Staycation, All I ever Wanted

Why do you go on vacation?

Is it to relax? Is it to get away? Is it to explore? Is it to gain new perspective?

For me, vacations are a chance to relax. All I want to do is chill, forget what is going on in my life, and lay in the sun. I take that time to disconnect and refresh my mind and body before going back to civilization and getting back to the grind and that is during a regular year. This year though? This year has been an out of this world constant test of being present for yourself, your family, and your fellow man and I am tired. So, I am here, on this day, to encourage us (you and me) to take a vacation.

Take one.

I know, you are looking at me crazy.

It’s 2020.

COVID-19 is out there.

People are weirdly refusing to wear masks.

BUT to counter that I say – if you take vacations for any of the reasons I listed above, take a vacation.

Now, again, I know you’re looking at me crazy because I haven’t gotten on a plane this year so how could I encourage you to risk it but let me explain! I canceled my trips early out of concern for my heath and my family’s health. However, I recently realized that I need to take a breather and soon because my Fall is going to be insane. So I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do and it hit me – Staycation!

Yeah. Okay. I must admit up until a year or two ago I thought Staycations were the dumbest thing ever. Why would I waste the time and money to do something in my own city or state instead of heading to the airport and flying out? Then a two-day conference for work changed my life.

We stayed in a medium tier hotel but I got the manger to upgrade me to a top level suite (cough join Hilton Honors cough). I had breakfast on the balcony with amazing views every day. I went to dinner at my favorite restaurants. I walked around downtown and went shopping. I networked with the conference attendees during the day and hung out on the town at night. It was literally what I would I do on a vacation but I was an hour away from my home in… Ft. Worth, Texas. By the time I checked out I was shocked at how refreshed and renewed I felt. I couldn’t believe this little conference had given me that much life!

So, even though Coronavirus has officially ruined our summers, I have decided that we can’t let it ruin our peace of mind. I have been thinking about it over the past few days and putting together ideas for myself but I thought I would give y’all a head start too. Scroll down to find my recommendations for beautiful hotel stays and things to do if you are going to do a Covid SAFE Staycation anywhere in Texas. But don’t worry, if you want recs for other states and cities I got you too. Just leave a comment below.

If you’re looking for relaxing yet cultural vibes:

Photo by ME! Brea!

So if we are going to do a Staycation I thought I would start off with something easy – an Art crawl and what better place to start than Fort Worth? Fort Worth’s Cultural District is home to amazing museums situated in a walkable park setting. The Modern Art Museum is my favorite and masks and social distancing are encouraged in all of the museums. Then around 3:30pm, when you have had as much of the art as you can handle, head over to the Stockyards for some authentic Texas vibes and to catch the 4:00pm Cattle Drive (Y’all, I love cows). The Ashton hotel downtown Fort Worth, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, will complete your weekend getaway vibes. For dinner try Joe T. Garcia’s, they have enough open outdoor seating for all of us and the last time I went the salsa was pretty good. If not, Sundance Square is always a good time and a great place to grab food on the way back to the hotel.

Or maybe you want to explore and be outdoorsy:

Photo via Tripstodiscover.com via Randall Chancellor via Flickr

Listen, you know me. I am not an outdoors kind of gal unless I am in the mood for it. A nice little afternoon or day hike will do me just fine as long as there are clear trails, the weather is nice, and I can get to a bed and central air by nightfall (I will do a cabin in some conditions but large spiders are out of the question). So, if you are like me the Colorado Bend State Park and the beautiful Gorman Falls are just right for you. This Living Waterfall is about a 3- mile hike round trip with beautiful greenery around this time of year. Just know there is no swimming here. It is called a Living Waterfall because as the water flows through the limestone it breaks down minerals leaving deposits that literally cause the waterfall to grow but also leaves it very fragile. It’s super dope and when I saw a girl on Insta cover it earlier this summer I added it to my places to go. You can stay in the Park for the night if you want, but me? I would probably drive the hour and a half back into Austin and stay at the Hilton Austin on 4th Street (have you not joined Hilton Honors yet?). Oh yeah don’t forget – bring lots of water and hike early. It’s still Texas after all.

Or maybe you want an urban oasis vibe:

Photo via Downtowndallas.com

Hotel Zaza is my favorite family of hotels in Texas. A lux hotel company that began in Dallas and opened its latest outpost Downtown Austin last September, they specialize in that cowboy luxury that everyone loves about Dallas so much. But me? I love that each individual suite has its own theme from the amazing Backstage Pass suite in Austin to the C’est la Vie suite in Houston’s Museum District. Opulence is what they are going for and other worldly is what they achieve. Every room is comfortable and homey and makes you feel like you are well taken care of. Visit the ZaSpa or get a Summer Suite and Cabana Pass for the pool and your weekend is done. You won’t even have to leave property, as all the hotels have fine dining restaurants on site. If you are just craving something else tell the concierge and they can make you reservations anywhere in the city. Seriously, just between you and me? Stay there. Just once. You won’t regret it.

Finally, if you are looking to really relax and indulge:

Photo by Sammy Todd Dyess Photography sammy@samdyess.com 

When we first moved to Texas San Antonio was my favorite city to visit. Honestly, it still is. There isn’t much to do in the city besides the Riverwalk and the Shops at Rivercenter Mall but both of those things can take a whole day of walking and exploration. Plus, the GO RIO narrated cruises on the river are so fun. But what I am really here to talk about is one of my favorite resorts in Texas: La Cantera Resort and Spa. This is Texas Hill Country excellence. They offer villas, suites, and deluxe room stays. There are five heated pools on site and they offer luxurious cabañas to reserve for the entirety of your stay if needed. There are two golf courses, if you’re into that kind of thing, an amazing spa, 12 different places to grab a bite on the property, and because of Covid-19 the specials they are offering are unparalleled (50% off for a suite for two for the weekend). I have stayed a few times with the family but never by myself. Honestly, if you go this Fall you might see me there.

A parting note from me to you: Listen, I have friends in the medical community and I am hyper-germ conscious. I have talked about this with them extensively because I think everyone our age loves to travel and they told me these are all things that are moderately safe if you do them correctly. But hear me: IF YOU DO NOT FEEL SAFE LEAVING YOUR HOUSE, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOUSE! I have not booked anything yet but I am exploring my options because times is getting hard and I am going to need to detox my brain soon and get some good energy. My Fall is about to be off the chain and as all of us either go back to school or work I say ALWAYS choose wellness – whatever that looks like for you. Even if that means camping out on your living room floor for a change of scenery, do that because I am an introvert and I am still over being at home. Call your friends. Do a group friend or family zoom hangout. Go sit in a park all afternoon. Do something. Community is important; whatever that looks like for you. Call me if you need anything but don’t push yourself into any situation where you don’t feel safe. Love ya!

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