Read the winning story plus 5 more inspiring daytrips from Sunset readers
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WINNER: Family Adventure in Oregon
One of my favorite daytrips regardless of the season is to put my family in the truck and head up to Hyatt Lake Resort in Southern Oregon. It is a 40-minute beautiful drive from Medford, Oregon, through pines and mountains up to the Cascade Mountains. Though we are close to home, when we step out of the car it is like we are thousands of miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The smell of pines, the smell of campfires, and the smell of one of the BEST “middle of nowhere” PIZZA parlors in the West!
On this particular day I asked the kids to go sit out on the dock and look at the frozen lake ahead. Surprisingly we were only one of two vehicles there that day. It was a beautiful spring day, crisp air, frozen lake, flying geese, and pizza waiting for us. One of the best quotes from my seven-year-old this day was “Wow, I can finally skip rocks,” be it on a block of ice!
Mark Empasis Medford, Oregon
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Tucson Family Adventure
This great day trip was concocted when my brother’s family came from Minnesota. We left Tucson and drove to Douglas, Arizona, in time to have lunch at the Gadsden Hotel named for the famous Gadsden Purchase. This was a true highlight for all of us from the gold gilded ceiling, to tales of the Gadsden Ghost and Pancho Villa’s ride with his horse on the gorgeous marble stairs where his horse supposedly chipped one of the steps.
Next, we drove to Bisbee and stopped on the outer edge of The Lavender Pit. This is a gigantic, inactive, open pit mine. It was windy and cool so we continued onto the Copper Queen Mine Tour. The picture shows part of our group getting dressed in the required rain jackets with light packs around their necks. Following the tour, my Mom, husband and I went over to the Copper Queen and sat in front of a lovely fire and had a warm drink.
We finished the trip in Tombstone with the Boothill Cemetery and OK Corral concluding a great day in the Wild Wild West!
Dian Tassin Tucson, AZ
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Inspiring Colorado Serenity
My favorite daytrip that inspires me is to Fruita, Colorado. We're still getting spring snowstorms through May in Summit County so we're more than willing to make the three hour drive west for warmth, sunshine, and some of the best mountain biking in the country.
We eagerly leave the white-capped Rocky Mountains behind and enter the sun-baked plateaus of Grand Valley. From the Kokopelli Trailhead we're off, our camelbacks full of water and stashed with energy bars. With a brief stop at an outcropping, we take in the views of the red rock mountains, the cobalt blue skies, and the Colorado River below. You can't believe in this big and busy world you have this place all to yourselves. At least that's how it seems. There are other cars in the lot, meaning other riders on the trails, but not as far as you can see. It feels as though you've discovered your own hidden gem.
After a few hours and many miles of riding, your body is thanking you for an exhilarating day and fantastic workout. We're reenergized and re-inspired, as we load our gear, to go back to the real world.
Susannah Edgington Dillon, Colorado
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Hello, I am a Scottsdale, Arizona Native. There are times when I feel like I've seen every square inch of this Valley but I forget that there is a lot that my husband and kids haven't seen. A couple of months ago I decided we were going to go to Sedona for the day. It's a quick, fun drive especially if you have a cool car! We woke up, ate breakfast, threw on some hiking clothes, put the dog outside and off we went.
Our first stop in Sedona was Snoopy Rock. It's was so beautiful, the homes, the parks, the streets... it doesn't seem to end. Then we drove over to eat lunch at Ken's Creekside Bistro. The owner is a character of a guy. He walked around talking to everybody and telling us stories of his glory days. Our kids thought he was crazy. The best people are, right? Our lunch was surprisingly yummy! I had braced myself for "health food" (being Sedona) but all of the dishes were delicious.
We got back in the car and drove over to Slide Rock. The weather was still a little cold but we all got our feet wet took some stunning photos. About 15 minutes later I had a run in with a green rattlesnake. Who knew? I scared it more than it scared me. I always wondered what a rattlesnake sounds like. Now I know!
After some light hiking we were told by a park ranger to check out the Airport Loop Trail at Sunset. It's a nice groomed trail that rounds the mountain and it's suitable for kids. As we hiked around the bend we were hit with the Classic Sedona "Vista". The Mesa's in the distance were strait from a postcard, purple, orange, and red, with blue skies and light wispy clouds, just lovely.
Overall, it was a fabulous day! What made me the happiest was that we didn't shop! The whole day was just nature and family. It really was a dream day trip. We drove home that evening and talked in the car about how we would all design the coolest home in the world with a waterslide, big windows for mountain views, outdoor Jacuzzi, art studio, room for a zip line and lots of dogs, built on top of the highest mountain in Sedona of course! It's free to dream right?
Deborah Brown Phoenix, Arizona
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San Luis Obispo Coastal Retreat
Having just returned to the area in which I was raised, after living in many other places including Alaska, Maine, and Hawaii, I can tell you that this area truly is one of the most beautiful places to live on this earth. The Elfin Forest’s tiny oak trees gesture to magnificent views of Morro Rock and the volcanic Morros. The boardwalk snakes through the coastal dunes and showcases the unique flora to great advantage.
Montana De Oro is a magnificent state park and has some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the state of California, including seven miles of shoreline, picnic tables and campsites. You can surf, swim or sun on the beaches along the trails. Other hiking opportunities include public trails on the Morro range or an easy walk through ancient, giant oak trees in the Los Osos State Reserve off of Los Osos Valley Road.
The area has great hotels near the water and indoor and outdoor dining choices including excellent Mexican and Thai restaurants. If you come for a day you really won’t want to leave… but I won’t tell.
Shane VerPlanck Los Osos, California
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One of the best West coast (semi) daytrips was driving from Seattle to Vancouver. My boyfriend, Jason, and I visited Seattle for about a week and on the day we left we visited Washington's wine country and ended up loving Chateau Ste. Michelle (meaning we bought a few bottles).
We then drove to the ferry to take us to San Juan Island. Along the way, we stopped to enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean. San Juan Island is a beautiful island with hiking and biking options, and parks to explore. As we were driving along a quiet stretch, we saw a lone deer that was friendly enough to get close to us.
The drive and exploration of this part of Washington State was a great way to see nature.
Sharon Wong Newton, MA
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