9 Easy Weekend Getaways on the East Coast
Want a change of scenery? Take your pick of the beach, mountains, and small towns on the East Coast.
In the dog days of summer, nothing is more refreshing—and rejuvenating—than a quick weekend trip. While that's definitely more difficult to do this year, there are a few secluded options on the East Coast for those wanting to jump in the car and take in some new scenery. (We're sure ready to ditch our own four walls, too!) Whether you want a quiet island in Georgia or an alpine escape in Vermont, these are the most gorgeous getaways beyond your doorstep. And for more safe travels, check out the 13 Underrated Places That Americans Are Allowed to Visit Now.
Editor's Note: We understand that travel is complicated right now and restrictions vary state to state. If you plan on visiting any of the destinations or attractions below, which were open at the time of publication, we recommend double checking their official websites for limited access announcements and general safety guidelines.
New Hope, Pennsylvania
Nestled on the Delaware River, this quaint hamlet is a hodgepodge of history. Established in the 1700s, New Hope quickly became a thriving mill town and rest stop between Philadelphia and New York City. Main Street still reflects this old-school charm with its 19th-century stone storefronts, watering holes, and galleries. And the eponymous mill—now transformed into the Bucks County Playhouse for performing arts—is a nod to the enclave's treasured past. While here, walk along the promenade and swing by The Salt House, a 270-year-old tavern, for a pint, or snag a seat on the waterfront patio at Nektar Wine Bar to tuck into Mediterranean-inspired tapas and charcuterie boards. And if you're looking for an adventure, consider a tubing trip down the river or hop aboard a vintage train on the New Hope Railroad, which chugs through the bucolic countryside.
Kennebunkport has all the trappings of a quintessential New England escape. The Maine town is home to fresh lobster shacks, former sea captains' mansions, and whimsical lighthouses dotting its craggy coastline. Wander through Dock Square, the central gathering place where the Atlantic meets the Kennebunk River, and check out the towering schooners in the wharf. For your own slice of paradise, look no further than The Cottages at Cabot Cove, a cluster of 16 shingle houses that seem like they're pulled from the pages of Coastal Living. The resort's manicured grounds are drenched in hydrangeas, the lawn is set up for games of croquet, and there are beach cruiser bikes and kayaks available to explore the area. And for more coastal locales, check out the 17 Best Secret Beach Towns in America.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Stretching 200 miles over the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah Valley is one of Virginia's most scenic locations. Its namesake national park is famous for the Skyline Drive that winds atop the spine of the mountain range, and there are plenty of natural wonders and magical caverns to discover. However, the valley is also a thriving wine region, with verdant vineyards and tasting trails that would impress any oenophile. Pack a picnic and head to Shenandoah Vineyards, where you can grab a wine flight from the Civil War-era barn turned tasting room.
Saratoga Springs, New York
Just 40 miles north of Albany in the Adirondack Mountains, Saratoga Springs was the premier resort destination for affluent New Yorkers throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century. In its heyday, the glamorous set came upstate to cheer on the thoroughbred horses at the racetrack, soak in the mineral baths fed by the area's natural springs, and socialize at Grand Union, the world's largest hotel at that time. Many of these pleasures are still available today, and you can teleport yourself even more so by checking into the recently restored Adelphi Hotel. Built in 1877, the 32-room boutique stay is an emblem of Gilded Age elegance that overlooks the Victorian abodes along Broadway's downtown drag.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Massachusetts may be known for tony Boston or laid-back Cape Cod, but the Berkshires in the western side of the state is a worthy destination too—and has fewer crowds. The region is comprised of 30 towns and two cities—North Adams and Pittsfield—and though its fall foliage and lush landscape may peg it as a natural escape, it has a surprisingly active creative community. The area's art scene boomed in the late 19th-century, drawing musicians, painters, and authors from the likes of Herman Melville and Edith Wharton. That legacy lives on at establishments such as the Norman Rockwell Museum, The Clark institute of art, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or MASS MoCA), the country's biggest contemporary museum. When you're ready to hit the road, cruise down the 63-mile Mohawk Trail scenic byway, then drop your bags at Tourists. The rustic-chic woodland lodge has plenty of room to roam, between its hiking paths, picnic spots, and saltwater pool. And for more stunning drives, These Are the Best Road Trips in New England.
Old Saybrook, Connecticut
One of the first villages in Connecticut, Old Saybrook is straight out of a fairytale storybook. Beachfront antique shops, independent cafes, and Colonial homes decorated with patriotic American flags dot the Main Street. Meanwhile, farther afield, Rocky Neck State Park and the Great Island Wildlife Area offer a breath of fresh air, and the Connecticut River is smooth enough to stand-up paddle board or kayak as osprey, falcon, and sharp shinned hawks soar overhead.
Full disclosure: This is not the Woodstock that hosted the 1969 festival featuring Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, and other iconic rockers. This town is much more tranquil, hidden away in the sylvan slopes of Vermont. Here, it's all about the outdoors, whether you're hiking, skiing, or golfing. It also proudly displays its storied past: an original 1818 Paul Revere bell can be seen at the First Congregational Church in town. The Woodstock Inn, a colonial estate that once belonged to the Rockefeller family, is the ideal home base as it sits on the central green facing the covered wooden bridge in the heart of town. From here, it's easy to browse the gourmet stalls at the local market, pop into Simon Pearce's glassblowing studio, or see the animals at Billings Farm and Museum. And for more hidden gems, check out the 33 Utterly Amazing Travel Destinations in the U.S. You've Never Heard Of.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a hidden gem sandwiched between the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. Its crown jewel is the Biltmore, a sprawling castle owned by George Vanderbilt and gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the landscape architect behind Manhattan's Central Park. The city itself has attracted many movers and shakers, causing it to blossom into a verified food destination and craft beer hub. Asheville native and el Bulli-trained chef Katie Button is at the forefront of this culinary crusade, with her Spanish tapas bar Cúrate. Swallow the meal down with some suds on the al fresco patio at Wicked Weed, one of the more than 20 top-notch breweries in town.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
While most tourists flock to Tybee Island, a stone's throw from Savannah, there's an island on the southernmost tip of Georgia that's much more secluded. Jekyll Island is a historic atoll just an hour from Jacksonville, Florida, where the nation's most well-heeled families retreated in the 19th century. Today, you can walk in their footsteps, taking in the oak-lined plantations, peaceful marshes, and driftwood-laden beaches. Don't miss the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to see some of the island's most precious inhabitants. And for more jaw-dropping cays, check out the 17 Stunning Islands That Americans Are Allowed to Visit Now.