Sometimes, you just can’t book a week-long vacation in New York, London, or Paris. In that case, a quick but memorable visit to another city where you can experience the highlights in 72 hours or less can be the perfect alternative.
What makes a city the right fit for this type of tourism? It varies. In Victoria, British Columbia and Helsinki, Finland, many key attractions are within walking distance. In Las Vegas, Nevada and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, your partying possibilities will simply make the time fly by.
One way or another, these selected cities lend themselves nicely to a sweet, short sojourn and you’ll move on to your next destination feeling as if you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
10 Destinations Perfect For A Short Trip. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.
Las Vegas, Nevada
First things first: book yourself a swanky Las Vegas hotel room. Whether it’s an upscale Strip location like the Bellagio, or further afield like the Hard Rock Hotel, there's a buffet of choice for visitors in Vegas. Next, stroll along the Strip and admire the bright lights.
You can catch a different show and dine in style on a daily basis. For instance, catch Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles LOVE musical at the Mirage, and then devour designer sushi at Simon at the Palms Casino Resort.
Feeling adventurous? Head up to the Fremont Street Experience and go zip-lining underneath the huge illuminated canopy. To escape the crowds, do a half-day tour of the Hoover Dam and neighbouring Lake Meade.
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is known as the “Garden City,” and your first stop should be the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Just north of the city, this former limestone quarry abounds with statues, fountains, and dazzling gardens whose themes range from Italian to Japanese.
British Columbia's capital has several key attractions near its Inner Harbour. Check out the interactive Old Town and giant woolly mammoth at the Royal British Columbia Museum. Marvel at miniature dioramas of the Canadian railway system and historical battles at Miniature World. Taking afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel reveals the British influence in this Canadian city.
Helsinki is one pedestrian-friendly city. Enjoy people-watching on the tree-lined Esplanadi, or go shopping at the huge Stockmann’s department store on Mannerheim Street. The open-air market in the harbour bustles with fishmongers and souvenir stalls.
Don’t miss Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s superb paintings of the Kalevala, Finland’s national myth, at the Ateneum, Helsinki’s classical art museum. Take a ferry ride to Suomenlinna, the city’s 18th-century sea fortress. For a beautiful panorama, go up the 72-metre tower at the huge outdoor stadium built for the 1952 Summer Olympics.
San Diego, California
More laid-back than nearby Los Angeles, San Diego is amazing for animal lovers. You could easily spend a couple of days viewing polar bears, gorillas, and penguins at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and Sea World. In the harbour, gawk at the nearly 30 naval aircraft displayed aboard the USS Midway Museum.
Dining in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter is a delight, from Cafe Sevilla’s braised rabbit to authentic enchiladas at Fred’s Mexican Cafe.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Fun fact: Located about a 90-minute car drive from the small resort town of Ocho Rios is Goldeneye, a luxury resort that was once home for Sir Ian Fleming, the famous author behind the James Bond novels.
If you can’t afford to stay where Bill Clinton and Bill Gates have stayed, there are still plenty of nice beachfront properties to choose from, such as the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort and Spa. Climbing up the impressively foam-swept Dunn’s River Falls is an area highlight, as is riding the bobsled-style roller coaster at Mystic Mountain, an outdoor adventure extravaganza.
Relive Calgary’s history with a ride on vintage trains and amusement park rides at Heritage Park Historical Village, or view the interactive galleries on Alberta mavericks and native peoples at the Glenbow Museum.
Get a city panorama from the Calgary Tower, and then feast on organic game and artisan cheeses at Stephen Avenue’s upscale restaurants.
For students of history, this walled Bavarian city offers grim reminders of the Nazi past, from the site of the Nuremberg trials to the rally grounds where Adolf Hitler was feted from 1933 to 1938.
But there are also light-hearted things to see, like the Nuremberg Toy Museum’s collection of vintage dollhouses and modern Playmobil and Lego sets. Quaff traditional ales at the famous Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, or get your sausage on at one of Nuremberg's bratwurst restaurants.
The Scottish capital specializes in whiskey and literature. Take an almost Disney-esque tour of the whiskey-distilling process at the Scotch Whiskey Experience. The Writers’ Museum showcases original manuscripts by Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Walking up the Royal Mile through Edinburgh’s Old Town and touring Edinburgh Castle – as some 1.3 million visitors do annually – is another must-do.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Photo ops abound in Malaysia’s biggest city, thanks to its many tall buildings, like the Petronas Towers which juts out like 1,483-foot silver corn cobs against the tropical sky. These were the world’s tallest buildings when Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones dangled beneath the adjoining skybridge in the climax of the 1999-thriller "Entrapment".
Whether you're climbing 272 steps to the ornate Hindu gates of the Batu Caves to be greeted by macaque monkeys, or simply checking the time on the Sultan Abdul Samad Clock Tower, it’s clear that things are looking up in Kuala Lumpur.
Shop for handmade artwork, jewellery, and clothes at The Forks. The indoor market, located at the confluence of the Assiniboine River and the Red River, is just one attraction at this National Historic Site. The Children’s Museum, the Forks Historic Rail Bridge, and the Explore Manitoba Centre all add variety and colour. Watch out for the architecturally spectacular Canadian Museum for Human Rights, opening in 2014.
During the NHL regular season (October-April), attend a Winnipeg Jets hockey game at the MTS Centre. The fans here are among the league’s loudest and most passionate.