Chosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best
Where New Orleans provides an introduction to Cajun culture, Lafayette, located 135 miles west, offers a master course. Local live music, cozy B&Bs and excellent restaurants serving world-class Cajun cuisine make it an ideal destination for a quick escape. Lafayette also makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of Acadiana, Louisiana’s Cajun Country. Vermilionville, a recreated Acadian village near Lafayette, brings the region's Cajun history and heritage to life.
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism
9thEstes Park, Colo.
About 70 miles northwest of Denver lies one of Colorado’s most popular summer destinations, Estes Park. This magical mountain village sits 7,500 feet above sea level and enjoys calendar-worthy Rocky Mountain views. While the town is particularly appealing as a weekend destination for families, with attractions like zip lining, miniature golf and horseback riding, it also serves as a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and all the outdoor adventures that go with it.
Photo courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi
Located 125 miles west of Charlotte, the hippie-infused college town of Asheville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great place to cool off during a North Carolina summer. There’s no shortage of weekend-worthy activities, either. Art lovers will find a scene to rival any in the country, there’s historic (and huge!) Biltmore Estate to explore and with the North Carolina mountains practically just outside the door, nature lovers can go crazy hiking, biking or taking in the scenery along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. The foodie scene is hot, too!
Photo courtesy of Biltmore Estate
About 10 miles from downtown Seattle, across scenic Puget Sound, lies Bainbridge Island - a paradise for enjoying Washington’s great outdoors. The cozy downtown area offers a range of excellent restaurants and B&Bs, but the island’s main draws lie out of town. Biking and sea kayaking offer fresh air and lovely sound and Cascade Mountain views, while the award-winning Bloedel Reserve is a favorite with gardening enthusiasts. A smattering of local wineries means an afternoon glass is never far away.
Photo courtesy of bpperry/iStock
Just 51 miles south of Central Houston on I-45 lies Galveston Island - a place of wide beaches, pleasure piers, Victorian architecture, seafood and kitschy seashore shopping. Families getting away for the weekend will find kid-friendly offerings, like Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn water park and the Galveston Railroad Museum, while couples can stroll the romantic and historic Strand. With 32 miles of beaches and accommodations for every budget, Galveston's a great escape for all variety of travelers.
Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
Just 20 miles outside of Miami, the beachside community of Hollywood is famous for its wide boardwalk, often busy with cyclists and rollerbladers soaking up the Florida sun. There's a bohemian feel to the boutiques and galleries in town, and hotel prices are a fraction of those in other tourist destinations on the Florida coast, making it an ideal option for a budget-friendly weekend at the beach.
Photo courtesy of Visit Hollywood Fla.
Atlanta can be sweltering in the summer. Luckily, the charming town of Dahlonega is just 66 miles north on the outskirts of the Chattahoochee National Forest. This former gold mining outpost in the hills is now filled with galleries, boutiques, country stores and local restaurants ideal for a weekend visit. A calendar packed full of summer festivals means there's nearly always something going on.
Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
Sedona, located at the heart of Arizona’s stunning Red Rock Country, lies 116 miles north of Phoenix. Cooler summer temperatures certainly add to Sedona’s appeal, but the majestic rock formations, artistic scene and blissful spas make for a fantastic weekend, no matter the temperature. Followers of New Age philosophies believe that the region contains some of the world’s most important energy centers, and that coming here promotes balance and well being. We think it’s worth a shot!
Photo courtesy of FiledIMAGE/iStock
In the Texas Plains and Lakes region 70 miles outside of Dallas, the charming town of Granbury makes frequent appearances on “best small town” lists, and it’s easy to see why. The town’s historic square, lined by historic landmarks, makes for excellent shopping, and there are plenty of mom n’ pop restaurants to choose from when it comes time to refuel. The beach at Lake Granbury offers a way to cool off on those hot Texas afternoons, and there’s even a family-friendly boardwalk.
Photo courtesy of QuesterMark
Weekend trippers to Saugatuck, Mich., on the coast of Lake Michigan, come for its artistic community, local dining, numerous B&Bs and plentiful outdoor options, including relaxing on the beaches of the lake or conquering the area sand dunes. The downtown streets of Water and Butler are lined with cute shops and galleries, while the stretch of the Blue Star Highway just south of town is famous for its antiquing.
Photo courtesy of Brian Morrison/iStock
Granbury, Sedona, Dahlonega and Hollywood round out top 5
In the 10Best Readers' Choice contest for Best Summer Weekend Escape, voting was especially heavy for one nominee, Saugatuck, Michigan. This beachy Great Lakes escape won the hearts (and the votes) of our readers.
While not your typical beach destination, Saugatuck, on the shores of Lake Michigan, offers a sun-filled summer escape, complete with giant sand dunes, numerous B&Bs, art galleries and excellent antique shopping nearby.
Joining Saugatuck in the winners list are a diverse range of summer destinations, including historic Texas towns (Granbury and Galveston), a favorite Florida beach (Hollywood), a former Southern mining outpost (Dahlonega) and an artsy community in the heart of Arizona's red rock country (Sedona).
The full list of winners in the 'Best Summer Weekend Escape' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:
Congratulations to all the winners. Remember to keep this list handy for plan ahead OR last-minute getaways from major metros around the country.
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