When a three-day weekend comes around, you have to take advantage of it, especially if you're a travel lover — and let's face it, most of us are! That's why I've come up with seven of the best Memorial Day trips to take over the long weekend, and I promise, they are some of the coolest destinations in America.
You'll notice that there aren't any jumbo cities making this list, and that's a good thing. You're going to want to steer clear of visiting major cities during the Memorial Day weekend, as they'll be packed with tourists, and room rates will likely be much higher than usual. Another advantage of choosing a smaller city to explore? You can actually see a lot more of the city you're in during the short time that you're there. So instead of going big, stick to these smaller (but just as awesome) destinations instead. You will be happy you did.
And finally, because Memorial Day weekend is only three days long, you don't want to let travel time eat into your vacation time — so I have divided these sweet locales based on their region. No one wants to be on a plane for more than three hours, and if you can drive to any of these cities, all the better!
Stay small, stay local, and have the time of your life.
Washington, Oregon, Alaska
Weekend Getaway: Port Townsend, Washington
Located at the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend is a small seaside town that rests on the bay's harbor. This tiny Washington hideaway was founded in 1851, and its Victorian architecture and historic charm are to show for it. Only 40 miles northwest of Seattle, spend your Memorial Day weekend exploring the town's beautiful coastal shoreline while checking out the local businesses and rich maritime spirit.
Weekend Getaway: Paso Robles, California
Nestled in nicely in the coastal mountain range of San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles offers up a sweet escape into wine country. Also known for its healing hot springs, you can easily find yourself spending the weekend relaxing and recuperating. Filled with independent restaurants, local art galleries, and some notable farmers' markets, you're bound to leave Paso Robles feeling refreshed.
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma
Weekend Getaway: Sedona, Arizona
Sedona is undoubtedly one of the coolest small towns in the United States, and it's also one of the most scenic in the Southwest. Surrounded by vibrant rock formations and a plethora of outdoor activity spaces, this breathtaking city manages to be both bold and quaint at the same time. Check in to one of Sedona's spa treatment centers for some serious R&R, or spend your weekend exploring the jaw-dropping outdoors with hikes, bike rides, and even some swimming in local waterholes.
Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Weekend Getaway: Sandpoint, Idaho
Voted the most beautiful small town in America two years ago, Sandpoint is home to Lake Pend Oreille, one of the loveliest shorelines you'll find in the mountainous west. A city for outdoor lovers, you can have a weekend filled with fishing, kayaking, and boating along the lake. The downtown area of Sandpoint is just as picturesque, with streets lined with wood-frame shops, art galleries, a classic cinema, and teahouse.
North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky
Weekend Getaway: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is a must-visit destination situated on the upper peninsula of Michigan. The world's largest summer hotel, the Grand Hotel, is located in town, and perhaps even more impressively, cars aren't allowed on the island — making it a pedestrian paradise. Get your fill of world famous Mackinac fudge, have dinner in some quaint restaurants, and take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city.
Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
Weekend Getaway: Pine Mountain, Georgia
Residents of the South can easily get excited for a weekend in Pine Mountain, home of the Callaway Gardens and lush nature reserves. The town itself is tiny, with a population of under 2,000, making its village shops and mom-and-pop restaurants the perfect fix for when you want to find some authentic character in your vacation plans. You can even give horseback riding a shot while you're visiting, or stick to any of the beloved hiking trails that take you through some of nature's best.
Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
Weekend Getaway: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a gem of a city with waterfront views and a historical downtown that is as pretty to explore as the many harbors along the Piscataqua River on which the town sits. Enjoy tax-free shopping, tasty seafood specialties, and more than 10 acres of gardens at Prescott Park. The brick and cobblestone streets you'll find yourself exploring add a nice extra touch of romanticism for travelers.
Images: Free US And World Maps, PRMurphus, Lyza, Al_HikesAZ, Chris Saulit, Joey Lax-Salinas, rjcox, TravelingOtter/Flickr