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My kids are currently at the end of a 4-day weekend. My Facebook feed is full of our neighbors’ fall trips to California, Florida, Mexico, etc.
And, Facebook keeps sending me the “On This Day” photos that remind me of where we were exactly one year ago for our fall break:
With school stress building in these last few weeks, I have to admit, I was really longing for a relaxing beach getaway. Yes, I longed for it even though just two months ago I was experiencing travel burnout. I wasn’t the only family member longing for a trip, either!
Because of our vacation schedule this year, my husband does not have any more work vacation left. So, a beach trip (even on points) was out of the question. However, we scheduled a local getaway for one night at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine.
This was our 4th trip to Great Wolf Lodge, and we had just visited the location in California in July. So coming here wasn’t anything especially new or adventurous for us.
However, this visit was a little different because we would be celebrating my daughter’s birthday. Also, Great Wolf Lodge has special “Howl-O-Ween” activities going on the entire month of October, which we had never experienced.
We splurged on a KidCabin Suite this time. My kids loved having their own cabin within our room just for them with three beds and a TV. In fact, when we arrived, they didn’t want to immediately go to the water park. They just wanted to chill in “their space” for a while.
My son was thrilled to take a break from the water park to navigate the ropes and zipline course outside. I think he could have stayed up there all day!
Great Wolf Lodge really knocked the family entertainment out of the ballpark this past weekend. The extra seasonal activities were well-executed and the entertainment staff was very enthusiastic. Honestly, our experience reminded me a little bit of Disney in terms of quality and execution. (Yes, I said it!)
It turned out to be just what we needed to experience family fun and rejuvenate our minds so that we can tackle the rest of the school semester.
Advantages of an Overnight Local Getaway
I know that many folks would not consider spending money (or points) on a local hotel when they are close enough to enjoy an activity and then drive home. However, an overnight local getaway has some advantages.
First of all, some local activities are only available to hotel guests. Great Wolf Lodge is a prime example of that. You can’t just buy tickets to the waterpark or the dry activities if you don’t spend the night. The Gaylord Texan operates the same way for its waterpark (see our summer staycation at the Gaylord).
Spending the night forces extra family bonding time. If we had just gone to a waterpark or an arcade to replicate some of the activities at Great Wolf Lodge and then driven home, it would not have felt the same. Being in the same hotel room forces our kids to spend time together instead of coming home to their separate rooms and activities.
Obviously, it was great not having to get plane tickets or endure a painful long road trip for this getaway. We live about 45 minutes away. Packing was a breeze, and one night of dog boarding did not blow our budget.
Miles and Points for Local Getaways
Most people in this miles and points hobby dream of faraway places for spending their miles and points. However, after two successful local hotel getaways this year, I am now looking to book local getaway #3. On points, of course.
Earlier this year, my husband got the American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card. We had lots of ideas on how to use the points, but we hadn’t yet made any commitments. So, we decided to use points to book a one-night stay at the Hilton Anatole near Downtown Dallas.
I booked a deluxe corner room for 42,000 points on a Saturday night in December. We will enjoy the hotel’s indoor pool and hot tub as well as special seasonal entertainment including a winter marionette show at Geppetto’s Theater, penguin show, ice fishing, snowball fights, etc. at Peppermint Park. Our whole family really enjoyed ICE! at the Gaylord Texan last year, so I hope we will enjoy the activities at the Hilton Anatole just as much.
If you don’t have hotel points for a specific hotel brand, consider accumulating flexible travel points that you can use towards any hotel. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus allows you to erase any expense coded as travel. It currently comes with 40,000 bonus points (worth $400) after meeting the minimum spending requirements. See our Hot Deals page for more information.
Readers, do you sprinkle in local getaways in between your bigger vacations? What are your favorite overnight local getaways?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.