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Craving a vacation, but short on paid time off? No worries: you can get your travel fix on a quick weekend trip! The United States may be vast, but it is also well-connected – and there is no shortage of short trip ideas. To help you effortlessly plan your end-of-the-work-week vacation escape, we have rounded up the best weekend getaways in the USA!
Where To Go For a Long Weekend?
We have first-hand experience balancing the tiring work week with easy weekend getaways.
We spent years grinding away on 40-plus-hour work weeks – already looking forward to Friday afternoon on Monday morning. To get through the grueling workload, we became pros at planning the best weekend getaways in the US.
Our Friday-to-Sunday 3-day trips took us to destinations across America. From top US cities to lesser-known locales, we discovered many places to go on a mini weekend getaway.
Some of our favorite long weekend destinations landed us on sandy beaches, atop rugged mountains, in historic cities and amid modern metropolises. As a bonus, the quick vacation spots we chose were highlighted by regional cuisine and local craft beer or wine.
What Makes the Best US Weekend Getaways?
Before we answer your burning question, Where should I go for a weekend in USA?, let’s chat about what makes good weekend trips. Limited to just a 3-day trip, you will want to maximize your experience. We are detailing our criteria for what makes the best long weekend getaways destinations in the US.
How To Get To Fun Getaway Trips
When planning the best long weekend trip in US, you need to consider how you will get to your destination. Will you need to fly? How long is the flight? Are there direct flights? Is it possible to drive? How long will it take?
You don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time on planes or in cars. The destination you choose should be relatively easy to get to.
How To Get Around on USA Weekend Getaways
An often-overlooked consideration for 3-day trips in USA is how you will get around the city. Is the city walkable? How close are the attractions? Is there public transport? Is it easy to use? Does the destination have Uber/Lyft? Will you need to rent a car?
When you plan a quick getaway for the weekend, make sure there are no surprises in the effort and cost involved in getting around.
What To Do on 3-Day Vacations in USA
Of course, the best weekend vacations in US will offer activities and entertainment that are suitable to your style. What activities does the city offer? Do you need a ticket or reservation? If so, are there tickets available? Use an online website, like Viator, to find tickets and reviews for the best attractions.
Furthermore, if you plan to fill your itinerary with outdoor activities, be sure to check the typical weather at your destination before booking your trip.
Affordable Weekend Getaways United States
As you make plans for short vacation trips, you will want to keep your budget in mind. Some of the top weekend getaways in the US can be pricey – especially when considering airfare, accommodations, city transport, activities and eating out over a short period of time. If you are looking for cheap getaways in the US, be sure to price out your trip before booking anything that is non-refundable.
Budget Weekend Getaways
To be honest, we believe that any destination can be affordable! In fact, we have created a step-by-step guide to help you plan the best cheap weekend getaways in USA – plus, we share our free vacation budget planner. Get it now!
THE 20 BEST WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN THE USA
Alright, so what are the best weekend getaways in the USA? In our roundup, we feature the best cities for a weekend trip in the United States. The long weekend destinations we feature are perfect for traveling couples, groups of friends and families. At the end of the list, we offer our insider tips on how to plan the best mini vacation is the US – including packing tips!
#1 New York City, New York: One of the Best Weekend Getaways US
When it comes to the best cities for a long weekend, New York City tops our list! The thriving city dazzles visitors with iconic sights, incredible attractions and fabulous food. The only problem with choosing NYC as a quick getaway for the weekend is that there are so many things to do!
New York City offers something for everyone; history buffs will be just enthralled by the city as fashionistas. Although the weather is seasonal, there isn’t a bad time to visit NYC – each season has its perks. Travelers will find there are endless ways to plan a fun 3-day trip to NYC. Even budget travelers can explore the city on a dime – find all of our tips on how to Visit NYC on a Budget.
First-time visitors on short vacation trips to New York City can spend the weekend seeing the highlights – like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park. Return travelers, who have already checked off their bucket list of must-see sights, can instead plan a weekend of unique sightseeing and neighborhood discovery.
Use the advice in our New York Itinerary for tips on planning your quick NYC trip getaways!
#2 San Francisco, California: Fantastic Weekend Trips in the US
San Francisco ticks all the boxes for a fabulous weekend getaway in the US! It is simple to get to, easy to get around without a car, and is packed with an array of entertaining sights that travelers can choose to visit on their trip.
On getaways for the weekend, visitors can take in the city’s most iconic sights – like the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39 – and ramble through the streets on a classic cable car. However, the reason we think it is one of the best weekend getaways is that you can see so much of the city – beyond the must-see sights – on a short trip!
Even on a 2-day trip, visitors have time to discover San Francisco’s vibrant Chinatown, explore Haight-Ashbury and wander through Golden Gate Park. Even better, there is plenty of time to devour some of the city’s best eats.
We highlight how to plan the best short weekend getaways to SF in our San Francisco Weekend Itinerary.
#3 Denver, Colorado: Great Weekend Getaways
For a fun weekend trip in the US, Denver definitely fits the bill! In fact, when I lived in nearby Boulder, which is less than an hour from the city, we loved spending weekends in Denver. Sports, shopping, nightlife and nearby nature are just a few of the reasons Denver ranks as one of the best places in the US for a weekend getaway.
While Denver, undeniably, appeals to sports fans and craft beer enthusiasts, there are many more reasons to visit the Mile High City. The thriving downtown, which is easy to discover on foot, features diverse neighborhoods, magnificent museums and lovely city parks. Traveling with family? The Denver Zoo and Elitch Gardens Amusement Park are right in the heart of the city.
However, what makes it one of the great weekend getaways in the US is the spectacular nature just outside the city limits. The top places to explore that are just a mere hour away are Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks and the Flatirons in Boulder.
Use our tips for three-day getaway ideas to Denver in our Denver Weekend Itinerary.
#4 Portland, Oregon: Perfect for 3 Day Vacation Ideas
Hip and funky, Portland is one of the coolest weekend trips in US! The city boasts a relaxed atmosphere, a phenomenal foodie scene and plenty of outdoor space. After my initial visit, Portland became one of my favorite quick vacation destinations.
Perfect for a casual weekend trip, visitors can settle into the vibe and explore the city on two wheels – just like locals do. Spending time in the central historic Pearl District is a must, but it’s just a place to start! Visitors to Portland will want explore other parts of the city – from the famous rose gardens to the intriguing neighborhoods, like Hawthorne and Division Street.
For the best 3-day weekend getaways to Portland, travelers should plan where to eat, too. The food in Portland ranges from fabulous food trucks and fancy donuts to 5-star dining – and every bite is amazing.
We wrap up all our specific tips for long weekend travel ideas to Portland in our 3-Day Portland Itinerary.
#5 San Diego, California: The Best Beach Weekend Getaways
San Diego is ideal for beach weekend getaways and summertime fun! The sunny coastal city is a dream for visitors looking for some quality R&R. Easy going and entertaining, San Diego is the quintessential California destination and one of the best places for a long weekend trip.
For many travelers, the beach is the main draw, but the city is a must-see, too. Visitors who can tear themselves away from the sandy shoreline (and those visiting outside of the warm summer season) should spend time in the Gaslamp District, Little Italy and the expansive Balboa Park.
One of the highlights of San Diego weekend trips is iconic Coronado Island, which is fun to visit in all seasons!
Find more of our tips for San Diego, US weekend getaways in our San Diego Itinerary.
#6 Boston, Massachusetts: One of the Best Weekend Getaways USA
Boston gets our vote as one of the best weekend trips in America! Steeped in history, yet vibrant and modern, Boston appeals to an array of travelers.
By day, visitors can tour some of America’s most historic sites, wander through picture-perfect parks and go on a Duck Boat Tour, a bit of a Boston oddity. At night, Boston tourists will want to take a seat at one of the best seafood restaurants, tuck into a legendary tavern or cheer on the Red Sox at a baseball game.
While the city ranks as one of the top long weekend destinations in the summertime, we personally think it is one of the best fall getaways in US. Boston is absolutely gorgeous decorated in autumn leaves and the crisp weather makes it all the easier to enjoy the city’s fine museums and classic taverns.
Use our Boston Weekend Itinerary to help plan your getaway weekend trips to the city!
#7 Seattle, Washington: Super Weekend Getaways in the USA
Anyone looking for the best short vacation in the US should take a look at Seattle. The city boasts intriguing architecture, cool cafes and an abundance of outdoor space – making the city one of the fun weekend getaways in USA!
There are endless ways to plan a weekend trip to Seattle, but the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and Waterfront Park are must-sees in the city (which can all easily be seen in a single day). Historic Pioneer Square, the unique Seattle Underground and Bainbridge Island are more top attractions not to be missed.
Experiencing the coffee culture is a highlight of any trip to the Pacific Northwest, but especially so in Seattle. Not only is the city home of coffee giant Starbucks, but the city is well-known for it many local Seattle coffee roasters, too.
Get more of our tips for planning quick getaway trips to Seattle in our 3-Day Seattle Itinerary.
#8 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fun Weekend Getaways in USA
For a long time, we only thought of Philadelphia as a layover city. However, when we finally ventured out of the airport, we fell in love with Philly – so much so that we now consider it to be one of the best long weekend getaways in the US.
Philadelphia is absolutely packed with fascinating historical sights – from the famous Liberty Bell to the iconic Independence Hall, where the United States Declaration of Independence was signed by the country’s founding fathers.
That said, there is so much more to the city than the past! South Philadelphia is filled with eclectic sights, street art murals and, of course, the best Philly Cheesesteaks. Meanwhile, the north side of Philly hosts an array of museums, the famed ‘Rocky steps’ and heaps of craft breweries.
We share more reasons why Philly is one of the best places in US for weekend getaway in our Philadelphia Itinerary.
#9 Chicago, Illinois: Best Weekend Getaways United States
There is no doubt about it: A weekend in Chicago is one of the cool weekend trips in the US. Soaring skyscrapers, riverboat tours, shopping and spacious parks dotted with monuments and art are the city’s top attractions. As if that is not enough, the food scene is a top draw in Chicago, as well.
There are many ways to plan a quick weekend getaway to Chicago, but we recommend first-time Windy City visitors get a little taste of everything (literally!). Explore downtown Chicago on foot and by boat, eat the most amazing meals (hello, deep-dish pizza!), and balance out the feasting with long walks on the Lakefront Trail, in Lincoln Park or along the 606 Bloomingdale Trail.
In the summertime, squeeze in a baseball game and we bet you will have one of the best weekend getaways in the USA!
For detailed tips on fun 3-day trips to Chicago, use our 3 Days in Chicago Itinerary.
#10 Austin, Texas: Best Long Weekend Trips
With stellar live music, excellent BBQ and Texas-sized sights, Austin easily ranks as one of the best long weekend vacations in the USA. As a bonus, the city delivers big on outdoor activities, as well!
If you are looking to escape frigid temperatures elsewhere in the States, be assured that Austin is one of the fabulous winter getaways in the US! High temps hover in the 60s throughout the winter, which is significantly warmer than most of the United States during wintertime.
Some Austin visitors could probably spend their entire weekend trip on Sixth Street – Austin’s legendary bar street (and if that is what you want to do, we won’t judge!). However, we highly recommend spending the days exploring the Texas Capitol building, Lady Bird Lake, the University of Texas Longhorns campus and the incredible Barton Springs.
We share specifics for the best quick weekend getaways to Austin in our Weekend in Austin Itinerary.
#11 New Orleans, Louisiana: Awesome 3 Day Getaway
New Orleans is one of the classic, great long weekend trips in the United States. Perfect for girls weekends, couples’ trips and even family vacations, NOLA welcomes tourists of all kinds.
New Orleans is a feast for the senses – from the beautiful street scenes to the jazz music that is perpetually played by street performers. Weekend visitors should wander through the fabulous French Quarter, dine on divine Southern dishes, step into a spooky cemetery and have a drink (or two!) on Bourbon Street.
On a well-planned New Orleans weekend getaway, travelers can even plan adventures beyond the city center, taking in the sights in nearby districts or further afield on a swamp boat trip or plantation tour.
For more reasons on why NOLA is one of the best short trips in the US, read How To Spend 3 Days in New Orleans.
#12 Glacier National Park, Montana: Best Getaways in USA for Nature
Hands down, Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the best places to go for long weekend in the outdoors. Although it can be a bit tricky to get to depending on where you are coming from, trust us, it is worth the effort!
Highlighted by soaring mountains and crystal-clear lakes, Glacier NP is stunningly beautiful. Hikers can take to the trails, but you don’t even need to get out of your car to see the beauty of the park. Going To The Sun Road takes visitors through the heart of GNP up to Logan Pass on the Continental Divide.
As one of the best summer weekend getaways in the US, advance planning is essential! Do a little research before your trip to decide which Glacier National Park Hikes you want to complete. Not into hiking? No problem! After driving through the scenic park, peruse the boutique shops or get a spa treatment in the nearby quaint town of Whitefish – or sip locally produced craft beer in the Kalispell old town.
Use our detailed 3-Day Glacier National Park for tips on the best way to plan your trip!
#13 Las Vegas, Nevada: Quick Getaway Trips
Las Vegas has long been touted as one of the best quick weekend getaways in the United States. Developed as a tourist destination, the city’s neon lights have been welcoming weekend visitors for decades.
While Las Vegas ranks as one of the top quick weekend getaways in USA for gambling and partying, there are plenty of other activities that entertain visitors as well. Adventure attractions, legendary Las Vegas shows, mesmerizing museums and celebrity chef restaurants all aim to please.
Once you have checked off your list of must-see sights in Vegas, leave The Strip behind and go on one of the excellent excursions – like a day trip to the Grand Canyon!
For tips on what to see and where to eat, use our Las Vegas Itinerary Guide for First Timers.
#14 Phoenix, Arizona: Best Cities for a Weekend Getaway
Ranking as one of the best long weekend getaways in USA, Phoenix doesn’t disappoint! With a revitalized and vibrant downtown, desert hiking close to the city center, a sprinkle of history and heaps of trendy dining options, the city is an oasis of fun.
Although we do not recommend visiting the desert city in the summertime, it is a fabulous place to visit any other time of year. In fact, it’s one of the best winter weekend getaways in the United States.
Top wintertime activities include hiking at Phoenix Mountain Preserve, attending Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens, dining al fresco at hip restaurants (like Postino and The Vig) and sipping local craft beer (try Angel’s Trumpet!).
Use our guide to the Best Phoenix Hikes for tips on experiencing the outdoors in PHX.
#15 Spokane, Washington: Hidden Gem for US Weekend Getaways
Spokane flies under the radar as far as getaways go, but we are going to let you in on the secret: Spokane is one of the best long weekend trips in the US! The city is casual – almost quaint – but has plenty of attractions to keep visitors entertained.
Outdoor activities abound in Spokane – from the city center Riverfront Park where the beautiful Spokane Falls tumble downstream to the 37-mile Centennial Trail highlighted by art sculptures to the impressive gardens at Manito Park.
Historic enclaves – like the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood and classic Davenport Hotel – tell the story of Spokane’s past. Meanwhile, modern craft breweries and the youthful Gonzaga campus keep the city moving forward.
Plan your weekend getaway using our list of Things To Do in Spokane.
#16 Columbus, Ohio: Cool Weekend Getaways USA
Columbus is often overlooked as a destination, but we think it is one of the best weekend getaways in America. The midwestern city has a flair for the arts and thrives on community events – plus, the people are really friendly!
Weekend visitors can discover the many downtown districts (German Village is a must!), explore the numerous Columbus Parks (Franklin Park Conservatory is a gem!) and feast on the city’s best food at North Market. The Short North is the hip place for nightlife – and features heaps of eateries, bars and fun events, like the Gallery Hop.
The best time to visit the city is in the summertime – when the festival season is in full swing and the Columbus Clippers minor league baseball team takes the field. Although the weather starts to cool off quickly in the autumn, it is the best time to experience the thrill of the Ohio State Buckeyes football season.
Use the city’s official tourism site to help plan your long weekend trip to Columbus.
#17 Washington DC: Best Weekend Trips in the US
As America’s capital, Washington DC regularly makes the list of Best Cities for Weekend Trips USA – and it makes our list for the best short trips in the US, too!
The city offers an incredible array of activities that appeal to a wide range of visitors. Not only is Washington DC a good choice for the best weekend getaways for families, but it is ideal for couples, groups of friends and solo travelers as well.
On weekend trips to DC, travelers have time to experience the essentials of the city – like visiting the monuments and museums on the National Mall, touring the Capitol Building and seeing the White House. Plus, there is plenty of time to visit the unique neighborhoods – like the Wharf, Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, and Georgetown.
Get all the details on how to plan weekend getaways in the USA to Washington DC in our 3-Days in DC Itinerary.
#18 Savannah, Georgia: Best Places to Visit for a Weekend
Savannah is often touted as one of the best girl weekend getaways – and while I can’t argue that fact, I actually think it is an ideal quick trip for all travelers! The city exudes Southern charm with its pleasant squares, time-worn mansions, and eerily beautiful moss-covered trees.
Weekend visitors are warmly welcomed to the city that is best explored on foot and with wonder. History (and some say ghosts) lurk around every corner and savory Southern dishes simmer in restaurant kitchens around the city. Trust us, Savannah cuisine is not to be missed!
Even though Savannah has a small-town vibe, the city comes alive at night. Weekend guests can partake in live music and festive cocktails at the city’s outdoor bars – or keep it low key in one of Savannah’s secret speakeasys.
Use our quick weekend trip ideas in our Savannah Itinerary to plan your getaway vacation!
#19 Nashville, Tennessee: Top Choice for Getaway Weekend Trips
There is no question about it: Nashville is one of the best weekend getaways in the United States! Nicknamed Music City, Nashvegas and even Smashville, Nashville knows how to show weekend visitors a good time.
Many of the city’s attractions revolve around the epic country music scene – but visitors don’t need to be country music fans to appreciate the sights and sounds of Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum are top picks for sightseeing, but city sights – like the Capitol Mall State Park – are equally interesting.
That said, two things not to miss in Nashville are the Honkytonk bars on Lower Broadway and the famous Hot Chicken from Hattie B’s.
Plan your best weekend getaways using our 3 Days in Nashville Itinerary.
#20 Santa Barbara, California: Best Weekend Vacations
Situated on the cool California coastline, Santa Barbara is a classic coastal town that is ideal for a relaxing weekend getaway. In fact, we think Santa Barbara is one of the best weekend vacations in the US for its laid-back ambiance, hip wine district and ample outdoor activities.
On arrival, visitors will want to head straight for West Beach and Stearns Wharf for time in the sun and sand. Later in the afternoon, travelers can take a leisurely stroll up State Street, shopping at the boutique shops and visiting art galleries. However, we highly recommend detouring into the cool Funk Zone to get a taste of local wines from the many tasting rooms.
While we think Santa Barbara is an ideal weekend vacation on its own, travelers can also tour more of the coast to nearby cities – like Malibu, Solvang and Los Angeles.
Get our best tips for planning long weekend getaways with our detailed guide to Driving the California Coast.
How To Plan the Best Weekend Getaways in US
We have highlighted the best weekend vacation spots in US, but we have a few more tips for how to plan your weekend trip.
Booking Flights for the Best Long Weekend Getaways in US
If flying to your weekend destination is the best option, you will want to score the best deal on your plane tickets. When we buy plane tickets, we always look at Skyscanner first, so that we can compare prices and easily see the cheapest flights.
For more airfare tips, read our blog post on Booking the Best Flights.
Where To Stay on Long Weekend Trips in USA
On short trips in the US, we think it is essential to stay in centrally located accommodations. You will want to be in the heart of your destination so that it is easy to reach the must-see sights.
While we usually opt for Airbnb accommodations during our travels, however, for quick weekend trips we actually recommend staying in a hotel. The Airbnb fees can be exorbitant on short stays and coordinating check in and check out can be time consuming. A hotel, on the other hand, will likely have 24 hour check in and you can search for the best hotel prices on Booking.com.
Find more of our tips in our blog post, Booking the Best Hotels.
What You Will Need to Pack for the Best U.S. Weekend Getaways
Packing for a weekend trip can be a bit tricky. You will want to make sure you bring everything you need…without over-packing.
We think the lighter the better when it comes to packing. It is best to plan coordinating outfits that can be layered. Also, determine what toiletries are necessary for such a short trip (especially if you are staying in a hotel where amenities are provided).
We Want To Know: What is your favorite destination for the best weekend getaways in USA? Do you have any travel tips or advice for planning long weekend getaways USA? Tell us in the comments!
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