Do you ever feel like your weekends have gotten stuck in a rut? Between errands, cleaning house, and social obligations, sometimes weekends don’t feel like much to look forward to. When this feeling strikes, it’s time to switch up your routine and do something to bring the excitement back to Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps a cheap weekend getaway is exactly what you need!
Planning a trip doesn’t have to involve a lot of advance planning, and sometimes the most memorable trips are spontaneously thrown together at the last minute. Last-minute travel has a certain reputation of being a splurge, but there are lots of places that you can plan to visit on a limited budget that won’t break the bank. Mid-sized cities that are within driving distance of where you live are often excellent spots to make the most of your weekend. Here are a few of our favorite cheap weekend getaway destinations to switch up your routine.
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Atlanta is a great place to visit for the weekend in the south, and there are some fascinating family attractions, including top restaurants, an impressive aquarium, and historic sites to explore. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park is free to visit, and you can book a guided tour. The Beltline is a fun place to walk your dog or go for a bike ride, there’s always a fun festival going on in the city to check out. This is an ideal weekend trip for foodies, especially if you enjoy southern food and barbecue.
For warm weather and plenty of desert charm, plan a weekend getaway to Tucson. This is an excellent place to visit if you love the outdoors because Saguaro National Park will introduce you to some incredible cactus-lined trails. Take some time to walk around the Barrio Histórico and browse the artsy adobe shops. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is west of downtown and a great outdoor place to see native animals and plants in a stunning landscape. To get a break from the heat, take a drive along Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway and check out a show at the Gaslight Theatre.
Charleston, South Carolina
To change your pace of life and transport yourself to another time in history, plan a weekend getaway to Charleston. Book a weekend stay at a bed and breakfast or a boutique hotel and take a walk down the cobblestone streets to slow down and appreciate the beauty in simplicity. One of the best ways to take in the historic beauty of the antebellum homes is to hop onboard a horse-drawn carriage ride. This is an excellent place for foodies to visit for the weekend because you can take some amazing food tours in Charleston to meet talented bakers and chefs. When you spend the weekend here, you can also spend time outdoors at Sullivan’s Island, the Isle of Palms County Park, and Folly Beach. This southern city is also a favorite spot for weekend getaways with your best girlfriends.
Kansas City, Missouri
Situated in the middle of America, Kansas City, Missouri is an affordable destination that makes for a fun weekend getaway. The hotel rates here are very reasonable and many attractions, including art museums, are free to check out. The Hallmark Visitors Center is also free to check out, and Boulevard Brewing Company offers a great tour as well. Foodies who enjoy barbeque love visiting Kansas City because of the high-quality meats and affordable prices. Kansas City is known as the “city of fountains,” and you can find lovely ones all over town. Sports fans also love this city because they can catch a game at Arrowhead Stadium or Kauffman Stadium, or just be among fellow fans at a local sports bar.
Nashville is best known for its country music scene, but there’s plenty of other things to do besides listen and dance to honkey-tonk. This affordable and accessible destination has some great microbreweries, burger joints, and live music venues. Music fans will enjoy visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and museum, RCA Studio B, the Johnny Cash Museum, and the Ryman Auditorium. On top of it all, Nashville has a great variety of accommodations — from affordable hotels to a large spread of unique Airbnb rentals.
Portland on the West Coast often steals the spotlight, but Portland, Maine is a unique Northeastern city that makes a wonderful weekend getaway destination too. Head to Congress Street to check out the shops and art galleries, or bring your bike to explore the city on two wheels. Eating lobster, oysters, and other seafood specialties is a must here, and Portland has some really affordable food trucks. Food tours and craft breweries, including the Shipyard Brewing Company and Allagash Brewing, are plentiful here. Bring your kayak or paddleboard to get on the water, or you can rent one from a local shop.
Minneapolis and its “sister city,” St. Paul, are excellent places to escape to on a weekend getaway. Hipsters on a budget love this area, and so do outdoorsy nature lovers. There are hundreds of miles of bike trails and over a dozen lakes to get outside and active for free. This is a great place to spend a weekend in the parks, as long as you visit before the long winter settles in. Other top things to do in Minneapolis when you visit for the weekend include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, catching a show at the Guthrie Theater, seeing the waterfall at Minnehaha Park, and going for a bike ride around the Chain of Lakes.
Austin is an amazing place to visit for the weekend if you love life, music, and a fun party scene. Sixth Street is the place to be to hear famous and up-and-coming musicians play their best tunes. Before the sun goes down, Zilker Park is a fun place to relax, and the whole area has an outdoorsy vibe that you can tap into. Expect to find plenty of food trucks, hipster shops, quality barbecue, and excellent people-watching. As for accommodations, Austin is another area with an incredible offering of interesting Airbnb rentals.
Salt Lake City, Utah
This is an affordable, clean, peaceful, and family-friendly city that has many parks and museums worth visiting. Get outside and active at the Wasatch National Forest and Big Cottonwood Canyon, or in the winter you can hit the slopes at Snowbird Ski Resort or nearby Park City. Utah Olympic Park was used as a sports facility during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and you can take a guided tour to see where history was made.
Providence, Rhode Island
The tiny state of Rhode Island often gets overlooked by travelers, but Providence is one of the most budget-friendly cities to visit in the Northeast. There’s a vibrant arts and culture scene here, and many venues don’t enforce a cover charge. You can find free gallery nights, free art bus rides, and free art displays along the waterfront in the summertime. Stop to take in the beautiful sights of the blue hydrangeas, which are prominent flowers throughout the city in the spring and summer.
Anyone who calls America home should visit Philadelphia to learn about the country’s history – it is the birthplace of democracy, after all! There are lots of free things to see and do in Philly, including the Liberty Bell. There are also some great breweries to visit and sample local craft beers here, including the Philadelphia Brewing Company and Yards Brewing Company.
Santa Barbara, California
California has a reputation of being an expensive place to travel, but Santa Barbara makes a great weekend getaway, especially from Los Angeles. The scenic drive to get here along Route 1 will set the tone for your weekend by the ocean and prepare you for the laidback weekend that awaits you. Shop ‘til you drop on State Street, which extends from downtown to Stearns Warf. There are several beaches where you can spend your time relaxing in Santa Barbara, and these include East Beach, West Beach, and Ledbetter Beach. It’s also interesting to check out Old Mission Santa Barbara in the northwest part of the city for a dose of history. This is an artsy town, so join a local art walk to connect with the local art scene and its talented artists.