From January to December, there are several long weekends that fall near public holidays, making it the perfect time for short trips. Feel free to visit our homepage to find out when these holidays occur and how long they last.
Long weekends are basically breaks that are at least three days long, as they include one or more days before or after a public holiday. So, don't miss out on a 3-day weekend (or more)! With so much time off, you have a great opportunity to plan a wonderful brief vacation anywhere in the country.
To help you make the most of these long weekends and holidays in the United States, we've put together a list of all the extended weekends happening throughout the year. This way, you can plan your short getaways well in advance.
Whether you're seeking a romantic escape with your significant other or a nature retreat to enjoy with your family, a long weekend getaway can be a fantastic way to discover new places, unwind, and relax!
Planning for Long Weekend
Extended weekends offer a great chance to take a short break from our usual busy routines. For many of us, this inspires the idea of unwinding in a new place, and maybe even spontaneously planning a trip to explore a fresh destination.
Although these excursions typically don't demand extensive planning, there are a couple of important factors you should not overlook when organizing them.
These suggestions will assist you in setting some expectations for what to anticipate when traveling during a long weekend, how to steer clear of common mistakes made by most travelers, and how to get ready to fully enjoy your trip, even if it's a bit crowded.
1. Expect Crowds
Just like you, many other folks will want to plan an awesome trip for that extra-long weekend. So, of course, the popular places will fill up quickly. Expect longer lines, crowded beaches, and fully booked activities during busy holiday weekends.
If you're not a fan of big crowds or if you're seeking a peaceful getaway, keep in mind that you'll need to put in some effort to plan your trip wisely and avoid the masses.
Imagine watching the sunrise on New Year's Eve at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The beach is still bustling! Now, consider why you want to visit your chosen destination. Unless it's something very personal and unique, chances are many others have the same idea.
Next, think about how you can outsmart the competition to find the best deals and activities or, better yet, how to steer clear of the crowds. The answers will vary depending on where you're headed, but fortunately, the internet can guide us in finding solutions.
2. Try to Book Most Things in Advance
When you're getting ready for a trip to a city or country during a holiday, it's a good idea to plan and book everything in advance. This includes your flights, places to stay, and the activities you want to enjoy.
If you're flying within your own country, you'll often find lower prices if you book your tickets a month or two before your travel date. For international flights, it's usually a good strategy to book around three months ahead.
Are you excited about trying out some popular activities at your destination? It's a smart move to reserve them at least a few weeks before your trip. If you're thinking about taking a ferry ride, try to purchase your ticket online if it's an option. This way, you can avoid any last-minute stress or the chance of it being sold out.
Even if you discover that the activities you want to do are fully booked, don't be discouraged. It's worth asking if they can add you to their waiting list. There have been occasions when I've been in the same situation, and someone canceled at the last minute, allowing me to take their spot. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
3. Beware of “Holiday Surcharges” and “Minimum Stays”
Make sure you pay attention to extra fees for staying at a place and the minimum number of days you must stay during holidays. Some hotels and apartments may ask you to stay for 2, 3, 5, or however many days they specify during popular holidays.
This is something you'll notice with Vrbo, and even some hotels and hostels do it, especially around Christmas and New Year's. Speaking of Airbnb, it's a fantastic platform to discover places to stay, things to do, and great places to eat at your destination.
Staying in accommodation is usually less expensive than hotels, and most of the time, you'll get to experience the local culture and make connections, which isn't always the case with hotels. Also, keep in mind that some restaurants might charge twice as much as their regular prices during major holidays.
For instance, in Rio de Janeiro, restaurants are known for raising their prices during Carnival. Their extra fees can go up to four times the usual price for the same menu, especially at local restaurants right by the beach.
4. Try to Beat or Overstay the Crowds
Whenever possible, try to be flexible with your schedule. Can you begin your journey a day or two prior to the extended weekend? Alternatively, could you extend your stay until Tuesday or Wednesday?
This additional day or two can make a significant difference in terms of avoiding large crowds. This way, you can fully enjoy that peaceful beach, your kayaking adventure, or that hiking trail without being constantly surrounded by hundreds of other tourists.
It's a good idea to plan the most popular tourist activities for that extra day or two before or after the holiday weekend when there will be fewer people around. Save the less touristy or more off-the-beaten-path activities for the weekend itself.
5. Go to a Non-holiday Place
While it might be a special weekend in the United States, it could just be a regular weekend in places like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, or Spain.
Take a look at the calendar and find out if any foreign destination you're interested in is also celebrating a holiday on that weekend. If not, why not consider going there instead?
Websites like Skyscanner and Kayak offer the option to search for flights from your city to "everywhere" or multiple cities simultaneously. This way, you can find out which international location might offer the most affordable airfare for that specific weekend.
The advantage of traveling to an international spot on their regular weekend is that you won't have to pay extra for the holiday season, especially if they are in their off-peak season when prices tend to be even lower. In the end, it could turn out to be more cost-effective.
It's also worth noting that airlines are aware of travel trends. So, if it's a holiday weekend in the US, they know that more people will be traveling during that time, and they might increase their ticket prices. This is why it's a good idea to be flexible with your travel dates and consider flying a day or two earlier or later, as mentioned earlier.
6. Do Something Different
Certain holiday weekends often come with traditional activities. For instance, on the 4th of July, many people go to the beach. Thanksgiving tends to be a family-focused time at home, and during Memorial Day, folks usually enjoy parades.
But how about doing something a bit out of the ordinary to avoid the crowds? If most folks are heading to the beach, why not consider climbing a mountain or going on a nature hike? If the holiday isn't during beach season, why not pay a visit to the seaside for some relaxation on the sandy shores or embark on a road trip to explore smaller towns?
There are plenty of ways to escape the crowds and still feel like you're having a great holiday, just with a twist. You just need to get creative and think outside the box.
7. Consider an Alternative Plan
Imagine arriving at a beautiful, quiet beach only to find it crowded with thousands of people sunbathing. This might not be the serene experience you had in mind, so why not consider visiting a less-frequented beach nearby?
Activities During Long Weekend
If you're still trying to decide how to make the most of your upcoming long weekend, don't worry, we've got you covered! Here, you'll discover some fantastic ideas for the best long weekend getaways in the US.
Embrace a Weekend Getaway
A long weekend presents the perfect opportunity to travel, create lasting memories, whether you decide to embark on a journey or enjoy your time at home. To maximize your weekend, it's a good idea to plan ahead. You deserve some well-deserved rest and enjoyment, so make sure to utilize your free time for activities you love.
Traveling to Nearby Cities - Consider planning a trip to visit friends and family in a nearby city. This can be a fun and cost-effective way to spend your long weekend, especially if you can stay with someone you know. Reach out to your closest friends and family members and inquire if they can host you for the weekend. You can offer a thoughtful gift or propose covering the expenses of a group outing in return for staying at their place.
Road Trips vs. Air Travel - Compare the advantages of taking a road trip versus catching a flight. Generally, short road trips are an excellent choice for maximizing your long weekend because they allow you more time to enjoy your chosen destination. However, if you wish to venture farther from home, flying might be the better option. If your destination is within a 2-3 hour drive, consider planning a road trip. On the other hand, if you want to explore a location that's further away, flying might be more suitable.
To make an informed decision, check the prices of plane tickets and the cost of gas to determine which option is more budget-friendly. Keep an eye out for special deals on flights to certain destinations. If you're traveling with companions, have a discussion about everyone's preferences and what they'd like to do along the way if you plan to stop in other cities during your long road trip.
Inviting Friends and Exploring Your Hometown - Are you looking to spend time with friends but can't stay at their place? No worries! You can still hang out with them. Just ask if they can meet up for an afternoon or join you for dinner. While you're in town, don't forget to ask them for recommendations on things to do. If you have the budget for it, consider booking a hotel and covering your travel expenses. Make the most of a long weekend by planning a mini-vacation. You can choose to go somewhere exciting like Las Vegas or New York City, or you can stay closer to home. To ensure a hassle-free trip, make your travel and hotel arrangements in advance. Then, dive into the adventure and enjoy every moment. For a short vacation, it's a good idea to leave as early as possible on Friday evening and return as late as you can on Sunday.
Exploring Nearby Cities
Explore a city nearby for a fantastic weekend getaway. You don't have to venture far to have a great time! Embark on a short road trip to a city or town close to your home. Whether it's a big metropolis or a charming small town, you'll find plenty of fun things to do. If there's a major city nearby, like Austin, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boulder, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Houston, Miami Beach, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, or New York, consider visiting it.
But if you don't have a major city nearby, don't worry; you can still have a blast in a smaller town. Explore their local restaurants, parks, and shops. Seek out unique hotels, eateries, and activities to make your trip memorable.
Many cities and towns have something special to offer, whether it's a quirky restaurant, a stylish boutique hotel, or a local attraction like a giant ball of yarn or an oversized fire hydrant. Plan visits to these unique spots in the city you select for your getaway.
Overnight Adventures in the City
If you're planning an overnight stay, focus on boutique hotels that offer a distinctive experience, or choose an Airbnb to immerse yourself in the local culture. When dining out, do some online research to find the trendiest bars and restaurants in your destination city. You might want to explore a teahouse, a food truck park, or a restaurant that serves fusion cuisine.
Check the city's official website for information about any special events taking place during the weekend. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the city's top attractions, such as museums, to make the most of your visit.
You can find a list of fun attractions for Labor day weekend here.
Exploring the Outdoors
Hiking and Camping Adventures: Heading out for a hike or camping trip is great when the weather is nice and clear. Being outside helps you relax and satisfies your sense of adventure. Plan a hike in a nearby park or nature area. If you're interested in camping, reserve a camping spot, pack up your camping gear, and invite some friends along. If you're camping, make sure your tent is big enough for everyone joining the trip.
In warmer regions, spring and fall are ideal times for hiking and camping. In cooler places, late spring, summer, and early fall are the best seasons for outdoor activities.
Beach and Lake Fun: Spend your weekend by the beach or a lake on a sunny, warm day. A day at the beach feels like an instant vacation. If the weather is nice and clear, there's no better place to be than by the water. Bring your swimsuit, blankets, towels, and a picnic, and enjoy a full day at the beach or lakeside.
Discovering National Parks: Explore a state or national park during the spring, summer, or fall. National parks offer a chance to get up close to natural wonders and wildlife, providing a unique experience. Find the nearest national park to your location. Check their opening hours and buy tickets if needed. On the day of your visit, wear comfortable clothes and sturdy walking shoes, and bring some drinking water with you. For instance, you could visit Rocky Mountain National Park or Yellowstone National Park.
Winter Adventure: Skiing: When it's snowy outside, plan a skiing trip to the mountains. A visit to the mountains offers exciting adventures and a cozy time by the fire. During cold weather, a mountain getaway can be your perfect long weekend escape. Reserve a short stay at a mountain lodge or ski resort and spend your free time skiing down the slopes.
Enjoy Local Activities
Spend an afternoon at the park. Parks are enjoyable because they have playgrounds, walking paths, and beautiful natural surroundings. Head to your local park for a picnic, games, or a leisurely walk. Make it even more enjoyable by inviting your friends and family to join you!
Experiment with different cuisines by dining at a restaurant you've never been to before. Trying new food is a fun way to add variety to your life without traveling far from home. Choose a restaurant you haven't visited yet or one that offers a wide range of dishes. Then, order something you wouldn't typically try. If your town has limited dining options, consider ordering a different dish from your favorite restaurant.
Here are some activities you might want to consider:
- Bring along some board games and enjoy them at a picnic table or on a blanket.
- Have a friendly game of soccer or kickball.
- Explore a nearby winery or brewery.
- Take a leisurely walk by a local waterfront area.
- Pay a visit to the zoo.
- Participate in a painting class.
- Get into a casual game of baseball.
- Create colorful drawings on the sidewalk using chalk if it's allowed.
- Engage in a game of badminton.
- Try your hand at mini-golf.
- Enjoy a game of bowling.
- Go on a tour of a local museum.
Look out for local events taking place over the weekend. You never know what enjoyable activities are happening until you take a look! There might be a movie screening, a farmers' market, a festival, or something else going on in your town that you never knew about—and a long weekend is the perfect time to give it a try.
To discover entertaining events in your town, check out community boards where people can put up flyers about what's going on. You can often find these boards in cafes, libraries, supermarkets, or public buildings.
Spend your extra time enjoying a hobby. Sometimes, your busy week at school or work can make it tough to do the things you love. A long weekend is just the right time to dive into your favorite pastime. Set aside a few hours over the weekend to indulge in your hobbies. For example, you can:
- Knit a scarf.
- Paint something.
- Build a birdhouse or a shelf.
- Write a short story.
- Play a game.
- Practice the guitar.
- Create your own bath products.
- Read a captivating book.
- Solve puzzles.
- Watch a TV show or movie marathon.
Time with Friends and Family
If you want, you can ask a friend or family member to join you for a movie marathon. Cook a delicious meal for your loved ones. Sharing a meal with the people you care about is a wonderful way to create memories, unwind, and remind yourself of what truly matters. Invite friends and family over to your place for lunch or dinner. Then, whip up a tasty meal or have everyone bring their favorite dishes.
For instance, if the weather's nice, you can organize a picnic or a barbecue outdoors. On a chilly day, prepare a large pot of chili or gumbo to share with your loved ones.
Tackle a significant home improvement project. You probably have some projects you've been meaning to tackle but never had enough time for. Fortunately, a long weekend provides the perfect opportunity to get these things done. Choose a project that will make you feel happier and more content at home, like:
- Decluttering and organizing your home.
- Giving a room in your home a fresh new look.
- Painting a room.
- Getting some new deck furniture.
- Building a swing set.
- Catching up on or getting ahead in your work or school assignments.
- Starting a garden.
- Taking care of your car.
- Laying down stones for a new patio.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I pick the best spot for a long weekend getaway?
Choosing the perfect place for your long weekend is super important for a fun trip. Think about what you like, how much money you have, and how far you want to travel. Look up spots that match what you want, like cool history places, pretty nature spots, or exciting cities. To make this easier, here are some ideas:
Picking a Place: Check out travel websites, blogs, and social media to see where people like to go for long weekends. Read what they say and suggest.
Distance Matters: Try to find places that aren't too far away so you can spend more time relaxing and having fun.
Budget-Friendly Spots: Look for places that fit your budget, including where you'll stay, what you'll eat, and what you'll do.
What should I bring for a long weekend trip?
Packing the right stuff is important so you have everything you need without carrying too much. Here's a list of things you should definitely bring:
- Pack clothes that work for the weather where you're going. Layers are good in case it gets hot or cold.
- Bring small toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, and sunscreen.
- Don't forget your ID, passport, tickets, and hotel info.
- Charge your gadgets and bring chargers, power banks, and plug adapters.
- Bring any medicine you need and a basic first-aid kit.
How can I stick to my budget while traveling?
You can travel without spending too much money and still have a great time. Here are some tips:
- Plan Early
- Eat Local
- Use Public Transport
- Explore Free Activities
Is it okay to go on trips by yourself during extended weekends?
Going on trips alone can be enjoyable, but ensuring your safety is the top priority. It's important to visit locations that have a low crime rate and receive positive feedback from people who have traveled there solo. Additionally, inform a friend or family member about your destination and your accommodation plans. Stay connected, keep your phone charged, and have important emergency contact numbers readily available.
What are some ways to travel in an eco-friendly way?
Taking care of the environment when you travel is important. Here are some eco-friendly things you can do:
- Pick eco-friendly hotels or think about staying in eco-lodges and campgrounds.
- Bring a reusable water bottle and shopping bag to use less plastic.
- Follow Leave No Trace rules when you're in nature.
How can I make the most of a long weekend with limited time?
To make the most of your long weekend, you need to plan carefully:
Do What Matters Most: Figure out what you really want to see and do and put those things first.
Start Early: Begin your days early to have more time to do fun stuff.
Stay in the Middle: Stay somewhere in the middle of the action so you don't waste time traveling.
What should I do if my plans change because of unexpected stuff?
When things don't go as planned while traveling, you need to be flexible:
- Think of other things you can do if your first plan doesn't work out.
- Consider buying travel insurance to cover cancellations or emergencies.
How can I keep a good balance between work and fun on long weekends?
Long weekends are a good chance to take a break. Here's how to do it:
- Talk to your work about when you'll be available while you're off.
- Don't check your work emails and messages so you can really enjoy your time off.
How can I make my long weekend special and memorable?
You should try to take pictures and write down what you do so you'll remember it all. Meet Talk to people who live there to learn about their culture.