25 Best US Cities to Experience in One Weekend

Destinations for the Weekend Traveler

Want to get away but don't have enough vacation time? These cities are ideal for weekend travelers. From trying the local cuisine to seeing key landmarks, these are prime spots to add to your micro-vacation bucket list.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina is perfect for a weekend trip. Offering idyllic Southern charm, pristine beaches and loads of history, this city has a lot to offer. Make the most of your short trip by getting the Charleston Heritage Federation passport which allows you entry to multiple popular points of interest around town. This pass is valid for five days after its initial use and is great for experiencing historic points of interest around town. Also not to be missed is seeing the colorful houses along Rainbow Row, shopping in the Historic Charleston City Market, kayaking Shem Creek and of course, filling up on fresh seafood and hearty Southern cooking.

Los Angeles, California

A long weekend might be better suited for visiting Los Angeles, California - especially depending on how many surrounding neighborhoods you wish to visit. But it's easy to fit more in with the area's hop-on, hop-off bus tour with City Sightseeing. There are three different routes that range from downtown L.A. to the Hollywood Tour to Santa Monica.

Seattle, Washington

Perfect for the city-lover or nature-enthusiast alike, Seattle has so much to offer during a quick retreat. Trek through local State Parks, visit the iconic Pike's Market or take in magnificent views of the city from the 607-foot-tall Space Needle. And the Seattle CityPass allows you entry to some of the top attractions at a discounted rate.

Louisville, Kentucky

A little under-the-radar, Louisville, Kentucky has plenty for the weekend traveler. With events and festivals being held almost every weekend, you're sure to catch some of the local fun. Taste your way around the city with some of the state's famous bourbon distilleries or spend a quiet afternoon in Cherokee Park. Catch a few horse races at the famous Churchill Downs (even if it's not the famous Kentucky Derby Horseraces), and see how Major League Baseball bats are made at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Louisville even offers the Main Ticket to save on admission to the city's top attractions.

New York City, New York

Many would argue that you can't see New York City properly in a weekend. But honestly, I don't think you can see all New York City has to offer in even a year's time. But a weekend will allow you enough time to get a taste of the Big Apple and see most of the city's highlights. Buy yourself a city pass to save on some of the big ticket attractions and make sure to take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to maximize your sightseeing time.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte's got a lot and if you're a beer fan, this is one city that should be at the top of your list. Cruise around town on the Charlotte Brews Cruise to visit a few of the plethora of breweries the city has to offer. Hop on the local light rail system to help get around town and dine at a former speakeasy at The Cellar at Duckworth's.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is weird, but the locals like it that way - according to a local public relations campaign. But it's also a town with a lot to see and do and the freedom to just be yourself. Take a stroll through the Rose Garden - after all this is the Rose City, make sure to grab a reservation at Apizza Scholls where you'll have some of the best pizza or venture out of the city to see beautiful waterfalls like Multnomah Falls.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Relax in The Big Easy for a weekend of fun, good food and plenty of music. Although known for its Mardi Gras celebrations and revelry on Bourbon Street, New Orleans has so much more to offer. Yes, seeing the French Quarter is a must, but making a stop at the World War II Museum is also worthwhile. Branch out from the highly congested tourist areas and see more of what the city of New Orleans is all about - from the Lower Garden District to Audubon to City Park. And with a festival almost every weekend of the year, there's always something going on in NOLA.

Austin, Texas

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Austin is the capital of Texas. With bigger cities like Houston and Dallas, Austin gives off more of a small-town city vibe. And with its own style of quirkiness, Austin is sure to become a favorite among weekend travelers. From BBQ to craft beer to a huge music and art scene there's so much to see - and more importantly, eat - in this city, you might find yourself staying an extra day or two.

Chicago, Illinois

Whether you're a foodie on a mission to take on the deep dish pizza challenge, a sports enthusiast wanting to visit the second oldest baseball stadium in the country, or just enjoy experiencing a city's highlights, the Windy City is sure to have something for every type of traveler. This is a great city to just walk through the local neighborhoods and find your own hidden gems of the city.

Denver, Colorado

Looking for a mountain escape to bring you back to nature? Denver, Colorado has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast with areas to hike and explore. But the city itself is a great spot for the weekend traveler. From great restaurants and breweries to catching a show at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, this is one town that is sure to not disappoint.

Nashville, Tennessee

Even if you're not a country music fan, the Music City is jam-packed with plenty to do and see. Try the local flavors like Nashville Hot Chicken or get up close to America's very own Parthenon - yep, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon from Athens, Greece. Visiting the Grand Ole Opry and a honky-tonk are also a must to get the full experience of what Nashville is all about.

San Francisco, California

Ready to spend the weekend tasting your way around San Francisco? Many of the districts can be experienced directly through the local restaurants - like the Mission District for Mexican food, Little Italy for Italian food and Chinatown for Chinese. Be sure not to miss out on the tourist hotspots though like Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods. Just don't forget to bring your jacket as it can get pretty chilly, even in the summertime.

Buffalo, New York

If you're a true foodie, Buffalo, New York is most likely on your list to visit the birthplace of the buffalo wing at Anchor Bar. This is also a great home base if you're planning on driving just thirty minutes north to Niagara Falls. But the town of Buffalo itself has a lot to offer as well - from learning about the history of the Underground Railroad to skiing in the wintertime to just enjoying the local parks and sailing on Lake Erie.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is the perfect destination for all types of travelers. Known for its art scene, Santa Fe is littered with galleries, museums and musicians. Take a tour of the town by joining in on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail or stop to smell the flowers at the botanical garden.

Asheville, North Carolina

Craft beer lovers can find their home-away-from-home in Asheville, North Carolina. There are more than 30 breweries in this mountain town - from big names like Sierra Nevada and Wicked Weed to those growing in popularity like Catawba Brewing and Burial Beer Co. And although you may initially come for the beer, the town itself has a way of intoxicating you with its own local flair. Join the drum circle on Friday night, eat your way around downtown or just enjoy the scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Washington, D.C.

Everyone needs to visit Washington, D.C. at least once in their life. Check out the multitude of museums, monuments and state buildings that tell the rich history of our country. Explore George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, pay your respects at Arlington National Cemetery and see history being made at the Capitol building.

Miami, Florida

Known for its nightlife and party scene, Miami has more to offer than the glitz and glamour of South Beach. Beautiful weather, powdery beaches, delicious eateries and a welcoming community are all part of this urban playground. The mixing of the Caribbean and Latin influences brings a wealth of flavors. Whether you have a few extra days before boarding for a cruise or are just wanting to spend time unwinding, Miami offers an ideal weekend getaway.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is growing in popularity. With new attractions popping up constantly and a well-established patio scene along the Tennessee River, it's easy to sit back and relax in the mild Tennessee weather. Hike Lookout Mountain, explore Ruby Falls, see seven states from the Rock City outpost and just enjoy the laid-back feel by the river.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is known for its restaurants, and it's easy to get your fill on a short weekend trip. The Gateway Arch is the obvious must, but the Missouri Botanical Garden, City Museum and Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site are also worthwhile stops.

Boston, Massachusetts

While you can experience all the highlights of Boston in just a mere 24 hours, it's best to add in at least one additional day to really enjoy Beantown. Walk through history along the Freedom Trail - a two-and-a-half-mile self-guided route through the city, and enjoy your fill of fresh seafood from local restaurants.

Mackinaw City, Michigan

Located between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, Mackinaw City is the last town in Michigan before crossing into the Upper Peninsula. Spend a few days on the water and be sure to check out Mackinaw Island or adventure through the local state parks. There are great seafood restaurants and some of the friendliest people. But you may just want to make this a summer escape as it can get pretty chilly during the winter.

Las Vegas, Nevada

A weekend at a time in Las Vegas is probably enough for the average person. A town filled with extravagance, thrill rides, plenty of gambling options and some of the most amazing performances, Las Vegas will not disappoint. Take a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon, lounge by one of their beautiful pools or just spend the day trying to take everything in while walking along the strip.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Twin Cities is the perfect retreat for the whole family. It's amazing how walkable this city is - with indoor pedestrian footbridges connecting many main points of interest. Check out the Mall of America, stroll around Lake Harriet and be sure not to miss the Wild Rumpus bookstore that includes its own menagerie of furry staff.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you haven't guessed it yet - my favorite way to experience a new city is through the food. And Philadelphia has one of the best food challenges - figuring out who makes the best Philly cheesesteak. Of course, the town is also steeped in loads of history and seeing the Liberty Bell is a must, but it's the Philly cheesesteak and checking out the vendors at Reading Terminal Market that keep me coming back.

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Whether you have limited vacation days or just a limited budget, these cities offer the ideal weekend retreat.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me