5 Underrated Weekend Destinations for Photographers

5 Underrated Weekend Destinations for Photographers

To me, taking a getaway means finding ease, inspiration, and rejuvenation. As a commercial product photographer, my work often involves long hours in the studio with artificial lighting, which can be mentally and physically draining. That's why occasional quick getaways aren't only desirable but essential. They provide a sense of ease. With no need for extensive planning or coordinating with others, I can embark on a carefree trip at my own pace, satisfying my spontaneous nature.

It's also a shortcut to get inspired. In commercial photography, my focus is on serving clients and shaping my interpretations to meet project goals. While this can be rewarding, it also imposes limitations. Traveling offers an opportunity to escape external influences, allowing me to fully immerse myself in new surroundings and experience their culture. The experience becomes a personal journey of discovery and creative expression.

 Most of all, getting away helps refresh us. It rejuvenates us. And through that we can see things in a different way. We can break away from the way we've been seeing the world and take it in anew. 

1 - St. Petersburg, FL

(image: Road Tripper)

I love St. Petersburg, simply because of the unbeatable aquamarine colored ocean, and the fact that I can capture both sunrise and sunset from one location with just a 30 to 40-minute drive. This charming coastal town with a  bohemian vibe  seamlessly blends serenity with vibrancy, offering the perfect balance between beachside relaxation and urban excitement. As a photographer, you will find so much inspiration amidst the variety of cultures, not to mention, the diverse culinary scene is just a blast. What truly sets St. Petersburg apart is its warm and welcoming community. During my trip, everyone was so easy to talk to and so casual. It was so pleasant!

If you're seeking luxurious accommodations at exclusive resorts, St. Petersburg may not be your place. However, the wide variety of options Airbnb has to offer lead us to a unique experience multiple times. For food, instead of expensive restaurants for a fancy meal, consider venturing out to discover the city's smaller independent restaurants, munch away on them all day by the beach! Since downtown and the beach are just 10 minutes apart, you can easily walk around and snack as you find that perfect scene. I see this town as a great quick weekend getaway that's perfect for photography!

( click image for direct links )
Recommended Gear:
Shooting Scenarios to Expect
  • Beach landscapes
  • Sunrise/ Sunset
  • Beach portraits
  • Travel shots around the City
  • Small to medium small Body
  • Weather sealed to handle the salty air, sand, and splashes
  • All in One lenses are ideal because you can cover wide to telephoto without changing lenses in a sandy and moist environment.
  • For Crop Sensors: 18-200mm or greater. 16mm is ideal but will limit the telephoto side.
  • For full frame sensors 24-200mm or similar
Places to stay:
  • 2 nights + cleaning ($228)
  • close to downtown 
  • Clean, modern feel
  • 2 nights + cleaning ($322)
  • close to the water 
  • screen porch for chilling
  • Very Florida vibe!
Places to eat

M&G Cuban Cafe

Address: 4620 49th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33709

My apologies for the low quality of the image; I forgot to take a picture myself. Nonetheless, this restaurant has some of the best Cuban food I've had, and is incredibly good value. Family-run, and one of my personal favorites.  Do pay this place a visit if you can! 

Old Southeast Market

Address: 1700 3rd St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

One word, Poke! Very close to the water, so I recommend you to get a poke bowl, walk (quickly, you know, it's still raw fish) to the beach and enjoy!



2 - The Obed Scenic River, TN

One of the greatest things about being a photographer that's also into rock climbing, is that we always end up in some of the most strikingly beautiful places.  For me, The Obed might just take the cake.  With its vast expanse of hiking trails, world class climbing, and exciting rapids to kayak, there is no shortage of adventures for the nature lover of any level to enjoy and for us photographers to capture.  Or both!
With that said, Fall is definitely my favorite time to visit.  Not only is the temperature great, but the fall colors make for stunning pictures. Whether you're on a lookout or hiking through a tunnel of trees, those fall colors will be sure to inspire some incredible imagery on your adventure!


( click image for direct links )

Recommended Gear:
Shooting Scenarios to Expect
  • Wide landscapes
  • Climbers, Kayakers, Hikers
  • Wildlife
  • Lightweight
  • Small Form Factor
  • Weather Sealed 

Wide Angle - For landscapes and capturing the twisting trees on the island

  • Crop Cameras- anything similar to 10-24mm
  • Full Frame - anything similar to 14-35mm

Lightweight Telephoto - For capturing wildlife, adventure,  and telephoto landscapes.

  • 70-300mm or similar for both Full Frame or Crop,
  • 55-250mm or similar will be lighter for crop cameras
Places to stay:
  • 2 nights + Cleaning and Fees - $180
  • Cozy, Humble, Cabin Feel
  • In the forest next to a creek
  • Sleeps 3

The Lilypad 

  • Camping $5 per night
  • Small huts $50 per night
  • Clean, well maintained, incredibly friendly owners
  • Very near by Obed trail head
  • Also a Brewery
Food Recomendations:
  • Located on the Lily Pad Grounds
  • Fantastic fresh brewed craft beer
  • The perfect fit to a day of adventure
  • (I don't think I've eaten more food in my life!)

3 - Santa Fe, NM

While I'm not sure how underrated Santa Fe is in tourism circles, it's certainly not talked about enough, and I plan for this to be my next destination.  Why?  It has an immense history, stunning architecture, and the entire city has such a unique style, giving creative opportunities for photography at almost every turn.  This city has such a unique blend of cultures that have, over the years, formed it. This cultural blend is a huge reason I want to visit. The influence of Mexican, Native american, Spanish, and American has created an area very different from other cities in America.  It's formed a cultural direction. This leads to such a diverse range of photographic possibilities, whether it's landscapes, street photography or casual portraits within it's wild blend of old and new architecture. I simply cant wait to go. I'm literally charging my batteries as we speak.  With that said, no matter your style of photography, you're sure to find plenty worth capturing here, so make sure to bring enough memory!



Recommended Gear:
Shooting Scenarios to Expect
  • Cityscapes
  • Architecture
  • Landscape
  • Casual Portraiture
  • Street Photography
  • Small and quick
  • Consider a powerful point and shoot like the Sony RX100VII
  • Compact mirrorless camera
Lens A compact zoom will give versatility and stay small enough for travel
  • Crop Sensors: 18-55mm
  • Full Frame 24-70 f/4 or similar
Places to stay:  
  • 2 night stay + Cleaning and Fees - $421
  • Very unique style, perfect for photography!
  • Large private area both inside and out
  • Sleeps 4
  • 2 nights + Cleaning and fees - $475
  • Classic Santa Fe Vibe
  • Pets Allowed!
  • Full Kitchen
  • Close to Downtown
  • Sleeps 4

Arroyo Vino


218 Camino La Tierra
Santa Fe, NM 87506

An incredibly creative and exciting blend of fine dining and rustic feel, this wine shop and restaurant serves unique and delicious dishes with a focus on local ingredients.



221 Shelby Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

 Famous for their Mole Negro, Chef Fernando Olea has been serving Santa Fe for over 30 years.  If you're interested in trying one of the most famous dishes of the area, this is one of the best!


4 - Davis Mountain, TX


On the way back from El Paso to San Antonio, I discovered a hidden gem. Unfortunately, I had nothing to capture the glorious star-studded night sky, so I have provided a picture I found online. There was almost no light pollution on the mountain as we were driving trough the middle of the night, and the stars were simply stunning! So, fairly spontaneously, we found an AirBnb to stay in for a night. It wasn't a very straightforward process, so I'd advise you to find one ahead if you are interested in visiting.

To our delight, te landscape during the day was just as impressive as the night sky. a quick 10-15 min hike led us to an incredible overlook where we could see for miles! It was a great chance to explore both wide angle and telephoto landscapes.

  The state park typically provides a very pleasant place in the mountains to stay called Indian Trail Lodge, but it is currently closed for renovations until January 2024. I've included several Airbnbs for you to consider instead.

(make sure you bring a tripod, release cable, and a flashlight to capture that starry sky shot!) 

Recommended Gear:
Shooting Scenarios to Expect
  • Long Exposure Night Time
  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife
  • Visiting small towns
Camera / Gear
  • Small to Medium sized
  • Tripod
  • Remote trigger for long exposures
  • small flashlight

Wide - This will be helpful for capturing the full landscape scenes as well as photographing the stars at night.  They also make for great environmental  portraiture.

  • Crop cameras roughly 10-24mm
  • Full Frame roughly 14-35mm

Telephoto - This can be used to capture the wildlife around.

  • Crop Cameras Roughly within 55-300mm
  • Full Frame Roughly within 70-400mm
Where to Eat

Poco Mexico




One of the most loved restaurants in Davis, be sure to try the enchilada or Chile Relleno!

Places to stay:  
  • 2 nights stay + Cleaning and Fees - $320
  • Clean, Cozy
  • Very pleasant common area outside to enjoy the stars
  • 2 night stay + Cleaning and Fees - $298
  • Incredible balcony view
  • outdoor common area
  • Room for 2 guests

Indian Trail Lodge

  • Located at the trail head
  • Full service hotel with a pool, restaurant, and other amenities

5 - Shenandoah Valley


Very few moments of my life have been as vividly exciting as hiking through Shenandoah Valley.  Its truly breath taking. Weather you want to grab an AirBnb or camp, its one of the most beautiful trails in America. With breathtaking views and stunning scenery, this is a must for any nature photographer. With that said, there aren't that many restaurants on the path, so be prepared to bring what you need for food.


Recommended Gear:
Shooting Scenarios to Expect
  • Wide landscapes of beaches and oceans
  • Wide shots inside the canopy of trees
  • Wildlife
  • Small and light, you dont want to carry too much gear
  • Weather Sealing is preferable, as it can be wet, humid, and dirty.

Wide Angle - For landscapes and capturing the twisting trees on the island

  • Crop Cameras- anything similar to 10-24mm
  • Full Frame - anything similar to 14-35mm

Telephoto - For wildlife and creative cropping of the scene

  • Crop Cameras - anything around 55-300mm
  • Full Frame - anything around 70-500mm
Places to stay:
StreamSide Guesthouse in Mountains/National Forest:
  • 2 Nights - $362 Including cleaning and all fees
  • Located right next to the Appalachian trail and next to a stream.
  • While a bit off the beaten path, it's still within a comfortable drive or uber away from the airport. 


  • Camping is free and easy in the valley. 
  • There are shelters built along the trail to make it easier to camp. 

Triple Crown BBQ


1079 US-211, Luray, VA 22835

One of the best meals of my life was exiting the trail, fully exhausted. Needing to grab a bite to eat before heading back, we stopped by.  This place was a godsend. The BBQ was well balanced between vinegar and sweetness, not too wet, not too dry.

 Joshua Wilton House


412 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

An incredible dining experience in an incredible location.  The food is on point, and the setting is perfect.

While its definitely a splurge, the meal is absolutely worth it if you're looking for a special experience. 

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