The Best Weekend Getaways to Take Right Now

Here's where to spend a few blissful days for that well-deserved break.

best weekend trips 2020

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

Stowe, Vermont

best weekend trips 2020

Stowe may be a popular ski destination, but it's equally appealing in the fall with its abundance of outdoor pursuits. And, obviously, the foliage alone is reason enough to visit. The 68-room Topnotch Resort sits on an expansive 120 acres with views of Mount Mansfield. Hotel activities include horseback riding, ATV tours, biking, wagon rides, and, for something a little more relaxing, a lovely spa.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

best weekend trips 2020

Want to escape to a quaint New England seaside village? Look no further than Martha's Vineyard, with its miles of beaches and historic houses. Stay in Edgartown, a former whaling port, and you'll have access to shops, galleries, and restaurants galore. The Christopher is a chic boutique hotel with just 15 rooms that mix modern design with a classic New England aesthetic. For a seamless—and fast (read: no traffic)—trip from the New York area, book a flight on Tradewind Aviation.

Read Reviews The Christopher

Telluride, Colorado

best weekend trips 2020

It is a bit of a trek to get to this Colorado hideaway, but so worth it for its unlimited supply of fresh mountain air. The Madeline Hotel & Residences, an Auberge Resort , is surrounded on three sides by the majestic San Juan Mountains. Horseback ride through Colorado's backcountry, go fly fishing, cycle the mountains, or simply let the hotel set up a picnic feast for you in the middle of a scenic alpine meadow. However you choose to spend your days, you're guaranteed to return home refreshed.

Read Reviews Madeline Hotel & Residents, Auberge Resorts Collection

Washington, Connecticut

best weekend trips 2020

A quick two-hour drive from New York City, Washington, Connecticut has long been a retreat for a very discerning, moneyed crowd, because of its rolling hills, historic architecture, and proximity to the city. Soak that all in at the grand Mayflower Inn & Spa, an Auberge Resort , set on 58 acres of manicured gardens and woodland. There's plenty to do, including hiking, fly-fishing, archery, tennis, and croquet. In 2021, for its 100th anniversary, the hotel was refreshed by celebrated designer Celerie Kemble.

Read Reviews Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection

Whitefish, Montana

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For a more adventurous weekend getaway, the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana offers four seasons of activities—from skiing Whitefish Mountain to hiking through Glacier National Park. Book a stay at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake , a classic mountain lodge that offers suites in the main building as well as standalone luxury homes on the property.

Read Reviews Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Malibu, California

best weekend trips 2020

This 27-mile stretch of sparkling ocean and beach is the epitome of barefoot luxury, which is why so many Hollywood A-listers own homes here. Hotels are pretty scarce, all the more lending to Malibu's locals-only vibe. Stay at the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn , located right on the water on a strip of coastline nicknamed Billionaire's Beach for all of its famous homeowners, like Larry Ellison, who owns 10 properties. For a real splurge, book a room at the intimate 16-room Nobu Ryokan , an oasis like no other that marries serene Japanese minimalism with the iconic California coast.

Read Reviews Malibu Beach Inn

Read Reviews Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Annapolis, Maryland

annapolis, maryland

Just 45 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Annapolis feels a world apart. Yes, it's home to the United States Naval Academy, but it's far more than a college town. Embrace its nautical legacy with a visit to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, followed by an afternoon out on the water. And then enjoy Maryland's famous crabs for dinner before retiring to 134 Prince , a luxury inn in a Dutch Colonial home.

Read Reviews 134 Prince

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

autumn colors

Massachusetts' Berkshires are a year-round destination full of scenic hikes, stellar art museums, like MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute, and fun seasonal programming, like the region's famous Tanglewood concert series. It's also a hotbed for wellness resorts, including Canyon Ranch Lenox , which is centered around a Gilded Age mansion, and Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa , which is home to a 29,000-square-foot spa.

Read Review s Canyon Ranch Lenox

Read Reviews Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa

best weekend trips from us 2020

For East Coasters, Bermuda makes for a perfect weekend getaway. It's just a two-hour flight from NYC and Washington, D.C., meaning it basically takes less time to get there than it does to drive out to the Hamptons. Once you're on the island, head to The Loren at Pink Beach if you're in the mood for a little solitude. The property's one- and three-bedroom villas have their own private pools, making them prime spots for lounging and sipping on Bermuda's famed rum swizzles.

Read Reviews The Loren at Pink Beach

Bar Harbor, Maine

bar harbor,acadia national park,maine

A gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is everything you'd want from a coastal New England town, from stellar seafood restaurants to a bustling harbor from which you can easily hop on a boat for the day. The Primrose is a cottage-style inn built in 1878, but completely refreshed with new decor in 2020.

Read Reviews The Primrose

The North Fork, New York

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The South Fork of Long Island (aka the Hamptons and Montauk) may be buzzier, but for a more low-key, quiet, and down-to-earth alternative, head to the North Fork. Oysters at Little Creek Oyster Farm in Greenport are a must, as are the homemade pies at Briermere Farms in Riverhead. Then spend your afternoons visiting the area's many wineries, such as Bedell, Sparkling Pointe, and Kontokosta before retiring to the Sound View Greenport , a chic hotel where every room looks out onto the Long Island Sound and has direct access to the private beach.

Read Reviews Sound View Greenport

Asheville, North Carolina

asheville north carolina aerial view at sunset

Drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway on your way to Asheville—the fall foliage is particularly spectacular, though the views are majestic no matter the season. There, you'll want to spend plenty of time at the impressive Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in the country, built by George Vanderbilt at the end of the 19th century. While you can't stay in the home itself, you can stay on the property at the Inn on Biltmore Estate , which grants you access to the Biltmore gardens, Antler Hill Village, and the Biltmore Winery.

Read Reviews Inn on Biltmore Estate

Asbury Park, New Jersey

best weekend trips 2020

When the Asbury Hotel opened in 2016, it promised to bring about a much classier era to the oft-maligned Jersey Shore—and, in particular, the city of Asbury Park. It's just an hour away from New York City, but will feel like a proper vacation. Aside from the beach, which is a block away, the Asbury has plenty of al fresco spaces fit for play, including an expansive rooftop space that screens outdoor movies.

Read Reviews The Asbury Hotel

Texas Hill Country

texas bluebonnet field

Easily accessible from both Austin and San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is filled with quaint towns, wineries, and, in the spring, fields of blossoming bluebonnets. Treat yourself to a wellness weekend at the Sage Hill Inn & Spa , a 16-room luxury property set on 88 acres just 25 miles outside of Austin. Spend your days meandering the hiking trails, getting a massage at the spa, or playing a game of pickleball on the courts.

Read Reviews Sage Hill Inn & Spa

Golden Isles, Georgia

Wood, Property, Real estate, Outdoor furniture, Furniture, Interior design, Hardwood, Daylighting, Fixture, Balcony,

Located along Georgia's Atlantic coast between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island is one of the barrier islands comprising the Golden Isles. Here, you can summer like the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Pultizers, and Rockefellers once did at the Jekyll Island Club Resort . There are loads of leisure activities, 20-plus miles of paved bicycle exploration, and two open-air restaurants. It's easy to see why some of the great American dynasties returned here year after year.

Read Reviews Jekyll Island Club Resor t

The Finger Lakes, New York

waterfall and bridge at watkins glen state park, new york

The West Coast might get the lion's share of attention when it comes to wine regions, but the Finger Lakes is perfect for a weekend away for East Coasters or Midwesterners. Explore the eleven lakes, the charming towns that surround them, and the scenic gorges. Make your home base Aurora on Cayuga Lake. It's home to the Inns of Aurora , a collection of five boutique hotels in historic buildings.

Read Reviews Inns of Aurora

Mackinac Island, Michigan

aerial view of mackinac island, michigan, usa

Retreat to Michigan's Mackinac Island for a leisurely weekend in what might feel like a bygone era. The island, located in between the state's Lower and Upper Peninsulas on Lake Huran, has banned cars, resulting in quite a peaceful atmosphere. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel , which bills its 660-foot-long porch as the world's longest.

Read Reviews Grand Hotel

Sedona, Arizona

cathedral rock near sedona

Sedona has the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation—the hiking is superb, as are the spa resorts. The 70-acre Enchantment Resort has the best of both worlds, with 50 hiking trails and an extraordinary destination spa called Mii Amo. (As of September 2022, the spa is closed for renovations, but will reopen in late 2022 or early 2023.) The property is also close to downtown Sedona, where you can get your fill of shopping between art galleries and funky boutiques.

Read Reviews Enchantment Resort

Lexington, Kentucky

horses grazing in pasture, elevated view

Kentucky has two major claims to fame: horse racing and bourbon. You'll find both in and around Lexington, between the city's famous Keeneland Race Course and the 15 distilleries within 45 miles of the city. While in town, stay at the ultra-modern 21c Museum Hotel Lexington , which also functions as a museum.

Read Reviews 21c Museum Hotel Lexington

Cape May, New Jersey

cape may beach ave

Cape May is perhaps the most charming of all of New Jersey's beach towns, thanks to the colorful Victorian-era houses that line its streets. Spend the day at the beach or peruse the shops of the Washington Street pedestrian mall, which is particularly festive in December. Congress Hall is the grande dame in this seaside resort town, and it's been hosting guests since 1816.

Read Reviews Congress Hall

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Leena Kim is an editor at Town & Country , where she covers travel, jewelry, education, weddings, and culture.

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Stefanie Waldek is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, design, and travel. She's worked on staff at Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and, a TripAdvisor company, and has contributed to Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Design Milk, and Hunker, among others. When she's not dreaming about midcentury chairs, you can find her re-watching The X-Files,  likely in an airport lounge or on a plane.

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Whisk yourself away on a weekend getaway

What is a mini-vacation.

A mini-vacation is a romantic weekend away, it’s 4 days of sun, sea, and sand, it’s an adventure for the whole family. It’s whatever you want it to be, mini-sized. To build your dream mini-vacation, enter your desired location and your travel dates, and let us take care of the rest. When you build your Expedia package deal, you bundle your accommodation, flights, and car rentals and save money.

Where should I go for a mini-vacation?

For a shot of sea and sun, head for the golden sands of Southern California , or hit the white-hot party heat of Miami . Prefer the great outdoors? Book a cosy condo in the mountains of Montana or enjoy the bo-ho chic of Washington State . Maybe you want a bit of culture and history, so stay at a spa hotel in Washington, DC . The choice is yours!

Where should I go for the best weekend getaway?

For a weekend of bright lights in the big city, try the high life and head to Vegas . If you want something a little more sedate, book a weekend in Waikiki . Or, if you’ve got the whole family in tow, book a stay in San Diego or a vacation rental in Myrtle Beach .

How can I find the best weekend getaway deals?

Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a mini-vacation, Expedia always has amazing deals. You can choose from our attractive offers that include accommodation, flights, and car rentals, or build your own package and still bundle to save. Our vast network of partners and advanced filters make it easy to find, compare, and craft a trip that speaks to you and your wallet.

How do I plan a cheap weekend getaway?

To find cheap getaways, you can filter your Expedia search results by your per-night budget, so you only see available accommodation that suits you on the dates you want to travel. Look out for special offers and sign in to see member prices on all kinds of cheap weekend getaways. You may be best off looking in the low season and away from the main tourist areas to find more cheap trips ideas. If you’re traveling in a larger group, you might find a vacation rental or condo resort is a cheaper option than everyone booking a hotel room.

How do you plan a weekend romantic getaway on a budget?

Expedia makes it easy to plan the best weekend getaways for couples, even if you’re on a tight budget. You can filter your tempting search results by price, but more importantly, you can filter by amenities, such as hot tub, ocean view, spa to tailor make your unforgettable couple’s retreat.

Where should I go on a girls’ trip?

A weekend of skiing in Colorado –party included–or lounging on the beach in Cancun ? Mooching through the markets in Portland, Oregon , or hitting the big shops in New York . Whatever makes your best weekend getaway with the girls, you can get a great deal that suits everyone’s pocket with Expedia.

What are some excellent family weekend getaways?

If your family has a sense of adventure, head for Alabama and a mini-vacation that could include dolphin spotting, fishing, jet-skiing, and more. If you’re a brood of city slickers, take in the culture of Milwaukee , with exhibitions, museums, and sightseeing for all ages. Whatever family weekend getaway you’re looking for, we have it at Expedia.

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The 12 best day trips in the US Southeast

Sep 18, 2020 • 5 min read

Nashville, Tennessee downtown skyline at twilight.

Nashville is a glittering gateway to the US Southeast ©f11photo/Shutterstock

The American South is defined by its cuisine, landscape, accent, literature, music and history. In the cities of the Southeast, one can uncover the true American experience, from the sweat-drenched noir of New Orleans to the accept-all-comers diversity of Atlanta and Nashville. These cities also offer the perfect bases to explore this fascinating region further. 

Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.

Best day trips from Atlanta

Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia The Georgia Museum of Art is a smart, modern gallery where brainy, arty types set up in the wired lobby for personal study, while art hounds gawk at modern sculpture in the courtyard garden as well as the tremendous collection from American realists of the 1930s. 1hr 15min by car.

North Georgia Wine Country The Appalachian foothills north of Atlanta are now a recognized viticultural region, thanks to the ultra-quaffable wines produced here. There are more than a dozen wineries to choose from, many with breathtaking mountain views, live music or patios that are perfect for whiling away an afternoon. Pull up a stool at one of Dahlonega’s tasting rooms to sample the best of the region. 2hr by car.

View Of Landscape Against Cloudy Sky

Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia You might not expect Grand Canyon-style landscapes within an easy drive of Atlanta, but that’s what you'll find at Providence Canyon . The 1000-acre park has hiking trails galore amid its trademark gullies, with cliffs of layered sediment in a rainbow of colors. Stop for a bite and a riverside stroll in Columbus, on the Chattahoochee River. 2hr 20min by car.

See more day trips from Atlanta .

Best day trips from Charlotte

Asheville, North Carolina In 1890, George Vanderbilt decided to build himself the largest home in the US in the most beautiful location. He chose the rolling mountains near Asheville – along what’s now the Blue Ridge Parkway – where art deco buildings, farm-to-table restaurants and innovative microbreweries now pave the way to his Biltmore Estate . The town is home to a sizable population of artists and hard-core hippies. 2hr by car.

Adventure awaits

Congaree National Park, South Carolina Firefly speed dating? Yup. Not only does Congaree National Park have the world’s largest expanse of old-growth hardwood forest and miles of boardwalk trails through languid blackwater swamps, but for two weeks in late May to early June, Congaree becomes a first-date hotspot for a million Photinus carolinus fireflies, who blink in unison during mating season. 2hr by car.

Mount Airy, North Carolina  The inspirational setting for the fictional town of Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show , Mount Airy is as American as the $1.80 bologna sandwich at its Snappy Lunch diner. The surrounding Yadkin Valley’s wine industry has lent an air of sophistication to this old-timey town. Check into the endearingly perfect Pilot Knob Inn to stay in an original tobacco cabin, and canoe on your own private lake. 2hr by car.

Best day trips from Nashville

Lynchburg, Tennessee Lynchburg – the home of  Jack Daniels Distillery – is a veritable mecca for fans of Tennessee whiskey. The distillery is located in a dry county, but you can still sample whiskey drawn from individual barrels during one of their informative distillery tours. If wine is more your speed, pop into the Lynchburg Winery before indulging in a slice of rich Southern gastronomic history at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Restaurant . If souvenir shopping is on the list, the surrounding shops are stocked with a delightful assortment of handmade crafts. 1hr 40min by car.

Lover's Leap Waterfall, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, America

Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee Six miles from downtown Chattanooga lies a nature-based triple treat: Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Inline Railway. This adventure is based in Lookout Mountain , a mountain ridge running through Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Go in for a guided cave tour or a 700ft zipline adventure through Ruby Falls, home of the world’s largest underground waterfall. Stroll through the diverse flora and fauna of the Rock City Gardens. Wrap up with a mile-high ride on the Incline Railway, one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. At the top: a bird’s eye from the Lookout Mountain observation deck. 2hr 10min by car.

Lost Sea, Sweetwater, Tennessee Tennessee may be land-locked, but that doesn’t stop the state from boasting its very own sea. Listed as "America’s largest underground lake" by Guinness World Book of Records, the Lost Sea is a massive body of water located in a historic cave system known as the Craighead Caverns. The lake’s true size is unknown, but you can glide across its four-acre surface and catch a glimpse of the crystal formations and colossal rainbow trout that inhabit the caverns on a boat tour. Nearby, Sweetwater’s revitalized Main Street offers a bake shop full of indulgent Southern sweets, galleries and plenty of antique shopping. 2hr 53min by car.

See more day trips from Nashville .

Best day trips from New Orleans

Barataria Preserve, Marrero, Louisiana The  Barataria Preserve is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, south of New Orleans near the town of Marrero (and Crown Point). This section provides the easiest access to the encircling dense swamplands. The eight miles of boardwalk trails offer a stunning exploration through the fecund, thriving swamp, home to alligators, nutrias (basically big, invasive river rats), tree frogs and myriad species of birds. 30min by car.


Laura Plantation, Vacherie Discover Louisiana’s turbulent past at Laura Plantation , a restored 19th-century estate on the west bank of the Mississippi River. It was run by four Creole women, most notably Laura, for whom it is named. A tour teases out the distinctions between Creole, Anglo, free and enslaved African Americans. Culturally and architecturally, this Creole mansion is strikingly distinct from other plantations. 1hr by car.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital, is home to a thriving arts community, largely thanks to Louisiana State University. The LSU Museum of Art, within the clean, geometric lines of the Shaw Center for the Arts, holds a permanent collection of over 5000 works and also hosts touring exhibitions. There are lots more galleries on and off campus, many affiliated with the university and its myriad arts courses. 1hr 20min by car.

See more day trips from New Orleans .

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Disha Discovers

USA Weekend Trips: 25 Amazing Destinations for a Short Getaway

By Author Disha Smith

Posted on Published: August 17, 2020  - Last updated: February 26, 2024

Categories Destination Tips , Featured , North America , USA

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While some of us would love to be able to take full-length one- to two-week trips all the time, that’s simply not possible. So to get the travel bug under control, we often make time for a few USA weekend trips. With these short trips, we rarely have to take time off, and we still get to have a little bit of adventure.

Plus, the United States is filled with tons of great places for weekend getaways. While you can opt for a big city like New York or Los Angeles, you can also pick somewhere that’s a little quieter like Siesta Key, Florida or Savannah, Georgia. Regardless of where you go, USA weekend trips are always a great way to relax and unwind.

This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust.   This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below.   See full disclosure here.

In This Post:

25 Amazing USA Weekend Trips

I could go on and on about some pretty awesome destinations in the U.S. But for now, I’ve given you a list (in no particular order) of some of my favorite and some of the very best USA destinations for a short trip. Each destination offers something unique so I’ve got you covered on a few things to do in each place and exactly where to stay.

1. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of many great USA weekend trips.

As the land of surfers and celebrities, Los Angeles, California is one of the most popular US weekend trips – and for good reason. There are so many things you can knock out on a 2 day Los itinerary ! 

If you prefer the beach angle of Los Angeles, head to Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu for all the sand and sunshine you could possibly desire. Spend your time enjoying the salty ocean air, wandering around the trendy shops, and dining at delicious restaurants.

If the celebrities are your main reason for visiting Los Angeles, there’s really no better place to see the people who only seem to make an appearance on your TV. Be sure to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, request tickets for a live-taping of your favorite show, and head up to the celebrity-filled town of Malibu. If you want to do something a little more adventurous, consider tackling the hike to the famous Hollywood sign.

RELATED: The BEST 2 Day Los Angeles Itinerary: Epic Weekend in LA

2. Charleston, South Carolina

One of the best USA weekend getaways is Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina is one of the best weekend trips in the US. This adorable, historic town is filled with culture, character, and history.

Between the Antebellum architecture lining the streets and horse-drawn carriages meandering through the city, you can almost feel as if you’ve been transported to the past. Check out the historic houses around the Battery and venture towards the most colorful stretch of Charleston, Rainbow Row. If you really want to dive into history, head to the Fort Sumter National Monument to visit the place where the Civil War started.

If you’re looking to dive into the culture and character of Charleston, start with the food scene. Charleston, South Carolina is starting to establish its name as one of the best foodie cities in the country, making it one of the best USA weekend trips too. Be sure to stop at the Charleston Farmer’s Market, not just for fresh produce and delicious food, but also for local art, blooming flowers, and amazing souvenirs.

Before visiting, be sure to read my weekend guide to Charleston ! It covers the best areas to stay in, exactly what to do, and more.

3. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is one of many amazing USA weekend trips.

Nashville, Tennessee is easily the best US weekend trip for country music lovers. While you can, of course, experience all of the up-and-coming country music by bar-hopping along Broadway, there’s a lot of country music history to learn about in Tennessee’s capital city as well.

To start your tour of country music, head to the Ryman Auditorium, the original location of the Grand Ole Opry, and learn how this venue worked to popularize the country music genre. Then, head to the famous Grand Ole Opry to see all the country music memorabilia you could ever desire. Then, wrap up your country music history tour by spending some time at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Don’t forget to read my weekend in Nashville itinerary ! It covers everything in detail so you can plan the perfect getaway there.

4. New York City, New York

If you're looking for the best USA weekend getaways, check out New York City!

As the most populous city in the US, New York City is packed to the brim, not only with people but with things to do! While your two days in New York City might be one of the most packed USA weekend trips possible, it’ll likely also be one of the most memorable.

While you can’t see everything that New York has to offer in just one weekend, there are quite a few things that you must do. Wander around Central Park, visit the Statue of Liberty, pay your respects at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, check out the art at MoMA, head to the top of the Empire State Building, and wrap it all up by watching a Broadway show.

If you plan on visiting New York City during the holidays (which I highly recommend), here is an epic NYC Christmas bucket list that will tell you all the holiday and cheery things to do. 

5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City is an underrated USA weekend trip destination.

It’s rare that a Midwest town is acknowledged as one of the best USA weekend trips, which is truly a shame. The Midwest is full of gems that are worth a visit, including Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a fun mix between Western roots and an evolving big city feel, Oklahoma City is definitely a special place.

While in Oklahoma City, be sure to get the best of both of the worlds that this city has to offer. Admire the pieces in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, then grab a meal at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. Dance the night away at one of the nightclubs in the Bricktown Entertainment District, then wake up the next morning and head to Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Check out my one day in Oklahoma City itinerary. It’s a great foundation for your weekend trip to Oklahoma with important must-dos and places to eat.

RELATED: 12 Best Romantic Getaways in Oklahoma

6. Dallas, Texas

There are so many amazing USA weekend trips and Dallas is one of them.

Similar to Oklahoma City, the dynamic city of Dallas, Texas is a combination of traditional cowboy and modern business. As a matter of fact, these two sides of the city sometimes overlap in the coolest ways.

One great example of this overlap is the Dallas Cattle Drive sculptures. Made of modern steel, you can often find visitors pretending to be cowboys herding this huge drove of cattle. Besides this singular art inspiration, you can also test your horseback riding skills at the Texas Horse Park, ride on the McKinney Avenue Trolley, and stop and smell the flowers at the Dallas Arboretum.

RELATED: Best Weekend Trips in Texas: 13 Perfect Locations!

7. New Orleans, Louisiana

One of many exciting USA weekend trips is New Orleans.

Due to the mix of cultural influences, New Orleans is one of the coolest cities in the country. If you’re looking to experience the culture of another country without actually leaving the country, New Orleans is a great place to do so.

No matter when you visit New Orleans, you can devour as many powder sugar-coated beignets as you would and pretend to be in a small French town as you wander around the French Quarter. But the more immersive culture comes to life during Mardi Gras. This Carnival-like celebration is filled with music, dancing, masks, and just overall excitement.

8. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is one of several incredible USA weekend getaways.

Atlanta, Georgia is one of those cities with something for everyone, making it one of the best USA weekend trips. Whether you’re into history, nature, art, or food, Atlanta has something for you. Also, Atlanta is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with your special someone because there are so many romantic things for couples to do too! 

For the history lovers, Martin Luther King, Jr. left his marks all over this bustling city, from his childhood home to Ebenezer Baptist Church to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument. As for nature lovers, head to Piedmont Park or venture out to Stone Mountain Park. For the artists, the High Museum of Art should keep you entertained for hours. And for the foodies, there are fantastic restaurants all around the city, but don’t forget to stop by the World of Coca-Cola or spend the evening at a rooftop bar.

9. Las Vegas, Nevada

One of the most popular USA weekend trips is Las Vegas.

Also known as Sin City, Las Vegas is a city of indulgences. From packed nightclubs to thrilling casinos, Las Vegas is a one-of-a-kind city.

Pretty much everything you could want to see or do in Vegas has been crowded onto The Strip. With the towering high-rise hotels, huge billboards, and bright lights, The Strip can be a little overwhelming at first. Then, you’ll learn to sink into the rhythm of the city. Head indoors for shopping or gambling to escape the hot desert heat, only leaving the cool comfort of the air conditioning to change venues or venture to one of the famous Las Vegas buffets.

RELATED: 21 Awesome Free Things to Do in Vegas

10. Chicago, Illinois

Be sure to add Chicago to your list of USA weekend getaways.

Commonly referred to as the Windy City, Chicago has much more to offer than a bold breeze. This Illinois city has all the things you’d expect a major city to have – including towering skyscrapers, throngs of people, and fantastic restaurants – and so much more.

If there’s just one thing you have to do in Chicago, it’s paying a visit to The Bean. Located in Millennium Park, thousands of people visit this metallic sculpture every single day. In addition to The Bean, you can also catch the best views of the city from Promontory Point, see your favorite animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and spend some time at the famous Buckingham Fountain.

11. Miami, Florida

Add Miami to your list of USA weekend trips.

Miami, Florida is known primarily for two things: beach and culture. Honestly what more could you ask for from one of your USA weekend trips?

South Beach is the center of Miami’s beach scene. You can easily spend a day lounging on the golden sand and taking a dip in the turquoise water before heading to Espanola Way for some food. As for Miami’s culture scene, it’s no question that the hub is Little Havana. Dance to Latin music, play dominos with locals, and delight in a cup of authentic Cuban coffee.

If you happen to be pressed for time, here’s an epic one day in Miami guide that covers all of the must-sees and dos!

12. Seattle, Washington

One of the best weekend trips in the US is Seattle.

This gem in the Pacific Northwest known as Seattle is unfairly primarily known for its cloudy weather. As the coffee capital of the country and a booming city, Seattle is one of the best USA weekend trips.

Ever since Starbucks opened its first location in Pike’s Place Market in 1971, Seattle has embraced its new reputation as the coffee capital of the country (second only to its reputation of overcast weather). You can actually visit the first Starbucks location and the rest of the Pike’s Place Market during your time in Seattle. Besides the original Starbucks, you can also check out the iconic Space Needle, stare in awe as you walk around Chihuly Garden and Glass, and dine on the fresh seafood at Ivar’s.

13. Savannah, Georgia

If you're looking for quieter USA weekend trips, Savannah is the place for you.

Compared to cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Savannah, Georgia is one of the smallest cities on this list. In other words, it is one of the quietest USA weekend getaways on this list, which is perfect if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life.

The quiet of Savannah is only aided by its great, yet calming attractions. Head to Forsyth Park for a picnic or relaxing day in nature, take a cruise on the Savannah River or even venture a little out of the town for a beach day on Tybee Island.

RELATED: 11 Prettiest Towns in Georgia for Your Next Getaway

14. Washington D.C.

One of the most action packed USA weekend trips is Washington D.C.

As the capital city of the United States, Washington D.C. is packed with marks of the country’s history. That said, somehow Washington D.C. has avoided the stuffy air associated with history and instead made it quite interesting and exciting through its monuments and museums.

Honestly, you could spend an entire weekend in Washington D.C. just checking out the monuments and museums. The Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and all the memorials lining the beautiful Tidal Basin are must-sees. As for the museums, head to the National Mall for the Smithsonian National Museum of National History, National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and many more.

RELATED: Best Getaways on the East Coast: 12 Spectacular Destinations!

15. Boston, Massachusetts

If you're on the search for the best USA weekend trips, don't forget Boston.

For history lovers, Boston, Massachusetts should certainly be on the top of their lists of USA weekend trips. Home to hundreds of historic brick buildings and the first subway system in the United States, there’s history literally everywhere you turn in Boston.

There is a slew of things to do and places to see to continue your Boston history experience. Stop by the Paul Revere House, check out the Bunker Hill Monument, stroll around Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and tackle the Freedom Trail.

RELATED: New England Road Trip Itinerary: 10 Days Exploring the Northeastern US

16. Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Key is one of the most relaxing USA weekend getaways.

Situated just off the coast of Sarasota, Florida, Siesta Key is a hidden island paradise. It’s one of the best USA weekend trips for sun, sand, and relaxation.

Pretty much all of the best things to do in Siesta Key revolve around going to one of the beaches: Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, and Crescent Beach. If you’d like to intersperse something a little different during your getaway, you can also go shopping or take a boat out on the water.

17. Kansas City, Missouri

One of the best Midwest USA weekend trips is Kansas City.

The metropolis known as Kansas City is actually split into Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. There’s quite a rivalry between the two sides of Kansas City, and while both have their perks, I recommend Kansas City, Missouri.

There’s such a wide array of things to do in Kansas City, Missouri that you’ll be able to stay entertained regardless of your interests. If you’re a music aficionado, you’ll have to stop at the American Jazz Museum. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll definitely want to catch an MLB game at Kauffman Stadium. And if you like to visit some of the world’s weirdest museums, Kansas City has quite a few for you, including the Arabia Steamboat Museum, the Money Museum, and the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

18. Sedona, Arizona

An exciting USA weekend getaway is Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona is one of the best USA weekend trips for hikers. With its bright red rocks and well-maintained trails, you’ll have a fantastic time in this Arizona city.

A few of the best Sedona hikes include the Devil’s Bridge Trail, the Cathedral Rock Trail, and the Courthouse Butte Loop. But if you’re looking to switching things up a bit, you can also visit the Church of the Holy Cross, slip down the natural waterslide at Slide Rock State Park, and wander around the creative area known as the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village.

RELATED: The Perfect 10-Day Southwest USA Road Trip

19. Little Rock, Arkansas

One of the most underrated USA weekend trips is Little Rock.

Little Rock is one of the most underrated USA weekend trips. And as Arkansas’ capital city, it’s packed with things to do. You can pay a visit to the Arkansas State Capitol, wander around the River Market District, stop and smell the flowers at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, and read a book at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

And if you find yourself with a little extra time, I highly recommend making the one-hour drive to Hot Springs National Park and the surrounding town. With bubbling hot springs, beautiful lakes, and stunning hiking trails, there are so many things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

20. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores is a relaxing USA weekend trip.

When most people think of beachy USA weekend trips, they think of places like California and Florida. But the little town of Gulf Shores, Alabama is a lovely beach destination that has managed to fly under the radar.

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, Alabama is filled with beautiful beaches, tasty restaurants, and lovely shopping. While there, you can soak up the sun at Gulf State Park, wander around the boutique stores at The Wharf, and even say hello to the animals at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

21. Salt Lake City, Utah

One of the coolest USA weekend getaways is Salt Lake City.

As the capital of Utah, Salt Lake City is one of the most visited destinations in the state. Salt Lake City has a reputation that almost entirely revolves around the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. And while you can visit lovely sights like Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, there’s so much more to Salt Lake City than its religious affiliation.

While in this beautiful Utah city, you can also visit the Great Salt Lake, pop by the gorgeous Red Butte Garden, and take a stroll in Liberty Park. But one of the coolest things to do in Salt Lake City is to pay a visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Situated just an hour and a half away from the city center, these 3,000 acres of hardened salt look like an otherworldly landscape.

22. Denver, Colorado

Denver is one of several adventurous USA weekend trips.

Also known as the Mile High City thanks to its high altitude, Denver, Colorado is one of the best USA weekend trips. This bustling city has everything from amazing hikes to fantastic concert venues to historic buildings to fabulous restaurants.

During your time in Denver, you’ll find loads of things to do. If you like music, you’ll want to catch a show at the breathtaking Red Rocks Amphitheater. If you’d prefer to be more active, you should consider hiking a 14er – also known as mountain peaks that are over 14,000 feet high. Or if you’re simply looking for a scrumptious plate of food, head to the many eateries at the renovated Union Station.

RELATED: Best Winter Getaways in Colorado: 18 Epic Locations!

23. Raleigh, North Carolina

An awesome USA weekend trip is Raleigh.

There are quite a few amazing places to visit in North Carolina, and the capital city of Raleigh is one of them.

Raleigh boasts an alluring combination of nature, science, history, and culture. While in town, you can take a leisurely stroll along the Neuse River Trail, visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, stop by the North Carolina State Capitol, and even take a tour of the Videri Chocolate Factory.

And as an added bonus, Raleigh isn’t far from quite a few lovely destinations, including Charlotte, Wilmington, and Wrightsville Beach. In other words, you’ll have plenty of day trip destinations to choose from as well.

24. Portland, Maine

One of the most romantic USA weekend trips is Portland, Maine.

Like its name twin of Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine boasts a cool vibe, a slew of tasty restaurants, and a ridiculous number of breweries. One of the best ways to enjoy this popular Maine city is by simply finding and popping into all of the newest trendy spots.

There are a few attractions in Portland, Maine that aren’t shops, restaurants, or live music venues. You can take a stroll around the Old Port, hop on a ferry to visit Peaks Island, and check out the Portland Head Light.

RELATED: 11 Perfect Romantic Getaways in New England

25. Portland, Oregon

One of the spunkiest USA weekend trips is Portland, Oregon.

Portland, Oregon is best summed up by the city’s tagline: “Keep Portland Weird.” And you should definitely embrace Portland’s oddities during your time in town. You can wander around the massive Powell’s City of Books , try the one-of-a-kind treats from Voodoo Doughnuts, and even explore the underground network of catacombs called the Shanghai Tunnels.

And while weirdness is one of the city’s main highlights, Portland also boasts quite a bit of natural beauty as well. You can admire the gorgeous 620-foot Multnomah Falls, stroll through the flowers at the International Rose Test Garden, and relax at the calming Portland Japanese Garden.

What are your favorite USA weekend trips? Let me know in the comments below!

Are you looking for more USA weekend trips?   You’ll love these posts too!

25 Top Weekend Trips in the USA

Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina Itinerary

The Ultimate Weekend Trip to Nashville

13 Best Weekend Trips in Dallas

The Best Weekend Getaway to Los Angeles

The Ultimate Weekend in Key West

Disha Smith

Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.

Saturday 31st of October 2020

My suggestion would be Monterrey, CA. The town itself has fabulous seafood, but the best attraction is the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, one of the best in the world. If you enjoy nature, the aquarium is really amazing. The coastline around this area is absolutely stunning

Disha Smith

Sunday 8th of November 2020

Thank you so much for the suggestion, Meredith! I have not been to Monterey, but I'm adding that to my bucket list. It sounds like a lovely town!

Wednesday 26th of August 2020

I haven't been to all of these, but of those I have visited my favorite is definitely NYC. I do love the Big Apple! Do you have a favorite on this list, Disha?

Friday 28th of August 2020

Thanks for reading, Diane! My favorite one is Charleston, South Carolina for sure! The food is so good and it's a beautiful and chill place to visit for a few days.

These are all such great suggestions! I haven't been to some, like Chicago, but I love New Orleans. I spent five days there and it still wasn't enough, so I'd love just another weekend, haha!

I spent two nights in NOLA and it definitely wasn't enough either! Haha. There's too much good food to eat in only a few days! Haha.

Tuesday 25th of August 2020

These are awesome ideas! I love weekend trips so I will be adding some of these to the future list :) Thanks for sharing!

Thank you for reading, Jordan!

Sunday 23rd of August 2020

GREAT list! I've been to all of the places on your list -- except Oklahoma City -- and I clearly have to fix that because everywhere else you mention does make for a great weekend trip... Charleston & Savannah are 2 personal faves from the list.

It's so cool that you've been to most of these places!! Charleston is my favorite! You'll have to check out Oklahoma City. It's unique in its own way.

Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Europe Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 18, 2024

The historic city of Prague with its classic stunning architecture

From beautiful Paris to smoke-filled coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Oktoberfest to La Tomatina, Europe is a massive, diverse continent with an unlimited assortment of things to see and do. You won’t have any problem filling your time, whether you’re backpacking Europe for a few months on a budget or just spending a few weeks there on a well-earned vacation.

The continent boasts wonderful beaches, historical architecture, amazing wine, and tons of world-class festivals. Every country is incredibly different from the next too, providing limitless variety in what you do during your trip.

I first backpacked Europe in 2006 and was hooked immediately. I’ve been visiting every year since, have run tours around the continent, and even wrote a book on traveling in Europe . It’s a destination I love and never get tired of exploring.

This guide will give you an overview of Europe and the tips and tricks you need to start planning your trip. I’ve also written extensive travel guides to each country on the continent (linked below in this post) so you can get more in-depth information for your specific itinerary too!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Europe

Click Here for Country Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in europe.

Aerial view of Greek town along the Mediterranean ocean, with mountains in the background

1. Tour the Greek Islands

These islands are the mecca of summer beach fun and each is unique in its own great way. There’s Ios (beach party central with archeological ruins and awesome boat tours); Kos (ancient ruins and nature); Crete (Bronze Age ruins of Knossos, hiking, beaches, and wine), Santorini (iconic blue water, white buildings, and local wineries); Mykonos , (the upscale party island with beautiful beaches, villages, and sunsets), Naxos (best island in the Cyclades). Plus, Milos, Corfu, Lemnos, Zakynthos, and so many more! With hundreds of islands in the country, you can always find what you are looking for!

2. Ride the rails

Europe is famous for its international rail system. Rail passes like the Eurail Pass have been around forever and still make it very easy to get from country to country on a relatively small budget (and with lots of flexibility). Europe has some of the fastest trains in the world that travel up to an incredible 217 mph (350 kph). The whole continent is connected by trains and there’s a growing push for even more connections and long-distance, high-speed trains in order to reduce flying and help combat climate change. There’s nothing more quintessential than riding the trains in Europe and I encourage you to take as many trains as possible. It’s one of the best ways to see the continent.

3. Get lost in Paris

The “City of Lights” is everything people say it is. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped foot in Paris . The city is just magical. You have a ton of museums, cafes, jazz clubs, famous art, and beautiful architecture. I love just strolling around the streets of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) or Montmartre neighborhood as it makes for a breathtaking day. Another one of my favorite things to do here is just sit in the Jardin des Champs-Élysées park and picnic like the Parisians. For something a bit different, check out the famous Catacombs and Paris Sewer Museum. With so much to offer in the way of culture, history, and gastronomy, it would take years to see everything here but you can still get a good feel of the city in a few days.

4. Go city hopping

There are so many amazing cities in Europe that we’d need a top 100 to list them all. Here are some of my personal favorites and must-see cities: London is rich in history, culture, and the famous Big Ben clock; Edinburgh is a vibrant medieval city with cozy pubs and a famous castle with a huge New Year’s Eve Party; Amsterdam has cozy coffee shops and canopied tree-covered canals; Berlin has a wild party scene, street art, and the Berlin Wall; Barcelona has tapas, beach, and unique Gaudi architecture; coastal Lisbon has colorful tiles, old tramcars, cobblestone streets and plenty of fresh seafood; Prague has a beautiful intact Old Town, incredible architecture and eclectic bars; Tallinn Estonia has beautiful medieval buildings with colorful roofs. Florence  is a mecca for Italian Renaissance architecture, art history, and gelato; Stockholm mixes medieval architecture and modern art and design. Crisscross the continent, take in the culture, and enjoy all the historic cities!

5. Hit the Alps

Whether you go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the Alps hold some of the most breathtaking views in all the world. You don’t even need to be an expert hiker because there are mountain trails for all levels and crystal-clear Alpine lakes. Check out the spectacular Eibsee trail loop in Bavaria at the foot of Die Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, for the clearest, multi-colored, sparkling lake you’ve ever seen. Or the Männlichen Kleine Scheidegg Panorama trail in Switzerland’s stunning green and snow-capped Alps. Or visit Italy’s Dolomites in South Tyrol for the scenic Seceda trail. The Alps have trails for every fitness level and in every season.

Other Things to See and Do in Europe

1. tour amsterdam.

I love Amsterdam so much that I lived here for a short period of time in 2006. Here cobblestone and brick streets weave around lovely canals as people ride their bikes to and fro. My favorite things to enjoy here are Amsterdam’s vibrant art and music scene and there are also a ton of interesting museums here like the Anne Frank House, FOAM, the history museum, and the hemp museum. Be sure you get out of the center into Jordaan and Oost with their wonderful outdoor cafes and fewer tourists. Also, a visit to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a canal cruise to visit the many islands and there are many to choose from that include snacks and drinks, sunset cruises, live guided tours, and more.

2. Hang out in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that goes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It truly could give NYC a run for the “city that never sleeps” title. Be prepared for late-night dinners and parties until dawn. Besides a great food and nightlife scene, there is a wonderful beach, tons of Gaudi architecture (including the fairytale-like Parc Güell, as well as the iconic Sagrada Familia , which has been under construction for over 100 years!), incredible food tours, one of the best history museums in the country, and lots of outdoor spaces. What I love about Barcelona is that when you’re ready to chill, you can wander around Parc de la Ciutadella and marvel at the majestic fountains, plant life, and buildings created from an ornate military fortress.

3. Visit Berlin

Hip and trendy Berlin is an energetic destination. It is one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, with a vibrant music and art scene and a growing foodie movement. Be sure to spend some time learning about the city’s darker history via the many excellent museums, memorials, and landmarks. The East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that’s now painted with murals, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are two especially powerful reminders of Germany’s past. For all periods of German history, don’t miss the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) – it’s one of the best history museums in the world. Once you’ve had your fill of history, relax in Berlin’s many green spaces, from Tempelhof Field, the site of a former airfield and popular local hangout spot, to Tiergarten, a tree-covered former hunting ground for 17th-century aristocrats.

4. Drink beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a must for anyone going to Germany at the end of September. While not a budget option since beers now cost 15 € a maß, I love the energy and friendly camaraderie this event inspires. For two weeks, millions of people from all over the world gather for lots of beer, excitement, music, and wild fun. Watching thousands of people sing together, raising quart-sized beer mugs for endless toasts, and enjoying the general party atmosphere makes you feel good about the world. (Or maybe that’s just the beer?) Just be sure to book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay top prices for them. If you don’t have an outfit, don’t worry, there are plenty of shops even at the main train station where you can buy a Bavarian dirndl dress and men’s lederhosen.

5. Experience London

Get a taste of English culture in diverse London . The museums here are some of the best in the world (most are free) and include the Tate, the British Museum, the City Museum, the National Gallery, the Historical Museum. There’s no shortage of iconic sights here as well, with Big Ben, the House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and of course, Buckingham Palace. I love London’s diversity because of the countless international eateries with great food and wonderful pub culture, perfect for after a long day seeing the sights. Head to Brick Lane on the weekends for some amazing food and craft markets. I prefer Paris to London, but there is something sophisticated and fun about London. Just watch those pints — London is not a cheap destination!

6. Get outdoors in Scandinavia

My favorite region in Europe is Scandinavia. The quality of life here is high, the people are beautiful and friendly, and the cities are clean and historic. Cycling the cities, taking canal tours, hiking the vast forested areas, archipelago hopping, enjoying fika (a Swedish coffee break), and warming up in saunas are just a few of the popular activities that await you here. True, this area of Europe is not cheap, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses. Don’t let the high prices scare you away. Highlights for me include Copenhagen , Stockholm , Gotland, Norway’s fjords, and Lapland in Finland .

7. Get enchanted in Prague

Prague has an amazing history and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities I’ve ever seen. Highlights include the 9th-century Prague Castle, the magnificent Charles Bridge (built in the 14th century and one of the oldest standing bridges in the world), the 10th-century old square with its iconic astronomical clock, and the winding Jewish Quarter. Even if you only have a few days there don’t miss the free walking tour which is one of my favorites in Europe and the best way to learn about the Old Town and the tragic history of the city that went from thriving Bohemian capital of art, music, and literature to part of the Iron Curtain after WWII. Some of my favorite gems here include the fantastic black light theater shows in 4D and the one-of-a-kind medieval dinner show in an old tavern complete with musicians and jugglers not to mention hearty food and drinks. During the weekends it heaves with people enjoying the bars, cheap beer, and delicious food so try to visit during the week (and in the spring or fall) to beat the crowds.

8. Relax on the French Riviera

Here, you can pretend to live the high life for a little bit. Have fun in the sun, relax on the beach, swim in azure blue water, hobnob with the rich and famous, and sail on (or gaze at) gigantic yachts. As for cities, Nice is nice with its palm-tree-lined promenade, old town, and many art museums. If you want to go see how the rich and famous live, spend an afternoon checking out Cannes to soak up some glamorous vibes on La Croisette where they hold the famous Cannes Film Festival. The kingdom of Monaco with its tiny streets, beautiful buildings, and world-famous casino is just a skip away too.

9. Enjoy the great outdoors in Interlaken

Located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Interlaken is a gorgeous place to unwind with fantastic hiking, delicious hot chocolate, and plenty of outdoor sports. The area is full of natural attractions to explore, including the St. Beatus Caves (complete with a legendary dragon), the cascading 500-meter-high (1,640 feet) Giessbach Waterfalls, the Jungfraujoch mountain railway (which leads to the highest train station on the continent), and a plethora of lakes (hence the town’s name). It’s a good alternative to all the cities and museums. Interlaken is also a popular party destination for backpackers and other young travelers. By far, my favorite scenic and visually stunning trail was the Oberberghorn panoramic hike, where you can wander the green mountain ridge ogling the amazing views and the turquoise-blue Brienzersee.

10. Experience history in Rome

In this thriving historical city, you can’t walk two feet without stumbling over a ruin, making Rome a history buff’s dream. Its tiny streets are perfect for wandering as you explore the Colosseum, see the Forum and Palatine Hill, visit the Pantheon, spend time in Vatican City, admire the Spanish Steps, and toss coins into the famous Trevi Fountain. The skip-the-line tickets can definitely be worth it so you don’t waste time waiting outside attractions. Rome also has amazing food (it’s Italy, after all) and nightlife. Visit the Trastevere area for a taste of “local” Rome and chill bars. It’s my favorite area in the city because you feel like you’re in a small village in the middle of a big city.

11. Hike around the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is my favorite part of Italy. These five beautiful cliffside towns are perched near warm waters and beautiful olive and grape groves. There are wondrous and strenuous hikes in these hills; for a real challenge, take trail #8. Or just walk the coastline for something less difficult. Many activities here revolve around the coastline: kayaking, swimming, having a beach picnic or visiting the Technical Naval Museum. If you happen to be here in December or January, don’t miss the Nativity Manarola, the world’s biggest lighted nativity scene.

12. Tour Krakow

Krakow looks like it stepped out of a medieval postcard. It’s a hip, trendy, and youthful city that’s the center of education in Poland, meaning there are a lot of university students here. Most travelers come to party here (the vodka is cheap) but try to enjoy the city’s history and food besides just the bars. Walk the Royal Road through the Old Town to the 13th-century Wawel Castle, tour Schindler’s Factory (where Schindler saved over 1,200 Jews during World War II), and visit the sobering Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. You can also take a fascinating day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Wieliczka Salt Mine, a 13th-century mine with cavernous chambers, statues, chapels, chandeliers, and cathedrals all carved out of salt.

13. Visit the ruin bars in Budapest

The coolest nightlife in all of Europe is found in Budapest . Built in abandoned buildings, ruin bars feature funky art installations, repurposed furniture, and quirky decor. They are amazing, fun, and great places to meet locals, as people of all ages flock here. Open since 2001, Szimpla Kert is the original ruin bar and one of my favorites, along with Instant-Fogas Complex, which takes up an entire building and is actually many different bars in one. Don’t skip the ruin bars — they’re one of the most unique things about the city!

14. Explore Cornwall

The best part of England is outside London, yet unfortunately, not a lot of travelers leave London. Head west to the area of Cornwall for cheaper prices, welcoming locals, natural beauty, great hiking, rolling hills, plenty of medieval castles, and picturesque small towns. If you like biking, the Camel Trail from Bodmin to Padstow is worth the trip and you even pass by a local vineyard. It’s an easy way to spend a day (and it’s pretty flat so it’s not too hard to do.) Plus, I had the best fish and chips in Cornwall! Overall, it’s what you think of as “traditional England.”

15. Walk the Camino

El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is an ancient pilgrimage route that stretches from France all the way across northern Spain. It is a 500 mile (800 km) trail that winds through incredible terrain, ending in Santiago de Compostela at the cathedral where St. James is supposedly buried. As a pilgrim, you get a “pilgrim’s passport” which allows you to stay in affordable pilgrim-only hostels, making this a surprisingly budget-friendly adventure. While it usually takes over a month to complete, you can just walk a section if you don’t have the time. To receive a “Compostela” (certificate of completion), you just need to walk the last 62 miles (100 km), which generally takes 4-5 days.

16. Throw tomatoes during La Tomatina

By far my favorite festival, the largest food fight in the world happens during the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, Spain. What started in 1945 as a local brawl has turned into a massive event drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world. For about an hour, everyone throws tomatoes at each other, leaving streets ankle-deep in tomato juice. Afterward, everyone walks down to the river, cleans off, and then heads to the town square for sangria and music.

17. Find Dracula in Romania

Not a lot of people visit Romania but this underrated country in Eastern Europe has undiscovered yet picturesque medieval towns like Brasov (home to “Dracula’s castle”), Sighisoara, and Sibiu; gorgeous beaches on the Black Sea; and incredible hiking in the Fagaras Mountains — all at dirt-cheap prices. Other major sights include frescoed Byzantine monasteries, the steepled wooden churches of Transylvania, the hip university town Cluj-Napoca, the post-communist capital of Bucharest, and the Danube Delta, a huge nature reserve.

18. Drink whisky in Islay

Whisky has a long history on Islay , an island off Scotland’s west coast. It’s been made there since the 16th-century — first in backyards and then, starting in the 19th-century, in large distilleries. Over the years, whisky from the island came to be considered a specialty and was used to flavor a lot of other blends on the mainland. There are currently nine working distilleries on the island, all located along the island’s shores, with Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin being the most famous. Most distilleries here make single-malt Scotch, meaning that only one type of grain (barley) is used. My visit here was amazing and, even if you don’t like whisky, there are tons of good hikes and walks throughout this magnificent island.

19. Explore Iceland

Iceland is a magical country with majestic waterfalls, hidden hot springs around every corner, and sweeping vistas unlike anywhere else in the world. After my first visit, the country quickly became one of my favorite countries. With whale watching in the summer, the northern lights in the winter, and geothermal baths for soaking in year-round, there really is no bad time to visit! While Iceland’s main draw is the epic natural landscapes, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Reykjavik with its café culture, artsy feel, and brightly colored wooden row houses.

20. Sail the Croatian coast

With calm winds, short distances, a coastline littered with over 1,000 islands, and countless historical sites, Croatia is one of the world’s best sailing destinations. If you can, go during the shoulder season when you can find some great deals. Plan to stay at least a couple of days on one of the islands, with the most popular being Brac, Hvar, Krk, Cres, and Lošinj. However, don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known islands such as Silba, Vis, and Lastovo. If you want to splash out and spend a week partying on a yacht, check out The Yacht Week, which hosts week-long parties, complete with DJs, from May-September. You can book a full boat to share with friends or just a cabin if you’re traveling solo. Prices start at 5,250 HRK per person and go up to 9,300 HRK.

21. Explore the Balkans

While the Balkans have become more popular with backpackers in recent years, it’s still largely overlooked by most budget travelers, despite being an extremely budget-friendly region. The Balkan peninsula is home to great (and again, overlooked) wine, beautiful medieval towns like Kotor and Mostar, stunning mountainous landscapes, beautiful pebble beaches, coffee culture, fresh, hearty yet inexpensive food, and museums covering the area’s history, including the most recent turbulent events of the early 1990s. I especially loved my time in Albania . Don’t miss the beautiful beaches in Ksamil, nicknamed the “Maldives of Europe’ as well as the mountain village of Gjirokastër, which was occupied by Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. The Balkans have so much to offer for every budget and every country has its unique cultural flavor.

22. Take a wine tour in the Loire Valley

Located in central France, the picturesque Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and stretches 280 kilometers (174 miles) along the Loire River. One of the major wine-producing regions of France, the area is home to some of the best wines in the world, with over 1,000 vineyards open to the public. Even those who don’t drink wine will enjoy the beautiful small towns, great food, and the region’s over 300 impressive chateaux. I loved the medieval Chenonceau Castle and Chateau Villandry and the small villages like Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. Spring and Autumn are my favorite times to visit because you can go biking and do outdoor activities when it’s not too hot and there are fewer people. It’s an area not to be missed.

23. See Fado in Portugal

Fado is an important musical tradition in Portugal , originating in Lisbon and stretching back some 200 years. The word “fado” likely stems from the Latin word for fate, and it’s very haunting, poetic, and emotional music. Most of the songs follow themes of loss and mourning, and the music was popular with the working class (especially sailors). Performances normally take place in restaurants during dinner. In Lisbon, head to Clube de Fado, Tasca do Chico, Parreirinha de Alfama, or Senhor Vinho.

24. Tour green Slovenia

Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited destinations, which is mind-blowing to me because it’s an amazing place to visit. Slovenia offers all the beauty of Western Europe but at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the crowds. Perfect for outdoor adventure lovers, Slovenia offers rugged mountains, untouched landscapes, fantastic ski resorts, plentiful wine, sprawling cave systems, incredible food, and postcard-perfect lakes, such as the famous Lake Bled with its castle on an island. I loved Piran, Slovenia’s often overlooked coastal Venetian-style harbor town that was actually founded 3000 years ago. Stroll around its beautiful windy cobble-stoned streets, beautiful plazas, and take advantage of the many affordable restaurants right on the water. Make sure to also spend a few days in the country’s capital, Ljubljana, known as one of the continent’s greenest and most livable cities. Take a river cruise to see the city and enjoy the friendliness of the locals.

  For more information on specific countries in Europe, check out the guides below:

  • Albania Travel Guide
  • Austria Travel Guide
  • Belgium Travel Guide
  • Belarus Travel Guide
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina Travel Guide
  • Bulgaria Travel Guide
  • Czechia Travel Guide
  • Croatia Travel Guide
  • Denmark Travel Guide
  • England Travel Guide
  • Estonia Travel Guide
  • Finland Travel Guide
  • France Travel Guide
  • Germany Travel Guide
  • Greece Travel Guide
  • Hungary Travel Guide
  • Iceland Travel Guide
  • Ireland Travel Guide
  • Italy Travel Guide
  • Latvia Travel Guide
  • Lithuania Travel Guide
  • Malta Travel Guide
  • Moldova Travel Guide
  • Montenegro Travel Guide
  • Netherlands Travel Guide
  • Norway Travel Guide
  • Portugal Travel Guide
  • Poland Travel Guide
  • Romania Travel Guide
  • Scotland Travel Guide
  • Slovakia Travel Guide
  • Slovenia Travel Guide
  • Spain Travel Guide
  • Sweden Travel Guide
  • Switzerland Travel Guide
  • Ukraine Travel Guide

Europe Travel Costs

a traditional Austrian home overlooking the snow capped mountains and rolling hills in the Austria countryside

Accommodation – Accommodation prices vary greatly by region. In Western Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 25-45 EUR per night, depending on the room’s size and the popularity of the hostel. I stayed in a 6-bed dorm in Berlin for 20 EUR, while the same one would have cost me around 45 EUR in Paris. A room in Paris costs on the higher end and a room in cheaper Athens costs on the lower end.

In Eastern Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 10-15 EUR per night depending on the size of the dorm room and the popularity of the hostel. The further east you go, the cheaper it gets. Expect to pay around 30-60 EUR per night for a private room that sleeps two.

In Scandinavia, hostel dorm beds cost around 25-45 EUR, while private rooms are 65-80 EUR. Budget hotels start around 85 EUR.

Most accommodations offer free linens, free Wi-Fi, and a lot offer free breakfast, but it’s important to check specific websites for exact amenities.

Campsites cost between 10-15 EUR per night for a basic plot for two without electricity.

Food – Food traditions in Europe run deep, stretching back centuries to become integral parts of each country’s culture. From baguettes in France to tapas in Spain, from hearty Eastern European stews and goulash to the fresh vegetables and olive oils of the Mediterranean, European cuisine varies as much as the countries themselves. Food prices differ greatly across the continent, so check individual country guides for specifics.

But no matter where you are, even in the more expensive countries, finding places to eat within your budget is easier than you might think. Throughout Western Europe, you can find small shops, street food stalls, or food trucks where you can get sandwiches, gyros, kebabs, slices of pizza, or sausages for between 3-7 EUR. These shops are most often found in train stations, bus stations, and main pedestrian areas, and offer cheap food alternatives that can have you eating on 12-17 EUR per day. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 7-10 EUR for a combo meal.

Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese eateries abound in Germany, while Indian food is incredible and everywhere in the United Kingdom. Meals at these restaurants usually cost between 8-12 EUR.

Restaurant meals in casual, traditional eateries generally cost around 13-25 EUR for a main dish and drink. Food is much cheaper in the east than in the west, and in the west, northern regions like Scandinavia and the UK are more expensive than southern countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

In Eastern Europe, even if you are eating out for all your meals, you can still get by on a food budget of as little as 15 EUR per day.

For drinks, a pint of beer is 2-5 EUR, a glass of wine is 2-7 EUR, a cappuccino is 2-5 EUR, and cocktails range from 6-14 EUR.

If you eat out, do so at lunch and get the prix-fixe menu (two-course or three-course set menu). Restaurants offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between 10-20 EUR, it’s a way better deal than the regular dinner menu. You can also get affordable lunches at outdoor markets. So many European cities have huge fresh food markets throughout town.

You can cook your own food for around 45-65 EUR per week. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, bread, and some meat. You can save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, Aldi, and Penny Market.

If you want to save big money on meals, head to one of the markets, pick up some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or anything else, and go to the park for a picnic. (Or grab a sandwich for later!) You’ll find the locals doing the same thing, and it’s one of the cheaper ways to get a true taste of local food.

Backpacking Europe Suggested Budgets

Prices for travel in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel. If you stick to the budget accommodations, food, and tours listed here and use all my tips on saving money, you need about 65-110 EUR per day in Western Europe, 40-50 EUR in Eastern Europe, and about 85-130 EUR in Scandinavia.

Those numbers reflect a traveler who stays in hostels, cooks some meals and eats out cheaply, enjoys a few drinks, and sticks to free and cheap activities like hiking, walking tours, and enjoying nature. This is your typical backpacker budget. You aren’t going to have a fancy time, but you aren’t going to want for anything either.

However, by getting tourist cards and rail passes, avoiding flights, occasionally Couchsurfing or camping, cooking all your meals, and not drinking, you can travel a lot cheaper. On this budget, you could do Western Europe on 35-45 EUR per day, Eastern Europe on 20-25 EUR, and Scandinavia on 50-65 EUR. That would require you to take a train or a bus or hitchhike everywhere, skip most museums, and limit how often you go out.

Generally, the suggested daily budget for Europe is 80-120 EUR. You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Europe Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Individual country guides have more specific information on how to save money in them but here are some general tips on cutting your costs while you explore Europe:

  • Picnic – This continent has a lot of little shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Many supermarkets have delis as well where you can get food to go. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city and its people go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat.
  • Eat local and cheap – Not into picnicking? Eat at local sandwich shops, pizza parlors, Maoz, Wok to Walks, and outdoor street vendors. Avoiding restaurants and eating at a lot of the local “grab n’ go” places gives you a taste of the local cuisine at a much cheaper price. If you’re really on a budget, use your creative cooking skills to prepare meals at the hostel as well.
  • Stay with a local – Hostels can add up really quickly. If you don’t have any friends with whom you can stay, consider using Couchsurfing , which connects you with locals who let you stay with them for free. Plus, they tend to also have meetups to meet other locals and travelers. It’s a great way to save on accommodation and meet a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Camp in a garden – A very good camping service specific to Europe is Campspace , which allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or for a small fee (around 10-20 EUR). All of the garden owners have profiles that tell you what services and facilities they offer. Also, many countries allow wild camping (like Sweden), which can save you a fortune if you have a tent.
  • Take the bus – Budget bus companies like Flixbus can take you across the continent for cheap. I personally feel it’s best for day travel as sitting up for an overnight bus isn’t really ideal for sleeping. It isn’t glamorous, but with tickets starting at 5 EUR, you really can’t complain!
  • Get a Rail Pass – Eurail Passes have saved me hundreds of dollars. If you are traveling far distances and through many countries, they are a great deal.
  • Take the free city tours – One of the great things about Europe is that you can find free walking tours in all the major cities. They can be a great way to see the city attractions, take in some history, and learn your bearings without spending any money. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Plan accordingly – Plan your trip around Europe so you avoid doubling back. Transportation is a big expense so proper planning can save you a lot of money (and time). Go in a straight line or a loop. Booking your accommodation ahead helps you save as well since cheap, good places unsurprisingly get reserved first. One thing I’ve learned is that waiting until the last minute means you get stuck with expensive places or cheap places no one wants.
  • Fly cheap – If you know where you are going and a train won’t do, try to book flights early. You can often get round trip fares for as little as 5 EUR from many of the European discount airlines like Ryanair or Wizz. Many capital cities have smaller airports farther from the city with ‘inconvenient’ times but cheaper fares. Keep in mind you might need to factor in an early morning Uber or taxi if the busses aren’t running and you have an early flight!
  • Drink less – Those 5 EUR beers add up. Hit happy hours or pick and choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy your alcohol at the supermarket. Plus, in Europe, it’s legal to drink outside in parks, plazas, by the lakes or rivers. You’ll find you can save a lot of money by not going to bars and clubs. Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
  • Get a city tourist card – Many local tourism offices sell a tourism card for all their attractions, tours, and restaurants. This card gives you free entry and substantial discounts on all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls. They save a ton of money. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, get one of these cards.
  • Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar to catch rides with locals between cities (or countries) by paying a small fee. It’s like Airbnb but for rides. I used this service in Switzerland and, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe, though sometimes rides cancel at the last minute (which is why you need to be flexible). Check their ratings first and try to use rides where the person has done many trips.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
  • Get a HostelPass – HostelPass is a discount membership for hostels in Europe. Members get 10-20% off select hostels around Europe, as well as perks like free breakfast or free drinks. There are discounts on tours and activities too. It’s a great way to save money if you’re bouncing around Europe as they have hostels in 18 countries around the continent.

Where to Stay in Europe

Europe has a ton of budget accommodation options. The individual country and city guides have tons of recommendations but here’s a short list of some of my favorite budget hostels and hotels around Europe:

  • The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Hotel 54 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Generator Hostel (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Harcourt Hotel (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Castle Rock (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Ios Palm Pansion (Ios, Greece)
  • Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel (Krakow, Poland)
  • Largo da Sé Guest House (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Sophie’s Hostel (Prague, Czech Republic)
  • The Yellow (Rome, Italy)
  • City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)

How to Get Around Europe

The famous steam train from Harry Potter crossing an old bridge in Scotland

Public transportation – Transportation around most European cities is by tram, subway, or bus. Prices are typically around 2 EUR for a one-way ticket in Western Europe and closer to 1 EUR in Eastern Europe. Most large cities also have day passes available that offer unlimited public transportation. These passes are usually 5-12 EUR per day.

In large cities with international airports, there is usually a bus or train available that ferries travelers from the downtown core to the airport. Expect to pay around 5-15 EUR to get to/from the airport.

Bus – Buses are not quite as comfortable as Europe’s trains, although certain lines do have great amenities (like roomy seats and Wi-Fi). While buses are not the most efficient way to travel around the continent, they’re certainly dependable, reliable, and cheap. You can find last-minute rides for as little as 5 EUR. A route from Berlin to Munich is about 25 EUR, while Paris to Bordeaux can be as low as 10 EUR. Longer routes, like Amsterdam to Copenhagen, start at around 47 EUR.

Each country has its own national bus service, but some lines also take you long distances internationally. Megabus and Flixbus (which now owns Eurolines) are the most popular companies.

Train – Train travel is a great way to see Europe. Intercity train prices vary wildly from country to country, depending on whether you take the slow train or a high-speed train and how far in advance you book. For example, a high-speed train from Berlin to Munich costs around 38-60 EUR, Bordeaux to Paris is about 50-85 EUR, and Madrid to Barcelona ranges from 45-85 EUR. Non-high-speed trains and other intercity lines are a lot cheaper, generally costing about 40-50% of the price of high-speed trains. Eastern Europe inter-country trains usually cost between 45-100 EUR when the ticket is booked last minute. Short train rides of 2-3 hours within countries cost about 27 EUR.

To find routes and prices for trains around Europe, use Trainline .

You may also want to consider getting a Eurail Pass , which allows travelers to explore Europe by providing a set number of stops in a specific time period. These passes are continent-wide, country-specific, or regional. It can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

Ridesharing/Car sharing – If your schedule is flexible, use a ridesharing service and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe. BlaBlaCar is the most popular.

If you’d rather rent a car yourself and find passengers to share a ride with, use Discover Cars to find the best car rental prices.

Flying – Budget airlines are so prolific that competition helps keep fares low. You can often find tickets where the fare is just 5 EUR round-trip! Companies like EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, and Vueling offer mind-blowingly cheap flights throughout Europe. Book at least a month early to scoop up great deals.

Make sure that the airport they fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).

Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. It costs about 25-39 EUR for one checked bag. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Europe is very safe, but it’s not for everyone. Hitching is quite common around the continent and I’ve met a number of travelers who have done it (I, myself, traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland). Some countries are very supportive (Romania, Iceland, Germany) while others may be a bit more time-consuming (Italy, Spain). HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.

Here are my suggested articles for how to get around Europe:

  • 7 Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
  • Are Eurail Passes a Giant Scam or Do They Save You Money?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Finding Cheap Flights

When to Go to Europe

There’s no wrong time to visit Europe. Peak season is summer, when Europe gets crowded and August is the time most European families are at the beach so everything becomes more crowded and expensive. But the overall atmosphere and weather are great during this time, so it’s still worth visiting during peak season (just book your accommodation in advance — especially in August). Keep in mind it’s much hotter in summer so if you like AC, be sure to check that your hostel or hotel has it before you book. You can expect the most crowds in Western Europe. For this reason, I feel summer is a great time to visit the Balkans and the Baltics because many people head to the beaches in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Greece.

Shoulder season is spring and fall (April-May and September-October). It’s still warm during this time but there aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper. This is my favorite time to visit hotspot places like Spain, Croatia and Greece, where it’s still hot enough to swim in the sea but you have way more room on the beach. It’s also a good time to go hiking in the Alps in Germany, northern Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland because it’s cooler during the day so you’re much less sweaty on the mountain without shade. The weather is good, the crowds are smaller, and the prices lower.

Winter is from November to February but in much of Central Europe, it’s wet and cold until March or April. It gets cold, even as far south as it gets (like Greece). On the other hand, the Christmas season has Christmas markets and festivals galore! Even if it’s cold, this is a cultural tradition you can’t miss and why I love Europe in December. There is hot mulled wine, sweets, and plenty of hot snacks, which vary by country. One of my favorites is Prague because the Old Town Square is lit up with a gigantic tree with aromas of crispy cinnamon pastries and mulled wine. Berlin takes their Christmas markets very seriously, so there are around 80 different markets with special themes.

Winter is fantastic in Europe for skiing and snowboarding but it doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan carefully. While Switzerland and France are probably the most famous, they are also expensive, but there are plenty of budget winter options.

How to Stay Safe in Europe

Europe is very safe for backpacking and solo traveling, even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crimes against tourists are very rare. In fact, some of the safest countries in the world are in Europe. (I wrote a whole article about how Europe is safe to visit right now .)

That said, there are scams and petty crimes you should watch out for, especially around popular tourist landmarks. The most important thing to be aware of is pickpockets in crowds and on public transportation. Zip your bags and don’t put your mobile phone in a jacket pocket where someone could quickly take it. This should be obvious but don’t flash your money to let everyone know you have a huge wad of cash.

When choosing a hostel, look for ones with lockers. It’s always a good idea to carry around a padlock or combination lock. Most hostels are safe and travelers respect each other and I’ve rarely seen things happen to people’s valuables. Nevertheless, I always think that prevention is better.

As anywhere, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). When at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink. Avoid walking home alone at night if you’re intoxicated.

For female travelers in particular, it’s always a good idea to have a bit of extra money on you just in case you need to take an Uber or taxi back by yourself so you don’t take unnecessary risks to save money. If you’re using apps to date people while traveling, please use common sense and meet in public places. Since I’m not a female traveler, please check out the numerous female bloggers who have first hand knowledge of this.

If you’re worried about scams, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you rent a vehicle, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight. Break-ins are rare, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be aware that the UK drives on the left and that most rental cars in Europe will have manual transmissions unless you request otherwise.

When hiking, always bring water, sunscreen, and bandaids or foot plasters. There is nothing worse than being halfway up the mountain with a blister and nothing you can do about it!

Likewise, when at the coast, don’t forget not only to wear sunscreen! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people get burnt to a crisp the first day. Be sure to check the weather before you depart and dress accordingly.

If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary to loved ones so they know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Europe Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Europe

While I have a lot of free tips on Europe, I also wrote an entire book that goes into great detail on everything you need to plan a trip here on a budget! You’ll get suggested itineraries, budgets, even more ways to save money, my favorite restaurants, prices, practical information (i.e. phone numbers, websites, prices, safety advice, etc etc), and cultural tips.

I’ll give the insider view of Europe that I got from years of traveling and living here! The downloadable guide can be used on your Kindle, iPad, phone, or computer so you can have it with you when you go. Click here to learn more about my book on Europe!

Europe Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Europe travel and continue planning your trip:

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Weekend Getaways Near You

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13 Perfect Day Trips From Pittsburgh (within 2 hours of drive)

Day trips near pittsburgh, [short drive from pittsburgh], day trips currently.

There are a number of amazing trips within short distance from Pittsburgh that can be accomplished in one day! Here is a list of best Day Trips.

For all types of getaways near Pittsburgh CLICK HERE    

Day Trips From Pittsburgh

Amazing day trip to hartwood acres park - 30 min from pittsburgh.

  • Tours of the estate require advanced reservations.

Hartwood Acres Park makes for a great day trip from Pittsburgh. Located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It is one of the largest and most spectacular country estates! A wide range of outdoor activities, concerts, seasonal events, and the magnificent Lawrence Mansion will make an indelible impression on you!

Winter Fun Day Trip to the Boyce Park Ski Area Near Pittsburgh

  • The cost range for tickets is $17 – $40.

Are you looking for a fun winter day trip from Pittsburgh? The Boyce Park Ski Slopes & Snow Tubing Area in Allegheny County will make a perfect winter getaway for the whole family, new skiers, snow tubers, and snowboarders.

Park and Beach Getaways at Raccoon Creek State Park in PA

The park is 7,572 acres in size and features the beautiful 101-acre Raccoon Lake. Take a hike at one of the many park trails (44 miles of trails to choose from). Or explore the 101-acre Raccoon Lake by kayak, canoe, rowboat, or hydro bike. Or swim and catch some sun at the beach. Or enjoy a stroll through the Wildflower Reserve with more than 700 species of plants. The park also offers a wide variety of environmental education programs.

Beach and Park Getaway to Moraine State Park near Pittsburgh PA

  • Park information can be obtained at the park office near the entrance to the South Shore.

Looking for a beach and park trip for the whole family? Moraine State Park is 16,725 acres of exceptional scenery. Located in Portersville PA, it contains a beautiful 3,225-acre Lake Arthur, rolling hills, lush forests, and a large number of year-round recreational opportunities, there is something for everyone in the park. Moraine State Park has two swimming sandy beaches 1,200-foot-long Pleasant Valley Beach and 550-foot-long Lakeview Beach. ⁠

Magical Day Trip to Laurel Caverns in Laurel Highlands PA

  • The cost ranges between $3 for kids and $15 for adults.

If you are looking for a unique and magical family day getaway near Pittsburgh or Cleveland, consider taking a day trip to Laurel Caverns in Farmington. It is Pennsylvania’s largest cave, with over four miles of passages. You will get unforgettable emotions, enjoy extraordinary views, and take amazingly vivid photos. This epic adventure is great for families with kids and also for adventure lovers looking for exceptional caving (spelunking) experience. ⁠⁠

Beach and Park Getaway at Laurel Hill State Park in Laurel Highland PA

Laurel Hill State Park offers 4,062 acres of mountainous terrain and beautiful 63-acre Laurel Hill Lake. The lake has a small, 1,200-foot white sand beach , with a lovely pier where you can jump into the cool and refreshing lake water⁠. It is open daily from late May until the middle of September. The beach is clean and well maintained, a nice small place to swim or rent a kayak or canoe. The reviews for this beach seem to be all positive.

The park also has some of the best hiking trails in Pennsylvania. Observe the diversity of plants and wildlife, explore the two must-sees – The Jones Mill Run Dam, and Hemlock Trail Natural Area, go fishing and swimming in summer and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months. The park is open every day of the year, and it is pet friendly.

Scenic Getaway at Cooper Rock State Forest in West Virginia

  • The entrance to the forest is free. The cost depend on the accommodation you pick.

Scenic Coopers Rock State Forest with a great view of lakes, rivers, and valleys will make a perfect weekend getaway. This State Forest is great for hiking, biking, camping, and seeing the breathtaking views of nature. It is also perfect for a day out with friends or couples, and families with kids.

Amazing Winter Fun and Magic Sleigh Rides at Ma & Pa's Cabin in Burton OH

  • The cost is $110 weekdays and $150 weekends for two-night stay.

Are you looking for memorable winter fun, a fabulous sleigh ride, and a unique off-the-grid cabin rental in the woods? You will get this unique experience and much more, while staying at Ma & Pa's in the village of Burton, Ohio.

Nestled in the mature woods, away from the busy city life, with a gas fireplace, fire pit, wrap-around deck, home amenities, and private hiking trails, this winter getaway will make your childhood dream come true!

Fun Family Getaway at Tygart Lake State Park & Adventures Water Park in West Virginia

  • Half-day in the water park is $12 per person. Full-day is $16 per person. Free for children aged three and under.

Are you looking for a great place to have a fun family getaway? Consider vising Tygart Lake State Park with its Tygart Adventures Water Park.

Enjoy the beautiful views, numerous water activities, and breathtaking hiking trails in the park. ⁠⁠Have the thrills of sliding, climbing, jumping, and racing to the top of inflatable slides and obstacles on water. An exciting way to stay cool in summer!

Stunning Beach Getaway at Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania

  • The entrance to the park is free.

Are you looking for the best beach getaway? Presque Isle State Park is a gorgeous “seashore-like” beach, with a beautiful coastline and lake views. It is a paradise for outdoor lovers, families, couples, groups of friends, solo travelers, and those who want an unforgettable summer getaway!

Picturesque Getaway at Swallow Falls State Park near Deep Creek Lake in Maryland

  • The cost is $3 for instate resident, and $5 for out-of-state resident

Swallow Falls State Park in Western Maryland is a perfect destination for families, friends, and outdoor enthusiasts any time of the year. With beautiful scenery, picturesque hiking trails, old hemlock trees, and two grand cascading waterfalls, you will fall in love with this park from the first minutes of your visit!

Picturesque Beach and Park Getaway at Geneva On The Lake OH⁠

  • The Bach access is free. For accommodation suggestions see below.

Geneva-on-the-Lake , a village in Ashtabula County, Ohio, with picturesque lake views makes for a great weekend getaway for active people, nature lovers, wine buffs, couples, families, and friends! ⁠⁠Sandy Breakwater Beach, with a large beach area, is located inside Geneva State Park. The park, with 698 acres of forest, also offers hiking/biking trails, boating, and camping⁠.

Gorgeous Lake Getaway at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland

Deep Creek Lake is a quiet and relaxing four-season getaway destination, with picturesque mountain and lake views. It is a paradise for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and lovers of beautiful scenery!   Deep Creek Lake is nestled in the gorgeous mountains of western Maryland. It is the largest lake in Maryland with 69 miles of shoreline. The region has a wide range of activities all year round. In the summer months, you can go hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, and camping. During the winter months, there are opportunities for skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

For a compete list of getaways near Pittsburgh  CLICK HERE   

Getaways From Pittsburgh Page  includes fun family getaways, treehouses, cabins, romantic getaway, lake getaways, beach getaways, outdoor lovers getaways, day trips from Pittsburgh and more.

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Search for places within hours of your home city and plan a quick getaway.

Find somewhere new and interesting to explore that's only a few hours drive from your hometown. Plan a day trip or a weekend getaway, and escape from your city to discover nearby places. Search in any direction based on travel time or driving distance to find local towns and things to do. Explore a radius of 1 hour from Lowell MA .

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29 top cheap weekend getaways in the u.s..

Weekend getaways are often cheaper by default – especially in these destinations.

Top Cheap Weekend Getaways

A couple poses for a nature selfie in Asheville, North Carolina.

Jason Tarr | Courtesy of

Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the best places for an affordable weekend escape.

Sometimes you just need to escape from your everyday routine – but you may not have weeks (or funds) on end to spend away from home. For those seeking a quick, affordable trip, we've compiled a variety of cheap weekend getaways across the U.S., organized by region so you can find something within driving distance to keep costs low (or further afield if you're up for the journey).

Top Regional Destinations:

Burlington, vermont.

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, lined with historic buildings, at night.

Getty Images

You don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy Burlington, Vermont – especially since the best ways to experience it are low-cost or free. Rent bikes and go for a ride on the Burlington Bike Path, which later becomes the Island Line Trail – a stunning pathway over Lake Champlain. You can also stroll Church Street Marketplace, where the Burlington Farmers Market is hosted on Saturdays; sample sweets at Lake Champlain Chocolates; and enjoy a craft beer tasting or two.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls including American Falls in foreground and Horseshoe Falls in background, with autumn leaf colors

There's no cost to visit this iconic landmark , and if you want to get up close, you'll find several affordable tours of Niagara Falls – namely boat rides that'll get you up close to the roaring waters. A visit to Niagara Falls, New York, also omits the cost (and hassle) of getting or renewing a passport . Free and low-cost things to do in Niagara Falls include hiking state parks and sampling vinos along the Niagara Wine Trail.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Cheap weekend getaways

You can enjoy an affordable weekend in Atlantic City – provided you steer clear of (or don't spend too much time at) the casinos. Instead, explore the beach and boardwalk, whose roots date back to 1870. Other budget-friendly things to do in Atlantic City including visiting Absecon Lighthouse (the tallest in New Jersey) and Lucy the Elephant. If you come here for a romantic getaway , treat yourself and your partner to dinner on the waterfront.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

"Factory Falls, Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area, Poconos, Pennsylvania"

Spend as much or as little as you like in the Pocono Mountains. Located in northeastern Pennsylvania, the region's terrain affords a variety of free and low-cost activities amid beautiful scenery, from hiking and biking to fishing and boating. Lake Wallenpaupack, Hickory Run State Park and Lehigh Gorge State Park offer some of the best camping for those who'd like to keep lodging costs low, though you can also find affordable vacation rentals in the area.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A family explores Gettysburg National Military Park.

Courtesy of Destination Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park (which also comprises the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center) is free to visit, and there's no cost to explore the Civil War battlefields with a national park ranger. Gettysburg ghost tours – a must for anyone who's interested in the area's haunted history – are relatively affordable, too, as are local hotels , which include options under $200 and $100 per night.

Farm Sanctuary: Watkins Glen, New York

Cheap weekend getaways

Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary in the Finger Lakes region of New York is part animal sanctuary, part country retreat – and an ideal location for a weekend escape from New York City . Travelers eager for a break can book a tiny home or cabin and spend time with more than 500 rescued farm animals in Watkins Glen. Nightly rentals start at $250 per night (plus a $25 membership fee) for up to two people in May through December, and include a special tour each morning of your stay. Sample the region's signature rieslings and chardonnays at some of the top wineries in the Finger Lakes during your visit, or hike to waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park .

Address: 3150 Aikens Road, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Black Hills National Forest and Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Cheap weekend getaways

This area of the U.S. is home to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and the fascinating caverns of Wind Cave, making it easy to see several iconic attractions in one jaunt. To save on entry fees, consider the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. Priced at $80, it provides access to all national parks and federally protected lands in the U.S., so you'll likely be able to use it for another trip down the road, too.

Read: The Top Things to Do in South Dakota

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari: Santa Claus, Indiana

Cheap weekend getaways

Courtesy of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari ranks among the most affordable amusement parks in the U.S., in part because of its free parking and modest lodging costs. The amusement park also offers complimentary family-friendly perks with admission, including sunscreen and soft drinks.

Address: 452 E. Christmas Blvd., Santa Claus, IN 47579

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Cheap weekend getaways

Courtesy of Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau

Wisconsin Dells is home to myriad water park resorts – many of which combine water park admission and overnight lodging in one rate. Other attractions in Wisconsin Dells include a Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum, a bustling downtown and plenty of gorgeous scenery marked by unique rock formations. You can frequently find hotel and attraction discounts on the Wisconsin Dells tourism bureau's website ; keep in mind for any family trips that the best prices are typically available when kids are in school.

Branson, Missouri

The sun sets over Branson, Missouri.

Courtesy of Explore Branson

Table Rock Lake State Park, where you can swim, canoe, kayak, fish, hike and bike, as well as Branson Landing, which features a spectacular fountain show at night, are among the free attractions in Branson, Missouri . You can also ride a free trolley around town from March to December. The most expensive activity in Branson might be a visit to Silver Dollar City, though you can often find deals on tickets, like discounted evening rates in the fall. For affordable lodging in Branson , try the Thousand Hills Resort Hotel , which often lists rates around $100 per night.

Indianapolis, Indiana

A father and daughter look at art on the Monon Trail in Indianapolis, Indiana, while a woman bikes in the foreground.

Courtesy of Visit Indy

There are a variety of free things to do in Indianapolis , including the Monon Trail, which connects downtown Indy to the Carmel area, with shops and restaurants along the way; the 250-acre White River State Park, perfect for a picnic lunch; and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which connects the city's public spaces. On the first Thursday of every month, the Newfields Art Museum offers free admission (and whether or not you go to the museum, the grounds alone are worth a visit). In the summer, Concerts on the Canal brings free entertainment to the area – just bring your own blanket or lawn chair.

No matter your budget, a visit to the Indianapolis Children's Museum is worth the splurge if traveling with kids – it is the largest children's museum in the world.

Cedar Point: Sandusky, Ohio

Cheap weekend getaways

Courtesy of Cedar Point

Not only is Cedar Point one of the best amusement parks in the U.S. – and the self-proclaimed Roller Coaster Capital of the World – but a visit here is also relatively cheap when you factor in the affordability of hotels in Sandusky . The Comfort Inn Sandusky , for example, offers free breakfast with rates starting at less than $100 per night. Keep in mind that, as a seasonal attraction, Cedar Point is typically closed from November to early May.

Address: 1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, OH 44870

Read: The Top Water Parks in Ohio

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Washington, D.C.

A panda snacks at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of

With 22 free Smithsonian museums including the National Zoo, Washington, D.C. is an obvious choice for a cheap weekend getway. And while many hotels in D.C. are expensive, you can still find affordable accommodations on rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Cheap weekend getaways

Gulf Shores boasts more than 30 miles of white sand beaches , making it one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast . You don't have to visit during the summer to experience the area's best weather, though: Spring and fall bring temperatures that are still comfortable for sunbathing, swimming and strolling on the sand.

Budget-friendly things to do in Gulf Shores include bike riding at Gulf State Park; casting a line at Gulf State Park Fishing and Education Pier; exploring The Wharf, an entertainment and shopping venue; and visiting the Orange Beach History Museum and the Gulf Shores Museum, both of which are free. At local hotels like the Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores , nightly rates for apartment-style accommodations and free breakfast currently hover around $100 a night.

Massanutten Resort: Massanutten, Virginia

An ideal weekend getaway from Washington, D.C. , Massanutten Resort offers four-season fun, from winter sports like skiing and snowboarding to golf, mountain biking and water park action during warmer months. A la carte fees for many activities allow you to spend as much or as little as you'd like, and while there's a nightly resort fee, it covers access to the indoor and outdoor pools, playgrounds, sports courts (including pickleball), hiking trails and more. Plus, the resort fee doesn't seem so bad when you consider that townhomes and guest rooms are available for less than $150 a night.

Address: 1822 Resort Drive, Massanutten, VA 22840

Asheville, North Carolina

People come together to play music, dance, and enjoy at the Asheville Drum Circle at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Krista Rossow | Courtesy of

Situated within the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is known for its mix of history (Biltmore Estate), nature (the Blue Ridge Mountains) and food (from craft breweries to a flourishing dining scene). Travelers can tackle a number of hikes in Asheville for some scenic – and low-cost – fun. You can also stroll along the 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail to learn about the city's unique past, go for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore downtown, where you're bound to come across some of the tiny city's famous street performers. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an easy and relatively affordable day trip from Asheville, too.

Bahia Honda Key, Florida

Cheap weekend getaways

You don't have to visit Key West – or break the bank – to experience the best of the Florida Keys; in fact, the best beaches in the Florida Keys are not even in Key West. At Bahia Honda State Park, for example, you can swim, rent kayaks and snorkeling gear, or even hop on a boat to snorkel in the Looe Key marine sanctuary reef. Entry fees at Bahia Honda State Park are $8 per vehicle with two to eight passengers. Plus, you can camp here for just $36 per night (not including tax and the utility and reservation fees). Renting a cabin costs about $120 per night plus fees from May through October, and slightly more in the cooler months.

Read: The Best Places for Camping in Florida

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Cheap weekend getaways

One of the most affordable beach destinations in the U.S., Myrtle Beach is known for its roster of low-cost or free activities that appeal to travelers of all ages. Explore the mile-long Myrtle Beach Boardwalk (home to the iconic Skywheel) as well as Broadway at the Beach (an entertainment complex), both of which offer live entertainment including music performances and fireworks shows. Vereen Memorial Gardens, just north of the city, is also free to visit. When it comes to Myrtle Beach accommodations , there are affordable options aplenty; the Crown Reef Resort, for example, offers an on-site, year-round water park and rates as low as $92 per night for a family of four.

Polk County, Florida

Bok Tower Gardens in Polk County, Florida

Courtesy of Visit Central Florida

A vacation in Orlando has its time and place, but if you're on the hunt for a cheap weekend getaway, head to Polk County instead. Here, you can explore stunning (and free) parks and nature preserves such as Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, as well as Bonnet Springs Park. The park connects several attractions, including a kids treehouse, a rooftop bar, a butterfly house, The Florida Children's Museum, botanical gardens and more. Legoland Florida Resort and Peppa Pig Theme Park are close by if you decide to splurge on a theme park visit.

New Orleans

Cheap weekend getaways

There are more things to do in New Orleans than you could ever accomplish in a weekend, but you can still enjoy a short and cheap trip to The Big Easy. Ogle the historic houses in the Garden District, stroll along iconic Magazine Street, wander through the French Quarter (where you're bound to see street performers), or stop in a local eatery for a famous po'boy sandwich or beignet. For affordable accommodations in New Orleans , look outside of the French Quarter.

South Padre Island, Texas

A father and daughter fish in South Padre Island, Texas.

Courtesy of South Padre Island CVB

Not only does South Padre Island offer 34 miles of coastline and the cleanest beach water in Texas, but it's also ultra-affordable. Low-cost attractions include Sea Turtle, Inc., which is currently building the world's largest sea turtle hospital, and South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. There are also plenty of places to enjoy fishing, one of the island's most popular activities. A visit to the Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site – the last Texas lighthouse open to the public – costs just $5 per adult ($3 for kids). Sandcastle Days, the island's beloved festival that is hosted every October, is also free.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cheap weekend getaways

One of the most beautiful national parks in California , Joshua Tree National Park is also fairly affordable thanks to campgrounds like Jumbo Rocks, where you can enjoy the seclusion of the deserted wilderness. There are more than 100 primitive campsites available here, with reservations required in the busy season from September to May; a maximum of six people can occupy a campsite for just $20 per night (on top of fees to enter the park).

San Luis Obispo, California

A woman walks on a nature trail overlooking San Luis Obispo, California.

Courtesy of Visit SLO CAL

Combining small-town charm with beautiful weather, San Luis Obispo is an ideal weekend getaway from Los Angeles (about 190 miles from the city). With the plethora of outdoor activities here, visitors can enjoy budget-friendly fun like hiking the area's trails, surfing in the ocean, zip lining or horseback riding. For local flavor, visit the Thursday evening farmers market or dine alfresco at one of many downtown patios. The town's free Concerts in the Plaza series features performances by the area's top artists. Beaches await those seeking relaxation in SLO, while wine lovers can explore the region's Edna Valley wineries.

Cheap weekend getaways

A glitzy getaway in Las Vegas can be yours – and it may be less expensive than you initially imagined. Hotels in Vegas can cost as little as $50 per night on weekdays (plus resort fees), and local attractions like Bellagio Fountains, the Fremont Street Experience, the Las Vegas Sign and Seven Magic Mountains (just outside the city) are all free to visit. This might just mean you'll have some room in your budget for a casino visit, tickets to one of the city's spectacular shows , and/or a tour of the Grand Canyon .

Sedona, Arizona

A couple mountain bikes on red rocks in Sedona, Arizona.

Courtesy of Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

It won't cost you a penny to visit most attractions in Sedona , including Cathedral Rock, Devil's Bridge and Fay Canyon. And while Sedona's spa and wellness resorts are undoubtedly pricey, you can find lodging for less in off-peak months (summer and winter), as well as a variety of vacation rentals year-round.

Read: The Top Things to Do in Arizona

Gros Ventre Wilderness, Wyoming

Cheap weekend getaways

The Gros Ventre Wilderness, which is part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, is another natural wonder worth visiting. Plan a weekend here to discover rolling rivers, abundant wildlife, and amazing geological features such as rock formations and natural slides. As for accommodations, travelers can rent the cozy Hoback Guard Station cabin for $80 per night for a party of up to six guests from May to October.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Cheap weekend getaways

Olympic National Park is well worth a weekend visit, whether you want to hike, stargaze or explore its more than 70 miles of untouched Pacific Coast shoreline – which include dog-friendly beaches , if your furry friend wants to come along. While here, visit the famous Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Crescent and Rialto Beach. You can even camp within the park for as little as $40 per night for up to 10 people sharing a campsite. Note that you'll have to pay a fee to enter the park.

Read: The Best Weekend Getaways from Seattle

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hot air balloons rise in the air at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

Albuquerque is quirky and fun, with an Old Town that features cobblestone streets and adobe-style buildings and is free to explore. Plan a visit during spring or fall for the best weather, then take advantage of local, low-cost festivals: May brings the New Mexico Wine Festival ($25 or less per ticket) to town, or come autumn, you can stop by the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (around $15 per person) to witness one of the best hot air balloon festivals in the U.S. Other things to do in Albuquerque include visiting the Petroglyph National Monument, which is free of charge. Opt for a vacation rental rather than a hotel to save some coin.

San Antonio, Texas

Cheap weekend getaways

San Antonio is an affordable Texas destination brimming with cultural flair, historical significance and free activities. There's no cost to visit iconic attractions like the Alamo or the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and you won't pay anything to stroll the famous River Walk (though dining at least once here is a must). Another popular activity, narrated river cruises are also cheap, with tickets for less than $15 per person via local operator GO RIO Cruises.

You might also be interested in:

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Cheap Tropical Vacations

Aerial of Entalula Island Beach Lagoon with typical Filipino Balangay boats.

Tags: Travel , Budget Travel , US Vacations

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » United States » South Carolina (SC) » 15 Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC

15 Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC

Founded and named in the honour of Charles II of England, and with a dance named after it, Charleston, South Carolina has several claims to fame which make it worth a visit.

The historic city is undeniably a beautiful place to stay.

Cute cobbled streets interlink colourful colonial houses, and plenty of leafy parks are interspersed throughout the city.

Culture lovers will find fun in its many museums documenting the antebellum era and beyond, while there are loads of great bars and restaurants to placate those who simply want to relax and enjoy their time away.

Stroll along to the port to witness huge cruise ships docking, or visit the theatre to take in a show – there really are options for everyone in this South Carolina gem.

And of course, there are lots of excellent places to visit just a short hop from the city – here are fifteen of the best.

1. Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

The home of golf in South Carolina, Kiawah Island is a must-visit for any avid fans, or for those who want the chance to kick back and relax while the other half traipses around the course.

With over 90 holes of golf to be played in this relatively small area, you will find plenty to entertain keen golfers.

If this isn’t your style, there are also plenty of luxury spa options available.

If you have some time outside of the sporting activities, wander down to find Kiawah’s beautiful beaches, which fringe the island with golden sand.

2. Beaufort

Beaufort, South Carolina

A typical Old South city can be found in Beaufort, located around an hour and a half from Charleston.

This is a great day trip for history lovers; the town played a significant part in the Civil War, leaving many interesting sites for visitors to take a look at.

There are several museums around town, largely focused on the same theme.

Day trippers might also enjoy taking a tour of one of the numerous old mansions, left as a remnant of times gone by.

If such serious pursuits don’t take your fancy, you can always stop off at an entirely un-serious spot – the Kazoo Factory.

3. Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is Charleston’s sister city, across the state border in Georgia.

There are many similarities between the two cities, but Savannah is definitely worthy of the trip for its prime location along the Savannah River, or simply the chance for a change of scene.

Stroll along the water’s edge, where the main strip of bars and restaurants is located, and perhaps grab a bite to eat.

On a sunny day, make sure to visit one of the verdant parks scattered throughout the city, a key feature of the city’s original design.

4. Wadmalaw Island

Wadmalaw Island

This island feels like worlds away from Charleston, despite actually being very close – at just over half an hour’s drive.

It is tranquillity personified, with stretches of country land covering the island and traditional farms still commonplace.

Take a tour of the Charleston Tea Plantation and Deep Water Vineyard while you’re around the area; the tea plantation is home to the only American-grown tea in the world, while the vineyard is the only one in the state.

Otherwise, just spend some time wandering round and soaking in the atmosphere, it’s always good to get away for a while.

5. Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Another great day trip spot for golf enthusiasts can be found in Hilton Head, though here there are perhaps more alternative options.

There is certainly a beachy feel at Hilton Head, with beachside activities like volleyball, day cruises out on the boats, and deep sea fishing all readily available.

Stay for the evening to catch some live music from one of the beach bars.

And then, of course, there’s the golf – which is well worthy of the two-hour drive to get there.

6. Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens near Myrtle Beach

The sculpture garden at Brookgreen is a fascinating sight and has plenty to entertain both kids and adults.

Every local will remember their first visit here, and it’s a great spot for a laid-back trip out for the day.

Founded by the wealthy Huntington family in 1932, there are countless sculptures to be spotted throughout the garden and also the option to take a boat ride through the plantation.

There’s over 9000-acres of land in total, encompassing the sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, so you certainly won’t find yourself running out of places to explore.

7. McClellanville

McClellanville, South Carolina

The cutest fishing village around can be found around an hour’s drive from Charleston down the US-17. The main attraction here is the freshly caught seafood, which can either be bought to take home with you, or cooked up to perfection in one of the great, no-frills village restaurants.

Sit on the docks to watch the fishermen unload their catch or simply spend some time wandering the sea front.

8. Edisto Island

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Another barrier island well worth the trip is Edisto Island, once home to plantations and slave owners – both of which are long gone.

The ruins of the main plantations on the island, Sea Cloud and Bleak Hall, are now encompassed in the wildlife area of Botany Bay.

Edisto Island is a gorgeous place to simply spend a day of no-guilt relaxation, with the atmosphere of times gone by and the three-mile beachfront stretching across the horizon.

The old-fashioned houses along the front make for a charming backdrop.

9. Georgetown

Georgetown, South Carolina

The historic city of Georgetown is the third oldest in Carolina, therefore has plenty of interesting stories from the past to be discovered.

Soak up the history in one of the museums, such as the South Carolina Maritime Museum or the intriguing Rice Museum.

If history isn’t your thing, then take a stroll along the pretty Harborwalk by the water front, or even grab a place on a boat and explore out to sea for the day.

There are plenty of excellent bars and restaurants, with everything from typical Southern dishes to craft beer on offer.

10. Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach is the most famous and well-developed resort area along the strip of coastline known as the Grand Strand, and a joyous place to spend a summer’s day away from Charleston.

It’s about two hours’ drive, but well worth it for the opportunity to spend a glorious few hours sunbathing on the beach front, surfing in the gentle waves, or splashing about in the shallows with the kids.

The town is well-equipped to provide anything you could want in terms of food and drinks, and the place is lively all year round.

Head further north or south from downtown if you want to escape the bulk of the crowds, especially in peak season.

11. Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina from FInlay Park

State capitals are always worth a visit, and Columbia is no different.

Especially for those who have an interest in history or politics, Columbia has a lot to offer, from still-present damage left over from the civil war adorning some of the buildings, and the state house standing proud in the middle of the city.

If that’s not your cup of tea, however, you can also pay a visit to Congaree National Park – South Carolina’s only proper national park – for biodiversity and a pleasant afternoon of walking or kayaking.

12. Cottageville

Bee City Zoo Cottageville SC

Cottageville provides a unique and extremely fun day trip opportunity for families – a visit to the Bee City Honey Farm.

Kids will love getting the chance to learn how honey is made, from how the bees go about collecting pollen to the process of putting the hive’s hard work into the pot.

It’s an educational day out for everyone and you can purchase some of the delicious, locally-produced honey to take away as a souvenir.

There’s also a miniature train to ride on through the farm.

13. Walterboro

Walterboro, South Carolina

Walterboro is considered the entrance to Low country.

As such, it has a lot that can appeal to tourists.

There’s a wildlife sanctuary, plenty of museums and an excellent farmer’s market open during the summer months.

The highlight of the historic town, however, is certainly its focus on artisanal crafts, which can be found in the state’s Folk Arts and Craft Centre, the South Carolina Artisans Centre.

There are plenty of other shopping opportunities too, including some excellent antique stores.

14. Shem Creek

Shem Creek, South Carolina

For all the water-based activities you could ask for, Shem Creek is the answer.

The kids will love this day trip option, owing to the multitude of active options on offer – from kayaking and paddle-boarding to boating.

Dolphins can sometimes be spotted frolicking in the creek, too.

For the adults, there are many good waterfront dining options to be found, and the creek is a great spot for sunset.

At only 45-minutes from Charleston, this trip is a no-brainer.

Suggested tour : Charleston: Shem Creek Culture Tour

15. Francis Beidler Audubon Forest

Francis Beidler Audubon Forest

This forest in Harleyville might not have National Park designation yet, but it still offers day trippers the chance to get back to nature, with less of a crowd.

It’s a swamp-based park filled with dense hardwoods and is home to the largest collection of old-growth cypress and tupelo in the world.

The walks around the forest are boarded to enable visitors to explore deeper into the system than they would otherwise be able to, and there’s plenty of wildlife to be spotted from on high.

15 Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC:

  • Kiawah Island
  • Wadmalaw Island
  • Hilton Head
  • Brookgreen Gardens
  • McClellanville
  • Edisto Island
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Cottageville
  • Francis Beidler Audubon Forest
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Here Are 8 Unique Day Trips In Arizona That Are An Absolute Must-Do

short day trip near me

Monica Spencer

Monica is a Diné (Navajo) freelance writer and photographer based in the Southwest. Born in Gallup and raised in Phoenix, she is Tódich'ii'nii (Bitter Water People) and Tsi'naajinii (Black Streak Wood People). Monica is a staff writer for Only In Your State, photo editor for The Mesa Legend, and previously a staff writer for The Navajo Post. You can reach her at [email protected].

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Itching to leave town but don’t want to go through the hassle of reserving a hotel? Although we have long stretches of desert highways, there are still plenty of attractions short distances from each other that make for a great day trip. Here are eight of the most unique and best day trips in Arizona that we suggest trying yourself.

short day trip near me

short day trip near me

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Straddling The U.S.-Mexico Border, The Town Of Nogales, Arizona Is One Of The Most Unique Places You'll Ever Visit

Straddling The U.S.-Mexico Border, The Town Of Nogales, Arizona Is One Of The Most Unique Places You'll Ever Visit

short day trip near me

short day trip near me

short day trip near me

What do you like to do on a day trip? What do you think of this list of best day trips in Arizona? Tell us in the comments. And here are some other must-do experiences in Arizona .

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Unique day trips in arizona.

What are the best little-known attractions in Arizona?

The best little-known attractions in Arizona include the following:

  • Instead of the Grand Canyon, visit Sycamore Canyon - the second largest in the state. It includes a waterfall surrounded by pillars of basalt, and it's truly a gorgeous sight.
  • The Chiricahua National Monument near Wilcox, Arizona is another natural hidden gem with mesmerizing rock pillars and tons of wilderness to explore.
  • Experience Arizona's aspen forests, something many people don't even know exists, in Flagstaff on the Aspen Nature Loop.

What places in Arizona should I see before I die?

Here are some bucket-list places to visit in Arizona:

  • A visit to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a must if you've already seen the Grand Canyon.
  • Explore the state's mining history at the Queen Mine in Bisbee. A minecart will take you into this historic copper mine and give you a memorable experience.
  • Go even further back in time to one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the country at Keet Seel in the Navajo National Monument.

What are the most unique parks in Arizona?

The most unique parks in Arizona include:

  • The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Not only that, but the scenery surrounding it is gorgeous.
  • For a fun and whimsical visit, check out the lesser-known Valley of the Moon in Tuscon. This fantasy story-themed park has bits and pieces of your favorite fairytales all over, and they host storytimes, plays, and other fun events. It's a must-visit for kids and kids at heart and has been delighting generations of families since the 1920s.

Related Articles

  • This Epic One-Day Road Trip Across Arizona Is Full Of Adventures From Sunrise To Sunset
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  • 6 Arizona Day Trips That Are Even Cooler During The Winter
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  • Enjoy An Incredible Outdoor Adventure In This 400-Acre State Park in Arizona
  • Surround Yourself With Arizona's Serene Landscape At This Zen-Like Retreat In Cave Creek
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    Best day trips from Atlanta. Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia. The Georgia Museum of Art is a smart, modern gallery where brainy, arty types set up in the wired lobby for personal study, while art hounds gawk at modern sculpture in the courtyard garden as well as the tremendous collection from American realists of the 1930s. 1hr 15min by car.

  8. 25 Best Day Trips from Charlotte (Within a 90-Minute Drive)

    Lake Lure. 92 miles | 1 hour 44 minutes. The last two of our day trips from Charlotte are two popular spots in Rutherford Couty. Lake Lure is the first of those two, known for its beautiful cool weather and the 27 miles of shoreline, including a swimming beach ($10 admission).

  9. USA Weekend Trips: 25 Amazing Destinations for a Short Getaway

    15. Boston, Massachusetts. For history lovers, Boston, Massachusetts should certainly be on the top of their lists of USA weekend trips. Home to hundreds of historic brick buildings and the first subway system in the United States, there's history literally everywhere you turn in Boston.

  10. Europe Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Backpacking Europe Suggested Budgets. Prices for travel in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel. If you stick to the budget accommodations, food, and tours listed here and use all my tips on saving money, you need about 65-110 EUR per day in Western Europe, 40-50 EUR in Eastern Europe, and about 85-130 EUR in Scandinavia.

  11. 32 Fun Day Trips From Sacramento (In Under 3 Hours!)

    32 Best Day Trips From Sacramento, California. 1. DAVIS, CA. Distance from Sacramento: 20 minutes. Courtesy of TripAdvisor. Less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Sacramento will bring you to Davis, CA. Davis is best known as a college town, built around the University of California, Davis.

  12. 10 of the Best Day Trips from Cleveland

    4. Geneva-on-the-Lake. Distance: 1 hour one-way. The beautiful Lake Erie. Located on the shore of Lake Erie in Ashtabula County, Geneva-on-the-Lake bills itself as "Ohio's first summer resort," and makes for a great getaway either just for the day, or for a weekend. 3 must-dos in Geneva-on-the-Lake: Go wine tasting.

  13. 15 Best Day Trips from Albuquerque

    Let's have a look at the best day trips from Albuquerque: 1. Acoma Pueblo. Source: Bill Florence / shutterstock. Acoma Pueblo. Sitting atop a nearly 400 foot tall mesa in the middle of the desert, you'll find the small town of Acoma, famous for being the oldest continually inhabited settlement in the whole of North America.

  14. 15 Unique And Fun Day Trips In Tennessee

    Discover hidden gems on these 15 unique and fun day trips in Tennessee — just prepare to be blown away! 1. Arrington Vineyards. Founded by country music star Kix Brooks, Arrington is a stunning piece of land that boasts a burgeoning event calendar, A private event venue, and a great spot for wine tasting.

  15. 13 Perfect Day Trips From Pittsburgh (within 2 hours of drive)

    Picturesque Getaway at Swallow Falls State Park near Deep Creek Lake in Maryland. The cost is $3 for instate resident, and $5 for out-of-state resident. Located about 2 hours away from Pittsburgh. Swallow Falls State Park in Western Maryland is a perfect destination for families, friends, and outdoor enthusiasts any time of the year.

  16. Within Hours

    Explore a radius of 1 hour from Miami FL, 100 miles of Boydton VA, or 1 hour from Boydton VA. Check out the latest coverage in the Los Angeles Times: If you're planning a road trip this summer, take Within Hours for a spin. The simple website allows you to plug in a destination and learn about nearby attractions. Or from

  17. 15 Fun Cities To Visit For A Long Weekend In The USA

    11. Chicago, Illinois. On the eastern border of Lake Michigan lies Chicago, a city known for its modern architecture and towering skyscrapers. Stroll the Navy Pier, take in a Cubs game at the famous Wrigley Field, or see the city's skyline from a bird's-eye view at Skydeck.

  18. 29 Top Cheap Weekend Getaways in the U.S.

    Washington, D.C. Courtesy of With 22 free Smithsonian museums including the National Zoo, Washington, D.C. is an obvious choice for a cheap weekend getway. And while many hotels in ...

  19. 15 Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC

    Stroll along the water's edge, where the main strip of bars and restaurants is located, and perhaps grab a bite to eat. On a sunny day, make sure to visit one of the verdant parks scattered throughout the city, a key feature of the city's original design. 4. Wadmalaw Island. Source: Galen Parks Smith / Wikimedia.

  20. 20 Best Day Trips in the U.S.

    Located about 126 miles from Miami, Bahia Honda State Park makes for a fun drive along US 1. The park offers some of the best snorkeling in Florida, and lucky visitors might spot a barracuda or ...

  21. Top Trips under 10 Days Intrepid Travel US

    View all 6-10 day trips Short Trips Travel Deals. Departing Trip name Days From USD; 22 Jun 2024 Kenya Wildlife Safari: Kenya Wildlife Safari. Nairobi to Nairobi. ... Tour green Iceland on a five-day trip visiting Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, Vik,... View Trip . Explore Croatia. 8 Days From 1486.

  22. Day Trips In Wisconsin: The Very Best In The State

    Facebook/Vino in the Valley. Located in Maiden Rock, Vino in the Valley offers amazing Italian dining, unparalleled views and, of course, wine. It is a really fun day trip in Wisconsin. Advertisement. 4. Experience fresh bakery straight from the farm in Blue Mounds. 4035 Ryan Rd, Blue Mounds, WI 53517, USA.

  23. 2024, 2025, 2026 Cruise Schedule

    You can take a vacation — or you could go on an adventure. Whether you're looking to get away for a few days, disconnect on a week-long wander across the Caribbean's most sought-after isles, or imagining a day unlike any other at our top-rated private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean® has just the itinerary in our 2024, 2025 and 2026 cruises — and unforgettable is ...

  24. Joint Travel Regulations

    Joint Travel Regulations. The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) implements policy and law to establish travel and transportation allowances for Uniformed Service members (i.e., Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps), Department of Defense (DoD) civilian ...

  25. U.S. Travelers in Europe's Schengen Area

    Before you travel to the Schengen area, we recommend you do the following: ... With a valid U.S. passport book, you can stay up to 90 days in the Schengen area for tourism or business during any 180-day period. You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area.

  26. 12 Of The Best Short Day Trips In Missouri

    Swing by Cape Splash Aquatic Center for a day of swimming in the pool, leisurely meandering on the lazy river, and slipping down slides. Or, just grab a beach chair and relax under the golden sun. July - Rowdy Ribbit's in Grandview. 11101 Pittenger Rd, Grandview, MO 64030, USA. Facebook/Rowdy Ribbit's.

  27. 8 Best Day Trips In Arizona That Are Absolute Must-Dos

    Although we have long stretches of desert highways, there are still plenty of attractions short distances from each other that make for a great day trip. Here are eight of the most unique and best day trips in Arizona that we suggest trying yourself. 1. Plan a cultured wine tour in Verde Valley. 1010 S Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326, USA.