We had such a dream, and made it come true a few weeks ago – without driving more than a few miles from home.
We're part of a “Mom's Club,” a group who became great friends when our kiddos were part of Caroline Highhill's kindergarten class last year at Holmes Elementary School.
We periodically plan fun events together, some with kids, and some without – a few hours at the park, dinner and a movie, concerts, and most recently, a Grand Haven getaway.
We scored a Black Friday deal – $44 per night, per room – at the Baymont Inn on Beacon Boulevard in Grand Haven. We booked eight rooms for a Saturday night in mid-January.
By the time the holidays had taken their hiatus, I think we were all ready for a mid-winter night's eve.
Perhaps you are, too.
Here are the top 10 reasons to consider a mini-vacation in your own hometown.
1. It's easier to arrange a getaway with a large number of friends or family members when you don't have to worry about booking flights.
We all traveled from Spring Lake to Grand Haven for pennies, and within minutes, without the hassle of arranging airfare, paying for flights and laboring through layovers.
2. Time is of the essence. Let's face it, no one plans a two-day, one-night trip to the Caribbean to sit poolside.
If you're gunning for a swimming/pool vacation this time of year, you're going for at least a week, right?
That kind of trip takes a huge commitment – from your work vacation days and from your kids' allowed-time-off-from-school.
With a close-to-home hotel, you can relax without the time commitment. And show up fresh for work Monday morning, with no jet-lag.
3.You can back out at the last minute if you have to. One of our families wasn't able to make it as planned. Instead of losing out on non-refundable airline tickets and resort deposits, she could simply cancel 24 hours before check-in.
4. If you forget to pack something, it's no big deal. When home is 10 minutes away, it makes for a stress-free packing experience.
5. You can see your hometown through visitor's eyes.
I loved reading through the local highlights binder, that featured local restaurants, attractions and discounts. How fun to rent an electric bike in our town, buy one, get one free.
6. It's WAY cheaper than an ordinary vacation. Forget airline tickets, rental cars, week-long lodging costs and perhaps passport fees. Once you pay for the local hotel, and a couple of dollars in taxes, you're done.
7. Food is super simple. Because we didn't have to worry about luggage weight limits, we could pack our own snacks and beverages, for both kids and adults. We ordered pizza for dinner, and our stay included free breakfast in the morning.
8. You know and trust the people in adjoining rooms. How often can you say that during a hotel stay?
9. You can focus on what matters. If you're like me, when you're on vacation, you want to see it all, do it all, explore it all... Since I feel pretty well-versed in Grand Haven, and can experience all the beautiful and wonderful things this area has to offer at any time, there was no pressure to go out and “do.”
Instead of feeling tourist pressure, we spent our evening laughing with friends and playing board games.
10. Speaking of board games, as an added bonus for our “trip,” Chris Streng, a volunteer for the Imagination Station playground fundraiser, dropped off a “Grand Haven-Opoly” game for us to take for a spin.
What a great way to celebrate a staycation – playing an age-old game with a local flair. All of the properties around the board's perimeter are local companies, such as Fortino's, Pronto Pup, Sweet Temptations and the Grand Haven Tribune.
Even the play-pieces ring local, with a trolley, lighthouse, salmon, etc.
It's serious fun, with a familiar twist.
Best part is, all proceeds from the game go toward renovation of the almost three-decades-old Imagination Station at Mulligan's Hollow. The $500,000 remake plan includes a Coast Guard boat, lighthouse, a bridge resembling the catwalk, a rope climbing wall, twisty tube slide, monkey bars, swings and more.
Streng said Grand Haven-Opoly game is available at the North Ottawa Community Hospital Gift Shop, MACkite, The Bookman, J Dub's Market and Aberdeen's.