Youre eager to get out of Dodge but arent keen on flying. Who knows if the person next to you is vaccinated? Not only that, airfares are climbing since people are beginning to fly again, there are flight cancellations to deal with, and rental cars are virtually nonexistent. Ugh.
However, if youre looking for a long-distance trip, theres plenty to see within six hours of Boston. Six hours is the magic number: if you can fit that much time in the car, you may be able to reach some of the most beautiful east coast destinations. Plan to take a break (and stretch your legs) every two hours or so. Heres a look at the pictures.
Finger Lakes, New York: 5 hours, 57 minutes (to Geneva)
During our dinner at 1833 Kitchen + Bar (www.1833kitchen.com) on Cayuga Lake, This is like attending a wedding minus the awkward conversations, said our companion Paul Kelley, who listened to music emanating from tucked away wedding tent. Everywhere we traveled on our recent Finger Lakes trip, we encountered weddings at the lively monastery-turned-inn, Geneva on the Lake (genevaonthelake.com; from $350), at Belhurst Castle (www.belhurst.org;from $277), a circa 1800s stone mansion with its own winery (some rooms have wc), and finally at 1833 Kitchen + Bar at The Inns of Aurora ( www.inndsofaurora.co; $317). In a landscape of waterfalls, gorges and rolling green farmland, this central New York region boasts 11 finger-like glacial lakes and one great lake (Ontario).
Love wine? Gas up the car. This is New Yorks wine country, home to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail (www.cayuwinetrail.com), America's first wine trail. The wineries along the loop (mostly pinot noirs and Rieslings) have won more than 6,000 national and international medals. If youre not a wine person, you can probably try grapes anyway like the organic local grape juice at Ports Caf in Geneva, or the strewn into pastry at Cindys Grape Pies in Naples. (Grape pies are a local specialty.)
Youll notice were referring to a lot of cities; town-hopping is arguably the most exciting way to explore the Finger Lakes. Geneva on the Lake, a former Franciscan Capuchin monastery-turned-resort with an exquisite dining room (best salmon we ever ate), opulent swimming pool, and croquet and bocce courts overlooking Seneca Lake in Geneva, is ideally located for 'unique'.
Continually, you'll plan an itinerary based on your interests. Seneca Falls, where the womens suffrage movement began, is home to the Women Rights National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/wori), as well as the National Women's Hall of Fame ( www.womenofthehall.org), which houses the country' s first Women'S Suffragette National Historic Park. History buffs will enjoy exploring Auburn, home to the Harriet Tubman House (www.harriethtubmanhome.com); National Park Service rangers conduct walking tours of Tubmann-related sites. Do lunch at Auburns Prison City Pub & Brewery (www.prisoncitybrewing.com) on State Street for elevated pub grub and award-winning beer (and views of a state prison).
In the mood for an active vacay-on-the-lake? Canandaigua and Seneca lakes are your best bets. The city of Canandaiguas public beach at Kershaw Park, at the northern end of the lake, has kayak and paddleboard rentals. Head to Seneca Lake Park in Geneva to discover an expansive public beach that runs along the entire top of Senca lake.
For a girlfriends getaway, consider the village of Aurora, which has dozens of inns (www.innasofaurora.com) overlooking 40-mile-long Cayuga Lake. The newly-opened, 15,000 square-foot Rasa Spa at Inns of Aurora is quickly becoming a must-visit holistic retreat, thanks to an array of indoor-outdoor spaces (think hydrotherapy pools overlooking the lake) in secluded farmland setting laced with nature trails. Youll find yourself in a puddle of happiness. Vous ne vous tes pas encore rassur? Wine. www.fingerlakestravelny.com.
Lubec, Maine: 5 hours, 48 minutes Lubac (Maine): Approximately 5 minutes, 42 minutes
Youve never been to Bar Harbor, right? Lubec, the easternmost town in the United States, has over 90 miles of shoreline and less than 1,500 residents. Add a couple of hours to that, heading north, and youll be in Lubc. Lubec is located just across the Bay of Fundy from Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park is now the world's only Roosevelt campobelo international park (www.nps.gov/roca). Happily, the Roosevelt International Bridge has been reopened to fully-vaccinated US residents, allowing you to make this a two-nation vacation.
You can sleep at the West Quoddy Light Station. A five-minute walk from the famous candy-striped West Quoddy Light is a tiny pod that includes the old keepers cottage, ten-bedroom station house, and 'a four-room lodge' (rates from $94 to $290 per night; www.quoddyvacation.com). We havent yet stayed at these (quite basic) accommodations, but its a cool idea. The Inn & Restaurant on The Wharf (www.theinnonthewharre.com; suites, $100), a former sardine factory-turned-inner, on Johnsons Bay, is renowned for its elegant architecture. The rooms are comfortable, if basic, and you wont have to go far for breakfast; the innkeepers manage the onsite Fishermans Restaurant on the Wharf. For dinner, wed head to the Water Street Inn B&B (www.watersttavernandinn.com). Theyre open seasonally for lunch and dinner, and are consistently cited as the top place to eat in town due to dishes like the Craddock (crab-stuffed haddick), maple-apple-bourbon-glazed salmon, as well as lobster dinners. Cakes are handmade and worth every calorie. If you have children in your party, go for lunch so they can watch seals while youre at it.
The Lubec Brewing Co. is a popular choice for evening drinks; it's famous for its raw, unfiltered beer made with organic barley and upscale live music in summer; but the food is equally impressive: its fresh and organic, offering vegetarian and vegan options, as well as seafood and meat-based dishes.
Monicas Chocolates (www.monicaschocolates.com), where Monica Elliott makes delicious fruit-filled chocolates, molded chocolate sea creatures (way too cute), and Maine Needhams a traditional Maine confection made with potatoes and available plain, with almonds or wild Maine blueberries are also worth mentioning.
Your itinerary will include a stop at Campobello Island, of course, and vistas of West Quoddy Light and Quaddy Head State Park. On The Tarquin, out of The Inn & Restaurant on the Wharf, whale watching tours are also available youll likely see seals, eagles and lighthouses as well as the marquee attraction. 34 sculptures outside the tiny seaside town add to the charm. What you wont find here: Movie theaters, shopping malls, theme parks, fast food joints, heavy traffic, or stop lights. So, do as its website suggests, and get your fill of these en route! www.visitlubecmaine.com
Cape May, N.J.: 5 hours, 54 minutes:
Cape May is so well-preserved that they call it the Jersey Shores jewel. The entire city is designated a National Historic District, with an estimated 600 beautifully restored Victorian buildings. In this Victorian enclave on the South Jersey shore, dozens of them are B&Bs, so you can fully immerse yourself in Victoriana. Daytime trolley tours of the historic district draw a lot of visitors, although the after-dark ghost tours are arguably more enjoyable. The circa 1879 Emlen Physick Estate (www.capemaymac.org), the former home of a wealthy Philadelphia family, is now open for guided and self-guided tours with interpreters in period clothing. (The house is said to be haunted by members of the Physick family, including their dogs.) If you cant get enough historic homes, add Historic Cold Spring Village (www.hcsv.org) to your must-see list. This living history museum recreates a rural Southern New Jersey community circa the 1800s.
As stunning as our local beaches are (were talking about you, Cape Cod National Seashore! ), its always nice to spread a towel out on one of the nearby beaches. Cape Mays clean, white beaches are among the finest on the Jersey shore. Poverty Beach, at the east end of Beach Avenue at town's east edge, and Cove Beach (to the west) are both accessible by in-the-know types. Beach-goers do the stooped-walk thing on Cape Mays Sunset Beach, but theyre not looking for shells, they're searching for Cape May diamonds, shiny, sea-polished pebbles of quartz that wash ashore.
What are you looking forward to on your Cape May adventure? Walk the shops (no chain stores allowed) and restaurants along the eight-block open-air Washington Street Mall, a touristy shopping zone with ties to Key West and benches for people-watching. A bit of New Jersey wine-tasting is a popular pursuit. Cape May Winery (www.capemaywinery.com) is the areas oldest winery. Go hungry, so you can get something from its tapas kitchen, which is served with wine, of course.
Cape May Lighthouse, a circa 1858 structure that's surrounded by the serene vistas of Cape Mai Point State Park, is another great addition to Light House lovers' list. The state park is also home to a World War II Lookout Tower, which is open to the public.
The 100-foot M/V American Star of the Cape May Whale Watcher is likely to pass by (www.capemaywhalewatch.com). These seasonal whale- and dolphin-watching cruises are narrated by naturalists, so you'll definitely learn something but don't put your hopes up with cetaceans; dolphins will be more of a certainty here.
O do you want to stay? The Congress Hall Hotel (www.caperesorts.com; from $409), billed as Americas First Seaside Resort, has hosted generations of families. This sprawling estate has a spa, bike shop, beachfront dining, and childrens activities, all within easy reach of the action. The Mission-style Mission Inn (www.missioninn.net; from $240) is a B&B option that offers secluded getaways from Victorian overload, as well as onsite gourmet breakfasts and bicycle rentals.
Beach Plum Farm (www.beachplumfarmcapemay.com) in West Cape May is a popular spot for locals to eat at. It's an actual working farm with luscious farm-to-table meals made with their own meats and produce. Exit Zero Filling Station (www.exitzero.com), a converted gas station, may entice you to try one of its famous curries at Exits Zero filling station ( www.extitzer.org). Fishermans Wharf and the Lobster House (www.thelobsterhouse.com) are two classic seafood restaurants thatve been around forever. A Grand Banks schooner acts as an outdoor cocktail lounge. The Mad Batter (www.madbatter.com) is credited with launching Cape Mays restaurant revolution in the 1970s. Try the crab cakes or the vegan version of same, made with hearts of palm and chickpeas, at this lively, art-bedecked spot; everything is fresh and scratch-made; try the lobster rolls or even the chickies-stuffed crabcake with heart of coconut and pea. www.escapetothejerseycape.com
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright may be reached at email@example.com. Diane and pameli are available at the adresses firstname.lastname@example.org.