How to Day Trip: Top Tips For Exploring a New City

Hello, friends! How is it already almost the end of February? Time is flying by!
For today, let’s talk traveling! I have always loved to explore new places but sometimes “vacations” are not always feasible or budget-friendly. That’s where day trips come in! Since moving to Virginia Beach last May, we have tried to visit a number of “cities” in the surrounding region. Some have been day trips, some weekend trips. Read about those trips here!
Today, we’re going to chat about my tips for making the most out of a day trip. How to get the most bang for your buck and see the sights in less than 12 hours! I have broken this down into categories and touched on what I think are the most important aspects of any travel.

Location: How to Pick a Destination

First and foremost, when starting to plan a day trip, choose a destination that is less than 2 hours away. I have found this to be the best cut-off. Anything longer than this and you spend too much of your day in the car. At that point, you should probably just make it a weekend adventure. I plan on doing an upcoming post about how to plan and pack for a weekend away, so stay tuned for that!
We went to Richmond, VA over the summer and it was just under 2 hours away. Just long enough to make sure you are fully awake once you reach your destination, but not too long that you want to fall asleep on the drive home 🙂
You can check out my Richmond Travel Guide here!

Activities: What the Heck Do You Want to Do When You Get There

Aim to plan your daytrip around 1-3 main attractions. I love using Trip Advisor or finding blogs describing the location. Just Google the city name, “blog”, and “day trip” and you should be good!
We plan the majority of our day and weekend trips around breweries and donuts! Yes, I realize those are both technically food, but that’s how we roll. We also tend to look for outdoor activities, like a park or hike! We have to find some way to work off the donut(s) and craft brews 🙂
Think about what you enjoy doing in your own hometown or what you have previously enjoyed on vacations. Are you more of an outdoor person? Maybe you have a thing for art museums or concerts? Choose destinations that fit your hobbies and you will find plenty to fill your day!

Food: The Best Part of Traveling

I always research food prior to planning a trip, even if its just a one-day adventure! If the city you’re visiting is known for a certain food, make sure you get some! For example, Philadelphia is obviously known for a Philly cheesesteak.
Choose your food based on where locals recommend. Once again, Trip Advisor is great, but so is Yelp when it comes to choosing restaurants or shops. Open Table will let you make and cancel reservations easily, and if you choose a popular restaurant, make a reservation! You don’t want to waste your precious time waiting in a line you could have avoided.
We typically plan to have a light lunch, an afternoon snack/dessert, and dinner when we head out for a day trip. This let’s you try a few different cuisines, maybe in different parts of the city!

Miscellaneous: The Things You Might Not Consider


Be sure to research parking situations prior to getting to your destination. If you plan to spend most of your day walking around a downtown area, find public parking garages that won’t cost a fortune! If you are going to be driving to various locations, this probably isn’t as much of a concern. Just make sure you’re good at parallel parking if you plan on spending quality time in the heart of the city. The last thing you want is to get a ticket, or god forbid be towed! Parking is not always something people consider prior to getting to their destination, but it is something I always research ahead of time.
If you are heading to a larger city, one in which you may not want to drive, look into the public transportation system. Most major cities will have a subway or bus system that picks up just outside of the downtown area. These stops generally have daily parking (for work commuters) and help you avoid the dreaded meter maids!


This isn’t something you have a ton of control over, but I aim to plan day trips around good weather. If the majority of what you want to see and do in a city is outdoors, try to plan your trip during the warmer months of the year. If almost everything you like doing is indoors, like museums, you can go in the less touristy season or when it’s raining.
I make sure to check the weather forecast in the days leading up to our day trip. Maybe you intended on going for a hike but it’s going to thunderstorm? This gives you enough time to re-work your itinerary and/or bring more appropriate clothing.


This is also dependent on weather and the activities you want to do! In general, I keep an umbrella, sunscreen, and a hat in the car at all times. You might also want to pack layers. Even if its 90 degrees outside, you may be going in and out of air-conditioned museums or restaurants. A light sweater might be most appreciated!
Also, make sure to wear comfortable shoes! You will likely be covering a lot of ground on foot. Don’t let your feet slow you down! I also recommend avoiding wearing new shoes. Nothing is worse than a blister when you still have 2 miles to walk back to your car.
I hope this gave you a few things to think about when it comes time to plan your next day trip! Stay tuned for future travel posts, including packing for weekend trips and planning our honeymoon!

Questions? Comments? Words of Advice?

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