Feature: Two for the Road

Add a second leg to your summer getaway.

By Brooke Porter Katz | Video by Chris M. Rogers

Washington’s Puget Sound, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the Miami area and the Colorado Rockies—all of these places are popular weeklong vacation destinations. (For those who haven’t been yet, you will find links to a few helpful stories throughout this one.) In the spirit of spontaneity, here are four fun side trips to extend your adventure somewhere new. All that’s left to do? Press the pedal and explore.


The Puget Sound side trip

With its waterfront location, vibrant neighborhoods and top-notch food scene, Seattle understandably ranks as one of the country’s best places to live. You can experience the highlights in just a few days—all within driving distance of a Puget Sound escape.

Start off at the Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Ave.; 206-654-3100; admission, free), a former industrial site that now houses works by the likes of Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Bourgeois and Alexander Calder. From there, it’s a 20-minute walk to the famed Pike Place Market (First Ave. and Pike St.; 206-682-7453), a hive of activity where vendors hawk fresh produce; fishmongers toss salmon; artisans peddle locally made jewelry, soap and other goodies; and chefs cook up meals in 30-plus restaurants. (It’s also home to the original Starbucks—and a short walk from Seattle’s waterfront Ferris wheel.)

A 10-minute drive east, the Capitol Hill neighborhood is filled with popular places to eat, such as the seafood-focused Bar Melusine (1060 E. Union St.; 206-900-8808; dinner for two, $65*). Whatever you order, consider starting with some raw Washington oysters.

To sample the sweet side of Bar Melusine owner and chef Renee Erickson—the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northwest in 2016—just head next door. There you’ll find her cult-favorite doughnut shop, General Porpoise (1020 E. Union St.; 206-900-8770; doughnuts for two, $8), where flavors range from chocolate marshmallow to lemon curd. A stone’s throw away is Bar Ferdinand (1424 11th Ave.; 206-693-2434; dinner for two, $90), from Matt Dillon, another James Beard Award winner, known for his work at Sitka & Spruce (1531 Melrose Ave.; 206-324-0662; dinner for two, $70) and The London Plane (300–322 Occidental Ave. S.; 206-624-1374; dinner for two, $50). Dillon’s newest venture is a great spot for a predinner glass of something; the chalkboard menu lists bottles from family-owned small-batch wineries.

If you’re in the mood for a little shopping, detour to Pioneer Square. Clementines (310 Occidental Ave. S.; 206-935-9400) is a go-to for on-trend women’s shoes from designers such as Kat Maconie and eco-friendly Coclico. Nearby, E. Smith Mercantile (208 First Ave. S.; 206-641-7250) carries everything from soy candles and ceramic mugs to edible souvenirs like olive oil and tapenade. Plus, you can sign up for crafting workshops and cooking classes in its light-filled annex.

Washington, D.C.

The Shenandoah Valley side trip

The Shenandoah Valley is a great spot for summer—it’s home to a flourishing farm-to-fork movement, not to mention the many outdoor adventures afforded by Shenandoah National Park. But once you’ve had your fill of kayaking and hiking, you may crave the city scene. Enter Washington, D.C., about 100 miles away.

Consider beginning with The Wharf, a 24-acre, $2.5 billion waterfront district that opened in October with tons of green space, more than 50 shops, and 20 restaurants, including acclaimed chef Mike Isabella’s modern French restaurant Requin (100 District Sq. SW; ‭202-827-8380; dinner for two, $100). From there, it’s a 20-minute walk to the National Mall, where you’ll have your pick of presidential monuments, war memorials and Smithsonian museums—all of which are free. A few Smithsonian standouts: the recently renovated Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. SW; 202-633-1000; admission, free)—two connected exhibit spaces dedicated to art from Asia—and the kid-approved National Air and Space Museum (Independence Ave. at Sixth St.; 202-633-2214; admission, free). Don’t miss the 1903 Wright Flyer and an A320 flight-deck simulator.

A little northeast of the Washington Monument sits the groundbreaking National Museum of African American History and Culture (1400 Constitution Ave. NW; 844-750-3012; admission, free), which opened in the fall of 2016. (The following year its lead designer, David Adjaye, was the sole architect on Time’s 100 most influential people list.) Timed tickets are available online three months in advance and get snatched up quickly, so schedule your visit as early as you can.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

North of the National Mall, Succotash (915 F St. NW; 202-849-6933; dinner for two, $72) is the latest offering from James Beard Award nominee Edward Lee. Its Southern menu nods to the chef’s Korean roots with dishes such as “dirty” fried chicken in gochujang sauce, blue cheese, pickles and nori flakes. During happy hour, which runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, there’s peel-and-eat shrimp, $1 smoked chicken wings and fewer crowds.

And if you would rather wander the city without a plan, walkable neighborhoods abound, including Dupont Circle and Logan Circle. You’re sure to stumble upon a boutique or bakery that beckons you inside.

Key Largo

The Miami-area side trip

The Miami area isn’t just the gateway to the Everglades and the beaches of the southeastern coast, but also to the island of Key Largo, 82 miles south. And you can drive the whole way there thanks to the Overseas Highway.

On this upper (and largest) part of the Florida Keys island chain, you’ll find John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (entrance at Overseas Hwy. mile 102.5; 305-451-6300; admission, $8 a vehicle), where you can take your pick of snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving and glass-bottom boat tours. Another way to get on the water is on the African Queen with Calypso Sailing (99701 Overseas Hwy.; 305-451-8080; two-hour dinner cruises, $89; children 4–12, $49; children 3 and under, free), which rides along the Port Largo canals in the boat from the 1951 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The dinner cruise includes a meal at the Pilot House restaurant, or you can opt for a daytime cruise and eat at one of the isle’s lively restaurants. You can’t go wrong with crab cakes and conch salad at Alabama Jack’s (58000 Card Sound Rd.; 305-248-8741; dinner for two, $32). Or try Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen (99336 Overseas Hwy.; 305-451-3722; dinner for two, $50), a classic restaurant in the middle of the island. Expect large portions whether you order the blackened fresh snapper or signature chili.

If you want to get up close to the marine life, be sure to visit Dolphins Plus (877-365-2683; programs, from $125 a person). Each of the center’s locations—one is on Key Largo’s ocean side, the other on the Gulf of Mexico side—offers several ways to interact with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, from swimming to being a trainer for a day.


The Colorado Rockies side trip

Any vacation in the Colorado Rockies benefits from a stop in Denver, the state’s biggest city. Denver is about 90 miles from many of the popular mountain towns, a small enough distance that you can drive into town before, after or during your getaway.

Food halls have been trending around the world for a few years, and the Mile High City certainly has its fair share. The latest, Milk Market (1800 Wazee St.; 720-360-4733; lunch for two, $30), is set to open this summer inside Dairy Block, a development named for the old Windsor Dairy in Denver’s LoDo (or Lower Downtown) neighborhood. There are more than a dozen vendors, including an Asian bao (steamed bun) spot and a pizzeria—making it ideal for an impromptu and affordable meal.

For a more traditional sit-down experience, bistro French 75 (717 17th St.; 303-405-7575; dinner for two, $90) serves up classics such as coq au vin and moules frites (steamed mussels and French fries). It opened last summer as the 10th offering from Frank Bonanno, the host of PBS’s Chef Driven. A few blocks away, jazz bar–slash–restaurant Dazzle (1512 Curtis St.; 303-839-5100; tickets, from free to $40, with a $15 per-person food and drink minimum) recently moved to a better space in the historic Baur’s Building. Consider making a reservation for the Friday lunch, a $13 three-course meal accompanied by live music.

Between meals, the Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York St.; 720-865-3500; adults, $12.50; children 3–15, $9; children 2 and under, free) is a nice place to spend an afternoon—and through September 23, you can catch a special display of bright, minimalist metal sculptures by Mike Whiting. Named “Pixelated,” the exhibit is inspired by old video-game graphics. And while the North Building of the Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.; 720-865-5000; adults, $13; children 18 and under, free) is undergoing a years-long renovation, the Hamilton Building is open seven days a week. There are a number of summer shows, but the highlight may be “New Territory: Landscape Photography Today.” More than 80 contemporary landscape photographs interpret the natural world in boundary-pushing ways.

RCI® affiliated resorts near some of the featured destinations include:
The Pines 0233

Summer here is all about adventure; get ready for zip-lining, grass tubing and a bike park. 2565 Orkney Grade, Mt. Jackson, VA
Member Review: “A nice resort for nature lovers. You can relax and take in the views or explore the many wineries, fairs and nearby caverns.”

Eagle Trace at Massanutten 2293

Thanks to units that sleep up to 12, you can invite the whole gang along to the Blue Ridge Mountains. 1822 Resort Dr., McGaheysville, VA
Member Review: “There is so much to do—swimming, tennis, ice skating and a game room.”

The Summit at Massanutten 3640

Shares amenities with Eagle Trace at Massanutten. 1822 Resort Dr., McGaheysville, VA
Member Review: “The golf courses are outstanding.”

Woodstone at Massanutten 5711

Shares amenities with Eagle Trace at Massanutten. 1822 Resort Dr., McGaheysville, VA
Member Review: “Incredibly friendly staff.”

Regal Vistas at Massanutten C152

Shares amenities with Eagle Trace at Massanutten. 1822 Resort Dr., McGaheysville, VA
Member Review: “The golf courses are outstanding.”

The Mountainside at SilverCreek 1325

Many rooms come with a hot tub you can soak in after a day spent out and about in the Rockies. 96 Mountainside Dr., Box 4104, Granby, CO
Member Review: “The location cannot be beat.”

The Christie Lodge 0867

With crafts sessions and wine-and-cheese parties, there’s plenty to do for every member of the family. 0047 E. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon, CO
Member Review: “Great nearby hiking.”

Vacation Village at Bonaventure 4025

Bring your A game: This resort is within walking distance of two championship golf courses. 16461 Racquet Club Rd., Weston, FL
Member Review: “The accommodations were terrific.”

Vacation Village at Weston 5773

Shares amenities with Vacation Village at Bonaventure. 16461 Racquet Club Rd., Weston, FL
Member Review: “The rooms are huge, clean and nicely furnished.”

Mizner Place 7559

Enjoy the chance to slow down and stretch your legs. From here, you can walk to great shops, restaurants and nightlife. 1775 Bonaventure Blvd., Weston, FL
Member Review: “Gorgeous setting!”

Harder Hall Lakeside Villas 0742

Bike or hike among 1,000-year-old oaks and diverse wildlife at the nearby Highland Hammock State Park. 124 Lake Dr. Blvd., Sebring, FL
Member Review: “We had a great view of Lake Jackson!”

Lehigh Resort Club 0101

The kids can swing on the monkey bars or at the 18-hole miniature-golf course. 231 Joel Blvd., Lehigh Acres, FL
Member Review: “I’ve been coming here for 25 years now. I will be back for 25 more.”


Driving can be a great way to squeeze in a last-minute getaway. If you’re unsure if you will have enough space to fit all your luggage or don’t want to add miles on your own vehicle, you can rent a car through RCI® Travel.** With a Best Rate Guarantee on flights, car rental, hotels and more, RCI Travel can save you the hassle of searching other travel providers.***

For complete member reviews (as member reviews have been condensed) and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.

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Other vacation options in and near the featured destinations include:
River Mountain Lodge

With this cozy lodge as your base, you can explore the Rockies by bike. It’s just steps from Breckenridge’s historic Main Street. 100 S. Park Ave., Breckenridge, CO; 888-242-7497; wyndhamvacationrentals.com; doubles from $193 a night

Main Street Station

An idyllic retreat in Breckenridge, a charming Victorian town and Colorado’s largest sanctioned historic district. 505 S. Main St., Breckenridge, CO; 888-242-7497; wyndhamvacationrentals.com; doubles from $266 a night

Source Hotel

These months-old digs in the RiNo Arts District are connected to the popular Source food hall. The hotel offers 100 floodlit minimalist rooms and a rooftop terrace. 3330 Brighton Blvd., Denver, CO; 800-570-6216; thesourcehotel.com; doubles from $249 a night

The Line Hotel

The 220-room hotel, in a former neoclassical church, adds a much-needed stylish place to stay in Washington, D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. 1770 Euclid St. NW, Washington, D.C.; 202-588-0525; thelinehotel.com/dc; doubles from $279 a night

Kona Kai Resort & Gallery

A 13-room cottagelike hideaway with an on-site tropical botanic garden and prime location on Florida Bay. 97802 Overseas Hwy., mile 97.8, Key Largo, FL; 800-365-7829; konakairesort.com; doubles from $229 a night

Hotel Theodore

The former Roosevelt Hotel has been reborn as this pet-friendly property. Each of the 153 rooms has an honor bar stocked with local drinks. 1531 Seventh Ave., Seattle, WA; 877-986-8081; hoteltheodore.com; doubles from $489 a night

  • *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
  • **For RCI Travel terms and conditions, go to RCITravel.com/terms. RCI Travel and the RCI Best Rate Guarantee are administered and fulfilled by International Cruise & Excursion Gallery Inc. d/b/a Our Vacation Center and/or ICE, a Delaware Corporation with its principal place of business at 7720 N. Dobson Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona under contract with RCI, LLC. RCI disclaims all responsibility in connection with any third party travel services. For more information, visit the Air, Car, Cruise & More Tab on RCI.com.
  • *** For Terms and conditions for the RCI Travel Best Rate Guarantee, go to RCITravel.com/BRG. RCI is not responsible for honoring the RCI Travel Best Rate Guarantee.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Summer 2018