7 Last-Minute Weekend Summer Getaways

Whether you’re satiating your wanderlust solo or traveling with the entire family, planning an elaborate summer vacation can take time. And since summer is officially upon us, you might feel like it’s too late to get a trip on the books.
But according to the latest data from Skyscanner, the best time to book a domestic flight is 30 days in advance, meaning you still have time to enjoy the best weekend getaways in the U.S. Here’s a list of last-minute travel ideas that’ll help you enjoy the summer sun this season.      

Photo by Andrea Enríquez Cousiño

Photo by Andrea Enríquez Cousiño

1. San Diego, California

San Diego is a popular beachy metropolitan in Southern California. Aquatic enthusiasts can find a number of water activities to indulge in, like kayaking and swimming. Aside from its famous coastline, it offers sprightly tourists a bustling nightlife at the Gaslamp District. 

But San Diego isn’t just for adults, it’s also home to Legoland and the epic San Diego Zoo and Safari Park that’ll get kids (and parents) excited for a family vacation.

2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

National park adventurers will love the breaktaking views at the Grand Canyon National Park. Enjoy a relaxing river float along the Colorado River (make sure to pack your sunscreen) and get some solid steps in along the multiple hiking trails, like Bright Angel Trail, the park has to offer.

And of course, don’t forget to snap a picture of the beautiful sunset from the top of the canyon!

3. Niagara Falls, New York

The Niagara Falls has a little bit of everything for travelers who like to keep busy. At a warm 80-degrees during the summer, soak in the majesty of this attraction along with the refreshing mist from the Falls.

After sightseeing at the park, enjoy nearby casual and fine dining restaurants. If you’re up for a short drive, you can also visit the Niagara Wine Trail, USA for tastings from local vineyards.

4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Looking for weekend getaways at the beach, but can’t make it to the west coast? Myrtle Beach in South Carolina boasts “The Grand Strand” which is a continuous 60-mile stretch of sandy beach.

If you’re looking for more than lazy lounging along the coast, ride the SkyWheel for views of the ocean and boardwalk, or take the family to Splashes Oceanfront Water Park for its lazy river and speed slides.

5. Denver, Colorado

Like many of the last-minute travel ideas on this list, Denver has activities for visitors of all ages. 

Whether you’re exploring Flatirons hiking trails in nearby Boulder, Colorado, dining at the historic Larimer Square, or brewery hopping around town, you’re sure to find great eats (and drinks) along with a serving of outdoor adventure.

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Yes, another national park, but Yosemite continues to be one of the best weekend getaways in the U.S. If you’re looking for a picturesque setting, you’ll find stunning waterfalls, granite cliffs and mountains, Sequoia groves, meadows, and bounding wildlife at the park.

Although you won’t often find yourself alone at the main attractions, like Yosemite’s Half Dome and El Capitan, with 1,200 square miles of space to roam, you’re bound to find peace and quiet.

7. Your own backyard

If you’re not looking to trek too far away from home, look for hidden gems in or around your city. One way to put on your tourist lens is by scouring Airbnb Experiences. For example, you might find a nearby walking tour of historic buildings and monuments in your neighborhood that you might’ve otherwise overlooked.

You can also take a summer weekend to dabble in a new hobby or skill you’ve been curious (but too timid) to try. Whether it’s surfing lessons, learning to tango, or trying your hand at a ceramics class, you’ll walk away with a fun experience while supporting your local business. 

Wherever you choose to go, and whatever you choose to do, go in head-first with an open mind. Even better, explore your area with as much enthusiasm as you would en route to an international vacation — your mindset makes all the difference!

Tips on finding the best deals

Finding the best deals on last minute travel isn’t impossible, but you’ll want to start looking around now to make your weekend getaway as affordable as it can be. Keep your summer trip within budget with these tips.

  • Use travel apps. Check out travel apps specifically for last-minute travel, like Skyscanner, for the lowest flight deals to your destination. You can also set up price alerts to monitor price changes, if you’re not quite ready to book.

  • Book flights ASAP. If you’ll have to fly to your summer weekend getaway, secure your ticket as soon as possible. Although booking 30 days ahead of your departure is a sweet spot for the best time to book, prices climb quickly as your date approaches. 

  • Check out vacation rental sites. Staying at a hotel can blow your travel budget, especially if you’re staying near a main attraction. Take a look at Airbnb or VRBO options around your primary destination to help lower the cost of accommodations.

  • Don’t forget to use credit card rewards. If you carry a travel rewards credit card and have earned a significant amount of points, make sure to use them. Some rewards programs even allow you to pay for your travel using partial rewards or points, if you haven’t earned enough to cover the full price.

Need help carving out a vacation in your summer budget? Reach out for a consultation with a Financial Trainer to get started! 

Jennifer Calonia