The truth is, men suck at planning. That’s why when our wives are out enjoying girlfriend getaways sipping wine in Napa or hitting up the shops of 5th Avenue in New York City, we stay at home serving up a chocolate cake for breakfast to the kiddos out of spite.
It’s not that we’re jealous of poolside mimosas or Mai Thais. No, we’re envious because of our inability to plan a Dad’s weekend away. If we and our buddies can muster up the responsibility to pull off a mancation, we settle for drunk hotel room antics on a Myrtle Beach golf weekend (anyone who’s ever played hotel room putt-putt, I’m talking to you).
Men, we can, and will, do better. Below are eight vacation ideas for dads who need a timeout.
Rock Out in Cleveland
I know the heart of the Rust Belt might not sound like the most exciting place to spend a weekend away, but Northeast Ohio isn’t as rusty as you once thought it was. Like other industrial cities along the Great Lakes, Cleveland is experiencing a renaissance. Besides, Northeast Ohio boasts three things that speak to the core of most men – rock and roll, football, and craft beer.
Rising above the sparkling shores of Lake Erie, like Jimi Hendrix lifting his guitar to the music gods, is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a great place to wax nostalgic about the music you grew up listening to whether it’s bands of your generation or your parents’ (and remember, Pearl Jam is considered classic rock these days).
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Rock out old-school style at Beachland Ballroom.
After, replay some of the hair bands antics you just learned about in the Flats’ East Bank. Gorge on raw oysters at Alley Cat Raw Bar, party like a high-roller at pool and nightclub FWD, or challenge your friends to a little competition at Backyard Bocce. Craft beer fans will want to hit up Ohio City – home to Great Lakes Brewing, Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Bier Market, Hansa Brewing, and Forest City Brewing.
Round out the weekend with a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (about an hour south of Cleveland). After gawking over the busts of your football heroes, be sure to stop at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery – rated one of the top 100 breweries in the world for 10 years in a row by Rate Beer – on your way back to Cleveland.
Where to Stay in Cleveland
Stay at the Metropolitan at The 9, where you and your buddies can party underground in the century-old bank vault that’s been converted into a swanky cocktail lounge called Vault or on the hotel’s rooftop at Azure Rooftop Lounge.View More Hotels In Cleveland
Craft Beer Galore in Asheville
Speaking of craft beer, the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina is a perfect place for a beercation. In fact, it’s such a hot beer spot that national craft breweries like Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and New Belgium have set up shop in town. And while those are all worth visiting, the real fun is exploring the neighborhood breweries that put Asheville on the map.
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Explore local breweries with LaZoom’s Band & Beer Bus Tour – the brewery hop tour with live bands on board the bus.
The South Slope, the city’s densest collection of breweries, is a great place to start with standouts like Twin Leaf Brewery, Catawba Brewing, Hi-Wire Brewing, Green Man Brewery, and Burial Beer. There’s also the neighborhood-staple of Wicked Weed Brewing and Funkatorium. (They make great beer, but they’ve drawn the ire of local beer fans for selling out to Anheuser-Busch InBev.)
Don’t forget to also hit up some of the breweries outside of the city center, like Oyster House Brewing for well-crafted stouts and Wedge Brewing for the brewery locals don’t want you to know about.
Beyond the beer, Asheville offers plenty of ways for outdoor enthusiasts to become one with nature. Get lost in the woods on one of the dozens of hiking trails, carve up some whitewater rapids, or go on an off-road adventure on the Biltmore Estate. If you’re new to adrenaline-fueled activities, check out Fox Mountain for mountain climbing lessons.
Where to Stay in Asheville
To complete your weekend in Asheville, book a stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn and finish with some time at The Spa at Grove Park Inn, a Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Resort Spa in North America. Your body will thank you after a weekend of punishment.View More Hotels In Asheville
Adventures Awaits in Alabama
Gulf Shores is the place you’ve never considered visiting but absolutely need to add to your bucket list. It’s raw, unpretentious, and full of activities our wives would snub their noses at. And, when we tire of fun on the Bayou, there are plenty of beaches to lounge around on with a cooler full of cold ones from Fairhope Brewing.
The party begins in Mobile where the bars stay open all night long. Start the evening with beers and oysters at Wintzell’s Oyster House. Then, pop on over to Callaghan’s Irish Social Club – one of Alabama Shakes early music venues – and see if there’s a band playing. If not, still stick around for their old-school style burgers and neighborhood feel. After, bar hop around downtown with stops at LODA Bier Garten for a great selection of craft beer, Haberdasher for cocktails, or Alchemy Tavern for off the chain fun.
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Enjoy a real-life history lesson touring the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
After you’ve torn up Mobile, head down to the Gulf Shores where outdoor adventure awaits. Tear up some waves with jet skis or catboat rentals, spend the day angling, or kayak through the wetlands. Cap the day with dinner and beers at The Gulf, where the restaurant is built out of shipping containers and the seafood was caught that morning.
Where to Stay in Mobile
Complete your time in Mobile with a stay at the Admiral Hotel. Jimmy Buffett played some of his early shows at the hotel’s bar, Corner 251.View More Hotels in Mobile
All Along The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Bourbon. Do I even need to write anymore?
The bourbon trail itself covers a rather large swath of land in Kentucky, so plan to spend more than just a weekend drinking some of your favorite whiskeys from the source. Proper planning usually starts with a night in Lexington, a night someplace in the middle, and a couple of nights in Louisville.
Lexington is quite the party town. Not only is it on the Bourbon Trail, it also boasts a Brewgrass Trail to highlight the local craft beer scene with many brewers incorporating local bourbon traditions into their product. In fact, one of the stops, Kentucky Ale Works, is a brewery and distillery in one.
Book a stay at the 21c Museum Hotel Lexington. It’s a short walk away to Town Branch Distillery on the Bourbon Trail, but it’s also home to Lockbox led by executive chef Johnathan Searle, who proudly showcases a menu dedicated to highlighting local, Kentuckian ingredients.View More Hotels In Lexington
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Bike the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Bardstown is your stay in the middle. Here trail revelers can experience life in small-town Kentucky. Plan to eat dinner at Talbott Tavern, one of the oldest stagecoach stops in the country. (Hint: Talbott Tavern is also a comfortable place to rest your head along the Bourbon Trail.)
Wrap up your Bourbon Trail experience in Louisville, which has the largest collection of distilleries along the journey. After you’ve had your fill of America’s spirit, relive your little league days with a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum.
Stay at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville. It’s pricey, but it’s a top-rated trivago property for a reason. Not to mention it’s right in between both the Louisville Slugger Museum and Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, just a block away from each, and the bar at Proof on Main, onsite, is a local favorite with over 120 Kentucky Bourbons in stock.View More Hotels In Louisville
Dive Into The Legendary Florida Keys
While Key West is the final destination on any adventure to the Florida Keys, it’s not the destination itself. The proper way to experience Key West is to fly into Miami, rent a convertible (bonus points if it’s a Jeep Wrangler), and drive the overseas highway. As you gaze out over crystal clear waters, you’ll constantly ask yourself if you’re still in the United States.
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Spend the afternoon sipping beers and listening to Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf Bar. He’s the man you want to be.
Take the drive slow with planned stops along the way to meet all your water adventure needs. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo offers some great snorkeling opportunities, Looe Key is popular for scuba divers with a living reef and shipwreck, and Marathon provides anglers with no shortage of tarpon fishing. The journey ends with plenty of bar-hopping opportunities along Duval Street. Bonus points for finding the original Sloppy Joe’s location for a beer or three.
Where to Stay in Key West
The Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel is a great place for you and your crew to stay in Key West. Its quiet location provides ocean views and a sparkling pool when you need a break from the fray of Duval Street.View More Hotels In Key West
Music and Barbecue in Austin
Somewhere along the way of transitioning from being single to married with children, going to see live music on the regular went to the wayside. Get all the live music fill you want in Austin, Texas. Plan to stay in downtown Austin so you have easy access to 6th Street – the hub of the city’s live music scene.
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Rent a boat and spend the day cruising around Lake Trevor.
Beyond music, Austin offers some great restaurants to experience the Lonestar State’s two renowned cuisines – Tex-Mex and BBQ. For Tex-Mex, check out El Secreto de Abuel, where the micheladas, homemade tortillas, and oversized burritos are fan favorites. Or try Vazquez Taqueria where the Huevos Divorciados are a popular way to start the day after a hard night on 6th Avenue.
For BBQ, two places come to mind. First, in Austin, Franklin Barbecue where patrons will wait up to five hours in line to try the best-smoked brisket that will ever grace their mouth. Outside of Austin is the Salt Lick. Grab a growler of your favorite Austin craft beer (it’s BYOB) and enjoy the famed communal dining experience. While the brisket is definitely good here, be sure to try the smoked sausage as well.
Where to Stay in Austin
The Driskill is a recommended hotel not only for its central location but also for its old-world Texas charm.View More Hotels In Austin
Party Like The Hangover in Phoenix
For a metropolitan vibe with plenty of inventive restaurants, bars, and breweries, and a mix of desert adventures and golfing, Phoenix is quickly becoming a favorite mancation destination.
Ultimate Mancation Experience: Have a top of the world moment on the summit of Camelback Mountain.
Golf fans will also want to test the links at TPC Topside Golf Course. TPC not only offers two championship courses but a fun party atmosphere on the 16th hole where five rows of beer vendors are at the ready to quench your thirst. For those looking to explore the vast desert surrounding Phoenix, options range from hot air balloons to helicopter rides and ATV experiences.
Where To Stay In Phoenix
Because of its year-round dry climate, there are several world-class resorts that turn the dry climate into a desert oasis, like the Arizona Biltmore. Party like the crew from The Hangover in one of the hotel’s private villas and enjoy two challenging golf courses.View More Hotels In Phoenix
Now start planning an adventurous weekend away with your buddies. Remember — Dad deserves a little fun, too!
*Feature image courtesy of Scott Madore, Unsplash