fMastering the art of the long weekend trip works best when you know what you’d like to get out of the vacation. With a weeks-long getaway, you can leave the daily agenda open and flexible to explore, but with only 72 or so hours of wiggle room, it’s wise to go in with an intention (and probably a rough itinerary, too). This can be anything from wanting to visit a historic region with guided tours and museum visits to needing a destination where you can entirely disconnect from your devices. Creating these kinds of travel themes based on what you enjoy most will make choosing a location feel exploratory and customized — kind of like being your very own travel agent.
Since you’ll be working with just a few days, you can cross out any far flung destinations that would take too much time trekking to. Instead, keep things simple and uncomplicated by focusing on the U.S., where even a short flight can transport you somewhere new and immersive. From the restaurant-dotted streets of New Orleans to the quiet forests of Colorado, there’s plenty to choose from right here in the states. Ahead, nine long weekend trip ideas to kickstart your planning.
For An Off-the-Grid Cabin in the Wild: Crested Butte, Colorado
If the M/O of your long weekend is to unplug and unwind, a cabin that’s nestled in the woods and off the grid should make your ears perk up. Colorado, with its fragrant trees and towering granite cliffs, is prime cabin country and thanks to Denver International Airport’s central location, heading for the state’s many picturesque areas is as easy as renting a car and setting off into the wild. Taylor River Lodge is situated on the outskirts of Crested Butte and was once a locals’ general store for fishing and tackle, but is now home to an eight-cabin private retreat. There, try your hand at fishing at the stocked trout pond or hang back at the lodge with a steam and soak in the bathhouse and s’mores around the fire pit. A few hours north in the Rocky Mountain wilderness you can book a rustic log cabin at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa and experience an authentic ranch experience with activities like horseback riding, fly fishing, zip lining, and mountain biking. But if it’s a cabin rental that you’re after, spring for this architecturally stunning home set on 160 acres. Majestic mountain views can be enjoyed on the cabin’s screened porch and there’s even a large soaking tub for two. Bonus: The property is entirely solar powered.
For Sun-Drenched Afternoons Spent by the Sea: Nantucket, Massachusetts
Summer days spent by the sea are good for the soul. Bright sun, salty skin, the smell of sunscreen, and nearby crashing waves—a sensory combination that simply can’t be beat. Rather than heading to the beach for an afternoon, make it a multi-day trip to slowly soak in the beauty. Nantucket is a tiny island located around 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and is a bucket list destination for several reasons, the pristine beaches being one of them. Greydon House is a design lover’s dream; the boutique hotel was outfitted by Roman and Williams and elegantly captures the well-traveled sea captain aesthetic. There’s also Jared Coffin House, a 19th-century mansion-turned-guesthouse that nods to the island’s historic origins with its wooden floors and historic paintings. And if you’re looking for something waterfront, go for White Elephant, a Nantucket institution located right by the harbor. The island is best explored by bicycle and after a few hours of lounging on the beach, explore the sites like the shipwreck museum, aquarium, an 18th century mill, and the Loines Observatory. To complete the day, swing by Cisco Brewers for a lobster roll and pint of beer.
For a History-Fueled Trip With Museum Visits & Walking Tours: Washington, D.C.
If you’re the kind of traveler who would rather go on a museum tour than a bar crawl, why not plan an entire weekend around the best sights and landmarks in a historic city? If you’ve never been to the nation’s capital, start there. Check into Riggs Washington D.C., a hotel located in Penn Quarter in a 19th century building that was once a national bank. Each room is decorated to feel like a safety deposit box and serves as an atmospheric home base for your getaway. While in town, book a trolley tour so you can take in several sites at once, like the Lincoln Memorial, Octagon House, WWII Memorial, the National Archives, Oak Hill Cemetery, and Ford’s Theater (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated). It’s a city replete with storytelling and perfect for history buffs who need a quick getaway.
For A Meditative Desert Escape: Sonoran Desert
Even a brief amount of time spent in the desert serves as a reminder that this landscape is unlike any other terrain on earth. If you’ve been feeling burnt out from work or simply need a place to sit with your thoughts, going somewhere like Arizona will leave your mind centered and calm. There are three main deserts in Arizona: Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran. The Sonoran plays host to several breathtaking resorts stretching from the red rocks of Sedona to succulent-studded Scottsdale. Those looking for a zen-inducing mix of outdoor adventure and wellness rituals should book a stay at CIVANA and choose from daily complimentary movement classes, replenishing spa treatments, and seasonal, nourishing cuisine. A couple of hours north, L’Auberge de Sedona is another highlight of the desert region where guests can take metaphysical masterclasses with local experts or go on a Grand Canyon driving tour to take in this natural wonder of the world.
For Outdoor Enthusiasts Who Want An Accessible Adventure: Mount Rainier
Metropolitan cities deliver on hospitality and entertainment, but sometimes the best kind of weekend trip is one that leaves all of that behind. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who’s on the hunt for their next great adventure, consider a journey to a national park. Mount Rainier National Park is a wonderland during the summer months, full of wildflower meadows, picturesque waterfalls, and old-growth forests. Join along for one of REI Co-op’s group trips to experience this majestic part of the states or reserve a campground that’s centrally located and pick day hikes close to that area to explore each day (Paradise is a breathtaking trail to add to your list).
For A Relaxing Wine Tasting Weekend: Napa Valley
Sipping a glass of wine in a picturesque setting is a guaranteed mood booster, which is why a relaxing weekend of tasting is a universally beloved trip idea. If you have a few days, schedule around two winery visits a day, plus meals (and perhaps a spa treatment or two). California is an obvious destination for this kind of getaway, and an excellent place to start is in — drumroll — Napa Valley.
Begin your visit by checking into Poetry Inn, a luxury boutique hotel with just five suites; each named after a famous poet and with sprawling valley views best enjoyed during an outdoor shower (all suites have one). A few tasting rooms to add to your itinerary include: Cliff Lede (each vineyard block is named after a rock n' roll song), Sullivan (ask for the Merlot), Somerston Estate (take the ATV tour), Gamble Family Vineyards (try to meet Tom), Ram’s Gate Winery (don’t skip the charcuterie board), Bouchaine (do a falconry experience), and Frank Family Vineyards (give Magnum the dog a petting).
Another popular hotel to experience when you’re in the valley is Meadowood, a tranquil 250-acre estate immersed in nature. If you care to brush up on a few wine terms before heading out for a day of tasting, book a wine tasting class or sommelier consultation with the property’s Wine Center (class themes include wine tasting essentials, understanding Napa Valley, the mountains of Napa Valley, and even one that is focused on volcanic wines).
For Foodies Who Want to Try New Bites & Sips: New Orleans
If your idea of a perfect weekend is one spent at restaurants, then why not double down and plan a trip entirely centered around one very important task: eating. New Orleans is a predictable choice for a foodie getaway, but that’s for good reason. It’s a city that prides itself on indulgence and the cuisine in this special corner of Louisiana is unlike anywhere else in the world. When it comes to your home base, there’s almost too many perfect properties to choose from (Hotel Peter & Paul, Hotel Saint Vincent, and The Chloe are good places to start). As for the culinary agenda, where to begin? Cane & Table for beef empanadas and a Caribbean cocktail, to start. You’ll also want to check out Commander’s Palace for 25-cent martinis, Bywater American Bistro for gulf fish, Cochon for high-quality meats, Sylvain for Champagne and fries, N7 for canned seafood, and Bacchanal Wine for backyard bites accompanied by live music and bottles of wine.
For A Road Trip Filled With Picturesque Pitstops: Coastal Maine
One of the best ways to see as much of a destination as possible in a short amount of time is with a set of wheels. If you’re a fan of the road trip and need a quick summer getaway, consider coastal Maine. Your journey will be along the coastline on Route 1, also known as the ‘Lobster Trail’ thanks to the plethora of pitstops you can take to enjoy this delicious seafood dish. You can begin your journey by the sea in Kennebunkport at Hidden Pond, a lovely resort surrounded by 60 acres of birch groves and balsam fir that features a treetop spa. From there, stop along the way in towns like Portland, Georgetown, and Rockland and at lobster favorites like Five Islands, Waterman’s Beach Lobster, Eventide, and Shaw’s. While there, don’t miss Acadia National Park for a breathtaking hike with expansive views.
For Good Antique Shopping In a Small Town Setting: Hudson, New York
If your home is filled with crafty finds and your idea of a riveting weekend is one spent scoring good prices on antiques, you know the drill by now — make a trip of it. Hudson, New York is a quintessential northeastern small town that offers well-designed accommodations, quaint cafes, and top-notch antique shopping. Book one of the eight rooms at The Amelia, a former Queen Anne-style private residence that sits on a quiet street in town. From there, head to The Antique Warehouse, a 300,000 square-foot warehouse filled to the brim with individual antique and vintage distributors followed by stops at Furlong, Hallam, and The Gilded Owl.