The 8 Best 3-Day Weekend Trips in the U.S.
Travel experts say these spots have just the right amount to do, see, and explore.
When a three-day weekend is in sight, many of us look forward to some time away from work and an extra day to relax. But these weekends also offer great opportunities to travel and discover new towns and cities without having to pull the kids out of school or request a day off. You probably can't fit a trip to Europe in a three-day stint, but there's likely a cool spot within driving distance from your home or one that's accessible via a quick flight. Travel experts have recommendations for the best places to explore over long weekends, as there's just enough to see and do without getting bored or feeling like you missed out on anything. Read on to find out which eight trips they say you should schedule for your next three-day weekend.
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If you've always wanted to explore Music City, you might want to do so over a three-day weekend. You'll hear live music playing while walking up and down Broadway—the main drag in Nashville—and indulge in some good southern cooking.
"Nearly 200 restaurants have opened throughout the city in the past two years," Rachel Heatherly, publicist for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, says. "From chef-driven dining to classic Nashville cuisine like hot chicken, BBQ, and meat-and-three, Music City is a booming foodie destination that features trailblazing distilleries and breweries too."
You can also check out the city's numerous music museums over the course of three days, including the National Museum of African American Music, the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, The Johnny Cash Museum, and The Patsy Cline Museum.
"And of course, it wouldn't be Music City without the over 180 live performance venues where visitors can experience music 365 days a year—of all genres," Heatherly says.
The capital of Idaho may not be the first place that comes to mind for a long weekend, but Megan Jones, travel writer and founder of Traveller's Elixir, explains that there are plenty of things to do here.
"Boise is a bustling city located right in the heart of Treasure Valley in Idaho," she tells Best Life. "It feels wild and rugged with hundreds of hiking trails, mountains, and rivers to explore. In fact, you'll have the snow-capped Rocky Mountains as your backdrop the whole time!"
Another major draw is the ability to visit this city throughout the year. "There's really no bad time to visit Boise, as they get over 200 days of sunshine every year," Jones says. "But fall/winter is definitely my favorite as Boise turns into a winter paradise."
If you're not located within driving distance, you can easily book a flight to Boise, Jones says, which is typically short and affordable, especially if you're already located on the West Coast.
"Boise is ideal for a three-day trip as there's more than enough to keep you busy," Jones explains. "This is the perfect amount of time to really relax and recharge."
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Joshua Tree, California
Want to spend your long weekend camped out under the stars? Check out Joshua Tree, California—home to Joshua Tree National Park. You'll feel lost in nature at this iconic spot, which is best visited during the fall and winter, Leslie Gilmour, travel blogger and CEO of Outdoor Scott, explains.
According to Gilmour, you'll be surrounded by "iconic flora, geological phenomena, breathtaking vistas, rare wildlife, and rewarding hikes" at Joshua Tree, and you'll feel refreshed after spending three days in nature.
"There is something for every level of hiker, and it's all beautiful," he says. "At over 5,000 feet, Keys View is one of the park's higher elevations and provides a panoramic view of the Coachella Valley. The Juniper Flats area has a great Joshua tree forest and a loop trail on the way to Keys View."
Sunsets are particularly remarkable at Keys View, and when the sun disappears, stargazing is a must. "Stargazers will enjoy the park as well (due to good seeing conditions at night)," Gilmour explains. "There are also some parking lots with signs that say 'designated stargazing area.'"
Nestled in the Northwestern portion of Vermont is the quaint town of Burlington, near Lake Champlain. If you don't have plans for upcoming three-day weekends this autumn, Lanie van der Horst, travel blogger behind Make More Adventures, suggests putting Burlington at the top of your list.
"[It] is perfect for a fall getaway, as the scenery is gorgeous and there is plenty to do to occupy a long weekend," she says. "Apple picking is available during the fall months and apple cider donuts are usually sold wherever there is apple picking."
The local markets are great to explore during the summer and early fall, and you can treat yourself to something sweet at Lake Champlain Chocolates all year round. During the winter, you'll find that Burlington is an ideal destination for skiers and snowboarders, as well as anyone looking to snuggle up in a snowy wonderland.
Running out of things to do in Burlington is tricky, but you can also venture to nearby Waterbury to take a tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory or to Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne, van der Horst says.
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Another Californian three-day weekend should be spent in Ojai, Heather King, travel blogger behind Go Gluten Freely, tells Best Life.
"Just a two-hour drive north of L.A. and a world away, Ojai is the perfect three-day weekend getaway, and the Ojai Valley Inn is just the place to stay," she says. "There is no shortage of activities to fill your long weekend, but a few must-dos are the beekeeping and honey tasting experience, a pedal and picnic bike ride, and a relaxing visit to the Artist's Cottage & Apothecary."
The resort hotel has a plethora of amenities and restaurants on the property, and King notes that they are helpful in accommodating those with allergies or other dietary restrictions. If you want to explore the rest of the city, you'll find plenty to do to fill your weekend, including the Ojai area of the beautiful Los Padres National Forest.
"Ojai has beautiful hiking trails, charming shops, and olive oil tasting at the Ojai Olive Farm," King explains. "You'll feel like you are on a Mediterranean holiday without leaving the U.S."
According to King, fall, winter, and spring are the best times to visit, as the temperatures are in that sweet spot—ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s.
If you've never visited Chicago, book your tickets for an upcoming three-day weekend—especially if you're a sports fan.
"It is relatively affordable to visit, with a large airport near the city and grade-A public transportation," Larry Snider, VP of operations of Casago Vacation Rentals, explains. "You can spend your weekend, regardless of the season, attending a major sports game with the Bulls, Bears, White Sox, or Cubs organizations."
The views of Lake Michigan are stunning, and there's plenty to do depending on the season. In the summer, you can enjoy 26 miles of lakefront beaches, and while the winter might be a bit too cold for some, you can't deny the beauty of the expansive frozen lake.
"The food in Chicago is well worth the visit, with nearly every authentic cuisine within reach," Snider says. "Downtown's shopping hub is a great way to spend your time and money, and visiting the Bean is a good place for a memorable picture experience!"
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A three-day weekend will be well spent in Sedona during any season—especially if you're looking for a spiritual refresh–Manou Maudgal, founder of the travel blog GPX Adventures, tells Best Life.
"Nestled in the middle of striking red sandstone formations, Sedona's spectacular landscape has attracted numerous outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual (seekers), artists, and healers for years," he says, adding that the vortexes are particularly enticing for visitors. These spots are located in the red rocks and are thought to be "especially alive with energy," according to the official website for Sedona.
Maudgal says that Sedona is a "perfect combination of nature, spirituality, and culinary," as you can either embark on an outdoor adventure or explore the cozy downtown area.
"It's a unique place to enjoy outdoor activities, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails," he adds. "The city itself is bustling with art galleries and gourmet restaurants."
Consider planning your visit soon, Maudgal says, as the ideal time to experience Sedona is between May and October. If you wait until a three-day weekend in the summer, you might be greeted by more traffic and crowds, he adds.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Another trip you can take in just three days is to Sin City itself. You might first think of slot machines and roulette when someone mentions Vegas, but there's much more to do than meets the eye.
"There's no shortage of things to do in Las Vegas, and three days is the perfect time to explore it in," Taylor Beal, owner and author of the travel blog Traverse With Taylor, says. "Plus, it's a great location for some warmth during the winter months." You can also easily visit in the spring, fall, or winter and enjoy the cooler (but still warm) temperatures.
"In three days, you must explore the hotels and their quirky specialties, such as the ever-popular canals and gondolas in the Bellagio," Beal explains. "Visitors should catch a show, such as Cirque du Soleil, stroll around the Miracle Mile Shops, and bar or club hop."
"It goes without saying that you should play a few casino games while you're in town, too," Beal adds. "If none of that strikes your fancy, grab a brew at Hofbrauhaus, shop at the Outlets, see sharks at the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, or visit the Hoover Dam for some history!"