Weekend Trips to Take This Summer in Every State from Weekend Trips to Take This Summer in Every State
Weekend Trips to Take This Summer in Every State
People often seem to struggle with setting aside time for a full vacation in the summer. As an alternative, they should take advantage of a relaxing, and adventurous, weekend getaway.
Alabama – Mentone
Mentone is a picturesque little mountain town atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. The views are absolutely stunning. The Desoto Falls, 104-foot falls that drop into a wide bright green pool, are one of the top attractions. Pick up handmade arts and crafts at the Log Cabin Craft Village and eat fresh fried green tomatoes with homemade remoulade sauce at the Moonlight Bistro. Summer camps with horseback riding, archery, boating, swimming, craft making, and rock climbing, are popular among kids.
Alaska – Girdwood
Girdwood is also known as the Glacier City because of the two giant snow summits nearby. If you ever wanted to go glacier hiking, Girdwood, which is near Anchorage, should be on your list. Kenai Fjords National Park is close too. You can go whale watching. The icebergs and glaciers there are majestic year-round. Complete the strenuous Harding Icefield Trail and you’ll have bragging rights for life. Visit the historic Crow Creek Mine, hop on the Alaska Railroad, and eat delicious fresh seafood.
Arizona – Mesa
Not many would expect to find flourishing bodies of water in the middle of desert-like terrain, which is why Arizona is commonly overlooked as a destination for lake vacations. However, Mesa shares a border with the Tonto National Forest: home to Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. Visitors here can enjoy all sorts of water activities like wake-boarding, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and even a more typical beach experience along the sandy shores of Jones Beach at Saguaro Lake.
Arkansas - Mountain View
This is where you go if you want to experience traditional music and see folkways preserved. The town is all about music. Saturday nights consists of locals going "pickin'" in a neighbor's house or yard. Once the weather gets warm, musicians join locals and play music late into the night hours outside around the town square, according to Arkansas The Natural State. The season is from mid-April through late November.
California – Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina Island is a summer hotspot for LA locals on the weekends when the city just isn’t so appealing. Check out the zip line tour, set sail on a glass bottom boat or hit the beach and rent equipment for water activities like diving, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. At only an hour away by ferry (or 15 minutes via helicopter), you’ll be enjoying this Pacific paradise in no time.
Colorado – Telluride
A whole new world opens up in Telluride when the snow melts away and the ski adventures are over. Music is just one reason why – the Telluride Bluegrass Festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. The former Victorian mining town in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is cyclists and hikers’ favorite. Backpacking and camping is the ideal way to explore the San Juan Mountains. Perfect your whitewater rafting skills down the Gunnison River or go horseback riding. Kids will love the skate parks, swimming pool facilities and hot air balloon rides.
Connecticut – Mystic
This is one of the most romantic cities in the country. For an authentic New England charm between New York and Boston consider visiting the relaxed but also fairly well-known vacation destination of Mystic Country. Mystic Seaport, the nation’s leading maritime museum, is a must-see. Explore American maritime history first-hand as you climb aboard historic tall ships, stroll through a re-created 19th-century coastal village or watch a working preservation shipyard in action. This is a beautiful, small, charming coastal town that lacks annoying crowds and the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Delaware - Rehoboth Beach
This small town has a lot to offer, especially in the summer when its calm shores welcome thousands of tourists. Take your significant other on a date and remember what it’s like to be a kid at the water park and mini-golf course at Jungle Jim’s. Lined with diverse shops, restaurants, and amusements, the boardwalk is a fun destination as well. Many love it for its amazing food and various sweet treats, too. Hop on over to the nearby Dewey Beach for some skimboarding lessons.
Florida – Sanibel Island
Known as one of the most unique barrier islands in the world, Sanibel Island has won awards for being the best shelling beach in Florida. It’s a beautiful destination for a wedding and a great place for fishing, shelling and bird watching. Bonus: Pets are allowed but they must be leashed. Golf players are going to love this place and its more than 70 scenic courses. Boating, kayaking and water-skiing are very popular there. Fishing can be very entertaining – you may catch a fish you haven’t seen before.
Georgia – Tybee Island
Tybee Island is also known as Savannah Beach. It is easily accessible and located just 18 miles away from the Hostess City of the South, historic Savannah, Georgia. Rich in both history and natural beauty, Tybee Island is also famous for its diverse cuisine, excellent accommodations, and a variety of exciting recreational activities, according to Discover Tybee Island. The five miles of public beach offer endless views of the Atlantic Ocean and are ideal for sunbathing, walking, biking, sailing, and fishing. Various art and music events are scheduled almost every day.
Hawaii – Maui
Maui offers the best of both worlds; a laid back atmosphere but also extreme adventure. The island has some of the most incredible surf spots. They are known for their awesome breaks and good-sized waves. Hawaii’s second largest island boasts a lush landscape littered with wondrous waterfalls, bamboo forests and, of course, sandy shores lined with palm trees, making it the ideal destination for nature lovers of all kinds.
Idaho – Sandpoint
If you are looking for a laid-back feel and recreation opportunities, Sandpoint is your town. Tucked up in the Idaho Panhandle, the old Northwestern town is one of the most beautiful small places in the country. Enjoy Lake Pend Oreille and its 150 square miles while fishing, kayaking, boating, and maneuvering between little coves and inlets. There are many arts festivals in the summer. Visit Silverwood, the Northwest’s largest theme park, featuring over 200 acres and more than 70 rides. Rock climbing, golfing, and biking are a few other favored sports. Take a walk down Main Street for antique wood-frame shops, galleries and the town’s landmark – the century-old Common Knowledge Bookstore and Teahouse.
Illinois - Starved Rock State Park
If your ideal summer getaway is a peaceful retreat into nature, look no further than Starved Rock State Park. Scenic hiking trails lead you to waterfalls, sandstone canyons and overlooks of the Illinois River. If hiking isn’t for you, there is plenty to do on the river, at local museums and in the picturesque lodge. The park is a quick 90 minute drive out of Chicago, or if you’re an avid cyclist, the ride is worth the challenge.
Indiana - Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Play in the waves of Lake Michigan along the 15 miles of sandy beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Located on the southern tip of the lake, you’ll get an incredible view of the Chicago skyline from the peaceful shores. Miles of beaches, sand dunes, bog, wetlands, woodland forests, an 1830's French Canadian homestead, and a working 1900 era farm combine to make the national lakeshore a unique setting.
Iowa – Okoboji
The biggest attractions of the Okoboji area are the glacier-carved lakes. The gorgeous chain of lakes ranges from the Minnesota border southwest several miles and covers approximately 15,000 acres. In addition to enjoying all kinds of water sports, you can go hiking, fishing, sailing and even hunting. The spring-fed West Lake Okoboji is a beautiful shade of blue and is 134 feet deep. There are interesting museums you can visit, lots of live music events to enjoy, and several amusement parks to explore.
Kansas – The Flint Hills
The so called “Flint Hills Scenic Byway” is known as one of the eight wonders of Kansas. Come to the wide prairie lands of this gorgeous Kansas region to enjoy views of what looks like endless grasslands that surround quaint and charming small towns. Don’t miss the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The current preserve includes an 1881 historic ranch house, limestone barn and outbuildings, and one-room schoolhouse.
Kentucky – Bardstown
It’s part of the Bourbon Trail, which is a road trip every fan of the “American beverage” should absolutely take. Popular attractions include the Maker’s Mark Distillery, the Old Nelson County Jail and the Old Talbott Tavern. Go in September for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, a six-day event of smooth Bourbon, delicious food, and fun entertainment.
Louisiana – Natchitoches
This is the original French colony and the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. The city has preserved its European flavor through its architecture, heritage and lifestyle. Natchitoches is home to the 1989 hit movie “Steel Magnolias.” You can go on a tour to see the filming locations. The National Historic Landmark District is a 33-block area that serves as a shopping and dining paradise and a bed & breakfast lover’s dream.
Maine – Acadia National Park
Acadia has long been known for its stunningly rugged natural coastline, and the best way to take it all in is from the water during the summer months. This national park is one of the best spots to paddle the U.S. coastline. Visitors can also go hiking, camping, and storm watching on the Schoodic Peninsula, and view the gorgeous sunrise over Cadillac Mountain.
Maryland - Ocean City
Chris Parypa Photography/Shutterstock.com
Plan a summer weekend getaway in Ocean City, Maryland. Spend quality time with your family listening to live music, playing mini golf, riding bikes together and participating in watersports. Walk along the Ocean City Boardwalk; rent a boat for the day and go jet skiing on the ocean. If you’re looking for even more fun for the kids, visit the Pirate Adventures of Ocean City, Baja Amusements, the Candy Kitchen, and the Bahia Marina.
Massachusetts – Nantucket
Just a short ferry ride from Cape Cod, this small and beautiful island is perfect for couples. This secluded 30-mile island is a summer destination mostly for the rich and famous. Just walking around makes you feel like you are living in a fairytale. Many lodgings are very pet friendly, too. Tip: Did you know that Nantucket is one of New England’s top surfing destinations, especially for beginners?
Michigan - Mackinac Island
Voted a "Top 10 U.S. Island" by Trip Advisor, this Island is a trip back in time. For one, there are no cars; they are not allowed. So trek this Victorian treasure on bike, horseback and carriage. You will never run out of quests to explore. The island has little development land because it’s working hard to preserve its natural treasures. That’s why hiking, fishing and hunting are exhilarating.
Minnesota - Grand Marais
Grand Marais, located on a tranquil stretch between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains, is the country’s coolest small towns, according to Budget Travel Magazine. This quaint, friendly harbor village, with about 1,300 people has several other prestigious awards. It made the Top 100 Adventure Towns by National Geographic Adventure Magazine; and the Grand Marais Art Colony was chosen as one of the top 10 artist colonies in America by Coastal Living Magazine. Biking, kayaking, fishing and whale watching are popular activities. You may even see the Northern Lights from the Lighthouse.
Mississippi - The Barrier Islands
The Gulf Coast is home to six barrier islands: Cat Island, Ship Island, Deer Island, Horn Island, Round Island and Petit Bois Island. They offer miles of pristine beaches and rich environments for people who love to spend time in nature. Those of who looking for a unique place to camp will it, too. Ship Island offers the most history of all the islands with seasonal fort tours to fill visitors in on its incredible past, according to Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. Horn Island is the locals’ favorite. This is where you go to see alligators, pelicans and other wildlife.
Missouri – Kansas City
Known for its jazz heritage and incredible barbecue, Kansas City, a somewhat underappreciated city, is not only a cheap weekend getaway but an exciting one, too. This is the perfect family-friendly destination. Take the kids to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, enjoy Free Friday Night Flicks at Crown Center, view tons of wildlife in William M. Klein Park, and explore nature at the Lakeside Nature Center. Make sure you have time to tour Boulevard Brewing; taste drinks you can't get elsewhere.
Montana – Bigfork
From fishing charters and farmer’s markets, to horseback riding and countless water sports, Bigfork boasts big adventures among some of the most stunning landscapes in Montana. The town’s slogan reads “where Flathead Lake beings,” and, in addition to superb lakeside recreation, Bigfork is known for hosting fun summertime concert series and art festivals.
Nebraska - Niobrara National Scenic River
The Niobrara National Scenic River and surrounding area offers a wealth of recreation and vacation opportunities. Besides floating the beautiful scenic river by canoe, kayak or tube, there are plenty of area activities and quaint communities to explore. The western third of the Scenic River is home to over ninety waterfalls – highest is Smith Falls that cascades 70 feet from a Sand Hills cliff.
Nevada - Lake Tahoe
Another incredible destination popular in the summer. Lake Tahoe is one of the highest (and best preserved) alpine lakes in the country. The area is a haven for outdoor recreation. Just a short ride from Sacramento, San Francisco and Reno, Lake Tahoe is easily accessible for a long weekend trip, but it’s well-preserved natural land will have you feeling like you’re hundreds of miles away. This pristine crater of outdoor paradise straddling the California/ Nevada border is predictably the perfect place to learn to SUP.
New Hampshire – Portsmouth
Portsmouth prides itself on being one of the nation’s oldest cities – it’s existed since 1623. The history, the shopping, the harbor and the food are just a few reasons why people love Portsmouth. The city is near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, between New Hampshire and Maine. Portsmouth regularly lands it on various “best places to live” lists, according to PortsmouthNH.com. Go on lobster tours, whale-watching, deep sea fishing, and go on a day trip to the historic Isles of Shoals.
New Jersey – Cape May
This beautiful small town is just a couple of hours way from chaotic New York City. Cape May is very popular in the summer it has something to offer year-round. Go on romantic walks along large stretches of pristine sand, and see gorgeous Victorian buildings to see why the city is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Willow Creek Winery alone is worth the trip.
New Mexico – Taos
This far-out mountain town – an underrated adventure destination for the summer – is unlike any other place on earth—and that’s the appeal. Bordered on three sides by the towering red peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is positioned in a high desert valley and is one of the few places that retain its native culture, thriving art scene and connection to the great outdoors. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, or if you’re a skilled paddler, take on the Taos box section of the Rio Grande.
New York – Lake Placid
Lake Placid, which is set in the Adirondacks, has a rich winter sports history but it also offers many summer activities. The Olympic Center is open, offering bobsled and luge rides with a professional. Many nearby waterways are perfect for paddling – whether that be by canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Hiking is the most popular activity when it gets warm, with trails for every skill level. Paddle around Mirror Lake, enjoy a concert at Mid’s Parks and relax in one of the city’s many spas and wellness centers.
North Carolina – Outer Banks
Visit the area before it disappears due to climate change. Another reason to go: This is one of the best non-Disney places to take the kids. The 200-mile-long stretch of picturesque barrier islands is perfect for camping, for which you don’t need a lot of money. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a string of islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the mellow Pamlico Sound on the other, where kayaking and kiteboarding are common activities.
North Dakota - Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The park has an abundance of a diverse wildlife. Feral horses, prairie dogs, snakes, lizards are all there. You can also participate in many ranger programs. Camp under the stars in the North Dakota Badlands and go hiking and horseback riding during the day. It’s certainly among the most underrated national parks. The park combines colorful terrain and riparian habitat along the Little Missouri River. The auto-tour route is very nice for casual visitors.
Ohio – Put-in-Bay
The island offers a lot of entertainment, history, and vacation appeal in the summer season. One of the best known attractions is the Antique Car Museum, which showcases a collection of Model T Fords and vintage snowmobiles. Watch a parade of them every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. South Bass Island is home to the world's largest geode, otherwise known as Crystal Cave on Put-in-Bay. Don’t skip the Heineman's Winery, which has been making wine on the island for more than a century.
Oklahoma – Turner Falls Park
This is a quick getaway for everyone living in Oklahoma and nearby states. People go for the natural swimming areas, wading area, sandy beaches, bath houses, picnic sites, water slides, caves which theyt can explore, and the Rock Castle. The 77-foot waterfall and cold refreshing streams are perfect for relaxing. There are plenty of hiking trails, camp sites and cabin rentals.
Oregon – Crater Lake
This is a special place, and the summer is the time to experience it. Hiking, boat tours, trolley tours, ranger-guided programs, swimming, fishing, ranger talks, evening programs, camping, and other activities are offered. Explore old-growth forests or wildflower meadows and climb mountains for great views of the lake or hike to the lake itself. For a longer hike, try a backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Pennsylvania – Bucks County
If you’re looking for the ultimate contrast, leave the bustling city of Philly for the down home charm of Bucks County. Wander through antique shops, take a ride on a hot air balloon or travel by horse through Nockamixon State Park—and don’t forget to take a few photos of the covered bridges. An hour-long drive will get you there, or you could tackle the 45-mile trip by bike.
Rhode Island – Little Compton
Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons
This is one of the most charming little towns you can stay in New England. While there are only a few 17th-century structures still standing (these include the Wilbor house and Peabody house), there are many which date from the 18th and 19th century. Little Compton is home to the Ocean State’s only official “town common,” listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
South Carolina – Seneca
The man-made Lake Keowee reservoir covers an almost 30 square miles, and boasts 350 miles of shoreline. With much of the coast undeveloped, everything there feels as natural as can be. Add the fact that the lake is just by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you’ve got some of the most scenic views in the region. Camp in the South Cove County Park, which also has boat launching, tennis courts, and pavilions. Go fishing or see why paddle sports are so fun; and visit the beer station at the end of the day for an incredibly diverse brew selection.
South Dakota - Sioux Falls
This is definitely an under-the-radar-city that more people should visit. Contrary to what many people believe, you can take a vacation without going broke. Watch free Moonlight Movies in Fawick Park on Saturday nights; go for an inexpensive bike ride along the Big Sioux River Greenway; head to McKennan Park for kid-friendly, free theater performances; and purchase an all-day pass — $1 per person — for the Sioux Falls Trolley.
Tennessee – Nashville
Tourists who want to have an enjoyable weekend binging on great food and even better music on a modest budget should consider Nashville. There is plenty of free music, and the city hosts many cultural attractions that will entertain you throughout the weekend. Listen to music at the famous Bluebird Café, visit the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, watch free concerts by the Nashville Symphony, and take a stroll along the Music City Walk of Fame – all for free. Take a guided tour of all the foodie hotspots with Walk Eat Nashville. Take your adult friends and have fun at whiskey tastings at distilleries.
Texas – Galveston
Ditch the city lights of Houston for lights on the pier and sand beneath your toes—head to Galveston. 32 miles of beaches, a pier full of attractions and plenty of festivals and concerts make this a great summer destination that’s only an hour away from Houston. There is plenty to do if you are into “spooky” travel. Galveston is one of the most haunted cities in America.
Utah – Park City
Far more famous for its winter adventures, Park City is a gem in the summer too. Take to the mountain for exploits on the Alpine Slide, one of the longest in the world, ride the Alpine Coaster for a rush or take to the air on Park City’s zip lines. Check out the mountains on bike or on foot and then head to the public Park City Golf Club and play the back nine. Watch Olympic hopefuls train at Utah Olympic Park and then enjoy one of the many arts and music festivals happening all summer long.
Vermont – Stowe
If you are looking for a low key getaway with some outdoor access, the charming mountain town of Stowe, situated in a valley between peaks of the Green Mountains, is your destination. Hike to a beautiful waterfall with swimming holes or wade in local rivers and fly fish. If you’re new to the sport, there are clinics and outfitters available. Drive the back roads to Mount Mansfield for some gorgeous views and go on a canoe trip to Boyden Valley Winery. Long hiking and biking trails will also keep you active.
Virginia – Raonake
The “Star City of the South” is best known as the recreational and cultural gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. From the many museums and award-winning wineries to Dixie Caverns and popular craft breweries, there is no shortage of things to do in town. Venture farther outdoors to experience top-tier fishing, paddling and biking among the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.
Washington – Chelan
Not only is this perfectly picturesque lake town known for averaging about 300 days of sunshine per year, but adrenaline junkies love Chelan for its access to thrilling activities like zip lining, parasailing and skydiving. Plus, in addition to breathtaking scenery and plenty of outdoor recreation, the area is surrounded by more than 20 wineries and was dubbed an official American Viticulture Area in 2009.
West Virginia – Berkeley
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Berkeley Springs is also known as Bath. It’s famous for the abundance of bathhouses due to the many natural springs flowing through town. Berkeley Springs State Park, in the center of the historic spa town is a unique natural playground that kids love. Adults can enjoy a healing and relaxing dip in the park’s heated Roman baths. The George Washington’s Bath Tub is a children’s favorite. There are picnic tables, green lawns, and free summer concerts every Saturday afternoon in July and August.
Wisconsin – Bayfield
Bayfield is all about a charming, quaint and harbor town vibe. It is the gateway to the spectacular Apostle Islands National Lakeshore - 22 gem-like coastal islands that are home to lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails, camping, terrific blue-water sailing, and some of the best kayaking in the world, according to Travel Wisconsin. Summertime fills this Lake Superior port with sailboats, sea kayaks and charter fishing boats. Visit the maritime museum, eclectic retail shops, Victorian B&Bs, and golf courses with remarkable views.
Wyoming – Rock Springs
Compared to more popular destinations in Wyoming like Jackson Hole or Grand Teton, Rock Springs — known as the "gateway to the Flaming Gorge Reservoir" — is somewhat of a hidden gem. Flaming Gorge is celebrated for its serene tranquility and is also considered one of the best lakes for cold-water fishing in the entire country. Plus, even if fishing isn’t your forte, this lake serves as a perfect spot for other exciting water sports like tubing and kayaking.