RetailMeNot Everyday Travel Freebies Go to RetailMeNot ››

9 Summer-Weekend Getaways for All of Us on a Budget Take that spur-of-the-moment trip with zero guilt

Summer Weekend Getaways

9 Summer-Weekend Getaways for All of Us on a Budget Take that spur-of-the-moment trip with zero guilt

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

If you’re anything like me, summer snuck up on you this year. And, if you’re like me, you’re sitting here without a vacation booked.

But I’ve got good news. You don’t have to spend the next few months hiding out in the AC, watching Netflix and claiming you’re enjoying a staycation. There are still vacations to be booked and adventures to be had. Whether you want a weekend at the beach, a mountain getaway or an adventure in a new city, the nine summer vacation spots below fit the bill—and they’re great for last-minute booking.

1. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina Great Last-Minute Destination

Asheville, North Carolina, is about three and a half hours from Atlanta, two hours from Knoxville, and five and a half hours from Richmond, Virginia, making it an easy drive for most of the South. And because many Carolinians will be at the beach, Asheville is easier (and cheaper) to book at the last minute.

Asheville is full of things to do, including microbreweries, restaurants, boutiques and galleries. It’s located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are ideal for scenic drives and great hiking—and the temperatures are lower than in many Southern cities. And, of course, Asheville is home to the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, built by George Vanderbilt. You can easily spend a whole day wandering the estate and its 8,000-acre backyard.

Pro tip: If you have a whole week, consider splitting your time between staying in town and camping in the mountains. Asheville’s website has a whole section of camping—and glamping—locations. If you do go to the Biltmore, make sure to book tickets in advance to get the best price; you’ll save $10 if you purchase seven days in advance. Bonus: Kids visit for free all summer!

2. Blue Ridge, Georgia

Blue Ridge Georgia

Hop in a car, throw on some tunes and drive 90 minutes north of Atlanta to Blue Ridge, a mountain town known for its greenery, foothills, vineyards and country roads. Here, you can hike to local waterfalls, horseback ride through the Chattahoochee National Forest or ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The daring can go to Ocoee River for whitewater rafting while others can kayak or SUP on Lake Blue Ridge. When you’re not engaging in outdoor activities, take in the region’s fine wines and craft brews while dining on farm-to-table food. Be sure to visit the family-run Mercier Orchards, which dates back to 1943 and has delicious hard cider and fried pies.

Pro tip: There are so many neat-sounding options for lodging in Blue Ridge. Choices include (but are not limited to) creekside retreats, riverfront fishing lodges, bed and breakfasts, luxury cabin rentals and campgrounds. For the latter, stay at Toccoa River Sandy Bottoms Recreation Area for $8 a night. There’s also the charming Blue Ridge Inn Bed & Breakfast, which starts at around $157.

3. Augusta County, Virginia

Augusta County

If you’re looking for a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of life, head to Augusta County. The rolling hills, lakes and delicious food will ease your mind and please your wanderlust. Augusta is the gateway to one of America’s most picturesque highways, Blue Ridge Parkway, so you can also enjoy scenic drives, bicycling and motorcycle tours.

Perhaps you’ve already figured this out, but Augusta County has plenty of outdoor recreation, including two wilderness areas, a national forest, a state wildlife management area and award-winning fly-fishing streams. Explore the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, where you can pick fruit, check out farmers markets or tour a working farm. Or take a journey to the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, which includes 15 breweries and stretches across Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, Rockbridge and Augusta counties. On this trail, you can easily do a brewery tour and tasting after hiking, biking or paddling.

Pro tip: Augusta County is wonderful for camping, and the Shenandoah Acres Family Campground charges $29 for a tent site; if you stay six nights, your seventh night is even free. But if you’d rather sleep indoors, book a stay at the Best Western Staunton Inn, where rates start around $109. Or consider a bed and breakfast or cottage/cabin.

4. Columbia, South Carolina

South Carolina State House

Columbia (shortened to “Cola” by many) is an up-and-coming city that should be on your list. It’s great for a weekend of antique shopping and touring historic homes, museums and parks. Plus, Columbia carries those artsier vibes thanks to the University of South Carolina.

You’ll find an array of free activities, such as swimming at Lake Murray (entrance is $3 per car but free to park on the Lexington side), exploring the 26,000-acre Congaree National Park (boasting some of the tallest trees in the East), relaxing at Finlay Park (hop on the swings for a view of the skyline and beautiful homes at the park’s edge) and hanging at the award-winning Richland Library (four floors of interactive displays, computers and books).

Every Saturday morning, Main Street plays host to Soda City, where you’ll find a mix of local and regional food and craft vendors. Check out The Columbia Museum of Art for high-profile exhibits as well as the shopping and dining areas of Five Points, Devine Street and The Vista.

Pro tip: You can book a stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Columbia Airport for around $130 a night.

5. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Great Last-Minute Destination

Want a big-city vacation without the hassle (or the cost) of New York City? Try Chicago. The Windy City is super affordable in comparison to other big cities, and its location in the heartland of the States means it’s a short flight from most areas of the country.

Chicago has something for everyone, such as comedy shows at The Second City (a renowned comedy club where the likes of Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, among many others, got their start), exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and Cubs games at Wrigley Field. To get out of the hustle of the city, try stand-up paddleboarding in, boating on or riding bikes around Lake Michigan.

Pro tip: Save some money—and get a sense of what it’s like to live as a local—by skipping the hotel and staying at an Airbnb rental. There are more than 300 rentals in Chicago, so you’ll be able to find a place to stay even if you book at the last minute. If you do plan on swinging by Second City, buy tickets in advance—the club’s popular Monday-night shows often sell out weeks in advance.

6. The Caribbean

Caribbean Great Last-Minute Destination

During the summer, many people avoid visiting Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Aruba, the Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, fearing high temperatures and hurricanes. But summer can actually be a great time for a tropical trip, especially if you’re a last-minute planner.

Caribbean temperatures are typically only a few degrees higher in the summer than during the peak travel season. And though hurricane season runs June through November, the highest risk is during September and October. Many places, especially the southern islands, are rarely affected.

Pro tip: Besides the allure of mouthwatering piña coladas, the biggest motivation to travel to the Caribbean in the summer is the cost. Because fewer people visit during the summer, prices go way down. You could save hundreds of dollars a night on a hotel. Try the Budget Beach Finder on CheapCaribbean.com to explore some wallet-friendly vacation packages.

7. San Luis Obispo, California

San Luis Obispo, California Great Last-Minute Destination

California destinations like San Diego and San Francisco get a lot of visitors, but they’re not always best for last-minute trips. Want to see the West Coast this summer? Try San Luis Obispo.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” called San Luis Obispo the happiest city in the America. The quaint city has stores, restaurants and art galleries, miles of hiking and biking trails and the historic adobe-brick Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. For a relaxing day on the beach, head just 15 minutes west to Avila Beach or Pismo Beach; the latter has a lively downtown area and pier. There are plenty of kid-friendly options in the area, such as the Charles Paddock Zoo, the Morro Bay Aquarium and the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. For adults, plan a day swirling, sniffing and sipping vino at a few of the many wineries in the area.

Pro tip: If you’re booking at the last minute, consider looking outside the city for hotels. There are great options toward the beach or by the wineries in North County. And take advantage of programs on sites like Hotels.com. It offers $50 off when you refer a friend, a free night after 10 stays in hotels booked through them, exclusive promo through their app and more. You can score additional savings when you use a Hotels.com discount gift card.

8. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont Great Last-Minute Destination

We know what you’re thinking. Vermont? In the summer? But though the city of Stowe contains one of New England’s best ski resorts, in the warmer months, it turns into the perfect place for a summer trip.

Stowe offers biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, golf, hiking, tennis and zip lines. Need a break from all the activities? Stowe also has a 21,000 square-foot spa and more than 70 stores and boutiques. And while you’re in the Green Mountain State, take a quick 45-minute day trip to Burlington. Explore Church Street, which is lined with stores and restaurants, then hit up the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury and get a scoop of Chunky Monkey on your way back.

Pro tip: If you’re looking to book a summer vacation in Stowe, check local sites like GoStowe.com for seasonal deals on hotels and activities. As it’s not ski season, you can often find lower prices.

9. Astoria, Oregon

Astoria Cityscape with Astoria-Megler Bridge

Less than two hours from Portland, you’ll find Astoria. Previously known for its cannery industry, this city is now, perhaps, more popular as the setting for the movie The Goonies.

This is a small town with similarities to Brooklyn or the downtown arts district in Los Angeles. Expect plenty of live music, great food, small museums (go to Imogen Gallery and Columbia River Maritime Museum) and coffee galore. If beer (long live, IPAs!) is your thing, head to Buoy Beer Co. and Fort George Brewery. For grub, I suggest Albatross & Co., Silver Salmon Grille and Custard King.

Pro tip: If you’re there on a Sunday, check out The Astoria Sunday Market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May to October. With live music and more than 150 vendors, this is a great way to get a feel for the city and shop for art, crafts and food.

Looking for tips to pack lightly this summer getaways? Check our experts hacks!

For More Travel Inspiration:

How to Cut Your Summer Travel Spending in Half

5 Affordable Winter Getaways

3 Simple Steps to Take Now to Save for Your Dream Summer Vacation

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

One response to “9 Summer-Weekend Getaways for All of Us on a Budget”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *