Best Weekend Getaways
After a long week, sometimes a short getaway is in order. However, deciding which destination to visit 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 weekend getaways. Vote for your favorite destinations below to help guide us in determining next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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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 and 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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This South Carolina city 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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Chicago's iconic eats, diverse neighborhoods and abundance of iconic sights make it a great weekend vacation spot. On warmer days, swim at one of Lake Michigan's beaches, snap a selfie in front of "The Bean" (a public sculpture also known as Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park and embark on an architecture river cruise. In winter, museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum are ideal places to escape the Windy City's brutal temps.
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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, be sure to get in touch with your wild side at the San Diego Zoo, learn about historical ships at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, stroll through the gardens at Balboa Park or hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. After the sun sets, enjoy the nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter.
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A weekend trip to Miami is all about soaking up some sun – and the culture. Spend your days dining on mouthwatering Cuban sandwiches and croquetas in Little Havana and taking in Miami's street art scene at the Instagram-friendly Wynwood Walls, then make your way to the beach to bask on the warm sand. Once the sun goes down, head to South Beach in nearby Miami Beach for unbeatable nightlife.
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Old-world charm is front and center in this Canadian city, which sits approximately 50 miles north of the U.S.-Canada border. In the Old Montreal area, travelers can stroll up and down cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and eateries. When the weather is nice, head to sprawling Mount Royal Park for a picnic, guided hike or leisurely bike ride. The park also offers snowshoeing, ice skating and more every winter.
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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 New Orleans City Park. No trip would be complete without eating beignets at Cafe du Monde or Cafe Beignet and enjoying a night out in the French Quarter.
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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. 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. For trendy shopping and nightlife, swing by the Yaletown neighborhood, which boasts a variety of watering holes, including breweries and hotels with cocktail lounges.
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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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America's capital is chock-full of free attractions, and many of them are concentrated on the National Mall. The city's layout makes it easy to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, numerous Smithsonian museums and other highlights in just a matter of days (or even a few hours). Getting around Washington is also a breeze thanks to a relatively robust public transportation system. 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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The streets of Old Québec are enchanting at any time of the 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 the Battlefields Park to enjoy a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
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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 breweries.
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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 the weather in the Emerald City is always unpredictable.
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Whether you're catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park or learning about the American Revolution while exploring the Freedom Trail, you can see the highlights of "Bahston" in just a few days. For those 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 in Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States.
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The Texas state capital delights weekend visitors with its mix of green space and cultural offerings. Thanks to its year-round temperatures that never drop below 60 degrees during the day, travelers can explore the 351-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park and other outdoor attractions no matter when they visit. Meanwhile, Austin's eclectic museums and the LBJ Presidential Library are terrific options on a rainy day. But a weekend in Austin remains incomplete without listening to live music. Luckily, audiences can check out the bars and clubs on Sixth Street or attend a show at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater.
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