California Mid-week and Week Day Vacations



California mid-week and week day vacations are overlooked but are well worth considering for value and savings.

The weekend getaway in which working stiffs receive an official break from jobs, hop in a car, on a plane or take a train and go somewhere else is the coveted vacation these days..  The US and California tourism industries define a trip as  50 miles or further with an overnight stay. We Californians know that such measurements are meaningless in one sense. Many people drive more than 50 miles each way to a job daily. Some keeps second homes, apartments, stay with family or other such overnight arrangements, returning home each weekend.

So the weekend getaway, usually a traditional overnighter or two-to-three night stay, is considered one of the top attractions, and things to write about. We can't deny the facts. In 10 years of travel publishing, we've seen the trend take a turn to even more last minute bookings--and there's a definite pattern of when to book for the weekend.

But what about all the people who have lost their traditional jobs and work from home? Or the people who have no kids in school, or no kids at all?  What about senior travelers who are unencumbered by routines and restrictions of the work world? In California those numbers continue to climb.  And for those with a few bucks in the bank, a tank of gas and affordable hotel room can get your spinning wheels out of a rut and into roads less traveled. 

The advantages to week day or mid-week getaways are numerous.

1) More availability of hotel rooms in many destinations.

2) Lower prices on hotels.

To prove this point, our first choice for hotels in Pismo Beach will demonstrate. Checking two Best Western hotels overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Pismo Beach, we booked out two weeks from today, mid-week. It is off-season so availability was there. And we found rates from today costing $126 per night per room. Just to see how much more we'd pay two days later, booking for rooms Friday night instead of Wednesday, the price nearly doubled to $245 for one Best Western in Pismo Beach, and $265 for the other. You've paid for your gas if you can go mid-week. But not everyone can, obviously.

3) Less crowds to cope with when you get there.  We can show you photos to prove this theory.  As a tourism photographer, one of our members on staff knows there's a formula for picture taking. Travelers want destinations to look traveled and used with people in the pictures, but not too many. There is a window of opportunity for destination picture taking. It usually comes in the summer, mid-week for beaches.

4) Some museums are open during the week. Always call first on these museums. I went to one and nobody was there, even though the sign said it was supposed to be open. There was no indication of why it wasn't open. But if you do your homework, you may be able to see a rare collection of 19th century horse-drawn buggies, musical instruments, fans, or any number of items on display in these California gems.

5) Less lines for shopping, dining and theme parks. Places such as aquariums are packed in the summer. One that is most enjoyable in the fall or winter on a week day is Aquarium of the Pacific. In the summer such places are challenging to enjoy for those who don't like crowds and noise.

6) More expendable time with less pressure to to get out of a hotel room if you like it.  That's true if you book Monday and give yourself some leeway. But come Friday/Saturday, you may have to leave if you don't cough up double the money in some places.

7) Some flights are easier to book, offering cheaper rates mid-week when booked in advance. This depends on if the flight is a business travel flight. Some are. But if they are not popular business destinations, then week day and mid week flights have greater offerings when the kids are in school and not flying to see a mom or dad in a divorced family situation.

Now the minuses.

1) Some museums and attractions are only open on the weekend.

2) Some restaurants are closed on Mondays.

3) Special events are weekend getaway driven.

4) For those who really like crowds(?), sometimes a week day vacation can seem desolate.

5) Rush hour traffic in bigger cities most be factored in.

6) Some destinations are popularly booked for business travelers, making airline seats harder to get.

Like those who prefer fall, winter and spring vacations (called the shoulder season in the tourism industry), some prefer combining these off-season travel times with midweek stays and vacations. Trips such as a fall foliage drive to Mammoth Lakes, a week day getaway to Idyllwild, Palm Desert or Big Bear Lake, a drive to San Diego, flight to San Francisco, Las Vegas or even Humboldt County to see the giant redwoods can offer more benefit than an apple to keep the doctor away.

California mid-week and week day vacations are something we've been doing for a few years, except when attending a concert, festival, fair or event that only happens on a weekend.  Savings of up to $100 on a hotel room is not bad, nor is the relaxing atmosphere of a pool or beach where the size of the crowd is just right during the week.