Best Places for a Weekend Getaway
Sometimes getting out of town for a three-day weekend—or even just Friday and Saturday nights—is all you need to recharge. But where can you go to make the most of your vacation money on such a short trip? To find out, Money looked for the lowest average hotel costs and airfares, of course. But we also gave extra weight to places with great weather, lots of attractions, and fewer flight delays. Because when you've only got 48 hours for fun, you don't want to waste it stuck in your hotel room—or on the tarmac. —Kathryn O'Shea-Evans
Elvis and Sinatra loved Sin City for good reason: its bevy of neon-lit, all-ages exploits. Plus, there’s winning news for your wallet—the city’s central location and glut of hotel rooms means it’s often a cheap thrill (roundtrip airfares have fallen 7.1% since last year, on average). Stay at the all-suite, gaming-free Vdara Hotel & Spa, where you can find weekend rates from $212 a night. You’ll want to pack your swimsuit—the five-star rooftop pool lounge, lined with Tiffany-blue daybeds, looks off-the-charts fantastic. For a bucket list experience, book a 70-minute Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines tour over the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, including hotel pick-up, for $119 a person. Helicopter versions of similar tours can go for more than $400 each. Or see stunning nature the nearly free, $7-a-car way at Red Rock Canyon, just 17 miles west of the Strip.
Round-trip airfare to Orlando is now under $300, on average—which means you can likely get there for less than the cost of a new suit. There’s plenty to do in Florida’s “Theme Park Capital of the World,” but you might be surprised at the town’s many grown-up offerings. For starters: the waterfall-surrounded pool and 22,000-square-foot spa at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, where we saw rates from $159 a night in April. In a city where food is as lauded as a certain human-sized mouse, don’t miss a meal at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, a beloved tapas restaurant filled with local and Caribbean art. Dishes include local alligator bites with key lime mustard ($9) and guava barbecued ribs with pickled green tomatoes ($10).
The state of Oregon has a major perk for the penny-wise: there's no sales tax, which means that plaid flannel shirt will cost you a lot less than it does at home. Stay at the The Benson Hotel (about $151 a night), built in 1913 and still one of Portland’s grande dames. For a great view of the city, get to the happy hour early at Portland City Grill and nab a window-side seat; it’s on the 30th floor of one of the tallest buildings in town. Your order: $6.95 shrimp and grits; $5 garlic fries; and a $6 glass of white wine.
When they call it The Big Easy, what they really mean is it’s easy on your bank account. Round-trip airfare to the Louisiana hotspot is down a full 7% over last year. Book a stay in the Degas House ($164), the home-turned-B&B of the famous French painter Edgar Degas; ask for the Estelle Suite. with a king-size, four-poster bed and a private balcony that once served as the setting for one of the artist's works. Get tickets to iconic Preservation Hall ($20) for jazz, and (of course) hop on a streetcar—there’s no more affordable way to explore, at $3 for a 24-hour pass.
America’s capital city is chockablock with taxpayer-funded (read: totally free) activities, from all the Smithsonian museums to the airy outdoor memorials. Stay at the centrally located Renaissance Dupont Circle ($186), which is near D.C.’s historic Georgetown and right on the Metro. To rub elbows with politicos in one of the town’s most storied hotels, grab a $7 beer at Off the Record, a bar at the 1928 Hay-Adams hotel. Because it’s exceedingly glamorous (and in a prime location, just a grassy block away from the White House), it has been a home-away-from-home for everyone from Amelia Earhart to Angelina Jolie.