15 Cool Cities Perfect for Weekend Getaways in the USAUnited States
Looking to get away for a weekend? Well, you’re in luck: there are so many incredible weekend getaways in the USA!
The more we travel in our home country, the more we appreciate how its enormous size and incredible diversity mean that city breaks in the United States can cover just about any interest.
Want to lay out on one of the best urban beaches in the world, drink craft beer, attend an unforgettable festival, go hiking, hit a casino, or simply experience some of the most iconic tourist sites in the world in quick succession?
Or, maybe you want to dig into a unique and delicious food scene, learn a bit of American history, or engross yourself in a walkable area and leave driving behind for your whole weekend trip?
No matter what you like to do, there’s an American city (or six) for that.
Here are 15 of the best cities for weekend getaways in the USA.
Table of Contents
Southern Weekend Getaways in the USA
It’s often said that there’s nowhere like New Orleans–and that is completely true.
Spending a weekend in New Orleans means lots of jazz, lots of delicious food (gumbo, beignets, po’ boys, muffulettas, and more–oh my!), and lots of good times.
Be sure to make time for a ghost tour to take a look at the more mystical part of the city (even if you’re not the superstitious type, I promise a ghost tour is worth it in NOLA!), and a bayou tour to check out southern Louisiana’s incredible landscape.
And, while it’s easy to have nothing but good times in New Orleans, you can (and arguably should) add more depth to your trip as well: consider a day trip out to a plantation to learn a bit about NOLA’s dark past, or even a Katrina-themed tour discussing the serious impacts of the 2005 hurricane.
If you’re hoping to soak up some fun in the sun during your USA weekend getaway, look no further than Miami.
South Beach is often considered one of the best urban beaches on the planet, and we’d have to agree!
Don’t limit yourself just to the beach, though: be sure to explore Miami Beach’s impressive Art Deco architecture, eat your way through Little Havana, admire street art in Wynwood, and check out the views from Biscayne Bay.
For those who want to experience some unique nature in south Florida during their trip, consider also planning a trip out to the Everglades–or if you have a few extra days, road tripping your way all the way to Key West, the southernmost point in the USA!
Dripping with Spanish moss and home to one of the most stunningly beautiful historic centers of any city in the United States, Savannah is the perfect place to head for a weekend trip: not too big, not too small, and positively packed with some of the best southern food you could ever hope to find.
Come here to wander through all 22 of Savannah’s remaining town squares, tour a house museum or two, pay a visit to Forsyth Park, and to wander along gorgeous Jones Street.
Shoppers will love all the boutiques on Broughton Street, River Street, and in City Market, and those looking to indulge their taste buds will find limitless options in Savannah, from classic southern meals at the Olde Pink House to tasty ice cream at Leopold’s.
If you’re a former Girl Scout like me, or just interested in their history, be sure to also pay a visit to the home of the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low.
Of all of the weekend getaways in the USA covered here, Asheville is one of the best options for a group divided on whether to visit a city or the great outdoors.
Home to an epic craft beer scene, the incredible Biltmore Estate, plenty of street art, and delicious food options, there’s no doubt that Asheville appeals to the city lovers among us.
Its location right next door to plenty of wonderful hikes in the Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, however, make it a fabulous US weekend destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as well.
No matter what your interests are, try to make time during your trip to Asheville to drive a small piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway–especially if you’re visiting in the fall and can enjoy the changing colors. Often considered one of the most beautiful road trips in the United States, it’s a sight not to be missed.
Home to country music, hot chicken, street art, and plenty of barbecue, there’s no doubt that Nashville is an excellent place to let the good times roll on your weekend away.
While Nashville is extremely popular as a bachelorette party destination and for other girls’ getaways, large groups are far from the only types of travelers who will enjoy a weekend in Music City, USA.
Top sights include paying a visit to the Grand Ole Opry (both for the show and for the backstage tour!), checking out the Johnny Cash Museum, seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame, and exploring Gulch, the street art neighborhood home to, among many other things, the #instagramfamous Nashville wings.
Be sure to save some time to enjoy Nashville’s famous nightlife, and its tasty food, an important ingredient on any Nashville bucket list–be sure to try the hot chicken at least once, but be aware of your heat tolerance before ordering!
Located just a couple of hours north of Savannah, Charleston shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor to the south: fantastic southern food, Spanish moss dripping from the trees, beautiful architecture, lots of history to uncover–but it absolutely has its own distinct personality as well.
Be sure to visit the beautiful and photogenic Rainbow Row, check out the tea-making process at the Charleston Tea Plantation, visit the gorgeous and interesting Angel Oak Tree, stroll through Waterfront Park and Battery Park, and check out City Market.
Those interested in US military history will no doubt want to visit Patriots Point to tour the former US naval ships docked there and Fort Sumter for its history (and views). Even for non-history buffs like us, these sights can still be an interesting way to spend some time!
Beach lovers, don’t miss the chance to check out nearby Folly Beach!
Western Weekend Getaways in the USA
Set right on the water with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rainier, it’s no wonder that busy and beautiful Seattle is one of the most popular west coast weekend getaways in the USA.
A weekend trip is the perfect amount of time to eat your way through Pike Place Market, head to the top of the Space Needle, visit the famous Chihuly Museum, and check out the fun and interesting Museum of Pop Culture.
Looking for interesting neighborhoods? Head to Fremont, where the self-proclaimed unofficial motto is “des libertas quirkas”, aka “the freedom to be quirky”.
Hoping to spend some time outside? Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Pacific Northwest, endless waterfalls, trails, and mountains–even Mount Rainier itself–are located within day-tripping distance from Seattle.
Much like Austin, Portland proudly embraces its weirdness, celebrating the eclectic and bizarre in all possible ways–and that makes it endlessly fun to visit!
Bookworms like me will immediately head to Powell’s City of Books–I still think it’s the biggest bookstore I’ve ever visited–while foodies will want to head directly to the local ice cream obsession, Salt & Straw.
Voodoo Doughnuts, now with a few locations nationally, also originated here and remains popular with tourists (though depending on who you ask, not locals–for what it’s worth, we’d rate the doughnuts 7/10).
During your weekend trip to Portland, make time to visit the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden, especially if you visit when everything is in bloom.
Plenty of incredible parts of the Columbia River Gorge, including famous Multnomah Falls, are also within easy reach of Portland and deserve to feature on your list of things to do in Portland!
Possibly the most iconic of all these weekend getaways in the USA, Las Vegas is a prime destination for short trips.
First-time visitors will certainly want to hit the Strip, even if only to check out the hotels, fountains, malls, and generally see what all the fuss is about–but there’s more to Vegas than the Strip (if you want there to be, that is).
Whether you want to hit the casinos to gamble and soak in some shows, check out Las Vega’s interesting (and far less touristed) downtown area, or get out and experience the fantastic natural highlights of the Southwest, Las Vegas has something to offer.
While the more-famous southern rim of the Grand Canyon is really too far away from Las Vegas to make a practical day trip, options like Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon, and the Hoover Dam are all possibilities.
The city of hills, ocean views, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many people’s lists of best USA weekend getaways–and with an endless list of things to do that cater to all interests, why not?
Be sure to pay a visit to the touristed highlights that most interest you–Fisherman’s Wharf (and its adorable sea lions!), Alcatraz, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame), and checking out Lombard Street.
Once you cross those highlights off your list, though, make time for a few less-obvious attractions, like San Francisco’s Japanese Garden, the Land’s End Labyrinth, and Fort Point.
And, of course, you can’t forget to go for a walk in the woods while visiting San Francisco: the Muir Woods are an unforgettable experience worthy of your time on any weekend trip to the area!
Eastern Weekend Getaways in the USA
New York City
How much of New York can you see on just a USA weekend getaway? Enough that you’ll want to come back immediately.
New York certainly can’t be “done” in a weekend–nor can it be done in a lifetime–but the great thing about New York City is that no matter who you are or what your interests are, you can find something to captivate you.
For tourists hoping for the classic NYC experience like we were on our first few visits, a weekend in New York is certainly long enough to see all those sights we’ve seen in movies and shows throughout our lives: Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central, Times Square, the Public Library, a Broadway show or two, a visit to Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge–in a weekend, you can see all of that and more.
If you’re into museums, we also recommend hitting just one (no more–too much else to do!) during your weekend in New York: the Met, MOMA, and the Natural History Museum are all great, classic choices.
Incredibly beautiful and steeped in both American history and its own distinct, modern culture, Boston is one of those cities you visit for a weekend and fall in love with for a lifetime (we would know–we’ve been crazy about it ever since our brief 3-month stint of living there!).
While you’re there, be sure to visit the picturesque North End, fashionable Back Bay, and grand Beacon Hill–three Boston neighborhoods you absolutely can’t miss.
Also consider strolling through the Boston Public Garden (one of our favorite spots in the city) and the Boston Common, visiting the penguins at New England Aquarium, meandering along the Freedom Trail, and hitting the water with a whale-watching cruise.
Bibliophiles like us shouldn’t miss the Boston Public Library (check out the Reading Room on the second floor!), nor Brattle Bookshop.
Sports fans, head directly to Fenway Park for a tour and/or a game.
Our country’s capital city is not only the seat of our national government, it’s also a fabulous place for a weekend trip in the United States!
Museum-goers will be delighted with the enormous array of impressive options to choose from in Washington DC–everything from the many Smithsonian Museums, to quirky options like the International Spy Museum, to meaningful stops like the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, are available–far more than you can visit in a single weekend.
Those interested in US History and government will also have plenty to keep them busy along the National Mall, including iconic stops like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
Touring the US Capitol is always an interesting experience, and if you plan ahead, you may even be able to tour the White House!
As a bonus, many of the things to do in Washington DC, including all of the Smithsonian museums, are free to enter.
View this post on Instagram
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of." - - Benjamin Franklin * * Who are your favorite figures in US history? There's nothing like being in Washington DC to make you think about the USA's founding fathers--and Benjamin Franklin has always been my favorite. He squeezed dozens of lives into one, as an inventor, a scientist, an ambassador, a small business owner, the USA's first postmaster general, an author under several names, a revolutionary, a traveler... I could go on, and on. His life is a great reminder that life can include many amazing chapters and is best lived on your own terms whenever possible--a lesson that I try my best to live by! * * * * * #washingtondc #dc #washingtonmonument #history #historylovers #passionpassport #neverstopexploring #worldcaptures#adventureanywhere #travelandlife #discoverglobe #roamearth#stayandwander #alifewelltraveled #exploretocreate #exploretheworld #girlsvsglobe #glt #gltlove #dametraveler #wearetravelgirls #girlswhotravel #traveladdict #travelusa #usa #beautifuldestinations #citybreak #artofvisuals #justgoshoot
Central Weekend Getaways in the USA
The self-proclaimed country music capital of the world, the home of the world-famous SXSW festival, and a city full of classic American charm with a country flair: when you’re looking for the best weekend getaways in the USA, it would be a shame to leave off the gem that is Austin, TX.
I lived in Austin for a few years as a kid and have returned at least a couple of times a year for my entire teenage and adult life due to family living in the area–and I never, ever get tired of visiting to tuck into a plate a delicious breakfast tacos, general TexMex, or barbecue.
During your weekend trip to Austin, head down to South Congress for fabulous food, eclectic boutiques, and incredible street art, and “Dirty Sixth” for some unforgettable nightlife (or alternatively, Rainey Street or Guadalupe Street for a different vibe).
Of course, this is the capital of Texas, so save some time during your weekend trip to Austin for some more typical cultural highlights, like visiting the Texas State Capital and the historic (and possibly haunted) Driskill Hotel.
Visiting Chicago means it’s time for pizza, pizza, and more pizza… and okay, probably some sightseeing as well.
The sprawling city of Chicago, set right up against beautiful Lake Michigan, is certainly worthy of being included on any list of the best weekend getaways in the USA–and there are definitely plenty of fun things to do in Chicago to keep you busy while you’re there, including plenty of opportunities to explore the culture, enjoy delicious food, and even get outside in Chicago.
Come to Chicago for the weekend to snap selfies at The Bean, test your fear of heights on the famous Chicago Skydeck, pay a visit to Navy Pier, and of course, to eat a lot of deep dish.
Art lovers will find plenty of museums to devour in Chicago, including the incredible Art Institute of Chicago, and baseball fans will enjoy seeing the Cubs play a game at the famous Wrigley Field.
For animal lovers and family travelers, head directly to Shedd Aquarium (and for family travelers, make note of the American Girl Place as well–the highlight of my first visit to Chicago long, long ago!).