Five Easy Weekend Escapes For East Coasters
One of the great conundrums of life as a twenty-something urbanite is how you can't imagine not living in a city and yet constantly yearn to escape the mayhem of said metropolis. It sounds ideal: a leisurely weekend away at the beach in an architect-designed rental house, located in an adorable town with an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant and a surprising number of renowned artists escaping city life. You'll return to your busy blocks and cramped apartment rested and revived, ready to face the work week and the stifling city.
And then the planning starts. Where can you actually go? Do you actually know anything about the pleasantly-named Windham Hill or Persimmon Point? Once you poll enough friends to find somewhere worthwhile, how do you get there - by train or by car? And if by car, who can drive and where will you rent it? If by train, is the lodging actually walkable? And where will you stay? Can you actually afford a whole house or will you end up at a kitschy B&B with an overly friendly, middle-aged hostess?
Before you know it, you're spending nearly as much as your rent and it's so much effort that you're just exhausted by the time you return on Sunday evening, not at all rested for your week. So much for a mini-break.
Well, stress no longer. Here's your one-stop, hassle-free guide to how to escape from your East Coast metropolis this summer without breaking the bank.
Five Easy, Car-less East Coast Escapes
Summer for New Yorkers usually means the Hamptons- at least for posh New Yorkers with friends in high places, that is. If you're lucky enough to secure an invitation, good for you. For the rest of us, there's Montauk, which is just far enough out that the scene's a little less crazy and a little more chill-beachy than somewhere like East Hampton.
From NYC, hop on the Jitney ($30 one way) or the LIRR ($18.25 one way) - three and a half hours and three hours, respectively - out to the end of Long Island, disembark in the center of town, and check into your room at the Born Free Motel. Has the name sold you already? This friendly, beach-themed motel might not win luxury awards, but it's clean and cute, on the beach and right in town, and summer rates start at $185 per night. Use it as a home base for exploring the area's dunes, lighthouses (including the nation's oldest), and mouthwatering seafood.
So maybe Montreal's a city escape, but how often do you plan to go to the city of underground passageways in the winter? Thought not. After all, in the summer, the city's many parks are all in bloom, the St. Lawrence River becomes the city's focal point, and the weather is at its most temperate, with highs around 80°F. With Parisian-style outdoor cafés, cobblestone streets, outdoor music festivals, and plenty of art and shopping, Montréal might just be the change of scenery you've been seeking.
While you could fly, the point here is affordable and easy, so, if you're leaving from the Northeast, take Amtrak. Yep, Amtrak will take you straight to Canada, getting you from NYC to the Québécois capital in 11 hours, for no more than a cool $69 each way. Make like a real Montrealer by renting your own flat for the trip - something like this chic loft from Airbnb for $100/night in July - or treat yourself at the boutique Hotel St. Paul, a design-lover's dream whose rooms start at $183/night in July through Tablet Hotels.
Despite being in rural Virginia, the Jeffersonian college town of Charlottesville is a surprisingly easy trip from anywhere on the East Coast. Once you get there, you'll wonder why you don't go more often; it's out in the country but not too isolated, the town's cute and historic but not quaint or kitschy, the surrounding farmland means a long-standing farm-to-table and sustainable food movement, and the 300-year-old college guarantees a certain amount of artsy hipster-ness.
Northeasterners can bus down to DC, where trains run to Charlottesville two or three times a day, or New Yorkers can spring for the seven-hour trip from Penn Station, which costs anywhere from $60 to $158. The $22, two-and-a-half hour train ride from DC will fly by as you take in the bucolic Virginia countryside. Trains drop you not far from the center of town, but take the free trolley or convenient bus system downtown from the train station. Treat yourself with a night at the historic Inn at Court Square - their most affordable room starts at $159/night - or take four friends and rent this artsy, downtown Victorian house for $175/night.
Note that while you can thoroughly enjoy Charlottesville without a car, you'll probably want to rent one if you intend to spend a day seeing Monticello and Virginia's vineyards.
So maybe you're not a Vanderbilt, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the charming New England seaside town of Newport, whose ostentatious mansions once served as summer palaces for America's elite. Now, Newport finds itself a small-town beach destination, but the locals keep it low-key, environmentally conscious, and seafood-friendly year-round. Prepare yourself for long walks on the beach, lobster rolls, cocktails on the dock, boat trips, and pretending you're a Vanderbilt guest.
Take Amtrak to Providence - a three-to-five-hour, $57-$100 trip, depending what train you get - and then get on the regularly departing bus - number 60 Providence/Newport - for a 90-minute ride out to Newport. Rent this stunning house just two blocks from the beach if you go with friends - usually $400/night for eight people for a weekend, but the owner is willing to negotiate - or check out hotel private sale sites like Jetsetter to see if green boutique hotel Forty 1° North might be on sale soon.
When you think of an idyllic weekend getaway in a rural-cool town with acclaimed restaurants, antique stores, and entertaining former-rock star characters, you're thinking of Hudson, NY. This friendly, adorable little town just two hours and $31 north of NYC on Amtrak boasts more than enough food, shopping, and bucolic exploring (bring a bike if you have one) to keep you entertained for a weekend jaunt. And don't forget the inns. Many of them have been renovated by discerning artists and transformed into design hotels.
For lodgings right in town, you have two impeccable options. First, the historic Inn at Hudson is an impressive 1903 home restored and renovated with character and aplomb, now furnished with some of the town's antiques, whose rooms are $200 for the first night and $150 for each night thereafter. Or, opt for the cozy Union Street Guest House, a boutique guesthouse with spacious rooms and all the right small touches, including Aveda amenities - rooms start at $250/night during the summer.
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