Top 5 cities for end-of-summer road trips

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As summer draws to a close, many people get a last bout of travel fever. The urge to hit the road and explore the world is strong, but the time may be short. Perhaps you’ve used those precious vacation days on longer trips, or just want to take a little time for yourself.

Vacations are often more work than they’re worth, or so they seem at the time. All the planning, arrangements, and packing – the logistics of taking a long vacation can be overwhelming. Are you covered at work? Have you arranged a dog- or house-sitter? Did you unplug the iron?

Sometimes a weekend road trip is just what the doctor ordered. Pack lightly, get the neighbors to look in on the pets, hop in the car and get away from it all. The benefits of these short, whimsical trips include being much more low pressure than a fully planned vacation. You can discover the wonders of the world in your own backyard, things you’ve been too busy to notice.

Of course, the allure of the weekend road trip for some is its downside for others. The flexibility of getting up and going, exploring nearby cities and attractions, lends itself to unexpected complications. For those who need a quick vacation but find the spontaneity of the road trip less than appealing, the "staycation" provides a nice middle ground. For those who can effectively unplug and live in their own town like a tourist for a weekend, a city like Nashville holds many delights often missed by those who live here.

Therefore O&AN has chosen what we consider four prime locations for short weekend road trips: Memphis/Tunica, Louisville, Asheville, and Chattanooga. Each is just a few hours’ drive from Nashville, and each holds its own allure. Rather than attempt to rank these options, we present these four very different cities as offering something for nearly every kind of traveler.

Memphis/Tunica is a solid choice for adult entertainment, with Vegas style gambling just hours from Nashville, while Louisville offers everything from professional sports and horse racing to an increasingly vibrant gay scene. Chattanooga, on the other hand, offers a family friendly option, particularly for those with children to entertain or history buffs to educate, and Asheville promises a sophisticated destination, steeped in art and culture, and a foodie paradise.

Last, but certainly not least, is Nashville itself. Everyone who lives here has probably, at some time or other, said, “Nashville is more than just country music.” A person could do a lot worse than spending a weekend exploring this great city and all it has to offer, even those who have lived here for years.

 

 

More from the Staycation vs Vacation series:

Asheville: "the new freak capital of the U.S."

Louisville: "right up I-65 and well worth the drive"

Chattanooga: "a family friendly getaway on the Tennessee River"

Memphis/Tunica: "a Deep South version of 'The Hangover'"

Nashville: "there truly is no place like home"