When your New York City state of mind starts drifting south (north, east, or west), embrace your inner wanderlust and go. Whether you want to escape the summer city heat or try a new city on for size, hidden gems abound within a short drive (or flight) from NYC — and we’ve curated the best of them. Here, are the best summer getaways from NYC.
Stone Harbor, New Jersey
Drive Time: 2.5 hours
Why we love it:
None of the usual ‘Jersey shore’ trappings (i.e. no crowded boardwalk with amusements and fast food vendors), and far less touristy than nearby Cape May. Located on a 7-mile barrier island, Stone Harbor is separated from the mainland by salt marshes and tidal channels, making it a seabird haven. The beach is expansive, and there is an actual downtown lined with boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. Houses are stately, rambling along the coast against blooming hydrangea and pristine lawns.
Where to eat:
A proverbial favorite here is Quahogs Seafood Shack & Bar, an elevated seafood shack that marries owner-chef Lucas Manteca’s Argentinian heritage with local, fresh-caught seafood. The Brazilian-style Moqueca Stew (seafood stew with clams, mussels, shrimp, fish, scallops, chorizo, achiote oil, coconut milk broth, green rice) is a standout.
Top it off with Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Jersey shore institution (and a favorite childhood haunt of Taylor Swift who spent summers here).
Overlooking Shelter Haven Bay, the three-story, cedar-shake, Reeds at Shelter Haven offers a stylish and sophisticated stay. Design elements include driftwood-inspired chandeliers, wide-plank, whitewashed oak floors, woven rattan headboards, Frette linens, and framed silver and gold sand dollars and seashells. Outdoor dining overlooks the bay – perfect for handcrafted cocktails – while staff, via electric golf carts, transport guests to umbrellas and chairs set up on the beach, just a few blocks away.
Litchfield County, Connecticut
Drive time: 2 hours
Why we love it:
Litchfield County — with its meticulously restored historic homes, eclectic shops, and restaurants — is quintessentially New England. But its true wow factor comes in the surrounding verdant forests, fragrant glades, covered bridges, and murmuring river beds. Often described as a discreet alternative to the Hamptons, the monied set lives quietly here; long-time residents include Meryl Streep, Diane von Furstenberg, and Jasper Johns. The county includes notable towns — Litchfield, Bantam, New Preston, Kent, and Washington — and over the years has become quite a foodie haven.
Where to Eat:
Housed in a white, New England clapboard house, Community Table (near Washington and New Preston) offers a modern, chic farm-to-table experience. The interior is minimalist; the menu changes frequently with ingredients sourced primarily from local farms. Standouts include chef Christian Hunter’s ‘Hudson Valley Pan Seared Steelhead Trout’ (with melted leeks, radish salad, green garlic sauce, white asparagus, and lemon), and specialty cocktails like the ‘Victory Garden’ (organic local vodka, essence of rose and lavender, fennel bitters, honey, and lemon).
Originally founded by a mother-daughter duo, the 35-room Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, is now a prestigious Auberge property, which means a top-notch spa (The Well). Rooms, with four-poster beds and deep soaking tubs, were recently redesigned — some by Celerie Kemble — and updated with Turkish rugs, sisal carpets and textiles from Schumacher, Sister Parish, and Penny Morrison. The Garden Room (restaurant) features a four-course dinner; and we especially love the indoor pool and 58-acre property which includes a Shakespearean walking garden.
Flight time: 90 minutes
Why we love it:
No quick-escape-from-NYC list would be complete without mention of our closest island favorite: Bermuda. Dripping in bougainvillea and fringed by pink sand, this postcard-perfect island is within easy reach — just a 90-minute flight. Walk the cobblestone streets of historic St. George; rent a twizy (a two-seater electric vehicle), to explore the island, stopping off to swim, snorkel off the beach or helmet dive (a cross between snorkeling and scuba). Put on a heavy helmet, equipped with a hose piping in fresh air, and descend via ladder roughly 10 feet underwater to walk around on the ocean floor.
Where to eat:
For unpretentious fine dining, try Mad Hatters in Hamilton, serving elegant local cuisine. Chef Ben Jewett is insanely talented. The menu is small but the restaurant is known for its vast variety of nightly specials. Be certain, while on the island, to sample Bermuda’s famous fried fish sandwich — traditionally served on raisin bread, topped with coleslaw, hot sauce or tartar sauce. Stop by the Swizzle Inn for the island’s original rum swizzle, said to have been invented here in 1932. This original version includes Gosling’s black and gold rum, triple sec, pineapple, orange and lemon juices, Angostura bitters, falernum, and a local sweetener.
For a truly elegant stay, book into the 120-room St. Regis Bermuda Resort (a.k.a. ‘House of Astor’), overlooking St. Catherine’s Beach, in St. George. The hotel’s avant-garde Bermudian design by OMBI — turquoise and sea blue juxtaposed with gilded golden accents — harkens back to the Astor days, as does the impeccable, signature butler service. New York’s famous Astor family started coming to Bermuda (and specifically to St. George) more than a century ago.
Hunter Mountain, New York
Drive time: 2.5 hours
Why we love it:
A popular ski destination in winter, Hunter Mountain in New York’s rugged Catskill Mountains, is a hotspot in summer months too. Mountain biking, hiking to Kaaterskill Falls, and zipping along (at over 50 mph) on North America’s longest and highest (600 feet) zipline, are among the summertime standouts. The Hudson River School of Art Trail is also here, shedding light on how artist Thomas Cole’s paintings of this area forever changed artists’ depiction of landscapes.
Where to eat:
Prospect (the onsite restaurant at Scribner’s Catskills Lodge), has fast become a foodie haunt. Helmed by Executive Chef Alex Napolitano, dishes are made with produce and ingredients grown in Scribner’s garden, and the menu offers a modern twist on the classics — think pasture-raised chicken, whipped ricotta toast with spiced plum chutney, handmade pasta (a must), and seared local trout filet. The restaurant offers magical mountain views, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and has a large circular bar that opens onto a cedar deck for outdoor dining or chilling around the fire pit with a crafted cocktail in hand.
The chic alpine-white, 38-room Scribner’s Catskills Lodge was originally built in the 1960s as a motor lodge. A trendy Brooklyn design firm has since given it a modern makeover, complete with high-peaked ceilings, skylights, and stunning indoor-outdoor spaces. The all-white, loft-style rooms — an exercise in sleek Scandi minimalism — feature sleep lofts, sunken seating, maple floors, local artwork, and a private deck with Adirondack chairs to enjoy the spectacular view. We love that Scribner’s is also dog-friendly. Fur babies receive their own bandanas, treats, and bowls.