You’ve recycled the last of the gift boxes, vacuumed all the pine needles from the carpet and thrown out the last of the stale sugar cookies – and you’re still stressed out. The holidays can actually be a lot of work, especially if you’re hosting relatives from out of town. So if you feel like you haven’t had time to catch your breath, consider taking a short post-holiday vacation.
Chicago’s world-class stores attract many shoppers in December, but after the holidays, it’s a lot easier to find great deals on Chicago hotels. Staying in an upscale hotel is a wonderful way to unwind – particularly if you can find a property with a spa, on-site masseuse or indoor pool (the Hotel Palomar’s 17th-floor heated indoor pool is a big hit with winter travelers). With theaters, museums, hot nightclubs, fine dining and renowned comedy clubs at your disposal, planning a day’s worth of events is as easy as picking up the phone. You can stretch your vacation budget by touring public art installations, spending an afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo (always free) and enjoying small but uniquely Chicagoan pleasures like caramel and cheese popcorn at Garrett Popcorn Shops.
You don’t have to leave the United States to enjoy a relaxing tropical getaway during the winter. If the long flight to Hawaii or the U.S. Virgin Islands sounds like a hassle, travel to Naples, Fla., instead. Naples is a destination that both adults and families can enjoy. With renowned golf resorts, a swamp sanctuary, white-sand beaches and a zoo/aquarium, everyone can find something fun to do in Naples. The city is known for its expensive properties and upscale hotels, but there are a few ways to save money when traveling there. Try finding a hotel near the beach instead of a resort or rent a house and cook a few meals in while you’re there. Remember that many of Naples’ most beautiful sights can be enjoyed for free. What could be more relaxing?
Mysteries of the Southwest
Sedona, Ariz., is a place of magic and mystery. Each year tourists flock to the healing spas and boutique resorts, and some believe Sedona is home to restorative energy vortexes. Unwind in Sedona by hiking though the Red Rock Park, or visiting the Palatki Heritage site where you can see ancient cliff dwellings. Shop for crystals and other Southwestern specialties at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. There are many free adventures to explore in Sedona, including a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross which was designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.
There are so many relaxing destinations to visit in the U.S. How about a week of snowmobile tours through Yellowstone Park or a visit to one of America’s most graceful and gracious southern cities, Savannah, Ga.? Traveling after the holidays often means fewer crowds and lower airfare and hotel rates. If a getaway isn’t in your budget this year, set aside a small vacation fund for next year, so you can rid yourself of the post-holiday blues.