This past week was emotionally draining to say the least. Reading about recent events across the United States on all of my social media platforms and favorite news outlets had left me feeling a combination of confused, angry and helpless. There’s nothing like real world drama to slap you back to the reality of how insignificant everyday complaints of having to go to work, finding a happy hour spot or being hungover really are.
Needless to say, I went to work on Friday overwhelmed with thoughts that teetered between making significant social change and finding ways to escape. As I slowly wrapped my mind around tackling the workday, I ran across an article about North Carolina waterfalls that are only a few hours away. I thought to myself, ‘What a great idea for getting away from the city and unplugging for a minute.’ But my boyfriend and I had already made plans for Saturday and Sunday, so I knew a last minute trip was going to be impossible.
Instead, I spent the entire weekend lusting for places unseen and dreaming about moving to a remote island and opening my own business. By Monday, I was officially yearning for some much needed rest and relaxation, so I decided to come up with a list of ways to escape, mentally and physically, in or around the Queen City.
1. Take a hike.
No seriously. After walking in circles attempting to make it to the pinnacle of Crowders Mountain State Park, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of the outdoors. But there’s something truly refreshing about taking a hike in a place you’ve never been, turning off your cell phone — except when you capture the moment once you’ve reached the top — and only focusing on your internal thoughts. Throw “where to hike near Charlotte, NC” into Google and plan your next hiking adventure.
2. Take a dip.
If you’re at all like me, you may be terrified of the possibility that brain-eating amoebas are salivating every time you step into a body of water. But I must say, since I started dating my boyfriend, I’ve been obsessed with going to the lake. On the water, all you need is sun block and a case of beer to have a good time. Grab your suit and head to a local lake or river. No phone service necessary.
3. Treat yourself.
I’ve racked up my fair share of gift certificates to local spas but haven’t set aside any time for myself. Dig through your gift card drawer, browse Groupon for deals and plan a day at the spa. Ballantyne Resort and The Ritz-Carlton are two of my favorite places to rejuvenate. Those two are pricey so make sure you do some research and price comparisons before you break the bank. And if you really want to make a day of it, live it up by booking a room for the night.
4. Plan a lunch date.
While day drinking at Common Market or one of the many breweries popping up in the city can be a lot of fun, consider grabbing a bottle of wine and heading somewhere different for lunch. I’ve been meaning to plan a visit to Treehouse Vineyards, pack a lunch and rent a tree house for a couple hours. There’s also a ton of bed and breakfast spots in the area that will make for a quick lunchtime escape.
5. Organize a last minute trip.
My friends love last minute trips to places like Asheville, where the booze, live music and nature are plenty. A four-hour round trip, you’ll be surprised how positive your perspective will be when you come back to the city after a day trip. Pack up your favorite snacks, hop in your car and head to a nearby city or beach for a change of scenery. Want to stay a night for cheap? Download Airbnb!
6. Join a volunteer group or organization.
If you, too, find yourself feeling down or helpless when you look at the bigger picture called life, consider giving back to the community or joining an organization. Spend a day on a Habitat for Humanity project, or find a local group to become a part of. You’ll feel rewarded helping others or expressing yourself with likeminded individuals. As you can imagine, Charlotte has more than its fair share of ways to get involved and make a difference.
What do you do when you need to getaway in or around the Queen City? Share your ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org