From New York City to Los Angeles and from Miami to Seattle, the United States is blessed to have a number of diverse cities waiting to be explored. We all know that Americans have very limited vacation time so we want to share a collaborative guide on the best cities to visit in the USA for an amazing weekend. Weekend travel is something we thrive on and we are constantly encouraging people we know to utilize their weekends more productively. Do you realize just how much you can see in 48 hours?
We are delighted to collaborate with some of the best experts in the travel industry as we look at 20 awesome cities across the United States. I am sure you already have a favorite US city in mind and of course, a guide to the best cities in the States wouldn’t be the same without the likes of NYC and Boston. However, what about some of the lesser-known cities that you may not have considered visiting?
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you will be inspired to add some of these urban areas to your travel plans in the near future.
Best Cities to Visit in the USA
Here is an interactive map of the cities we will be covering throughout this post. We are delighted to provide such a diverse array of cities that cover the majority of the United States. There are many other awesome cities that we didn’t cover but if you are visiting from overseas or simply want to plan a road trip, I think this is a great list to choose from!
Let’s start with our own contribution to this post and undoubtedly our favorite city in the United States (and possibly the world!) – the one and only ultimate 24-hour destination, NEW YORK CITY!
New York City
It’s not called the ultimate 24-hour city of the world for nothing and we can well and truly attest that a weekend in New York City is an amazing experience! We have been fortunate to take several trips to the Big Apple for a weekend (or long weekend) and this is ample time to explore the beautiful borough of Manhattan.
Of course, you could quite easily spend much more time…as long as you have a large enough wallet to handle the retail therapy you will likely experience at some point along 5th Avenue!
Whether you are visiting New York City for the first time to explore the infamous attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Central Park, or you are returning as a frequent visitor, the Big Apple will never cease to amaze you!
Sure, it’s not for everyone and there will always be critics of this city but honestly, it’s one of those iconic cities around the world you just have to experience for yourselves. Don’t ever let anyone judge NYC for you!
Great weather, huge events, and amazing food continue to bring people from all around the world to visit Austin. At the center of the city is the largest state capitol in the US and is worth a visit, especially if you take a free guided tour.
Leaving the capital and heading south will take you to Austin’s well know 6th Street. Here you with find bar after bar, many with live bands playing, contributing to Austin’s reputation as the live music capital of the world.
If you come in the summer time, it may take some effort to stay cool. You can stay downtown and swim in the naturally fed Barton Springs Pool, find one of the many other swimming holes or you can go Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake.
You can not leave Austin without stuffing yourself full of brisket and tacos. There are plenty of BBQ options. If you don’t mind waiting hours in line there is the legendary Franklin’s BBQ. For a shorter line, you can make your way to La Barbecue. To experience an authentic, Texas countryside feeling and all you can eat options, a trip to The Salt Lick in Driftwood is worth the drive. To help you understand what the fuss about tacos is, make your way to Torchy’s and try a few. Don’t forget the queso!
Thanks to Dan Bagby from Honeymoon Always for sharing his insight into the beautiful city of Austin, Texas.
Asheville, North Carolina is one of the best cities in the USA, a small and lively city with so much to do. This Carolina mountain town is a cool pocket of Bohemia nestled amongst more traditionally “southern” communities.
Asheville is known for its arts, its mountains, and increasingly, its breweries. With so many breweries per capita and an endless supply of amazing cuisine, it’s the finest spot to enjoy southern-style grits and BBQ and kick back with a refreshing local beer. And don’t forget all the delicious coffee shops.
When traveling in Asheville, don’t forget to visit the sprawling Biltmore Estate mansion (America’s largest private home) and hike to some waterfalls along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.
Thanks to Amy and Nathan from Two Drifters for sharing a few reasons why Asheville, North Carolina should be on our radars.
The epitome of romantic beauty and southern charm, Savannah is a city that packs enough layers to entertain any traveler.
Whether you want to stroll Jones Street and the classic squares to admire the incredible architecture and dripping Spanish moss, or eat your heart out at delectable restaurants like The Olde Pink House and Mrs. Wilkes, or even learn about Savannah’s seedy history via a ghost tour or trip to Bonaventure Cemetery, there is something in the city for everyone.
Whatever kind of Savannah weekend you’re after, make sure that you don’t leave the city without reading up a bit on Savannah’s incredible history and finding a few spots that interest you: I can virtually guarantee that Savannah’s beauty and story (not to mention its delicious food) will capture your heart for many trips to come.
Thanks to Kate Storm from Our Escape Clause for sharing her local knowledge on Savannah, Georgia, a city she is clearly very passionate about and why not!
Everyone should put a visit to the Lonestar State at the top of their list and Dallas (along with Fort Worth) is the perfect place to start. There is so much to pack into a weekend break, with visits to museums and the gorgeous Dallas Arboretum, beautiful outdoor adventures on lakes and hikes, stadium tours, wildlife encounters – and not forgetting a bit of the wild west, there really is something for everyone.
Add in some great foodie spots, awesome BBQ Joints, and the ever-growing craft beer scene and you’re got the recipe for a great city break. Need a little more convincing? Read this guide to 48 Hours in Dallas: Things To Do, Where To Stay & What To Eat!
Thanks to Vicki Garside from Make Time To See The World for highlighting why Dallas is a great city for a weekend break. We can certainly attest from our own experiences during our weekend getaway in Dallas that this is a beautiful city worth exploring!
Minneapolis is nicknamed the “Mini-apple” because it has more theater seats per capita than any other U.S. city next to New York.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area is called the Twin Cities by locals, and in addition to the abundance of live theater, you will find world-class museums, award-winning restaurants, an ever growing list of breweries, countless parks, and lakes, and iconic live music venues such as First Avenue.
In the summer, hop in a kayak and paddle down the Mississippi River or along the Chain of Lakes, visit the famous Spoon and Cherry Sculpture, catch an outdoor movie in one of the many parks, or ride a bike along the Greenway, a peaceful bike trail that runs through the city. When the weather starts getting cold, go cross-country skiing, marvel at ice sculptures during the Winter Carnival or ice skate on one of a frozen lake.
Also, don’t forget to try the signature “Jucy Lucy”, a tasty burger with melted cheese on the inside. No matter the season, the Twin Cities always has something fun on the calendar!
Thanks to Jenna and Micah from Wander The Map for highlighting their home city of Minneapolis…did they mention the Mall of America aka the largest shopping mall in the United States? Just kidding, there is way more to experience in this part of Minnesota but for those looking for a little retail therapy, it’s definitely THE place to go!
San Diego is definitely one of the best cities in the USA. With its stunning sunsets over the bay and perfect weather, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this southern Californian city. San Diego has something for everyone, from history to natural beauty, and all within walking distance.
The top attraction is the picturesque Balboa Park, home to museums, the world famous San Diego Zoo, various gardens, and it even has free Wi-Fi throughout. Love walking tours? Head to the park’s tourist office to join one of their great free walking tours of the park.
Other highlights include Seaport Village, home to shops and restaurants along the bay, Coronado Island, and the charming Gaslamp Quarter, home to historic Victorian buildings full of shops and restaurants.
I also suggest taking the 2-Day Trolley Tour & Seal Tour combo which is a great way to orient yourself to the city. The Trolley Tour portion takes you on a historic trolley and covers everything from the downtown to Coronado Island. And the Seal Tour portion takes you out onto the water to learn more of the city’s rich history, plus see a plethora of sea lions.
Thanks to Stephanie Mayo from The World As I See It for giving us a brief insight into why San Diego may just be the perfect weekend getaway hotspot! It’s certainly on our bucket list now.
Three days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy San Francisco, California. You can visit a few of the tourist sites like the Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of the Arts, and Alcatraz. Plus you’ll have time to explore deeper into what makes the city.
Walk the neighborhoods like Haight-Asbury, the Mission, Hayes Valley, and Marina. Take in one of the urban hikes through Golden Gate Park or the Presidio. Eat your way through all the ethnic food you can find across the neighborhoods, a foodie favorite is Little Italy (North Beach).
Take in a show at the Filmore or the Orpheum. Enjoy craft cocktails in spots like Bourbon and Branch, a speakeasy, or at one of the sky high bars up on Nob Hill. Visit museums like the Museum of Modern Art that just reopened or The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Make a few plans over your weekend but above everything, my favorite thing to do in San Francisco is to just walk and get distracted by all the great places there are to explore.
Thanks to Megan MacNee from Traveling Nine to Fiver for reminding us why we need to make a return trip to the Bay Area in the near future and experience another amazing weekend getaway! We LOVE San Francisco and Megan has just given us more inspiration to explore this beautiful city.
There’s no better way to spend a weekend than by visiting Tampa Bay. The best part is you get to experience three cities in one during your stay. The combo of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater are sure to make your trip one of the best ever!
One reason your next trip should be to Tampa Bay is because of the beaches. St. Petersburg and Clearwater have some of the best beaches in the USA. From water biking to kayaking to laying on the beach, whatever water activity you’re dreaming of, you can do it here.
Entertainment is nonstop and the Tampa Riverwalk is 2.4-miles of excitement. With playgrounds, splash parks, art, music, museums, and more along the path, there’s more than enough to occupy everyone. Speaking of entertainment, make sure not to miss out on the world-renowned amusement park, Busch Gardens Tampa, which has some of America’s best roller coasters, shows, animal encounters and so much more.
And before you head home, take a walk through the late 1800’s in the National Historic Landmark District of Ybor City and buy some Cuban cigars for your drive home!
Thanks to Ben and Jazzy from Road Affair for highlighting some of the best reasons to visit the Tampa Bay region of Florida. Who doesn’t love amazing beaches but the beauty of this part of Florida is that there is so much more to experience on an action-packed weekend break!
Boston’s winters can be brutal, so spring is when the city comes alive. There are plenty of warm-weather activities to entertain weekend visitors – from seeing the historic sites along the 2.5-mile long Freedom Trail to checking out a Red Sox game at Fenway Park to taking a leisurely boat ride around Boston Harbor.
And no spring trip to Boston is complete without spending time strolling through the Boston Common and Public Garden.
If it rains, you can explore one of the world-class museums like the Museum of Science or Museum of Fine Arts or pay a visit to one of the many local breweries – Samuel Adams is the oldest and most popular.
If you want to watch the annual running of the Boston Marathon in person, then plan your visit for the third weekend in April (Just be sure to book your hotel room far in advance!).
Thanks to Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life for her inspiring reminder that Boston should be the top of everyone’s lists for a long weekend vacation! If you love history, culture, and baseball, there is no better place to experience all of this and more than Boston, Massachusetts.
Nashville is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway in the US. Nashville has it all – some of the best music in the country, an amazing food scene, gorgeous and adventurous outdoor opportunities as well as a spectacular selection of art, unique shopping and much more!
A weekend is not enough time to visit this wonderful city and see it all – I’ve lived here my whole life and am still finding new places and things to do but here are some of my favorite things to suggest for a first timer’s visit to my hometown:
Hike around Radnor Lake
Just a little south of downtown, Radnor Lake State Park sits nestled in between several residential neighborhoods. If you didn’t know it was there, you would never even guess.
Radnor is highly beloved by locals and on a gorgeous day, you’ll have to even fight for a parking spot. There are some trails from easy beginner to difficult located in the park but if you’re looking for something just quick to experience Radnor, do the lake trail – it just circles the lake and is mostly flat. Radnor is also great for avid bird watchers.
Explore 12South Neighborhood
One of my favorite neighborhoods in Nashville is 12South and it has so much to offer. If you’re hungry, try popsicles at Las Paletas, cupcakes from the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles, donuts from Five Daughters, Bartaco and Burger Up. If you’re thirsty, try The Filling Station and Ember’s Ski Lodge for spirits or Frothy Monkey for coffee.
If you want to get outside, head down to Sevier Park and have a picnic! If your main goal is shopping, 12South has tons of unique shops like Draper James, Imogene + Willie and White’s Mercantile.
Go Honky Tonkin’
While it is definitely more touristy than my other suggestions, I always say everyone needs to experience Lower Broad at least one time in their life. The lights, the country music pouring out of every open bar door, the cowboy boots – it’s all so cliche but if you can accept and get past that, it’s so much fun too.
Make sure to check out Acme Feed + Seed while you’re down there – a four-story honky-tonk, restaurant, and bar!
Thanks to Ashley Hubbard from A Southern Gypsy for sharing more inspiring reasons to visit Music City! As a native local from Nashville, Ashley is definitely a great resource for local tips on the best spots to experience this gorgeous city.
Gorgeous architecture reminiscing of European capitals, delicious food with French, Spanish and African origins, and the best jazz music in the country – New Orleans has it all! You can make a day-by-day plan and visit as many attractions as you can, or simply arrive in the French Quarter, walk the streets in no particular direction and marvel at the balconies and galleries covered with hanging fern.
The French Quarter is the most popular place among tourists, so it’s a good idea to explore the rest of the city which is less crowded but just as beautiful. The Garden District is great for long walks under oak trees and exploring the fascinating historic houses in NOLA (you can even find some celebrity homes). Lafayette Cemetery will give you some quiet time and a look into New Orleans’ historic past if you take a guided tour.
In case you have an extra half a day, rent a car and drive to Oak Alley, one of the most beautiful plantations in the South. It takes only an hour to get there, but the views are well worth it! (Alternatively, book a tour of Oak Alley with one of New Orleans tour operators. Then you won’t have to worry about transport).
Lastly, but most importantly, try local cuisine! New Orleans has amazing foods like beignets, gumbo, and muffulettas that you won’t be able to try anywhere else in the world.
Thanks to Yulia Dyukova from The Foodie Miles for highlighting why we need to head back to New Orleans ASAP! We LOVE NOLA and there are so many quirky reasons to experience this beautiful city, particular the delicious cuisine that is so difficult to resist.
Portland is currently one of the hottest city to visit! Portland is well known for the beer, coffee, and abundance of food carts. Whether you like food, hiking, or drinking beer, you’ll feel right at home in Portland. Start your day with some Stumptown coffee and brunch from one of the specialty spots in Portland (Jam or Mothers Bistro is a good place to start). Stroll along the waterfront, hang out at Powell’s Bookstore or take a hike through Forest Park.
The best thing about Portland is all the beautiful scenery you can find within a couple hours. Portland is the perfect starting point for a scenic drive around Oregon. A road trip through the state is the perfect way to spend your time in Portland.
From Portland, head east for 30 miles to marvelous Multnomah Falls, with plenty of options if you like to hike, including one of our favorites Angels Rest, and gorgeous views of Columbia River Gorge. Continue southeast to Bend, where you will find Smith Rock State Park, one of the seven wonders of Oregon, and the mecca for rock-climbing (and hiking).
Don’t forget to cross over to the west side of the state to drive along the US-101 and see all the beauty the Oregon Coast has to offer. Head back to Portland, and end the day with more great food and beers because there’s plenty of both in Portland!
Thanks to Tarah and Tip from Fit Two Travel for giving us a few reasons why we should all be considering adding Portland to our list of weekend hotspots in the near future. We love visiting a city where you can experience the urban energy while also not having far to travel to explore rural beauty – Portland certainly fits this category!
Washington DC is an amazing city with a list of must-sees and should-dos that would keep you entertained for months. Of course, there are the monuments and memorials, museums, Congress and the White House. That alone can keep you busy for a week.
But there are so many more hidden spots that are worth checking out and fun things to do in Washington DC and here are a few ideas:
- Take a stroll at the National Arboretum, a beautiful park that showcases traditional gardens from around the world. They have a bonsai exhibit, an Asian Valley and an Azalea forest.
- Check out some of the fun neighborhoods, like Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, or Columbia Heights. You’ll find amazing restaurants, little parks, fun shops and boutiques.
- Eat! You’ll find restaurants for every ethnic food your heart desires, no matter how obscure. Be adventurous and eat your way around the world.
Have fun and enjoy one of the most diverse cities in the United States!
Thanks to Maria Haase from Maria Abroad for sharing a few of her favorite reasons to explore the capital of the United States. Washington DC is blessed to have a myriad of free attractions around the Mall and clearly, there are a lot of other reasons why we should be considering a visit here in the near future.
Ask any Chicagoan for our must-see sights, and we’ll tell you to you to hit the neighborhoods. All of the diverse neighborhoods are home to delicious food, unique shops and spots you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s a sampling of the best Chicago neighborhoods worth exploring during a weekend getaway:
Pilsen – Pilsen was a Ukrainian and German enclave that is now largely Latino, boasting some of the best tiny taco joints you’ll find. For the adventurous, Birrerria de Octolan has tasty fixings for goat tacos at very reasonable prices ($12 once fed four of us!). Try Modern Cooperative for mid-century modern furniture or visit the free National Museum of Mexican Art’s ever-changing collection.
Andersonville – This Swedish domain has lots of shopping and great eats. I’m in love with Hopleaf’s endless beer list and mussels with frites, as well as the indie market, Anderson Galleria. Great theater resides with the Neo-Futurists and the pH Comedy Theater.
Devon Avenue – A long and diverse street, you’ll see strong Indian, Orthodox Jewish, Russian and Assyrian populations. I start off at Viceroy of India’s reasonable buffet and never miss perusing Resham’s gorgeous textiles, Sukhadia’s Indian candy with nut flavors, and the array of jewelry and clothing shops down Devon.
Wherever you venture, test out the local spots and quirky shops in the neighborhoods, and you’ll find the real Chicago every time.
Thanks to Lisa Ghisolf from Work Travel Tech for highlighting a few of the thriving local neighborhoods that are worth experiencing when you visit Chicago for a weekend getaway.
Anyone who visits Miami Beach will certainly fall in love with the vibrant latin culture, gorgeous beaches, and delicious food options. Whether you’re making a quick stop here before embarking on a cruise, checking out one of the popular music festivals in Miami, or heading down here for a Winter Escape, you will never find a shortage of things to do in Miami.
Besides lounging on the beach and enjoying the Florida sun, make sure you visit the artistic district of Wynwood to explore its unbelievable street graffiti and “hipster”.
If you’re looking for a good night out, then Miami is arguably the best city in the country for drinking, dancing, and meeting people. There are hundreds of bars and clubs spread around the city, and many don’t close until after the sun comes up!
I’ve visited Miami on two separate occasions now, and each time I wish I had more time!
Thanks to Dave Anderson from Jones Around The World for highlighting why Miami is not just a hotspot for a beach vacation (though I have to admit I’m sold by the gorgeous beaches and ocean there!) and why it’s a great spot for a relaxing weekend break!
Forget the Hollywood visions of Los Angeles that have filled your head. Instead, explore LA through its burgeoning art scene located downtown (DTLA). The once gritty streets are bursting at the seams with hip hotels, an abundance of independent shops, cafes and hidden bars and of course art everywhere you turn.
Settle in at the Ace Hotel (or The Standard) for a trendy vibe offering visitors a slice of “LA cooldom,” before venturing out on a graffiti art tour in LA’s most exciting neighborhood, the Arts District.
Next head over to the beautiful Broad Museum showcasing some of the best contemporary art including the mesmerizing Infinity Mirror Room.
Take a peek at Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall and downtown’s community square, Grand Park. With a fountain to cool down in, playgrounds and lots of room to spread out, weekends often bring the crowds for craft shows, concerts and more.
With more restaurants than you could sample in a year, our must visit picks are Grand Central Market for a selection of some of LA’s hottest eateries and Clifton’s Cafeteria which boasts multiple bars spanning several levels all stationed around a 40 foot (fake) redwood and a menagerie of taxidermied animals lining the walls.
Thanks to Karilyn Owen from No Back Home for sharing such inspiring reasons to visit downtown LA! Whether you are eager to experience the infamous Hollywood Boulevard or sample local eateries, Los Angeles is home to an eclectic blend of culture.
Head to this world-class city on the Pacific North-West coast of America and find a city with lots to offer visitors.
Arriving in Seattle on the clipper from Victoria in Canada means one thing – a fantastic sea-view of its most iconic structure – the Space Needle Heading to the top of the Space Needle at 605 feet tall ensures great views of the city as well as Mt Rainier, Puget Sound and the surrounding Olympic and Cascades mountain ranges. It must surely be a must-see on any visit to the city.
Take a stroll around Pike Place Market – possibly Seattle’s most iconic attraction – and wander the fruit and vegetable stalls. Stop and admire the beautiful flowers for sale and browse the many shops. Choose from the many eateries on offer or sip a coffee at the original Starbucks and people-watch.
Don’t forget to stop by the famous gum wall whilst at the market…it is certainly different! In 2015, 2350 pounds of gum was removed from Post Alley but the gum quickly returned!
For visitors seeking something more than the hustle and bustle of the city head to Discovery Park or Seward Park for a stroll and experience the wonderful forests and local wildlife.
Thanks to Tracy Collins from Tracy’s Travels In Time for sharing a few reasons why the Emerald City is the perfect city for a weekend getaway. Be prepared to endure rain but don’t let it stop you from enjoying the beautiful city of Seattle!
If you are looking for a city that epitomizes a vast array of neighborhoods that combine to create a perfect urban environment, look no further than the Gateway City, also known as St. Louis! Located along the Mississippi River, St. Louis is an iconic location given the history as being renowned as the “Gateway to the West.”
A visit to St. Louis today offers an opportunity for visitors to experience the amazing Gateway Arch which is perhaps one of the most iconic attractions throughout the central United States. For those of you that love to attend a ball game, the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the most avidly followed MLB teams and Busch Stadium is certainly worth a visit.
St. Louis is home to Anheuser-Busch and a free brewery tour is definitely worthwhile. Perhaps you prefer a local craft brewery experience and we can highly recommend visiting Schlafly Craft Brewery.
A weekend in St Louis is definitely a great way to explore some of the best neighborhoods such as Delmar Loop and the Hill or alternatively explore some of the hidden spots such as the artisticKosciusko Graffiti Wall located by the riverfront.
Visiting Oklahoma City for the first time, I have to admit we had very little expectations. However, when we left OKC following an amazing weekend, we realized that this is well and truly an underrated city that deserves to be on everyone’s radar.
Whether you are intrigued by the myriad of trendy neighborhoods throughout the city or perhaps want to head a little further afield to experience the amazing Pops 66 Soda Ranch in nearby Arcadia, Oklahoma City is well worth visiting for a few days.
Downtown Oklahoma City has been transformed into a thriving neighborhood, particularly the Bricktown District where you can hop on a water taxi and take a relaxing cruise around the canal system to appreciate some of the finer attractions around the city.
Sample some of the finest cuisine here or venture to one of the other neighborhoods such as the Midtown or Plaza districts and an eclectic blend of cuisine awaits. I’m sure many of you associate Oklahoma City with cowboys and western movies. Why not head over to The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to really appreciate the history of this culture throughout Oklahoma?
We spent the perfect weekend in Oklahoma City and we hope that you will consider adding this to your upcoming travel plans sooner rather than later!
If you are looking for the best cities to visit in the USA, I think it’s fair to say we have a pretty awesome list to choose from here! We would like to thank all of our amazing friends from around the world for sharing their favorite weekend getaway cities across the States and hopefully you will be inspired to add a couple of these cities to your upcoming travel plans.
USA is home to a variety of iconic cities but there are also a number of lesser known gems that are well worth experiencing. The likes of Savannah, Asheville and Oklahoma City may not have been the first cities you would think about visiting but as you can see, there are plenty of reasons why these should be on all of our radars.
What is your favorite US city to enjoy a long weekend break? What do you ultimately look for in a city before deciding to visit?