The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.
Home to about 8 million folks -- and tons of our readers, the Big Apple is a behemoth destination to explore itself. But should you be longing to escape the crowded streets, know you're in similar company; New York's residents seemingly flock town every Friday. Plus, there are so many great vacation spots just a few hours away by car (and what seems like a million ZipCar locations should you not have your own ride). So get your bags packed, slather on some sunscreen and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.
Road Trip #1: New York City to Montauk, NY
- Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 48 minutes
- Distance Covered: 119 miles
- Take This Trip If: You love a good scene — the otherwise-sleepy town is crawling with celebs during the summer.
Originally famous for both its surfing and fishing, Montauk, Long Island’s easternmost tip, is considered part of The Hamptons and has plenty to offer a variety of tourists, including six national state parks. Always in the background is the ubitiquous Montauk Lighthouse, New York’s oldest and the fourth in the national overall. Aside from its rich history and scenic landscape, Montauk also offers visitors sleek shopping at vintage stores like Screaming Mimi’s and incredible local eats like lunch at Dureyea’s Lobster Deck, where the lobster rolls, naturally, are second to none. Splurge on a stay at the Panoramic View, a sprawling resort tucked away off Old Mountak Highway in which every single guest room boasts gorgeous Atlantic Ocean vistas. And should you get too much sun (or sand) on the beach, check out the pool’s cabana for some shaded R&R. Savvy folks should opt for the Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marinas; even though it’s off the ocean, it has lovely little villas that are perfect for a couple’s getaway. A free shuttle into town makes the inflated prices a bit more worthwhile.
- Top Driving Tip: Most directions will tell you to take the Long Island Expressway, but skip the always-clogged I-495 and take the Grand Central Parkway/Northern State Parkway instead; it’ll save you precious minutes you’ll need when Montauk Highway becomes one lane in South Hampton.
Road Trip #2: New York City to Chatham, MA
- Total Driving Time: 5 hours, 4 minutes
- Distance Covered: 272 miles
- Take This Trip If: You’re more J. Crew than Juicy Couture.
A trip up Connecticut’s coast — and east of Boston’s waterfront — will land you in the Cape, unofficially one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, shielding much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves. But despite it’s protective nature, Cape Cod is a quaint, relaxing spot for those looking to park on one of it’s 60 public beaches. Cape Cod is also popular for its outdoor activities like beach walking, biking, boating, fishing, go-karts, golfing, kayaking, miniature golf, and unique shopping. Tired yet? Camp out at one of the island’s many B&Bs, each which have their own little dose of charm. For those looking to spend a few extra bucks, Chatham Bars Inn — the luxurious, adults-only Signature Spa Suites are seriously romantic, the spa is pretty amazing, and should you be tired of the Cape, there are private charters available to nearby Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Budget-minded travelers should check out the Chatham Gables Inn for a quintessential Cape Cod experience; the nautical decor and free, delicious breakfast served on the hotel’s sun porch make you feel at one with the sea.
- Top Driving Tip: Grab a bite along the way at Captain Scott’s in New London, CT. Not only is it right off the interstate, but the restaurant serves up some of the freshest — and well-priced — seafood in the area.
Road Trip #3: New York City to Lake Placid, NY
- Total Driving Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
- Distance Covered: 288 miles
- Take This Trip If: You’re looking for something besides the beach — and want to get into the Olympic spirit a bit early this summer.
The host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. However, summer is it’s busiest season — the town is an outdoor sports lover’s paradise, with tons of hiking, biking and boating options. And despite the fact that it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants. But don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake, one of the most stunning in all of the Adirondacks. And, there’s free trolley service that rolls alongside the lake for easy transportation. High Peaks Resort, which features four pools (two outdoors), has a secluded vibe, yet is only four blocks from the Olympic Center. The posh guest rooms overlook Mirror Lake — do not forget to catch at least one sunrise — and those looking to bliss out have the Aveda Concept Spa at their fingertips. Spend less, but still have a great stay at the Best Western Adirondack Inn — while there’s no restaurant on site and decor is seriously dated, the prices can’t be beat, and its downtown location makes the town’s nearby restaurants quite accessible.
- Top Driving Tip: Getting to Lake Placid often means passing through parts of the High Peaks Wilderness, a preserve named after the cluster of 46 densely forested mountains that define the look of the area. However, resist the urge to stop at every one of the many scenic overlooks en route, otherwise the trip may take too long — and take a toll on your body.
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