Need a summer vacation but don’t have the time to travel abroad? Look no further than these five getaways that are close enough to explore for a memorable weekend away.
Hop on a 90-minute flight to this charming port town, where you can saunter down the mile-long Riverwalk by Cape Fear River, visit the historic landmarks, or spend a night in the hip piano bars and pool halls. Craft beer aficionados can hit the Wilmington Ale Trail featuring local breweries, while adventure lovers can hike or bike the nature trails. You might even recognize some of the sites: Wilmington is frequently used as the backdrop for film and television sets, including One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, We’re The Millers, and Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice, Safe Haven and The Longest Ride. Enjoy music and fireworks by the sea every Thursday evening this summer at 9 p.m., or swing by the first weekend of August for sweet barbecue eats at Port City Rib Fest.
The Hamptons, NY
To reach this sunny retreat, load up your car for a four-hour road trip, or journey by train via Amtrak or the Long Island Railroad. Either way, you'll be relieved to end up on Long Island's luxurious East End for a charming seaside trip. Stroll down Main Street to shop some of the most glamorous boutiques the town has to offer, or lay out on one of the world-class beaches nearby. You may even find yourself rubbing elbows with celebrities at exclusive bars and clubs. Be sure to come by Art Southampton, a contemporary and modern art fair, which is a must-see in July, or score tickets to the Hampton Classic. Foodies, take note on where to dine in every Hamptons neighborhood, from seasonal farm-to-table to fresh seafood by the water.
After an easy two-hour flight to this charming Tennessee oasis, head for an outdoor trek through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which borders Kentucky. Rent a car and drive along one of the many scenic mountain roads, where you'll spot wildlife, waterfalls, and historic churches and farmhouses from the 18th century. Visitors also have the option to pitch a tent under the stars, though travelers should keep an eye out for black bears. Those looking to relax should head to Gatlinburg Craftmens Fair, which features live country and bluegrass music, and over 150 booths of handmade crafts in July. Visiting in August? Tickets are now available for the Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival.
Just a short flight away, this maritime gem boasts shopping in the promenades and sailing in the harbor among scenic lighthouses, cobblestone streets, and grand Victorian-era buildings. Plus, the historic Old Port district is full of dining, art, music, and overflowing nightlife on weekends. Don’t miss the Yarmouth Clam Festival, a carnival featuring a lively parade, fireworks, foot-tapping music, and tasty treats in July. If you're planning your trip toward the end of the season, be sure to check out the Maine Lobster Festival for world-famous seafood, cooking contests, live music, and a parade.
New Orleans, LA
Hop on a flight down south to Louisiana to explore the spirited city of live music and hearty food. Stay out late dancing down Bourbon Street, go treasure hunting at the antique markets, explore the city’s haunted past, and snap photos of the balconies dripping with bougainvillea and ivy. Throw any diet plans out the window because this is the place to indulge: doughy beignets coated in heaps of powdered sugar, crispy fried po’ boys, smoky jambalaya, and mouthwatering gumbo. If you're headed here in July, stop by the Bastille Day Fête for music, contests, and cooking demos, or snag tickets to Moonshine Fever in August for a festival featuring rides, barbecue, and an open beer bar.