As far as tourist destinations go, few cities can rival the likes of New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles. But if you haven't been before, each of these places can overwhelm and easily fill an entire week. The solution? Cities well designed to be visited in a weekend-or better yet, a long weekend. The best weekend cities offer at least one or two marquee attractions like world-class museums or monuments, a unique cultural atmosphere and enough great food to let visitors know they are somewhere special-all for less money and easier navigability.
Take for example, Austin, Texas. Its major attractions include the Texas State Capital, with free guided and self-guided tours daily; the campus of the largest urban university in the country; the nation's largest urban bat colony; and Austin City Limits, the longest running television show in U.S. history. Citywide, Austin is known for its incredible live music scene, with more performances per capita than any city in the nation, and of every musical genre. Big name musicians, including Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson, often play surprise gigs in small venues here.
Austin is also home to one of the country's hottest food scenes. Slow cooking establishments like Stubb's, Black's, Smitty's, Kreuz Market and The Salt Lick are famous for doing Texas barbeque just right. First-rate Tex-Mex also abounds, most easily found in the town's huge food truck and trailer scene. Fueled by great food, shoppers flock to South Congress Avenue, home to everything from vintage clothing and antique stores, to custom cowboy boot makers and contemporary galleries.