High-octane adventure weekends and other short trip ideas

When you're planning a weekend getaway, you want to make sure you'll be making the most of your short time away from home. That means keeping travel time reasonable, finding a vacation home rental in your ideal location, and basing your trip around your favorite pastimes. Perhaps you're longing to shop 'til you drop in a chic city? Or maybe your dream weekend vacation is a pulse-pounding adventure break surrounded by spectacular natural scenery? Whatever your preference, our guide to some of the best places for a weekend getaway should prove inspiring.

Adventure weekends in captivating Canada

If you're craving an adrenaline fix on your next weekend getaway trip, dazzlingly diverse Canada offers a wealth of thrilling experiences. Whether you want to snowboard down powdery mountain slopes, marvel at some of the world's most majestic creatures, kayak down a winding river, or cycle through an unspoiled national park, it's all on offer here. Best of all, many of Canada's most awesome adventure destinations are within easy reach of international airports or major cities, so you can cram a whole lot of excitement into a weekend break. Why not try one of these perennially popular trips?

Wildlife watching off the Vancouver coast

Between March and October each year, the deep blue waters surrounding vibrant Vancouver can be found thronging with awe-inspiring orca whales. For a weekend getaway you won't forget in a hurry, embark on a whale-watching expedition by speedboat, cruiser, kayak, or seaplane. If you're lucky, you may also catch sight of playful porpoises and comical sea lions, as well as majestic bald eagles swooping overhead. Vancouver is awash with enticing vacation home rentals, from sleek downtown studios to sprawling seafront villas, so you'll have no trouble finding your ideal home away from home.

Mountain adventures in wonderful Whistler

For winter sports enthusiasts, Whistler is without doubt one of North America's best places for a weekend getaway. The Whistler Blackcomb ski area boasts over 200 runs set across 2 awe-inspiring mountains, with terrain to suit everyone from absolute beginners to Olympic snowboarders. If you'd rather get off the beaten track, the Whistler region also boasts around 100 miles of picturesque cross-country skiing trails. Or visit in the summer for an action-packed weekend of bracing hikes, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting. Whistler boasts luxurious villa rentals, complete with tempting perks like bubbling hot tubs and ski-in/ski-out access. Or you could opt for a more modest getaway cabin with a cozy lounge and a fireplace.

Urban weekend destinations in the USA

When considering where to go for a weekend getaway, the go-to option for many is a bustling major American city. Whether you head towards the soaring skyline of New York City, the sloped streets of San Francisco, or the palm-fringed promenades of Miami, you can count on great transport links, culinary delights, a wealth of culture, and an eclectic choice of vacation rentals. If you're looking for alternative getaways in the country, you might also be tempted to pack your bags for one of these classic weekend destinations.

Sample the awesomeness of Austin with a weekend city break

Offering a beguiling mix of big city excitement and quirky small town charm, Austin is increasingly recognized as one of the best places to get away for a weekend in the United States. Texas's cosmopolitan capital is a renowned hipster haven, with its thriving live music scene, chilled-out cafe culture, buzzing bars, and trendsetting cultural festivals like South by Southwest. And no weekend getaway here is complete until you've sampled local food specialties like melt-in-the-mouth beef brisket or sweet pecan pie. Austin vacation homes run the gamut from simple studios to sprawling lakefront estates, so you're sure to find one that's perfect for your weekend getaway.

A weekend of culture and cuisine in Chicago

The Windy City makes a breathtaking first impression, with its iconic skyscrapers and dynamic downtown district. Chicago is a haven for foodies, best known for its decadent deep-dish pizza, but also boasting thriving neighborhoods specializing in everything from fiery Indian curries to moreish Greek mezze. Culture vultures could spend the whole weekend exploring the cavernous Art Institute of Chicago or the treasure-filled Field Museum of Natural History. And the sunny summer months bring a never-ending succession of hip music festivals, from the laid-back Blues Fest to the star-studded Lollapalooza. You'll find lavish mansions for rent in Chicago's chic suburbs, and a host of airy apartments across downtown.