When it’s possible to travel again, chances are you might be a bit nervous about navigating your way through JFK and flying, especially internationally. For sure, road trips have new appeal. Fortunately, there are a plethora of places three hours or less from New York City that will satisfy your vacation fix, so start your fantasizing here.
Catskills, New York
The isolated Catskills are a 2 ½ hour drive from New York City. You won’t have to fret about crowds. This is a chill spot. If you want quaint, quiet with little exposure to other guests, there’s The Roxbury at Stratton Falls with its seven new cottages, where you can stay in thematic rooms from “Cinderella’s Gown” to “Galileo’s Gate.” Seek out the trails and hike through blooming flora and fauna that lead to the millennia-old Stratton Falls. For those looking for affordable accommodations even closer to nature, the Kingswood Campsite along the banks of Hathaway Pond is situated on a 776-acre natural site. You can book a tent for as little as $25 a night on Pitchup.com. For a restorative retreat, YO1 Wellness Resort and Spa sits on more than 1,300 acres of lakes and pine forests. You can do everything from spa treatments to yoga, meditation, hikes and eating healthy food.
Chesapeake City, Maryland
Chesapeake City, a beautiful town that features lovely restored homes, inns, and bed and breakfasts, is about 2 ½ hours from New York City. Enjoy the shopping, restaurants, and the C&D Canal Museum that tells the history of the canal that built Chesapeake City and includes interactive displays. Bike or hike along the Ben Cardin Recreational Trail, which stretches along the banks of the Canal, or kayak in the scenic Back Creek, a slow paddle through scenic countryside where you can expect to see bald eagles, ospreys, and herons. Or if you like, get out on the water aboard the Miss Clare, an authentic Chesapeake Bay deadrise waterman boat. Glimpse the Turkey Point Lighthouse from the water, among other breathtaking sites. You know Maryland is all about seafood. Among the favorites for a waterfront Chesapeake meal, visit Schaefer’s Canal House and/or the Chesapeake Inn Restaurant. As for where to stay, consider the Ship Watch Inn, Inn at the Canal, and The Blue Max Inn.
Cape May, New Jersey
Jump on the Garden State Parkway for the fastest route to Cape May. The charming seaside resort town is beloved for its beaches, Victorian homes, shops, and restaurants. Jet ski, paddleboard, parasail and just relax on the beach. The historic Cape May lighthouse is just two miles from the center of town. It’s worth a short trek over there. For a small town, you’ll be surprised by the variety and quality of the cuisine. Don’t worry, there is also no shortage of drinks at the wineries and breweries.
The North Fork, Southold, New York
In two hours you can leave the chaos of the city behind for the tranquility of North Fork. Go for the country vibe at the restored farmhouse that was transformed into the South Harbor Inn. Talk about private. There are just four huge en suite bedrooms with full private bath, fancy linens, rain dance showers and European bath amenities. Once you’re there, you’ve got easy access to beaches, bays, restaurants, wineries, and the awesome landscape that is the North Fork.
Hudson Valley, New York
You can find what you’re craving in the Hudson Valley. It’s just an hour away from the city and you’ll love all the breathing room in places like the Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre outdoor museum, and the Shawangunk Wine Trail, with its 15 regional wineries. Hit some of the area’s highlights like the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, Dia: Beacon, Museum Village, New York’s largest living history museum, and Boscobel House and Gardens. Get your fill of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, cruising, kayaking, and rowing on the Hudson River. In winter, ski, and go tubing and ice skating.
When you’re thinking weekend getaway, consider an easy three-hour trek to Carlisle. Explore the outdoors in Cumberland Valley. There are three state parks within 10-15 miles, ideal for walking and hiking. Then there is fly-fishing at LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail, lakeside beaches, birdwatching, bike trails and much fun. The Cumberland Valley Beer Trail includes 30 locations around the county, with a big cluster in Carlisle. If you’re not a brew fan, there are wineries and distilleries. Eat up at the many restaurants dishing up Belgian, French, Nepalese, Thai, Indian and other cuisines to tantalize even the most discerning palates.