If you, like me, have had to cancel vacation upon vacation this year, you’re probably feeling pretty damn defeated. Half the fun of booking a vacation is having something to look forward to, and I think we can all agree we could all use something fun on the horizon considering the light(bulb) at the end of the tunnel needs to be replaced. Just because we’re essentially banned from leaving the country, and more than half the states in the U.S. require a 14-day quarantine upon coming home, doesn’t mean all hope of traveling is dead—you just have to get a little more creative and embrace road tripping. If the New York tri-state area is your point of origin, here are a few places for socially distant travel this summer and fall.
Provincetown/Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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This spot is at the top of the list because Provincetown has got to be the safest town I’ve seen in response to COVID. Upon entering, you’ll notice signs enforcing a mask mandate are posted all over. Unlike other places, where people are only wearing masks to enter a public place, *cough, Florida*, masks are required when you’re walking anywhere around town. And if you do happen to forget your mask, there are locals who walk around handing them out. Each restaurant took spacing out tables and adding dividers very seriously, in both their indoor and outdoor seating.
Coming from NYC, the drive out to Provincetown is a long one, or as locals kept telling us, it’s at the end of the world. Stopping in other areas of Cape Cod on the way helps to break it up, and there are so many different places to go. We stopped for lunch at Chatham Bars Inn to eat facing the beach, a place I have dubbed the Gurney’s of Cape Cod, but way more chill. The food was delicious and the view was unbeatable. If you’re vegan or not, ice cream spot Izzy is another must on your way out. The little stand is right next to the trampoline park that has been there for over 60 years. Beachcomber in Wellfleet was another highly recommended spot, but I didn’t have a chance to experience it for myself.
Provincetown itself is an extremely walkable town, and we didn’t need to take a car anywhere once we arrived. All the action can be found on Commercial Street, a vibrant and easily walkable strip that serves as the town’s main street where you’ll find tons of stores, restaurants, and hotels. Restaurants highlights are Strangers & Saints, The Canteen, Aqua Bar, Spindler’s, and The Red Inn. And you definitely need to check out the pool at Boatslip Beach Club, Provincetown’s most famous LGBTQ destination for over 50 years and home to the iconic tea dance, aka wild happy hour every day at four. Because of the pandemic, this is indefinitely postponed, but it was still a great place to spend the day.
Where to stay: I couldn’t recommend Eben House enough—it was a two-minute walk to town and felt very homey since each room is in its individual building as opposed to a hotel. This bed-and-breakfast is on Bradford Street, so we were close to the action on Commercial Street, but also got a good night’s sleep. The grounds have great communal spaces, like a porch with a hammock and a nautical-themed saltwater pool area.
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Boston wasn’t at the top of my travel list, but when road trips became the only option, I figured there was no better time to go. Coming from NY, we were exempt from any travel restrictions, so keep this in mind since your ability to travel here is dependent on where you’re coming from. Massachusetts seems like it would be really far away, but it’s actually not a terrible drive from NYC at three and a half hours (without traffic). As with most things these days, we went to Boston will few expectations, and were completely blown away by the city and the food.
If you’re a fan of Mexican food, you can’t miss eating at Lolita Fort Point. This was the restaurant highlight of our trip and the first time we ate indoors since February, which was a little surreal, but all safety measures were taken with tables being six feet apart and surrounded by plastic barriers. With Boston being surrounded by water, you can guarantee that any seafood restaurant is going to be amazing, but our favorites included B&G Oysters and Pier 6. We also had brunch at The Beehive, which is usually famous for its lively Sunday brunch with live music and bottomless drinks. Unfortunately due to COVID, that wasn’t the case this time, but the outdoor brunch tasted just as good. Rooftop drinks at Lookout Rooftop and Bar at the Envoy Hotel and Rooftop @ Revere at the Revere Hotel Boston Common are also a must. Other restaurants that were on our list that we didn’t make it to were Legal Harborside, ReelHouse, Coppa, Barcelona Wine Bar, and Tia’s.
Where to stay: We obviously had to bring our quarantine pup with us because we don’t leave home without him (I don’t know who has worse separation anxiety, us or him). Finding a dog-friendly hotel is always the first thing we look for, which is how we found The Whitney Hotel Boston, a new boutique hotel in Beacon Hill. The hotel was within walking distance from everything we wanted to see in the city—Charles River Esplanade, a ton of restaurants, Boston Public Garden, and of course, shopping on Newbury Street. The hotel adhered to all sanitation rules and even went as far as to create their own 5-point program to keep both staff and guests at ease.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
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Asbury Park is a trip you never knew you needed to take this summer. It takes less than an hour and a half to get there, which is something you can’t say for most trips outside of NYC. You’ll immediately feel that laid-back, beach-town vibe as soon as you get off the highway. It’s a great place to people-watch since the area attracts all different types of personalities. There are tons of different restaurants, all with surprisingly delicious food and drinks. Some of our favorite spots include Taka for sushi, Asbury Ale House Sports Bar & Grille, Barrio Costero (order the Jalisco is Burning cocktail), Toast for brunch, Porta, happy hour at The Wonder Bar (aka dog happy hour), and Watermark for drinks. Reservations are highly recommended for everywhere you want to go as things book up really quick, walk-ins are limited, and capacities are lowered because of social distancing.
Where to stay: Recently opened back up at the end of June, and the town’s first new hotel to open in more than 50 years, The Asbury Hotel epitomizes the area with its pet-friendly, funky, laid back, rock-n-roll vibe. Like most hotels, what is open and not open at the hotel has been dictated by COVID, but that isn’t stopping anyone from enjoying their huge pool space, doing yoga, watching a movie on the roof, or grabbing drinks at the Salvation rooftop bar. Social distancing rules are strictly enforced, masks are required in all areas of the hotel (minus your room, obv), and floor markers are all over the main lobby area so no one accidentally bumps into you. Cleaning service is also suspended during your stay, but a deep clean is given in-between guests, so yes, this does mean you need to make your own bed when you wake up. There are 100 guest rooms in a bunch of different sizes, from queen and king rooms to family rooms and suites, to bunk bedrooms that can sleep up to eight people (although right now, rooms are limited to two people). The most convenient part of the hotel is that it’s walking distance from the boardwalk and main strip of outdoor restaurants, coming in clutch as the Uber prices are beyond surging out there.
Woodstock, New York
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You only have to drive two hours north of the city to feel like you’ve traveled back in time. If you have any idea of what Woodstock is in your mind, you’re probably right. This quaint town has a chill, outdoorsy, hippie vibe oozing out of it everywhere you go. Dinner at Silvia is a must, especially with their expanded, socially distanced outdoor dining. Make a reservation in advance, because this place will book up quickly. Unlike most travel destinations you can really just wander the town without a strict plan in mind since everything is very central. Local food spots to keep in mind are Cucina, Bread Alone, and The Mud Club. Bars to check out include A & P Bar, Early Terrible, and Tinker Bar. And if you’re in the mood to shop, pop into stores like Candlestock and Castaways.
Other destinations worth hitting up that are a driving distance from town are the famous Phoenicia Diner, Kaaterskill falls, El Paso Winery, North-South Lake campground, and Big Deep. It’s also worth stopping in New Paltz on the way home just to walk around the town. We would def recommend a trip to Woodstock, especially during the summer, but highly advise going any day between Thursday-Sunday since a significant amount of restaurants, bars, and smaller food shops were closed either on Tuesday, Wednesday, or both.
Where to stay: Technically speaking, Woodstock Way Hotel is a hotel, but it doesn’t feel like one at all. There are 13 spaces on the property, running from different types of suites to full-out authentic cabins. Some rooms are pet-friendly, but not all, so make sure to look into that ahead of time. In the time of COVID, all sanitary and social distancing measures were taken, including being able to virtually check-in through email using a lockbox outside of your cabin. Wearing a mask is strictly enforced if you choose to enter The Tannery lobby or get a coffee from the outside window. Mask wearing wasn’t only strictly enforced at the hotel, but rightfully so in the town as well.
You couldn’t get a better location if you tried, considering the hotel is literally in the center of the town. Bars, restaurants, and shopping are all minutes away, plus if you need your car, your room comes with its own designated parking spot.
Avalon, New Jersey
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As someone who grew up going to the beaches on Long Island, I had no idea Avalon existed until my husband, who’s from Philly, took me here when we first started dating. I quickly became obsessed with it, with the number one reason being that the town is a firm believer in the no-shower happy hour. Pre-COVID, our favorite spot in the area was Whitebrier Restaurant, where there is essentially a day rager going on, but you can also order bomb sushi at an outdoor table—really, the best of both worlds. Now we would still recommend going there, but just for dining at an outdoor table (still get the sushi). Restaurants you can’t miss out on are Polpo (BYOB, amazing food and lots of outdoor seating), Water Star Grille (at The Reeds at Shelter Haven), The Diving Horse, Summer Salt at Isabel’s (open Friday-Sunday), Cafe Loren (open every day but Monday), and Avalon Brew Pub – Restaurant & Microbrewery in the Icona Avalon hotel.
Where to stay: If you can find enough people to rent a house, that is def the most fun option, especially if you can get a spot on the water. There are only a few hotels and they aren’t super conveniently located to any of the bars or restaurants (you’ll have to take a ~10-minute Uber).
If you’re opting for a hotel, we suggest the Icona Avalon, since their room rates are the most reasonable and they have great onsite restaurants including the aforementioned Avalon Brew Pub, Shimmers Bistro, and The Sandbar Village Beach Bar & Lounge (equipped with fire pits). Other hotels in the area are The Reeds at Shelter Haven and the recently reopened Windrift Hotel Resort.
Images: Tasty Trips / Shutterstock; betchestravel, iconaavalon / Instagram
New York City is the best city in the entire world (fight me), but every now and then, it starts to feel
dirty crowded overrated like too much. What’s a betch to do? Give up in the face of adversity and binge-watch The Office for the 14th time? Or triumphantly plan a trip outside the city for a change of pace and enjoy a latte with an ocean view? Obviously, it’s the latte latter. The problem is, we don’t all have movie producer boyfriends with private jets, so our options can be a little limited. Here are some excellent and close-by weekend getaways to soothe your commuter agita, and get you the F out of the city without requiring a sugar daddy.
P.S. During my research, I took the liberty of immediately closing out of any tab/website with a child running around on the beach. There were a lot. You’re welcome.
Enjoy The Finer Things in Chesapeake Bay-Tilghman, Maryland
Why You Should Go: Tilghman, Maryland, adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, is the perfect place to escape the neverending chaos of NYC. The seafood in Maryland is the best, but the sunsets are even better (for your Instagrams). Tilghman is only four hours from the city and has a population of roughly 854 people (as reported in the 2000 census), which means you have a negative 10 percent chance of running into your ex or observing a man urinating while waiting for public transportation.
Where To Stay: The biggest reason we’re including Tilghman, MD on our list is Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island. This new lifestyle resort looks insanely chic and private. The location on the Chesapeake Bay is v exclusive and sooo gorgeous. The hotel itself has a relaxed, seaside cottage vibe, mixed with a modern vibe. Also, there’s a new saltwater swimming pool, which just sounds bougie because like, where in the city are you going to find that? (Don’t comment with answers, thx. I’m hyperbolizing, not looking for recs rn.)
What To Do: Get ~blissfully~ wine drunk at the stunning Running Hare Vineyard, a little bit of Tuscany and Napa in Southern Maryland, and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy their live music in the outdoor tasting area. Or, if you’re looking for some stress relief, head over to St. Michael’s Studio for an aerial yoga class and stretch out the tension in your neck and back that’s built up from all of the shitty weather this “spring.” At night, check out The Big Owl Tiki Bar, a dock-side dive bar.
Live Like Taylor Swift in South County, Rhode Island
Why You Should Go: Want to spend a weekend living like an international superstar on the Rhode Island Coastline? South County, RI is the spot. South County is home to breathtaking beaches, nature trails, and eateries. Located only three hours from NYC, Rhode Island provides the ideal weekend getaway for anyone trying to vacation the way Tay spends her summers.
Where To Stay: Enjoy sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean inside the BEYOND GORGEOUS Lilly Pulitzer Suite at the Watch Hill Inn. BTW, Watch Hill is where Taylor’s big house is—you know, the one where she has her 4th of July parties with whoever she’s decided is in her “squad” that year. Where the famous “I <3 TS” shirt originated?! I digress. Have a glass of wine on your private terrace and enjoy the RI sunset while you scope out Taylor’s BFF of the week (I CAN’T STOP).
What To Do: The “Ocean State” is the perfect spot to enjoy seafood and Matunuck Oyster Bar boasts the local seafood sure to satisfy your cravings. Wash down the clam chowder and oysters at one of Rhode Island’s first commercial hop farm breweries, Tilted Barn Brewery. A trip to Tilted includes a firsthand look at the process and ingredients that go into making handcrafted beer, but more importantly, tasting opportunities. You’ll come back ready to take on the hipsters in Brooklyn who like to wax poetic about the superiority of craft beer.
Reconnect with Yourself in Cape Cod-Chatham, Massachusetts
Why You Should Go: Chatham is a quaint little beach in the Cape Cod area that has plenty of cute shops and amenities. The beaches are never crowded, and neither are the gorgeous biking and hiking trails, if you’re into that sorta thing. Although it’s a five-hour drive from NYC and yes, unfortunately, has a fair amount of vacationing families with young children (it’s not like you have to interact with them, okay? I tried), it’s totally worth it for the seclusion and privacy without the feeling completely isolation.
Where to Stay: The Chatham Bars Inn & Resort encourages you to reconnect your mind, body, and soul. Enjoy exclusive access to a beachfront cabana, poolside food and beverage services, or play a quick game of tennis, golf, or croquet (I laughed typing croquet. Is that a real thing people do or is it just for rich people in movies? Lmk). If you’re looking to get in touch with nature, take a morning beach launch tour to watch the local seals explore, or go whale watching (not a euphemism). At The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn & Resort, treat yourself to one of several massage therapies (the “Summer at The Shore” seasonal massage using Ocean Rose Foaming Body Polish looks really good RN), body scrubs and wraps, or facials.
What To Do: If you’re looking to get in touch with your spiritual side, check out The Sanctuary for all your mystical needs. They do aura photography, various types of natural healing, and even have an “etheric crystal light table” which I’ve honestly never heard of, but, based on the description, seems cool af and is probably Instagrammable. Also, if you’re in Cape Cod and can’t afford a trip to Martha’s Vineyard because you’re not a 65-year-old tycoon of wealth (yet), head over to Truro’s Vineyard and enjoy the local wines of Cape Cod.
Bring Brooklyn to the Beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey
Why You Should Go: Asbury Park makes for a great weekend getaway for Tri-State locals who can’t stand how fucking crowded and noisy Manhattan is. Just a short hour and a half from the city, Asbury Park prides itself on being one of the most eccentric boardwalks at the Jersey Shore (even more eccentric than the Jersey Shore cast themselves, which is like really hard to do), with novelties like Korean tacos, vegan ice cream, and locally-sourced oysters. (Look, they’re novelties for Jersey, ok?) Asbury Park also has a great music scene, prompting The New York Times to describe Asbury Park as “Brooklyn on the beach,” and it has amaze wall art backgrounds for your impromptu Insta modeling shoots.
Where To Stay: Stay at the 110-room Asbury Hotel, with a v past-meets-present interior inspo. It’s got a lively lobby bar called Soundbooth where you can get (classily) shitfaced while playing board games and vintage pinball, or check out Salvation, their gorg rooftop bar (pictured here). Let’s be real, though, you’ll probs spend your whole time taking cheers Boomerangs on the roof.
What To Do: Memorial Day marks the official reopening of Asbury Lanes, the iconic 1960s bowling alley-turned-music venue. With programming by The Bowery Presents (you defs have like 16 email blasts from them sitting in your inbox because they always book killer well-known acts), there will be tons of performances to enjoy. Also check out the summer lineup at The Stone Pony with artists like Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, and Slightly Stoopid for a perfect #fbf photo.
Party Harder in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Why You Should Go: I mean, this is a no-brainer. Atlantic City is where people go to party and gamble when they can’t afford a trip to Vegas. There’s a reason people call this place the entertainment capital of the Jersey Shore, people.
Where To Stay: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is the perfect destination for a more turnt summer getaway. Borgata Beer Garden & Outdoor Pool will be your tanning spot, with the option to choose between one of 400 chaise lounges, daybeds and cabanas for prime tanning hours. Then dance the night away at Premier Nightclub, or enjoy the hotel’s Borgata Event Center with an expansive entertainment schedule throughout the summer (hello, Britney Spears in July!). There’s also three other nightlife venues, including Gypsy Bar, a tequila bar (say goodbye to me now). The hotel is home to award-winning spas Spa Toccare and Immersion Spa, fine dining restaurants from celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Wolfgang Puck, and Geoffrey Zakarian, and over 161,000 sq. ft. of gaming space, and so much more.
What To Do: There’s already so much to do at the hotel between spa treatments, gambling, and concerts, that you might not even want to leave. But if you do, hop over to Haven or The X Bar at Harrah’s. When in doubt, your best bet is to head to the boardwalk and get drunk with the locals. Nobody ACs harder than AC.
Images: courtesy of hotels