How to spend a long weekend in 4 of America’s best cities

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer across the country, and as such should be spent enjoying as much time as possible outside enjoying the warm weather.

But, with scores of people flocking to beaches and city parks across the nation, the masses can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to go.

We’ve compiled a list of the best ways for outdoor enthusiasts and intrepid travelers to enjoy a long weekend in four of America’s most remarkable and distinctive cities: New York, Miami, San Francisco and San Diego.

New York

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Perhaps the single most famous skyline in the world. The Big Apple. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels

There are over 8 million people living in New York, so it’s going to be a bit difficult to entirely avoid the crowds on a holiday weekend. That said, there are definite ways to get away from the throngs and have a great holiday weekend.

For those who just want to hang out on a beach: Spots like Coney Island and Rockaway Beach are going to be packed with people, so if you want a little space to breathe you’re going to have to put in effort. You can try biking to Fort Tilden or taking Metro-North to the beaches of Southern Connecticut.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure: If you’re looking for a day hike, take a 90-minute train ride out to Ossining and hike around Blue Mountain Reservation. As for surfing, there’s a bunch of different breaks throughout Long Island. Check a swell map, get out early, and pray the crowd isn’t too thick.

If you want to go for a walk in the park: Check out on the High Line. It’s an elevated greenway on a section of the abandoned New York Central Railroad.

One good rooftop bar: The rooftop at Night of Joy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, never fails to provide a good time, and will help you avoid some of the hordes that flock to Manhattan rooftops.

Miami

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The famous neon facades of Miami’s Ocean Drive. Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Baikovicious/Flickr

Residents of the Magic City might tell you that you hardly need an excuse to get into a festive spirit in Miami, but that a holiday weekend never hurts. And, given that the city is situated in a tropical environment, it’ll give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy your time outside.

For those who just want to hang on a beach: Stay as far away from South Beach as humanly possible. Drive over the bridge to Key Biscayne and settle at either Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park or Virginia Beach Key Park.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure: If you want to kayak, the waterways of Everglades National Park are perfect. Snorkeling and scuba diving at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is also a great bet.

If you want to go for a walk in the park: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are hardly a secret, but well worth a trip. As are the Pinecrest Gardens.

One good rooftop bar: There’s an insane amount of rooftop bars throughout Miami. The city’s downtown is in the midst of a renaissance, and the rooftop bar at Pawn Broker in the heart of the city’s financial district is a must-see.

San Diego

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The majestic bluffs and expansive beaches of Torrey Pines. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Nelson/Flickr

America’s Finest City is an outdoor lover’s playground, with beaches, hiking and bike trails galore. A long weekend will give you ample time to explore all of its beautiful landscape, so take advantage.

For those who just want to hang on a beach: Avoid Pacific Beach and Mission Beach unless you’re keen on fighting for elbow space on the sand. Black’s Beach in La Jolla doesn’t tend to get too crowded due to the hike required to access it.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure: If you want to surf, just hit Pacific Coast Highway in either direction and drive around until you find a break that suits your fancy. Want to hike? Go to Cuyamaca Peak Trail. Looking for singletrack? Try the Cowles Mountain Trail.

If you want to go for a walk in the park: Balboa Park can’t be beat for sheer magnitude. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is also wonderful for its natural beauty.

One good rooftop bar: Altitude Sky Lounge atop the Marriott in the Gaslamp Quarter will give you one of the best views of San Diego’s sprawling downtown.

San Francisco

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For natural beauty, it’s hard to beat San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy of Pexels

San Francisco is one of the most topographically stunning places in the United States, and has a long, storied history for mountain biking, hiking and surfing. If you’re looking to get out for an extended weekend, the Bay Area is perfect.

For those who just want to hang on a beach: Luckily, it’s not too hard to find empty beaches around San Francisco. Try Black Sands Beach in Sausalito or Montara State Beach in Half Moon Bay.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure: Marin County — just north of San Francisco — is credited as being the birthplace of modern mountain biking. Camp Tamarancho and China Camp State Park provide great singletrack that is suitable for all skill levels.

If you want to go for a walk in the park: San Francisco has a plethora of great park spaces within the city. Golden Gate Park, Mission Dolores Park and Bernal Heights Park (if you fancy panoramic views) are all amazing.

One good rooftop bar: San Francisco isn’t really known for having a lot of rooftop bars (probably due in large part to its variable weather), but Jones in the Tenderloin tends to be a great time.

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