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Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah, Georgia

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Make the most out of a long weekend in the South

Long weekends are the best time to explore a new destination. The extra day off allows you to get away and relax without eating up too much vacation time. If done right you can pack an entire vacation into a three-day weekend. 

Between small towns, big cities, beach towns and mountain escapes, the South has something to offer for everyone, and a three-day weekend is the perfect amount of time to get away from home. Simply pick where you're going, pack lightly, hop in the car and start relaxing.

Pick a destination and plan ahead
The trick to planning a successful three-day weekend without coming home exhausted is choosing the right destination. While it might be tempting to jump on a plane and head across the country for your getaway, you’ll come back more exhausted instead of relaxed and refreshed. If you’re driving, pick a destination that will only take a few hours to get to by car and you’ll end up with more time in the actual city instead of wasting it on transportation.

If you really want to fly somewhere, choose a destination that only takes a few hours to get to. Weigh the benefits of flying over driving. You don’t want to spend more time on a plane than in the car or vice versa.

The bottom line: Unless your three-day weekend is a designated road trip, you don’t want to spend more time getting to and from a place than the time you actually get to spend at the destination. 

Some of the best Southern destinations — that hopefully won’t be too crowded during this upcoming Labor day weekend — include Wilmington, North Carolina; Athens, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Destin, Florida; Austin, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; and New Orleans, Louisiana. These Southern cities and small towns are the perfect size to explore over a three-day weekend. 

I’m a big fan of last minute trips. I love jumping in the car and heading to a new town for a quick getaway, but these last minute decisions can be expensive. Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend are some of the busiest travel weekends of the year and if you don’t plan ahead you’ll end up paying higher prices for transportation and lodging. 

To avoid the hassle of an overpriced room or plane ticket, start planning your trip a month or two in advance. You’ll be able to find deals for flights the earlier you book and there will be more availability of hotel rooms and home rentals for you to choose from. 

Making a few reservations ahead of time is another way to help your trip go smoothly. If you’re dying to go to a popular restaurant, like The Grey in Savannah, you might run into trouble if you show up without a reservation. Many restaurants will take reservations, so take the time to make one and your stomach will thank you. 

Act like a local not a tourist
After picking a destination and lodging, do some research and make a game plan.

Each Southern city has popular hot spots and must-see destinations. Plan on checking out some touristy stuff, but don’t spend all of your time acting like a tourist. On a trip to Charleston, it’s fun to get a few pictures at the Pineapple Fountain and Rainbow Row, but don’t spend all of your time there. Take a walk down Bay Street and discover the historic Charleston City Market or wander down a side street and take in the beautiful architecture of the city. 

Stop by a coffee shop, small boutique or local bookstore. Talk with locals and see what restaurants and activities they recommend. And most importantly, don’t over-plan the weekend. Have a few things nailed down ahead of time, but leave room in your schedule to wander and explore the new destination. 

If you can afford it, book your hotel in a place that will make your whole weekend walkable. Instead of hopping in a car every time you want to go somewhere on your three-day weekend, walk around the city and see how it looks on foot. A stroll through Forsyth Park in Savannah or down King Street in Charleston will make you feel like a local. You also won’t have to worry about finding parking in a new city and if you really need to drive somewhere grab an Uber, Lyft or taxi. 

Unplug and relax
As someone who loves sharing my travels on Instagram Stories, putting down the phone is hard. For some people this task is almost impossible. We get it. Unplugging and detaching yourself from the burden of social media and email is really hard to do. So instead of being completely cut off from the world during the long weekend, try limiting your screen time. Make memories and snap photos to help you remember them, but you don’t need to take a million photos of everything you eat and every place you visit. Check your email in the morning and then turn your phone to airplane mode for the rest of the day. 

Plan a staycation 
There’s nothing wrong with spending a long weekend at home. Sometimes after a long week of work, staying home is the only way to relax. On busy three-day weekends, like Labor Day, staycations are the perfect way to miss out on holiday traffic, take a break from work and save some money. Staycations give you a chance to try a new restaurant, start a home improvement project or just relax by the pool. And if you've gotta stay home, you can try a few of our favorite outdoor recipes. 

Photo credit (hero): Ashley Knedler / Unsplash
Photo credit (map): Rawpixel / Unsplash
Photo credit (pineapple): Coffee, quotes and me Facebook


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Rachel Taylor is a staff writer at Southern Kitchen. She moved to Atlanta earlier this year after graduating college in Maryland, and has been a digital audience specialist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politically Georgia, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She has lived in France and Italy, and loves to travel.

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