The 4 Best Long-weekend Escapes in the US

Searching for the ideal long-weekend escape for your family? The choices may seem overwhelming, but this selection of the very best destinations is a great place to start:

1. Santa Cruz, California

Found on the Central Coast of California, Santa Cruz is home to the famed Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but this quintessential surfing town offers much more than that.

In addition to offering everything from gentle rides for the little ones to thrilling rollercoasters for those who enjoy heart-pounding experiences, you’ll find live entertainment, miniature golf, laser tag, games and more at the waterfront amusement park.

Activities on the beach or in the water are nearly endless. Soak in the sun and the sand, take a dip in the ocean, go surfing, rent a paddleboard or take the whole family on a charter sailing trip aboard the Chardonnay II. The abundance of sea lions in the area provides nearly endless entertainment.

At the Mystery Spot, the laws of gravity are defied. Fascinating for children as well as adults, here you’ll watch balls roll uphill and experience the strange sense of energy that permeates the area.

Drive just ten miles north to find a number of idyllic beaches where you can get away from the crowds and explore tide pools filled with a wide variety of marine life.

Roaring Camp Railroad in nearby Felton offers the chance to traverse trestles and ride the rails through majestic redwood groves.

Santa Cruz also offers a number of surprisingly affordable hotels. Ocean Pacific Lodge is within walking distance of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park. Found on the quieter end of town, its two-room suites are spacious enough for families and available for as little as $100 a night.

2. Nathrop, Colorado

Nathrop, Colorado is the home of Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. It is found at the foot of the spectacular Colorado Rockies; the region is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational activities.

The resort offers an ideal long-weekend destination for any family. Kids and adults alike will enjoy a relaxing soak in the 30 natural hot spring pools found right along Chalk Creek.

You’ll also find several large swimming pools, a 400-foot water slide and a lazy river. You can also take a horseback ride up one of the pristine trails.

Other activities at the resort and surrounding area include hiking, skiing, mountain biking, fishing and more. Everything you need during your vacation can be found right at Mt. Princeton, including an upscale restaurant, café, small grocery store and gift shop.

Accommodation options include cliff-side rooms with breathtaking mountain views, log-style cabins with gas fireplaces, and lodge rooms.

3. Seaside, Oregon

Seaside is situated on the northern Oregon coast. This family-friendly beach town offers fun attractions for all ages, including the Funland Arcade, which has bumper cars, pinball, skee ball, video games and other carnival-type amusements.

At the Seaside Aquarium found right at the edge of the Pacific, visitors have the opportunity to feed the seals. These amusing marine mammals perform tricks that they learned on their own in hopes that a fish will be thrown their way.

Kids will also enjoy interacting with the creatures in the touch tank, which is filled with sea urchins, starfish and sea anemones. Another popular attraction is the fascinating giant Pacific octopus that is also housed here.

The beach is the biggest draw. Featuring a three-mile stretch of sand, it’s perfect for a day of flying kites, building sandcastles or venturing into the water. A two-mile-long path adjacent to the beach is popular for walking, jogging and cycling.

A Seaside, Oregon getaway is often more affordable than escapes to other beach towns. At the Best Western in downtown Seaside, rooms with ocean views right on the sand are available for about $100 a night. Economy rooms at the Microtel Inn & Suites start as low as $60 per night.

4. Black Hills, South Dakota

The Black Hills, found in the western part of South Dakota, are filled with scenic treasures and nearly endless activities and attractions for families.

The best time for a weekend escape to the Black Hills is in June or September, when the temperatures are often ideal and there are few other tourists. Unless you’re into motorcycles, avoid the second week in August, when hundreds of thousands descend upon the area for the Sturgis Rally.

Mount Rushmore, where four U.S. presidents are carved into the face of a granite mountain, is one of the most popular attractions in this part of the country. A museum found at the monument provides an interesting look back through American history as well.

Custer State Park, the largest state park in the nation, can be found just outside the monument. An abundance of wildlife, including the over 1,000 free-roaming bison, can be easily sighted. Bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats, wild turkey, plenty of deer and even wild burros (donkeys) live here as well.

The Black Hills offer nearly endless attractions for all ages. You can explore caves, watch an Old West shootout, visit an underground gold mine and go gold panning, view the world’s largest collection of reptiles or see hundreds of wild horses in their natural habitat.

You’ll find varied lodging options here, including everything from camping and rustic cabins to hotels and resorts offering all the amenities anyone in the family could ever desire.

Need somewhere to stay in one of these great U.S. destinations? Don’t look past the Marriott, which has beautifully appointed hotels and apartments at the very best prices. Start planning your next road trip by checking their rates now:


The US is an incredible country. Don’t ignore all the incredible sights and attractions that await just down the road!