Vacations Without Alcohol – Our Favorite Dry Destinations

The awesome and recovery-friendly shores of Lake Superior – dare to dip a toe in!

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and it is also the time of year when we begin to think about our summer vacation. For those who are new to recovery, the thoughts of summer vacation without alcohol can be stressful. No glass of wine on the plane to “calm the nerves?” No sunset umbrella cocktail in the waterfront tiki bar? Correct, but also no bruised shins, battered relationships, and hangovers from hell. There is nothing to fear about vacations without alcohol; the trick is thinking ahead and picking the best sober vacations that leave little time for temptation.


Vacations Without Alcohol

A summer vacation without alcohol should not be boring or compromising. Indeed, it can be just what the doctor/addiction therapist ordered. It does mean, however, that you must plan for triggers to relapse and create a schedule while you are away. You should also consider your destination and vacation partners carefully. If you don’t drink alcohol, a wine tour in France or a boozy, adults-only party boat should be avoided. The good news is that alcohol-free vacations are:

  • Less dangerous or accident-prone
  • Less expensive
  • More energetic
  • Happier (no late-night drama or pratfalls into the pool)
  • Physically and mentally healthier
  • More mindful and appreciated


However, sober vacations also mean you will be away from regular 12-step meetings, recovery routines, and escape plans. So, pre-planning and control is a good idea. You do not want to end up on “shore leave” from the cruise ship at a Senior Frogs drinking contest! Vacations that occupy the senses leave little time for thinking about drinking.



6 of Our Favorite Dry Destinations!

Explore your State

During the pandemic, trends toward close-to-home travel emerged, and it is an excellent concept for the skittish traveler. If you drive your car, you can avoid airplanes and high-priced rental cars and have a built-in escape hatch (even if you don’t use it). Travel someplace you’ve never been in your state and immerse yourself. Watching a sunrise or sunset without a hangover or intoxication is one of the joys of recovery! Click below for our favorite hikes/strolls/bench sits in the Great Lakes State.

Happy Trails – 5 Favorite Michigan Excursions

hiking Michigan path through woods

Michigan island hike – accessible by kayak – Lake Ovid


Islands in the Sun

An island getaway is a great place for a sober vacation when you define vacation properly. Early walks on the beach, sightseeing, hitting the straw market, or wholesale jewelry stores are all excellent sober activities in the islands. Happily, there will be no waking to packages filled with souvenirs you don’t remember buying.  If you have access to a boat or a mask and swim fins, snorkeling is the perfect exercise for those in recovery—water in the face, rigorous exercise, exquisite scenery, and early to bed. Make sure to pack the cooler with sparkling water and go! The link below expands on the idea that tropical vacations are healing:

The Healing Effects of a Tropical Vacation

puerto rico beach

Palm trees are a symbol of your resilience!


Educational Getaways

If you’ve always wanted to see the Vatican, get the lay of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, or sit quietly on the banks of Loch Ness, now is the time to repair brain function and live in the moment. And every experience is greatly enhanced with a clear head, excellent balance, and stamina. You will take time to read the plaques in the visitor center, lead the charge up 320 Vatican steps, and research Nessie sightings before you arrive in the Highlands.


Yoga and Spa Retreats

When you are with a community passionate about mindfulness, you do not have to explain why you’re not ordering a Mai Tai at lunch. The best sober vacations renew the mind, body, and spirit, and there are many options for a retreat vacation – from eco-friendly to luxury.  Likewise, many spas do not serve alcohol and have 12-step on-site meetings. A retreat is also a good option for solo travelers to meet like-minded new friends. Is the budget a bit tight? There is no charge for forest bathing, or an awe walk in the woods! Click below for the benefits of a free awe adventure.

Awe Walks for Mental Health

Awesome Spring Lake, Michigan!


Museum and Gallery Staycations!

Take a long weekend staycation and visit every museum in your town! You will be amazed by how many options present themselves. New York has MOMA, but also the Museum of Ice-cream, And near Grand Rapids, we have everything from Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum.  A staycation also lets you maintain regular 12-step meetings and important recovery routines.


Guided Tours, Camping, or Try Something New

Can you see yourself herding cattle on a dude ranch? Stretch your imagination and think of all the things you’ve never tried but would love to experience. Learn to play third base or row a skiff. Hike the Grand Canyon, camp in Copper Harbor, or bike through the Cotswolds. It doesn’t have to be dangerous or expensive – it might be a guided birding tour. And when you do something that has a guide or instructor, they will take you seriously. You will have accountability as well as boatloads of fun.



Vacation Without Alcohol is Uplifting!

When you think about it, vacations are for the sober. People in recovery get up refreshed, early, and ready to experience the day.  They have learned to live in the moment, curious and passionate about their interests. And alcohol-free vacations are unencumbered by the need to pack or find one’s substance of use on a remote island, backwoods village, or camelback excursion. Those who have done the kind of inner searching that pinpoints what they want out of life, know how to vacation. So, jump into that vacation without alcohol. You can have the time of your life with proper planning, risk avoidance, and the right destination and company! And after all you’ve been through, you deserve it!


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, eating disorders, or co-occurring mental health conditions, don’t wait to change your life – click the link below to speak with an admissions specialist about our programs. Ask about our new virtual programs!


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit