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12 of the Best Weekend Vacations From Columbus

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman 12 of the Best Weekend Vacations From ColumbusUnion Station in Kansas City, Missouri — just under a 10 hour drive from Columbus.
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The approaching summer months mean vacations and long weekend trips for Central Ohioans. Of course New York City is an all-time favorite, and newer tourism hubs like Charleston, South Carolina may already be on your radar. But there are some cities that are regularly looked over. (Detroit, for one, has a rather impressive art scene and is just around a three hour and 15 minute drive from Columbus.)

From the South, East Coast and Midwest, here are 12 recommendations for weekend trips from Columbus, including three-hour, five-hour, and 10-hour drives.

5-Hour Drives

Washington, DC – Washington, DC is easily a top choice in terms of tourism, but aside from the standard sites (e.g. the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall and the Washington Monument), there are plenty of specialty museums and off-the-beaten-path attractions to last several weekends. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History and Culture and Newseum are among the most popular, but not to be forgotten are the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the International Spy Museum and Artechouse — an immersive art and technology museum.

Moving away from the National Mall, Washington DC is one of many cities across the country with a growing brewery and foodie scene. In the same vein as many trendy neighborhoods, Dupont Circle is a popular destination for hybrid eateries, bookstores, coffee shops and restaurants. The neighborhood is also a key neighborhood for city nightlife, with dive bars and dance clubs all concentrated in the area.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – The fact that this national park is on a Michigan coast is almost unbelievable. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a much further drive than previous stops — at just over a seven-hour drive from Columbus — but what makes this site worth the trek is the picturesque view. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive allows for beautiful views from the road, while the Dune Climb, hiking and biking trails, and canoe trips give you a view from land and water.

Outside of the park are a number of opportunities to visit islands, lighthouses, museums and wineries, as well as eat, shop and find accommodations on campgrounds, in vacation homes or in hotels.

10-Hour Drives

Asheville, NC – Among the must-see attractions in Asheville is the Pisgah National Forest, an hour outside of the city but well worth the drive. The national forest is in the Appalachian Mountains and offers over 500,000 acres of fantastic views, waterfalls, mile-high peaks, whitewater rivers and trails. Designated camping and picnic areas are available, in addition to areas for hiking.

In Asheville proper, the city is viewed as an artistic and architectural gem. Art can be found in the Biltmore 19th-century estate, restored factories, the Woolworth Walk gallery and in the classical, gothic, Spanish, art deco and other architectural styles found downtown.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

Kansas City, MO – An impressive amount of history can be found in Kansas City. Downtown you’ll find the American Jazz Museum shares a building with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, while the nearby National WWI Museum boasts the largest set of WWI artifacts in the country. Finally, the Union Station historic train station duals as both a landmark and museum, containing exhibits, a planetarium and science center.

When it’s all said and done, end the day at any one of the city’s reputedly delicious barbecue restaurants. The city is known for barbecue, so much so that there are a few local food tours dedicated to it.

Asbury Park, NJ – The Asbury Park Boardwalk is a little different from other boardwalks on the Jersey Shore. This small coastal city does feature a number of beaches, a splash park and casino, but there’s also a emphasis on independent music and historic attractions. The number of live music venues (nearly a dozen, not counting bars and restaurants) is large given the small town that’s famous for launching the careers of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Add to that Silverball Museum featuring vintage pinball machines, art galleries, murals, and summer festivities like the Visionary Tattoo Arts Festival in July, the Asbury Park Oysterfest and the Sea Hear Now music, art and surf festival in September, and you’ve got yourself a full weekend.

Savannah, GA – From old-timey horse-drawn carriages to its 18th and 19th-century architecture, Savannah’s historic charm has made a top weekend destination in the last several years, and for good reason.

If you only have a day or two, some of the top stops in Savannah are Chippewa Square (the site of Forrest Gump’s famous bus bench and the Historic Savannah Theatre); the Telfair Museum of Art, also known as the oldest museum in the South; Forsyth Park, a 30-acre site known for its picturesque historic fountain; and Rousakis Riverfront Plaza that looks over the Savannah River.

Wild horses on Assateague Island.

Assateague Island – Assateague Island sits along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia at just over nine hours by car from Columbus.

This unlikely beach getaway is well-known and treasured for its wild ponies that graze the shoreline — so much so, it’s protected by three federal agencies: the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

However, Assateague’s beaches are far from restricted. Assateague has activities for all kinds of outdoorsy types, including horseback riding (Plan on heading to the Virginia side of the island if you plan to ride the horses. Maryland has certain restrictions on horseback rides in the summer and fall.) ranger-guided wildlife tours, surf and shellfishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming camping, biking, and trecking over 12 miles of beach on over-sand vehicles.

What cities are on your must-visit list? Comment below!

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