Perfect Day Trips Out of 7 Popular American Cities
Sometimes you just need to get away. Unfortunately, busy work schedules, family activities, and other obligations can often get in the way, causing those much-needed breaks to slip through the cracks. Planning a week-long vacation may seem implausible, but taking a day or two and getting out of the city is doable and may be just what you need. Fortunately, there are some great escapes located just outside of some of the country’s largest cities, making it really easy for you to get away — if only for a short time. While these places are close, you’ll feel as though you’re a million miles away from your hectic city life. Ready to take that break? Check out one of these beautiful city escapes.
Escape New York City
Ranked as one of Time Out’s top day trips to take from New York City, Sleepy Hollow is a great place to get away for a day or two. It’s only 30 to 45 minutes away from the Big Apple if you take Metro-North to Tarrytown, but once you get there you’ll almost feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. Visit Philipsburg Manor’s living-history museum, made up of a farm and mill that date back to 1750. You can see staff members demonstrate grinding grain in the gristmill, threshing wheat, and preparing goods for shipping with traditional instruments all while donning period costume attire.
While you’re in Sleepy Hollow, “take the 15-minute walk to the Bridge View Tavern for craft brews, pub grub, and views of the bridge and stretch of the Hudson River known as the Tappan Zee,” says Time Out.
Escape Los Angeles
Looking for an escape that feels far away from the craziness that surrounds L.A.? Take a trip to Altadena, which is only 16 miles northeast of downtown L.A., but feels light-years away from the busy city. The laid-back community of 42,000, known for its unique architecture and eclectic residents, feels somewhat secluded and has a small town feel. “At spots like Fox’s Restaurant, a mom-and-pop diner with red gingham curtains, and a sign that reads, ‘the flavor of onions is enhanced by adding steak,’ waitresses seem to know every customer by name,” writes Sunset.
So, what should you do while in Altadena? You could start with the Sam Merrill Trail, which is a five-mile round trip that offers beautiful views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Los Angeles Basin. Sunset also recommends enjoying the summer music series that often occurs on Saturday nights, and visiting the Coffee Gallery, a quaint coffeehouse that offers acoustic performances on weekend evenings.
If you’re hoping for a temporary reprieve from the Windy City, Crystal Lake is a great place to go. Just 50 miles northwest of Chicago, you don’t even need to drive if you don’t want to. You can take the Metra to Crystal Lake from downtown Chicago, giving you the chance to read, sleep, or relax on the way there. What exactly awaits you in Spring Lake? A beautiful lake (you had to see that one coming), a great beach and boardwalk, and hiking trails to name a few. Midwest Living also recommends taking advantage of its great shopping and exceptional dining.
This quaint Chicago suburb, with a population of 40,733, is filled with independent businesses, family friendly parks and beaches, and great restaurants that are all packed into a one-of-a-kind town.
There’s certainly plenty to keep you busy in Miami, but if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, try visiting Islamorada, made up of six islands in the Florida Keys. This tropical oasis is only 81.1 miles away (roughly one hour, 30 minutes) but will feel vastly different from Miami’s madness. Spend the day trying out some of the excellent restaurants, which specialize in freshly-caught seafood, or the tropical bars “where umbrella-topped cocktails bring fuzzy contentment,” according to Hopper. Stop by Lazy Days Restaurant where you can enjoy oceanfront dining and exquisite dishes. Fun fact: Lazy Days has repeatedly been voted Best Restaurant Overall, Best Waterfront Dining, Best Seafood Restaurant, Best Lunch, and Best Wait Staff in the Annual Upper Keys People’s Choice Awards.
Islamorada also offers plenty of diving and snorkeling options, so be sure to take in some of its beautiful marine life.
If you’re searching for a place to spend a weekend, consider a trip to Nantucket Island. The roundtrip is 143 miles, and you’ll take a ferry to get there, an adventure all on its own. CBS writes that the ferry ride will take two hours, 30 minutes, but there’s also a high-speed ferry that can you get there a bit sooner. This spectacular island is oozing with great beaches, charming homes, and centuries of history.
If you’re taking the whole family along, Harbor Beach is a great place for parents and kids to enjoy. There’s a park and playground to accompany the beach, along with a selection of food services nearby. If you’re hoping to take in all the island has to offer, sign up for Ara’s Tours, which is “a very intimate one-and-a-half hour tour of the island. See some of the island’s historical sights and breathtaking scenery — including waterfront homes, the Brant Point Light, the cranberry bog, and the rose covered cottages of Sconset,” according to CBS.
Escape Washington D.C.
Just 20 minutes away from D.C., Alexandria, Virginia “was once a thriving port; the 18th- and 19th-century edifices of the vibrant Old Town district are now occupied by shops, restaurants, and pubs,” according to Travel + Leisure. The town is recognized for its rich history and offers guests a thriving boutique scene, chef-driven restaurants, a vibrant arts and culture scene, in addition to a town filled with welcoming people. A must-stop place for any shopper is King Street, which offers some of the best stores in the region, per Visit Alexandria.
Nearly 80 percent of the stores are independently owned, and offer a great selection of shoes and unique clothing, home décor items, and antique galleries — in other words, a fashionista’s heaven. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which houses artists’ studios and cooperative galleries.
A little less than three hours away, San Antonio is a great place to go for the weekend. In fact, this city welcomes more tourists than any other city in Texas, writes the Houston Chronicle. San Antonio has a great downtown scene, including its Riverwalk (a must-see while you’re there, pictured above.) There are also two theme parks and more than 25 museums to help occupy your time. Looking for a few recommendations? Try the Alamo, which is filled with plenty of rich history. You’ll see exhibits on the Texas Revolution, and get an in-depth look at Texas’ history. You can also take a stroll through the beautiful Alamo Gardens. There’s also Sea World, Six Flags, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, where you’ll have access to a comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman, and Asian art.
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