Some of us may be headed into fall with a bit of a vacation day deficit. That doesn’t mean you can’t get out of town until the holidays, though. These three getaways are just a few hours from the city so you can head out on Friday evening and still get in a weekend’s worth of relaxation, whether that means hiking in crisp fall weather, exploring a New England college town, or heading to the beach in the off season. They’re also all slightly off the beaten path–not the first spots you think of for a weekend away, which we think adds to their charm.
Great Sacandaga Lake, New York
Nestled west of Saratoga Springs on the southern end of the Adirondacks Great Sacandaga Lake is just about four hours from New York City. This peaceful retreat is the ideal place to soak up fresh mountain air. It’s much less traveled than nearby Lake George, which makes it quieter and more of an escape. Head there later in September and into October as the leaves start to turn and the mountains are blanketed with technicolor trees.
The town of Northville packs a serious amount of personality into just a few downtown blocks. The Timeless Tavern offers good food (try the artichoke francaise) and lodging that starts at about $100 a night, and the Stewart’s ice cream counter never disappoints. The Northville 5 & 10 is over 100 years old, the oldest remaining five-and-dime in the country, and recently opened up a candy and fudge counter.
With more than six million acres in Adirondack National Park there are countless hiking trails with Instagram-worthy landscape views for every type of nature lover. Plus, the lake is full of fish waiting for you to cast your line out before it gets too cold.
Public transportation in the mountains is scarce so it’s best to rent a car for the weekend and do a mini road trip. Along the way you can hit local apple orchards like nearby Lake View Orchard and pick yourself a fall bounty. Check out this guide to pick-your-own spots in New York State, should you want to break up the drive with some apples and cider doughnuts. The Sport Island Pub is a popular spot for burgers, beers, salads and pasta.
There are Airbnb options for as little as $51 a night for a private room near the water. Or, if more formal lodgings are more your style, The Inn At The Bridge recently underwent a full renovation, but maintains its Victorian charm and costs around $150 a night. If you prefer a more outdoorsy weekend away you can pitch a tent at Northampton Beach Campground, for just $22 a night (not to be confused with our next getaway).
This quirky, LGBT-friendly community is the perfect place to revel in college nostalgia, with five schools nearby. A town of just 28,000, Northampton has a thriving downtown that’s easy to explore on foot including Northampton Brewery, which has an award-winning rooftop beer garden. For breakfast all day long try the Bluebonnet Diner, an old-school electric train car diner serving everything you need to cure your hangover. Stop in for an oversized martini at The Tunnel Bar, a converted train tunnel that you’ll be telling all your friends in the city about. To see live music, head to the Iron Horse.
To make the most of foliage season take a hike in the Mt. Tom State Reservation or bike on the Norwottuck Rail Trail (you can rent a bike if you don’t want to haul yours along). If you want to go full-on outdoor adventure, head a little further north to Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, Mass. for kayaking, rafting and zip-lining.
It’s less than a four-hour drive from Manhattan so you can rent a car or take a Greyhound bus starting at $24 dollars one way. If you’d rather take the slightly longer, more scenic route, Amtrak has one train a day from Penn Station starting at $42 each way, with more space than the bus. Amtrak’s notoriously bad wifi tends to be a little faster than normal on this uncrowded route, too. Don’t worry, you won’t be stuck crashing at a frat house because there is no shortage of accommodation surrounding the train station and center of town. The swanky Hotel Northampton starting at around $150 a night, depending on the time of year, and is just a short walk from both the bus and train stations.
Beach Haven, New Jersey
The Jersey Shore isn’t just for baking in the sun and pool parties at the Beach Club. Once the summer houses have been packed up and boardwalks have quieted down it becomes relaxing getaway, and there’s something quietly compelling about busy beach towns in the off season.
The end of the summer season on Long Beach Island is marked by the annual Chowderfest during the last week of September. After that you’ll find relative solitude during breezy walks on the beach with hot coffee in hand. The Chicken Or The Egg is open 24/7 for all your breakfast, lunch and hot wing needs after you’ve made a visit to the Museum of New Jersey Maritime History or had a late night of drinking with the locals at Hudson House Bar. If you’re looking to explore all of Long Beach Island, hop in a car for a 40-minute drive to Barnegat Lighthouse and a short climb to the top for sprawling views.
The drive down to the shore is less than three hours or you could take the New Jersey Transit bus option to Tom’s River followed by an Uber or taxi to Beach Haven 30 minutes away. For a quaint beachfront place to stay check out the Engleside Inn starting at $124 a night or choose from several Airbnb options starting at $119 a night.