2018 is here and you want to get out and see the country, I assume. If that is the case, here are the 18 places to consider for a weekend getaway in 2018. These are in no real order and they are not all in an area but we did try to keep an state to two mentions or less.
Having traveled the world, I can tell you the most beautiful and most accessible country in the world is the United States. As a society, we have made it a point to save and to value our natural, historical and cultural heritage for everyone to enjoy. Without question, the development of the National Parks Service was the second best decision of America. (That whole declaration of Independence idea was ever better!)
Each one of these places to lives to visit offer something a little different and that is much like the country. Every area, every group and in fact, every person has something a little different than you might realize. America is not something you can stereotype. We don’t all look like Donald Trump or sing like Maria Carey. We need to celebrate diversity.
Kansas City, Missouri
Right out the gate is Kansas City, my hometown and home of the best barbecue in the world. However, it is not just an amazing place to have lunch. The city has really developed over the last few years. They have got a streetcar, a happening nightlife, and one of the best zoos in America as well. In addition, you can always see the Royals play which just won the World Series.
One reason that KC is on the list and really the top of it is that it is centrally located. Most of the country is within 500 miles of the city. It makes coming to Kansas City within reason for many people. I am sorry but going to Guam for the weekend is not possible for most Americans!
Kansas City is a major winner mainly because of its value for travelers. You can find hotels for $40-$60 normally and the cost of doing many things is $10 or less. All in all, Kansas City remains a top bang for the buck for travelers.
There is a lot of do in the second largest city of Oklahoma besides just that weird looking building that Oral Roberts prayed from. The city has a lot of amazing restaurants, a new water park, and has become a major center for conferences.
One of the benefits that Tulsa has is that it is close by for many people, especially those living in Dallas/Fort Worth. It is a great choice for a weekend getaway.
Much like Kansas City, the value factor is in Tulsa’s favor. It is pretty cheap to do spend a few days in the former oil capital of the world. It is reasonable to plan for less than $200 a day for a family.
Corpus Christi, Texas
One of the first surprises on the list is Corpus Christi. It is more than just the city north of Padre Island. It is a growing and happening location by itself. It has an amazing aquarium, a special national seashore, USS Lexington, and of course, Whataburger.
While the city is a little (ok, a lot) out of the way, it might make a great place to spend a weekend and there is flights from Dallas and Houston to make it happen. They even have a Greyhound station.
Lask Kodiak finds that a weekend in Corpus Christi should cost around $300 or so. This does not include airfare if you need to fly in (which is about everyone who is not in South Texas)
Just like Tulsa is on one end of the Trail of Tears, Chattanooga is the other end. However, the city has much more to offer than just the mass removal of Indians from native lands. It has Lookout mountain, Raccoon Mountain caverns, and duck boat tours to name a few.
Chattanooga also has some amazing natural beauty around the city that is worth checking out. It is notable that the Great Smokies National Park is within a few hours drive as well. There is also a National Forest close by.
The cost of a weekend in the city can be had for about $250 for a family. It is a nice city to check out and experience the American life. It is best if from Nashville or Atlanta.
The capital of Nebraska is more than just the home of the Cornhuskers. It also has things like the racing museum, Boiler Brewery and the beautiful Pawnee Lake. Nebraska has always been amazing to me and it is mainly because of the people there are some of the most friendly in the world.
For some reason, I have found Lincoln to be a city of a lot of museums and I have no idea why. I just find it full of them. Some of them very niche like the Roller skating museum.
As far as cost to make the weekend getaway, the trip could be had to just a few hundred dollars if you want to have a great time. I would add a little to that budget and grab a Cornhuskers game if I was you.
For those on the west coast of the United States, a great trip for you might be Mount Shasta and nearby Redding, California. I find myself in Redding often for personal reasons but it is for sure, a great place to relax for a weekend. It has that wierd sundial that is worth checking out but also a river trail for a walk and Waterworks Park.
The cost of a weekend getaway to the city seems to setting at around $300 or less. It does depend what to do and where you go but that is true anywhere.
Asheville, North Carolina
On the other side of the mainland United States is Asheville, North Carolina. It is a nice town up in the hills of the Smokies. I found all the different museums in town to be interesting. I was especially interested in the Pinball museum as we had one growing up as a kid.
It is best to drive to Asheville but there is the possibility of flying in. This is an ideal weekend getaway for people in Charlotte or even Atlanta. On top of being in Asheville, you get an amazing view on the drive in of cutting through the Smokies.
As far as cost, it seems to be in the same range as most of the places that we look at in the article. All around $200-$300 for a weekend.
This town has more than just the childhood home of Cussian Clay (Ali) and some baseball bats. I know those are what the city is known for but it is also has the mega tavern, Kentucky Derby, a lot of historical homes, and the Kentucky Kingdom.
This is an ideal getaway for people coming for Nashville or even Chicago. It is easy to get drive in but you can quickly fly into the airport as well. They do have a bus station but not a train terminal.
As far as cost, it remains neck to neck with most of the places that we have recommended. $250 seems to be about the right budget for a weekend in the city.
This is someone a special place for me because as an Air Force brat, I remember many of the planes in the Air Force Museum that is in Dayton, Ohio. I have been in a few of them when they was still being used in the military. However, the city has more than just the museum. It also has a growing art museum, and a whole Indian village called Sunwatch Park.
Getting to Dayton is like Louisville was, best to drive in. This trip is best for people coming for Cincinnati and Columbus ideally. Dayton does sit along side I-70 which is a main interstate highway in the United States.
The total cost of the trip is again sitting around $250 to $300 making it competitive with all the other locations we are suggesting. A cool side trip is Columbus which is just a few hours to the north.
For those in the Northeast looking for a weekend getaway besides New York City, heading up to Bangor, Maine might be a realistic option. It is off the beaten path without question but it is a unique place to see to say the least. It has a national park, some stuff related to Paul Banyan and of course the home of Stephen King!
While you can fly up there (saves a lot of time), driving up is the most realistic for most people. It is a small airport and can be quite pricy to get flights. However, making the drive does take time. As with many of them on the list, the drive to the location can be just as awesome as the destination itself.
Bangor was found to be a little cheaper than some of them on the list. It was closer to $200 for a weekend in the city than the $300 range of most places. However, that does not factor in the cost of gas to make the drive so it probably just works out about the same in the end.
Of course, no list is complete without having the famous old folks vacation spot somewhere on the list. The good news is that Branson has a lot to offer besides just old people’ stuff. Silver Dollar City is amazing but also is things like Ride the Ducks, well known Lambert’s Cafe, and Ray Stevens Show.
They have officially opened the new airport right in Branson but using Springfield makes much more sense. In reality, it is best to drive if possible. This is an ideal trip for someone in Arkanasas, Oklahoma or Missouri for a weekend getaway.
One of the unique things about Branson is you can get a cabin in the woods in the many parks in the area for as cheap as a hotel room in many cases. You can also camp in the Table Rock State Park nearby.
El Paso, Texas
While many would not think of El Paso is a great place to spend the weekend, it actually has a lot of offer. It is very unique compared to the rest of Texas and really the rest of the United States. It has things like aerial tramways, a border patrol museum, Museum of Art, and the waterworld park.
Let’s face it, El Paso is a nice drive from about anywhere. It is not going to easy to make happen for most people. Dallas is a good six hours or more to drive. Oklahoma City is not much closer. Flying to El Paso is about your only option.
Making a weekend getaway happen in El Paso is possible for about $275-$300 on average according to our research. It will tight but very possible to do it. Again, add the flights on top of that, though.
Grant Pass, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest is an amazing part of the country that many never make it to see. One of these town up there that many look past is Grant Pass, Oregon. The fact that the town is in the middle of a mature forest of Redwoods make it amazing by itself but there is also things like Glass Forge, Schmidt Vineyards, Rogue dairy farm, and river rafting is often overlooked.
Getting to Grant Pass is basically only by car and it is best for coming in northern California and Portland, Oregon. It would be a long drive for anyone from the rest of the country sadly.
There is not much in the way of hotels in the city but that is there is quite affordable and made the trip within our budget for $300 or less. There is also options for camping in the city that is downright amazing in that part of the world.
In the foothills of the Smokies is a little town that sits on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park called Murphy, North Carolina. It has quite a bit to do for such a small place. In a town known to locals as “God’s Country” you can visit the sacred Fields of the Wood site, Fire Creek Falls, Cherokee Museum, and even check out a goat farm.
Getting to Murphy is only by car and is best for someone coming for Chattanooga or Knoxville. It is an amazing drive through the Smokies though and that is half of the trip to Murphy.
There are a few lodging options in town and almost all of them are very reasonably priced. There is also several campgrounds that have cabins for as law as $50 a night. This makes for a great weekend getaway.
Brooklyn, New York
Of course, no list of amazing places in America is complete without New York City on it somewhere. While we struggle to put in the $300 range (you really need $500 or more), we think some people could make it work so here is Brooklyn, New York on the list. While there, you could do things like check out the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle, ride the river ferry, and if in the summer, there are beaches to see.
Getting to Brooklyn is easier than most of them on the list. You can easily fly to New York from about anywhere in the world direct. If you don’t want to fly, both Amtrak and Greyhound have terminals in Brooklyn as well. Driving in New York if not from there is not recommended.
Getting Brooklyn down to $300 was a challenge but if you get the right sales on things, it is doable but not easy. New York is not known for being a budget vacation, after all!
As we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we will finish out the list with some great midwestern cities that are bangs for the buck. The home of the University of Arkansas is one of them. Fayetteville is an amazing place to say the least. It has things like Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Arkansas Air Museum, and the very cool Fayetteville Underground.
Driving in is the only option and it within a few hours for people in Springfield, Tulsa, and Little Rock. There technically is an airport but it is pricy to fly and normally full of Wal-Mart executives. (Yes, the headquarters for Wal-Mart is just up the road)
Prices in town seems to be a roller coaster depending on the quality of the football team. If they are playing good, prices could jump out of the $300 range in the fall. The rest of the year, you should not have a problem having a great vacation for a few hundred dollars.
You might have heard of Manhattan and thought New York City but the home of the Kansas State Wildcats is also Manhattan. However, there is more to do than just go to football games in town. You can check out the incest zoo at Kansas State, Liquid Art winery, the river trail, and nearby Turtle Creek State Park.
Getting to Manhattan is mainly by driving. It is a few hours outside of Topeka and about an hour more for people coming from Kansas City. This is mainly a place for NCAA football nuts during the fall!
As far as keeping it in budget, going to a NCAA Football game will blow that. However, if during another time of the year, you should be well within the $300 for a weekend getaway.
We end our list this year with the home of Elvis, Memphis. The second largest city in Tennessee on the Mississippi River is also known for other stuff because the King of Rock and the development of professional wrestling. You can also check out the Civil Rights Museum, Shelby Farms, and if a drinker the Honky Tonk bar pass is great.
Flying into Memphis is quite easy and there normally is quite a few deals with airlines. If not, you can use Amtrak or Greyhound if not driving yourself.
As far as budgets go, we found visiting Memphis to be quite cheap. ($250 range) This is very affordable considering that airfare is also very cheap. A win/win!
Final Thoughts on the list for having a weekend getaway
There are many cities that I wanted to include and couldn’t because I needed to limit this to 18 cities. America is an amazing country full of some of the greatest cultural centers in the world. By no means is this list the only places that are important to visit. It is just this year winners. A new list will come out next January.
Try and get out and visit at least one of these cities this year. I am sure you will be glad you did. If you need more ideas, check out this blog as well. It might also be worth thinking about our national parks in the United States.