I’ve been obsessed with travel for as long as I can remember. Even before I graduated high school, traveling was one of my top goals for the future. I even worked full-time as a travel editor for several years at the start of my writing career. Travel is life-changing and soul-enriching and everyone should be able to do it at some point in their lives. Now as much as I love exploring the world beyond the United States, International travel is not always in the budget. Sometimes my husband and I get the travel bug and just need to act on it before saving up for a year or more to go on a grand European vacation. The U.S. is a huge country and there’s lots of beauty, culture, and history to experience right here in our own backyards, so we hit the road at least a couple of times a year, especially now that we have two small kids who travel with us 100 percent of the time. Road trips are totally our jam. If you live in the New York-metro area like we do, there are so many unique and interesting places you can drive to in under six hours. These are some of my favorites.
If you have any interest at all in government, politics or the history of the U.S., a visit to D.C. is undoubtedly a must, but it’s also much more than the capital of this country. D.C. is kind of a haven of young professionals and as such it’s literally teeming with creativity, and innovation, much of which is born of the district’s diverse population. Definitely hit up the monuments, museums, and national landmarks — especially any of the free Smithsonian museums — but also take some time to discover where the locals eat, drink, shop and hang out.
Vermont is best known for its ski destinations like Stowe and Killington, but it’s an incredibly relaxing and scenic place to visit even outside of ski season. The Green Mountains are in Southern Vermont and a quick drive from New York. Check out Lowell Lake State Park for a gorgeous and historic hike, visit a dairy farm and definitely try some of the local cuisine and craft beer. Vermont is rural, but the people are warm and welcoming and seem to make everyone feel like a part of the community. You will not believe how the stars light up the night sky!
New York Adirondacks
If you’re from the city, you probably don’t often think of New York outside of the boroughs but drive a couple of hours north and you’ll enter Adirondack Country where even the highway seems so quiet you could hear a pin drop. In any of the upstate towns in the Adirondack region, you’ll find stunning mountain ranges, pristine lakes with amazing free beaches and lots more nature to explore and pretty views to take in from your porch-front rocking chair. The summer months are the busiest and winter can get crowded with skiers, but spring and fall are totally low-key.
Trust me, Philly is not the inferior city. I happen to live about halfway between Philadelphia and New York so I’ve visited countless times, and each time I’m in Philly I discover something new and different to love. While D.C. may now be the heart of American politics, the country was built in Philadelphia, and there are lots of important historic and cultural landmarks to see there — from the Liberty Bell to the Franklin Institute and Betsy Ross House to the film-famous Philadelphia Museum of Art and Love Park, the sights are endless. No trip is complete though without visits to Reading Terminal Market, Chinatown and the famous Italian Market. Philly is gritty, but so beautiful and authentic in its grittiness. Don’t forget your cheesesteak!
Portland, Maine is both quaint and adorable and at the same time totally modern and forward-thinking as a city. It’s absolutely tiny so you can see a lot in a short period of time, but be sure to visit the historic working waterfront and one of the divey old pubs serving up amazing lobster rolls and chowdah for cheap right along the water. Venture to the edges of the city and you’ll discover beautiful rocky beaches and plenty of quiet coves. For a quick and unique excursion, hop on the ferry to Peaks Island, which was once known as the Coney Island of Maine, rent a bike, stroll the streets to enjoy views of the gorgeous Victorian homes and grab a bite to eat.
From Portland, I would be remiss not to mention Ogunquit— a tiny shore town south of Portland that’s home to the Marginal Way. The Marginal Way is a one-and-a-quarter mile cliffside trail overlooking the Atlantic ocean, with some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen in all of my travels. The trail features several staircases that lead down to the beach in various locations so that you can take a break and dip your toes in the water or even wade around for a bit although it does tend to be cold. In town— both at the start and end of the Marginal Way— there are many adorable gift shops and boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, bakeries and more. You could easily spend a long weekend enjoying the relaxed vibe here.
Boston is a college town through-and-through, and as such it’s full of interesting and trendy diversions, restaurants and bars representing a huge diversity of ethnicities and any number of historical sights to explore. If you’re a history buff, be sure to check out the Freedom Trail which leads visitors through some of the most important sites of the Revolutionary War. Stop by Harvard Square for a glimpse into how university life has shaped the city’s culture and stop to sample yummy treats at the famous Quincy Market. Beer lovers should definitely visit the Sam Adam’s Brewery for a tour and tasting, and if you have the time, consider a detour to Plymouth or Cape Cod.