Nothing says summer like driving out of the city and feeling the wind rush past you. We've rounded up some of the best summer getaways from major cities around the U.S.—for a budget-friendly trip, or a splurge.
SAVE: Climb through “Nature’s Castles,” three large-scale treehouses designed to bring back your childhood memories and built among (although not attached to) large tulip poplars at Longwood Gardens, eight miles north in Kennett Square. One treehouse is Adirondack style and ADA-accessible, another’s like an ornate two-story Norwegian stave church, and the third, called the Birdhouse, is built in a traditional old-fashioned treehouse style.
American Restaurant in Friday Harbor, WA, United States
SPLURGE: Since you’re in one of the best whale-watching spots in the world, don’t miss boating out to Haro Strait with Maya's Legacy Whale Watching or San Juan Safaris, and marveling at breaching orcas and humpbacks frolicking with their calves.
SAVE: The meadows in the park are known for wildflowers—red Indian paintbrushes, purple asters, yellow cinquefoil, white American bistort, and others. To get a good close-up look at those beauties, lace up your boots and hike the less-traveled 2.5-mile round-trip Moraine Trail, which meanders along meadows and also has spectacular views of Mount Rainier. Feeling adventurous? Hike the five-mile round-trip Paradise Glacier Trail, which wanders past waterfalls and into wilder areas of the park.
SPLURGE: Walk or bike across the red Art Deco bridge that spans the mile-wide Golden Gate for a spectacular view of San Francisco looking like alabaster in late-afternoon light. If heights aren’t your thing, go to sea level and take a kayak tour of Richardson Bay, two miles north. The lodge can arrange for guides and lessons.
SAVE: You’ll find finished stained glass, jewelry, pastel drawings of the coast, and other works by local artists in the Roadhouse gallery’s rotating exhibition. Stroll at low tide along the cove’s tide pools, or beachcomb for tumbled glass washed down from glassblowers cooling their wares in the stream. At sunset, settle into one of the rocking chairs on the wraparound deck.
SPLURGE: Multitask and get your nature and culture together by strolling among large welded-steel sculptures by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and others at the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville; escape the heat by plunging into the Split Rock swimming hole in the Mohonk Mountain Preserve (swimsuit not required); learn safe and proper shotgun skills at Orvis Sandanona, the oldest shooting club in the country, in Millbrook.
Bed and Breakfast in Great Barrington, MA, United States
SAVE: Great Barrington is known as an antique collector's paradise. Take a day (or maybe even two) to wander downtown and explore all of the antique shops. For museum-lovers, there is plenty of opportunity for exploration around various museums in the Berkshires. Check out the Norma Rockwell Museum, just seven minutes from the inn, or a classic—The Berkshire Museusm—a 30 minute drive from The Thornewood.
SPLURGE: After chilling in the green-blue waters or on the white sand beach in front of the hotel, head to the trendy celebrity-magnet restaurant Sublime. Its organic and vegan menu continually wins converts—especially for the piccata with lemon-caper sauce. (Yes, the piccata’s vegan; it’s made with grain-and-vegetable Gardein Veggie Chick’n Breasts.)
Other Great Outdoors in Key Largo, FL, United States
SAVE: Escape the heat while you pay homage to wonderful works of nature by snorkeling, scuba diving, or riding a glass-bottomed boat in nearby all-underwater John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Contact Morning Star Charters, which takes groups of six snorkelers on the Morning Star, a 50-foot sailing yacht, to Molasses Reef, Pickles Reef, and other less visited areas.
SPLURGE: Walk across the street to Del Mar Plaza for its upscale restaurants and shops, including Ooh La La for crystal-embellished blouses, lace-and-ruffle tops, and wildly striped sundresses. Or stroll one block in the opposite direction along a landscaped footpath to the beach for 15 miles of continuous sand.
SAVE: Eat local by making a “Market Foray,” a guided tour that leads the culinarily curious to fresh foods at the farmers’ market, fishermen’s market, and C’est Cheese—all of which are also ideal spots for picking up picnic fixings for lunch to pair with Central Coast wine. To discover more about the region’s famous grapes, hit the Urban Wine Trail, which includes multiple wineries and tasting rooms near downtown. If you tire of walking, hop on the 50-cent electric shuttle.
SPLURGE: Music strikes a note in Austin, known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” so dance your way across the street to the Continental Club for blues, country rock, and rockabilly sounds. During the day, beat the heat by going to Zilker Park (two miles away) and swimming in the three-acre Barton Springs Pool, fed by natural springs with an average temperature of 68–70 degrees.