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Weekend Getaways

8 Last-Minute Memorial Day Getaways to Book RIGHT NOW

Memorial Day is almost here, so you know what that means: it's FINALLY summer, people! And there's no better way to kick off the season than with a mini-vacation. Here are eight easy escapes for the long weekend.

Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.

See recent posts by Chelsea Bengier

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Word of advice: you’ll need a big appetite to tackle the Big Easy. Over the holiday weekend, chefs show off their culinary chops at the three-day Greek Fest and will dish up authentic gyros, souvlaki and feta fries alongside dance performances. Or, check out the Tremé/7th Ward Arts & Culture Festival, which brings together the music, food, and neighborhood history of NOLA. Want to see more? Explore the $200 million South Market District, home to a fleet of restaurants, residences, shops, and the stylish Ace Hotel.

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Austin, Texas

We can’t think of a better place to kick off the summer than Texas' funky capital. Start with breakfast tacos to-go at Pueblo Viejo food truck (get the migas, made with eggs, tortilla chips, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and cheese), and head to Barton Springs Pool, a massive natural spring within the 358-acre Zilker Park. Then, stroll over to South Congress Avenue for an afternoon of boutique shopping. You'll find Western wear at Allens Boots and handmade leather goods at Heritage Boot. Come evening, eat dinner at La Condesa, a James Beard-nominated Mexican restaurant that has inventive plates like jumbo lump crabmeat, coconut vinegar-infused guacamole, and smoked brisket pastrami taquitos. End the night exploring Austin's renowned live music scene; the country bands and honky tonk atmosphere at The White Horse is worth the trip alone.

RELATED: The JS Guide to Eating and Drinking Your Way Through Austin, TX

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Lake Placid, New York

There’s a reason New Yorkers trade Manhattan for the mountains come summertime. To start, there’s more than six million acres of wilderness in Lake Placid’s Adirondack Park. (That’s larger than the whole state of Vermont!) See the scenery from the Wild Walk, a high-ropes forest expedition where you can hang out in a four-story twig tree house, a human-size spider's web, or a bald eagle's nest perched in a canopy of 160-foot white pines. If heights aren't your thing, go canoeing on the lake or hiking the region's nature trails, then wind down with an Ubu Ale at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery or a cocktail at Cottage Café.

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Atlanta, Georgia

This southern hotspot is stepping into the limelight as an arts and food destination. Jam out to some blues at the three-day Atlanta Jazz Festival—one of the largest free jazz fests in the country—in Piedmont Park. Want more of a culture fix? Take in 19th- and 20th-century art at the High Museum or visit the SCAD FASH museum. If pints and pinots are more up your alley, spend an afternoon tasting more than 70 beers and wines at Brew at the Zoo. When hunger strikes, head to Restaurant Eugene for sophisticated Southern fare (think grilled trout with blue grits, creole shrimp, and lambchetta and morel mushroom ragout) or Linton's, an airy eatery in the Atlanta Botanical Garden, for garden-to-plate dishes like herb-crusted turnip gratin with roasted baby carrots and crispy kale.

RELATED: The 8 Most Underrated Cities in America

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Kennebunkport, Maine

Just two hours north of Boston, this quaint town on the coast of Maine is home to nautical boutiques, seafood stands, and picturesque lighthouses. Check out the wildlife (eagles, osprey, porpoise) on a kayak tour of Mousam River Estuary with Coastal Maine Kayak & Bike or catch some crustaceans on Kylie's Chance Scenic Lobster Tour, then eat a buttery lobster roll at the local-favorite Clam Shack. Save room for a farm-to-fork feast at Earth at Hidden Pond. (Order the fluke sashimi with trout roe, apples, and celery and a share of the Browne's Point Maine oysters to start and the lobster risotto for your entrée.) Come evening, hop in the car for a retro date night at the Saco Drive-In movie theater.

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Scottsdale, Arizona

Year-round sunshine isn’t the only thing this southwest city has to offer—it’s got a killer craft brew scene, top-notch hiking, and high-end shopping. Go on a spree through Old Town: hit Razzle-Dazzle Bead & Jewelry for turquoise pendants, Fashion by Robert Black for vintage threads, and Saba's for authentic cowboy boots and buckles. You can't visit Scottsdale without seeing Taliesin West, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's striking winter home. (JS Tip: sign up for the Arizona Desert Architecture Tour.) Nearby, the 27,800-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve has 120 miles of hiking trails, or there's also Camelback Mountain and Pinnacle Peak. When you need a break, nothing beats the desert heat better than a cold one, and Scottsdale's ale trail serves some of the best beer around. We love the hops at Two Brothers Taphouse & Brewery, Sip Coffee & Beer House, and Bad Water Brewing Tap Room.

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Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Uncrowded beaches, Lowcountry cuisine, and a laid-back island vibe make Hilton Head the perfect Memorial Day escape. Bed down at the chic Omni, which fronts Bass Head Beach—a long, flat strip of sand with clear, calm water. During the day, rent a bicycle from Forest Beach Surf & Cycle and pedal around the area's 100 miles of trails or hit the links at one of the three championship courses at Sea Pines Golf Club. Then, watch the sunset while sipping mojitos or margs at the open-air Ocean Lounge at happy hour. For dinner, tuck into fresh seafood at Alexander's or reserve a table at the elegant Red Fish, which has a surf-and-turf menu and an extensive wine list of over 1,000 labels.

RELATED: 8 Secluded Beaches to Escape to This Summer

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Catalina Island, California

Off the coast of SoCal, there’s a car-free isle that’s the spitting image of Monaco. The glam port of Avalon (an hour ferry ride from Long Beach) has a Mediterranean meets Hollywood vibe of terra-cotta roofs, ritzy casinos, and harbors anchored by mega yachts and sailboats. Descanso Beach Club is the place to see and be seen: pretty people lounge on plush daybeds and in cabanas, sipping cocktails fetched by butlers, while those in-the-know lunch on the breezy terrace at The Inn on Mt. Ada, a cliff-top mansion with sweeping views of Catalina. For the best scuba diving, make a beeline for the azure Lover's Cove, where you can swim with sea lions, octopi and dolphins.

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