Posted on | November 5, 2009 | 5 Comments
This is the second post in a series on easy family weekend getaways. With school in full swing and budgets tight, the dreaded stay-cation may be around for a while. This is my way of showing that you don’t need to turn your back on family vacations altogether, that mini-vacations in your own region can be fun and affordable. This guest post is by my friend Margaret who recently spent the weekend with her family in Westport, Washington.
If you live in the Seattle area, you have children (and maybe a dog), and you want to take a three-day weekend vacation during the school year, sometimes the thought of planning a getaway seems more trouble than it’s worth. But what if it could be easy? What if you could pack your car and drive two hours away, stay in a nice, roomy place with a view of the Pacific Ocean from your living room, a state park next door, and more sand dollars on the beach than your kids can fit in their pockets? And your dog can come, too. Would you do it then?
Everyone deserves a break from routine, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. When I discovered our kids had a four-day break from school this October, I decided to plan a little trip to the coast. The catch was that I wanted a place that could accommodate our family dog, and I knew we wouldn’t be relaxed in a cheap motel. After looking at a map of Washington, I decided to start my search in Westport, which looked like the shortest drive from the south Sound area. An internet search with keywords “Westport dog-friendly accommodations” turned up a number of links, but one caught my attention. A resort called Westport by the Sea, a condominium complex, offered a number of dog-friendly units for rent.
Choosing A Vacation Rental
On the Westport By The Sea web site I was able to view detailed interior photos of each unit and a map showing the location of all the buildings. This set-up made it easy to select the best choice for our family, an oceanfront, second story, two-bedroom condo with a clear, beautiful view of the sea. The off-season price tag didn’t seem overwhelming, either. For $239 a night plus a standard cleaning fee, we stayed in “Baileys’ Surf Shack,” a nicely decorated and clearly treasured family getaway.
Vacation Rentals Help Keep Costs Down
If that sounds expensive, consider that we didn’t eat a single meal out – we packed up our coolers and had a fully equipped kitchen waiting for us. We found every kitchen item we could have wanted, so cooking all our kids’ favorite foods was easy. And while $75 initially seemed a little steep for a cleaning fee, I understood why when we arrived. This place was nice, with granite counter-tops and down comforters and fluffy white towels and robes. We felt at home right away, which meant we could focus on the fun parts: walking the beach, digging in the sand, swimming in the heated pool, watching the waves as we played board games and enjoyed meals together. (For a less pricey option, a one-bedroom condo at $179/night still sleeps four, with a sleeper sofa in the living area.) There are usually a few more rules at this sort of accommodation (as opposed to a hotel), but this is the main benefit of condo vacations: you can take your family to a new place without rocking your world too much. That’s ideal when your kids have to make the transition back to school right away.
Some other attractions include the Westport Light State Park adjacent to the property. Grays Harbor Light Station is located here. One night we took a late evening walk into the park, on a path that led us into the middle of the dunes. Away from all the man-made lights, our kids got to see more stars than they ever see living in the city. We picked out all the constellations we knew and talked about how small we really are, living on this planet — a conversation we’d never have hanging out at home!
Another activity I brought along was a surprise, a ferris wheel Erector set (a Schylling product). Our two boys, ages 5 and 8, spent hours helping put it together. They liked receiving a “gift” on their trip away, and we enjoyed the peaceful view while working on a project together. Other hits were Yahtzee and Scrabble, which both came with the condo.
Family Weekend Getaways: Walla Walla