Remember back in March when you thought you had all the time in the world to plan your summer? When the possibilities for weekend getaways and weeks at the lake seemed endless? Well, we’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news: You’re out of time. And your possibilities: They’re rather limited. The good news is that if you jump on it right away, you still have time to plan a memorable summer getaway. Plus, you might even be rewarded for procrastinating.
In the last two weeks of August, when most vacationers head home for sports practices and back-to-school shopping, resorts usually booked with annual weeklong guests often offer shorter and/or discounted stays.
The key to planning a last-minute late-summer trip is to keep an open mind and stay flexible. If you have your heart set on a particular date or destination, you’re likely to be disappointed. To plan your procrastinator’s holiday, it’s helpful to use three strategies:
1. Think big. Target larger vacation areas with plenty of rooms for last-minute reservations. Websites such as tripadvisor.com and hotels.com make it easy to find lodging on specific dates, but check destination websites too.
2. Think small. Most chambers of commerce post a list with last-minute openings and specials. Some places even offer name-your-price options for vacancies. You’d be surprised at the possibilities for late-August stays at small kickback resorts—with cabins and screen porches, impromptu potlucks, and loons calling from the lake.
3. Mix it up. Be willing to spend a few nights at one property and then switch to another where openings are available midweek. If you have the right attitude, it can be like two vacations in one.
Once you’re in a flexible frame of mind, the next question is, of course, where to go. You can use the above strategies for any lake town you’d like, but you can’t go wrong starting with these five perennially popular regional vacation destinations.
Tucked in Minnesota’s Glacial Lakes region, the small city of Alexandria is ringed by lakes and boasts more than three dozen resorts.
With more than 500 lakes in the area, Brainerd is a great place to hook a big fish and do water sports, from classic waterskiing and wakeboarding to standup paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga.
Three and a half hours east on I-94, Wisconsin Dells is the self-proclaimed water park capital of the world, and the claim holds water.
We know we gave you a pretty thorough guide to Duluth in the last issue of this magazine. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Two Harbors as a great end-of-summer escape.
If you crave water warmer than Lake Superior but big enough that the horizon disappears, check out Walker on the southern edge of Leech Lake, an hour north of Brainerd.