Summer Guide 2014 Day Trips & Getaways: Wanna get away (on the sly)?

Lie to your boss, play hooky and take a day trip to gorge on amazing food and wine

photo by Wes Davis

Few things are as sinfully blissful as lying to your boss, playing hooky from work, getting out of town, and then gorging on great food and wine. If you’re one of those people whose job is hard to escape, check out the following three ways to sin yourself into earning the vacation you’d never get otherwise.

If you’re a novice at lying, tell your boss that you’re feeling ill or have a 2 p.m. dentist appointment, then get in the car and drive to El Dorado County. Yes, it may sound like a bit of a crappy vacation, but the place is a designated American Viticultural Area with good wineries that grow 50 grape types, including ones that are native to Rhone (Southern France) and Bordeaux (southwestern France). Also, it’s worth visiting Aji Japanese Bistro or Selland’s Market-Cafe and having a long dinner to make it feel like a vacation.

Napa’s probably the second closest place to imbibe purple alcoholic drinks and stuff yourself with amazing food; plus, it’s only a couple hours away. Tell the higher-ups that you think you have food poisoning, and then take a day trip. Morimoto Napa is a great place to eat if you’re a fan of Iron Chef—or if you can stomach 10-course, $150 meals. If you want more affordable and diverse choices, head to Oxbow Public Market, which has just about everything—restaurants, wine, pastries, groceries, cocktails.

Lastly, if you’re feeling particularly unscrupulous and your “aunt” should happen to “pass away” (cough, cough), take a Friday off and drive over to Carmel-by-the-Sea for a weekend vacation. At first, you might see a bunch of yuppies driving around aimlessly in Porsches and Maseratis, but just ignore them—most of the locals are actually pretty down-to-earth and amiable. There’s the beach (which is dog-friendly); a downtown area that’s incredibly walkable and resembles a quaint European seaside town; and the relatively new Carmel Wine Walk (also dog-friendly), where $65 gets you passes to wine tastings at nine of 12 participating wineries. Hotel tip: Hofsas House Hotel is a quiet place to stay that’s far enough away from the center of town to be affordable (plus, it offers wine-and-cheese and dog-friendly packages). The restaurant Mundaka has fantastic—but somewhat pricey—Spanish tapas and cocktails, and in April, it got a shout-out from a Condé Nast Traveler article titled “Ranked: The Best American Cities for Foodies.” Carmel ranked No. 7, and Napa No. 2.

Of course, the only drag about such a minivacation is losing out on the opportunity to brag about it at work the next day. Small sacrifice.