K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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Whether you’re traveling to New York City or you already live in the Big Apple and are look for a fun weekend getaway that doesn’t break the bank, you’ll have a surprising number of options. There are multiple escapes within a reasonable driving distance, with everything from seaside amusements to lake retreats and there’s no need to rack up big credit card bills. All you have to do is decide which one, book and start packing.
Lake George is a popular tourist hub that offers something for everyone, including panoramic views of the Adirondacks. Look forward water sports galore, including swimming, affordable boat rentals and tubing adventures, or just bring your lawn chairs, relax and soak up the scenery. The town’s park is the place to be after dark with free entertainment every night in the amphitheater.
Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, the village of Lake Placid is most well-known for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Today, it is a popular destination for all types of travelers who want to immersed in a beautiful outdoor landscape all year-round. Look forward to swimming, paddling and hiking during the warmer months of the year, and in the winter, activities like skiing and snowboarding. Fall is a great time to be here too, with the oak, maple, birch and beech trees bursting into fiery red, vivid orange and yellow hues among the green of the deeply forested mountains that surround the lake.
Cape May’s claim to fame is being America’s oldest seaside resort. A National Historic Landmark, it’s filled with colorful Victorian-era homes that give it lots of character, along with pristine sandy beaches without the high prices. You can even visit the Cape May Zoo to view the lions, tigers and bears for free. The town also hosts frequent festivals like the Cape May Music Festival as well as some fun boutiques for shopping and live theater.
Ocean City is home to the Ocean City Boardwalk, a three-mile-long boardwalk at its southern tip that dates all the way back to 1902. It offers lots of inexpensive old-fashioned fun like games, shops, eateries and rides, including the 1902 Herschel-Spellman carousel. At the Life-Saving Station Museum, you can delve into the history of shipwrecks and the rescue teams which came to their aid. There are lots of other events along the wooden boardwalk too, like outdoor movies, Beach Olympics and free concerts on Wednesday evenings in July and August.
Once known as Derry Church, Hershey was renamed in 1906 due to the popularity of its Hershey chocolate. Today, it’s often referred to as the “Sweetest Place on Earth.” The Hershey Company and the H.B. Reese Candy Company are both found here. In this chocolate heaven, visitors can taste Hershey’s chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World, visit the Hershey Story Museum and stay at Hotel Hershey, the official resort of Hersheypark, featuring a chocolate spa where guests can enjoy a luxurious whipped cocoa bath, get chocolate bean polish or order up a chocolate fondue wrap.
The Catskills is a popular destination for escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city and immersing yourself among beautiful nature. Plus, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away while offering a ton of budget-friendly eateries and cheap hotels making it easy to put together a cheap getaway. Escape summer’s heat by jumping into one of the swimming holes or renting an inner tube at The Town Tinker to cool off in Esopus Creek.
While it may only be 90 miles from NYC, you’ll feel as if you’re world’s away by taking the ferry to Shelter Island. Known as the “un-Hamptons,” it offers a wonderful laid-back vibe with no traffic lights and a population under 3,000. The highlight is the 20 miles of coastline and a variety of beaches that range from sandy stretches with lifeguards for swimming to more rustic spots for seclusion. Enjoy beach combing, strolls, swimming or just lounging in the sun.
Rhode Island may be small but it packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do. The city of Providence is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most affordable cities in the Northeast. It boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, with many venues offering free admission. You can take advantage of free art bus rides, free gallery nights and free art displays that line the waterfront in the summer. You can even explore the state’s only natural history museum and a planetarium with its variety of activities and exhibitions for just a couple dollars.
History buffs shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Philadelphia to learn about America’s history, with the city the birthplace of democracy. It offers a ton of free things to see and do, including viewing the Liberty Bell. A video presentation and multiple informative exhibits focus on its origins, including how it cracked, its role through history and its significance today. You can also take a free, self-guided tour of the United States Mint to see how coins are made, explore the very house where famous author Edgar Allan Poe wrote and published some of his greatest tales.
The Berkshires offer the chance to enjoy a relaxed culture, culinary and outdoor adventure-filled weekend. Lenox is a great place to base your stay, with plenty of restaurants, shops and a number of iconic luxurious properties as well as more budget-friendly options. You can purchase a discounted combo ticket to explore both the Clark Art Institute and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The institute is not only renowned for its Renaissance artwork and American paintings, but it sits across a 140-acre nature oasis with landscaped walking trails. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a fabulous place to visit too with 1,000 acres that include scenic, wildlife-filled trails.