Mental health days are key; sick days are a necessary evil. But you know what's purely wonderful? Making a getaway on that four-day "weekend" you have as a nurse who works three 12-hour days per week. Granted, those 12-hour days might creep into the 13- or 14-hour range, but they do create four days off in a row every single week.
Are you hesitating? No one needs a crystal ball to know that you probably don't use your clump of days off for a getaway very often. Or maybe you never indulge. That could change -- that should change -- and the summer in Atlanta is a great time to start making road trips with your time off from nursing.
And so you won't waste precious time wondering where to head out, here are five options:
Revel in an American castle.
Asheville, North Carolina is a mere 198 miles from Atlanta and the perfect site for a girlfriend's getaway. The key draw is Biltmore Estate, the Victorian-era mansion owned by the Vanderbilts and now open to the public. It's breathtaking and with an extra day or two, you'll have plenty of time to tour it and also the estate winery (which was a dairy when the house was a working estate.) Accommodations include an inn or cottage right at Biltmore, or you can head into Asheville for its quirky, artsy scene and an Airbnb. This is a place to linger and unwind, and if you're a bookstore fan, Asheville has you cover to covered.
Catch some casino action.
Okay, it's not exactly Vegas. But Cherokee, North Carolina's Harrah's is still fun for a four-day weekend and only about a three-hour drive from Atlanta. Aside from slots and roulette and what-not, it offers live Texas Hold 'em tournaments. (No one's going to make jokes about nurses playing cards, honest.) And if you think you'll get tired of the casino vibe, no worries. This place is literally two miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and about 20 minutes from some prime whitewater rafting, so all bases are covered.
Hike Amicola Falls.
Here you go, nurses who are adrenalin junkies (hello ER and ICU.) Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge is an outdoor adventure just perfect for four days of fun for the burnt-out nurse. The park offers an adventure course, zip lining, 3-D archery, primitive camping and fly fishing. The centerpiece, though, is the falls, which are the tallest in Georgia. The physically fit may want to spend at least one of the days hiking to the top. And if you want to get romantic at day's end, they offer sunset dinner packages, B&B stays and a primo white tablecloth restaurant.
Beach, beach baby!
If you've been putting off heading to Tybee Island in Georgia, make this the summer for a road trip to the beach. Along with pristine beaches and some wonderful nature hikes, the island also boasts some tiny house rentals you can afford even without overtime.
Indulge at Serenbe.
If you'd prefer to spend very little of that weekend away time driving, check out Serenbe on the edges of Atlanta. It's a planned community that's become a sanctuary. The pace is lovely, from the farm tours to the spa possibilities. The Inn at Serenbe is downright luxurious, with 900 acres, yoga and a pool, and the possibility of horseback riding. If this is a romantic getaway, make sure to schedule during one of the weekends the outdoor Serenbe Playhouse has a production. They're one of a kind, rain or shine, and the costumes alone make the playhouse a bucket-list activity.