Everyone goes to the beach in the summer. It’s warm and relaxing, and it doesn’t require much creativity. It’s such a generic activity that the marketing for Mexico’s worst beer (which I will not mention here) implores you to find your own beach. Even if we did, what’s the point? A beach is a beach. Do something else this summer and let everyone else get stuck in traffic. Here are a few ideas for your vacation consideration:
1. Asheville, NC
The Blue Ridge Parkway weaves unforgettably through the Appalachian Mountains, ending in Asheville. The mountain town has long been a destination for those looking to escape the heat, from George W. Vanderbilt II through today. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate was the largest private residence in the United States (built when he was a bachelor, no less) and today provides the essential service of reminding you how small your apartment is. The historic Grove Park Inn, built into Sunset Mountain, is the place to stay.
2. St. Michaels, MD
If your only insight into life on the Chesapeake Bay is from Wedding Crashers, you owe it to yourself (and anyone from Maryland you may ever talk to) to check it out in person. St. Michaels is about as maritime as it gets, with the food to prove it. Grab a mooring at The Crab Claw (yes, there are actually boat moorings, though you can also sit down) and indulge in the bounty of the Chesapeake blue crabs. They taste better on the bay than anywhere else.
3. Memphis, TN
Ask the average non-local for two things about Memphis, and I guarantee they’ll say music and barbeque. Everyone likes those two things, so why not go check out their home? Of particular interest is the Gibson Guitar Factory, offering tours of the birthplace of those legendary axes. Make sure you get some pork—Memphis does it the best.
4. St. Helena, CA
Moving west, St Helena is for the oenophiles looking for, as the town calls itself “The Heart of Napa Valley.” Time is ticking over there—so you’d better check it out before the Silicon Valley go-hards build condos on all the vineyards. Harvest Inn is the place to stay, offering private cottage accommodations with mountain and vineyard views.
5. Dana Point, CA
If you really need a beach, make it Dana Point. Basically, it’s Southern California without the things everyone hates about Southern California. Author Richard Henry Dana Jr. called it “the only romantic spot on the coast,” and you’ll be inclined to agree. Learn your nautical knots and take a boat out. It’s good for you.
Michael Nissenbaum is a lawyer by day (and night), and a writer by night (and day). You can follow him on Twitter @gnarsenbaum.