunt Martha's.
So check out our top weekend getaways for entrepreneurs--and don't forget to send us a postcard.
The place: Bear Mountain State Park in Bear Mountain, New York
The personality: For the nature-minded entrepreneur
Why go here: If you're trying to escape the cement jungle of New York City, this place is conveniently located 42 miles from the edge of Gotham. It's a popular place--more people come here than visit Yellowstone because of it's geographic distance from the Big Apple--and there's a good reason it's well-liked: It's got some of the most breathtaking and beautiful scenery in the U.S. You'll see mountain range after mountain range--the Appalachian Trail passes through here, after all--and the Hudson River lumbers through the valley. Trees, not billboards and panhandlers, are everywhere you look. It's a remarkably calming place, especially if you calm yourself down in the historic Bear Mountain Inn overlooking Hessian Lake. You can go to the Bear Mountain Zoo, visit the adjacent Harriman State Park, hike for miles, swim, bike and boat. If you need to get away without getting too far away, this is a sure bet.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: Affluent entrepreneurs may want to consider the Kennebunkport Inn (www.kennebunkportinn.com) in Kennebunkport, Maine. Its 49 guest rooms are near shopping, dining, historic sites and the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Nostalgic entrepreneurs may want to head to Salem, New Hampshire, and check out Canobie Lake Park (www.canobie.com), a relatively small, family-friendly amusement park that's been around for 104 years, featuring 85 rides, a water park, a hand-painted antique carousel and an authentic steam train.
THE DEEP SOUTH
The place: Jekyll Island, off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia
The personality: For the island-loving entrepreneur
Why go here: If you've always dreamed of vacationing on an island paradise, this is the place. Only 35 percent of the island is developed, meaning that migratory birds still flock here, and you can find sea turtles roaming about and hermit crabs crawling on the beach. The island has plenty of "civilization," too--there are eight hotels here, including national chains like the Days Inn, as well as restaurants and shops--but you won't find a single street packed with Wal-Marts, McDonalds or Starbucks. Instead, you'll find that you can fish, horseback ride, bike along 20 miles of trails, boat or just collapse on the beach. And if you decide to take this island vacation, you'll be joining a long line of successful entrepreneurs who also traveled here to bask in paradise: Numerous 19th-century millionaire entrepreneurs used to vacation here, including Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: If you've got money to burn, consider Amelia Island off the coast of Florida, an upscale vacation destination, where you'll find spas, golf courses, unspoiled and uncrowded beaches, and fine food. If you're looking for southern hospitality, there's nowhere more southern than Savannah, Georgia (www.savannah-visit.com), a city shaded by massive historic oak trees, azaleas, crepe myrtles and palm tree. If this city's mansions don't charm the socks off you, the brick walkways and park benches will. Like a trip back in time, you may find yourself looking around for Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates.
The Not-So-Deep South, the Great Lakes and the Central States
THE NOT-SO-DEEP SOUTH
The place: Mammoth Cave National Park, in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
The personality: For the entrepreneur who's used to the feeling of the walls closing in
Why go here: Kentucky is a very scenic state to begin with, with its bluegrass-covered, mountainous terrain and lush forests of black walnut, green ash and numerous other botanical delights. But the beauty of Mammoth Cave is really just doing something you don't normally do every day--go underground into some spectacular caverns. And comparing the trip to running a business is irresistible--that is, if you've ever felt like the walls have been closing in, if you often feel like you're in the dark or if you typically describe your business as operating "off the radar." It's also a place to really challenge your physical and mental prowess in a relatively safe way. If you take the Wild Cave tour, for instance, you're bound to confront your inner fears as you crawl at great lengths through some spaces just nine inches high--if you haven't figured it out, this particular tour isn't for the faint-of-heart. But there are plenty of other tours that allow you to focus on the caves and not on your stamina. Either way, you're visiting the longest-recorded cave system in the world--more than 360 miles of mapped trails--and a place where 19th-century entrepreneurs did their best to find a way to make money from the caves. One man started a potassium nitrate plant here in the early 1800s, and in the 1830s, one entrepreneur built an underground hotel that stayed in business until 1916, when it burned down. In 1842, a physician installed a short-lived tuberculosis hospital here. There's plenty to think about--and see, if your guide has a lantern--at Mammoth Cave, more than enough for a weekend. And since it's a national park, you can avoid hotels and partake in the camping experience, making you ever more grateful for your air-conditioned office upon your return.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia, (www.blackwaterfalls.com) has family-friendly prices for family-minded entrepreneurs. The park features a waterfall that plunges five stories, then weaves its way through an eight-mile-long gorge. The water actually looks black, thanks to the acid covering the riverbed, created from hemlock and red spruce needles. But aside from being a striking place to see--it's one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia--there's horseback riding, hiking, nature programs, fishing and pretty much anything an outdoorsy entrepreneur would want to do. You could also check out the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which consists of 100 miles of barrier islands along the state's Atlantic shoreline (www.outerbanks.org). The community of Nagshead is one of the most popular destinations (www.townofnagshead.net), where you can rent cottages on unspoiled beaches and still be close to attractions ranging from garden-variety shopping plazas and lighthouses to Kitty Hawk, where aviation entrepreneurs Wilbur and Orville Wright once proved that the sky's the limit.
THE GREAT LAKES REGION
The place: Indianapolis
The personality: For the entrepreneur who wants to spend quality time with the kids
Why go here: Even if you happen to live in Indianapolis, you may not be aware that your local children's museum isn't merely amazing--it's also the world's largest. You could easily spend a day at the museum, which features 11 galleries and offers kids the chance to dig for dinosaur bones with an actual paleontologist. The next day, you could head off to the Indianapolis Zoo to admire their recently opened $10 million Dolphin Dome, which allows you to observe the dolphins underwater, in a room in the middle of the pool, giving visitors an almost 360-degree view of the ocean's most popular mammal. Want to do something really different? Entrepreneurs and their spouses and children (if they're at least 14 years old and four and a half feet tall) can sign up for the in-water program and swim with the dolphins. And, hey, if there's time, check out President Benjamin Harrison's 1875 historic mansion, where he lived for much of his adult life, before and after his stint in the White House.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Holland, Michigan (www.holland.org), (or almost any spot along the western coast of Michigan), is a can't-miss for the windmill-loving entrepreneur--and you know who you are. Holland is a town that celebrates its Dutch heritage with shops, beach activities and, yes, windmills. Or, if you're feeling a bit stressed-out, CanoeBay in Chetek, Wisconsin, (www.canoebay.com) is a great place to check out. This resort is all about getting away from it all, although you'll be getting a dose of some tough love: There are no cell phone towers for miles, and there are no telephones in the rooms. (If you're totally desperate to connect to civilization, you can use the internet connection in the library.) But since the whole idea of coming here is to truly get away from it all, chances are, you will forget about work. There are 280 acres of woods to explore, and there are three private lakes, where you can swim, canoe, kayak or row in the boats provided for guests. It's kind of like vacationing at an outdoor library where peace and quiet are the order of the day.
THE CENTRAL STATES
The place: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills region of Kansas
The personality: For the reflective entrepreneur
Why go here: If you're longing for a good beach, some great fishing holes, a few trendy bars and restaurants, or some other typical vacation activity, this isn't the place for you. In fact, let's make it clear: If you're looking for excitement and you come here, you'll be bored. But if you really just want to get away and spend some quality time thinking about your next business move while you're recharging, this could be your place. Everywhere you look you'll see prairies--miles of them--and while at first glance you may just see a field of grass, if you give it a chance, you'll learn that it's not just grass--it's 40 to 60 different species of grass, mixed with over 300 species of weeds and wildflowers. Lurking in the prairie are insects, lizards, snakes, deer, fox, bobcats and coyotes. This also happens to be one of the rarest and most endangered ecosystems in the world, and an ideal place to visit if you're into hiking or observing nature at its most natural. There's also an hour-long tour of an 1881 limestone historic ranch and a 90-minute guided bus tour, if you get tired of getting around on foot.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Aspen, Colorado, isn't just for skiing--(www.aspenchamber.org) it's a great place for adventure year round. In the warmer months, the mountain community offers spectacular scenery and a lot of opportunities to brag about your bravery and athletic prowess, from paragliding to hot air ballooning to rock climbing. And 30 minutes away is the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, (the subject of many articles in the first season of Entrepreneur.com and AOL's online reality business startup series, The Startup (http://aolsvc.aol.com/small_biz/startup_series/index.adp). For the entrepreneur who dares to dream, you might want to check out Dyersville, Iowa, (www.dyersville.org) where you can visit the cornfield that was featured in Field of Dreams. Play a baseball game with your kids, then wander through a corn maze with them. And if you need more to do over the weekend, stop by the National Farm Toy Museum, where you'll see more than 30,000 toys on display. The town also has its own doll museum.
The Upper Central Snow-Belt, the West and Beyond
THE UPPER CENTRAL SNOW-BELT STATES
The place: Sully Creek State Recreational Area, minutes away from Medora, North Dakota
The personality: For the entrepreneur who really wants to rough it
Why go here: Sully Creek is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, if that gives you any idea of what to expect on your weekend adventure. Our 26th president was known for his love of the great outdoors, and Sully Creek is as outdoorsy as it gets. It's also cheap: five bucks to get into Sully Creek and five more to camp. Then experience nature at its finest by taking the hiking trails across canyons, meandering up mountainous, shrub-filled earth, where, except for scattered tourists, you'll find solitude for miles and miles and miles. You can camp, kayak, fish, birdwatch--186 species have been counted here, and 20 more are suspected to live in the region--and you can definitely get a workout. Nearby, outside the park, is the Maah Daah Hey Trail, a 120-mile trail for biking, hiking and horseback riding. These are the badlands, but if you travel here, we suspect you'll feel very, very good.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Bemidji, Minnesota, is for the entrepreneur who wants a laid-back weekend, and also for the entrepreneur whose idea of a good time is getting up at 4 a.m. with a tackle box in hand. Bemidji is best known as the first city founded along the Mississippi River. It's a popular destination in Minnesota for many reasons: It has a charming small-town feel, because it is a charming small town
(population: approximately 12,000). In the middle of the community are statues of Paul Bunyan and his pet ox, Babe. In fact, there are a lot of statues here: Bemidji has its famous (at least in these parts) Bemidji Sculpture Walk, and the ornate courthouse, built in 1902, will make you wonder why we build so many bland buildings today. The 1912 train depot is also worth a look, as is the entire historical section of the town. And then start whistling "The Andy Griffith Show" theme song and visit one of the 400 fishing lakes that are within 25 miles of the town. Looking for something different? Try a ranch vacation in Montana (think City Slickers). There are many to choose from in the state, so check out this website to help you decide (http://visitmt.com/tripplanner/campandlodge/ranch.htm). There are ranches for families, places that feature cattle drives and dude ranches for entrepreneurs hoping to find their inner dude.
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
The place: Hells Canyon National Recreational Area, which straddles the Snake River in Oregon and Idaho
The personality: For the entrepreneur who loves rugged adventures
Why go here: If you're a member of the grammar police, you might wince at the area's apparent disdain for apostrophes, and if you have young children, your vacation destination might elicit a lot of conversations about whether "hell" is a swear word. But otherwise, what's not to love? After all, it's 652,488 freakin' acres of scenic mountains and forest with the deepest river gorge in North America. You can white water raft, rock climb and hike, and if you trek out far enough, you may be able to spot some bighorn sheep, deer, osprey, eagles, elk, river otter and black bears--though you'll want to keep your distance. You can camp here, of course, or stay in a hotel at a nearby town like Lewiston, Idaho, or Clarkston, Washington.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region:Whidbey Island (www.southwhidbey.com) was designed for the shopaholic entrepreneur. It's not the Mall of America, but there are numerous antique shops, craft and clothing stores, and thrift shops on this little island off the coast of Washington state in Puget Sound. Plus there are B&Bs and quaint hotels as well as plenty of opportunities to fish, boat, camp or scuba dive. For the entrepreneur who likes to walk, try hiking the 40-mile Timberline Trail that encircles Oregon's Mount Hood (www.mthood.org). You can stay at a nearby campground, hotel or B&B, then spend the rest of your time hoofing it along the trail and taking in the scenery: a volcano formed by glaciers and a vast forest of old-growth aspen and cedar trees. It's a trail that'll take you up an 11,245-foot summit--and then back down again--where you'll tramp through bridgeless streams and past Ramona Falls. If this trail's too much for you, there are other, easier paths to take to get to the waterfalls, which you'll definitely want to try, because the view's stunning. The water falls over the remnants of what once was flowing basalt lava, and the lava cooled into this stair-step-like cliff. Now the water sprays and cascades off a seemingly endless array of jagged rocks.
The place: Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona
The personality: For the entrepreneur who enjoys being captain of their own ship--even on vacation
Why go here: C'mon, who hasn't dreamed of living on a houseboat? Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas offers a fleet of luxury houseboats equipped with hot tubs, fireplaces, home theater systems and other amenities--if money's no object, they have a houseboat you can rent for a week for just a little over $10,000. But they also have more standard houseboats--which are still a pleasant way to travel--that have all the necessities, like a bathroom, shower, air-conditioning and a refrigerator. If you stayed for three nights in the off-season, you could get away with renting one that sleeps 12 for around $800. Regardless of how you relax on Lake Powell, the lake, bathed in shades of blue and green, offers nearly 2,000 miles of incredible shoreline with towering red rock sandstone cliffs, pristine beaches and more than 90 canyons. It's a manmade lake, the second largest in the United States, created when the Glen Canyon Dam went up in the Colorado River in the 1950s.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: If the second-largest manmade lake in the country won't do it for you and you're an avid boater, try the largest manmade lake in the country--Lake Texahoma, which straddles the Texas/Oklahoma state line (www.laketexahoma.com). Or do something completely silly: Check out LegoLand (www.legoland.com/California.htm), the only theme park in America revolving around--you guessed it--Legos. It's really only a day-long excursion, but it's just 30 miles from San Diego, offering an easy way to make a weekend of it by taking your family to the zoo or beach or any of the other sites San Diego (www.sandiego.org) has to offer.
The place: Hidden Meadow Ranch, in the mountains, 15 miles from Greer, Arizona
The personality: For the entrepreneur who wants to stay active, even during their downtime
Why go here: You're unlikely to want to stay in your guest cabin for too long--there's no TV, for starters, and very poor phone service--but that's good. It would interfere with your horseback riding, your fly-fishing, your leatherworking, your archery classes and your arts and crafts workshops, which are all included in your room rate, which is substantial ($595 a night in the summer for two; additional guests are $150 a night; kids 4 to 11, $75 per child). But you can count on never being bored. Even without the structured activities, the ranch is located along 2,000 miles of hiking and riding trails, and you can explore caves and canoe the Little Colorado River.
If you want to go somewhere else in the region: If you're a workaholic who needs to always be doing something productive, you could spend a three-day weekend at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org/atthesanctuary/angelcanyon/visitorfaq.cfm) in Kanab, Utah. Numerous families travel here, spending most of their time helping out with the animals the sanctuary rescues, including dogs, cats, horses, birds and rabbits. In your downtime, or after your animal adventure, go take in the breathtaking scenery of nearby Lake Powell, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. If you're an entrepreneur with young kids, consider Santa Fe, New Mexico, which, aside from its attractive craggy mountainous and desert scenery, has some wonderful opportunities for family hiking (try the Aspen Vista lot at Hyde Memorial State Park), a quirky children's museum, (www.santafechildrensmuseum.org) and the Santa Fe Southern Railway, which takes families on a 36-mile round trip at speeds of no more than 10 miles an hour, allowing kids the opportunity to stand on an uncovered flatbed car, letting the wind blow through their hair.
BEYOND THE "LOWER 48"
The place: Kona Village Resort on the island of Hawaii
The personality: For the entrepreneur who's looking for a place that truly fits the term "vacation destination"
Why go here: Almost any spot in this island paradise would be a good choice if you were traveling to Hawaii, but since we've got to choose something, why not try Kona Village Resort? It prides itself on being the perfect place for a busy, harried entrepreneur or executive to get away from it all. It's only 20 minutes from the Kona International Airport and right on the spectacular Kohala Coast. You'll be staying in a thatched roof cottage, dripping in luxury but not technology--there are no radios, phones or televisions. So get a massage or attend a stargazing lecture, since this region's lack of pollution and city lights affords some amazing views of the galaxy. Then snorkle, go fishing, or poke around Kahuwai Bay at the front of the resort, where turtles and manta rays frequently feed. Or maybe you'll want to take a ukulele lesson, learn how to make a lei, go on a shell-hunting expedition or try any one of the many activities the resort staff organizes. And don't forget to save time for walking barefoot along the beautiful sandy beaches.
If you want to go somewhere else: Not interested in a Pacific island getaway? How about visiting the city of Talkeetna (www.alaskan.com/talkeetnadenali), two hours north of Anchorage, Alaska. It's unique because it's basically been untouched by commercialism and offers plenty of nature and family activities. Or if you're anywhere near Puerto Rico (www.puertorico.com), the west side of the island--particularly Boquerón Beach--has a lot to offer. In Boquerón, you'll find everything from bars and beaches to surfing and diving opportunities, and nearby, if you're the nature sort or if you have kids, you can check out the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge or the Mayagüez Zoo, Puerto Rico's only zoo.