• The Traveling Locals

Top 10 US Cities for Long Weekends

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

Almost all travel posts for the top 10 US cities include New York City, Boston, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles. This top 10 list will not. Not that I don't love to spend time in each of these cities (and I've visited each for work/fun easily over 200 times), it's more that we wanted to focus on some of the smaller, sometimes less traveled cities across America. I wanted to include places that have their own unique culture, food, outdoor activities, history and architecture. The "Big Five" listed above certainly have all of these aspects, but we'll cover our travels with them in other posts. Some of our favorite cities are not the typical cities people visit for long weekends, but they should be. A few are pretty far flung, but distance has never stopped me from flying for a long weekend (I once flew round trip to Shanghai for three days). These are the places that pop into my thoughts when I think of a great long weekend:

10. La Jolla, California

La Jolla is exactly the town you think of when you picture southern California. Beaches, ocean front communities, tall palm trees and lots of people watching. La Jolla is just a short drive up the coast from San Diego (a very nice city to travel in as well), and it has the small, beachy, locals only vibe you'll want to experience. The highlight of the area is La Jolla Cove and it's local resident population of pacific harbor seals and California sea lions. You can walk out onto the small beach and swim or snorkel with the seals and sea lions in close proximity. You will also most likely encounter them in close quarters up on the rocks as well. It's best to keep your distance and not disturb them, but they are amazing to watch. The area is also frequented by leopard sharks and the occasional otter. You can rent a kayak and even take a kayak tour into the cave. There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance, but going up from the park is a fairly steep incline when walking.

Pros: Amazing wildlife, great views, great restaurants/bars, old school southern California

Cons: Limited parking, accommodation can be expensive, the seals are pretty stinky!

La Jolla Cove Sea Lion
La Jolla Cove Sea Lion, Keep Your Distance!

9. Nashville, Tennessee

Music City USA or "Nash Vegas" as it's become known is a great city to dive into live music, cold beer and spicy hot chicken. On the main strip of Broadway, you can't throw a stick without hitting live music or someone who thinks they are country music's next big star. Most of the venues have a long history and you can actually find a pretty wide variety of music and not just country. Everyone should purchase a pair of cowboy boots and bar hop down Broadway in Nashville at least once in their lives. And when you're hungry, head over to Hattie B's for the original Nashville Hot Chicken, which is exactly as it sounds: spicy, hot and amazing. Best with a cold domestic beer, don't get too fancy. Nashville has a pro football and pro hockey team if you're lucky enough to be in town during a game. And there are interesting historic sites, such as the full scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in Centennial Park.

Pros: Great live music, local southern food, reasonable accommodation, party culture

Cons: Crowded, The enormous swarms of women all dressed the same will get tiresome

Broadway Nashville at Night
Broadway is Packed in Nashville

8. St Augustine, Florida

The first of two cities in Florida on this list, St Augustine is distinctly different from most other Florida destinations. It's the oldest European settlement in the US, it's been a Spanish fort, trading post and a haven for pirates raiding the southern coasts. Most of the buildings in the historic area retain an older Spanish style of architecture and you can explore the large Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos within walking distance. The historic part of the city (the Spanish quarter, now called "Colonial quarter" and Old Town) makes you feel like you're back in