Serial vacationer and mom of three, Marie Field-Faith, shares the hidden gems she has discovered for families to enjoy.

This story by Marie Field Faith first came out in Modern Parenting’s 2022 print edition.

Adulting and parenting can get so overwhelming at times. So as often as I can, I try to take my family away from the city for a vacation and drive away to a new destination to discover. What started as short road trips to well-known hotels and resorts out of town evolved into finding other hidden places offering different kinds of experiences.

From staying in a luxury mountain cabin to glamping in an Airstream to tubing in a rushing river to camping near a fish pond, we seemed to have explored quite a bit already. But as I have discovered while discovering (ha!), there are more and more places coming up in the staycation arena that vacationing near the Metro has become even easier! The hard part is to find these gems as often they don’t advertise like hotels and resorts. It is almost often by luck that you stumble upon a good find.

Sharing these finds have given us so much joy, especially during the pandemic when all of us craved so much to get away from our house arrests and explore the world once again. Traveling by car, I find, is easier for our family as we could do it more often and works well with our schedule. At the same time, these local places also benefit from getting some help in getting discovered, they are able to hire back more of their local workforce, bounce back into stable operations again and bring back life into our local tourism. It is a win-win!

So here are some good finds to get you started in your family vacation planning for the coming months.

The Dune House, La Union

The Dune House, La Union

Our recent trip to La union revealed a new beach house by Taboc, a 5-minute drive away from the popular and busy surf spots in San Juan. The Dune House is a 3-bedroom modern and minimalist house constructed right behind a sand dune, thus the name. It’s fronting a beautiful wide stretch of soft sandy beach that is flat for miles away, making it perfect for all-day play.

You can surf here too with La Union’s famous rolling waves. Local surf instructors are available and could come meet you by the shore and teach you the basics of surfing.

All the rooms open up to the pool situated perfectly to cool you down when the sun gets too hot, or if you don’t feel like going to the beach. While time away by the sun loungers while watching your kids play by the pool and sit back together until sundown to witness the glorious sunset by the beachfront.

They also have a cool RV parked right next to the beach house. This provides a 4th bedroom option if you need more sleeping space. Helper and driver quarters are also available so you can bring your household staff with you, if you need to do so. With its fully equipped kitchen with modern amenities, you can choose to cook during your stay, or just enjoy the nearby food destinations around Elyu.

Why Stay Here:

Come if you want to enjoy what Elyu has to offer but want a quiet option away from the busy tourist area, and prefer a more comfortable and elevated staycation experience for you and your family. This place allows for much-needed privacy while still having access to all the fun La Union hangouts at whim.

San Ysidro Farm, Batangas

San Ysidro Farm, Batangas

There is something soothing and calming when you go to a farmhouse, and our visits to San Ysidro Farm, a luxury farmhouse situated just near the Padre Pio shrine in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was always filled with keepsake memories.

The farmhouse itself is beautifully designed and lavishly styled for a comfortable stay, that you could mistake it for another luxurious house in one of the villages in the Metro. The house is surrounded by a 2-hectare expanse of greens that heals any tired city soul.

The farm animals here are my kids’ favorite part of the stay. They have cuddly adorable bunnies, who were always treated like babies, loved, and petted during each visit. They also have horses, peacocks, ducks, goats, chickens and so much more! It is always a wonderful experience for the kids to get to know these animals, feed them, play with them and get away from the pull of their gadgets and screens.

By the poolside, they have a relaxing open-spaced gazebo where you can grill to your heart’s content in their authentic parilla. You can also concoct some refreshing drinks by the open bar, feast on a meal outdoors with the family, or just sit back and watch the kids frolic in the pool.

Why Stay Here:

Book here if you want to experience a luxury farm stay, connect with nature and let your kids play with farm animals while also ensuring a serene holiday that everyone in the family can enjoy. Rest and relax while breathing in that healing power of being in nature, while not letting go of the creature comforts you are used to.

Where Is Wina?, Marikina

Where Is Wina?, Marikina

Although we would love to be out of town every week, sometimes driving far is simply impossible due to other weekend errands. Hence, having staycation options within the metro is a welcome choice, just like Where is Wina? in Marikina. This restored old house is full of eclectic and vintage-inspired furniture that lets you feel like you’re stepping back in time when you first walk through its doors.

But Where is Wina? more than just a charming space to take IG-worthy photos in. This place also offers a comforting escape from the hustle and bustle of city living. Once you enter the property, it feels like you have gone somewhere else. You can now leave your adulting worries behind.

With a pool surrounded by calming greens, Where is Wina? also offers a long outdoor table nearby for family gatherings such as brunch, or to simply play various board games that they provide with your stay. There are many ways to enjoy your stay and embrace its tranquil charm.

Why Stay Here:

Try this place if you are craving a getaway but don’t really have the time to drive far away from the city. This place offers a wonderful space to destress while also connecting with your inner creative, with its interiors surrounded by textures and arts. If you like taking photos of your family, Where is Wina?’s colorful interior styling makes it a favorite location for photoshoots as well.

Bakuran, Bulacan

Bakuran, Bulacan

I am guilty of always going South and discovering lots of places there; it’s near my house making it very convenient for me. These days I try to make a conscious effort to also discover interesting staycation destinations in the North. Recently a place that we tried was Bakuran in DRT, Bulacan.

Doña Remedios Trinidad (or DRT as it is commonly called) was actually once the least visited municipality in Bulacan. But during the pandemic, DRT’s popularity soared once local residents discovered its stunning mountain views, and the surrounding rivers and falls it offers.

Bakuran is a family-owned vacation home rental with three modern tiny homes. Each with different sleek and modern interiors, named after the owners’ kids: Balai Ate, Balai Kuya, and Balai Bunso. You can choose your balai or house, depending on how many you are in the family. You can also opt to rent the whole place if you are traveling as a bigger group or with other families, like we did. It’s a perfect place to get together, while keeping your privacy when you need it.

The property has a big swimming pool surrounded by beautiful and majestic Elephant Ear plants and my kids’ favorite is the bamboo treehouse overlooking the pool! They also have an open kitchen for your cooking needs, and an open dining area where holiday makers can enjoy their meals together while making the most of the fresh air and probinsya feels.

Why Stay Here:

Give this a go if you want to try something different, and let the whole family experience a vacation in a probinsya-style destination where you can experience getting out of the city and reconnecting with an easy[1]going lifestyle. Try local kakanin sold in the nearby public market, buy fresh seafood to BBQ on the grill, drink some fresh buko, hang out in a kubo, and teach your kids why the provincial life is good for the mind, body and soul.

321 Escape, Pampanga

321 Escape, Pampanga

There are numerous accommodation options in Pampanga, one of which is 321 Escape, a newly built guesthouse in the heart of San Fernando. This three-bedroom modern home can accommodate up to 11 guests, making it ideal for a large group of friends or a big family.

It is also the ideal place to stay if you want to go on a food crawl or explore the city for the day because it is close to the city center and easily accessible by all modes of transportation. You can even return for a midday rest and recharge before venturing out again in the afternoon or evening.

One of the highlights of this property is the outdoor tub located in the patio area of the master bedroom. When you step out, you will feel as if you have been transported to a luxurious spa. Relax and let all of your worries fade away as you drift off surrounded by lush greenery. With walls surrounding the tub, you can unwind without worrying about prying eyes.

The last (and probably the best) part about this property is the outdoor area. Not only does it have a lot of greens, but it also has an entire outdoor dining area, a lounge, and a pool.

Read a book or take a nap in the poolside lounge chairs while your beer or soda chills in the property’s beer cooler. By the time the sun goes down and the temperature drops, parents can kick back with a drink while the kids splash around in the pool. Large groups of friends will find this outdoor space perfect for mingling, picture-taking, and making happy memories.

Why Stay Here:

If you have a large group and you want to book a staycation together in a property fitted with luxurious amenities, 321 Escape works perfectly. Rest and relaxation are the owners’ wishes for everyone who chooses to stay at 321 Escape, and that is exactly what you will get.

Local beautiful travel spots beyond the typical hotels for family vacations

So many places to discover still as more staycation destinations are popping up near the Metro. It is an exciting time for families to take more local trips to get to know the nearby undiscovered locations around them. There’s nothing that compares to these shared experiences with your children. And trust me, they treasure it and look back at all the places they have visited, and made memories with you. Take that road trip and start your own discoveries. Let’s support our local tourism and make it a self-care habit to get away and breathe. Follow me and my Curlies in our adventures as we discover more local staycation places at @mariesdiscoveries.ph.

More about family vacations and staycations:

25 Tried, Tested, and Trusted Staycations for Small Families
10 Mountain Resort Getaways for a Family Vacation within Luzon
Filipino Families are Booking Vacation Rentals as Travel Restrictions Ease

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