It’s time to embark on a weekend getaway. While Lexington, Kentucky is a vibrant city with many family-friendly activities, sometimes it might be fun to escape to a secluded cabin in the mountains or a small town where you can explore the town square. Book a stay at one of many cozy Lexington vacation rentals for a day or two, then take a short road trip to a neighboring city. Take a look at the top destinations in proximity to Lexington.

Hot air balloon over a red barn.

1. Wears Valley, Tennessee

In three and a half hours, drive to the small town of Wears Valley, Tennessee, and enjoy a charming mountain town with easy access to all the outdoor fun you want. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance sits close to town. At the visitor’s center, your kids enroll in the Junior Ranger program while you sign up for a guided walk. Drive up to Clingsman Dome, an observation deck that extends out from the mountain peak, for stunning views. For older family members, the Jakes Creek Distillery offers tours with a few samples at the end. Take to the sky and zoom over the valley at Wears Valley Zip Lines.

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2. Sandusky, Ohio

By driving five hours, you reach the coastal community of Sandusky, Ohio, for a weekend of fun and splashing in the water. Teens beg to ride the GateKeeper, a steel roller coaster, at Cedar Point, an amusement park on the lake’s edge, over and over again. This amusement park offers rides for kids of all ages, including a section with kiddie rides. Try your luck at a carnival game and munch of fried Oreos. Tour the Merry-Go-Round Museum and take a spin on the vintage carousel. The museum also houses a collection of intricately carved carousel animals of all kinds. Work on your tan at the East Harbor State Park while the kids cool off with a swim.

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3. Asheville, North Carolina

Drive a little less than four and a half hours to reach the hip town of Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Known for its active art scene, this town is a great spot to get out and explore on foot to see all the amazing art galleries and eclectic shops. Meander along the Urban Trail, a 1.7-mile walk in downtown, that’s marked with 30 unique sculptures that tell the town’s history. Drive over to Biltmore Estates, the closest thing America has to a castle, and tour this massive and lovely home. Opt for a behind-the-scenes tour or a rooftop tour for a unique perspective. End the day with a tour of the Biltmore Estates Winery. Soar over the town and mountains by booking an afternoon on a hot air balloon through Balloons Over Asheville.

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4. Evansville, Indiana

With a little over three-hour driving time, Evansville, Indiana is a nice option for a family weekend away. As the state’s largest and oldest zoo, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden houses all your favorite animals. After seeing all your favorite animals, take a spin on the carousel, glide through the park on the tram, pedal a giant swan paddleboat around the pond, or battle it out on bumper boats. The Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville has many interactive exhibits, but most kids enjoy building from recycled items the most. Learn more about World War II with a visit to the USS LST-325, a landing ship used during this war.

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5. Columbus, Ohio

Driving time to Columbus, Ohio is a tad over three hours, so you arrive in plenty of time to check into your vacation rental and do a little exploring on Friday afternoon. See animals from both land and water at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Kids love the Kangaroo Walkabout and putting their hands in the touch tanks. Breathe in the fresh air and smell the roses with a stroll around the manicured gardens of the Franklin Park Conservatory. German Village is a great place for an evening stroll. This neighborhood offers historic homes and retail buildings, where you can pick up a unique souvenir of your trip.

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6. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

In the winter months, hop in the car for a little less than four hours of driving to arrive in Gatlinburg and enjoy easy access to Uber Gatlinburg, a local ski resort. Take the Uber Gatlinburg Tram to the top of the mountain and choose the ski trail you want based on your skill level. Take a ski lesson or rent your equipment too.The ski area offers a dedicated tubing area that kids love. The Gatlinburg Trolley runs throughout town with stops everywhere you want to visit. On a rainy afternoon, tour the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and gasp in awe as you watch sharks and other fish swim above your head in the shark tunnel.

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7. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee takes a little over four hours by car to reach, but this town that sits on the Georgia border is worth the drive. The Chattanooga Trolley is the best way to see the downtown area, and you can hop on and off wherever you like. Sit back and watch as the scenery glides by during your tour on the Southern Belle Riverboat, an old-fashioned paddleboat. Cool off underground and follow the guide through the caverns before arriving at the stunning waterfall at Ruby Falls.

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