Grab a cup of coffee or tea (I prefer Matcha), and take a seat. You'll want to be sitting, because you may very well be here for a while, booking flights and accommodation long after you read this.
You've got a long weekend ahead of you, and you're probably imagining some sun-swathed respite from your cubicle, perhaps under palm trees on a blonde beach somewhere remote. Maybe you're a winter sports aficionado, and snowcapped mountains are beckoning instead. Whatever the case, you've got about three or four days — and you'll want to make the most of those days without having to spend too much time traveling.
1. Vail, Colorado
Vail, Colorado lures weekenders all year long. The ski town is full of powdery slopes that snake their way through frosted foliage and directly down to the doors of toasty lodges serving up locally brewed beers and hot chocolate. In the colder months, your mornings will be spent riding, and your afternoons will be spent in true après-ski fashion.
And if you spend time in Vail during the warmer months, the weather will lull around the mid-70s to the mid-80s with low humidity — perfect for day hikes, mountain biking and river tubing through the forests that paint the horizon yellows and oranges. In fact, Colorado boasts 53 fourteeners (more than any other state), many of which are in Vail. Two for consideration include Grays Peak (14,278 feet) and Quandary Peak (14,265 feet).
2. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal, the largest city in Canada's Quebec province, is an easy drive for those on the east coast and a not-so-terribly-long flight for those on the west coast. And because many of Montreal's boroughs were once independent cities themselves, there's a lot of diversity — from the cobblestoned, French colonial Vieux-Montréal to the artsy, bohemian Plateau — that attracts all types of weekend vacationers from all across the country.
In the colder months, the city is a winter wonderland and, in the warmer months, it's home to a number of Canada's summer festivals like Jazz Fest, Le Mondial de la Bière and even the Food Trucks Festival. Whatever time of year you go, you'll be spoiled for choice with weekend activities.
You can spend the day people watching in Parc La Fontaine, hiking up Mount Royal or eating Canada's famous poutine (French fries and cheese curds doused in brown gravy and a whole slew of toppings like bacon and chicken and sausage and eggs and vegetables and anything you can imagine).
3. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts’s capital and largest city, boasts a wealth of weekend activities for visitors. Because Boston is one of the country's oldest cities, founded in 1630, there are tons of museums touting the city's history and modern day charm. Consider the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, for example, where you can actually walk across authentically restored ships and launch cases of tea off a deck yourself. You might also want to wander through the Museum of Fine Arts, which welcomes more than one million visitors each year who come to view the more than 450,000 pieces of art.
You can also take walking tours to other historical sites, such as the Paul Revere House, the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, built around 1680, or the Old State House, which is one of the country's oldest public buildings built in 1713. You might also consider spending an afternoon walking the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail or stuffing your face with seasonal seafood around every corner.
4. Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas is an American city unlike any other. It smells of sweet creamed corn and barbecued brisket at all times, especially if you take a stroll down Austin's Rainey Street, which is full of food trailers and traditionally American restaurants. You'll find some of the best barbeque at eateries across the city like Franklin Barbecue
, La Barbecue
and LeRoy & Lewis
Meanwhile, over on the city's famed Sixth Street (dubbed Dirty Sixth), you'll have a whole range of live music centered around country, blues and rock from which to choose. After all, Austin is the country's live music capital.
And if you've had enough eating and drinking, you can walk it all off by exploring Austin's eclectic street art scene or just unwind at the Barton Springs Municipal Pool, a three-acre spring-fed pool.
5. Moab, Utah
If you want to go somewhere a bit more active, give Moab, Utah a shot. Moab is the only place in Utah where you can experience two of Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks from one location. You can explore the towering depths of Canyonlands National Park and then adventure through the red rock landscape of Arches National Park.
Specifically, Moab boasts Slickrock, a 10.5-mile loop of Navajo Sandstone, widely considered one of the best bike trails in the world with some of the best views of Utah (think: a red rock panorama that stretches from the Colorado River to the 13,000-foot La Sal Mountains). You'll also find a wealth of Native American rock art there.
What's perhaps even more interesting about Moab, however, is that there are dinosaur tracks at other sites like the Bull Canyon Overlook and Copper Ridge, and you can even check out dinosaur bones and other archaeological artifacts at the Museum of Moab.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.