These are my 10 absolute favorite weekend trips in the US. Cities that are easy to get to and can be experienced in two to three days. These are also destinations I find myself returning to again and again for a quick getaway.
Between full-time jobs, school schedules, and other commitments, fitting travel into your calendar might mean you'll have to make do with a shorter trip.
Quick weekend trips are a staple for Jake and I. It's not uncommon for us to book an early flight out Saturday morning and come home late Sunday evening. After years of squeezing in quick trips here and there, several cities stand out and have become my favorite.
These ten destinations make the list of the BEST weekend trips in the US because they are easy to get to and offer enough perks to go back again and again. Whether you're looking for cuisine, culture, nature, wine, activities, or shopping, I've got the city for you.
Let’s take a look at the BEST weekend trips in the US
1. Scottsdale, Arizona
One of the best weekend trips in the US for relaxation and desert views
Scottsdale is hands down one my (and Jake's) favorite weekend trips in the USA. We return to Scottsdale around two times a year and always leave wishing we could stay longer.
There's just something about the laidback vibes, desert landscape, morning hikes, and friendly people.
The PHX airport is a quick 20 minutes from Scottsdale. Traffic is rarely a problem and you'll never need to drive more than 20 minutes to reach the best restaurants, shopping, hikes, and resorts.
Scottsdale really is a beautiful destination. The landscaping is pristine with bright desert flowers and giant cacti.
The coffee shop and restaurant scene is on point and there are desert hikes for every fitness level. The resorts offer pools perfect for lounging and spas to put you in the ultimate relaxation mode.
Stay at the Omni Montelucia or Andaz Scottsdale, my two favorites. Be sure to visit Berdena’s and Schmooze, two awesome Scottsdale coffee shops. Top restaurants include Virtu Honest Craft, Lon's at Hermosa Inn, Diego Pops, Olive and Ivy, and The Mission.
A visit to one of the themed cocktail bars at Century Grand PHX (hands down one of my favorite cocktail bars on the planet) is an absolute must. It’s an innovative and immersive cocktail experience with three turn-of-the-century themes to choose from; a nautical themed tiki/pirate ship bar, a Pullman inspired train car, and a New Orleans apothecary themed cocktail bar.
Have extra time in Scottsdale?
Drive 2 hours north and spend a night or two in Sedona. Known as a center for healing and meditation (all of Sedona is considered to be a vortex), this is a wonderful place to chill and get in touch with nature.
The hikes are breathtaking and you'll have plenty of options for many many return visits. On our recent visit we did Devil's Bridge and Cathedral Rock.
Unlike Scottsdale, Sedona does have four seasons and is much cooler.
Sedona has a charming city center (which can get congested on holiday weekends). I was pleasantly surprised at the restaurant scene and prices that were actually comparable to Dallas (I was expecting everything here to be extremely over-priced given it's popularity). Elote Cafe and Mariposa were my two favorites.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
the best US weekend getaway for Southern charm and comfort food
I head to Charleston when I want good food, culture, history, and charm at a slow pace. This city has had some spectacular hotels open recently and the restaurant scene will have you booking your next trip ASAP.
This is the perfect city to wander at your own pace with its picturesque streets, harbour views, and colonial architecture.
Whenever I go to Charleston, I try to find a hotel that includes bikes. It's one of my favorite things to do in Charleston as the traffic isn't crazy and it's easy to keep to the side streets/neighborhoods.
A walking historic tour is a must, splurge on a private sailboat cruise, and join a Pleasing Terrors Ghost Walking Tour. Book dinner at The Ordinary or The Grocery, have brunch at Husk, and visit the Marion Square market on Saturdays.
Please do not support animal cruelty and skip the horse carriage rides where one horse is pulling 10+ people in extreme heat and humidity. Get some exercise and walk or bike the city instead. Same goes for New Orleans.
3. Napa Valley or Sonoma/Healdsburg
The best US weekend getaway for wine lovers and a romantic escape
There are three airports you can fly into to arrive in Napa, which makes it easy to find a good flight deal/schedule. Your choices are Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
Napa Valley is the best weekend trip in the USA for all wine lovers. You could easily fill up your entire weekend just wine tasting.
Jake and I usually do one to three tastings a day and spend time visiting the different towns. Walking around charming Yountville is always a must along with visiting the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa.
If Napa Valley is too crowded or touristy for your taste, head to Sonoma and/or Healdsburg instead. It’s much more laidback and has a more authentic feel.
Napa Valley is one of the best getaways in the USA over a long weekend. Because it’s a little longer to get to, both flight time and the 1+ hour drive from the airport, we feel like we need at least 2 nights here to make it worthwhile.
4: Willamette Valley, Oregon - my home town!
One of the best weekend trips in the USA for wine and nature...without the California prices
Napa (well let's be honest, California in general), has gotten VERY expensive. If you're looking for something easier on the budget, more laidback, and less crowded, head to the Willamette Valley (the heart of Oregon Wine Country).
Base yourself in McMinnville, my hometown. One of my favorite hotels is the Atticus. It's walking distance to some of my favorite restaurants in downtown Mac (as the locals call it). Youngberg Hill is a gorgeous bed and breakfast tucked in the hills of a winery. A'Tuscan Estate is a charming little bed and breakfast steps from downtown McMinnville...a secret gem that not many know about.
Spend your days sipping wine, relaxing with spa appointments at The Allison Inn, and taking in the views.
If you have some extra time, consider adding a night in Pacific City to enjoy the coast. A stay at Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa will leave a lasting impression with views of Haystack Rock, fireplaces in each room, and s'mores over a beach bonfire. This hotel is great at helping you schedule activities including kayaking along Nestucca River, guided hikes, and more.
There are some great coastal hikes in this area including Cape LookOut.
5. Santa Barbara, California
One the best weekend trips in the US for a little bit of everything...nature, coast, food, wine, and weather
Santa Barbara had been on my radar for some time. When I finally found a flight deal and made my way there I was beyond impressed.
The downtown is 100% walkable, a huge perk, especially if you decide to do the Urban Wine Trail. The main street is currently pedestrianized and I really hope they keep it that way.
The coffee shop scene made me want to live there and the restaurants exceeded expectations.
Add in gorgeous ocean views, hiking, and the nearby wine region of Los Olivos and Santa Ynez and you've got yourself one destination that seems to have it all.
I snagged a deal at the Ritz in neighboring Goleta. While I loved the property, I would prefer to stay in downtown Santa Barbara next time for the walkability. Jake and I visited Hotel California for drinks and I immediately wanted to book a stay there...until I saw the price. This a great option for a splurge as is the ultra-boogie Rosewood Miramar Beach.
I also love the overall casual SoCal vibe. Dress up or dress down, it really doesn't matter (unless you're at Rosewood). The people were also very friendly.
The only downside is that hotels in Santa Barbara don't come cheap. Either put some serious effort into finding a hotel deal or just know you'll be paying a pretty penny for your stay.
6. New York City
One of the best weekend trips in the USA for shopping and city lovers
Whether you’re looking for a US weekend getaway for a girls shopping trip, itching to try some of the best restaurants, take part in the clubbing and rooftop bar scene, or want to see a Broadway show or two, NYC has enough to keep any visitor busy be it your first visit or your 20th.
Be the ultimate tourist and hop around Times Square and Central Park, or wander the quieter areas and my favorite neighborhoods like SoHo, West Village, and the Upper East Side.
Looking to mix a super fun atmosphere with awesome food? Visit Buddakan, TAO Downtown, and Beauty and Essex. My favorite Italian spot is L’Artusi. Head to Mr. Purple or The Crown for after dinner drinks with a view.
7. Chicago, Illinois
One of the best weekend trips in the US for city lovers that prefer to skip NYC and want something more manageable
Chicago in the summer is glorious. The early months of fall when it’s not too cold is a close second.
Chicago has its rooftop bars and restaurant patios ready to go the moment the weather warms up. Like any major city, the restaurant scene is on point.
Shop till you drop on Magnificent Mile, eat amazing Mediterranean cuisine at Aba, check out the tiki bar Three Dots and a Dash, appreciate Chicago’s design and history on the architecture river cruise, attend a concert at Millennium Park, attend a broadway musical, and make a mandatory stop at the Bean.
If you can, try to fly into Midway airport as opposed to O’Hare. It takes about 30 minutes to get to downtown and is super easy if you want to use the metro. O’Hare will take double the time and since it’s a major hub it will take longer to get through security, claim your bags, etc.
8. La Jolla and San Diego, California
One of the best weekend trips in the US for coastal city vibes and good weather year-round
La Jolla's perfect weather makes this the best US weekend getaway almost any time of year. Get outside and enjoy gorgeous ocean views, scenic hikes, and brunch on a breezy patio.
Go south 20 minutes from La Jolla and you're in San Diego. Go north 20 minutes and you're in the coastal town of Del Mar. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar is a gorgeous hotel in the picturesque hills of Del Mar and perfect for a romantic getaway.
San Diego international airport is located right in the city…I’m talking less than 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. This makes it super easy to explore San Diego on your way into or out of La Jolla.
Hike Torrey Pines, have Costal Italian on the rooftop at Catania, watch the sunset from a nice rooftop, visit La Jolla Cove to see the local seals, walk the long stretch of beach in Del Mar, and you’ve got yourself a nice US weekend getaway.
9. Orlando – Disney World
The best US weekend getaway for families and awaking your INNER-CHILD
We all need a weekend here and there where we can throw our worries out the door and bring out our inner-child.
Jake surprised me with a trip to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando for our 1st anniversary…I couldn’t have been happier! Yes, I'm a total Harry Potter nerd. Orlando is the perfect US weekend getaway over a long weekend (minimum of 2 nights).
Typically we will leave early on Saturday morning and spend Saturday by the hotel pool. If there is an event at the theme park that evening, like Hollywood Horror nights, we will do that the night we get in. Sunday we'll visit one or two parks, and Monday we will do another park before we take the latest flight home.
Be sure to pick which parks you are focusing on first and then pick a hotel as close as possible. If you're visiting Universal, try to snag a deal at one of the Universal hotels. Many of these are walking distance to the parks or they will shuttle you over on a quick water taxi across the small lake.
I've stayed at Universal's Loews Sapphire Falls Resort twice now and love the water canal walk to Universal Studios. You also get early park access by staying here.
I recently stayed at the new JW Marriott by Disney World and really enjoyed that hotel as well.
I like to use this calendar to pick when to go. It shows crowd levels for each park every day of the year. When you have limited time you can’t afford to visit on a really busy day. Try to find a day that is 6 or less on the scale of 1 to 10.
10. Austin, Texas
One of the best weekend trips in the US for a hippie vibe and Texas barbecue
Austin is such a unique city and growing fast in popularity.
Much of downtown is walkable, the restaurant scene is excellent and varied, Lady Bird lake is perfect for jogging and paddle-boarding, and partying on 6th Street is an...experience.
Across the river, South Congress Street is a fun area, that with the recent additions, is now a mix of old and new.
In some areas you'll find upscale shopping like Alo, Kendra Scott, Allbirds, and Outdoor Voices...walk a little further down South Congress and you'll see what Austin used to be like. Allen's (cowboy boots) and vintage clothing stores.
There always seems to be a new hotel and several new restaurants each time I visit...it's hard to keep up with how fast the city is growing.
When you've had your fill of Texas BBQ, have sushi at Uchi, tapas at Aba, cocktails at The Peacock, coffee and tacos at Jo's Coffee, seafood at Perla's, and brunch at Launderette.
Foodies will be spoiled for choice in Austin.
Best hotels in Downtown Austin, TX
Honorable Mention: New Orleans
I've decided to take New Orleans off the top 10 list of the best weekend getaways in the USA for a few reasons. A major factor is just how dirty the city has become. It's a shame because New Orleans has so much to offer.
Safety has also become a concern. This has become a place where you need to either stay in the main tourist areas or do your research on where to go and where not to go.
All in all, New Orleans still has a lot to offer, which I'll list below, but now I would veer towards Charleston over New Orleans for a better experience.
The positives...this city has a lot of offer when it comes to food, culture, a crazy party scene, history, and art.
Some of our favorite restaurants are Shaya, Lukes, La Petite Grocery, Irene's, and Herbsaint. Bar Marilou is a fantastic cocktail bar.
Spend your days visiting the WWI Museum (highly recommend), art gallery hopping, touring famous cemeteries, and wandering the French Quarter. And there's obviously Bourbon Street.
I hope this post listing the best weekend trips in the USA helps you plan your next adventure! These are the 10 places Jake and I find ourselves returning to and again and again. Each city listed is easy to get to and can be done on a 2 or 3 day trip.