Last-minute day trip ideas for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Last-minute day trip ideas for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

U.S. federal holidays give us first and foremost an opportunity to recognize important dates and outstanding Americans, their achievements and their legacies. But for those residing overseas, the precious time off also allows us to enjoy local attractions at a time when they are likely to be much less heavily trafficked—a consideration that’s more important than ever, as we continue to negotiate our way through this seemingly endless pandemic. For those living in Germany who are healthy, vaccinated and boosted or tested (all preconditions to admission to many attractions these days), here are some things to do and places to go on Monday, January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Skiing:  Weather conditions permitting, downhill skiing can make for an adrenaline-filled outing. Best bets for adequate snow cover include the Garmisch-Classic resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Feldberg in the Black Forest region, the Silberberg ski resort in Bodenmais,  or Erbeskopf in the Hunsrück region of the Rhineland-Palatinate.  Note many of these places may have a few cross-country ski trails open as well. 

Hiking: With the right gear, winter hiking can be an exhilarating experience. While hiking is entirely possible just by stepping outside one’s door, a moderate drive can land one in fairy-tale-like surroundings. For example, the community of Albstadt can boast of having Baden-Württemberg's first officially certified, premium winter hiking trail. Its 4.6 miles groomed winter route named Wintermärchen winds through meadows, field and forest and takes a walker some 2.5 hours to complete. As most huts will certainly be closed on Mondays, be sure to pack your own snacks and beverages.

Spend the day at a water park: Germany’s thermal baths and water parks allow visitors to imagine they’ve landed on a sun-kissed tropical island, at least for a little while. Many spas are strictly adult-only affairs, water parks on the other hand cater to families. Some of the country’s best spa facilities include the Caracalla Spa in Baden-Baden or the Aukammtal thermal baths in Wiesbaden (ladies only on Mondays).  Rulantica, Europa-Park’s recently opened water park, has an all-ages appeal, and KMC residents can enjoy Monte Mare right on their doorstep.

Make friends with the creatures at the zoo: Most of Germany’s zoos remain open nearly every day of the year. Consider the Opel-Zoo in Frankfurt, Wilhelma in Stuttgart, or Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich. Should the fish of the deep blue sea hold more appeal, make way to one of the Sea Life aquariums in Königswinter, Konstanz, Munich, Oberhausen or Speyer.

Shop the sales in a charming city: January means it’s time to nab a bargain on your winter wardrobe. Make the shopping experience a special one by heading somewhere where simply strolling the streets makes the heart sing. Cities with just that effect might include Bamberg, Heidelberg, Mainz, Nuremberg, Speyer or Tübingen.  Note smaller towns can be a bad bet on Mondays due to the closure of many smaller private shops and cafes.

Get your skates on: Most of the temporary skating rinks set up to complement Christmas markets will have folded for the year already, but many permanent and indoor skating facilities remain up and running. The Henkell Ice Rink in Wiesbaden offers two skating sessions on Mondays, although the skate rental shop is closed that day. Kaiserslautern’s KL on Ice has some time slots available on the day.

Brunch with friends: Sleep in and meet up with your best mate for a leisurely brunch. While it’s unlikely you’ll stumble across a full buffet set-up on a weekday, a number of places serve eggs, pastries and the like until 11 a.m. or later in the day. To make the day feel like a true holiday, consider visiting one of Germany’s finest cafes. Der Feinschmecker, a German magazine and website devoted to gourmet experiences, has compiled a list of The Best Cafés in Germany for your inspiration. The site is also handy for discovering new restaurants, bakeries, wine bars and other culinary experiences near you. Enter the name of the city you’re planning to visit into its website’s search function and find inspiration among its recommendations.

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