21 Popular Cities for Summer Weekend Getaways
Whether it's family fun, a girl's trip or cultural activities you're after, these great American cities are the perfect getaways for a long summer weekend.
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In addition to deep-dish pizza slices bigger than your face, Windy City musts include cruising on a riverboat architectural tour, taking a "Bean" selfie at Millennium Park and catching an improv comedy show at Second City.
Make your 72 hours in Sin City count with pool parties, incredible shows and the infamous casinos on the strip. Venture out to the Neon Museum and tour the sign graveyard if you love vintage Americana. Skip the crowds in front of the Bellagio by staying at the Cosmopolitan. Most of their balcony rooms overlook the famous fountains and the view makes an incredible Instagram.
BOOK NOW: The Cosmopolitan | Hotels.com, $181
New York City
If you've never been to the Big Apple, stay in Manhattan and check off iconic sights like Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National History Museum. If you're coming back, stay in Brooklyn and check out the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and tour the famous Brooklyn Brewery. No matter what borough, fresh-made bagels are a must.
Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, don't miss the Atlanta Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, and the World of Coca-Cola museum, where you can sample sodas from all over the world. Two Atlanta food halls, Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market offer a bevy of restaurants and shops, and a real city scene.
Music lovers have to pay a visit to Nashville, just for the roaring bars on Broadway. Rock, country, kararoke, dueling pianos — this entertainment district has it all. Make time to visit Jack White's Third Man Records and Biscuit Love, which some consider home to the best biscuits in Tennessee.
The funky town is synonymous with SXSW, but we love to visit in October. The first weekend of the month is the Austin City Limits music festival and on Halloween, 6th Street is shut down for one big bar-hopping costume party. The greenbelt that runs through Austin is a Texas treasure. Miles of trails offer city dwellers a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With entrances all over the city, it’s easy to hop on your mountain bike or lace up your hiking boots and find some solitude.
Just east of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado's largest city has a lot of small town charm. Shop the mile-long 16th Street in the heart of downtown and schedule your trip around a show at the Red Rocks amphitheater inside Red Rocks Park.
For a quick escape from Los Angeles, head north to Santa Barbara or the "American Riviera" for picturesque beaches and the rolling green hills of wine country. Make time to visit and Instagram the iconic Old Mission and the gardens at Lotusland.
Visitors have to cross off a visit to the Alamo and the River Walk in San Antonio, but if you want to spend a weekend like the locals, try the Pearl Farmers Market or tube down the Guadalupe River. And if you're adventurous, make time to visit the underground Natural Bridge Caverns.
No weekend in this Southern food capital is complete without a bowl of shrimp and grits. If you're an early bird, catch the sunrise at Folly Beach. Runners and bikers will love the view from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
One-third of the world's bourbon comes from Louisville and bourbon lovers can pick up a passport at the visitor's center for stamps at local bars and distilleries. Literary fans should have a drink at The Old Seelbach Bar where F. Scott Fitzgerald once listened to jazz. And whether you are staying at the 21c Museum Hotel or not, it's worth a visit to see its incredible art collection, including the towering gold replica of Michelangelo's "David" outside the hotel.
If you love live music and barbecue there's no better place to visit than Memphis. It might be touristy but camping out at The Peabody Hotel lobby to watch the daily march of the ducks really is adorable, especially if you're traveling with kids.
If you only have 48 hours in the Hostess City, start at River Street, stop at Broughton Street for shopping and then head south to meander through the iconic squares toward Forsyth Park. Lunch at Zunzi's is a must. Order the Conquistador with both sauces, and don't be alarmed when the staff gives you a hearty cheer. Pictured: Colonial Park Cemetery
A weekend in this California beach town wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's one of the largest in the world with more than 35,000 plants and animals. Skip the crowds at Fisherman's Wharf and head out to Pebble Beach to see the famous Lonely Cypress tree. Whale-watching is a must. Monterey's coast is one of the few places you can spot magnificent blue whales, humpbacks, gray whales, fins, minkes and other species practically year-round. Book whale-watching expeditions early; they often sell out.
Colonial Williamsburg is a history buff's paradise. Watch reenactments, tour famous homes and walk in the footsteps of George Washington. Schedule a fun and spooky haunted tour at night. Shown here: Bruton Parish Church, named after a town in England.
A weekend in red-rock country wouldn't be complete without a hike by day and night. Schedule a moonlit hike through Sedona Hiking Adventures for a different perspective on the landscape. Most resorts offer yoga and spa packages to unwind after a long day outdoors.
It's easy to stay busy in Colorado Springs, with its array of outdoor activities including Seven Falls, the only waterfall in Colorado to make National Geographic’s list of International Falls, as well as cultural offerings and the luxurious Broadmoor resort, the longest consecutive winner of both the AAA 5-Diamond and "Forbes Travel Guide" Five-Star awards. The luxury resort has a day spa, restaurants, a 54-hole championship golf course, six tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools and several retail shops.
Miami Beach is a color explosion with teal water and bright pink and yellow Art Deco buildings. Make time to explore Little Havana east of downtown Miami for vibrant murals, delicious Cuban coffee and plantain ice cream. Pictured: the charming town of Surfside, in Miami Beach.
If your family isn’t afraid of heights, head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for a thrilling walk in the sky. The iconic bridge stretches more than 230 feet above the Capilano River. That’s as high as the Statue of Liberty’s shoulder! Park admission also includes the new Cliffwalk which features cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms that seem to almost magically float off the rockface.
Nestled among the misty blue peaks of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Not only can you hike and explore the mountains, but Gatlinburg offers beautiful resorts, delicious restaurants and tons of activities for the whole family. The German-style town nestled beside Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers fun for the whole family with museums, dinner theaters and helicopter tours. For a relaxing weekend, skip the downtown strip and camp inside the park for beautiful waterfall hikes like Abram's Falls and Rainbow Falls. Don't miss the old school ambience and great food at the Pancake Pantry in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. Step back intime at the circa-1952 Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen right down the road. Don't leave without a box of their taffy or a milk chocolate Brown Bear candy.