After two years of travel restrictions, 2022 could be the year to get out and enjoy all the travel dreams you've been putting on hold. Whether you want to save that precious annual leave, prefer to stay close to home, or don't feel ready to bet your time and money on a long-haul trip right now, you can reap the benefits of these unique trips in a single weekend.
Even better, there are many unique weekend getaways to enjoy within the United States. These bucket list weekend getaways will allow you to break from the daily grind and lose yourself in a new world of fun – something that 75.8% of Americans are prioritizing with their travel this year.
1. Take Up a New Sport
If pickleball is a new sport – or even a new word – you're not alone. The fastest-growing sport in the United States, pickleball is a relatively new paddle sport growing in popularity at rapid speed. It's not hard to see why; pickleball is fun, accessible to people of all fitness levels, and fueled by an enthusiastic community.
If you're new to the game, a pickleball camp promises a fun-packed weekend getaway that will also get your heart racing just the right amount. There are numerous 2- and 3-day pickleball camps popping up all over the country, so it shouldn't be hard to find one near you. Check out this guide to the best camps to learn more.
2. Hike One of the Most Beautiful National Parks
Enjoy an active challenge? The Mount Sterling Loop in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect hike for a weekend getaway. A 3-day round trip, the loop trail takes you past two impressive creeks, countless panoramic views, and scenes that look more like a movie set than real life. This reasonably strenuous trail isn't for the faint-hearted, but experienced hikers will enjoy a rewarding outdoor adventure that feels like more than a single weekend.
3. Stay On a Ranch
The whole point of a weekend getaway is to escape your daily life, and a stay on a dude ranch will do just that. Enjoy a quintessential western experience with fun activities for all ages, such as natural water swimming, river rating, hiking, and horseback riding.
When choosing a dude ranch to visit, you'll find options in 10 different states and provinces across the US and Canada. These include Arkansas, Washington, New Mexico, and British Columbia, each with unique scenery and activities to enjoy. You can find a complete list of ranches, plus more information on what to expect, on this website.
4. Give Tiny Home Living a Try
Forget colossal resorts and over-the-top attractions. More than 50% of Americans say they would consider living in a tiny home, and a weekend getaway is a perfect way to try it out! With more and more tiny home hotels and vacation rentals opening up all over the USA, it's never been easier to enjoy this unique experience.
Even if you could never see yourself downsizing, staying in a tiny home for a few days is a fun way to experience a completely different style of living. There are many reasons to check into one, and a weekend getaway is a perfect time to do so.
5. Hit the Skies in a Hot Air Balloon
Is riding in a hot air balloon on your bucket list? You may want to consider getting a ticket to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! It will take over nine days, meaning there are two weekends when you can experience this see-it-to-believe-it event.
As well as numerous hot air balloon flights, expect other exciting entertainment, including chainsaw carving competitions and professional skydiving displays.
6. Unleash Your Inner Child at an Adult Summer Camp
If you miss the carefree summer camp days, you can relive the nostalgia at Dirtybird Campout. With games, sports, arts, crafts, and other kinds of fun you probably thought you'd left behind in childhood, this summer camp for adults is just like the good old days – only for grown-ups.
After a short hiatus due to the pandemic, the “most unique festival experience in the world” returns this year for a 3-day event in California. If you want a weekend getaway packed with fun, you can find more information on their website.
7. Capture Stunning Photos for Your Home
A photography tour combines a fun travel adventure with the opportunity to pick up or improve a creative skill. Many local photographers run their own 2- or 3-day workshops around their areas, and they can make for a fun and fruitful weekend getaway.
There are options for all interests and destinations, from Arizona's Grand Canyon and deserts to busy street photography in New York City. Who knows, maybe you will head home with a souvenir you can hang on your wall!
8. Set Sail on a Weekend Cruise
When you only have a weekend to enjoy your getaway, you don't want to waste most of the time traveling. Unless traveling is part of the adventure, that is, which is why a short cruise can be the ideal weekend trip.
Royal Caribbean offers several weekend cruises from Los Angeles, Miami, Fort Lauderdale Orlando. On one of these trips, you can venture as far as the Caribbean in just three days while making the journey part of the vacation.
9. Explore Tiny Towns and Big Sights on a Road Trip
Even if you take regular road trips, there's likely an epic road trip you haven't experienced yet right on your doorstep. It's all about making the journey itself part of the adventure to maximize the limited time on a weekend trip.
Many unique towns, quirky spots, and natural wonders can only be accessed by car. So whether it's ticking off the Grand Canyon on a California to Arizona road trip or following the Women's Suffrage movement across the northern states, choosing a theme for your road trip can help set it apart from others you may have done.
10. Chase the Northern Lights
The United States is one of the few countries where you can spot the Northern Lights, one of the world's seven natural wonders. If you want to experience this magical sight, a weekend getaway to Alaska may be on the cards.
The state's largest city, Anchorage, makes an excellent base for aurora chasing, but many consider Fairbanks the best spot to see the bright green lights – sometimes even right overhead! With regular flights daily from all over the USA, it's possible to have the whole Northern Lights experience in a single weekend.
11. Step Back in Time on Mackinac Island
Traveling to Mackinac Island, Michigan, is like traveling back in time. With no cars and no chain hotels, the island has largely remained as it was during the 19th century. As a result, it offers the perfect opportunity to escape and switch off from modern-day stresses for the weekend.
While there, you can enjoy a horse and carriage tour, explore historic forts, see some of the oldest houses in Michigan, and experience life in a Victorian town.
12. Cook up a storm on a foodie retreat
Love creating new things in the kitchen? Why not book into a weekend-long cooking retreat to learn some new skills or master a cuisine you've always loved. Whatever your taste buds are craving, an experiential foodie weekend is perfect for immersing yourself in a world you can enjoy long after you arrive home. From French cuisine and the art of Italian pasta to cheese making and vegetarian vacations, there are plenty of food-based workshops for all levels.
Don't fancy spending all your time in the kitchen? You can also choose a weekend getaway that combines practical cooking lessons with other activities such as yoga, cultural tours, or cycling. Book Culinary Vacations curates all of the best foodie getaways so you can browse by cuisine, activity, or location.
13. Reconnect With Nature in a Unique Glamping Resort
You've almost definitely been camping before, but have you tried glamping? If not, a weekend getaway is a perfect opportunity to give this new vacation trend a try! An amalgamation of glamorous and camping, this next-level camping experience combines the joy of being in nature with the home comforts and little luxuries that make a vacation special.
There are many glamping spots all over the United States, with various accommodation styles available. From wagons and huts to yurts and luxury tents, you can choose a level of comfort that suits you and your travel party. Many glampsites also have facilities such as swimming pools, sports, and stunning views of national parks and other natural wonders.
Planning a Weekend Getaway in 2022
While travel already feels much more normal than last year, it's best to continue booking any trips with caution. The beauty of a weekend getaway – or several weekend getaways – is that you won't need to travel far or worry about complex logistics. Since they won't eat into your precious annual leave, it may be better to enjoy multiple weekend getaways rather than one long-haul trip this year.
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Jodie Dewberry is a travel writer specializing in unique travel experiences, cultural immersion, and ecotourism. She traveled the world for several years in search of the most transformative travel experiences and shares them on her responsible travel blog, Alajode (https://www.alajode.com/).