The Best Place for a Last-minute July 4th Trip, Based on Where You Live

Flag flying on lighthouse at Tybee Island on July 4th, Georgia
Photo: Danita Delimont/Getty Images

It might be difficult (and expensive) to book a week-long last-minute 4th of July vacation, but it’s not too late to plan a quick trip to somewhere nearby.

To help all urban procrastinators finalize their July 4th plans, Yelp has compiled a list of quick getaway ideas with easy access from some of the biggest U.S. cities. Just a few hours from downtown, you could be watching fireworks from the beach, grilling in the mountains, or biting into watermelon in the desert. (They don’t call it “America the Beautiful” for nothing.)

In order to compile the list, Yelp analysts identified cities around the country that showed a large increase in consumer activity from the week before July 4th last year to the holiday period (June 29–July 4).

From mountainside retreats to beaches that invoke the Caribbean, scroll through to discover an easy getaway from 12 major metropolitan cities from sea to shining sea.

From Atlanta: Tybee Island, Georgia

Take a four-hour drive from Atlanta to charming Tybee Island, where you'll find Civil War-era remnants like the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. Dine on seafood and enjoy live music at pier-side Sting Rays. And, because you’re on the coast, go for seafood round two at Sundae Cafe.

From Boston: Gloucester, Massachusetts

It’s only a 45-minute drive north from Boston to the Cape Ann town of Gloucester. This town was founded in 1623 and retains that old New England charm. Take advantage of Gloucester’s location and go whale-watching with 7 Seas Whale Watch, who will take you to see humpbacks and dolphins. Take a hike around Halibut Point State Park and be sure to visit the abandoned quarry. You’ll get fantastic waterfront views without the crowds. Then dine on quite possibly the freshest lobster you’ve ever had at Roy Moore Lobster.

From Chicago: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

It’s 83 miles (only about an hour and a half drive) from the Windy City to the oasis of Lake Geneva. Kick things off with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, where you can zip line from tree to tree. Once it’s time to refuel, stop by local favorite Simple Cafe for buckwheat carrot pancakes. Then relax with a tour of Geneva Lake Brewing Co, an intimate brewery with plenty of selection.

From Denver: Aspen, Colorado

Take the three-hour trek from Denver to Aspen for a mountain getaway. Book a night at the St. Regis Aspen Resort for a luxurious stay — or just book a service at the on-site spa. Once you’re relaxed, hike Maroon Bells Peaks and enjoy the stunning scenery. The White House Tavern has a menu of American cuisine from hamburgers to kale salad.

From Los Angeles: Ojai, California

You get enough of the beach in Los Angeles, so drive two hours to the peaceful, scenic vistas of Ojai. Peruse the shelves at the famous outdoor bookshop Bart’s Books then sample a local vino at the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room. Stop into Ojai Tortilla House for some of the best tortillas and quesadillas available outside of Mexico.

From Miami: Key Largo, Florida

Baby why don’t we go? It’s only about 70 miles from Miami to Key Largo, but it’s a complete escape. Jump right into the Keys atmosphere and partake in an underwater excursion with Sundiver Snorkel Tours. If you prefer to stay dry, go kayaking at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Located just a bit inland is Hobo’s Cafe, where you’ll be able to dine on local specialties like the key lime fish sandwich.

From New York City: Long Branch, New Jersey

Take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station and in less than two hours, you’ll be oceanside at Long Branch. Book a night at the beachside Bungalow Hotel, where you can get in an instant vacation mindset from the in-room fireplace. Venture a bit further down the shore and dine on pizza in Asbury Park at Medusa Stone Fired Kitchen. If you’re looking for an activity a bit off the beaten path, throw some axes at Stumpy’s Hatchet House.

From Phoenix: Sedona, Arizona

It takes about two hours to drive from Phoenix to the heart of mystic Sedona. Escape for the weekend and take a hiking tour through the desert with Sedona Sacred Earth. Be sure to climb up the path at Cathedral Rock for awe-inspiring views. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, reward yourself with “mind-blowing” tamales at Tamaliza.

From Portland: Ashland, Oregon

Drive four hours across the state to Ashland, one of Oregon’s southernmost points. It’s an up-and-coming town, becoming known for its culture. Plan your visit to coincide with a performance in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at the historically accurate Elizabethan theater. Immerse yourself in greenery with a stroll through Lithia Park. If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a playground in the park with rave reviews. Get a casual meal at Arbor House, a traditional American joint where reviewers rave about the biscuits.

From San Francisco: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Take Highway 1 about two hours south to the picturesque oceanside paradise of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Get a taste of historic California by booking a room on the 22-acre Mission Ranch, which dates back to the 1800s. Then drive the 17-Mile Drive Scenic Tour, complete with golf course and ocean views. Finally, stop by Dametra Cafe where there’s one sentence of succinct advice from reviewers: “Order the baklava.”

From Seattle: Leavenworth, Washington

Drive about two hours’ inland from Seattle to arrive at Leavenworth, a town with Bavarian influence in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. The Abendblume Pension is well-reviewed for serving perfect quiet-weekend-away vibes. Stop by the CW Parker Carousel Museum where you can see an eclectic array of carousels through the ages, dating back to 1913. For breakfast, venture out to The Depot, where the smoked chicken comes highly recommended.

From Houston: South Padre Island, Texas

In South Padre Island, it feels more like a Caribbean getaway than Texas. The island is about a six-hour drive south from Houston and offers the ability to get out in the water with The Original Dolphin Watch. If you want to truly get away from it all, book a room at Upper Deck Hotel and Bar, an adults-only hotel located a 10-minute walk from the beach. Reviewers highly recommend waking up early and having your morning coffee on the sands at The Cafe on the Beach.

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