While much of the world is headed back to school, do you find yourself longing for a vacation that keeps going? Wishing that your friends and family could join you on your adventures? You are not alone! These best weekend getaways will get the ideas rolling, and you may just find yourself taking weekend getaways long into the fall!
Back to school or back to work doesn’t have to mean that the vacations come to an end. Make yourself the favorite aunt or friend by organizing a simple, super fun weekend getaway to chase away the back to school blahs and make that summer fun last a little longer!
Back to School: Best Weekend Getaways- Planning Ideas and Tips
- 1 Types of Weekend Getaways
- 2 25 Amazing Weekend Getaways by Region
- 3 How to prepare for you best weekend getaways
- 4 Best weekend getaways from major US cities
- 5 Wrapping it all up
Types of Weekend Getaways
August and September are the best time, in the Northern Hemisphere, to take advantage of the longer daylight hours and warm weather after the heat of summer has passed. It is a great time to get outdoors for hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, rollerblading and more.
September after labor day also marks the end of the summer tourist season, which means prices on flights, trains, and accommodation are back to less expensive levels. Lower prices are a wonderful way to make that vacation feeling last a little longer, and September is the perfect time to take your family on that dreamed-about trip or weekend get away.
Here are great general types of the best weekend getaways:
A city escape
September is low season in Florida, when prices hit the lowest of the year, and crowds are also at a minimum. If you have always dreamed of a trip to Disney, this is an excellent time to go. Other good times are October and February.
This can include glamping, staying at a fun hotel or lodge, or actually camping. You can plan your weekend around one to two day hikes and come home feeling like you really got away from it all in a big way.
Lodges and Dude Ranches
This is a really fun activity to do with family, where you can ride horses, sit around the campfire, hike, fish, play games, and more. September is already low season for dude ranches and lodges, so you can get a great deal and bring the whole family.
If you want a little more of summer beach fun, September and October offer much of the warmth and sunshine, without the crowds. Plan to visit your nearest beach, or book an inexpensive flight to Florida, California, Oregon, or South Carolina.
This is the perfect time of the year to enjoy the mountains, when the crisp fall weather is just starting to arrive and the colors are starting to change. You can enjoy whitewater rafting, tobogganing down a mountain track, hiking, swimming, and more. The mountains of Colorado, Utah, and North Carolina are all beautiful, and in the time between winter and summer seasons is when the price is lowest.
River Rafting Excursions
For the really adventurous, you can schedule a two to three day river-rafting excursion over one weekend with a group of family and friends. You can do this throughout the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains – from Oregon and Colorado to Virginia and Tennessee.
25 Amazing Weekend Getaways by Region
With those general ideas in mind, here are 10 amazing weekend getaways for you to try that will be fun for the whole family:
- Sun River, Oregon. You can rent a cabin, stay in a luxury hotel, or book a river-rafting weekend. Sun River offers so many outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, horseback riding, campfires, and more.
- Canon Beach, Oregon. Here you will find some of the most spectacular coastline in the US. With high cliffs, wide beaches, and plenty of opportunities for water sports, hiking, and other outdoor activities without the crowds. Canon Beach also has a cute beach town to explore. This is a perfect weekend getaway with camping, cabins, and hotels.
- Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, Washington. This picturesque island with a Michel-starred restaurant, cute cafes, and a cozy bookshops in addition to kayaking, hiking, whale watching and more is a perfect getaway from Seattle, Vancouver, or further.
California and the Southwest
- Mount Shasta, California. Escape to the mountains and experience the parks, waterfalls, historic houses, and lakes of Mount Shasta, one of the largest mountains in the Cascade mountain range.
- Redwoods State Park (and many others in California!). With so many options to choose from, you can hike, swim, enjoy the views, hug the trees, and enjoy the power and beauty of nature.
- Anza Borego Desert State Park a perfect weekend trip from San Diego, Los Angeles or Nevada. Anza Borego Desert State Park offers incredible hikes, swimming, and incomparable views when it rains and the desert flowers bloom.
- Joshua Tree, California. Known for the unique Joshua trees of the desert region, and the ultra-clear star gazing opportunities. This is good for a romantic getaway, for watching the stars, hiking, and reconnecting with nature – and yourself.
- Sedona, Arizona. Known for classic desert landscapes, vortexes and healing energy, Sedona is a fun way to escape the mundane and come home with new perspectives. Plan for hikes, delicious food, and perhaps some crystals.
- Lake Powell, Arizona. One of the most beautiful reservoirs and rock formations in Arizona, great for boating, paddle boarding, rock climbing, and more. Consider camping to get the full weekend immersion experience.
Rocky Mountain Region
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Here you can visit the famous Triangle X Ranch, and try horseback riding, river rafting, guided wilderness exploration and more.
- Bigfork, Montana. For an all-inclusive dude ranch experience, try Flathead Lake Lodge, where you can try a variety of western activities—from horseback riding to cattle roping—in a fun and inclusive environment.
- Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the place to come for natural outdoor spa treatments and so many indoor and outdoor hot springs, as well as hiking, river rafting, and an adorable town full of shops and cafes.
- Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. This beautiful natural preserve is rich with wildlife, outdoor activities, and cultural events.
- Holland, Michigan. With a traditional Dutch culture, this beautiful lakefront town has many beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan. The town itself has a fun beach-y vibe with lots of boutiques, cafes, and more to discover.
- Door County, Wisconsin. This region of Wisconsin is rich with beautiful lakes, fun family activities, interesting shopping, lots of cheese and dairy farms, and beautiful beaches.
- Churchill Downs, Kentucky. Go see where the famous Kentucky Derby takes place. Visit the elegant boutiques, sprawling, perfectly manicured horse farms, and fun cafes.
- Ashville, North Carolina. Here you will find the famous Biltmore House and Biltmore Hotel, as well as a hip and interesting town filled with art galleries, vegan cafes, interesting restaurants and great boutique shopping.
- Disney! Now is a great time to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Epcot, and take that weekend of magic you’ve always wanted.
- Hilton Head, South Carolina. Think Hilton Head is only a summer destination? Think again. This beautiful island becomes a sleepy beach town after the summer rush passes. Enjoy the wide beaches and cute cafes, without the crowds.
- Huntsville, Alabama. Here you can visit have the Space Camp experience and learn and space travel at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
- New York, New York. Have that Big Apple experience with all that New York has to offer: Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, incredible shopping, and so much variety of delicious food.
- Bar Harbor, Maine. While traditionally a summer destination, Bar Harbor is exquisitely beautiful any time of year. Gorge of fresh lobster, walk along the beaches, and enjoy the shops, restaurants, cafes, and laid-back Maine atmosphere.
- Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Nantucket becomes a sleepy island after Labor Day. Rich with beautiful beaches, upscale shopping, cute and create cafes, and welcoming locals who enjoy having the island to themselves after the summer season ends. Come and experience it for yourself!
- Ithaca, New York. Home to the famous Cornell University, and also home to the spectacular Finger Lakes, which stretch like long, narrow elegant fingers across the region. Enjoy boating, water skiing, and swimming – if you dare – in the ice-y water of the lakes. You can also hike to beautiful waterfalls and picnic spots. Then, warm up in one of Ithaca’s many trendy and world-famous restaurants, and take in a concert or show.
- Casco Bay Islands, Maine. To add both beautiful wind-swept beauty and excellent whale watching opportunities to your weekend getaway list, head to Casco Bay Islands off of Portland, and step into Portland for enough restaurants, shops, and boutiques to satisfy even the most aggressive shopper.
- Burlington, Vermont. This lively college town is full of quirky shops, creative cafes, and is, of course, home to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Enjoy the frozen treats, the outdoor concerts and theater performances, and more.
How to prepare for you best weekend getaways
With so many options available, you can easily take a weekend getaway several weeks in a row through this back to school season. Who says the fun ends when everyone goes back to school?
To make it easier to prepare, consider packing a weekend getaway bag that has just the basics: 2 sets of clothes, a few snack foods, and a small toiletry bag. Just don’t forget your hiking shoes or bathing suit!
With your weekend bag, you can be ready to go on a second’s notice, without using too much time thinking and preparing. Remember to bring a warm sweater or jacket, as this time of year the weather can change quickly, and also gets cold at night.
If you are planning with family or friends, decide whether you want your destination within driving distance or you plan to fly. If you are driving, plan to leave on Friday after work or school, and return on Sunday afternoon. That will give you about one and half days to enjoy your chosen destination.
The ideal driving distance is no more than five hours away, with three hours being the perfect amount to give plenty of variety to experience something new, without being too far away.
Best weekend getaways from major US cities
If you want to plan your next getaway, think about what is within 3-5 hours driving distance, and also check Google flights and secretflying.com for error fares and last minute flight deals.
Here are great weekend getaways from the 10 largest US cities, (plus a few others):
Weekend Getaways from New York City: Portland, ME; Nantucket Island, MA; Ithaca, NY
Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles: Joshua Tree, CA; Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA; Disney Land California
Weekend Getaways from Chicago: Door County, WI; Holland, MI; Ozarks, MO
Weekend Getaways from Houston: Galveston Island, TX; Dallas, TX; Port Arthur, TX, Austin, TX
Weekend Getaways from Philadelphia: Ocean City, MD; Atlantic City, NJ; Hamptons, NY; Ithaca, NY
Weekend Getaways from Phoenix: Lake Powell, AZ; Sedona, AZ; Grand Canyon, AZ; San Diego, CA
Weekend Getaways from San Antonio: Canyon Lake, TX; Port Arkansas, TX; Lost Maples State Natural Area, TX; Austin, TX
Weekend Getaways from San Diego: Joshua Tree, CA; Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA; Disney Land California, CA
Weekend Getaways from Dallas: Rough Creek Resort and Lodge, TX; Rancho Pillow, TX; Palo Duro Canyon, TX; Texas Hill Country Wineries, TX
Weekend Getaways from San Jose: Redwood State Park; Mount Shasta; Yosemite National Park; Lake Tahoe
Weekend Getaways from Boston: Portland, ME; Nantucket Island, MA; Ithaca, NY; Casco Bay Islands, ME
Weekend Getaways from San Francisco: Redwood State Park, CA; Mount Shasta, CA; Yosemite National Park, CA; Lake Tahoe, CA
Weekend Getaways from Orlando: Key West, FL; Amelia Island, FL; Daytona Beach, FL; Savannah, GA
Wrapping it all up
Back to school is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. It is the perfect time to plan a back to school weekend getaway or take that long-awaited adventure. Make this back to school the year to travel more and explore more, from the natural beauty to cultural destinations close to home, and across the country.
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