3-day vacations near major cities

Two-thirds of U.S. travelers prefer short trips, according to a study by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

“It tends to be easier to get away for just 3 days with much less preparation for leaving work for an entire week,” says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of the travel site Orbitz.com. “It also allows travelers to spread their vacation days out over more trips and is generally less expensive,” she says.

With that in mind and with the help of Orbitz’s Tornatore, Bankrate.com came up with these quick-visit, 3-day vacations.

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From New York | Photo courtesy of Alex Efron

From New York City

  • Catskills Mountains in New York or Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts
    Driving distance from New York City: 3 hours

Experience summer meandering through historic small towns, shopping at farmers markets and unique boutiques, and exploring the great outdoors in these beautiful regions of the country.

From theater and art venues to antiquing to rafting and biking, there is something for everyone to enjoy on a 3-day vacation at a relaxed pace.

From Washington D.C. | RobertLlewellyn/Photodisc/Getty Images

From Washington, D.C.

  • Charlottesville, Virginia
    Driving distance from Washington, D.C.: 3 hours

Home to 3 Founding Fathers who would become U.S. presidents, Charlottesville is steeped in history, and not just in museums. It’s woven into the fabric of the community.

The sites include Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home), the grounds of the University of Virginia, historic Court Square and Michie Tavern, circa 1784.

Historical and brewery tours also are available for a 3-day vacation, as are winery taste testings.

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From Pittsburgh | HenrykSadura/Moment Open/Getty Images

From Pittsburgh

  • Cleveland
    Driving distance from Pittsburgh: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Cleveland Museum of Art has 43,000 works of art, including pieces by Monet, Caravaggio and Goya. Two attracters to the museum are that it’s free and it’s in Cleveland’s University Circle area, where you’ll find other attractions such as the natural history museum and botanical garden. There’s dining, too.

You won’t want to miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Housed in an I.M. Pei-designed building overlooking Lake Erie, it displays memorabilia such as Chuck Berry’s handwritten lyrics for “School Days,” John Lennon’s guitar and a sequined glove worn by Michael Jackson.

From Chicago | J.Castro/MomentOpen/Getty Images

From Chicago

  • Lake Geneva or Milwaukee
    Distance from Chicago: 2 hours

Lake Geneva is a quaint lakeside community with a walkable downtown with boutiques and restaurants, a beach and boating. Visit historic mansions surrounding the lake and stay at the Grand Geneva Resort — the former Playboy Club & Resort but now the choice of families and couples alike.

Milwaukee is a large city with a plethora of tourist attractions. The Milwaukee 3rd Ward is the site of many historic buildings filled with restaurants and shops, while the Milwaukee Art Museum can brag about its innovative design by “starchitect” Santiago Calatrava.

Atlanta | Glowimages/GettyImages


  • Savannah, Georgia
    Driving distance from Atlanta: 3 hours, 45 minutes

In Savannah, stroll through the beautiful squares draped in Spanish moss, and dine and shop in a quaint downtown. Savannah is one of only a few places in the country where you can walk around downtown with a beer or cocktail, as long as it’s in a plastic cup.

  • Asheville, North Carolina
    Driving distance from Atlanta: 3 hours, 30 minutes

In Asheville, tour the Biltmore Estate and Gardens, the North Carolina Arboretum and the Asheville Pinball Museum, and drive through the mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 Miami | Hamid Khan / EyeEm/Getty Images


  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Flight time from Miami: 2 hours, 50 minutes (nonstop)

Spend an afternoon exploring the architecture and shops of Old San Juan. Go climbing, rappelling, sailing or riding on a custom racing boat. Tour the Bacardi rum plant by day, gamble at the casinos by night. And a bonus: No need for a passport or currency converter.

  • Sanibel Island, Florida
    Driving distance from Miami: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the beautiful beach community of Sanibel Island is renowned for its shelling beaches. You can sunbathe on the sand or take part in many outdoor and nature-based activities like boating, biking, canoeing and golfing.

From Dallas Peter Tsai Photography – www.petertsaiphotography.com/GettyImages

From Dallas

  • Austin, Texas
    Driving distance from Dallas: 3 hours

Austin is known for its great music, food and nightlife. You also can visit the LBJ Presidential Library, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the University of Texas, the Blanton Museum of Art and the Harry Ransom Center. Or, tour Texas Hill Country on a weekend wine-tasting excursion.

From San Francisco | Rachid Dahnoun/Getty Images

From San Francisco

  • Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada
    Driving distance from San Francisco: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Try Lake Tahoe for a weekend of hiking, learning how to stand up on a paddleboard and exploring this beautiful mountain escape. Gamble at the Cal Neva Resort & Casino, once owned by entertainer Frank Sinatra.

  • Sonoma Valley, California
    Driving distance from San Franscisco: a little over an hour

Or, take a trip to Sonoma Valley for a more off-the-beaten path wine escape. Avoid the weekend crowds at some of the bigger wineries of Napa Valley and opt for the sipping-on-the-front-porch style of some of the smaller tasting rooms in Sonoma.

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From Los Angeles | Raquel Lonas/Moment Open/Getty Images

From Los Angeles

  • Palm Springs
    Driving distance from Los Angeles: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Once the getaway for Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Liberace, it’s now a spot for R&R for Los Angelenos. Take Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto for the spectacular view.

Play golf, or take in the Palm Springs Art Museum, with works by Frederic Remington, Andy Warhol and David Hockney, and visit the museum’s new architectural center.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable World War II aircraft. Kids can learn to fly in simulators.

From Seattle

  • San Juan Islands
    Distance from Seattle: A 90-minute drive to Anacortes, then a ferry ride to the islands

Try the San Juan Islands for a weekend of quiet, nature-based activities on beautifully preserved islands. Rent a bike or kayak to make your way through the quaint towns and enjoy the abundance of wildlife while feeling worlds away from the city.

  • Vancouver, British Columbia
    Driving distance from Seattle: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Vancouver offers a great urban scene for dining and shopping, with tourist sites like the Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver Lookout and the city’s art gallery. You also can take in outdoor areas like Deep Cove where you can kayak among wildlife such as sea lions, or stroll the Capilano Suspension Bridge.