Have a free weekend? Scratching your head trying to find some ideas for a short trip? Well you’re in luck because travel enthusiast Anne L’Heureux and I teamed up to put together our 6 Picks for a Weekend Trip!
1) Louisville, KY
Located just south of Indiana on the Ohio River, Louisville is a vibrant city. You might know Louisville for its history of horse racing and well-supported colligate sports teams, but did you know it’s also a hub for great food?
Grab Some Grub
Louisville is a foodie town with a little bit of every flavor! If you’re in the mood for delicious Mexican cuisine, make sure to have El Taco Luchador and Agave & Rhye on your radar. If you’re craving a slice of New York style pizza, make sure to hit up The Post. We can’t forget about Louisville’s great downhome southern barbeque, and if you want some tasty BBQ stop by Doc Crows or Feast BBQ.
Visit Churchill Downs
Within walking distance of the University of Louisville campus sits Churchill Downs, one of the most historic horse racing tracks in the world. The most notable event that takes place here is the Kentucky Derby, a nationally televised and highly attended race. Aside from the Derby, throughout the year the track holds Downs After Dark where horse racing meets fun theming. I can’t mention Churchill downs without talking about the Kentucky Derby Museum, which is open year-round and located on the grounds of Churchill Downs.
Take a Swing at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Baseball lovers, did you know Louisville sluggers are made in Louisville? It’s true! The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory gives you an inside look into the history and production of these popular bats.
Discover the Muhammed Ali Center
The most influential boxer of all time, Muhammed Ali, was a Louisville native. In 2005, Ali’s wife founded the Muhammed Ali Center, a museum located in Louisville’s West Main District. The award winning, interactive and educational museum give you a look into Muhammed Ali’s philosophies and stories that extend beyond the boxing ring.
Nulu means what it sounds like – New Louisville! Spend some time discovering this young, vibrant neighborhood with plenty of art galleries, local food and unique shops.
Walk Across the Ohio River
The Big Four Pedestrian Bridge is a former railroad truss bridge that was converted into a pedestrian walking bridge. The bridge takes you across the Ohio River and connects Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Catch a Louisville Cardinals Game
Lamar Jackson and Donovan Mitchell are just a couple of the prominent athletes that attended the University of Louisville. The school’s rich sports history is embraced by the city, and no matter the sport, gamedays in Louisville are a blast! Fun fact – Anne L’Heureux is a Louisville graduate and played lacrosse for the Cardinals!
2) Buffalo, NY
This hardworking town is full of friendly faces, passionate fans and unique experiences. Did you know Niagara Falls is just down the road?
In the heart of Buffalo sits 21 acres of historic waterfront property known as Canalside. The area hosts hundreds of community events each year, so it’s very likely you’ll be able to catch a festival or concert during your visit. There are also unique attractions nearby like the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, which is the largest inland Naval park in the country.
Grab a Brew
Simply put, Buffalo knows how to do beer. Across the city, you’ll find plenty of high-quality craft breweries that have beer enthusiasts raving. Two breweries that I’ve been to and highly recommend to anyone are Labatt Brew House and Resurgence Brewing Company.
Go to a Bills Game
Buffalo is home to an extremely passionate sports fan base and let me tell you, attending a Buffalo Bills game is an epic experience! From the pregame tailgate to watching the game in Highmark Stadium, you’ll have blast throughout gameday.
Stop By Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of the most visited sites in the United States, and it’s just a short drive from Buffalo. Make sure to bring your camera because the falls offer some amazing photo opportunities! There are so many activities and attractions around Niagara Falls, like the Maid of the Mist boat tour, and you may also want to cross the border and experience the falls from the Canadian side.
Hike the Niagara Gorge
Looking to get some extra steps in on your weekend trip? Not far from Niagara Falls you’ll find several trails that extend downriver. The powerful section of the Niagara River immediately following the falls create a canyon known as the Niagara Gorge. The trails along the Niagara Gorge offer some amazing views, and many believe the trails to be a hidden gem.
3) Charlotte, NC
Stop by Charlotte to find beautiful city views and great outdoor experiences nearby. If you decide to book a weekend trip to The Queen City, you won’t be disappointed!
Sip Some Beer
STIR it up
With an extensive craft cocktail menu, fresh oysters, and more delicious menu items, STIR Charlotte is the perfect place to enjoy a fine meal.
See What’s at 7th
The Market on 7th Street is Charlotte’s amazing indoor market. From local eateries to bakeries to bars, there’s something for everyone and you won’t walk away hungry!
Drive to Crowders Mountain State Park
A bit west of the city, you’ll find Crowders Mountain State Park. The park offers scenic driving views, wonderful hikes, camping and more. Adding Crowders Mountain State Park to your weekend itinerary is a great way to escape the city for a few hours to enjoy the great outdoors.
4) Gatlinburg, TN
Bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to outdoor and indoor experiences. When you visit, you’ll be amazed by the Eastern Tennessee hospitality on display.
Explore the Smokies
You can’t visit Gatlinburg without venturing into America’s most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Be on the lookout for deer, bear and other wildlife as you wind through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Stop by one of the visitors centers to learn more about the park and its history.
See Some Sea Life
Gatlinburg may be in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a fabulous aquarium. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is an aquarium that’s fun for all ages. From Touch a Ray Bay to the Penguin Playhouse, there’s plenty to sea and do (see what I did there?).
Discover Magic in the Mountains
At the top of a mountain overlooking the town of Gatlinburg sits a magical village called Anakeesta. At Anakeesta you can zipline, ride a mountain coaster, walk through the trees, enjoy a delicious meal and so much more.
Catch a Show
The Smoky Mountains area is known for fabulous entertainment, and in the nearby town of Pigeon Forge you’ll find a handful of wonderful shows. Two of my favorite shows in Pigeon Forge are Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud and the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud.
Ride the Rides at Dollywood
One of America’s favorite theme parks is located in the Smokies! From easy going rides to thrilling roller coasters, Dollywood has a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. You may have guessed it by the title, but the theme park is owned by Dolly Parton. Stop by the Chasing Rainbows Museum in the park to learn more about Dolly’s decades of dreaming.
5) Tucson, AZ
We’ve covered a lot on the east coast, but if you’re looking to explore a western city for the weekend, you might want to check out Tucson! Have you ever considered staying at a dude ranch?
Dude, Stay at a Dude Ranch
The award winning White Stallion Ranch is a great place to stay in Tucson. From horse riding to archery to mouthwatering meals, the White Stallion Ranch has everything to make your Arizona ranch adventure a memorable experience.
Stop by the Pima Air and Space Museum
The Pima Air and Space Museum is one of the word’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums, and it has many unique aircraft and exhibits to explore.
Don’t Forget the Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a one of a kind, mostly outdoor zoo that primarily features animals found in the Sonora Desert. From jackrabbits to mountain lions, you’ll enjoy seeing a variety of desert dwellers.
Make Your Way Up Mount Lemmon
Surrounded by the Coronado National Forrest, Mount Lemmon has a variety of hiking trails to explore and scenic views to enjoy.
Explore The Biosphere 2
Is it a laboratory? Is it a museum? Is it a research center? Yes. The Biosphere 2 is a fascinating facility that is dedicated to understanding the earth. There’s no other way to put this- it’s a place you have to see for yourself.
6) Jacksonville, FL
Beautiful beaches, delicious food, shopping, history – you’ll find it all in Jacksonville. Did you know the Jacksonville city limits extend beyond 840 square miles, making it the largest city by landmass in the United States?
Shop at the St. John’s Town Center
Located right outside of the University of North Florida’s campus, you’ll find endless shopping at the St. John’s Town Center. Looking for other fun things to do? Top Golf, iFly and escape rooms can all be found in the Town Center area.
Check out the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
With over 2,000 animals and 1,000 plant species, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has a lot to see! This award winning zoo is a great stop, especially if your kids are part of your weekend trip.
Make Your Way to Jacksonville Beach
It’s Florida – you should make some time for the beach! Aside from sunshine, waves and sand, the town of Jacksonville Beach has restaurants, bars, shopping and nightlife. If you’re hungry, make sure to stop by Angies Sub Shop for an absolutely delicious sub.
Spend Some Time in St. Augustine
Not too far south of Jacksonville sits the historic city of St. Augustine. America’s oldest city has a fascinating history and plenty to do. If you’re visiting St. Augustine with your significant other, check out my 7 Things to do on Your St. Augustine Date-Cation blog!
If you’re wondering where to take you next weekend trip, feel free to take some ideas from this blog! I had a blast putting together these 6 Picks for a Weekend Trip with my friend Anne L’Heureux. Make sure to give her a follow on Instagram @travel_anniewhere.
Destinations Beyond Expectations is the podcast designed for students of travel. You can find the show wherever you listen to podcasts – make sure to subscribe! Also, don’t forget to stay up to date by following the show on Facebook and Instagram.