December 30, 2019 4 min read

Start your new year off right with these budget trips you can pack into a weekend.

The idea of planning a major European jaunt or an exotic island excursion can seem like an overwhelming feat. Long vacations can be extremely pleasurable, but they do come with large price tags and hours on end of planning. These points can easily discourage travelers from going anywhere (can you blame them?).

The reality is, anyone with a weekend to spare can visit a variety of great homegrown destinations that are ripe for exploring. These trips can usually be planned or spontaneous and don’t have to break the bank.

1. New York, New York

The Big Apple is always going to be a popular destination, whether you live near or far. This whirlwind city has something miraculous to see and do every second of the day and night, from Broadway shows and copious museums to a myriad of restaurants and parks to explore.

New York City is packed with things to do – so much you could fill several weekends. New York Hilton Hotels launched a "Weekend Like a Local" package. The 3-night package is ideal for short trips to New York City with travelers saving up to 50% off on Sunday nights, along with many other perks and discounts.

2. Newport, Rhode Island

When you live in New England, the hardest part about going on a weekend getaway is deciding on where to visit. There are so many destinations that are less than a tank of gas away. Newport, Rhode Island, coined the crown jewel of The Classic Coast is one spectacular option, known for its grand mansions along the famous Cliff Walk.

Just ninety minutes south of Boston and three hours north of New York City, Newport is a drivable destination for more than 30% of US residents – yet, it feels a world away. The year-round destination has an overflow of charm, culture, celebrated restaurants, bucolic trails, iconic mansion walks, a vibrant nightlife and lauded beaches. What are you waiting for?

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Located within a 90-minute flight of 50% of the US population and a six-hour or less drive from nine states, Pittsburgh is a very accessible city. Have I sold you on this destination yet?

The city has reinvented itself from its industrial past and is now the cultural heart of the region. The Warhol Museum, the largest single artist museum in North America, provides seven floors of pop art immersion for less than $20. Just want to hang? Take a tour at Wigle Whiskey distillery and enjoy a cocktail and spirit tasting for $20. Kimpton Hotel Monaco is in walking distance to these activities and has hotel rooms available starting at $149 a night.

4. Temecula, California

What if I told you that you could merge the best of Las Vegas and Napa in one affordable trip? Well, you can in Temecula, a burgeoning wine region in Southern California that is home to the largest casino on the west coast called Pechanga Resort Casino. To put it into perspective, the casino floor is even larger than the MGM Grand in Las Vegas!

The city is close to the San Diego and Ontario, California, airports, making plane travel a breeze. When you arrive, take your pick at any of the 50 wineries, visit the eclectic Old Town Temecula with restaurants, bars, boutiques or take your pick at outdoor activities such as hiking, hot air ballooning or mountain biking.

5. Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

With 250 kinds of shells, 25 miles of bike paths and 15 mile of beaches, Sanibel and Captiva Islands sound like the perfect dreamy escape for a weekend getaway. And if that doesn’t sway you, the fact that it’s cheaper and closer to home than the Caribbean should do it.

Instead of crowded beaches and costly theme park tickets, the two unspoiled islands have an "old Florida" ambiance, with no stoplights, chain restaurants, or buildings higher than a palm tree. Nestled on the tip of Captiva, South Seas Island Resort is a haven for families and nature lovers, situated on 300 acres of protected wildlife with 2 miles of secluded beachfront. Now start hunting for those 250 varieties of shells!

6. Rapid City, South Dakota

With direct flights to Rapid City from major cities such as Dallas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, this metropolis is becoming a weekend getaway destination for its exciting outdoor activities, dynamic art scene and unique culinary options.

Looking for a good view? Known for its famous rock formations, travelers can visit Black Hills for diverse rock climbing (or just hiking) opportunities. After your outdoor adventure, check out Art Alley, a passageway of free-form graffiti murals that intermingle with pop art, abstract and cultural works. End your day by pleasing the foodie in your group with a taste of authentic bison entrees such as bison meatloaf or short ribs.

7. Kalispell, Montana

Located in the heart of the Flathead Valley, Kalispell is a destination that is easy to get to and has a laid back vibe. For travelers who are dipping their toes back into traveling, a few key elements stand out: no traffic, small city size (23,000 people) and easily navigable.

Plus, it's within minutes of some of Montana's most incredible attractions, including Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. The park is open year-round and the west entrance is a 35-minute drive from Kalispell. Visitors can also explore the quaint downtown area, which is filled with local boutiques, coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and more. It’s the perfect small town adventure for a weekend getaway!

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