Need a quick break from real life? Perfect. We put together this list of off-the-radar cities in the US that are *perfect* for a quick trip — for when you want to get away, but you don’t have a whole week to take off. These cities — spanning across America — recently ranked among the best 100 cities to live in by US News & World Report, so you know they’re good. But they’re also small-ish and have a niche offering — perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Pack your bags and check out these super cool US cities!
For the City Mice
If you like the hustle and bustle of city life, these five cities are where you should head on a free weekend.
San Jose, California
Sure, it may be the center of Silicon Valley — conveniently located next to major tech hubs and campuses — but it’s not all tech talk. Luxury abounds in San Jose’s well-manicured downtown, but quirky gems like the Winchester Mystery House and a huge 120-acre flea market give more depth to this metro area. Add in the abundance of nearby wineries and beaches and you have yourself a perfect quick getaway.
Salt Lake City, Utah
If the first thing you think when you hear “Salt Lake City” is anything relating its ties with the Mormon religion, you have a lot to learn about SLC. While the beautiful white Salt Lake Temple lords over the downtown area, the city is not nearly as devout as one might think. Cool coffee shops and bars abound, which makes for a cozy time exploring the appeasing city. Throw in the five surrounding national parks and world-class ski resorts and it’s pretty clear why SLC is an alluring place to spend a free weekend.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Like your culinary fusions served up with a side of y’all? (Don’t even try denying it). Charlotte is equal parts Southern charm and modern metropolis — and there’s a lot to love about that. This town is on the rise and it’s evident in the cityscape. A lot of people you’ll meet there are newcomers, looking for a city with a small-town vibe, lots of entertainment options, and a bustling electricity. Skip Charleston and check out Charlotte on your next long weekend.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Though Albuquerque conjures imagery of Breaking Bad and colorful balloon fiestas, the city is a vibrant metropolis whose cultural history is much richer than its recent brush with widespread recognition. The Southwest town is an artist’s daydream: art galleries abound and its many museums provide a weekend’s worth of activities. Though the nightlife is pretty calm, the city’s culinary adventures more than makes up for it. Visitors can also tackle Albuquerque’s many outdoor offerings: kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking are easily accessible to adventurers of any skill level.
In the more than 100 years that Motor City has been around, the industrial town has had its up and — more recently — its downs. But the past is the past and Detroit has been making a big comeback. Starting with Whole Foods moving into the abandoned downtown in 2013, local business — restaurants, bars, and farmer’s markets — has slowly but surely begun to return to the city. And with plans for majorly revamped public transportation and a more optimistic take on the Detroit’s future, the city makes a great case for itself to be a quick weekend trip.
For the Country Mice
If small-town charm and mountains begging to be hiked most appeal to you, these five cities are calling your name!
Yup, it’s the kind of place where you smile when you pass someone on the street — but it’s also the hub for industry giants like Wal-Mart, Tyson, and the University of Arkansas. The university certainly adds to the growing spotlight on the area, as the student population brings in out-of-towners as well as a bright youthful vibe. Perhaps that’s the reason for the city’s fast-growing foodie culture and craft beer scene. It’s not all food and beer, though! Fayetteville also has a ton of options for the more outdoors-inclined travelers — with many hiking trails nearby.
Amidst a town full of high-tech companies and acclaimed universities lies the unassuming and laid-back town of Madison. Though there is certainly the option to dine at the finest restaurants and catch the latest hit show passing through town, the casual vibes of Madison are what make it shine — pick up a coffee at a local shop, get your lunch from a small farmer’s market, and hike in any of the surrounding hot spots.
Greenville, South Carolina
While its roots were in the textile industry, innovators like GE and Michelin moved into the town and breathed new life into the town. Greenville suddenly moved from minor blip to must-visit on the nation’s collective radar. Walk down the 10-block Main Street and find everything you’d need in a weekend getaway: amazing restaurants, quaint cafes, interesting boutiques, and chic bars. Remember how close you are to nature and a trip to Greenville seems like a no-brainer.
The trails the run through Riverfront Park play host to many of the town’s runners and bikers — and with a view like the Susquehanna River, it’s easy to see why the city attracts people who enjoy the great outdoors. Riverfront views are nice, but the city is also amazingly well-connected to various outdoor adventures for hikers of all levels — the famous Appalachian Trail is just a stone’s throw away.
Call it the comeback kid if you want to — everyone else is doing it. Once known as a flyover city, Chattanooga is now known for its vibrant outdoors community and startup culture. Invigorated by the city’s revamping of the waterfront and launch of the fastest Internet service in the country, people began to see Chattanooga in a different light. The influx of newcomers didn’t ruin the city’s small-town vibe, though. You can still chat with locals at weekend markets, pay small businesses a visit, and explore the outdoors when you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
Are you thinking of taking a short trip to any of these towns? Let us know where you want to go!