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The Best Weekend Getaway Towns Close to Major Cities

Whether you live in one of America’s major cities or you’re just passing through, a weekend spent in a nearby small town is a perfect addition to any plans. We searched within 350 miles of America’s most populated cities to come up with the very best place to spend a few days relaxing, exploring, adventuring, and slowing down the busy momentum of city life.

Alamo, Nevada

95 Miles from Las Vegas

A true Wild West town, tiny Alamo, Nevada is the exact opposite of Las Vegas.

What to Do: While in Alamo, take the time to learn about some of its unique history as a Wild West town. Alamo and its surrounding valley once hosted more than 300 different brands of cattle, making it a hotbed of cattle thievery. Before all of that, it was the home to various Native American tribes. Keep your eye out for interesting artifacts, as they’re frequently found by visitors hiking and birdwatching in the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. While you’re keeping an eye out for interesting birds and historic artifacts, don’t forget to aim one eye toward the sky. Alamo is located a mere stone’s throw from Area 51.

Aspen, Colorado

159 Miles from Denver

Aspen may be best known as a winter destination for the rich and famous, but the truth is that this charming mountain has something to offer the weekend visitor at any time of year.

What to Do: If you’re driving from Denver to Aspen during winter, then you probably already know that skiing and other snow-based sports are a must do. If the snow has already melted, visitors have even more access to this beautiful small town. Instead of ascending the mountain on a gondola, head up via hot-air balloon. The many local rivers also open for activities like white-water rafting and kayaking. And no matter the season, Aspen’s welcoming downtown is the perfect place to wander and window shop.

Banner Elk, North Carolina

119 Miles from Charlotte

Nestled in Western North Carolina, the tiny town of Banner Elk is the perfect place for some outdoor adventuring.

What to Do: To get a feel for Banner Elk and its unique history, make a stop at the Banner House Museum to learn about what it was like to live around these parts in the 1800s. On your first full day, head straight to Grandfather Mountain State Park, where you can immerse yourself in North Carolina’s most stunning scenery. There are 12 miles of moderate-terrain trails, plus campsites, walking paths, and picnic spots to enjoy. More serious hikers may like the 2,456-acre backcountry ideal for more challenging hiking and backpacking. While at Grandfather Mountain, head to the peak to cross the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Spanning 228 feet across an 80-foot chasm, the bridge is the highest of its kind in the country. Other great spots to enjoy in Banner Elk include Elk Falls and Wildcat Lake, both ideal for swimming.

Bardstown, Kentucky

41 Miles from Louisville

Most Louisvillians find a reason to get to Bardstown every once in awhile, but forget about this charming small town’s potential as a weekend getaway.

What to Do:Spend a day shopping through the quaint and historic downtown. Grab lunch at the historic Talbott’s Tavern, then make your way to the grand estate known as My Old Kentucky Home. Jim Beam, Makers Mark, and Four Roses are all within easy driving distance of Bardstown, though really ambitious bourbon aficionados can tackle the whole Bourbon Trail right from here.

Bisbee, Arizona

207 Miles from Phoenix

The artsy town of Bisbee is well worth the 207-mile drive from Phoenix.

What to Do: Start your weekend getaway by signing up for the Main Street Walk to learn a little bit about Bisbee’s history. It might take a full day to cover Bisbee’s collection of unique museums, which includes the Bisbee Museum of the Bizarre with its collection of odd artifacts like a shrunken head and a foot supposedly belonging to Bigfoot. Finish up your weekend in Bisbee by downing a Sonoran Mountain Lime Lager or Copper City Ale at the famous Old Bisbee Brewing Company.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

323 Miles from Los Angeles

Situated about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most popular and relaxing weekend getaway towns in all of California.

What to Do: Driving from Los Angeles to Carmel along California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway is an experience in itself, so don’t be afraid to take your time and stop when you see something that interests you. Once you’ve made your way to Carmel proper, spend a little bit of time wandering through the downtown. Myriad little alleyways lead to secluded shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the many foodie options? Consider joining a food tour. If you’ve come to Carmel to enjoy the beach, grab a kayak or paddle board and hit the water, or visit Point Lobos State Reserve for more activities and stunning views.

Charlottesville, Virginia

116 Miles from Washington, D.C.

Nestled in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville is a beautiful historic town located within easy driving distance from Washington, D.C.

What to Do: No trip to Charlottesville is complete without visiting Monticello, the former estate of Thomas Jefferson. Spend some time walking around Charlottesville’s historic downtown, where you’ll find buildings more than two centuries old now housing trendy boutiques and top-rated restaurants. When you’ve had your fill of history, immerse yourself in the beautiful natural surroundings by hitting a hiking trail, kayaking down the river, or joining a wine tasting tour.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

254 Miles from Oklahoma City

The Ozark Mountains are one of the most ideal places to spend a few days away, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the perfect base from which to explore.

What to See: If you’re not sleeping overnight in your RV, book a stay at the famous (and famously haunted) Crescent Hotel and Spa. Located right downtown, it’s the perfect base from which to explore all that this charming historic town has to offer. The hotel even offers a walking ghost tour. Since Eureka Springs is most famous for its natural attractions, getting just outside the city is a must. Head to the Arkansas Heritage Trails System at Blue Springs Heritage Center for learn about the flora and fauna native the Ozarks, or explore other natural delights like Onyx Cave and Lake Leatherwood Park.

Fredericksburg, Texas

71 Miles from San Antonio

Set in the midst of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is a charming small town with a rich German heritage.

What to Do: Meander around Fredericksburg’s picturesque downtown, and try to retain some self control as you coo over the many antique stores, art galleries, and boutiques. History buffs will love to spend time in the National Museum of the Pacific War and the Pioneer Museum, the latter of which is the perfect place to learn a bit about local history and culture. If you’re active, get up early one morning and hike to the top of nearby Enchanted Rock, then cool off with a wine tasting tour just outside of town.

French Lick, Indiana

102 Miles from Indianapolis

No matter what your interests, the family-friendly destination of French Lick, Indiana has something to interest everyone.

What to Do: If your itinerary has room for it, plan to start your weekend in French Lick at the French Lick-West Baden Museum, where you’ll learn about the town’s fascinating history of gangsters, mysterious Pluto Water, the circus, and hometown hero Larry Bird. Then hop on the French Lick Scenic Railway for a tour through some of the most stunning scenery in all of the Midwest. Kids will love stops at the indoor Go-Kart venue or Shotz Miniature Golf and Lazer Tag.  Adults will surely enjoy some wine tasting and a nice dinner at French Lick Winery.

Friday Harbor, Washington

103 Miles from Seattle

You may have to temporarily leave the RV on the mainland, but Friday Harbor makes for the perfect base while weekending on San Juan Island.

What to Do: Friday Harbor is quaint coastal town meets rugged outdoor adventure. Since you’ll likely leave your RV before grabbing the ferry to the island, start your weekend by checking into The Island Inn at 123 West with its beautiful views of the main harbor. Then take a stroll through the downtown, or hop on the Jolly Trolley Tour to hit up all the major sites, including the whale museum. Finally, a trip to Friday Harbor isn’t complete without spending some time on the water. Meander along the waterline in the evening, book a whale watching tour, or rent a paddle board to experience the joy of stand-up paddle boarding.

Galena, Illinois

164 Miles from Chicago

Galena is a charming small town known for its world-class architecture and picturesque natural scenery — all within an easy three hour drive from Chicago.

What to Do: At the top of Galena’s list of Must Dos is to simply wander. Galena boasts myriad well-preserved historic buildings, many of which have been preserved or repurposed by some of the biggest names in architecture. See what the town’s culinary side offers by enjoying a meal at the Galena Cellars Winery and Vineyard, then take in a performance at the Galena Center for the Arts. If you have more time to spend in this charming small town, head to nearby Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve for some hiking or biking.

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

82 Miles from Philadelphia

Though it’s nestled in the foothills of Pennsylvania’s Poconos, Jim Thorpe is often compared to a little town you’d find in Switzerland.

What to Do: Because you’re probably wondering, this picturesque little town was named after James Francis Thorpe, the first Native American to bring a gold medal home from the Olympics. The town is worth some time wandering, as there are plenty of Victorian-style homes, stores, and theaters to discover along your travels. To learn a little bit about the history of the town and this region, take your pick of the many worthy museums: the Old Jail Museum, DeFeo’s Manor, the Asa Packer Manor, and the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary. The latter is especially worth doing if you’re traveling with children. On your last day, hop onto the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway and ride through the stunning natural landscape.

Lake Tahoe, California

118 Miles from Sacramento

No matter what your interests, Lake Tahoe has you covered for the perfect weekend getaway.

What to Do: This stunning mountain retreat, home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, offers just about every outdoor activity one can think of. If spending time in the water is on your agenda, head to Meeks Bay or Sand Harbor, where you can swim in the water or rent a kayak from a local vendor. Alternatively, make the hike up into the mountain to swim in Angora Lake, one of Tahoe’s best kept secrets. Squaw Valley is one of the best places for horseback riding, while the Truckee River is the perfect spot for some whitewater rafting. Come evening, grab appetizers and drinks at Sunnyside Restaurant, or head over to the South Shore for some fun in the casino.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

256 Miles from Detroit

Head back in time with a trip to the quaint island of Mackinac.

What to Do: Mackinac Island in northern Michigan is a picture-perfect setting in which to spend a relaxing weekend away. There are no cars allowed on Mackinac (so you’ll have to leave the RV back on the mainland), so the best way to experience this magical place is simply to explore. Book a room at the famous Grand Hotel, then wander down the town’s main street to find restaurants, galleries, and old-timey specialty shops. Don’t forget to grab a bar of fudge, as it’s especially famous here. The populated part of the island is definitely the downtown, but you’d be remiss to ignore the rest of Mackinac. Rent a bicycle and follow the eight-mile trail around the island’s circumference. Along the way, you’ll pass pretty rocky beaches, impressive lake houses, and even a fur hunters’ outpost dating from the 1700s.

McMinnville, Oregon

41 Miles from Portland

Located in Oregon’s increasingly popular wine region, McMinnville makes a great alternative to further-away places like Napa and Sonoma.

What to Do: No visit to McMinnville is complete without taking time to enjoy the local wine scene. Upwards of 500 wineries, many of which include top-notch eateries, can be found in and around town. If you’re determined to stay in downtown McMinnville, then grab a McMinnville Wine Passport, your ticket to a wine-tasting tour through the downtown’s many wine-themed shops. Once you’ve had enough wine to last you until your next trip, check out some of the other nearby attractions, such as the Evergreen Aviation Museum.

Mineral Wells, Texas

82 Miles from Dallas

Heal the soul — or at least get some much-needed time away — in Mineral Wells, Texas.

What to Do: Located less than a two-hour drive from DFW, the small town of Mineral Wells has been known throughout history for its healing natural spring water. The whole weekend can be spent in two places. First, head to the nearby state park, where you can take in part of Texas’ stunning natural beauty via hiking or cycling. When you’ve had enough, relax any sore muscles at the Water Bath House. This historic venue allows visitors to soak in the “magic” mineral water the town is named for, as well as indulge in a long list of available spa treatments.

Moab, Utah

235 Miles from Salt Lake City

Full of otherworldly beauty and tons of potential for adventure, Moab makes for the perfect escape from big city living.

What to Do: Moab is located within easy access of both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, so it’s a great base for exploring both. No matter where you go, hiking, off-road adventuring, cycling, mountain biking, and even horseback riding opportunities are available, and all are surrounded by stunning red sandstone. Don’t pack too much into your weekend in Moab. You’ll want all the time you can get climbing on the area’s famous arches and enjoying all that this beautiful and unique region has to offer.

Natchitoches, Louisiana

257 Miles from New Orleans

Pronounced Nack-a-Tish, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in Louisiana, and a great weekend getaway town.

What to Do: Explore Natchitoche’s historic district and awe over the impressive architecture of the town’s oldest homes. Everything is represented here: Creole cottages, grand Greek Revivals, and detailed Queen Anne Victorians, most of which are listed on the National Historic Register. While on the topic of houses, don’t forget to stop by the Prudhomme Rouquier House — perhaps better known as the “Steel Magnolias House” — where the classic movie was filmed. The Melrose Plantation and the Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site are must-visits if you’re interested in the history of this unique town. Finally, don’t leave Natchitoches without at least one Southern Meal at Mama’s Oyster House.

New Ulm, Minnesota

99 Miles from Minneapolis

Can’t drive your RV to Germany? New Ulm, Minnesota is the next best thing.

What to Do: The majority of New Ulm’s must-see sites have to do with its proud German heritage. To begin your New Ulm weekend getaway, head to the Hermann Heights Monument. This National Register-listed monument has a tall spiral staircase which visitors climb as they learn about how the Germans once defeated the Romans. Impressive views await you at the end. Grab lunch or dinner Turner Hall, an authentic German-style eatery which serves beer-battered cheese curds to die for. Finally, finish up your weekend with a Schell’s Brewery Tour, where you’ll learn about Schell’s history in New Ulm from as far back as 1860. And drink great beer, of course.

Ojai, California

206 Miles from San Diego

Located near Santa Barbara, beautiful Ojai is perfect for a weekend filled with relaxation and nature.

What to Do: Ojai is an artists’ community, with a laid-back culture and slower pace to daily life. Take advantage of this idealism by booking a stay (or at least a day) at one of the many spas around. Once you’re fully relaxed, head to the Ojai Valley Museum. Housed in an historic church, this museum is full of interesting art exhibits. To get up close to some of the surrounding local nature, pick a wetlands trail at the Ojai Meadows Preserve and start walking. Just don’t forget to bring your camera!

Oxford, Mississippi

262 Miles from Nashville

Nashville may be nicknamed the “Athens of the South,” but with all its art and laid-back southern charm, Oxford, Mississippi proudly declares itself to be “The Cultural Mecca of the South.”

What to Do: You don’t have to be a lover of literature to enjoy a weekend in Oxford, Mississippi, but it does help. Begin your weekend with a tour of Rowan Oak, the gorgeous 19th-century plantation once inhabited by William Faulkner. Nearby University of Mississippi has enough top-rated museums to  fill your weekend. Finally, don’t leave town without a stop at Square Books. Located downtown, this historic and world-famous bookstore boasts an impressive collection of books written by Southern authors.

Phoenicia, New York

122 Miles from New York City

The Catskills are full of charming small towns, but for the weekend getaway that has it all, head 2.5 hours from New York City to Phoenicia.

What to Do: Phoenicia is a sort of melting pot of things to see and do, and no matter what one’s personal interests, this town likely has something that will please. The laid-back local culture makes a weekend without an itinerary almost ideal. Though there is, of course, plenty to see and do. If window shopping the downtown or tasting local brews at Graham & Co. is a little slower pace than you crave, then rent an inner tube from Town Tinker and go floating down the rapids of Esopus Creek. Active alternatives include horseback riding, swimming, cycling, and hiking.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio

135 Miles from Columbus

Located 135 miles from Columbus on tiny South Bass Island, Put-in-Bay is a picturesque island getaway in Ohio.

What to Do: Considering it’s nicknamed the “Key West of the North,” it should come as no surprise that Put-in-Bay, Ohio is a great place to spend the weekend outdoors, enjoying life. Spend the majority of your time swimming, sunbathing, boating, kayaking, or just about anything else you can do in or around water. Fishing for perch and walleye is an especially popular pastime. When you’ve had enough of the sun and beach, grab a meal at one of the many pubs or restaurants located near the harbor, then make the short hike to the International Peace Monument. This 352 foot-high Doric column is one of the tallest monuments in the United States, and commemorates the American victory over the British during the War of 1812.

Salem, Massachusetts

15 Miles from Boston

Don’t let Salem’s dark history keep you away from this cool weekend getaway town. Located only about 15 miles from Boston proper, Salem has a ton to see and do.

What to Do: No time in Salem is complete without at least one history lesson. Sign up for a guided walking tour, and get a fascinating account of all that happened during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It’s likely the tour will take you past all the must-see sites, including the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch House, and the local cemetery. If witches aren’t your thing, consider popping into the New England Pirate Museum. Finally, don’t leave town without a stroll along Salem’s historic wharf, or spending an hour or so at the famous literary site The House of Seven Gables.

Sanibel, Florida

164 Miles from Miami

If you need a break from the glitz and glamor of Miami, head 164 miles across the state to Sanibel.

What to Do: Surrounded by water on three sides, Sanibel promotes a life that’s all about enjoying the sand and sun. Pick a spot on the white-sand beach, then spend your day diving, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, or windsurfing. Want something a little dryer? Hiking the many local trails, birdwatching, cycling, and golfing the local course are all popular pastimes here in Sanibel.

Sonoma, California

44 Miles from San Francisco

Though located only about an hour’s drive from San Francisco, spending the weekend in Sonoma feels like spending the weekend a world away. With few crowds, cool historical sites, and personalized winery experiences, Sonoma makes for the perfect weekend getaway.

What to Do: Spend at least one full day visiting wineries. The list of options is practically endless, although we like Chateau St. Jean and Ledson Winery ourselves. Both produce some of the best wine in the world. If enjoying the beautiful countryside is on your list, check out the many hiking, cycling, and even kayaking opportunities around. Finally, be sure to spend at least one evening in Sonoma’s main square. Mission Solano makes for a nice history lesson, while the many boutiques and top-notch restaurants surrounding the square are ideal for shopping and dining.

St. Michaels, Maryland

80 Miles from Baltimore

St. Michaels, Maryland, an historic harbor town, is the perfect weekend getaway spot for romance and relaxation.

What to Do: Head to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to learn a little bit about St. Michael’s extensive maritime history. Finish up your day at another museum, the St. Michael’s Museum. Situated in what used to be three historic homes, the St. Michael’s Museum provides visitors with an interesting look into what it was like to live in a a harbor town during the 1800s. Finally, grab a spot on a guided boat tour of the local lighthouses before a romantic seafood dinner — caught fresh this morning, of course.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

155 Miles from Milwaukee

Beautiful Sturgeon Bay, the county seat of Door County, has plenty of natural attractions on its peninsular location between Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

What to Do: Like the rest of Door County, Sturgeon Bay has a ton of cool things with which to fill your weekend. Don’t miss Potawatomi State Park, an excellent hiking destination known for its picture-perfect limestone cliffs. Spend some time fishing or scuba diving in one of the many coves around, or just hang out on the beach with a good book. If you’re interested in the history of Door County — or even if you’re not, really — grab a spot on an informative helicopter tour or a boat tour of Sturgeon Bay’s 11 historic lighthouses.

Valdosta, Georgia

120 Miles from Jacksonville

Head north to Georgia and experience first-hand why this beautiful small city is nicknamed “The Azalea City.”

What to Do: Valdosta makes for a nice weekend escape at any time of year, but if you’re able, try to time your trip in March, when the city hosts its annual Azalea Festival. Regardless of the time of year you visit, this family-friendly destination has a ton to offer visitors. Spend a day at Wild Adventures, Valdosta’s zoo-themed theme park, or take in a show at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. If you’re interested in Valdosta’s rich historical heritage, take the Valdosta Heritage Foundation’s self-guided driving tour of the area’s many antebellum mansions. Finally, leave plenty of room for food. Valdosta is rapidly growing its reputation as a “foodie” city, with plenty of top-notch restaurants such as Steel Magnolias Restaurant and 306 North Restaurant.