If you’re already counting down the days until Labor Day weekend, but you have little time to research a getaway, you’ve reached the right place.
Here are our top five ideas for getting away for the last big hurrah of summer.
Head East: Montauk, New York
Budget for all travelers: $1000
Time in Transit: 3.5 hours by train.
Get There: Take Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Montauk (about $25 each way).
Highlights: Exploring the rocky beach and watching the surfers around Montauk Point Lighthouse.
Montauk is so easy to access from the city, you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before. Bring your bike on the train or rent bikes at Montauk Bike Shop for getting around town or enjoying these four Montauk bike rides. Start the day with fresh pastries at Montauk Bake Shoppe, coffee at Left Hand, then sandwiches and healthy juices at Joni’s for lunch, and later on tacos and guac at Tacombi. You will want to repeat that lineup the next day too. Take a morning surf lesson with Montauk Board Rider, bike to Ditch Plains Beach, and start the scenic 2.5 mile hike along Shadmoor State Preserve Trail. Later on, sink into the sunset with a cocktail and live music at The Surf Lodge. “Beach hair don’t care” is the style philosophy in Montauk, so no need to wipe all the sand off your feet wherever you go.
Journey North: Portland, Maine
Budget for all travelers: $1100
Time in Transit: 8 hours by bus.
Get There: Take a Greyhound bus from Port Authority to Portland (about $40 each way).
Highlights: Touring the rocky islands off Portland by boat.
Portland is simply worth visiting for its incredible raw beauty and rugged coastlines. Add on some incredible meals in town (Portland’s growing food scene is widely-celebrated) and round out a perfect long weekend. Stroll the cobblestone streets, boutiques, and restaurants, of the Old Port. Hop on a ferry for a day trip to the islands or stay on one overnight for uninterrupted peace and quiet. Lunch at Duck Fat – we recommend ordering Belgian Fries for the table, if not for your meal. Splurge on dinner and expertly-crafted cocktails at Central Provisions. To round out a memorable culinary weekend, grab a potato-based donut in the morning from The Holy Donut (be a good friend and take some back to NYC). It’ll be a sweet end to your salty weekend.
Go Upstate: Lake Placid, New York
Budget for all travelers: $1200
Time in Transit: Just under 5 hours by bus.
Get There: Take a Greyhound bus from Port Authority to Lake Placid (about $150 roundtrip).
Highlights: Mastering standup paddleboard yoga on glassy Mirror Lake.
Lake Placid is the ultimate outdoorsy getaway. Plan to spend the majority of your time here outside, only dipping into restaurants to refuel and shops to pick up extra hiking socks. Rent standup paddleboards on Mirror Lake (try morning SUP Yoga or take a guided tour), or stay on land and bike along the road parallel to the Ausable River, aptly named Riverside Drive. There are multiple golf courses in the area, so scenic that even a non-golfer would enjoy. Take in the panoramic view from the top of Cascade Mountain, a satisfying moderate hike that won’t take the whole day (trail options are endless). Refuel midday with soup, a sandwich, and the popular Bloody Mary at The Cottage. At the end of the day, dig into the brisket sandwich or award-winning wings at Smoke Signals, then cleanse your palate with a local brew. With long days and hearty meals, you will sleep well in Lake Placid.
Explore the Mid-West: Cleveland, Ohio
Budget for all travelers: $1300
Time in Transit: 1.5 hours by air.
Get There: Fly from New York City to Cleveland (about $250 roundtrip)
Highlights: Surprising your friends on Instagram with the beauty of the “Brooklyn of the Midwest“
While your buddies get a buzz at the beach, you can spend your weekend immersed in the ‘Emerald Necklace’ park system around Cleveland, reconnecting with trees. This network of parks span 21,000 acres, providing visitors endless green space for hiking, biking, fishing, and waterfall chasing. Pack lunch and hike for the day through Cuyahoga National Park, visit the 65-foot Brandywine Falls and later on Chagrin Falls, conveniently located in town near a good meal at Jekyll’s Kitchen and Jeni’s ice cream shop. With over 70 miles of paved trails each, the Emerald Necklace Trail or the iconic Towpath Trail are ideal for a long bike ride. Cool off by the ocean at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. Cleveland offers the right balance of greenery, waterways, and comfort food for an adventurous (though not overly-strenuous) weekend away.
Go off The Beaten Path: Narragansett, RI
Budget for all travelers: $1200
Time in Transit: 4 hours by bus and taxi.
Get There: Take Amtrak from Penn Station to Kingston Railroad Station (about $120 roundtrip) then take a 20-minute taxi.
Highlights: Eating fresh seafood dockside, while watching the fishing boats unload their catch.
Narragansett is the chill beach weekend getaway. You will spend most of your time on the four beaches in town – rotate between Narragansett Beach, Salty Brine State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, and Roger Wheeler State Beach. Kayak the Narrow River at sunset or take a guided tour with a naturalist at Narrow River Kayaks. The Galilee village is home to the largest fishing port in Rhode Island – watch the boats go in and out of the marina, while dining dockside. Enjoy a memorable meal at Aunt Carrie’s, family-run for 97 years, where you can try their famous clamcake and homemad dessert. If you need a break from the beach then head inland to Canonchet Farm, 175 acres of wetlands, forests, brooks, and ponds, for nature walks and bird watching. Take an early ferry from Point Judith to Block Island for a day full of beaches, biking, and ice cream. Kick back and enjoy the beaches and sea to table dining in and around Narragansett.
Photos by Peter C in Toronto Canada, Silvie Snow-Thomas,
Annie is a travel writer, environmentalist, and surfer based in Venice, CA. She heads up our West Coast team, keeps our grammatical errors in check, and makes sure our California writers always have a plan for their next adventure. Follow Annie’s travels @annelisemcb.