Last-Minute Vacation Guide
Feeling spontaneous? Sometimes the best trips are last-minute getaways. Scan your calendar for a free upcoming weekend, but don't fret that you haven't had much time to plan. At the last minute you can grab a flight or hop in the car and spend a memorable weekend in a place you've always wanted to explore or re-visit a favorite travel destination. Stay in a fancy hotel in Las Vegas, a quaint hotel in Denver, or a hip, budget boutique hotel in the Big Apple. If you only have a weekend to spare, try to pick a getaway destination that includes a short scenic drive or a quick flight; that way, you'll be spending more time enjoying your last-minute vacation and less time on getting there. A change of scenery is always good for the spirits, so look into our destination suggestions and great travel deals so that you can have a few travel ideas handy when the mood to escape strikes you!
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Las Vegas, Nevada
Run wild in sunny Las Vegas for a truly exciting last-minute getaway trip. Bright lights, buzzing casinos, notorious nightlife - this high-paced city never sleeps. Test your luck in a world-famous casino or shop for high-end fashion to wear at four-star restaurants. Watch astounding acrobats, then catch your breath beside a shimmering swimming pool. For a last-minute vacation, there's just so much to do in Vegas.
On the North Strip, gaze at the hoopla that is Las Vegas from the Stratosphere Tower. Watch waters splash at the famous Bellagio's fountains or ride the monorail to the convention center. The South Strip has all the themed casinos. Take the MGM-Mirage monorail from Mandalay Bay to the Excalibur, getting close to nature at the Mandalay Shark Reef and MGM Lion Habitat. Or stroll the street where the first casinos stood in downtown Las Vegas. This vintage area offers gambling and captivating street acts. And make sure to bring your appetite. Vegas still offers the all-you-can-eat buffets, but it also hosts some of the country's finest restaurants. Take your pick from a handful of celebrity-chef restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck's Postrio, and signature offerings by Michael Mina and Emeril Lagasse.
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A last-minute getaway vacation to Chicago is a breeze. Whether you're there for a quick weekend getaway or an extended stay, you'll find that there are plenty of amazing things to see and do in Chicago. This big city is made up of culturally diverse neighborhoods - visit beautiful parks and the interesting communities around them. Lincoln Park boasts attractions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Conservatory and the Notebaert Nature Museum. You can view amazing public art in Millennium Park, as well as enjoy free concerts.
If you're going to take a last-minute getaway vacation to Chicago in the summer, Grant Park is the place to be; it's home to the popular Taste of Chicago summer festival and the renowned Buckingham Fountain. In the mood for comedy? A host of famous comedians - particularly Saturday Night Live comics - got their start at the legendary Second City comedy club. And for sports lovers, you can catch "da Bears"; or "da Bulls"; or World Series Champions, the Chicago White Sox or the Chicago Cubs. Just taking a leisurely bike ride or stroll along Chicago's lakefront will take your breath away.
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For a fun and easy last-minute vacation, treat yourself to a tour of Washington, D.C. See awe-inspiring monuments and picturesque colonial villages right in the heart of our nation's capital. The famous Metro transit system whisks visitors through the District, stopping near major tourist sights and traveling on into nearby Northern Virginia and Maryland. No visit to Washington, D.C. would be complete without visits to the monuments and memorials honoring the country's presidents, war veterans, and founding fathers. Since few of them are located near Metro stops, many visitors prefer to take a bus tour.
The districts many Smithsonian museums cover a wide variety of topics. Art galleries alone cover American, African and Asian art, plus modern and contemporary works and portraiture. Other favorites include the Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo. If you want to skip all that and just check out a fun neighborhood for your last-minute getaway, stroll the lovely campus of historic Georgetown University, or take a guided tour for an in-depth look. Just outside the gates, be sure to check out the area's colorful 18th-century row houses. Historic sights in the village include the C & O Canal, the Old Stone House and the Oak Hill Cemetery. Visitors and residents flock to the Georgetown Flea Market on Sunday mornings in search of hidden treasure.
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New York City, New York
It might seem too big a city to accommodate a last-minute getaway trip, but never fear - because of its sheer number of attractions, New York City is actually an ideal spontaneous trip destination! It's a city of contrasts, where the 24-hour hustle and bustle balances the oases of Central Park and the quietly elegant Hudson River. Stick to one or two fun neighborhoods and you'll get your fill of the Big Apple. Short for "South of Houston"; SoHo is New York's artistic sanctuary and a fantastic area to shop, eat or just hang out. Located in lower Manhattan, it's an eclectic assortment of lofts, combining residential, commercial and gallery space. In the 1960s, artists started inhabiting lofts in the area, which were actually vacated sweatshops.
Today, these live-work units sell for millions of dollars. People are drawn to Greenwich Village by the local diversity, funky shopping, top-notch restaurants and fascinating Old New York architecture. Washington Square is one of the most romantic neighborhoods in the city. Tree-lined streets, pretty brick houses, jazz clubs, coffeehouses and sidewalk cafes - you'll find them all in the Village. Tips for a last-minute getaway: you can most easily snag theater tickets during January and February, but finding a good table at a restaurant can be easier in July and August, when New Yorkers tend to escape the city. Visit New York City between the first of the year and early April for great bargains.
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