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5 long-weekend getaways to try this spring

Last-minute travelers rejoice! A spring break trip to these stellar cities requires little to no advance planning.

By Tanvi Chheda | February 15, 2024

Life can pull you in multiple directions, sometimes leaving little time to plan a much-needed getaway. Sound familiar? Well, good news: We’ve curated five urban destinations that combine warm springtime temperatures, delicious eats and — best of all — barely any planning. From cartoon encounters in Orlando to live jazz music in New Orleans and hiking in Utah, there’s something in this list to put a little spring in everyone’s step.

San Diego

A young city that feels very much like a college town, San Diego boasts beachy weather, craft breweries and laidback vibes. The hipster neighborhoods of Pacific Beach, North Park and the Gaslamp Quarter are all great options for your home base with fantastic restaurants and lively nightlife. During the day, explore Balboa Park’s multiple gardens and museums. The 11-acre (4.5 hectares) Japanese Friendship Garden is particularly serene, while the Museum of Us takes a unique approach to exploring what it means to be human. For a taste of San Diego’s popular beer scene, head to Resident Brewery near the Gaslamp Quarter and order a round of hazy IPAs or rum barrel-aged stouts. Come dinnertime, visit North Park, where Tribute Pizza and City Tacos are consistently delicious. Follow with heady cocktails at Polite Provisions or at South Park’s Kindred, where creations like the Spinal Tap cocktail — made with rhubarb-infused gin, strawberry, lime, ginger and Tiki bitters — await.

Orlando, Florida

Whether you’re looking to meet everyone’s favorite mouse or visit the nearby Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, families heading to Orlando are in for exhilaration and entertainment. Among the theme park options, you can explore everything from international pavilions, award-winning fireworks, thrilling rides inspired by beloved blockbuster movies and more. Beyond the theme parks, you can also learn about dinosaurs and outer space at the Orlando Science Center, maneuver through high-flying ropes courses at Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park or kayak through bioluminescent waters. For a central and conveniently located stay, consider Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, an official Walt Disney World® hotel. Not only can you be close to Orlando’s best attractions, but you’ll also have access to a par-72 golf course, pools and a lazy river.


For a deep dive into U.S. history, consider visiting the memorials and monuments in the nation’s capital on a private guided tour. Discerning travelers will appreciate Context Travel’s full-day tour with the company’s expert guides bringing the history of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument to life. There’s no shortage of world-class museums to explore, too, like the National Portrait Gallery or the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Spring also means cherry blossom trees bloom across the city. When you’re ready to eat, you can take your pick of cuisines from around the world. Snag a table at Michelin-starred Rania for upscale Indian dishes, while Albi serves trendy Middle Eastern food. For a more casual meal, try the award-winning breakfast tacos at La Tejana.

New Orleans

Craving a romantic weekend full of cocktails, jazz, art and beignets? Couples take note: when it comes to exploring the Big Easy, your getaway can be just as much about seeing the big sights as it is about soaking up the alluring atmosphere. Once a part of France, the city has plenty of French flair, including of course, those warm, pillowy beignets. Get them at the original French Quarter location of the legendary Café Du Monde for a quintessential New Orleans foodie experience. For lunch, try another NOLA classic with po’ boy sandwiches at Johnny’s Po-Boys. From there, spend the afternoon strolling the whimsical sculpture garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art or popping into the art galleries that line Royal Street. A city that’s obsessed with cocktails, the Big Easy has no shortage of noteworthy bars. Drop in at the Sazerac Bar, a restored landmark located one block from the city’s famed French Quarter, for a spirit-forward Sazerac, the official cocktail of the Big Easy. As for music, there are several jazz clubs, including The Spotted Cat and Arnaud’s, but the top prize goes to the historic Preservation Hall.

Moab, Utah

Surrounded by stunning red rock canyons, mesas and buttes, Moab offers plenty of outdoor recreation in the form of hiking, mountain biking, climbing, river rafting, stargazing and more. The ideal gateway to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, Moab is also a destination in its own right. Take a break from outdoorsy adventures and learn about the fascinating cultural and natural history of Moab and the surrounding area with a visit to the Moab Museum. Then, take a step into the prehistoric world at Moab Giants Dinosaur Park, where you’ll find life-size dinosaur displays, interactive exhibits and more. Don’t leave town without exploring the incredible artisan food scene, too, producing everything from beer to chocolate and cheese. For easy access to all the highlights, rest your head at Hoodoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton, just one block from Moab’s Main Street and only a 10-minute drive from Arches National Park.

No matter your travel style or companions, being short on planning time doesn’t mean a spring break trip that’s short on fun. From Washington to San Diego, these U.S. cities have so much to offer, you’ll be planning a return even before you leave.

Formerly an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles-based Tanvi Chheda has been freelancing for 15 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, AFAR, Virtuoso Life, Four Seasons magazine, Qantas, Inspirato, Invited, Pasadena magazine and OLTRE and Ciao Bambino, among others. She writes mostly about lifestyle and travel, which often spills into arts & culture, food, design and more. With two young children, family travel is also a passion of hers. Given her South Asian heritage, she writes about India quite frequently as well (she was born in India and speaks three Indian languages). When not traveling or writing, she enjoys reading, cooking and spending time outdoors.

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