En español | "What a difference a day makes," as the saying goes, and that goes doubly for travel. Weekend escapes are great, but add a mere 24 hours to an often rushed two-day trip, and suddenly it becomes a real vacation. Starting Friday evening and running until Monday afternoon, you can pack in a lot — from museums, sightseeing and outdoor pursuits to shopping, dining and performing arts — and still have time to relax.

Don't believe it? Take a look at these sample itineraries in six top American destinations that will have you planning your next three-day jaunt before you're headed home.

New York City

From museums to delicious food options and much more, the Big Apple doesn't disappoint.

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New York

Friday: Settle into Manhattan with a candlelit dinner at one of the West Village's romantic pocket-size restaurants.

Saturday: Follow late-morning dim sum in Chinatown with a visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art in the meatpacking district. Afterward, take a walk along the High Line, a 1.45-mile elevated park built on a disused railroad spur, and then forage for snacks in the Chelsea Market, a wildly popular food hall in a former cookie factory where the Oreo was created. Theater is on the bill tonight — either a prebooked, big-name show or an off-off-Broadway production — preceded by dinner in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, adjacent to the theater district.

Sunday: A bagel (with lox and a schmear of cream cheese) starts your day at one of the city's beloved delis. Then stroll into Central Park for either a relaxed row around its 22-acre lake (April through October) or a session of ice skating at the park's outdoor Wollman Rink (November to March). That's followed by lunch on the Upper West Side and a visit to the amazing dinosaur skeletons and other wonders of the earth at the American Museum of Natural History. That night, head to the Nolita neighborhood, where dinner options skew Italian, and the pizza is downright fantastico.

Monday: Astonishing views of the Manhattan skyline accompany a morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. On the other side, in Brooklyn's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood, you'll find trendy boutiques and a selection of enticing lunch spots.

Washington, D.C.

Be sure to explore beyond the National Mall when visiting Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C.

Friday: Make your way for drinks and dinner to the lively Logan Circle neighborhood, where food offerings range from Spanish tapas and French fare to gastropub grub.

Saturday: Devote the morning to one of the city's world-class Smithsonian Institution museums, such as the National Gallery of Art, the National Air and Space Museum or the groundbreaking new National Museum of African American History & Culture (free timed passes are required for the latter). Lunch in a museum cafe fuels an afternoon walk or bike ride through the 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park, one of the country's largest urban preserves. That evening, catch a concert, ballet or theatrical performance at the Kennedy Center (book in advance); the nearby Foggy Bottom neighborhood is a good choice for a preshow dinner.

Sunday: Start slow with a leisurely brunch in Georgetown, followed by a visit to Dumbarton Oaks, where you can stretch your legs in the gardens of this historic estate and pop into its small but exquisite museum of Byzantine, pre-Columbian and European art. Shift the action for the rest of the day to the hip Shaw District, which boasts a bevy of indie boutiques for a spot of afternoon shopping, a hot dining and cocktail scene, and live music and theater venues such as the Lincoln Theatre and the Howard Theatre, where acts like Cab Calloway and Pearl Bailey once played.

Monday: Hit the water for monumental views of the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and other sights from the Potomac River. Feeling sporty? Opt for a guided kayak paddle. Otherwise, you can book a lunch cruise.