Memorial Day Weekend is here! I can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday weekend than to share some of my favorite cities that I like to travel to for a weekend getaway.
Many of us live busy 9-5 lifestyles, and even people who don’t probably can’t just up and take a week-long vacation to the Caribbean (although that would be amazing).
As a passionate traveler, my hardest struggle is finding the time and funds to make my dream travel trips come true. However, you don’t have to fill up your passport to enjoy a new destination.
There are still many more affordable and realistic getaway spots here in the United States that not only deliver amazing tourist attractions but can also be relatively inexpensive if you know a few good tips and tricks. As someone who truly enjoys traveling and saving money, I like to think I know a few.
I hope you’ll stick around for five of my favorite cities that make a great weekend getaway. Enjoy! 🙂
1. Nashville, TN
Oh Nashville… One of my favorite cities of all time. Because of how close to Knoxville it is (only two hours away!), I’m lucky enough to see this lovely city more often than most. You might even say I’m biased, but every time I go back, I find something new I love about it.
Nashville is huge! I love the southern feel here. On Broadway, you can hear country music literally anywhere. There are rooftop bars on almost every building, and shops with cowboy hats and boots are located on every block.
One of my favorite things though is if you’re looking for something a little more chill, Nashville has so many different areas with different feels. One example is The Gulch. The Gulch has shopping, restaurants, apartment buildings, and hotels. Also, the area is more spread out than Broadway in case you’re like me and can get easily overwhelmed with swarms of people.
One tip I always recommend for not blowing your budget is to use Airbnb or Vrbo to find affordable places to stay, I usually prefer to stay as close to downtown as I can and this allows me to live that luxurious lifestyle, but at a lower price 🙂
Not to mention, being walking distance from some of the hot spots on your list of things to do keeps you from constantly spending money on Ubers or having to rent a car.
There are SO many things to do here. You probably won’t get to do everything in one weekend, but that’s why I love my weekend trips here. With every time I go back, I get to experience something new, and after endless visits, I still get lost every time I’m here.
If you had a few hours to spare I could talk your ear off about the millions of places I love here, but instead I’ll just mention a few of my favorites:
L.A. Jackson is a newish rooftop bar above the Thompson hotel in The Gulch area of Nashville. My favorite part of this this place is the great view where you can see the Nashville skyline – it’s pretty great for pics too.
L.A. Jackson is definitely more of a fancy environment, and, like most places in Nashville, the drinks can be a little pricey. That being said, in my opinion you’re paying for the yummy cocktails and amazing views.
Fun fact: Kevin and I went here on our first trip together to Nashville, and y’all it is SO good. It’s located in this cute and charming neighborhood – definitely not your typical restaurant location.
After debating back and forth for about where to eat dinner (if you know me and Kevin at all, you know we don’t plan very well), we decided at the last minute to eat at Lockeland Table.
Nonetheless, we arrived without a reservation and ended up getting seated at the pizza bar. The atmosphere was a blast. It had that really welcoming, neighborhood feel, and the staff was so nice and attentive.
The wood-fired pizza was definitely the best part, but if you don’t like pizza (who doesn’t like pizza though) they have a wide variety of options to make everyone happy.
Butcher & Bee
Y’all, get the whipped feta! It is SO good. I’m not kidding – I couldn’t remember the name of this restaurant, so I googled “Nashville restaurant whipped feta,” and Butcher & Bee was the first search result.
The brunch is amazing, and they have really farm-to-fresh and seasonal meals. A group of us came for brunch and had a blast.
Fun Fact: They have a Butcher & Bee in Charleston, SC too!
(Charleston, SC is number one on bucket list for cities to visit. If you have recommendations, write them in the comments below!)
PRO TIP: Whenever I visit Nashville I use Nashville Guru as a resource for finding the best spots with the best specials. They have a page just on happy hour specials, check it out!
2. Asheville, NC
The best thing about Asheville is how pet-friendly it is! I mean, they essentially have a welcome center for dogs in the middle of the city!
Kevin and I hate leaving Queso (our golden pup 🙂 ) behind whenever we go on trips so we try to take him when we can. We planned a New Year’s trip and brought him along. He got to enjoy the breweries just as much as we did, and by the end up of the trip people knew him by name (Kevin and I were just the weird, awkward owners).
I really fell in love with Asheville because you can instantly get a sense of the city’s history the second you arrive. A ton of the buildings downtown have retained their character and charm throughout the years even while giving you that downtown city vibe. When you mix that with being right in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains, it makes for an unbelievable experience. The rich music scene and the breweries EVERYWHERE is just icing on the cake.
My favorite part of our trip was when we wandered aimlessly and explored the different areas of downtown. They have a ton of cute & trendy coffee shops.
Here are a few of my recommendations:
Wicked Weed Brewery
I knew of Wicked Weed brewing company before we visited Asheville, so I was already partial to deciding on which brewery to visit. Although, it was still an incredibly hard decision picking 1-3 breweries to see when Asheville has so many!!
Their beer was great, but the atmosphere was why we went back two more times during our short trip. They have multiple areas so different vibes throughout. They have multiple outdoor spaces and indoor spaces that range from the chill bar vibe all the way to a family-friendly restaurant.
Wicked Weed also opened up The Funkatorium somewhat recently. This is a separate brewery for sour beers and other unique selections. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try this, but I’ve heard it’s a blast and if you like that type of beer you should definitely check it out.
Over Easy Café
Kevin and I are huge brunch people, so when multiple people recommended Over Easy Café, we made it a priority to check it out. We were warned that it would most likely be an hour or so wait (and they were right), but it was so worth it.
Since it was January while we were there, it was a bit chilly outside, but they had a heated patio that was pet-friendly. The food was amazing, and the service was even better.
Sovereign Remedies reminded me of a modern speakeasy bar. This is where we went to celebrate New Year’s Eve and it was a blast.
They had a live band, which is popular in most bars in Asheville, and they had really good cocktails.
3. Savannah, GA
Savannah is so charming! Watch out for the cobblestone though… they are NOT wedge-friendly, but don’t let that hold you back 🙂 Savannah has so much to offer.
Let’s talk about the fact that they don’t have an open-container law. I couldn’t believe that when we went out to dinner, our waitress asked if we wanted any alcoholic to-go drinks.
I came here with a big group of girls for St. Patrick’s Day one year, and there was so much to do – definitely something for everyone. Check out some of my favorite spots below:
Top Deck Bar
If you can’t tell by now, I’m all for a good rooftop bar. I love the views, and Top Deck Bar has an awesome skyline of Savannah.
This rooftop bar reminds me a little of L.A. Jackson with its modern and trendy feel and its located in the heart of downtown Savannah above the Cotton Sail Hotel.
Jen’s & Friends
Jens’s & Friends is a small cocktail shop, similar to a coffee shop, but substitute coffee for crafty cocktails. My friends and I decided to really take advantage of the no-open-container policy this week. Get yourself a cocktail here and explore the city.
Tybee Island is technically not located in Savannah, but it’s the cutest beach right outside of the city (about a 30-minute drive). I came here for spring break with my two best friends one year and we had the best girls’ trip.
If you decide to go anywhere at all in Tybee Island, go to Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze. We told ourselves that we would go for pizza and one beer. Fast forward 8 hours later (I’m not kidding either) … Everyone there was so friendly, including the staff, it was like one big family. Hence the reason we spent an entire day here…
4. Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga is one of the cutest cities I’ve been to, and it’s growing SO fast. Smudged right against the Tennessee-Georgia border (and about 1.5 hours away from Knoxville), it’s becoming one of my favorite new cities to visit. You definitely get the outdoorsy feel with Lookout Mountain in the not-so-distant background and being set along the Tennessee River. A trip downtown gives that laid-back vibe that you want from a super cute city like Chattanooga.
HiFi Clyde’s is my favorite bar in Chattanooga. We came one year for my birthday and had so much fun. They have “Candy Shop Shots” that are dangerously good. Have you ever tried a Sour Apple Warhead shot? It’s pretty good…
Clyde’s also has live music occasionally and ping pong tables.
Maybe it’s the Maryland girl in me that’s partial to any restaurant with great oysters, but STIR is awesome.
They have more than just oysters if you aren’t a seafood nut like myself and I highly recommend checking it out for brunch – They serve mimosas for $1!!! Plus, they have a brunch bar that comes with every meal.
It was inevitable that I would become a music lover after growing up with musically-talented parents who went to school for it and met while working together at a music store. I love any and all types of live music and Tennessee spoils the heck out of me with this.
Probably for the third time, Kevin and I bought tickets the day of the show to see our favorite artist here, Erick Baker, and it was incredible.
Songbirds is different from most venues in that it has two separate “stages” and a museum that displays a really rare guitar collection dating back to the 1920’s.
Our show was upstairs at the “North Stage” which is a smaller venue with a more intimate feel – I remember being in a room with no more than 30 people, it was pretty awesome. You should also check out the “South Stage” which is their larger venue that holds more than 500 people.
5. Knoxville, TN
This is what I call my weekend staycation. Knoxville’s charm is why – after I graduated college – I decided to post up here permanently.
Moving from Maryland, I was nervous about the culture change to a southern city, but Knoxville has a way of emitting a big town vibe and southern small town feel at the same time.
My favorite part of Knoxville is the establishments that pop up out of nowhere every week. Kevin and I live downtown and we discover new restaurants and bars every time we go out.
But we do have a few go-to places:
Hyatt Place Rooftop
And once again, here’s another rooftop bar 🙂
The Hyatt Place Rooftop is a fairly new bar in downtown Knoxville. It has that same feel that I mentioned with L.A. Jackson and Top Deck Bar – great cocktails with a great environment and of course, a great view.
Maple Hall Bowling Alley
If you had to find me and Kevin anywhere, we’re probably bowling here or getting a drink on their patio.
Maple Hall Bowling Alley is different from any alley I’ve experienced in that the interior has this charming brick, but everything is updated and very modern. It’s also located underground, so you get a speakeasy type of feel.
If you’re looking for a great place to host a birthday or special event, Maple Hall also has a separate room with two bowling alleys that you can rent.
The Mill & Mine
The Mill & Mine is one of the newer music venues in downtown Knoxville. They also can be rented out for special events; many people actually have their wedding receptions here. The area is huge, and they have a separate outside space for mingling.
Fun fact: Tako Taco is a new restaurant located directly next to The Mill & Mine. If you’re looking to get dinner before a concert, definitely check this place out. It’s a mixture between Mexican and Japanese (sounds odd, but it’s delicious). I recommend their guacamole and the roasted chicken taco with chipotle crema.
Traveling has always been a passion of mine and when I started running into the unfortunate roadblocks of life, also known as money and time (or lack thereof), I started becoming discouraged and was convinced I would have to put this hobby on hold.
But I don’t think traveling should always be this stressful experience that it usually turns into. We don’t always have to fly across the continent or take weeks off of work (By no means am I against this at all though…)
Although those luxurious destinations like Miami, New Orleans, or Las Vegas make incredible vacations, I think a great weekend getaway doesn’t have to be about how big the city is but what hidden gems you can find in cities that pique your interest.
Whether you are looking for a great brunch spot, a rooftop bar, or just a place to bring your best four-legged friend, I’m confident that you’ll be able to find something to enjoy in any of these cities.