© Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com
© Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com
© Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com
It's hard to find time to take a full vacation in the summer. But even if a longer trip is out of the question, it's important to set some time aside for yourself. Try taking advantage of a relaxing or adventurous weekend getaway without leaving your neck of the woods. In this list we round up the best weekend trip to take in each state. Keep things short-but-sweet during the year’s warmest months.
Mentone, Alabama, is situated on Lookout Mountain in the Appalachians, home to quaint antique stores and art galleries. It’s also conveniently located right next to DeSoto State Park, home to DeSoto Falls, one of the most beautiful spots in America's state and national parks.
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A popular ski destination in the winter, Girdwood, Alaska, draws in hikers, bikers and animal lovers in the summer. Catch sightings of grizzly bears, coyotes and moose at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and take the tram at Alyeska Resort leading to the top of Mount Alyeska for a 2,300-foot-high view of the surrounding scenery of glaciers, mountains and forest.
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One of the most caring cities in America, Mesa is a nice and relaxing Arizona getaway just 19 miles from Phoenix. Check out the area’s lakes, rivers, mountains and hiking trails and explore spots like the Arizona Museum of Natural History or the Golfland Sunsplash waterpark.
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Known for its folk music scene, Mountain View, Arkansas, is home to Ozark Folk Center State Park. Open for the entire summer, this space dedicated to Southern mountain music is a great place to learn more about the culture of the Ozarks.
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A trip to Santa Catalina Island is one of those island vacations you don’t need a passport for but still feels like an oasis with a mild subtropical climate. Take a boat tour of the island, go kayaking or hit up some stylish stores.
Telluride, Colorado, is home to one of the most popular ski resorts in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic summertime destination. Take the 8-mile, 13-minute gondola ride that provides amazing views of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Back on land, biking, camping, fly fishing and horseback riding are all popular activities.
Bristol, Connecticut, is home to Lake Compounce, one of the best theme parks you’ve never heard of. Enjoy thrilling roller coasters and fun water slides one day, then take some time to check out fascinating museums such as the American Clock & Watch Museum or the New England Carousel Museum on another. Sports fans will enjoy driving past the headquarters of ESPN.
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Despite being just 1 square mile in size, Rehoboth Beach is the most-visited tourist spot in Delaware. Explore the boardwalk, check out festivals such as the annual outdoor arts and crafts show and the Polish celebration of Polkamotion by the Ocean, and enjoy the open-air Bandstand Summer Concert Series.
Home to one of the best beaches in the world, Siesta Key, Florida, is known for its fine, white sand comprised of quartz. With shopping and dining outdoors as well as thriving nightlife, this spot can be great for a family vacation or an all-adult group trip.
Not far from Savannah, Georgia’s Tybee Island is one of the most underrated beach towns in America. Relax with the gentle currents of its pristine beaches, shop at local stores and go biking or kayaking to explore the island’s beauty.
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The perfect relaxing destination for a post-retirement trip, the island of Lanai is close to Maui. In addition to its lovely coastlines, Lanai has 400 miles of road, of which only about 30 are paved — making it perfect for a four-wheel drive exploring the more remote parts of the island.
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Thousand Springs State Park is home to Idaho’s most breathtaking views, with thousands of gallons of water bursting forth from cliff faces. The surrounding park offers lovely trails to explore on foot, bike or horseback.
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Located in northern Illinois, Rockford is a perfect family-friendly vacation spot for a summer getaway. Check out the Burpee Museum of Natural History, the Discovery Center Museum or the 12-acre Anderson Japanese Gardens with its koi fish ponds.
Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second-largest city, with a wide variety of attractions. Visit the city’s botanical conservatory, children’s zoo or Science Central, an interactive science center. Like much of Indiana, the city is best visited in the summer, with various parks and golf courses providing outdoor recreation.
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In the Okoboji region, outdoor enthusiasts will find access to Iowa’s Great Lakes, particularly the lovely, spring-fed West Okoboji Lake. With plenty of watersports, local history museums and an amusement park, it’s definitely one of those hidden gems you should visit before word gets out.
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The capital of Kansas was where the fight to desegregate schools was fought, and a trip to Topeka necessitates a trip to the Brown v. Board of Education Historical Site. Other top destinations are the Evel Knievel Museum, Mulvane Art Museum and Ted Ensley Gardens, one of the most romantic spots in the United States.
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival has trademarked the term “Bourbon Capital of the World” for Bardstown, Kentucky, which hosts the festival during the third week of every September — right at the tail-end of summer. Year-round, this spot is perfect for starting down the Bourbon Trail and sipping on some of your favorite cocktails.
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Home to historic plantations and an active live music scene, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, kicks off summer with a celebration of amazing soul food on Memorial Day Weekend with the Jambalaya Festival, while June is when the city hosts Pride Fest.
A trip to Maine’s Acadia National Park is a summer adventure you should definitely start planning now. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. Plan your trip for late August; on Aug. 25, entrance is free in celebration of the National Park Service’s anniversary.
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Ocean City, Maryland, has 10 miles of beaches, where free family activities such as dance parties and outdoor movies are hosted in the summer. Live music can also be found at Seacrets, one of the best beach bars in America, while the boardwalk is the home to rides and arcades.
Nantucket, situated about 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, is one of the best coastal towns in America and hosts several great festivals during the summer. In June, the island holds a book festival and a film festival, while July offers festivals celebrating comedy, yoga and gardening.
Mackinac Island is one of those towns that look like they're stuck in time, with a century-long motor vehicle ban and plenty of bikes and carriages to take visitors around. Tee off at the golf courses and don’t leave the island without trying its famous fudge.
Situated between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains, Grand Marais is an underrated small town that’s home to Minnesota’s oldest art colony, as well as many artisan stores and galleries for art lovers to check out and meet talented locals.
The six islands of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are small oases with boat rides, beaches and spots for shelling and birdwatching. Alligators and pelicans also like these islands, so make sure you know how to keep your family safe at the beach.
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Summer is a great time to enjoy some of the best regional barbecue in Kansas City, Missouri. Attend seasonal festivals such as the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Ethnic Enrichment Festival or Boulevardia, perfect for lovers of live music and craft beer.
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Great for an affordable ski vacation in the winter, Bigfork, Montana, turns into a lovely lakeside town in the summer. The season starts with kayaking and paddleboarding races at the Bigfork Whitewater Festival, and the city hosts an annual art festival during the first weekend in August.
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Fremont, Nebraska, is popular for boating, hunting, camping, water skiing and fishing thanks to its location between the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers. For the less sporty types, it’s also known for its quaint antique stores and the Splash Station waterpark.
Straddling the Nevada-California border, Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most popular tourist attractions, and it really shines in the summer. Go water-skiing, kayaking or paddleboarding on one of the oldest lakes in the world, or hit the road for a 72-mile scenic drive.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a destination only East Coasters know about, with lovely beaches and parks perfect for picnics. Explore the harbor with a cruise and learn about New Hampshire’s maritime history with museums and tours.
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Cape May is home to the most iconic landmark in New Jersey, the 19th-century Cape May Lighthouse, as well as some of the loveliest beaches on the East Coast. In the earliest days of summer, attend the Cape May Music Festival and the nearby Strawberry Festival and farmers market in West Cape May.
Taos, New Mexico, is among the prettiest towns in America. It’s an ideal destination for experiencing Southwestern art and culture, with plenty of galleries, museums and events such as the annual Taos Fiestas and Taos Pueblo Pow Wow.
Lake Placid is a picturesque village in the Adirondacks known for its scenic trails, majestic mountains and lakeside locale. Outdoor concerts pop up throughout the summer, which is also the best time for hiking, water skiing and swimming.
Stretching across 130 miles, the barrier islands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks are home to charming towns and villages that are all-the-more lovely in the summer. Summer is also time for the annual Wright Kite Festival, New World Festival of the Arts and the Outer Banks Watermelon Festival celebrating the area’s seasonal produce.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the most underrated parks in America and part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy of natural conservation. It’s a great place to go hiking or camping, and park visitors may spot some bison, elk, longhorns and prairie dogs.
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The self-dubbed “Camp and Canoe Capital of Ohio,” Mohican State Park is at its best in the summer and is perfect for tent camping, cabin camping or RV camping. There are two state parks in the area, and seasonal festivals include the annual Great Mohican Pow-Wow and Mohican Bluegrass Festival.
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Visit Turner Falls Park to see Turner Falls, one of Oklahoma’s tallest waterfalls at 77 feet. For continued outdoor fun, hike the Arbuckle Mountains, some of the oldest in the world. The surrounding scenery and three caves perfect for exploring make for great photo opportunities.
Oregon’s Crater Lake is the kind of place everyone should visit before the age of 50, lying in the middle of what used to be a volcano that collapsed thousands of years ago. Crater Lake itself is the deepest lake in the country at nearly 2,000 feet deep, perfect for boating and fishing.
Summer is the perfect time to visit Hershey, Pennsylvania, home to the chocolate-themed Hersheypark, as well as Hershey’s Chocolate World, where guests can go on one of the best food factory tours in the U.S.
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Dating back to the 17th century, Little Compton, Rhode Island, is a small town with a nationally registered historic district as well as a beach that’s only open during the summer. Hop on a boat to enjoy the Sakonnet Harbor and check out the old burial grounds if you like to explore spooky spots.
A small town with a lovely downtown, Seneca is located in the northwestern corner of South Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sitting on the edge of Lake Keowee, Seneca is a great place for mountain adventures as well as paddleboarding, boating and kayaking, ranking this place up there with the all-around best weekend getaways in America.
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A great destination in the American heartland, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has all the fun of a big city with the friendliness and hospitality of a small town. Summer brings enjoyable weather, as well as seasonal festivals such as the annual Festival of Cultures, Hot Harley Nights for music and motorbike enthusiasts and Sioux Empire Fair for family fun.
Nashville is a celebrity vacation hotspot you can actually afford in Tennessee, known for its music scene and history. There are many amazing events and festivals in the summer, and highlights include Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in nearby Manchester, Music City Hot Chicken Festival, Nashville Soul Music Festival and Let Freedom Sing, one of the best Fourth of July fireworks displays.
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Galveston Island is largely known as a Texas port that many people sail off on a cruise from, but if you stay on land, you will find there’s plenty to do, from hitting the beach to exploring rides at the pier to attending art exhibitions. Attend the Galveston Beach Sports Fest in June or the annual sandcastle competition in August.
Park City, Utah, is one of the most expensive American travel destinations in the winter, so consider a trip in the summer instead. Explore the mountains by hot air balloon, try riding on horseback and do some paddleboard yoga or zip-lining for a new adventure.
Stowe is yet another mountain town popular for winter, but it would be a mistake to overlook Vermont’s lovely scenery and fresh mountain air in the summer. Go biking or hiking on photogenic roads and mountains before taking a break at a local spa.
Explore Virginia’s side of the Blue Ridge Mountains on foot by hiking up Mill Mountain where the nearly 90-foot Roanoke Star sits, giving Roanoke the nickname “Star City of the South.” Sip on some craft beers on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail and enjoy outdoor concerts all summer.
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Chelan is a place only West Coasters know about, located on a glacier-fed lake in Washington. Summertime here means watersports on the lake, zip-lining, skydiving and paragliding. Calm down by checking out the Evening Farmers Market every Thursday.
The Berkeley Springs State Park in West Virginia is a place to splurge on spa treatments, with open spring pools and thermal springs feeding the historic Roman bathhouse and mineral spa. In town, the Ice House Art Center hosts exhibits, concerts and special events.
Wisconsin’s Bayfield County comes to life in the summer, hosting farmers markets and concerts among other events. Don’t miss out on the notably fun food festivals such as the annual Fish Fry and Corn & Brat Fest.
A historic mining and railroad town in southern Wyoming, Rock Springs is a great place to enjoy the natural beauty of the central United States, with natural hot springs and hiking trails at their best. Rodeos are held all summer long, and attending one is definitely something every American should do in the U.S. in their lifetime.
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