Fun and Frugal Weekend Getaways in All 50 States

You don't have to travel far or spend a lot to get away for the weekend.
10/26/19 | By Matt Miczulski
young man enjoying sunset

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As much as we all enjoy those week-long getaways, they aren’t something we can always do on a whim. Luckily, weekends make for great opportunities to get your travel fix without having to break the bank.

Whether it’s boutique shopping at America’s oldest seaside resort, hiking up to the first place to view the sunrise in the U.S., or relaxing in a hot spring bathhouse, there’s no need to settle for anything less than a memorable weekend.

We compiled a list of fun and frugal getaways in every state that will keep your enjoyment high and your wallet intact. To save the most, put those credit card points to use and snag a hotel for free. When you get there, make sure to continue earning cash back on everything you buy to keep it thrifty.

Alabama: Tuscaloosa

Originally the capital of Alabama, Tuscaloosa sits on the banks of the Black Warrior River and is a hub for education and sports. If you’re a sports fan, try and catch a Crimson Tide football game at the Bryant-Denny Stadium, the eighth-largest in the world. You can also get a behind-the-scenes look with a tour of the arena.

When the stadium is quiet, head over to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater for live music, see the ruins of the original capital at Capitol Park, or step into one of many museums. If you’re eager to be outdoors, drive two hours north to Little River Canyon National Preserve and visit the nation’s longest mountaintop river.

Alaska: Road trip from home base Anchorage

Wild, majestic Alaska will surely ignite your spirit of adventure with its wildlife and vast, uninhabited wilderness that overwhelms its comparatively small cities. As the state’s largest city, Anchorage is an ideal base for scenic day drives.

Rent a car and have easy access to the full Alaskan experience with a drive through fjords and glaciers. Pass between the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm and the jutting peaks of the Chugach Mountains as you make your way south to Seward. Head north from Anchorage and see amazing mountain views, waterfalls, and gorgeous rivers. If you need to stretch your legs, pull over near mile 102 for a short hike to touch a glacier!

Arizona: Sedona

With its stunning red rock formations serving as a backdrop to endless outdoor adventures, festivals, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, Sedona is definitely worth the trip.

With a variety of lodging options — from RVs to cheap hotels to Airbnb — marvel at the famous red rocks, swim in natural swimming pools, and find your inner peace with Sedona’s gorgeous dramatic landscapes.

Devil's Bridge Trail in Sedona
Devil's Bridge Trail in Sedona

Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Located in the majestic Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs National Park is the oldest protected area in the National Park System and has an abundance of attractions.

Take a bath at Buckstaff Bathhouse, climb the Hot Springs Mountain Tower for its views of the Ouachita Mountains, and then reward yourself with a beer or two at Superior Bathhouse Brewery — brewed with water directly from the hot springs.

California: Eureka

Nestled against a beautiful, enclosed bay, Eureka is a small city with rich cultural charms and a variety of outdoor activities. With its affordable lodging and food, this weekend getaway is sure to impress.

Walk through Old Town Eureka, take a drive down the Redwood Highway, and be among the giant trees at the 67-acre Sequoia Park Forest & Garden, with its winding network of walking, hiking, and biking trails.

Colorado: Estes Park

The basecamp for awe-inspiring adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is nestled at the east entrance of this behemoth 265,000-acre national park. With 355 miles of hiking trails, this trendy town is surrounded by pristine wilderness with an abundance of restaurants, spas, golf courses, shops, and entertainment venues.

Walk through Riverwalk in the downtown area, where you’ll find a slew of shops, restaurants, and bars, then head over for a tour of The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration behind Stephen King’s best-selling novel The Shining.

Connecticut: Mystic

This 18th-century maritime settlement is known for more than being the location for the 1988 Julia Roberts' film Mystic Pizza.

The Mystic Seaport is a top attraction for the entire state, offering tours of historic ships and homes, quaint shops, and top seafood restaurants. Every August, tens of thousands of visitors gather for the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival.

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

Still maintaining its classic vibe, this quaint seaside town attracts lots of visitors with its clear water, clean beaches, and vintage boardwalk.

Head to Cape Henlopen State Park if you want something a little more sedate. If you’re up for the short drive, grab a craft beer or two at the Dogfish Head Brewery in nearby Lewes, Delaware.

Florida: St. Augustine

Not only one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Florida, St. Augustine is also the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S.

This seaside destination has something for everyone, with its beautiful beaches, good food, and abundance of history. Get a glimpse of the past at the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the U.S., or head onto the water for a scenic cruise.

St. Augustine, FL
St. Augustine, FL

Georgia: Centennial Olympic Park

Built as part of an infrastructure overhaul for the 1996 Summer Olympics, Centennial Olympic Park is downtown Atlanta’s gathering place for free, fun-filled entertainment.

This 21-acre park boasts a variety of things to do, from concerts and festivals to a spectacular Fourth of July Celebration. Feel free to take your time as you stroll past the sculptures, water gardens, and lavish scenery.

Hawaii: Polihale State Park

Brave a long and rutted dirt road to Polihale State Park and you’ll be rewarded with a 17-mile stretch of white sand beach and sand dunes.

Build your camp and picnic in this scenic setting as you take in remarkable sunsets and wonderful views of the high cliffs of Napali Coast. End the night under the stars.

Idaho: Coeur d’Alene

Located in the northern Idaho Panhandle, Coeur d’Alene is known for water sports on Lake Coeur d’Alene and its miles of hiking trails.

Hit the slopes during the winter months at one of the two nearby ski resorts or head to the Kootenai County Farmers’ Market for fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re there in the summer months, make sure to catch a summer concert in Coeur d'Alene City Park.

Illinois: Chicago

Nestled along Lake Michigan, Chicago’s eye-catching lakefront skyline is the backdrop to a lively mix of first-class eateries, vibrant arts, and a warm Midwest welcome. Like its deep-dish pizza, Chicago is jam-packed full of world-class museums, famous food, and public parks.

A walk along the lakefront is a lovely — and free — way to spend a day. If you want to splurge a bit, step onto Chicago’s First Lady for a river cruise and ultimate Chicago architecture experience. End the night on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building and enjoy a signature cocktail at The Signature Lounge while taking in the amazing view.

Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago

Indiana: Valparaiso

A foodie’s getaway, Valparaiso sits just south of Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes Country. From locally-brewed craft beer and locally-grown wine to a plethora of delicious restaurants, Valparaiso is a booze traveler’s dream.

Head over to Four Fathers Brewing before catching a double feature at the old-timey 49’er Drive-In Theatre. If you can’t stomach any more eating or drinking, take a day trip to the Indiana Dunes State Park to experience 15,000 acres of gorgeous beaches.

Iowa: Decorah

Located in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County, this historic town is set along high bluffs, making it a great weekend getaway for outdoor pursuits and an escape from city living.

Canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing are some of the things you can do on its eight-mile recreational Trout Run Trail. Decorah is also home to dozens of historic restored houses and storefronts, multiple campgrounds, and a variety of bed-and-breakfasts.

Kansas: Dodge City

The epitome of the Wild West and once a lawless town along the Santa Fe Trail, today’s Dodge City is a vibrant place whose saying is “Get the Heck Into Dodge,” instead of “Get the Heck Out of Dodge.”

Visit Boot Hill Museum and experience a Wild West gunfight, then chow down on a chuckwagon dinner. If you’re looking for entertainment, go watch an evening variety show at the Long Branch, one of the most historic saloons of the Old West.

Kentucky: Bourbon Trail

A charming Southern city and the birthplace of bourbon, Lexington is a great home base for hitting Kentucky’s bourbon trail. With more than 20 distilleries to tour — from well-known brands like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark to smaller distilleries — you won’t run out of tasting options.

When you get tired of sipping, head over for a tour of the horse stables at Kentucky Horse Park. Visit the numerous museums and historic sites if you’re looking to learn, and if you have a sweet tooth, head over to the family-owned Old Kentucky Chocolates for some bourbon chocolates and other sweet treats.

Louisiana: New Orleans

One of the most eccentric and vibrant cities in the world, New Orleans offers way more than just partying and bead throwing and can definitely be done on a budget.

Walk the trails of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserves or hop on a ferry to cross the Mississippi before heading to the French Market District to enjoy a beignet at Cafe Du Monde. You’ll likely find live music all over the city at all hours of the day, but you can make your way across to Jackson Square to find artists showcasing their music and art talents.

Maine: Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park

From boutique hotels to bed-and-breakfasts to woodland camping, visitors from around the world come to visit Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park.

With some of Maine’s best restaurants, charming stores, and a slew of outdoor activities, you can either kick back or venture out. Before you leave, make your way up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. If you go between October 7 and March 6, you’ll be the first place to view the sunrise in the United States.

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park

Maryland: Frederick

Situated close to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, the city of Frederick is surrounded by mountain views, wineries, and vibrant communities.

Go from hiking the Appalachian Trail and visiting Maryland’s largest brewery to touring a Civil War battlefield all in one day.

Massachusetts: Hyannis

The former vacation destination for the iconic Kennedy family, historic Hyannis is the gateway to Cape Cod with its pleasant beaches, bustling harbor, and historic Main Street.

Tour the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory, visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, or head out onto the soft, clean Kalmus Beach where you can windsurf, swim, and picnic.

Michigan: Mackinac Island

Covering just four square miles, visitors have been flocking to this Great Lakes landmark for centuries. Not a single car on the island, Mackinac is home to an abundance of bikes, historic sites, unique shopping, and world-famous fudge.

With a vibrant downtown that transforms from daytime carriage rides into a bustling nightlife, Mackinac is full of one-of-a-kind experiences. If you really want to save, head over the “Mighty Mac” to St. Ignace, the third-oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, and set up camp in the Straits State Park.

Minnesota: Duluth

Nestled up against Lake Superior, the city of Duluth is a port city gushing with tons of fun things to do, from aquariums and theaters to plane and harbor cruises.

Overlooking the lake, Canal Park is Duluth’s hotspot for dining, entertainment, and attractions. Wake up to a view at South Pier Inn or make your way down to watch 1,000-feet ships pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge.

Mississippi: Oxford

An hour outside of Memphis and touted as the “Cultural Mecca of the South,” creativity thrives in this city with inspiration drawn from Oxford’s rich culture and history and small-town charm.

Home to the University of Mississippi, there’s plenty of things to immerse yourself in. Take in the spirit of the city with a stroll around the Town Square or hop on a bike and head for the Holly Springs National Forest. You can tour Rowan Oak, a stately home owned by Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner; visit museums; and enjoy all of the good food and live music Oxford has to offer.

Missouri: Kansas City

With lots of big-city attractions and entertainment, Kansas City is surprisingly affordable. This Midwestern hub brings a lot to the table for a fraction of the price, from legendary barbecue to world-class shopping and historic jazz spots.

Stroll through the historic Union Station or pop into the free Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where you’ll find 34,500 pieces of art from around the globe. To help you get around, hop onto the convenient and free KC Streetcar.

Montana: Bozeman

An ideal basecamp for a quick but action-packed getaway, Bozeman has something for everyone, from hiking, fly fishing, and museums to local events and a vibrant downtown.

Just 90 minutes from Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman is a gateway to a variety of mountains, lakes, canyons, and hot springs. Visiting the Museum of the Rockies is a must, featuring a full Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest T. rex skull in the world.

Nebraska: Omaha

The largest city in the state, Omaha is now home to the headquarters of several Fortune 500 companies — and, yes, Warren Buffett. Perhaps Nebraska’s most-innovative city, Omaha is a fun place to explore without having to spend a fortune.

Visit the world's largest indoor desert and North America’s largest indoor rainforest at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, sample beer during an Omaha Craft Brewery tour, and find top-notch flavors dining in the historic Dundee neighborhood. Let your creativity shine in the Joslyn Art Museum or wander around at The Old Market, where you’ll find a variety of charming buildings, obscure shops, restaurants, and flea markets. Grab another beer, soak up the atmosphere, and listen to some of the best street musicians in the city.

Nevada: Virginia City

Situated nearly 20 miles southeast of Reno, this little nugget of history is most famous for the Comstock Lode, the first major discovery of silver ore in the U.S. Once a booming mining establishment in the mid-1800s, this historic town will take you back in time as you stroll its wooden sidewalks, ride on a steam engine, or step into one its unique saloons to quench your thirst.

Known as one of the most-haunted towns in America, Virginia City offers several haunted locations to explore. Get the full haunting experience by staying at the Silver Queen Hotel, which has had many reported accounts of paranormal activity by guests over the years.

New Hampshire: Portsmouth

Bridging New Hampshire and Maine, Portsmouth was settled in 1623 and is one of the oldest cities in the country. Today, you’ll find a pleasing combination of colonial history and contemporary culture.

This seacoast city offers waterfront views of the beautiful Piscataqua River, tax-free shopping, museums, and a ton of tasty options for any foodie. Just across the river in Maine, you’ll find the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the country’s first naval shipyard established in 1800.

New Jersey: Cape May

Situated at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, Cape May is America’s oldest seashore resort, welcoming visitors since the mid-18th century. An entire city designated as a National Historic Landmark, this seaside gem boasts clean beaches, boutique shopping, and signature restaurants for a trip any time of the year.

Climb the stairs of the Cape May Lighthouse, stroll past an abandoned World War II bunker, or scope out the beaches from New Jersey’s last-remaining restorable WWII lookout tower. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, head 45 minutes north to Atlantic City, the seaside gaming and resort capital of the East Coast. Here you can walk the world’s first and longest boardwalk, lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and amusement park-style games.

Cape May Lighthouse
Cape May Lighthouse

New Mexico: Santa Fe

Known as “The City Different,” Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. and is known for its rich history and culture, artistry, and timeless, earthy soul. With more museums and art galleries than you could possibly see in just one trip, Santa Fe makes for a great weekend getaway.

Visit in September for a month full of festivals — or come anytime to enjoy this foodie’s paradise. One thing’s for sure: You’ll leave fascinated, inspired, and ready to return.

New York: Ithaca

Lovers of the outdoors flock to Ithaca, New York no matter the season. Its location at the base of Cayuga Lake makes this city an ideal spot for exploring the entire Finger Lakes Region.

In the warmer months, head out onto the water for a day of boating, kayaking, or fishing — if you can peel yourself away from the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, that is. Hit the trails for a hike or climb a six-story tree house at the Cayuga Nature Center.

North Carolina: Asheville

Tucked away in western North Carolina, Asheville’s natural wonders and architectural treasures draw in visitors from all over. With easy access to the Blue Ridge Mountains, its historic landmarks, and a bustling downtown scene, Asheville makes for a wonderful weekend getaway.

Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for several scenic overlooks and hiking trails, or visit Biltmore, Asheville’s architectural jewel. With lots of farm-to-table restaurants, a proud music scene, and a mile-long River Arts District, you’ll surely create a memorable trip in this mountain escape.

North Dakota: Fargo

Sitting on the Red River Valley of the Great Plains, Fargo is North Dakota’s most-populous town and named for Wells Fargo Express Company founder William Fargo.

With numerous historic sites, parks, attractions, and museums celebrating Fargo’s culture and history, you’ll be sure to find plenty to do. Take the kids to the Red River Zoo before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many locally-owned restaurants in the downtown area. End the night with a concert or other live event at the beautifully-restored Fargo Theatre.

Ohio: Cambridge

Just 80 miles east from Columbus, this small, unassuming town is rife with recreational activities and special events. Foodies will appreciate the growing food scene with breweries, food trucks, vineyards, and a variety of restaurants.

Travel a short ten miles out of town and you’ll find Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park, offering beaches, a scenic golf course, and a variety of hiking trails.

Oklahoma: Medicine Park

Situated in the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma, this picturesque resort town is packed with shopping, history, and a small-town-America feel, taking you back in time as you stroll the quaint Cobblestone Row.

With water running right through it and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge next door, you’ll find natural beauty all around. Take a lazy stroll on scenic trails, swim, hike, shop, or just relax as you bask in the glow of the sun setting over the surrounding Wichita Mountains.

Oregon: Astoria

The oldest settlement west of the Rockies, this coastal city is surrounded by forests and situated just a stone’s throw away from the Pacific. You’ll find Victorian-era homes etched into the hills overlooking the Columbia River, forts, museums, and great local brews in this port city.

Lace up your boots and hike to the summit of Saddle Mountain, the high point of Clatsop County at 3,283 feet. On Sunday, make your way downtown to the Astoria Sunday Market, a big community block party featuring dog-friendly shopping, art, food, music, and fun.

Pennsylvania: Knoebels Amusement Resort

Tucked away in Central PA, Knoebels Amusement Resort is a throwback to amusement parks of the past. With some of the country's top roller coasters, no admission fee, and rides starting at just $1.25, Knoebels is as fun as it is thrifty.

To save even more, stay for the weekend in the adjacent campground — either book a tent site or rent a rustic cabin. Either way, you'll fall asleep to the clicking sounds of a wooden roller coaster.

Rhode Island: Newport

Hugging the New England coastline, Newport is known for its rich sailing history and historic mansions. Founded in 1639, this city has the classic Colonial architecture you’d imagine, with breathtaking New England landscapes and waterfront views.

You can easily spend an entire day on the beach, shopping, or in Fort Adams State Park, but you’ll also want to leave time for the Cliff Walk. Here you’ll have the ocean on one side and gigantic Gilded Age mansions on the other. Good luck deciding which to look at.

South Carolina: Columbia

Between its big-city excitement, small-town charm, and natural beauty, Columbia has everything you need to satisfy that craving for an enjoyable getaway.

With a few festivals for every season, there always seems to be at least one going on. Spend your weekend taking in the city’s sights, history, museums, and great restaurants. But if that’s too hustle and bustle, stop by the river for its natural beauty and a nice breeze.

South Dakota: Black Hills & Badlands

Home to many truly monumental places, spending your weekend touring the Black Hills & Badlands of South Dakota is a must. With over 244,000 acres of otherworldly works of nature, this is an outdoor lover’s dream.

See the large-scale mountain sculpture Mount Rushmore, then take a drive through Needles Highway before heading to Main Street Square in Downtown Rapid City for special events, arts, culture, and concerts.

Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park

Tennessee: Memphis

While you may think of blues music and barbecue food when you think of Memphis — yes, there’s that — there are several other reasons to visit the city as well.

Between its famous barbecue, rich cultural history, and Beale Street — the most-popular street in Memphis — you’ll be sure to stay full and engaged without feeling obligated to break the budget. You can’t leave Memphis before visiting the King, so head over to Graceland, tour Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll compound, and try and squeeze your name in on the wall outside.

Texas: Georgetown

Just north of Austin near the center of the state, Georgetown offers scenic beauty and historic charm.

Regarded as the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas,” Georgetown’s downtown area is filled with unique shops and restaurants housed in historic, Victorian-era buildings. You’ll find a number of festivals and events throughout the year, not to mention a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Utah: Moab

Pack in a weekend of outdoor adventure in beautiful Moab, where you can hike through the red rocks in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, or go mountain biking on the Slickrock Bike Trail.

In town, you can learn about local paleontology at the Moab Museum, take in the stunning photos at the Tom Till Gallery, or cool down in the pool at Swanny City Park.

Vermont: Burlington

Overlooking Lake Champlain and the skyline of the Adirondack Mountains, this hillside city has a thriving downtown, great restaurants, and ample shopping on Church Street.

You won’t find the hustle and bustle of a big city, but you will discover a high concentration of arts and cultural attractions, as well as a 14-mile bike path along the lake and other nearby hiking spots. If you can’t resist the cravings, a 30-minute drive will land you at the doors of the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

Virginia: Alexandria

Nestled along the Potomac, this quaint, yet centrally-located destination has everything visitors could ever want — great food, gorgeous views, and southern hospitality.

With some of the most sought-after trails, museums, and historical sites — including George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate — Alexandria is an ideal spot for seeing plenty of wonderful attractions.

Washington: Spokane

Venture from Washington’s west coast and you’ll find a city with outdoor activities for every season, amazing restaurants, and a plethora of fun things to do for both kids and adults.

Head to Riverfront Park, Spokane’s downtown gem, which boasts a 100-acre urban park with views of upper Spokane Falls. Swing by the east end of downtown for some favorite shops and eateries before venturing to the south side of the city, where you’ll find Manito Park.

West Virginia: Fayetteville

Situated on the rim of the scenic New River Gorge, Fayetteville is an outdoor lover’s sanctuary. The city’s surrounding mountains are a must for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers.

You can spend the day exploring the great outdoors before venturing back into town for a relaxing evening shopping, dining, listening to live music, or wandering the Historic District.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee

A foodie’s dream city, Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward neighborhood boasts a massive, unique food destination with a huge variety of eateries and gourmet shops.

When you can’t eat another bite, head to the Harley-Davidson Museum, an architectural gem and museum filled with memorabilia and antiques that span the history of the premier motorcycle brand.

Wyoming: Jackson Hole

Sitting in a 48-mile long valley, Jackson Hole is a wonderful getaway because of its ideal location near Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Outdoors enthusiasts can’t help but be drawn to this mountainous outdoor haven.

Whether you’re rafting, hiking, moose spotting, or zip lining, your weekend in Jackson Hole can have it all.

Downtown Jackson Hole
Downtown Jackson Hole

Bottom line

No matter the state, you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time, especially if you’ve got some motivation and a solid travel card to help you get there. With just a handful of days at your disposal, a little creativity can go a long way in creating a fun and frugal weekend getaway.

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