Summer in New York City can be unbearable.Heat radiates off the concrete, making the city feel like it’s a solid 20 degrees hotter than nearby suburbs, the overcrowded streets are a sweat-fest, and the subway platforms turn into inadvertent saunas.
So during the dog days of summer, New Yorkers look for any excuse to escape the city.
The Hamptons is a favourite weekend getaway, but a weekend in the Hamptons can feel suspiciously similar to a weekend in New York City (albeit on the beach), as the entire in-crowd shuffles between the city and the island.
But there are places where you can actually get away from the crowds, the scene, and the hustle and bustle. Find yourself in a truly laid-back state-of-mind at any one of these three weekend retreats from New York City.
The Catskills epitomize laid-back retreat.
There are no sceney lounges nor swanky hotels here.
There are, however, farmer's markets serving fresh-off-the-farm produce, quaint small towns, and breathtaking natural scenery--the rolling mountains here inspired James Fenimore Cooper and his famous historical novel, The Last of the Mohicans.
Distance from New York City: Woodstock is just over 100 miles from the city.
The Emerson Resort & Spa is one of the few large luxury properties in the area; it's got a great spa (try their Emerson Signature Massage at $105 for a 50-minute massage, which uses Warm herbal infused oils).
For a more offbeat experience, book a cabin, suite, or trailer at Kate's Lazy Meadow, owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. She tried to create her own version of 'Love Shack' right here in the Catskills; the eclectic accommodations are retro chic with bright furnishings and kitschy decor.
The charming town of Phoenicia is home to Brio's Restaurant & Pizzeria, which serves delicious pizza baked in a wood-fired oven plus an array of fresh salads, sandwiches, and more.
For breakfast, head to Sweet Sues, just down the street from Brio's, for hearty portions of mouthwatering pancakes, waffles, omelets, and fresh-out-of-the-oven baked goods.
Woodstock is a vegan's dream: try the Garden Cafe on The Green for creative vegan cuisine.
For dinner, try to score a reservation at Peekamoose in Big Indian. The owners here have a serious pedigree (they've served stints at some of New York's best restaurants, including Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, and Atlantic Grill), and chose to open up this homey yet refined restaurant in a restored farmhouse closer to the source of their produce. Try their slow braised beef short ribs--they are melt-in-your-mouth amazing.
The charming hippie haven of Woodstock is filled with small shops selling hand-made crafts and curios, art galleries, and vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
After strolling through town, head to Town Tinker Tube Rental in Phoenicia, where you can tube down the Esopus River for a ride that is at times white water thrilling and at other times relaxing.
There are also endless hiking trails all around the Catskills that lead to hidden waterfalls and sweeping vistas. Many of the best hikes are in the Catskill Forest Preserve.
On Saturday evenings in the summer, head to Belleayre Mountain for the Belleayre Music Festival, which brings well-known musicians to the mountain for outdoor performances.
New York's Hudson Valley was once the exclusive getaway of New York's moneyed Blue Bloods: the Vanderbilts had a 'summer cottage' (ie. a giant mansion) and FDR and Eleanor made their home in Hyde Park.
Today, people still escape to the Hudson Valley for the charming towns, cool arts scene, great restaurants, and stunning views of the expansive Hudson River.
Distance from New York City: New Paltz is about 90 miles from New York City.
The historic Mohonk Mountain House is a Victorian-style castle built in 1869 that overlooks Lake Mohonk.
Over the years, this grand dame has remained one of the top resorts in the state; it was recently ranked the #2 Best All-Inclusive Resort by Conde Nast traveller. It's a full-service hotel where meals are included and it offers enough amenities--tennis, spa, golf, and a slew of activities like mountain biking and horseback riding--that you won't need or want to leave.
The Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa is a cozy inn that's hidden among 75 acres of wooded and farm land abutting the Hudson River. The main house (circa 1764) has 10 rooms that embody country chic but with modern amenities like Wi-Fi and flatscreen TVs. The inn is also home to Henry's Farm-to-Table, a great restaurant that serves fresh food straight from the property's farm, Millstone Farms.
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is located in Hyde Park--and that means budding young chefs from around the world come here to perfect their culinary expertise.
You can taste their concoctions in any of the culinary school's restaurants, which are staffed by students. There's Ristorante Caterina de Medici which serves regional Italian cuisine, and American Bounty Restaurant which concentrates on American specialties using local ingredients from the Hudson River Valley. There are also a few more casual options.
That commitment to high-quality food paired with the region's access to fresh-off-the-farm produce food means great restaurants in the area.
Rhinebeck is full of charming cafes and restaurants, like Terrapin, which serves local and organic American fare and the Tavern at Beekman Arms, a tap room in a historic inn that serves classic American pub fare.
You won't be bored here. There are historic sites, museums, farms, and endless trails just begging to be hiked.
Afterward, visit the nearby Vanderbilt Mansion, a restored home that attests to the lavish lifestyle the robber barons once lived.
Art lovers should make a beeline for Beacon's DIA, a giant modern art museum housed in a former Nabisco factory. Exhibits change often, but you'll find some long-time works by Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, and Gerhard Richter, to name a few. There are also several art galleries in Rhinebeck and Beacon.
There are also tons of ways to explore the outdoors, like hiking the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.
Long Island's 'other' fork is completely different than its southern neighbour.
Instead of the ritzy Hamptons, the North Fork is laid-back casual with endless acres of farmland and vineyards. There are small wineries, quaint inns, and charming high-quality restaurants.
Distance from New York City: Riverhead, the gateway town to the North Fork, is about 80 miles from Manhattan.
There are no massive hotels or giant hotel chains here--just simple, small, homey inns and B&Bs.
The Jedediah Hawkins Inn is a comfortable, elegant inn in Jamesport with impeccable service, charming guestrooms, and a stellar restaurant that's created a lot of buzz (see next slide).
Located in the hamlet of Orient, the charming Orient Inn has 5 spacious, sunny guest rooms and friendly owners who prepare a seriously tasty breakfast (the owner, Joan, is a grad of the French Culinary Institute).
Though small, the Jedediah Hawkins Inn is a dining destination, home to the formal Luce & Hawkins and the more casual cafe and wine bar Luce's Landing. Both dining options serve fresh, local farm-to-table fare.
Located in rural Southold, the Table at the North Fork Table & Inn serves refined food that's so good that it earned a Zagat rating of 29 (out of a total possible 30 points).
For a hearty but healthy homemade breakfast or lunch, head to Love Lane Kitchen on Mattituck's charming main street.
There are a few sites to see here--the Horton Point Lighthouse and the Southold Indian Museum, for example--but the best pastime in the North Fork is visiting the array of vineyards and wineries to taste locally-made wine and food.
Relish the slow pace of life and use it as an excuse to unwind for the weekend.
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