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Last-Minute Family Vacations

Joelle Mentis

Deplar - Family Travel

You thought you were too busy this summer to take a family trip, but right about now, you have a case of FOMO. It’s too late to squeeze in Greece properly, and tickets are through the roof for France. Yes, you can spend another week at the beach house, but is there something else out there? The answer is yes and last-minute trips are the best.

During this time of year, the days feel long. But sure enough, the years are short. If you haven’t had time to plan a meaningful family getaway, don’t worry. Here are some places you can book last minute with great weather in August. Best of all, they aren’t traditional, and the limited presence of tourism has preserved an authenticity your kids will appreciate. Go make some memories. There’s still time.

The Destination

Patagonia

The Overview

The population of Patagonia is only .73 people per square mile. This means that almost all of the remote peninsula’s vast geographical beauty has been preserved. When ‘unspoiled’ is a popular vacation search term you know that few places actually feel like the real deal. That is — they have features of the natural world without glass walls in front of them. Patagonia has some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes, and animals one can find anywhere.

If you like hiking or skiing, you’re in luck. There are ample day hikes, as well as opportunities to go out into the wilderness for extended periods of time. If you’re more of a road-trip fam, there are plenty of routes that cater well to a week on the road, with camping sites to stop off at. It’s an adventurous destination, but there are less adventurous ways to experience a lack of human development. Cruises offer the opportunity to see whales and penguins, and they love horseback riding across the country.

Where to Stay

The Singular Hotel in Patagonia is perhaps the singular thing you need to remember. The hotel’s luxury accommodations are the nicest in Patagonia. And the staff will book your entire adventure for you, highlighting the best that Patagonia has to offer. The restaurant and bar also do not disappoint. Or, at least guests say they are worth traveling to. Another perk is that guests get free access to the spa, which, after hiking, biking, and horseback riding, will feel extra luxurious.

The Destination

The Baltic States: Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania

The Overview

The Baltic countries are underrated. Even the most well-traveled people won’t have been there. And yet, their Baltic origins and European colonialism have contributed to the development of one of the most beautiful regions in Europe. With countless UNESCO sites and temperate summers, the social influences are matched by stunning geography.

In Latvia, the German influence of Art Nouveau dominates the architecture. Even banks and cafés in the capital of Riga have ornate facades and decorations. And though Art Nouveau is the dominant style, Gothic and Baroque influences are also present. Such styles have some of the most compelling visual elements. The culture of the country also privileges celebration, especially in the summer, and the midsummer festival should be on your list. Also, Latvia has many white sand beaches to visit, and a growing food scene that has launched many European chefs to food stardom.

Estonia has an incredibly long recorded history which differs slightly from the other Baltic states. However, they, too, have seen several European colonial periods, with Germanic influence being some of the strongest, today. The country is known for its beauty, as well as the ubiquity of technology people produce there. The most famous tech company that was developed here is Skype. However, though Estonians are known for being at the forefront of technological advancement, they also hold onto beloved customs such as the sauna. Smoke saunas have become a family custom, and saunas offer some of the most relaxing experiences in the country.

Medieval architecture and castles thrive in Lithuania. Gediminis Capital Tower, one of the oldest and most beloved castles in the country also has a compelling history. Legend has it, the 14th century Duke Gediminis dreamed of a city built in that spot. Today, the town of Vilnius has developed all around the castle. For the awe-inspiring geography fix, visit the Curonian Spit, which has impressive sand dunes.  At night, the town of Kaunas is regarded as having the best nightlife.

Where to Stay

Latvia

Latvia has surprisingly few hotels, which is ok because Grand Palace Riga is all you need. The quaint 56-room hotel feels intimate and fits right into the Latvian cityscape. As a result, stays feel authentic, and windows overlook a quiet side street to offer residential views. Though there are few frills, service is diligent and attentive. The best part of the hotel may be the Orangerie, in which you can eat breakfast under a massive and beautiful skylight.

 

Estonia

The Telegraaf in Tallinn is regarded as an emblem of the city’s old-meets-new design. The building once housed a bank, but its time as a post and telegraph office characterizes its history. Today, the contemporary spa, pool, and restaurants have a gilded style that evokes the grandness of the surrounding architecture. The hotel is also super high-end.

Lithuania

One might expect a super high-quality spa to be in Lithuania. Hotel Pacai in Vilnius has just that. And beyond the incredible hammam, the building’s historic origins bring one-of-a-kind design to the rooms. As the building has housed dignitaries for centuries, rich details like marbled floors, and frescos proliferate, even inside the rooms.

The Destination

Iceland

The Overview

If you’ve never been to Iceland, you’ve at least seen photos of it. The Blue Lagoons, waterfalls, cliffs, and geysers are awe-inspiring. Reykjavik, the northernmost capital city in the world is also filled with colorful buildings, quirky bars, and really good seafood restaurants. Reykjavik also has a wild nightlife, which exists even when night doesn’t (because the summer months see near-total daylight). During the opposite season, the 20 hours of darkness offer the opportunity for the northern lights to dance across the horizon.

Where to Stay

The Reykjavik EDITION should be at the top of your list if you’re looking to stay in the city. The hotel has a modern upscale feel and has a reputation for its luxury. Since opening in 2018, the EDITION has been at the top of many travel bloggers’ bucket lists. If you’re looking to see the aurora borealis, or for a more remote stay, try the Hotel Ranga.

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