Looking for vacation location suggestions (continental USA)

Kit and I want to take a real vacation this summer vs. using a lot of my PTO on long camping weekends. We're in Oklahoma (your condolences are appreciated, thanks).

We are fairly boring people, we're not into high-end shopping, fancy restaurants, glitzy stuff. What we do like is:

- Glassblowing
- Quilt / fabric shops
- Game shops
- Relaxing places where we can sit and read
- Small town stuff
- Art festivals
- Bodies of water (Lakes, Ocean)
- I'd like to work in a half-day fishing trip if possible, or a lake/dinner boat tour. Something waterish.

We're also sorta scoping out potential retirement areas (retirement is at least 10 years off). Most of the places I'd like to retire are out of our price range, but we'd like to see them anyway. Washington and Oregon are on our list so I looked at flying to the Tacoma area because of the active glass arts there. Same with the Belfast / Bangor, Maine area. Too far to drive, flights are a little more than I want to spend, and finding a Motel / AirBnB at a reasonable rate didn't seem possible.

So, we're resigned to driving. I'd prefer something within 12 hours of Tulsa, OK so we can 1-day the drive, but a 2-day drive might be in the cards if the stayover location was decent.

We've been to Kansas City quite a bit already. It will be summer, so we don't want to go down to the the Texas gulf.

3 years ago, we targeted Duluth, MN for a vacation, but COVID killed it. It's a possibility for this year.

Gotta go. I'll add more info later if I think of more.

If you guys have any suggestions, hollah.


Burlington, VT and environs. Has everything you want, plus easy drive to most of New England and not far from Canada either. Glorious scenery, nice people. University town. Thriving senior scene. Great food, especially organic hippie stuff lol (best cheese outside of Wisconsin). Great fishing. Big, modern hospital with quality care. Squares and parks. Lots of festivals around. Tons and tons of nature easy to hand. Winter sports amenable to seniors (like ice skating and X-country skiing). Affordable. Liberals and Conservatives tend to get along. Old school New England town meetings, if you choose a small town. Bernie lives in Burlington.

Glassblowing *and* quilting in one location? Can it be? At least 10 places to buy fabrics in the area.

Fishing pier, fishing charters, and more...

Definitely has seasons. You will experience winter, but in a place where the road folks and businesses are set up to deal with it.

Burlington has an international airport and is an Amtrak passenger terminus. Easy to get a train to a major metro center like Boston, NYC, DC, etc.

Stay in town or in a nearby town like St Albans City or South Burlington. The latter has some nice new retirement facilities too.

Just google it and look at the pics...

bepnewt wrote:

we'd like to see them anyway. Washington and Oregon are on our list

The Oregon Coast has most of the stuff on your list. Seaside and Cannon Beach are the too most popular locations, with Seaside being more tourist-trappy and Cannon Beach being slightly more authentic, though both are always pretty crowded due to being the closest coastal towns to Portland.
I personally prefer the central Oregon coast, between Tillamook and Florence. Amenities are a little more spread out but it’s a lot less busy even in the middle of summer and the geography is stunning.

Sticking to your 12 hour and under drive time, take a look at Chattanooga TN, 10 hrs 52 minutes. They have boat cruises on the Tennessee river, and would check off most of your other wants.

Asheville NC puts you a little over 13 hours. No water cruising but mountain lakes and kayaking/paddle board/tubing on the French Broad. Like Chattanooga, it has most of your other requirements covered.

Maybe someone can recommend some of the Gulf Coast beach towns?

Duluth is nice and everything but, if you are looking for relaxing, small town lake-y stuff, you may want to look into the Brainerd and Bemiji areas. Lots of small towns between those two cities with tons of resorts where you can rent a cabin on a lake.

Man, Newport, OR on the Oregon Coast where I live fits the bill, but it is far away. It's my favorite place in the world.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Man, Newport, OR on the Oregon Coast where I live fits the bill, but it is far away. It's my favorite place in the world.

I really love that area as well, especially Otter Rock. We try to get out to the coast for a week or so several times a year but we’ve been too busy lately.

I answered with the retirement stuff in mind. BTV is almost 24 hours drive time from Tulsa, with a median stopover somewhere in Ohio. Better (and probably cheaper) to fly for a vacation?

But Vermont is one of the best places in the US in terms of climate effects, so it's a good retirement choice when the time comes. I strongly urge you to visit.

Since you're only 3.5 hours away I'll assume you've been to Branson Missouri and enjoyed the beautiful Table Rock Lake?

You may have done this already since you're already sort of in the vicinity, but you might consider heading southwest to check out some of the national parks in that area. My wife and I did a big 4 month cross country road trip back in 2018 (I really should post about this in the camping thread...), and our favorite places were down in that part of the country, although it's worth noting none of these are really water-centric. From Tulsa, you might consider:

1) Big Bend National Park in Texas. Very neat. From there it's a relatively short drive over to
2) Marfa, TX. Funky little art enclave in the middle of nowhere. My profile pic is from an art installation there.
3) Guadalupe Mountains National Park
4) Carlsbad Caverns. Of the dozens of national parks we saw, this is in the top 3. To be honest, it's kind of a tossup between this and the Grand Canyon for the top spot. If you are able, you should definitely take the natural route down through the caves instead of the elevator to the main cavern. It's difficult to convey the sense of walking through one cathedral-sized space after another after another after another before culminating in a truly immense, otherworldly space deep in the depths.
5) Grand Canyon.
6) Santa Fe, NM. Small artsy city--lots of galleries. Smells wonderful--high desert mesquite and juniper.