Ready For A Summer Vacation Close to Home? Eight Destinations You’ll Want To Try

Summer Vacation 1
Cape May, New Jersey
Getty Images

You’re ready for a summer vacation. Maybe you’re dreaming of a far-flung exotic locale, but for any number of reasons, like budget, staying close to home may be best. If so, no worries: There are great places just a few hours from Long Island. 

Here’s where to go, whether you’re seeking sea, sand, mountains, a small town, or a big-city vibe.

Cape May, New Jersey

This charming seaside resort town wows with its beaches, Victorian homes, boutiques, and good eats. The restaurants are surprising in their variety and quality for a small town. Don’t miss the Lobster House, Blue Pig Tavern, and The Mad Batter restaurants. Jet ski, paddleboard, parasail, kayak, birdwatch, climb the historic Cape May Lighthouse, or take a dolphin- and whale-watching cruise.  Summer on the shore is lively with concerts at Rotary Park and La Mer on the Lawn and other festivities. As for where to stay, there are many options, from bed and breakfasts to the Congress Hall Hotel and The Virginia Hotel & Cottages.

Mystic, Connecticut

This small coastal town is family fun central. It’s beloved for its aquarium, seaport, and quaint downtown. Hike the trails in Bluff Point State Park and kayak on the Mystic River.  Tour famous ships at Mystic Seaport Museum or get that Instagram moment with an evening sail on the historic Schooner Argia. There’s no shortage of restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Grab a pie at Mystic Pizza of the 1980s film fame. Dine in The Treehouse at the Oyster Club with its view of the Mystic River. Consider staying at the Hilton Mystic, The Whaler’s Inn, or Steamboat Inn.

Wilmington, Delaware

The Wilmington Riverfront is the spot for food and drink with highlights like Constitution Yards craft beer garden with live music, backyard games like a life-sized Jenga, and badminton. Put on your must-see list the Delaware Art Museum. For outdoor recreation, the Christina and Brandywine rivers are ideal for tubing and kayaking. When hunger calls, make your way to the James Beard-nominated Bardea Food & Drink and the new Chancery Market with its array of eateries. Check into the Hotel du Pont, Westin, or the new Quion, a boutique hotel with rooftop lounge and underground speakeasy.

Summer Vacation 2
Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaGetty Images

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for big-city thrills, head to the City of Brotherly Love with its theaters, museums, shopping, and trails at Fairmount and Wissahickon Valley parks. There are history lessons for the kids at the Liberty Bell, Museum of the American Revolution, and Independence Hall. They’ll love the Philadelphia Zoo’s life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and giant insects. Be sure to leave your diet at home. Not only can you eat at the four Philly restaurants that earned James Beard Awards this year, you’ll enjoy good eats like a Philly cheesesteak at Geno’s Steaks and Federal Donuts. Take your pick of digs from budget to upscale, like The Rittenhouse Hotel and Ritz-Carlton, to hip boutique hotels and B&Bs.

Cooperstown, New York

Though this is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, there’s more to the story — the Fenimore Art Museum and Farmers Museum, boutique shopping, all the water sports on Lake Otsego, and cool stuff like the Glimmerglass festival, a summer opera and musical theater festival from July 7-Aug. 20. The 101-year-old Cooperstown Diner awaits you, as does  Origins Café, an eatery in a greenhouse. The historic, lakeside Otesaga Resort Hotel with its spa, golf course and restaurants is a top choice for where to stay.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is all about the glam with its yachts and Gilded Age mansions. Stroll the beaches and the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, sail Narragansett Bay, and tour some of those mansions. Dine at hotspots such as The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar on the waterfront, the Brick Alley Pub or Clarke Cooke House. Summer means festivals in Newport. Take in the Jazz or the Folk festivals. Stay in luxury at The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Castle Hill Inn, or options like the Newport Marriott and B&Bs.

Hudson, New York

Hit the reset button in Hudson, with its farms, hills, Victorian cottages, galleries, restaurants, and great shopping in boutiques and antique shops on Warren Street. Catch the summer breeze at Hudson Highlands State Park — it’s perfect for hiking above the Hudson River.  Experience the Hudson Farmers Market’s food, drink, and live music. You’ll fall in love with boutique hotels like The Hudson Whaler and The Amelia. You’ll cheat yourself if you don’t have a meal at Swoon Kitchenbar or stop at the Hudson Brewing Company.

Milford, Pennsylvania

You can’t go wrong with the backdrop of the Pocono Mountains. Love nature? This is your spot, with waterfalls, hiking and biking trails, rafting on the Delaware River, forest bathing, and Milford Beach for canoeing and kayaking. You’re near the Delaware Water Gap and Promised Land State Park. Though you’re in tiny Milford, the culinary scene delivers big-time, with places like the Waterwheel Café and Varsity Room Speakeasy. Enjoy the arts at Forest Hall, which has a tribute to Andy Warhol this summer. Popular places to stay include the Tom Quick Inn, La Posada, and Hotel Fauchère, where JFK and Theodore Roosevelt slept.