More and more families are opting for long weekend escapes as opposed to week-long vacations. With busy school, work and sport schedules, it makes sense to keep vacations short and simple. Here are four ideas for easy long weekend escapes to action-packed destinations that are easy to reach via a nonstop flight from most major U.S. hubs.

Memphis

Known for its barbecue, blues and blue-suede-shoed son, Memphis makes for a rockin’ family getaway. There’s so much to see and do in this southwest Tennessee City, from Sun Studios, birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll to Graceland, home of the King.

  1. The National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry Street) is an absolute must-visit: this evocative museum, built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, brings the history of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to the forefront.
  2. Graceland (3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.), once the home of Elvis Presley, stands as one of the most visited private homes in the U.S. Take the interactive iPad tour, which will give you more insight into the life of Elvis and his family thanks to music clips and personal narratives from family members.
  3. Rock ‘n’ roll was born at Sun Studio (706 Union Ave.) in the summer of 1954, when Scotty Moore, Bill Black and Elvis dreamed up That’s all Right in this the former Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Services and the guided tour is informative and will keep your toes tappin’ thanks to the fun music clips played throughout.
  4. Indulge in award winning barbecue at Central BBQ (147 E. Butler Ave.), where all meats are rubbed with a secret combination of dry spices, marinated for 24 hours, then smoked low and slow in the pit over a combination of hickory and pecan woods.
  5. The Hilton Memphis hotel, located in the East Memphis business district, is a perfect fit for families. Located just a short distance from top attractions, convenient parking and quick highway access make it a good pick if you’re looking to visit all the main attractions in town.

Milwaukee

From climbing to the beacon of a historic lighthouse to designing your own virtual Harley-Davidon, Milwaukee makes for a fab family getaway. Extend the fun by planning to stay in Milwaukee during one of the many festivals or fairs – visitmilwaukee.org/festivals-major-events includes a list of all upcoming family friendly events.

  1. The stunning Milwaukee Art Museum (700 N. Art Museum Dr.; Tel. 414-224­-3243; mam.org) is Wisconsin’s premier arts institution, housing more than 30,000 masterpieces.
  2. The North Point Lighthouse (2650 N. Wahl Ave.; Tel. 414-332-­6754; northpointlighthouse.org) is a picture-perfect, restored 19th-century lighthouse that also houses a small maritime museum.
  3. Brew city is biker-friendly and Coast In Bike Rentals (703 S. 2nd St; Tel. 414-502-7259; coastinbikes.com) will outfit your family with bikes to fit your style, including babyseats, kid carriers and helmets.
  4. Dine at the historic, indoor Milwaukee Public Market, where you’ll find a wide range of Wisconsin-made­ products, including housemade chocolates, artisan cheeses, pretzels, and creamy frozen custards, but you’ll also find the flavors of the world here.
  5. Sprecher Brewery (701 W. Glendale Ave.; Tel. 414-964-­7837; sprecherbrewery.com) offers a brew tour that features rootbeer in addition to beer beer in a family-friendly tour. Learn the science behind micro­brewery and taste a range of gourmet sodas, too.

Chicago

Chicago is the kind of town for a long weekend escape. 

  1. Start with a bird’s eye view of the city from 100 stories up at the Willis Tower’s Skydeck Chicago – an absolute don’t miss Chicago experience.
  2. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – North Michigan Avenue – is a shopper’s paradise: Make a pit stop at Garrett Popcorn Shop (625 North Michigan Avenue) for a bag of caramel, butter, cheesy popcorn mix.
  3. The Museum of Science and Industry offers plenty of fun (and shhh…educational!) opportunities for kids, including a Coal Mine that has been taking visitors deep into a (mock) mine shaft since 1933.
  4. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:30pm, Bike and Roll Chicago will not only teach you how to navigate the city by Segway but also lead the way to a top-secret spot for viewing Navy Pier’s fireworks.

Phoenix

The Valley of the Sun, a.k.a. Greater Phoenix, promises warmth, sunshine and plenty of family fun and adventures. Over 500 area hotels guarantee accommodations that fit your family style and budget, and easy and affordable direct flights make it easier than ever to reach the sunshine.  

  1. Be sure to visit the Desert Botanical Garden a unique botanical garden features the world’s finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts not just in Arizona but around the world. 
  2. Cool off at Wet ‘n’ Wild, the largest theme park in the state. 
  3. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix offers hands-on learning experiences for toddlers and young kids.
  4. Stay at the historic Wigwam Resort, once the gathering place for the Ohio-based executives of Goodyear Tire & Rubber and now a family resort featuring 331 casita-style guest rooms, including 72 suites, crafted from distinctive adobe architecture, 54 holes of championship golf, a 26,000-square-foot Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and four pools with two twisting water slides.