Aside from delivering long days, warm temps and smiling faces, summer in the U.S. also brings a trio of long weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. But where to go when you have just three days to spend and are craving a slice of metropolitan life? In truth, you could linger forever in cities like New York and San Francisco, while two days in party towns like Las Vegas and Miami Beach is often more than enough. But there are some U.S. cities where a three-day jaunt just fits like a glove. Here are the 10 U.S. cities best suited for a long weekend:
So awesome is crunchy, cool Asheville and its gorgeous surroundings that you’ll almost certainly need a few days to absorb all it has to offer. For starters, there is the justly ballyhooed Biltmore Estate whose home and gardens alone are worth make for a full day of exploration. Downtown is worth a stroll if not for its eclectic craft vendors and street theater than at the very least for admiring its collection of impressive Art Deco architecture and also the thrilling Basilica of Saint Lawrence. Meanwhile, the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains beg for hiking, biking and small town explorations.
Cleveland is on a tourism rebound and we love hilly “Cincy,” but the Buckeye State’s capital city is so irresistible. Short North’s charms are too numerous to resist so check in at the buzzy and stylish Joseph Hotel and use it as base for exploring the shops, galleries, eateries (we’re in love with taco joint Bakersfield) and bars along High Street. Elsewhere around town there is the German Village with its standout restaurants like the Sycamore andLindey’s,thrills to be had at the new Sculpture Garden at the Columbus Museum of Art and craft brews at nearby Wolf Ridge Brewing Company.
If you’re a ski bum the answer to how much time one should spend in the Mile High City is a resounding “eternity,” but for the rest of us three days is perfection. The makeover of Union Station is terrific—you can even overnight there at the Crawford Hotel—, while theSource has transformed an old warehouse into an ebullient food hall and market. Elsewhere around town visitors should check out the excellent Denver Comedy Works, carnivorous eats at Work & Class, recreational and boozy thrills at Punch Bowl Social and the Daniel Libeskind designed Denver Art Museum.
The Aloha State’s largest city rarely tops the must see list for visitors to this celebrated archipelago, but there’s plenty of reasons to plunk down for three days in this energetic state capital. For starters, there’s ebullient Waikiki with its multi-cultural vibe, urban surf culture and excellent shopping and nightlife. Pearl Harbor, meanwhile, offers a few moments of somber reflection while Hanauma Bay with its joyous snorkeling and beaching shouldn’t be missed. The food scene is likewise spectacular: Don’t miss Morimoto, Leonard’s Bakery, The Pig & the Lady, Wailoa Shave Ice and many more.
Derby season might bring a mad stampede of visitors to the Bluegrass State’s largest city, but we’ll jockey to spend a few days here anytime. For starters, its parks system was designed by master landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame) and that’s the just the beginning of Louisville’s charms. Set aside a day to explore the many distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and then check out the city’s Main Street, bustling with life such as the excellent, art-filled 21c Museum Hotel, yummy eats at Harvest and Proof on Main and a smorgasbord of cultural offerings like the Slugger Museum and the Kentucky Science Center. Meanwhile, there’s NuLu for gallery hopping (and good food) and further afield is rambling Bardstown Road, a seemingly endless street chock full of indie shops, hip eateries and what feels like 1,000 bars.
Murmurings on the street that Nashville is the next Austin have been in full swing for several years now and it does seem the city is on the rise these days. Institutions like Ryman Auditorium (home to the Grand Ole Opry) may never go out of style, but these days doing Nashville like a local means hanging at hip foodie joints like Butcher & Bee, Chauhan Ale & Masala House (co-owned by Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan) and Pharmacy Burger Parlor, catching live music at the Basement or Layla’s Bluegrass Inn or seeing what’s new at the Frist Center for Visual Arts. Looking for a place to crash? Look no further than the Union Station Hotel—stunningly set inside a 19th century rail station.
Steel City was once described as “Hell with the lid off,” but these days it couldn’t be cooler. Nestled at the Y-shaped confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monogahela Rivers, this happening metropolis boasts all kinds of treasures. Start with an “Almost Famous” triple decker sammy at Primanti Bros. in Market Square then stroll around the corner and admire Philip Johnson’s glassy five acre complex PPG Place. Both the Mattress Factory and Andy Warhol museums will satisfy all culture vultures, Vandal and Cure are our foodie choices of the moment and the new Ace Hotel promises awesome crash pads for all. Don’t miss Upper Lawrenceville and the Mexican War Streets neighborhoods.
The overlooked sibling to both Boston and Portland, there is no shortage of treasures awaiting visitors to the Ocean State’s capital city. Downtown Providence is getting a promising makeover starting with the arrival of the Dean Hotel which includes Bavarian bites at onsite restaurant Faust and backroom imbibing at the oh so cool Magdalenae Room. Rent a bike and spend a day cycling the region’s incredible network of bike paths, but get back to the city in time for dinner at North, Terikyaki Korean House or Tallulah’s Tacqueria. The RISDMuseum is a must as is Little Italy stalwart Venda Ravioli, drinks at sky high lounge Rooftop at the ProvidenceG, a jolt of java at White Electric Coffee Co. and shopping along Westminster Street.
San Diego, CA
Sunny San Diego is so much more than the beaches and blue skies that grace the postcards bearing its name. 1,200 acre Balboa Park is worth a day’s idyll and includes a photogenic collection of Spanish Colonial Revival buildings and the world famous San Diego Zoo. Neighborhoods like Hillcrest, North Park and Little Italy are full of the young and beautiful and each boasts their share of foodie hangouts such as Carnitas’ Snack Shack, Waypoint Public, the Tractor Room and Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar. Elsewhere around town there is nightclubbing in the Gaslamp, gorgeous vistas atop Point Loma, al fresco dining at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, skinny dipping at Torrey Pines and so much more.
Saint Petersburg, FL
Why sunny St. Pete is perennially underrated is a mystery to us. The city’s grid layout makes it both easy to navigate and gives it a distinctly urban vibe and, culturally speaking, sunny St. Pete is no backwater. The Dali Museum contains the largest collection of the surrealist master’s work outside of Europe and its proximity to the nearby Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center completes the cultured vibe. Central Avenue is bumping with food trucks, indie books stores and brew pubs while the beaches at Pass a Grille and St. Pete Beach are just divine.