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Short but Sweet: The Best U.S. Destinations for a Weekend Getaway

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Ten days sipping mai tais on a tropical beach, or a week spent star-gazing from a remote mountain cabin—sounds wonderful, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. Sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, but time is limited. That’s when a weekend getaway may be just the ticket—short but sweet, with a week’s worth of fun packed into a couple of days. Here are some of our favorite U.S. destinations for a weekend getaway.

San Diego, California

San Diego, just north of the U.S./Mexico border, is justly celebrated for its year-around perfect, sunny weather and more than 70 miles of immaculate beaches that stretch along the city’s Pacific Ocean waterfront. For many folks, that may be all that’s required for a weekend getaway. But if fishing, boating, swimming, and a wide variety of water sports don’t hit your sweet spot, San Diego has a lot more to offer. For families or couples, the San Diego Zoo is one of the finest in the world. When it comes to cultural fun, don’t miss the historic Gaslamp Quarter. San Diego has a lively club scene if you want to get your dance on, and its restaurant choices are varied and exciting, from eclectic food trucks to funky waterside shacks to world-class high-end dining experiences. 

Savannah, Georgia

Oak and magnolia trees dripping with Spanish moss, a stunning (and stunningly walkable) historic center, 22 distinct town squares begging to be leisurely explored, Forsyth Park with its iconic fountain, and house museums to get lost in—Savannah is one of our country’s most beautiful cities, awash in old world southern charm. With its reputation as one of America’s most haunted cities, ghost tours are always spooky fun, and if you’re a fan of Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, there are tours for that as well. From fried green tomatoes to shrimp and grits and pralines, enjoy eating your way from one town square to the next. If you’re a Girl Scout, or just a Girl Scout at heart, visit the home of founder Juliette Gordon Low. The best way to start, or end, your getaway? A sunset riverboat cruise.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

If your idea of a weekend getaway is roller coasters, water slides, zip lines, and saltwater taffy, then journey three hours north of Chicago to the Wisconsin Dells. When you find yourself exhausted by waterparks and amusement parks, catch your breath at one of the Dells’ many breweries, wineries, distilleries, and restaurants. There’s also a wealth of outdoor beauty to explore, whether you do it while paddling a canoe or swinging a golf club. As far as places to stay, the Dells has something for every taste and budget—family campgrounds, hotels, cabins, and a great selection of unique accommodations. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nestled in the foothills of the scenic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is the highest and oldest capital in the U.S. It’s a city where art, culture, and history intersect in unique and exciting ways. For many, Santa Fe’s climate is the best in the country—warm summer days with low humidity, cool desert nights, and an average of 300 sunny days per year. Stroll through the gorgeous Pueblo and Colonial architecture, then peruse the galleries of the many artists who call the city home. Cultural attractions abound, from the New Mexico Museum of Art, to the Santa Fe Opera House. Discover the living history of the Acoma Pueblo, the country’s longest continually inhabited dwelling site, designated as a National Historic Landmark. When it comes to dining in Santa Fe, dig into classic, soul-satisfying New Mexican southwest cuisine, with an accent on peppers and chiles. Be sure to treat yourself to a local favorite, sopaipilla, a deep-fried pillow of stuffed dough perfection.

New York City, New York

Although we’ve attempted to offer some suggestions beyond those that first come to mind (looking at you, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—all wonderful spots for weekend getaways), the Big Apple can’t go unmentioned. There is simply so much to do there, from Broadway shows to iconic music venues, from fine museums and cultural institutions to amazing shopping. The restaurant choices are unparalleled, no matter what you’re craving, and the club scene is worth raving about. New York City has more than 100,000 hotel rooms, so finding accommodations is rarely an issue. Yes, the city can be expensive to party in, but there are always surprising deals to be found, and if you’re in the mood to splurge, there’s no place better.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is a big, bold urban landscape, with all the exciting shopping, dining, and entertainment options that come with that. However, Denver has something most big cities don’t have—the Rocky Mountains at its back door. This outdoor wonderland, with hiking trails and ski slopes around every corner, makes Denver the perfect jumping off point for a weekend filled with fresh air and fun. When you get back, exhausted, catch your breath at one of the city’s many excellent breweries.

Cleveland, Ohio

Yes, we said Cleveland. The Forest City has world-class cultural institutions that rival New York, London—just about anywhere. The Cleveland Orchestra, Museum of Art, and Natural History Museum may be the crown jewels of University Circle, but they’re just the beginning. Put on your leather jacket and blue suede shoes and head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; or, if you’re more sports minded, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is just down the road. Speaking of the Rock Hall, Cleveland is a gold mine for lovers of live music. When it comes to dining, the city’s deep roots as a melting pot of immigrants combined with a deep bench of award-winning local chefs means you can find everything from Midwest comfort food to cutting edge contemporary cuisine, all at surprisingly affordable prices. And that affordability extends to accommodations. Be careful, though… you may come for a weekend and find yourself wanting to stay for good!

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