Sometimes we all need a break — but we don’t have the time (or the budget) to jet halfway around the world. Nor do we want to wait on anyone’s schedule – we just need some ‘me’ time.
Fortunately, there are multiple U.S. destinations that are ideal for the solo traveler – and a quick weekend getaway — and there are more than you would think. The ideal factors for a weekend destination include ease of getting around, variety of sites and things to do, and size. You don’t want to go to a place that’s too large and feel overwhelmed and stressed out, but at the same time, you don’t want to go to a tiny town with not much to do. The key thing here is to find the sweet spot between the two. You also want a destination that is solo traveler friendly, that is, one in which you feel comfortable and not an outlier by being on your own. But there are a variety of destinations that are perfect for the weekend — and the solo traveler. From bustling metropolises like Las Vegas to laid back valley towns like Ojai, the below cities offer a plethora of attractions for the solo traveler.
15. OJAI, California
Located in Ojai Valley, Ojai lies sixty four miles northwest of Los Angeles. With a population of just seven thousand strong, it’s super laid back and ideal for a weekend break. If you’re in the mood for some outdoors time, go camping at the nearby Lake Casitas Recreation Area. There’s also Matilija Creek, where you can hike or take in the waterfalls. For some libations, head to the Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room in downtown Ojai, where you can sip organic wines. Check out Ojai Valley Museum for exhibits on the local Chumash culture that once lived in the region, art by Marguerite Herman, and a diorama of the nearby Sespe Wildnerness. Take a peek inside such stores as Bart’s Books, Made in Ojai, and the Human Arts Gallery.
14. AUSTIN, Texas
Austin is the capital of Texas, one of its most populated cities, but still pretty laid back. It has a vibrant music scene where you can check out such festivals as South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, Pecan Street Festival, and more. There are various walking tours such as ones that explore the Capitol area, including Congress Avenue, and downtown Austin, where you’ll find Republic Square and the Mexic Arte Museum. With over one thousand food trucks in the city, you’ll have plenty of dining options. May I suggest cupcakes at the Hey Cupcake truck or tacos at the Chi’Lantro’s truck? For libations, head over to Hops and Grains for their tour and enjoy samples of their beers.
13. NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
New Orleans offers a perfect getaway for the solo traveler, with the right blend of history and jazz. Head to the French Quarter and just walk around, taking in the architecture that melds Spanish, French, Creole, and American styles. Head further south to check out the Garden District, an idyllic neighborhood filled with antebellum mansions. Now its time to check out what the Big Easy is known for – jazz. Make your way to the 21st Amendment Jazz Club, which is named for the repeal of the prohibition amendment, and soak up some tunes. Grab a bite to eat at Mr. B’s Bistro for New Orleans’ famous gumbo.
12. MIAMI BEACH, Florida
Despite its name, Miami Beach is more than just a beach. You can begin your visit with an art deco tour, walking through the South Beach neighborhood to take in the colorful and geometric designs of the buildings. Next head to the ancient Spanish monastery, officially the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, established in the 12th century but opened to the public as a tourist site in the 60s. For some outdoors time, head to South Pointe Park and Pier, located at the southern part of Miami Beach, which consists of seventeen acres and ocean views. End your weekend by relaxing on the sand of South Beach.
11. PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island
This capital city of Rhode Island has a youthful laid back vibe as the home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of design. Check out Waterplace Park, overlooking the waterfront and the location of the Waterfire art installation. Visit the Rhode Island School of Design for their fine art exhibits. At the Providence Performing Arts Center, you can catch a Broadway concert or comedy show. The DePasquale Plaze features a variety of shops and restaurants; dine outside at an Italian pastry shop. Head to the Providence Athenaeum, a library built in the 19th century, to check out its stunning architecture. Fun fact – Edgar Allen Poe once walked its rooms.
10. PORTLAND, Oregon
Portlandia the television series has put this city into the eyes of the cultural zeitgeist, but many have known that this chill city is a bit of a haven in the Pacific Northwest. Less famous than nearby Seattle, Portland has plenty to offer for the weekend getaway. At Washington Park, you’ll find the dazzling Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo. Portland is the king of food trucks, and there are a variety of cuisines to choose from, ranging from Indian to American fare. Head to Portland’s Saturday Market for local wares. And no visit to Portland is complete without heading to one if its famous brew pubs, from Rock Bottom to BridgePort.
9. RICHMOND, Virginia
Richmond is a hip, young and relaxed city to visit for a weekend. Check out the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where you will find a Fabrege collection, or you can relax with coffee in its café. Head over to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to take in the various flowers and plants in bloom. For fun outdoor activities, go to Pony Pasture Park. The Maggie L. Walker National Historic site is worth a visit, as it is the home of Maggie Walker, the first black woman to own a bank in the United States. For a bite to eat, head to the South of the James Farmer’s Market.
8. SANTA FE, New Mexico
The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is nestled in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It’s filled with unique pueblo style architecture and has a thriving arts scene, and it is well worth a visit. You can head to the Palace of the Governors, where you’ll find the New Mexico History Museum. At the Santa Fe Opera House, you can take in a show at this outdoor amphitheater. Head to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum for a look at her works. At the Folk Art Market, you’ll find hand crafted art pieces, and purchases here help the artists directly. For more shopping, souvenirs, and dining options, head to the Plaza, Santa Fe’s bustling town square.
7. CHARLESTON, South Carolina
Charleston, a port city that was founded in the 17th century, has an array of activities for the weekend visitor. You can shop at the Charleston City Market, where vendors make handmaid baskets. Visit Riley Waterfront Park, a quaint park and pier filled with swinging benches that overlook the waterfront. Head to Charleston’s historic district to visit the Battery and White Point Gardens, with a view of Fort Sumter across the water. Fort Sumter itself is worth a visit, as it was here that the first fateful shots of the Civil War were fired. For some entertainment, head to Charleston Music Hall, which features music from local acts.
6. LAS VEGAS, Nevada
It may be surprising that Las Vegas is actually solo travel friendly. The casinos themselves are an attraction; just walking through can provide an afternoon of entertainment. There are the the Venetian Canals at the Palazzo, the faux Eiffel Tower at Paris, the fountains and botanical gardens at the Bellagio. You can enjoy a drink in the sky at the Tower Bar at the Stratosphere Casino. Head to the Neon Museum to take in vintage neon signs. Take in a show – the famous Cirque de Soleil performs the Mystere show at Excalibur and Love at the Mirage.
5. SEDONA, Arizona
This desert town in Arizona is a relaxing weekend getaway spot. You can begin your visit at one of its many spas – try the special clay wrap at the Mii Amo Spa. You can hike at the Red Rock State Park, a park which features various red rock formations, including the Cathedral Rocks. Check out local exhibits at the Sedona Heritage Museum. At the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, you’ll find an outdoor shopping center in the layout of a traditional Mexican village. Head to the Gallery District, where you can walk through various shops and peruse works of art.
4. INDIANOPOLIS, Indiana
Indianapolis is more than just the site of the Indy 500, it’s a vibrant city with plenty of options for the weekend traveler. Head to White River State Park, where you can enjoy gondola rides or rent a bike to ride through the grounds. There is also the White River Gardens, which features a botanical garden with reflecting pools. At the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, you’ll find exhibits on the art and culture of the American West. In downtown Indianapolis, you’ll find a plethora of restaurants and bars, stop for a drink at Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge.
3. DENVER, Colorado
Founded during the Old West period, Denver is an ideal place for the weekend traveler. You can check out the Denver Art Museum, where there’s an indigenous works collection in addition to the various art exhibitions. ‘Theme park’ is probably not what comes to mind when you think of Denver, but at Elitch Gardens Theme Park, you’ll find plenty of rollercoasters for the thrill seeker in you. You can then take a hike at Dinosaur Ridge, so named as its located in the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark. At Larimer Square, Denver’s historic district, you’ll find tons of shopping and dining options.
2. NASHVILLE, Tennessee
Nashville is not only the home of country music – it’s a perfect weekend getaway spot. Head to Tootsie’s Orchards Lounge to check out new upcoming acts, any of whom could be country’s next big star. Next head to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to explore exhibits about country legends, past and present. Do a tour of Music Row, which includes RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded hundreds of songs. For some shopping, head to Opry Mills, the largest outlet mall in the state. Head to the Parthenon, where you can check out the art gallery and museum.
1. CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa
Cedar Rapids is an often overlooked destination, but it’s worthy of a trip. You can start by heading to the Museum of Art Cedar Rapids, where you’ll find exhibits by regional artist Grant Wood and prints by American artists. At Bever Park, you’ll find both an ice rink for the chilly winter months and a pool for the hot summers. At Brudemore, you’ll find a 19th century mansion that hosts tours and concerts. You can enjoy hiking without having to leave the city at Sac and Fox Trail City Park. For shopping, head to Czech Village, which features antique and vintage shops.
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