Best Weekend Getaways
After a long week, sometimes a short getaway is in order. However, deciding which destination to travel to can be daunting when you only have a weekend to spend. To help you choose the right trip, U.S. News considered factors like accessibility, affordability and entertainment options, as well as reader votes, to determine which cities offer the best setting for a weekend away. Vote for your favorite destinations below to help guide us in determining next year's ranking.
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Visitors can reach New York City by train, plane or automobile, so weekend getaways are a cinch. Plus, ample attractions both indoors (like museums and Broadway shows) and outdoors (like Central Park and the High Line) make unpredictable weather a nonissue. For a dose of history, take the ferry to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. And don't forget to chow down on some New York-style pizza and bagels while you're in the Big Apple.
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You can't tackle all of the Big Easy's top sights in one weekend, but its diverse offerings make it easy to choose activities based on your interests. History buffs can visit The National WWII Museum, while outdoorsy types can walk through City Park. No trip would be complete without eating beignets at Cafe du Monde and enjoying a night out in the French Quarter.
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You could spend the whole weekend relaxing on Coronado Beach, Mission Beach or one of San Diego's other world-renowned shorelines. But if you can pull yourself away from the sand, check out beloved attractions like the San Diego Zoo, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Balboa Park and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. After the sun sets, enjoy the nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter.
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The City by the Bay offers daytime temperatures in the 60s most of the year – ideal for strolling across the Golden Gate Bridge, riding the famous cable cars and exploring the city's eclectic neighborhoods. If you're feeling adventurous, take a boat tour out to Alcatraz Island, the infamous former federal prison in the middle of San Francisco Bay. What's more, sports lovers can enjoy superb views of said bay from Oracle Park during baseball season.
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Chicago's iconic eats, diverse neighborhoods and abundance of can't-miss sights make it a great weekend vacation spot. On warmer days, snap a selfie in front of "The Bean" (a public sculpture also known as Cloud Gate) and embark on an architecture river cruise. In the winter, museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum are ideal places to escape the brutal temps.
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Charleston boasts Spanish moss-laden bed-and-breakfast accommodations and gas lamp-lit cobblestone streets to transport you to a simpler time. Spend the day strolling along the water at The Battery, snapping photos of Rainbow Row's colorful historic homes, indulging in decadent low country cuisine or checking out the vibrant Charleston City Market. If you'd like to venture offshore, sign up for a boat tour or wade in the ocean on Sullivan's Island.
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A weekend trip to Miami is all about soaking up some sun – and the culture. Dine on mouthwatering Cuban sandwiches and croquetas in Little Havana, take in Miami's street art scene at the Instagram-friendly Wynwood Walls and make your way down to the beach to lay out on the warm sand. When the sun sets, head to South Beach in nearby Miami Beach for unbeatable nightlife.
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America's capital is chock-full of free attractions, and many of them are concentrated on the National Mall. This makes it easy to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, a number of Smithsonian museums and other highlights in just a matter of days. While visiting the District, don't miss out on the popular weekend brunch scene – just remember to make reservations in advance.
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Part-mountain town, part-hipster sanctuary, this North Carolina locale is a haven for adventurers and beer lovers alike. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest boast jaw-dropping vistas, and the North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail is a must for die-hard hikers. After an active day, travelers can return to town to sip their choice of roughly 100 local brews.
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The streets of Old Québec are enchanting at any time of year. Thanks to the city's compact, walkable landscape, you can take in a lot of sights in just a few days. Shopaholics should visit Quartier Petit Champlain, while history buffs will enjoy exploring the jail, college and library that comprise the Morrin Centre. When the weather is warm, head to Battlefields Park to enjoy a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
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This jewel of the Pacific Northwest offers iconic sights like Pike Place Market, the original Starbucks and the Space Needle, all of which you can see in a matter of days. You can even squeeze in a hike in Discovery Park or on nearby Mount Si. Just remember to bring an umbrella and a raincoat, as weather in the Emerald City can be unpredictable.
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It's hard to rival this Canadian city's idyllic natural landscape: Hiking, skiing, mountain biking, whale watching and boating are just a handful of the activities travelers can enjoy on a weekend trip here. Get your dose of the great outdoors in Stanley Park or on the sands of Kitsilano Beach before grabbing a bite to eat at the Granville Island Public Market.
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Hop across Lake Ontario to our northern neighbor for an urban weekend escape. It's tough to see all of sprawling Toronto in just a few days, but first-timers can hit high points like the CN Tower, the St. Lawrence Market, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Toronto Zoo. Travelers can also take a daytrip out to Niagara Falls. At night, head to the Distillery District to check out its shops, restaurants and brewery.
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Whether you're catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park or learning about the American Revolution along the Freedom Trail, you can see the highlights of "Bahston" in just a few days. For visitors with kids in tow, the Museum of Science, the Boston Children's Museum and the New England Aquarium are must-sees. If your feet need a break, take a seat on a bench at Boston Common, the oldest public park in the country.
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The Mile High City offers a mix of eclectic eateries, hiking paths and brewery trails. See an unforgettable concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre (an outdoor venue geologically formed by red rocks), or hit the town for dinner and nightlife at Larimer Square. Kids will love the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, while sports fans will appreciate touring or catching a game at Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies professional baseball team plays.
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