From Memorial Day to Labor Day, over a dozen weekends fill up the calendar, just begging to drag you away from the daily grind for a little rest and relaxation somewhere new. While you might not be able to jet set off to Africa or down to Australia on a summer weekend, these destinations provide the accessibility, and most importantly — fun, for a summer weekend away.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
When the mountains are calling this summer, they aren’t too far away if you fly into Denver. Situated just 80 miles from Mile High City, Rocky Mountain National Park is well suited for a summer weekend getaway. Covered in pine and fir forests, percolating with crisp mountain air and dotted with bighorn sheep, the entire park spans 415 square miles. You can explore 17 mountains above 13,000 feet, drive Trail Ridge Road (one of America’s most scenic highways), or get lost in over 300 miles of hiking trails.
Think you need a week for a Caribbean vacation this summer? Think again. Bimini is the closest Bahamian island to the US, perched just 50 miles off of Florida’s coast and a short flight from Miami. Comprised of two main islands, North Bimini and South Bimini, along with many islets and cays, Bimini lends an idyllic spot for a true summer beach weekend. With miles of pristine beaches, you can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and fish all in one weekend.
Port Townsend, Washington
If its quaint, charming, and seaside you’re looking for on a summer weekend, Port Townsend, Washington, fits the bill. Oozing a maritime and artistic spirit, the community boasts a Victorian-era downtown complete with boutiques, galleries, and unusual shops to explore. Easy to get to from either Seattle or Portland, Port Townsend became an important shipping port by the 1880s. Its surrounding beaches are a big draw in the summer months along with its accessibility to the Olympic Peninsula.
While you might not have the time to fly to Paris on a summer weekend, the next best thing just might be Montreal. Known for its rich Euro heritage and historic streets, Montreal makes for an easy drive or flight from the East Coast, especially from New York. The city comes alive in the warmer months of the year with festivals like the Montreal International Firework Competition and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
La Jolla, California
Perhaps nothing quite says summer like a trip to a beachside California town. Located just north of San Diego, La Jolla provides a small town California feel without having to venture too far from the city to get there. Ideal for nature lovers, La Jolla offers loads of hiking trails, golf courses, and beaches. The water’s warm in the summer months and provides gentle surf, ideal for playing in the sand all weekend long. Come for the Fourth of July and you can catch fireworks at Scripps Park.
Solomons Island, Maryland
Between the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay, just 90 minutes from Annapolis or D.C., you will find Solomons Island. Centered on a waterfront village, it’s surrounded by rivers and creeks, and offers compelling views of Chesapeake Bay. Providing an idyllic East Coast weekend getaway, this corner of Maryland fills up the weekend itinerary with attractions like the Calvert Marine Museum, the Drum Point Lighthouse, and the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. Of course, you also won’t want to miss the legendary cocktails at the local Tiki Bar.
Chicago truly celebrates surviving the gray skies and cold of the winter when summer rolls around. Thanks to its positioning right smack in the middle of the county, Chicago makes for a prime summer weekend hotspot. You can come for one of its many summer festivals, like the music-centric Lollapalooza in Grant Park or the city’s many food events during the warmer months. Weekenders in Chicago can also take advantage of the city’s many beer gardens and fireworks on Navy Pier, and enjoy sinking their toes into the city’s beaches or even catch the reigning World Series champs the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Snag a direct flight to Santa Fe from Dallas, Denver, or Phoenix this summer and you won’t be disappointed. With some of the best and oldest art markets in the world, Santa Fe comes alive in the summer months. Come for the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival, the International Folk Art Market, or the Santa Few Indian Market (the largest market devoted to Native American arts in the world). As the oldest US capital city, Santa Fe has a rich history of Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American cultures, evident while strolling its adobe-studded streets. You can feast at more than 200 restaurants and pop in nearly 300 galleries.
What weekend getaways are you planning this summer? Share your plans with us in the comments below.