Looking for a laid-back escape? Here are our favorite spots, where beachfront restaurants, stylish hotels, and scenic hiking trails are all within reach.
Easy Weekend Getaways
It’s just a 2 1/2-hour drive from Las Vegas to this small town on the Virgin River, but the desert gets empty and wild surprisingly fast. Springdale is the anti-Vegas: serious canyoneers mingle with fine-art photographers at weekly gallery openings, the Springdale Fruit Company sells organic fruit smoothies, and plein-air painters head to workshops at the Zion Canyon Field Institute. The biggest draw, however, is nearby Zion Canyon, a narrow funnel of 2,000-foot-high sandstone walls glossy with a crimson patina and top-heavy buttes that appear to shoot straight up from earth to sky. By far the best place to stay is the understated Desert Pearl Inn ($). Like the rest of Springdale, it’s authentic without trying too hard: reclaimed old-growth Douglas fir floors and a tawny palette of neutrals provide a soothing retreat from the blazing red rock outside. During late spring and summer, crowds are a fact of life here, but the guides at Zion Adventure Company can steer you through the lesser-known hikes. If you absolutely must trek the popular, precipitous, and occasionally terrifying 5.4-mile-long Angels Landing Trail, do as the locals do and set out at dawn when it’s cooler and quieter. You’ll be back in time for slow-cooked-pork burritos at Oscar’s Café ($$), a swim in the hotel pool, and a well-earned siesta on your private terrace. Springdale comes alive in the evenings when residents gather for sweet-potato tamales and fresh tilapia at the Bit & Spur ($$) and Saturday-night music festivals at the O. C. Tanner Amphitheater. Before heading back to Vegas, swing by the Red Mountain Resort (treatments from $60) adventure spa—there’s no better way to end the trip than with a regionally inspired hot-stone massage. —Katie Arnold
Thank God for Friday—the gateway to a new adventure. Celebrated in movies and songs, the weekend looms large in the imagination. It seduces us with the heady possibilities of recreation, relaxation, and romance. It’s our eagerly anticipated escape valve, a release from the daily grind.
For some city dwellers, the siren call of a nearby beach or a house in the country is irresistible. Yet over time, even that can become routine. Every so often, we need to get away from the usual, without making it seem like work. That’s where Travel + Leisure comes in. We sent intrepid reporters across North America to scout out easy weekend getaways, and their discoveries range from an affordable nine-room New England inn in tiny North Haven, ME, to renovated bungalows in the hills of Santa Barbara, CA.
For gastronomy-gone-wild, let us introduce a chef with molecular juju in New Orleans, a smorgasbord of Asian cuisines in a suburb of Vancouver, and all-you-can-eat itineraries in emerging foodie locales such as Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood and the vineyard-covered Willamette Valley. Just south of Portland and, seemingly, a world away from posh Napa, it’s the place to tell your wine-loving friends back home about over a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir from the Bethel Heights Vineyard.
Related: 20 Long Weekends
If the workweek has you feeling adventurous, the 5.4-mile-long Angels Landing Trail in Zion Canyon, UT, or sea kayaking around Washington’s San Juan Island will get your adrenaline pumping. Or by all means, just let yourself chill out, because maybe the best weekend of all is a day or two at the beach, especially if you stay at a Patricia Urquiola–designed hotel on the red-hot Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
Whatever you do, take a tip from legendary smarty-pants magazine columnist Marilyn vos Savant: “Be in the habit of getting up bright and early on the weekends. Why waste such precious time in bed?”
Good advice. After all, the next great weekend trip may just be next weekend. Start planning yours by taking a tour of our slideshow.
—David A. Keeps
Reported by Tom Austin, Anna Watson Carl, Nina Fedrizzi, Gabriella Fuller, David A. Keeps, Stirling Kelso, Heidi Mitchell, Rod O’Connor, Kathryn O’Shea-Evans, Sam Polcer, Brooke Porter, Douglas Rogers, Clara Sedlak, Sarah Spagnolo, and Hannah Wallace.