Real Simple readers open up about the mini-vacation fantasies on their minds.
I would put my Reeboks on and return to the city I grew up in, Worcester, Massachusetts. I would walk around my old neighborhood, visit the grounds of the different schools I attended, and plop down on a park bench and unwrap a bologna sandwich on white bread with relish—my favorite sandwich in elementary school. I would then visit the Greendale library. I was a volunteer there during junior high and loved every moment in that sweet little place.
I would kidnap my husband from work and my son from camp and head to the beach, preferably in a small town near us in Southern California. After lounging in the sun and playing in the water, we would have lunch (insert ice cream here) at one of the nearby cafés. We would end the day with a long walk in the park with our dog Bear, then camp out in our backyard. You can add cocktails for Mom and Dad at sunset.
I would spend it with Leo Tolstoy, reading War and Peace. A few years back, I started this classic on the subway but got very frustrated by the names and shoved it back into my tote. It’s time to give it a second chance.
Patricia Chizom Ezewoko
New York, New York
I have a silver Miata convertible that I love to drive. I would put the top down and sail through the Santa Cruz Mountains (the locals refer to them as “the hills,” since they never get higher than 4,000 feet), over to Highway 1, and then down the coast to Monterey. I would visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sit in front of the tanks for hours, utterly mesmerized.
San Jose, California
I would start a day at the spa with a massage, followed by a facial, a body wrap, a manicure, and a pedicure. I remember my first massage in Calistoga—I had never felt so relaxed. Now I save up for a massage at least once a month. Ladies, it’s better than chocolate.
I would spend the day with my 91-year-old Great-Aunt Pierina, learning her recipes. She is truly a fantastic Italian cook. She makes homemade cappelletti and quadrucci, both of which are served with a chicken-based broth, and gnocchi, which she prepares with a red sauce. At the end of the day, I would have the entire family—Pierina, Mom and Dad, Pierina’s children, and their children—over for a feast.
I recently came across the journal I kept while at New York University, in New York City. It made me nostalgic for the activities I engaged in back then: collecting Chanel No. 5 samples from every department store, reading in the lobby of the New York Palace hotel, watching back-to-back films at the Angelika Film Center. If I could, I would spend one whole day with my family walking the city, from Harlem to Union Square, re-creating some of the journal’s adventures—and stopping for Jamaican beef patties along the way.
Queens, New York
On my motorcycle, which I love to take on twisty back roads. You know how a dog looks so happy when he hangs his head out the window of a car? That’s how I feel on my bike.
Kathe Collins Kaufman
Durham, North Carolina
Since summers in Utah are so hot and dry, I would turn on the lawn sprinkler and dance in the grass with my younger sister and my two dogs (a miniature dachshund and a border collie). It’s fun to pretend it’s raining on a scorching summer day.
Jamie Welch Jaro
Salt Lake City, Utah
Plopped on an inner tube, floating down a slow and lazy river, like the Big Thompson, in Colorado. An inner tube on my right would carry my husband. And one on my left would hold a tray filled with Manchego cheese, Sauvignon Blanc, and a gripping summer thriller.
Castle Rock, Colorado
Going through my house, gathering up everything I no longer need, and bringing it all to a local shelter. A very 1980s slinky black cocktail dress that I haven’t fit into for years comes to mind, as does a blender that never made it out of its packaging.
Iris E. Clas
Putting hundreds, if not thousands, of family photos in albums. These photos have been accumulating in large containers for 42 years, so one day probably isn’t going to get the job done.
Greenville, North Carolina
I would transport myself to Ketchikan, Alaska, to visit my best friend, Catherine, who moved there earlier this year. After a day of hiking, kayaking, and other adventures (picture Catherine riding a zip line), we would eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and catch up on what we have missed.
Belvidere, New Jersey
I would sit on the deck of the house that belonged to my recently deceased mother, with a tall glass of limeade (her favorite), and go through her homemade cookbooks: well-worn binders filled with ingredient-spattered recipes that she banged out on a typewriter from her college days. I would then begin putting together a collection of my mother’s best recipes to pass down to my daughters.
Catching up on my reading. I would scurry around my house collecting the half-dozen or so books I’ve started (but not finished). Then I would head to the nearest bookstore/café, where I would read while enjoying as much coffee as I want.
Manchester, New Hampshire
I would grab the classified section and my handy GPS and take off driving from one garage sale to the next looking for bargains. My sons would search for video games, and I would scout for home-decor items in the hopes of finding a one-of-a-kind antique.
New Auburn, Wisconsin
Getting dirty in the garden with my 17-month-old daughter, who loves to muck around in the mud. We would munch on the different things I grow—strawberries, chives, heirloom tomatoes, and especially cukes, which we’d savor with a sprinkling of salt (it draws out the bitter water, making them sweeter and crunchier). The day would be capped off with a glass of lemonade. Perfection!
Bronx, New York
I would grab my sister and head to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we spent so many carefree afternoons in our 20s. The sounds of summer there—squawking seagulls, young riders screaming on the Giant Dipper, distant tunes from scattered radios—would lift our spirits even more now.
Gina V. Leiva
Menlo Park, California
Cooking my family an ambitious meal—ideally, something I’ve never made before, like bouillabaisse, the fancy French fish stew. First I would shop for the freshest ingredients. Once I got home, I would chop, sauté, simmer, and stir. Then I would set the outdoor table with our fine china, turn on some jazz, and light lanterns. Luckily for me, the cook is exempt from doing the dishes.
West Richland, Washington
In bed with my husband. Enough said.