#1: Colorado Springs, ColoradoWhy Colorado Springs? Okay, this is the only destination on this list I've actually visited -- both times with other travel companions. First time around I was in COS for only 24 hours as we passed through on a 17 day roadtrip, the second time around, we stayed in town for three days. If you love the mountains or the great outdoors, this is the place for you.
Where to stay? Both times I was in COS, I stayed at budget accommodations -- a Super 8 along the interstate the first time and the El Colorado Lodge the second time. There's plenty of accommodations to choose from at all price points.
What to do? There's quite a bit to do, so take your pick! I highly recommend spending a few hours or more exploring Garden of the Gods (pictured above) -- I've been here mid-morning as well as early evening. Drive up or take the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak. Explore the shops and people watch in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Tour the Manitou Cave Dwellings and Miramont Castle. Visit the US Olympic Training Center. Visit the US Air Force Academy grounds (and definitely tour all the chapels). Hike the Manitou Incline.
Closest major airport: Denver International Airport. There's also a smaller airport in Colorado Springs that major carriers fly into. I previously put together a destination guide for Colorado Springs on my blog with more images ... check it out.
Where to stay? Having never stayed in Asheville before, I'd probably -- for a solo trip -- splurge on a B&B or find a small cabin with a scenic view near the city.
#2: Asheville, North Carolina
I know its barely pictured above, but there's two reasons I want to spend a long weekend in Asheville: The Biltmore Estate and the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. To me, the Biltmore is the closest to touring a real castle as one can get without hopping a plane across the pond. Doesn't that pond look like something you'd expect to see in a Monet painting?
What to do? Spend hours exploring the grounds of the Biltmore ... and if you time it right, they have a 15k and 5k race there as well, which is definitely a different way to tour the grounds! Spend hours exploring the sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There's a lot more to do, but those two activities will probably consume an entire weekend.
Closest major airport: Asheville Regional Airport
#3: The Oregon coastline
Why the Oregon Coastline? Truthfully, I'm not big into beach trips ... but the Oregon coastline has been calling my name for awhile now. Hoping to make a trip to the PNW a reality in 2015. There's something about it that makes me want to spend hours exploring nature as well as delving into my inner thoughts in comparison to the typical beach destination.
Where to stay? While this is another place I haven't traveled to yet, aside from the offer of a friend's couch when I make it to the area, I'd definitely want to find some place unique to stay. While not along the northern Oregon coastline, if you're on the southern end, check out this Treesort I heard about via another blogger a couple years ago.
What to do? For a long weekend trip, I'd probably limit my exploring the northern half of the coast from Astoria to Pacific City, including the famous Cannon Beach. Visit Tillamook and snag some cheese. Also, I love this list of 10 don't miss spots along the coast. Closest major airport: Portland International (roughly 92 miles from Cannon Beach).
Anywhere you'd add to this list? Been to one of these destinations and have additional activities you'd add? Share in the comments below! Thanks Jess for allowing me to fill in for you while you're in Texas!