A guide to finding the best last-minute holiday getaways

A long weekend off from work is the ideal opportunity to sneak away for a last-minute holiday getaway. Be it a New Year’s trip to ring in the countdown in a festive atmosphere or a Memorial Day beach escape to kick off the summer season, these ideas will inspire your vacay and help you prep for getting out of town.

Different types of last-minute holiday getaways

Federal holidays like July 4th and Thanksgiving often mean some extra time off work. Whether you use it for a quick Labor Day weekend vacation or tack it on to some paid vacay days for a longer break is up to you. From New Year getaways to watch the ball drop in style to loved-up respites with a nod to Saint Valentine, these ideas should get you started.

New Year’s Eve getaways

Nothing says “fresh start” like a New Year vacation to ring in January 1st. Sparkly outfits, bubbly champagne, and resolution lists are all on the menu. The ultimate bucket-list spot for New Year’s Eve is, of course, Times Square in NYC, but if you’re after something a little quieter, why not scatter out from the city when the tourists start filtering in. The Pocono Mountains in neighboring Pennsylvania are perfect for wintry escapes, what with all the ski slopes and tubing runs. Plus, you can break out your cocktail outfits for dining and dancing over the holiday.

Romantic Valentine’s day escapes for couples

OK, so the loved-up holiday doesn’t usually include an extra day off at work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak away for the weekend for Valentines getaways. Whether you’re surprising your significant other or planning a proposal, a romance-filled respite is just the ticket. Make it a pine-scented cabin in the woods with a bubbling hot tub and crackling fireplace or a cozy bungalow on the Pacific coast with a sea-view balcony for watching the sunset.

The best Labor Day vacations

Labor Day is that much-needed final taste of summer after school and work have gone back to full swing, and there couldn’t be a better time to scoot off for some swimming and sunning while the temps are still tepid. If you’re after a cheap Labor Day vacation or a last-minute holiday getaway, you might need to look somewhere close to home to avoid pricey airfare, be it Lake Geneva for some Wisconsin-style waterparks and wineries, or Lake Tahoe for boat rides and hiking on the border of California and Nevada.

Destinations for last-minute holiday escapes

Need some inspiration for where to look for last-minute holidays? They can be found in the next city over, a neighboring state’s national park, or a quick plane ride to the nearest coast. No need to go far to find some recreation or rest and relaxation.

Somewhere sunny

Nothing says vacay like a trip to the beach or lake full of tanning, water sports, and plenty of splashing about. Whether its New Year trips or one of the summer holidays, sunny Florida is always a winnera, with miles of shoreline offering up a wide selection of sandy destinations. Keep in mind that holiday weekends can be busy down south, so you might want to pick somewhere a little more offbeat to avoid throngs of visitors. Consider Miramar Beach for bath-warm Gulf waters between bustling Panama City and Pensacola, or Amelia Island on the northern fringes of the Atlantic coast.

Quick city breaks

Last-minute holiday vacations can be kept simple and easy by checking in to an apartment rental or downtown condo in a nearby city just a quick train or car ride away. Bigger metros are packed with things to do and all but guaranteed to have plenty of accommodations left. On the east coast, DC’s wide selection of free museums and monuments along the Washington Mall mean more dollars can be allocated for food trucks, while Chicago in the Midwest has tons of parks and public art to explore between bites of deep-dish pizza.

Off to the mountains

How about a cozy hillside cabin or decked-out chalet for a quick holiday getaway? They shine in winter, when last-minute New Year’s Eve deals or Christmas escapes can mean snowshoeing in the woods or sleigh-rides through light-bedazzled villages. But long weekends in summer offer up mountain biking and rafting trips along rivers. The national forests along the border of Montana and Idaho brim with options, like mountainous Missoula and lakeside Coeur d’ Alene.