Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Good for: Romance
You may have heard of Mystic, Connecticut from the eponymous movie, but this quaint ocean-side town that Katharine Hepburn called home also deserves to be put on the map as a tourist hotspot. Perched between The Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, it sprung up from Saybrook Colony that was founded back in 1635. Main Street itself is more than 375 years old. Here, you can browse antiques at shops such as SWAG or Saybrook Country Barn, or watch a play at the Katharine Hepburn Performing Arts Center (a.k.a. The Kate). Taste an ice-cream soda from a fountain installed in 1896 at the James Farmacy, started by Anna James, the first black woman pharmacist in the state. Today her pharmacy has morphed into an organic, farm-to-table eatery with a menu that changes seasonally. The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa offers free bikes to guests, so if you stay here, grab a lobster roll and Old Bay fries from Liv’s Oyster Shack right next door before pedaling along the Old Saybrook Causeway to see fisherman cast their lines into the Long Island Sound. End the ride—and the day—cozying up next to the fire pits with sundowners at the Fire Bar on the terrace of Saybrook Point Inn. Don’t miss seafood dishes such as fish and chips at the inn’s award-winning restaurant Fresh Salt, which gets its name from being where the fresh waters of the Connecticut River meet the salt of Long Island Sound.
How to Get There: Roughly 110 miles from New York, drive on I-95 N you or hop an Amtrak train directly to Saybrook. (It's about 123 miles on I-95 S if you’re coming from Boston, or you can also take a train).
Where to Stay: The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa is right on the water and is hands-down the most romantic setting in town. A cross between a historic hotel and a bed and breakfast, its made up of the main Inn, as well as a sprinkling of free-standing and renovated historic buildings including Three Stories, Tall Tales, Lighthouse Suite, and South Cove Cottage—all decorated with their own charm. If you can, book the Lighthouse Suite for the ultimate couples retreat and try the Ocean Memory treatment from the onsite SANNO Spa, which uses self-heating algae mousse to soothe muscles.
Beacon Falls, New York
Good for: Arts and Nature
Nestled in the Hudson River Valley, New Yorkers recently starting flocking here for weekend getaways after a facelift made the industrial town a bit more polished. It has an artsy and New Age flair combined with the feel of small-town Americana. The picturesque Main Street is lined with dozens of art galleries such as Dia Beacon—the Chelsea artistic offshoot that opened in 2003 and helped put the town on the map as a tourist hotspot; shops churning out goodies such as Alps Sweet Shop's homemade chocolates; and mom-and-pop eateries serving up vegan food and sometimes live music (the Towne Crier Café is the place to go to hear local artists play). If you want to experience the great outdoors, the Beacon Mountain Trailhead offers easy access to hiking since it’s only about a half mile outside of town.
How to Get There: Roughly 60 miles from New York, it’s a quick trip on the Metro-North Railroad or about an hour-and-a-half drive.
Where to Stay: New-York-City expat and architect Bob McAlpine transformed an old factory into luxury accommodations that is today known as The Roundhouse in Beacon, New York. The buildings have an air of industrial chic with rusted metal fixtures, large windows throughout, and futon-like beds with clean white bedding. If the weather permits, sit on the patio of the onsite eponymous restaurant to dine with the Beacon waterfalls from Fishkill Creek as your backdrop. Weekend rates range from $229 to $779 with weeknights costing from $189 to $439, depending on the size of the room and the popularity of the time of year.
Finger Lakes, New York
Good for: Foodies and Oenophiles
The Finger Lakes, a region of 11 pristine lakes spread across Central New York, are gaining attention for their award-winning Rieslings and tasty cheese trail. With plenty of farm-to-table restaurants, this under-rated wine region is also quickly becoming a center for agritourism. Don’t miss the Red Newt Cellars Winery Bistro by Seneca Lake. Owner and winemaker, David Whiting, partners with local producers such as Autumn Harvest Meats, Lively Run Goat Dairy. and Red Jacket Orchards. Then he transforms just-farmed local ingredients into comfort food dishes such as the divine wheat ravioli with pumpkin, chevre, dried cranberries and nutmeg cream sauce. Where to sip: Family-run Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines in Hammonsport, New York.
How to Get There: Less than a five-hour drive from New York City, the region is also easily accessible from hubs such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.
Where to Stay: The octagon-shaped Black Sheep Inn & Spa is a bed and breakfast that use local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients from the Finger Lakes region (more than 90 percent of their ingredients from within 50 miles of the Inn). Owner Deb acts as your farm-to-table guide, taking guests to visit one of the many farms they work with and to local estate wineries for tastings.
The Poconos, Pennsylvania
Good for: Outdoor Enthusiasts and Families
Once a cliché honeymoon spot with the slogan “The Poconos is for Lovers,” the tourism industry has transformed this mountainous region into an oasis of adventure where you can find miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, ziplining outfitters, some of the biggest indoor and outdoor waterparks in the Northeast, ski resorts with black diamond options, white water rafting, and much more.
How to Get There: Drive northwest from New York City for an hour and forty-five minutes, or roughly two hours and forty-five minutes from Philadelphia and four hours and forty-five minutes from Boston.
Where to Stay: Renovations are almost complete at the new Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, so you can hit the water slides in the same weekend that you hit the slopes. Don’t miss the onsite Camelback Mountain Adventures for more thrill-worthy activities, such as ziplining, mountain coasters, and treetop courses. The nearby Great Wolf Lodge also got a makeover, including the addition of the Slideboard, a first-of-its-kind interactive waterslide that doubles as a competitive video game for riders. Kids will appreciate the suites there that are themed as mini-log cabins and the bunk beds in the Wolfe Den Suites.
Newport, Rhode Island
Good for: History Buffs
Try touring the historical mansions on the coast of this colonial port town for a blast to the past. In Victorian times, New York high society families (think: the Astors, Morgans, and Vanderbilts) found Newport’s waterfront and breezes to be so refreshing that they built sprawling estates designed to take full advantage of the beautiful setting. That gilded age may be over, but you can still catch a glimpse inside these extraordinary homes on one of the city’s famed mansion tours. To take the scenic route, try the three-and-a-half mile Cliff Walk along the Atlantic Ocean that weaves behind the mansions. One to note: Rosecliff mansion, which was built for a Nevada silver heiress and has been the location for many Hollywood films, including the 1974 movie The Great Gatsby. History lovers will also appreciate a walking tour from the Newport Historical Society where you can brush up on Newport’s role in the American Revolution, learn about the pirates who helped Newport earn its nickname as “Rouge’s Island,” or discover how the community changed with the ushering in of the Prohibition Era in the wake of its thriving colonial rum trade. For a really spooky experience, set out on foot in the dark with an evening Ghost Tour of Newport to explore the local cemetery, deserted old homes, and public parks where criminals were once hanged—if you dare.
How to Get There: There are Amtrak train stations in Providence and in Kingston, RI (which are about 30 minutes from the hotel). It’s a one-hour train ride from Boston, three-hour train ride from New York, and four-and-a-half hour ride from Philadelphia.
Where to Stay: Sleep where guests such as Ella Fitzgerald and John and Jackie Kennedy once stayed at the Hotel Viking. Located on the same road as the famous mansions and just a short walk from the tourist hotspot Bowens Wharf (this is the area to find galleries, restaurants, bars, and shops), the 208-room establishment is part of the Historic Hotels of America. It’s also a one-stop shop for guests, who can sleep in rooms reminiscent of 1920s glamour, dine at their Wine-Spectator noted restaurant called One Bellevue, listen to live music while tasting New England lobster and cold-water clams on the rooftop bar called Top of Newport, or unwind with a hot-stone massage at the onsite SpaFjor. Rates start at $119 in the low season and $379 in the high season.