For the majority of us, vacations are a once a year shot at rejuvenating our spirits. The chunk of our soul we have loaned to our J-O-B is once again ours. At least for a short while. But time is limited no matter how many vacation days someone has accrued and there is no stopping it from flying by. When the whistle finally blows on your last day of work, you better get going. Times-a-wasting.
Perhaps slowing things down a bit might be a better option. Maybe enjoy dining in some quaint small town cafes instead of getting your monies worth at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Instead of partying till you drop in an incredibly loud frantic nightclub with other tourists getting crazy on their annual escape from reality, how about a friendly and more subdued local pub or tavern instead? A place where you can meet and get to know new and interesting people without spitting in their faces from having to scream. Maybe catch a movie in a small town theater and browse some local shops. And most importantly, not think about work.
Sounds like a nice change of pace, doesn’t it? Go somewhere no one else would ever think of. Someplace peaceful and serene with no agenda. Somewhere like these little known off the beaten path gems.
At first glance, this picturesque boating and fishing community resembles a vivid painting from an artist’s imagination. But it’s very real, and it lies along the banks of the brackish saltwater, Damariscotta River. It’s been a popular spot for at least 2500 years. This is the estimated age of the oyster shells lining the river banks left behind by Native-Americans from long ago.
Damariscotta River Oysters are fat, juicy, and full of slimy goodness. They are equally as popular now as they obviously must have always been. Visitors drive to town during the summer months just to slurp down a dozen or so, and the entire town turns out for the annual Oyster Festival held in September.
The downtown area is filled with artists galleries, restaurants, unique shops, a farmers market, and a theater. Families stroll the sidewalks, reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting.
There are many lakes nearby, a lighthouse, a colonial fort, and the Atlantic coast is within a short and easy drive.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Wolfeboro’s location on Lake Winnipesaukee has dubbed it as the world’s oldest summer resort in America. New Hampshirites, as well as visitors from around New England vacation here during the summer, and even Drew Barrymore, paid the town a visit from California.
Wolfeboro offers everything one would expect in a small rural New England town, and plenty more. Stay in a rustic colonial style B&B or rent a summer cottage on one of the three lakes for the ultimate experience. Roast hot dogs over an open fire on the lake shore and create some family memories.
There is fishing, hiking, intimate and homey style cafes, free music in the park, several museums, art galleries, a trolley to tour the town, and many other things of interest to do. If you want to step back in time to the way things used to be, visit Wolfeboro.
Ferndale’s population is only 1,372, and the residents all live within a one square mile area. All of the downtown Victorian storefronts have been restored to their original luster, as well as many of the homes in the area. If there was ever a town to forget your woes in, this northern California coastal town is it.
Restaurants such as “The Farmhouse on Main” and “VI Restaurant and Bar,” welcome guests to enjoy their freshly prepared meals, and the entire city presents a laid-back atmosphere not found in larger touristy cities. Nobody is in a hurry here.
Visit the towns historic cemetery and take day drives down the Lost Coast Scenic Drive, stopping along the way to explore deserted beaches for a picnic or maybe for collecting driftwood.
There is an art gallery, an old-time mercantile, a historic bridge, a museum, and the serenity to rediscover the person you may have lost along the way. Yourself.
Cedar Key, Florida
If you still want to enjoy a Florida beach and do some serious relaxing, Cedar Key is the perfect picture of how the state once was, prior to its tourist boom. In Cedar Key, you won’t find any twelve story hotels blocking the waters view, and you be laying shoulder to shoulder on the only sliver of sand left on a crowded beach. Want to go kayaking? Go ahead.
The boardwalk is where most of the indoor action is with fresh seafood restaurants and bars with live entertainment ranging from acoustic solo acts to full bands. Some of the best fishing in the state can be found here and charter boats are always standing ready to accommodate visitors.
Besides being a fishing village, the town also serves as a haven for artists. Their funky and eclectic expressions can be found all over town. There are no traffic lights and no chain stores or restaurants. Leave your alarm clock at home. People here don’t use them.
The town holds two art festivals a year as well as the Cedar Key Seafood Festival. Since lodging is available but not in the abundance of places like Miami, Tampa, or Orlando, if you plan on visiting over Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, make to sure to make your reservation way in advance.
Even at full capacity, the town remains uncrowded, and this is how the residents plan on keeping things.
In too many cases, our vacations don’t achieve their intended purpose and we drag back in on our first day back more worn out than when we left. We ran here. We ran there. We stood in endless lines. We fought bumper to bumper traffic and still never got to see and do everything. Maybe a slower-paced, quiet vacation is just what you need.