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 easy to love antebellum Charleston, with its scented gardens and live oaks, starched demeanor and polite exchanges of the day. Although you can still meet a traditional sweetgrass basket weaver such as 78-year-old Sue Middleton at the City Market or thumb through vintage Southern recipe collections at Heirloom Book Company, off lower King Street (a.k.a. the Antiques District), the slide rule of charm has recently shifted farther north, to upper King. This red-hot frontier of urban renewal is occupied by a new generation of tattooed hipsters who irreverently refer to home as “Chucktown.” Browse the asymmetrical leather jackets by designer Rick Owens and Isabel Marant’s embroidered skirts at Worthwhile before slipping into the speakeasy-inspired Cocktail Club for an impeccably crafted pre-dinner drink. (Look for the door with a “C.”) Just up the road, chef Mike Lata of downtown’s much-loved F.I.G. has opened the Ordinary, a casual seafood joint known for its clam cakes and triggerfish schnitzel. Live music is never far from any street corner—and the Charleston Music Hall is the go-to spot for everything from Argentinean tango to homegrown country-rock duo Shovels & Rope. In the adjacent Ansonborough district, the 18-suite Zero George ($$), set in five restored town houses clustered around a central courtyard, has started welcoming guests with expert-guided antiquing trips, afternoon cocktails in the salon, and Lowcountry cooking classes. —Shane Mitchell
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.