Without full-freedom summers like those of our school days, adults have one saving grace for our collective sanity in hot weather: summer Fridays. They are legit the best invention to hit the workplace since the water cooler and G-Chat. By the end of the summer, you barely remember what it's like to work a five-day week (#Legalize4DayWorkWeeks).
Some of those long weekends are best used for catching up on sleep and completing mundane errands around the house. But there will be times when you're going to want more. You're going to need a change of scenery — an adventure, if you will.
The long weekend vacation is an art. You want a destination with a blend of local charm and a laid-back attitude. What you DON'T want is a location so jam-packed with activities that it will leave you feeling stressed when you inevitably can't hit everything.
There's a fine balance that must be struck.
Here are 12 long weekend destinations that check all the right boxes for those summer Fridays.
Bar Harbor, ME
A photo posted by Traveling Bostonian (@travelingbostonian) on Mar 15, 2016 at 10:05am PDT
No one would tell you to take a weekend trip to Maine in the winter…or fall…or even spring. But when summer hits this northeastern gem, the magic is palpable.
Bar Harbor has all the trappings of a classic beach town (local ice cream shops, quaint local boutiques), only it's even more idyllic than what you're probably accustomed to. Its rocky coast boasts an adorable lighthouse and amazing lobster, plus manageable prices to boot.
A photo posted by TravelNevada (@travelnevada) on Mar 11, 2016 at 8:39pm PST
“The biggest little city in the world.” That's Reno's tagline, and it's ready to defend that reputation.
With Vegas completely oversaturated in the American tourism industry, Reno is on the rise for the same traits of glitz and gambling, only with fewer tourists. Bonus: There's a growing brewery culture in the city, so you can trade in those sugary casino cocktails for some craft beer.
Point Pleasant, NJ
A photo posted by Jersey Shore Drone (@jerseyshoredrone) on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:11pm PST
Seaside Heights and the Wildwoods get all the glory of the Jersey Shore. Yet if you want a little less fist pumping and a little more relaxing, head due north to Point Pleasant.
Time-travel your way back to the 1950s with a stay in a “Doo Wop Motel,” so-called because the décor is filled with golden-era kitsch.
Upper Peninsula, MI
A photo posted by Ryan Finkbeiner (@sixlittlesnowflakesphotography) on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:49pm PDT
The upper Midwest is all about that Lake Life, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the crème de la crème of Lake Life, with its myriad charming towns and wilderness adventures.
One day you can be kayaking through the Les Cheneaux area; the next you can explore Tahquamenon Falls; and then you can end the day with a dinner at one of the many marinas on Lake Superior.
Willamette Valley, OR
A photo posted by ORbike - Oregon! (@orbike) on Mar 12, 2016 at 3:28pm PST
There had to be a wine weekend included in this list, yet the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California are so well-known they're almost a given at this point. Trade in California's vines for the burgeoning wine scene of Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Given its proximity to hipster Portland, you'll find many oenophiles exploring the wine trails on their bikes. It's a good way to work off those Pinot Noir calories.
A photo posted by Gerald Nguyen (@gerald_nguyen) on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:31pm PDT
Albuquerque tourism is booming, putting this modest city on the cusp of becoming the next great southwest metropolis.
St. Louis, MO
A photo posted by Gateway Arch (@gatewayarchstl) on Mar 14, 2016 at 2:10pm PDT
There's more to St. Louis than the famous arch (though let's be honest, that's pretty cool too). The “Gateway to the West” is chock-full of green space, with a fabulous botanical garden and its urban sculpture park, Citygarden.
And let's not forget about that mouth-watering BBQ. Ribs are a must when you're in St. Louis.
Adirondack Mountains, NY
A photo posted by PureADK | Evan & Hilary (@pureadirondacks) on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:30am PDT
Here's something you probably didn't know: Adirondack Park is bigger than both Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of National Parks. That's 6 million acres of High Peaks, pristine lakes and practically unspoiled nature.
Try staying in the small town of Saranac Lake, or opt for the site of the 1980 Olympics, Lake Placid.
A photo posted by Arizona Hikers Guide (@arizonahikersguide) on Mar 15, 2016 at 7:53am PDT
Red Rock is one of the coolest natural wonders in the continental US, and Sedona, Arizona, has them in spades. Among the most popular, and coolest, are the Pink Jeep tours of the Red Rocks. It's bound to bring out the renegade inside you.
When you've satisfied your sense of adventure, you can unwind with a prickly pear margarita (a local specialty) or soak up the culture at one of the many lauded art galleries.
Pacific Coast Highway, CA
A photo posted by @mister_efil on Mar 14, 2016 at 8:44pm PDT
Everyone needs a solid road trip to make a summer memorable. The Pacific Coast Highway is the gold standard of road trips. US 1 is hella scenic, with its cliffs and ocean views.
Within a long weekend, think of how many coastal towns you can visit. You can hit the Danish village of Solvang in the morning, and then stop for some fresh avocados in Santa Barbara in the afternoon — and that's just day one.
A photo posted by Charbel Habchi (@charbhabchi) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:39pm PDT
You can't have a productive long weekend in Europe without feeling like you missed everything. Look instead to our neighbor to the north, and try out Quebec for a weekend.
It has all the feel of a French village (French is the official language after all) — only at a fraction of the cost. Plus there's always a festival for you to experience a taste of local culture.
A photo posted by Grand Wailea (@grandwailea) on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:34pm PDT
I know, I know. A weekend in Hawaii is a SPLURGE. But sometimes you just have to treat yourself, and if you're going to treat yourself, Hawaii is the place to do it.
Maui is the long weekend destination of your dreams. White sand beaches, clear water, amazing surfing. And when you need a break from all that sunlight, the island boasts some incredible spas to make you forget about all your tension and troubles.
I mean, put it this way: Would you ever regret a weekend in Hawaii? I don't think so.
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