Mindfulness & Anxiety

The Most Relaxing Cities for a Vacation

By Mary Sauer

People are taking CBD products to relax. Increasingly, vapes and oils, even tasty treats are becoming popular ways for adults to wind down. But there are a lot of people who want more traditional ways to wind down. Like a relaxing getaway.

If you’re looking for a trip that will leave you feeling relaxed, a more low-key vacation may be the better choice. Thankfully, there are so many options right here in the United States that offer that slow-pace, low-stress environment our busy souls crave.

From coastal towns to historic cities, we’re taking a close look at the most relaxing cities for a vacation. Relaxation looks different for different people, but there’s a little bit of something for everyone on this list.

1. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte has a lot to offer visitors all year round without being overwhelming or noisy. Since it is only a three-hour drive from the beach, this is a good home base if you’d like to adventure out to the rest of the state.

Freedom Park is a well-known park covering almost 100 acres, perfect for long, quiet walks or picnic lunches. There are also a variety of highly-rated spa and wellness centers, including Nature Spa and drop-in yoga at Noda Yoga.

2. Charleston, South Carolina

Head further south for another slow-stress Carolina city that has a lot to offer the relaxation tourist. Named the best city in the United States in 2018 by Travel+Leisure, Charleston is chock full of history, starting with those beautiful cobblestone streets covering the historic downtown area.

Fill your time with shopping and live music on King Street or spend a day visiting a nearby beach or taking a day trip to the islands just off of the coast. You’ll be glad you made time for a visit to Charleston.

3. Durham, North Carolina

If you’re looking for an escape from the noise of everyday life, this is the place to be. Durham falls on the list of the 100 biggest cities in North America and was named the quietest city on the list in 2014.

Take a tour of the 55-acre, public Sarah P. Duke Gardens, which features the “Stonehenge of woven twigs.” The Big Easy is a sculpture woven from saplings found in the nearby Duke Forest. Spend a quiet afternoon enjoying lunch at a cafe in historic Downtown Durham and don’t forget a visit to the Museum of Life & Sciences. Even a full weekend will feel relaxing in this charming and peaceful city!

4. Savannah, Georgia

A visit to Savannah is a little like stepping back in time. Spend your vacation taking a leisurely tour of the Historic District, which is famous for its numerous historic churches, museums, and mansions. Relax on the beach of Tybee Island, which is only a twenty-minute drive from Savannah.

From seafood to southern comfort food, there is no shortage of excellent dining options in Savannah. And, as a town that has declared themselves one of the most haunted cities in America, there are ghost tours if you’re up for a scare.

Ashley Knedler

5. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Named for its biggest attraction, Hot Springs has become a popular city to visitors who need a few days of rejuvenation. Soak in the mineral baths and book a massage or two. When you’re feeling fully pampered and totally relaxed, there are plenty of other ways to spend your time, including hiking, horseback riding, and golf.

Hot Springs is family friendly, so don’t be afraid to bring along the kids for a visit to the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo or the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum.

6. Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island is located south of the coast of Florida. It is well loved for its beautiful beaches, including Bowman’s Beach and Blind Pass Beach. According to Travel + Leisure, the currents there are too strong for swimming but perfect for collecting seashells.

Once you’ve had your fill of walking along the beaches, dine on fresh seafood, go kayaking, or book a spa service at Sanibel Moorings Resort. Additional attractions include the Botanical Garden, J.M. Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and kayaking trails for all skill levels.

7. Asheville, North Carolina

Considered to be one of the best places to live in the United States, Asheville makes for a relaxing vacation, too. Asheville is located between the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests and has become a favorite vacation spot thanks to its quirky culture and beautiful landscape.

While you are there, make sure you take time to explore the many unique restaurants Asheville is famous for. Food & Wine recommends Capella on 9 and Travel + Leisure suggestions Sovereign Remedies.

Kevin Crosby

8. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is a part of a group of small towns known as the Classic Coast, offering an iconic East Coast vacation full of historic homes, fresh seafood, and breathtaking beaches. This New England town offers some really unique accommodations, including a firehouse-turned-inn, a lighthouse, and a yacht.

A trip to the Classic Coast is all about ignoring the agenda, taking your time, and enjoying small town living. If you’re looking for a little extra relaxation, there are several highly rated spas nearby. The Bodhi Spa has rave reviews and offers hydrotherapy services.

9. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket is less of a city and more of a small town packed with charm. This island is located off the coast of Massachusetts and is so incredibly relaxing and quaint because of a lot of the island has been protected from development by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

In Nantucket, you’ll find plenty of small shops and miles of dune-covered beaches. You’ll also be surrounded by restaurants featuring the foods the east coast is famous for — fried clams, oysters, and lobster.

10. Cambria, California

If you’d like to head out west, there are no shortage of cities where you can spend a week or two away from the stresses of everyday life. Cambria, located in central California, is small enough to be walkable, according to the Independent Travel Cats blog. And, when you don’t want to walk, you can rent a bike for getting around.

Beaches and trails make for unending outdoor relaxation. The town is full of low-key activities like antique shopping, art galleries, and a day spa located at the El Colibri Resort.

11. Ashland, Oregon

The Pacific Northwest is famous for its rugged beaches, challenging and breathtaking hikes, and the unique and quirky city of Portland. If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away, however, the smaller city of Ashland might be more your speed.

Ashland is famous as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which began as a low-budget production in 1935 and has grown to be world famous. Year-round attractions include art museums, Lithia Park, and the Alice in Wonderland Trail Network.

12. Sedona, Arizona

There is so much to love about Sedona, beginning with the mild weather and sun-filled days. Once you arrive, you’ll quickly understand why people love this city so much — the red rock formations decorating the landscape are amazing!

While in Sedona, there is so much you can do that will leave you feeling calm and collected. Walk Sedona will guide you through the many walkable locations in the city. Spiritual and physical wellness is at the core of what they offer visitors with amenities like healing therapies, coaching, drop-in yoga, and psychic readings.

Dimitar Donovski

13. Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The bustle of Branson is what many tourist associates with the Ozarks, but a town like Eureka Springs has a whole lot to offer someone who would prefer something a little less busy. Just south of Missouri, Eureka Springs is the home of the only still functioning bath from the Victorian Era.

Eureka Springs also contains a wildlife refuge, which is a four mile, self-guided tour you can take to view endangered wildlife. There are also over 100 small-town shops and restaurants in this city.

14. Kansas City, Missouri

There’s a good reason for Kansas City’s nickname, The City of Fountains. There are beautiful fountains around just about every corner. Once you’ve finished a tour of the fountains, there are plenty of relaxing experiences to fill your time.

During the winter, bundle up and see the lights at the Country Club Plaza. During warmer months, spend a slow weekend shopping at the Farmer’s Market in the River Market Area. The Plaza West Day Spa and the Facial Bar are both excellent spas in the area for a little extra “me time” before you leave.

15. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The city of Milwaukee is known for being trendy, but it also has a lot to attract someone looking for a relaxing vacation in a Midwest city. So much of the downtown area is walkable and filled with unique restaurants and shopping. Brewery tours are kind of a thing in Milwaukee and are often accompanied by a beer tasting, too.

When you’re ready for a break from the city, hightail it the nearby beaches. Milwaukee is right on the coast of Lake Michigan and there are great, family-friendly beaches nearby.

16. Austin, Texas

Music lovers already know just how great Austin is to visit, but this is a city with a lot more to offer than exciting concerts and music festivals. For a relaxing visit to Austin, begin your trip outdoors. Lady Bird Lake is a popular location for kayaking and canoeing, the Barton Springs Pool sits smack in the middle of a beautiful garden, and hiking and biking trails are plentiful.

The arts are a driving force in Austin, so make sure you make time for a visit to the Contemporary at the Jones Center and grab tickets at Ballet Austin. Of course, make sure you set time aside for a visit to one of Austin’s many day spas during your trip.

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