Remember summers when we were kids, the dreamy stretch of days from late June to early September that seemed to encapsulate entire lifetimes? Bikes were flipped, knees were scraped, the first inklings of mustaches began to sprout (or not), and it wasn’t uncommon for friends to come back to school after summer vacation completely physically transformed. And remember the cold realization a few years down the line that no, two months of guilt-free (and free) vacation every year is far from an inalienable right, and yes, you will be expected to work through the best time of the year to not be working? If you’re anything like most New Yorkers, you would probably love to take an extended vacay this summer, but simply don’t have the time.

The undervaluation of leisure time is one of the tragedies of our age, but don’t let that get you down. The regions surrounding New York City are not without distinct charms of their own, and many of them are just within striking distance for a perfect weekend getaway. Instead of scowling through June and soldiering through July, take control of the free time you do have, plan your escape, and leave NYC in the dust! (For a few days, anyway.) Whether you love art, nature and the outdoors, or just lounging by a pool or pond, there’s sure to be something on this list for time-constrained weekend warriors of every ilk and inclination.

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Kykuit, The Rockefeller Estate, Sleepy Hollow, New York. Photo courtesy of hudsonvalley.org

The Hudson River Valley – 2 hours, 5 minutes

The beautiful and historic Hudson River Valley is dotted with a wide range of summery events and wholesome attractions. The region is well known for its wineries, small towns untouched by time, sparkling views of the Hudson River and the mystical Catskills, sprawling estates, stately mansions, antique shopsquaint bed and breakfasts, and luxury boutique hotels.

Photo credit: Andre Maier

Castle Hotel and Spa. Photo credit: Andre Maier

Just 40 minutes from New York by train, the village of Tarrytown, in Westchester County (also known as Sleepy Hollow) is the perfect getaway for history buffs, antique aficionados, and nature lovers, particularly if you’ve only got a day or two to spare. The Castle Hotel and Spa is fairly self-explanatory: it is a historic hotel that was built to resemble a castle. After changing owners a few times, it is has been updated, brightened, and equipped with an ultra-lavish spa, and upscale eatery, Equus. The Castle Hotel and Spa is a favorite of tourists and locals alike, which is usually a good sign.

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Boscobel, Garrison, New York. Photo courtesy of Boscobel

You could also take a trip to hip Hudson, and find out for yourself if this booming culinary enclave is truly the foodie paradise that many are saying it is. Or drift into the picturesque and historic village of Cold Spring for a bit of small town goodness and mind-blowing views of the Hudson River on your way to the immaculate Boscobel estate, the front lawn of which is home each summer to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

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Maya Lin, Storm King Wakefield, Storm King, Mountainville, New York. Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Art lovers, nature lovers, and art lovers who love nature will love Storm King Art Center, in Mountainville, NY,  a sprawling outdoor art space populated by towering and quixotic masterpieces of sculpture and surreal environmental installations.

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Walter De Maria, 360˚ I Ching/64 Sculptures, 1981. © The Estate of Walter DeMaria. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York

Another haven for modern conceptual art and sculpture on a large scale, Dia: Beacon, in Beacon, NY is home to the world-renowned Dia Art Foundation collection, and features the often extremely large works of some of the world’s leading conceptual artists including light impresarios Dan Flavin and Bruce Nauman, and iconoclasts On Kawara, Agnes Martin, and Walter de Maria, to name just a few of the artists on permanent display.

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Asbury Park. Photo credit: Russ Meseroll

Asbury Park, New Jersey – 1 hour, 18 minutes

If you’re 40 or older, the name Asbury Park might conjure up memories of “The Boss,” blue jeans stretched to the point of near-disintegration, red, white, and blue bandana flaming, earnestly pounding out the chords to Born In the U.S.A. or Born To Run on his electric guitar; if you’re under 40, you may still be trying to figure out who “The Boss” is without googling it. It doesn’t matter. Asbury Park, NJ has long had a reputation for being a lively party town, a rep which has only grown over the last few years, as boutiques, restaurants, and live music venues continue to fill storefronts that had been barren since Hurricane Sandy, and on their last legs since long before that. The city is also a destination for lovers of Victorian-style architecture. Take a trip to Asbury Park, go for a walk on the beach or the newly renovated and revitalized boardwalk, and always be prepared to party (responsibly).

Beaver Lodge at Winvian Farm. Photo courtesy of Winvian Farm

Beaver Lodge at Winvian Farm. Photo courtesy of Winvian Farm

A fanciful cottage at Winvian Farm. Photo courtesy of Winvian Farm

A fanciful cottage at Winvian Farm. Photo courtesy of Winvian Farm

Winvian Farm, Litchfield Hills, Connecticut – 2 hours, 48 minutes

Winvian Farm is a taste of life on the farm, without any of the manual labor yet all of the bounty. This luxury retreat and spa sits on 113 secluded country acres, and is comprised of spacious luxury cottages, each with its own style and charm and all of the amenities. Basically, if there’s something that you think you might want, it’s there; including a 5 star farm-to-table fine dining experience. This is a perfect destination for families, or for recent empty-nesters in need of a long-overdue romantic escape.

An aerial view of Cooperstown, NY. Photo courtesy of thisiscooperstown.com

An aerial view of Cooperstown, NY. Photo courtesy of thisiscooperstown.com

Cooperstown, NY – 4 hours, 24 minutes

Few would argue against the premise that baseball and beer are a match made in heaven, and if you love either, you’ll find your little slice of it in Cooperstown. Mostly known for being the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as the wonderful Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown is also known for being a town that loves its booze. In fact, Cooperstown is home to no less than 4 nationally known breweries, as well as a handful of wineries, cider houses, and distilleries.

LOVE. Photo courtesy of visitphilly.com

LOVE. Photo courtesy of visitphilly.com

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 1 hour, 59 minutes

Philadelphia is the kind of destination that might get overlooked or dismissed by some New Yorkers. But the City of Brotherly Love is a city with a soul and the kind of charm, dare I say magic, that engenders repeat visits. History, art, Americana, nightlife, architecture, music, and old-school swag are all to be found in abundance, not to mention a cool Rocky statue and a very healthy cheesesteak competition. Philly also has a thriving art and music scene, as well as parks, restaurants, and museums, and the city’s recent boom in luxury boutique hotels means you’ll have somewhere cool to stay. And the Liberty Bell!

Photo courtesy of the Lodge at Woodloch

Photo courtesy of the Lodge at Woodloch

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The Pool Room at the Lodge at Woodloch. Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch

The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania – 2 hours, 26 minutes

The Lodge at Woodloch, located less than 3 hours from NYC in the shadow of the Pocono Mountains, is a health and fitness-centric destination spa; it’s the perfect place to relax and disconnect from the weekly grind. The tastefully luxurious complex is equipped with a 3,000 square foot cardio and weight studio, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, saunas, and pools with hydromassage waterfalls; it’s known for being a great place for a friend’s retreat, or a solitary weekend away from it all.

Written by Lance Nguyen