I love New York City. I love the endless possibilities of activity and food and drink and event. The buzz of the street, and the people who I cross paths with every day inspire and push me to do more. To be better. To create and feel good about creating.
That being said, I also love to leave. To feel and see change. To meet new people. And to get that high of coming back to the city again.
I’ve rounded up a list of the best places to spend a weekend away from the city. To get the kind of reset we all need, and can afford. I could make a list of places that I’d love to travel to someday — like Portugal, China & Australia — if money were no object. But this is not that list. This is the list that you can really make happen. This is the list that you can almost call your backyard. Or your friend’s backyard. The friend that lives a reasonable drive away who somehow always leaves you feeling better after seeing them. Pick a place on this list – and go!
Nick and I especially love Shelter Island, Montauk, Fire Island and Bear Mountain. We always try to take something back with us to remember our trip. Whether it’s a mug, seashell or giant statue of a couple embracing (thank you Shelter Island antiquing) bringing something back to your little corner of New York keeps that reset button in sight and touching distance.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 52 minutes
Taking the ferry over to Shelter Island feels like you are entering another world, and leaving the world you know behind. It is a true island. Only one way in, and one way out. Soak it up.
Where to stay: There are a lot of great Airbnb’s in the area – so I recommend checking those out first. If you’re open to spending more for a beautiful view and great service, stay at Sunset Beach. For a more affordable option (and the cool factor that it has been around since the 1800s) stay at Shelter Island House.
What to do: Hike & Explore the Mashomack Preserve. Pro tip: Go early in the morning and be the first ones out there. You’ll wander among untouched, stunning natural beauty.
Walk along the skinny stretch of beach into the ocean known as Shell Beach.
Take in the history at former seventeenth-century plantation Sylvester Manor.
Black Cat Books and Marika’s Antiques should not be missed either.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 49 minutes
Where to stay: Gurney’s, Solé East (housed in a landmark American Tudor building with 60 renovated bungalow-like rooms) or Ruschmeyer’s (its been described as glorified camping – interesting to check out).
What to do: all of the beach activities you can muster at Ditch Plains Beach (the jagged cliff edges are breathtaking). Bring a book to this land called Montauk and sink into the warm sand.
Drinks & parties at The Surf Lodge. Best spot for Instagramming sweet kisses 🙂
Also, go see the famed Montauk Light House.
Distance from NYC: 3 hours, 39 minutes (+1 hour for Lake Placid)
Where to stay: Trout House (yes to those bathtubs), Mirror Lake Inn (if you make it up to Lake Placid – there is nothing better than this hotel) and of course, The Sagamore on Lake George (also get hitched there if you get a sec).
What to do: Get out on Lake George! Rent a boat here.
Hit the village: walk around the shops & eat an ice cream cone.
Check out the weekly farmer’s market in Bolton Landing.
Grab a beer or two at the Adirondack Brewery.
Be sure to check out the “High Line of the Forest”.
And while you’re making your labor day plans, keep in mind The Annual Hobo Fest, which takes place the Sunday before Labor Day. It’s free. Get ready for a full-day of folk music and “hobo chic” celebrating near Saranac Lake.
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 9 minutes
What to do: Marvel at the Sunken Forest. Lay out on Ocean Beach. Drink rocket fuel to get Fire Island cuckoo. And whatever you do, don’t miss seeing a fabulous drag show at Charry’s at the Bay — the Sunday before labor day hosts local favorite Tina Burner. It’s everything you need.
Wildwood, New Jersey
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 42 minutes.
Where to stay: It’s slim pickings for nice hotels here, but StarLux Boutique Hotel looks like an option that could have you walking away without bed bugs.
What to do: The Boardwalk, because how can you not?
The George F. Boyer Museum for history buffs like myself.
The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse (it has FIVE fireplaces — am I asking for a lot here to have just 1 in NYC??)
Plus, Wildwood is rearing and ready to go for Labor Day:
- Labor Day Weekend Fireworks Spectacular on the beach (Sept 2)
- Concert Under the Stars Series featuring Beatlemania (Sept 3)
- Ed’s Funcade World Championship Skeeball Competition (Sept 3)
- Wildwood Block Party and Music Festival (Sept 4th).
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 18 minutes
What to do: Don’t miss Blink 182 at Atlantic City Beach on Labor Day.
Shop, drink and dance at The Quarter at Tropicana.
If you DO feel like gambling *and you can do it responsibly* bring your A-game to The Borgata.
Play games and prance around like a child on Steel Pier!
Eat: For seriously good meat, head to Bobby Flay Steak.
Distance from NYC: 4 hours, 35 minutes
Canoe and kayak under a waterfall. Don’t bring your phone.
Distance from NYC: 3 hours, 7 minutes
Where to stay: They’re all Inns, so you know you came to the right place. You can’t go wrong with Devonfield Inn, Gateways Inn (Neoclassical mansion y’all), Porches Inn, The Inn at Stockbridge or The Red Lion Inn (the priciest).
What to do: The Berkshires is home to as much adventure as you’re willing to take (for me, this is usually not much). From white water rafting to zip lining through deep forests and hiking the beautiful Monument Mountain — you will certainly get your nature fix…and Freudian death drive fulfilled.
The Berkshires also has an incredible art scene! The Norman Rockwell Museum (the home for American illustration) and The Clark Art Institute will be sure to impress. Plus, the largest collection of contemporary visual and performing arts in the country is at MASS MoCa.
Eat: ‘6 House Pub (this restaurant is literally in an old cow barn…yes). For Peruvian, because why not have Peruvian in Massachussetts, go to Alpamayo. And perhaps most importantly, Chocolate Springs Cafe for chocolate bliss.
Hudson, New York
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 36 minutes
What to do: Head down Warren Street for the best shopping, art ogling and antique scouting — you’re bound to come away with something new and amazing for your posh New York palace.
Bear Mountain, NY
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Where to stay: Bear Mountain Inn — a seriously stunning rustic getaway.
What to do: The State Park is really what to come here for. Hiking, biking, camping, picnic groves, fishing, lake access and a zoo are all at your disposal. Soak it up.
Eat: Restaurant 1915 and Blue Roof Tapas Bar will feed you after a long day of outdoor activity.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 46 minutes.
Where to stay: Swann Inn of Beacon is a Gothic house on the foot of Beacon Mountain built in 1866 — groovy.
What to do: Dia:Beacon was a former Nabisco box-printing facility on the Hudson River. There are free guided tours every Saturday at 1 p.m.
Eat: Tito Santana Taqueria – it has a floor-to-ceiling mural of psychedelic mariachi skeletons, so it’s obviously a must-see. The Hop is also a must for beer and cheese lovers. And for a drink, Dogwood.
New Paltz, NY
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 48 minutes
What to do: Learn about the Huguenot people at Historic Huguenot Street — the history really comes alive with performances, tours and special programs.
Sea Girt, NJ
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Where to stay: The Beacon House – just a block from the ocean, where you’ll be spending all of your time anyways.
What to do: The beach. You’re just going to the pristine, sandy white beach here.
Eat: Scarborough Fair is “Jersey Shore’s Most Romantic Restaurant”.
North Fork, LI
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 27 minutes
Where to stay: North Fork Guest House because the house is within walking distance of six wineries — yes, six. No drinking and driving in North Fork ladies and gentleman.
What to do: Shinn Estate Vineyards for all the sparkling wine your heart desires.
On day two of your trip, spin around dizzily fall into the magical world that is Lavender by the Bay.
Eat: Billy’s by the Bay
New London, CT
Distance from NYC: 2 hours, 58 minutes
Where to stay: Coastal Cottage Inn
What to do: Hygienic Art Center, the center of New London’s art scene.
New Hope, PA
Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Where to stay: The Inn at Bowman’s Hill is apparently THE destination for lovers looking for a romantic weekend. There are even heated tubs for two 😉
What to do: Shop at Love Saves the Day — they’ve been “doing the treasure hunting for your vintage collections for over 40 years”.
Go to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and run through the flowers like Dorothy would — just not the rare and going-extinct ones.
Eat: Tastebuds for seasonal, sustainable American — just like good ol’ New Hope, Pennsylvania.