Leaf-Peeping Escapes from NYC!

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
January 27, 2022
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">knicks/myBudgetTravel</a>

As lovely as New England's forests and charming small towns are in autumn, the region has not cornered the market on fall foliage. A short road trip or train ride away, the NYC metro area has colors as vibrant as anyplace in America. I shared these four "weekend escapes" with PIX11 Morning News co-host Sukanya Krishnan today:

Sleepy Hollow, NY: Yes, that Sleepy Hollow! Trace the ride of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman through the blazing autumn finery of Rockefeller State Park Preserve, take a lantern-light cemetery tour (if you dare), tour Historic Hudson Valley sites such as Washington Irving's Sunnyside and Philipsburg Manor along the river, and chow down at one of the outstanding nearby eateries in Tarrytown.

Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay, Long Island: Sure, we think of beaches when we think of a Long island weekend, but you can make like a millionaire when you stroll the grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum, a Gatsby-esque “Gold Coast” estate and botanical gardens, whose trees burst into full-on autumn colors.

Natchaug State Forest, Eastford CT: New Yorkers sometimes forget that New England is closer than it might seem: Northern Connecticut is home to authentically rustic New England forests, including Natchaug State Forest and others, and charming small towns that are close enough for a weekend drive with affordable vacation rentals.

New Hope, PA: Just over the Delaware River from New Jersey, Bucks County’s trees light up in autumn, and the town of New Hope, with its galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and artsy vibe, will impress even Manhattanites.


Keep reading

5 Blissful Spa Week Escapes You Can Actually Afford

At BT, we love indulging in affordable spas when we travel. If you do too, now is a great time to take that relaxing spa vacation you've been dreaming about: October 12–18 is Spa Week, a magical time when mega-expensive treatments—think fancy pumpkin facials and soothing Swedish massages—are offered at deep discounts at luxe spas across the country. Most services are just $50. Where to go? Here are some of our favorite on-sale, decadent, ahhh-inducing treatments in cool vacation destinations across the country to inspire your Spa Week escape—either as a girlfriend getaway or an excuse to take a little solo travel "me time." Prefer a staycation instead? Search for your town at Sign up with your email address to see the deals. 1. Palm Beach Gardens, Florida Spa: Juno Dermatology (3801 PGA Boulevard, Suite 107, Try this deal: 60-Minute Pumpkin Enzyme Facial With Extractions ($50; regularly $125). Because what's more festive in October than a pumpkin facial? Budget Traveler tip: To further boost your circulation, go for a walk, run, bike ride, hike, or canoe trip in Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area, only 10 minutes or so away. Trails and wetland overlooks are open from sunrise to gorgeous sunset. 2. Scottsdale, Arizona Spa: Amethyst Spa at Wekopa Resort &amp; Conference Center (10438 North Fort McDowell Road, Try this treatment: 30-minute Signature Amethyst Facial and 30-minute Yavapai Swedish massage ($50, regularly $190). The hydrating acai berry facial refines and resurfaces skin with vitamins A, C, and D, and you decide whether the full-body theraputic massage should consist of slow, gentle relaxing glides or vigorous and bracing strokes to relieve stress. Budget Traveler tip: Amethyst's Spa Week services come with a complimentary glass of champagne and h'ors d'oeurves, plus access to the spa's outdoor desert-oasis pool area, which has a heated swimming pool and two whirlpools with views of the Sonoran Desert. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, a somewhat mysterious preserve highlighting the ruins of an ancient desert people's community, is about an hour away by car ($5). 3. Chicago, Illinois Spa: Oxygen Spa Studio (400 South Green Street, Try this treatment: Gold Coast mask facial with LED light therapy treatment ($50; regularly $135). The facial lifts, tightens, and boost circulation; the LED treatment plumps skin and treats acne. Budget Traveler tip: The Art Institute of Chicago is less than two miles away from this spa. Admission is free for Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. If you're visiting from out of state and plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, a Chicago CityPass gets you into the institute as well as four other attractions at a discount, plus you get to skip the lines (from $79). 4. Fountain Valley, California Spa: Origins Massage and Bodyworks (18303 Brookhurst St., Try this treatment: Specialty deep-tissue, Swedish, prenatal, sports, or trigger-point massage tailored to your pressure preference, with an enhancement of your choice, including aromatherapy, a blackberry vanilla foot scrub, or peppermint scalp massage ($50; regularly $130)  Budget Traveler tip: Huntington Beach—dubbed Surf City USA—is a 15-minute drive from Fountain Valley. Hang out on the beach or bike along the pier, then grab a treat at a place we can vouch for: On her recent coast-to-coast #BTRoadTrip, Budget Travel Photo Editor Whitney Tressel discovered Sandy's, a restaurant with an ocean view where the Signature S'more is legendary ($7). 5. New York, New York Spa: Ling Skin Care (12 E. 16th Street, Try this treatment: 50-minute charcoal facial ($50; regularly $260) (Bargain alert! That's less than a fifth of the original price.) The treatment begins with a papaya enzyme peel, followed by an herbal clay clarifying mask, a ginseng moisturizing mask, and, finally, the charcoal mask to absorb oil and leave skin smooth. Budget Traveler tip: With more than 50 spas in New York City offering $50 treatments, you can spa-hop all week between legendary names like the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue and hidden gems like Skin Spa, aloft on the fourth floor of a Flatiron District building. When you're sufficiently relaxed, take a leisurely stroll among the fall foliage on the High Line, one of the best free activities in New York City.


Great Getaways: Puerto Rico

If you're looking for a fun, affordable beach getaway, visit Puerto Rico, home to plenty of beaches and nightlife, and enough options to satisfy every foodie, nature lover, and history buff. And the best part? U.S. citizens can visit this island paradise without a passport. Visit El Yunque National Rainforest One of Puerto Rico's best attractions is El Yunque National Forest, the only rain forest in the U.S. parks system. Travel Services, Inc. offers great half-day or full-day guided tours including transportation from your hotel to El Yunque (pronounced "El Jun-kay"), from $64 per person. Stop by the Visitor Center to learn more about the area's wildlife, like the Coquí frog and the Puerto Rican parrot, and stop by La Coca Falls and the Yokahu Lookout Tower for amazing rainforest views. Even novice hikers will enjoy a quick 30-minute hike to La Mina Falls, where you can take a dip, if you can stand the freezing cold water! Remember to bring a poncho along as you are in a rain forest (emphasis on the word rain) and it can start pouring buckets at any given time, so don't say we didn't warn you! Eat where the locals eat Located just outside El Yunque a few more minutes down the road, you'll find Kioskos de Luquillo, a great place to sample traditional Puerto Rican favorites like arepas (coconut cakes!) and plantains, and treat yourself to a freshly made piña coladas (or fresh coconut water) straight from a coconut. In Old San Juan, head to Raices, a local favorite where the waitstaff dresses in tradtional Puerto Rican outfits. Everyone says to try the house specialty, mofongo, served in a wooden goblet and made of your choice of meat and mashed plantains, making for a delicious and very filling meal. For a unique blend of Asian and and Latin American influences, try swanky Budatai in the Condado Beach area for delicious dishes like El Churrasco con Ho Fun and Lo Mein de Chicharron de Pollo. Roam the colorful streets of Old San Juan You can tour Old San Juan with the folks at Travel Services, Inc. for $55 per person including transportation to and from your hotel, or, thanks to super-affordable sites and a free tourist tram, you can do it at your own pace for less. Start with a trip to El Morro National Monument, an impressive 16th century Spanish fort that's less than $5 per person to enter and offers gorgeous views of the Caribbean. Take a joyride around town on the free white tram located outside El Morro and stop anywhere along the way to take advantage of the area's quirky shops and boutiques. Take your camera for a spin and spend some time just walking around the streets admiring the city's colorful buildings. Kayak in the dark at Bioluminescent Bay You can't come to Puerto Rico and not see Bioluminescent Bay, one of the coolest spots on the island, if not on Earth. You'll have to rent a car to get to Fajardo (or take the tour with Travel Services, Inc. for from $95 per person). If you choose to go independently, keep an eye out for the yellow tent in Las Croabas Park, where you'll find Island Kayaking Adventures. Sign up for their Glowing Bay Adventure, which leaves every night at 6:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. for $45 per person. You'll embark on a two-hour paddle through a natural mangrove tunnel, following each other through almost-total darkness (kayaks have a glowstick attached to the back so you can stay in a single-file line) to Bioluminescent Bay. Near the end of the mangove tunnel as you enter the bay itself, you'll notice something peculiar... the water starts to glow as you paddle, a result of the algae reacting to movement in the water, definitely an incredible sight. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get a good photo of this (since you must be moving the water beneath the surface at the same time and the lighting at night gets tricky), but the Island Kayaking Adventures crew does take photos of you kayaking and posts them to their Facebook page free of charge. Take a road trip around the island If you're feeling up for a little adventure, try renting a car and taking a good old fashioned road trip around the island, or taking a drive down La Ruta Panorámica, one of Budget Travel's favorite road trips (also featured on our brand new Ultimate Road Trips App). Roads in Puerto Rico are in excellent condition, comparable to driving around in the states, and there is no shortage of beautiful scenery. When all else fails, relax on the beach! Pick a beach, any beach. There's nothing like bring on the beach with your towel and a good book (or digital edition of Budget Travel magazine!) While the waters of the touristy Condado Beach area are rougher than others, it's the perfect spot to plotz in the sand and watch the local boogie boarders and body surfers do their thing. Strong swimmers can even rent a boogie board for $10 for the whole day from friendly beach vendors, but we strongly advise sticking to the smaller surf if you're not used to hitting the waves. Stay in the heart of the lively Condado district for less The San Juan Marriott Resort &amp; Stellaris Casino has great recently updated rooms right on the beach in San Juan's bustling Condado Beach area, home to some of the island's best nightlife. The hotel itself has several lovely restaurants, an onsite casino, gorgeous beachfront pool with a slide, and nightly entertainment in the lobby—don't miss the chance to show off your best salsa dance moves on Saturday night to the music of a live salsa band.  Note: this is also open to the public even if you're not technically a guest of the resort. Rooms from $159 per night. Pay homage to the Piña Colada and all things Bacardi Pay a visit to the Casa Bacardi, the Bacardi Rum Factory, where you can learn more about the history of this drink, see how it's made, and taste samples of the finished product. Cheers!


A few good links: Name that tune at the Atlanta airport

Atlanta airport grooving to clean music. Rewritten R&B; classics remind people to keep the airport "opening day fresh." [] Gay travel: Tourism industry targets those less willing to give up vacations. Marketers are looking for a share of "pink money." [Chicago Tribune] Fossils await researchers at Page Museum. Start digging a new parking lot, and you might find fossils; this set will most likely double one museum's collection. [L.A. Metblog] Florence Tip: Bardini Museum re-opens! A must-see for any Renaissance art lover is finally back. [EuroCheapo] Paris 'catastrophe' means hotel prices are falling. The city's hotel occupancies are down by 10 percent, which could save you money if you're looking to go. [HotelChatter] For more travel blogs, go to Alltop.


This weekend: New Orleans' other huge party

It's no understatement that this city knows how to party. (After all, there is nothing understated about Mardi Gras.) And this weekend is no exception, as the French Quarter Festival kicks off for the 26th time. The three-day festival boasts 150 live music performances, 450 musicians, 18 stages, and 60 booths for food and drink, all with a block-party atmosphere as people stroll around the French Quarter. New this year is the "Louis-Louis Pavilion Stage" along the riverfront, named for native sons Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima. (The Zydepunks, among other acts, will play there). Most of the performers are locals, and there's going to be a show for every taste&#151;jass, salsa, gospel, Cajun, funk, and so on. Oh yeah, and there's food! Local vendors ranging from Abita beer to The Praline Connection will be serving food and drinks (see full list, with prices, here). New Orleans' art world will be represented, as well, with local artists selling their wares in the French Quarter and in area galleries. The festival attracted 435,000 visitors last year&#151;that's quite the block party. The festival is free; most food items are between $5 and $7. For more information, call 504/522-5730 or go to