Three ‘long-weekend’ getaways

Two one-flight wonders and a train ride
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A view out the window of an Allegiant flight to LAX. Photo by Lisa Enos.

With Memorial Day on the horizon, here are some curated travel ideas that offer a hassle-free way of getting there.

Traveling can have numerous health benefits, both mental and physical. Taking a vacation allows one to break away from daily routines and experience new environments, which promotes relaxation. Exposure to new stimuli can inspire creativity and sharpen problem-solving skills, as it encourages individuals to think outside their usual frames of reference.

Sometimes traveling in and of itself can be a major stressor. One way to get around that is to cut your time en route down to the bare minimum. Another trick is to take advantage of smaller regional airports much like our beloved Gerald R. Ford International. The best way to go is with a nonstop, direct flight, but it’s not always possible. Pro tip when booking: be sure to sort flights by duration to avoid long layovers.

Rather than going for the least expensive ticket, factor in the cost of what you’ll be spending on airport meals (if you can even find anything open at the time of your arrival, departure, or layover) and consider the benefits of Uber or Lyft in an environment where you don’t know the lay of the land as opposed to renting a car.

Most of all, keep it simple. The idea is to take a break from stress, not create more of it!

From Gerald R. Ford International Airport, we suggest these two one-flight wonders on Allegiant (LAX) and Frontier (St. Pete), and a quick passenger train journey on AmTrak.

Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
Distance: 1, 246 miles Flight time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Fun fact: Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first arrived in the Tampa Bay area in the year 1513.

Bask in the Gulf Coast charm. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront or spend the day browsing shops. Allegiant’s direct service to TPA and PIE (airport codes) makes this Florida getaway easily accessible.

Stay here:

  • Tampa Riverwalk
  • The Belleview
  • Bellair Beach Resort

Grab this grub:
• Barfly
• Ulele
• The Columbia

Things to see/do:

• Salvador Dali Museum
• Safety Harbor
• Indian Rocks Beach

Venice Beach, California
Distance: 2,194 miles
Flight time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Fun fact: The first documented surfing demonstration on the mainland of U.S.A took place in Venice Beach, California.

Embark on an adventure to Venice Beach. Allegiant offers nonstop service to LAX May- October. If the prospect of navigating LAX is too daunting, Frontier Airlines flies into Ontario Airport, 45 minutes east of LA.

Stay here:

• Venice Suites*
• Su Casa*
• Hotel Erwin

Grab this grub:
• Plancha Tacos
• Sidewalk Café
• Fig Tree

Things to see/do:
• Stroll the boardwalk
• Visit the canals
• Santa Monica Pier

Chicago, Illinois
Distance: 177 miles
Train time: 4 hours, 8 minutes
Drive time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Fun fact: Chicago has more major railroads serving the city than any other place in America.

Indulge in the vibrant energy of the Windy City. For a hassle-free trip, Amtrak offers a 6 a.m. daily departure from downtown GR, or you can park in New Buffalo and take a convenient commuter train.

Hotel suggestions:

• Warwick Allerton
• The W
• Kimpton

Grab this grub:

• Big Star Tacos
• The Berghoff
• Obelix

Things to see/do:

• The Art Institute of Chicago
• Wrigley Field
• Magnificent Mile

* These hotels offer kitchenettes

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