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6 best day trips from New York City
Within two hours of the city, you can find a complete change of scenery: unplug in some nature, soothe your serotonin levels in the sand, or get cultured in upstate museums. Here’s our pick of the best day trips from NYC. Editor's note: please check the latest travel restrictions and opening hours before booking any trip and always follow government health advice. 1. Woodstock, NY Why go: Although the infamous concert actually took place in Bethel, NY, there is still tie-dye to be found in Woodstock, NY, a town filled with arts and nature. A ban on chain stores keeps this town feeling free-spirited. What to do: Get back to nature by taking a local hike up Overlook Mountain and take in the picturesque views from the top. Also, Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag, entices with unique gift stores and cafes. Where to eat: There are a plethora of restaurant choices in the town of Woodstock, but for an extra special breakfast, you’ll want to take a 20-minute drive to the Phoenicia Diner, an elevated diner known for unbelievable pancakes and a recently released cookbook. How to get there: The car is the fastest way to get to Woodstock, NY. Or from Port Authority, take a bus directly to Woodstock, NY. Travel time: 2 hours by car; 2 hours and 45 minutes by bus. 2. Bedford- Katonah, NY Bedford-Katonah in upstate New York make for a peaceful getaway © Andrea Thompson / Getty Images Why go: This part of Westchester is known for its rolling green hills and quaint hamlets with sleepy downtowns. It’s perfect for recharging on a wellness-focused day trip. What to do: Start at the Katonah Art Museum, known for showing up-and-coming and established modern artists in a small but innovative setting. Afterward, an eight-minute uber ride will take you to the Richard Gere-owned Bedford Post, an 8-room luxury inn that hosts daily yoga classes in the sun-drenched barn. Where to eat: The Barn, one of the two restaurants on the Bedford Post property is a casual, yet charming, wood-beamed room with a lovely porch for eating al fresco. How to get there: Take the Metro-North Harlem Line to Katonah Station. Take a short taxi ride to the Katonah Art Museum. Travel Time: The trip takes about 1 hour by train. 3. Asbury Park, NJ Asbury Park, New Jersey is transformed Jersey Shore beach town © Image Source / Getty Images Why go: With a multi-million dollar renovation, the Jersey Shore beach town of Asbury Park, most synonymous with Bruce Springsteen, has transformed into a destination with boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, and unique shops – while maintaining its funky edge. What to do: Spend time relaxing on the beach but don’t miss the Wooden Walls Project, a public art initiative started in 2015 consisting of large-scale murals. Shop the quirky beachside boardwalk boutiques and don’t forget to book tickets for a show at the legendary rock venue, Stone Pony (reopens 2021). Where to eat: The restaurant credited with transforming the food scene in Asbury Park is Porta, an upscale pizza spot in a breezy and lively location close to the beach. How to get there: The quickest way to get to Asbury Park is by car, but it is also possible to take a subway and bus. Travel Time: 1 hour 15 mins by car; 3 hours by subway and bus. Follow our New York City Trail Follow our New York City Trail 4. Beacon, NY Why go: A hotbed of creativity in a historical blue-collar town; Beacon has art, fine dining, and shopping all along the Hudson River. What to do: A stop at the Dia: Beacon is a must when day-tripping to Beacon. The light-filled 300,000 square-foot gallery space in a converted factory hosts conceptual large-scale art by Gerard Richter, Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra. Also, Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre outdoor sculpture garden, is a short drive away, bringing together fine art and fresh air. Where to eat: The most charming setting to eat is Roundhouse, a farm-to-table restaurant overlooking a waterfall. Inventive favorites like Spicy Lobster Mac n’ Cheese pair nicely with a signature cocktail or a glass of wine. How to get there: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station. Travel time: The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes by train. 5. New Hope, PA Float the Delaware River and relax in New Hope © Blasius Erlinger / Getty Images Why go: New Hope might be one of the most progressive small towns in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with a giant yearly LGBT festival, late-night bar scene, and artistic stores. What to do: Shop ‘til you drop on Main Street or to take advantage of the scenery, rent a tube and drift down the Delaware River (reopens 2021) letting your urban stress melt away. Where to eat: You won’t go wrong with Salt House, a charming gastropub located in a historical building built in 1751. Eat chowder by the fire in the tavern, steak frites in the upstairs library or oysters on the half shell “al fresco” on the stone patio. How to get there: From Port Authority, take a direct bus to New Hope. Travel time: 1 hour and 30 mins by car; 2 hours by bus, depending on schedule. 6. Rockaways, Queens Rhe NYC skyline against the beach of the Rockaways ©Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Getty Images Why go: For a hip surf scene that is reachable by subway, grab your swimsuit and catch the A train to the Rockaways. Technically still in New York City (it’s in Queens), you’ll feel like you’re in a seaside town, but without the unbearable traffic. What to do: Before you go, reserve your umbrella and beach lounge chair through Lido Beach Butlers (currently closed) at Jacob Riis Beach, and arrive to find everything set up for maximum relaxation. For a unique experience in the summer, book a tent at Camp Rockaway, a seasonal “glampground” located mere steps from the ocean, where the sounds of the surf will lull you to sleep. Where to eat: The Riis Park Beach Bazaar concession stands have updated seaside fare including a weekly lobster boil at Rockaway Clam Bar (reopens 2021). Grab a picnic table on the boardwalk, crack open a beer, and groove to the live music playing most summer nights. How to get there: Take the NYC ferry directly to Jacob Riis Beach or the A train to a shuttle bus. Travel Time: The trip takes about 45 minutes.
The Best Hotels and Resorts to Spend the Holidays
If you are considering taking the plunge and spending your cherished holiday time somewhere other than home, there are many factors to consider—like how far you want to travel, whether you’re going with family and what, if any, special holiday details are being offered. To help with this difficult determination, we’ve rounded up five super places to consider this holiday season. From sandy beaches to sin city, we’ve got you covered for everything happy and the merry. The Emerson Resort and Spa is a great place to get cozy in upstate New York © Tobey Grumet / Budget Travel Emerson Resort & Spa, Mt. Tremper, NY Location, location, location. Sitting directly between the most sought-after vacation towns in New York’s Catskill mountain range, like Woodstock and Phoenicia, this sprawling resort is just a two-hour drive from NYC, offering a family- and dog-friendly, cold-weather sanctuary from the city. In addition to cold weather pursuits and a weekly bonfire, you can try other included resort activities like a Winter Guided Nature Walk, an ornament making class and Storytime in the Great Room with a delicious hot chocolate bar on hand. The Emerson Resort and Spa is also home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope, and a Holiday Kaleidoshow is being planned for guests. Interested in a little relaxation? Hit the spa and reserve a treatment with its Peppermint Rosemary aroma and signature tea—or get a 20% discount on any manicure through December. The onsite Woodnotes Grille will also be offering holiday-inspired specials, like the Edge of Esopus cocktail and a pan roasted porterhouse pork chop with apple sage butter, roast potatoes and braised red cabbage. Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas has something for everyone when it comes to the holidays. And though you may come for the mild the desert weather, you’ll stay for the shows, restaurants, nightclubs and family activities—including the massive Strip-wide fireworks show on New Year’s Eve. As a home base, the Bellagio is a working winter wonderland you won’t want to miss. In addition to the 42-foot white fir tree with five-car motorized train in its Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, you’ll want to stop and gawk at the polar bear-escorted ice queen, dressed in a couture gown created from preserved roses, silver palmetto leaves, hydrangeas and orchids. Nearby, there is also a Gothic castle and connected passageway inspired by New York’s Central Park. In fact, over 34,000 flowers and 28,000 poinsettias will be on display around the exhibit. Don’t forget to visit restaurants like Spago, New York’s Soho darling Sadelle’s, and the iconic Le Cirque. New Year’s weekend will also herald the opening of The Mayfair Supper Club, a classic dinner and a show experience with the well-known Bellagio fountains dancing in the background. Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee, FL Nobody does family time better than central Florida. And though Disney may be the draw, this Marriot Bonvoy resort is offering holiday fun for all ages. The popular ICE! Exhibit has a Polar Express theme this year and includes hand-carved sculptures and displays made from over two million pounds of ice, while the Cirque Dreams Unwrapped stage show is a combination of a circus and Broadway-style revue. The Gaylord Palms Resort's on-site Alpine Village brings a little bit of cold weather fun to the tropics and the whole family can tube down eight lanes of real snow, while the Santa’s Snow Throw exhibit lets you pound Santa’s Elves with buckets of snowballs. Christmas trees abound in the Evergreen Atrium, a perfect place for a leisurely stroll and the Relache Spa is offering seasonal treatments for adult relaxation. Christmas and New Years buffets are available for brunch and dinner, and kiddos might enjoy the Elf on the Shelf Character breakfast. Christmas packages are now 20% off. The northern lights dance over the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, which is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site © Tobey Grumet / Budget Travel Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta, CA Do winter right at this Canadian lodge located directly inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jasper National Park. With 700 acres to explore, activities are diverse and include hiking, sledding, tobogganing, snowshoeing and, of course, skiing. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge's Festival of Christmas includes Santa’s Cabin with sleigh and reindeer, and the Winter Wonderland will be set up with all the equipment you’ll need to enjoy the amenities—including fat tire bikes for hire. Hit the Lake Mildred Ice Park, surrounded by Rocky Mountain views, to join a game of hockey, try your hand at figure skating or just tool around the 1km loop. Kids can also check out the indoor Christmas Carnival, decorate their own stockings on Christmas Eve, drop-off letters to Santa and enjoy s’mores under the stars on Lac Beauvert’s frozen shores. Of course, adults can have some fun too by joining a mixology class, beer tasting or cooking demo—all exploring holiday flavors. The Spa & Salon is featuring 24K gold manicures and pedicures for the season as well as an Express Holiday Makeup service if you want to get glam. Best of all, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to catch the stunning aurora borealis over the lake. Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica Enjoy your holidays island style at this festive Jamaican stunner in popular Half Moon. Named for the crescent, white sand beach it cradles, the resort’s open-air lobby and Cedar Bar are the social center of the property—and here you’ll be able to enjoy the “Chrismus breeze,” clink festive cocktails and dance to the seasonal, live music and tribute concerts. A curated Christmas program also includes a tree-lighting ceremony, ice-sculpting lessons and a holiday-themed sandcastle building competition—created specially for bragging rights. Of course, Jamaican Santa doesn’t deign to come by sleigh, so kids can catch him as he flies into Half Moon by parasail. Book a villa in the Rose Hall section of the resort and you can organize a floating feast in your private pool, and have staff customize your decorations and lights. Other family friendly activities include goat races and pony rides, and you can use golf carts or bikes to get around the resort’s 400 acres. Golf and tennis are complimentary, and the Fern Tree Spa is offering a free body exfoliation when you book the therapeutic massage. A Gentleman’s Spa is also available for that guy who has everything.
Live Like a Local on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
From the incredible natural beauty of the Gulf Islands National Seashore to fun water sports on the Pascagoula River, from Gulf-fresh seafood to BBQ and craft beer, from fine art to the hottest live music, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers a getaway for every type of traveler. We spoke with some of the locals who make the Coast tick for their favorite hotspots. WHICH ISLAND IS BEST FOR YOUR TRAVEL PERSONALITY? Each of the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s barrier islands offers opportunities for casual-to-adventurous travelers who want an authentic, wild experience (before they head back to shore to grab some gourmet seafood and world-class craft beer at sundown, that is!). Chandler Borries, a travel photographer who hails from Biloxi, says “I’m a big outdoors enthusiast, and I love a boat excursion to one of the islands and taking a nature walk through Gulf Islands National Seashore.” Each of the six barrier islands offers something unique to adventure-minded visitors. Ship Island, Borries’s favorite, is home to the historic 19th-century Fort Massachusetts, and a beach that’s perfect for swimming, hiking, or fishing. Cat Island boasts bayous and marshland that serious birders will love. Deer Island’s beach is just a short boat ride from Biloxi. Horn Island is a magnet for vacationers seeking peace, sand dunes, and pelicans. Round Island and Petit Bois Island are the smallest islands but offer glimpses of migratory birds and much more. Learn more about outdoor adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. PADDLE, CYCLE, OR HIKE THE GULF COAST Borries says, “I also love that the Gulf Coast has plenty of places to kayak and paddleboard.” From gentle paddling to downright wet & wild water adventures, the Gulf’s open Coast waters, scenic bayous, and beautiful “blueways,” make the region one of America’s best places to hit the water. You can charter a deep-sea fishing boat, sail on a historic schooner, or even try paddleboard yoga. And be sure to check out the Pascagoula River Blueway (the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states) for great kayaking, fishing, and wildlife-watching. Learn more about paddling the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. If you want to stay on dry land, the Coast is packed with recreational trails and walking or biking tours. Borries suggests, “One of my favorite morning activities is a bike ride down Front Beach in Ocean Springs followed by a savory biscuit and coffee from The Greenhouse on Porter.” Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s recreational trails here. OYSTERS, SHRIMP & MORE The Mississippi Gulf Coast is justly renowned for its fresh seafood. That’s one reason why Foursquare named Darwell’s Cafe, in Long Beach, one of America’s greatest diners, citing its crawfish étouffée with seasoned shrimp on top. We asked our locals to take travelers off the beaten path to find the tastiest joints serving up seafood, BBQ, and more. Alex Perry, chef and owner of Vestige, a modern American restaurant in Ocean Springs specializing in seasonal, market-inspired dishes, including a Gulf-fresh catch of the day and jumbo lump crab croquettes, suggests, “Pop over to Eat Drink Love, in Ocean Springs, for their lunchtime salads, fresh cheeses, cured meats, and crostini. Some of my favorite hidden gems are La Nortena in Biloxi for excellent Mexican cuisine and Kien Giang in D'Iberville for Vietnamese.” Corey Christy, communications director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, in Ocean Springs, and bassist for the 10-piece jam-funk band Blackwater Brass, says “My favorite place for lunch is Le Bakery, on Oak St. in Biloxi, where everything is extra-fresh and the prices are unbelievably affordable. My current favorite dinner spot is Patio 44, in Biloxi, with great bar service and a very diverse menu, including seafood gumbo with shrimp, oysters, and crab meat.” Borries says, “Woody’s Roadside, in Biloxi, is definitely at the top of my list. Every time I’m home I make sure to stop by and grab one of their signature burgers. Phoenicia Gourmet Restaurant, in Ocean Springs, is another good option if you’re in the mood for local seafood like blackened shrimp, red snapper, and crab cakes.” Learn more about eating like a local on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here. CRAFT BEER From the beer snob to the party animal, the Gulf Coast has some sipping opportunities to satisfy all tastes. And Christy reminds us that his place of work, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), in Ocean Springs, throws an annual craft beer tasting. Popular local Gulf Coast breweries include Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, in Kiln, with its refreshing Lazy Saison Belgian-style pale ale, Jefferson Stout, and hoppy Southern Hops’pitality India pale ale; Biloxi Brewing Company’s award-winning flagship Black Gold; and Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, in Gulfport, with its Surfside Wheat Ale and Freemason Golden Ale, perfect for waterfront sipping. Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s craft breweries here. LIVE MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE No day on the Coast is complete without music, and Mississippi boasts a musical history like no other state. If you want to enjoy cool street art with your live entertainment, you can’t go wrong on Fishbone Alley, a new pedestrian walkway in Gulfport that links several music venues, bars, and eateries, allowing travelers to carry beer and cocktails in go-cups from joint to joint. Our locals chime in on their other favorite night spots. Christy says, “The Government Street Grocery, in Ocean Springs, is my fave for drinks and live music.” Borries agrees that Government Street Grocery is a must-stop. “Some of my other favorite venues are Mosaics and Murky Waters. They are all within walking distance of each other and have a relaxed laid back atmosphere.” You must also experience the Mississippi Blues Trail’s coastal sites, where historic theaters, blues joints, and other important structures help visitors trace the history of blues and jazz in communities such as Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, and Pass Christian. Learn more about the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s music and nightlife here.
10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2011
Once in a while, you discover a town that has everything—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose. Each year, the Budget Travel team celebrates these places with our "Coolest Small Towns in America" competition. It starts with a call to you—our readers—to nominate the most interesting towns you know with populations of less than 10,000. From there, our editorial team whittles the selections down to the three most promising contenders. It's then up to you to vote on your favorite. This year's winner was Lewisburg—an irresistible small town in West Virginia. Each of the nine runners up has something special to offer, from the quiet, artistic enclave at La Pointe, Wisconsin to the scenic beaches of Astoria, Oregon. In honor of the sixth anniversary of our "Coolest Towns" franchise, we've also compiled a slideshow of all of the contenders from previous years. You won't find a more charming slice of small town Americana than you will right here. 1. LEWISBURG, WEST VIRGINIA (POPULATION 3,830) Arts in AppalachiaA small town is usually lucky if there's a decent one-screen movie theater, maybe a community dance troupe. But a Carnegie Hall? This speck on the map in the Greenbrier River Valley lays claim to one of only four in the world (105 Church St., carnegiehallwv.com, ticket prices vary). The 1902 building now serves as Lewisburg's creative control tower, attracting an unlikely band of artistic characters, back-to-the-land types, and retirees. Jeanne and Michael Christie embody Lewisburg's blend. The duo run the Davenport House B&B, where guests can bottle-feed one of the property's baby lambs after taking coffee and breakfast on their private patio (Tibbiwell Lane, off of Davis Stuart Rd., thedavenporthouse.com, one-bedroom cottage from $120). Michael is a painter whose work has shown in New York City's Hoorn-Ashby gallery, and Jeanne is the former director of front-office operations at the Greenbrier hotel, 10 miles down the road. "You know, you always think of the ideal American town, where the kids are safe, the streets are clean. We have that, but we also have Wynton Marsalis coming through," says Jeanne, who'd just finished a morning of shearing sheep. While Michael is a seventh-generation West Virginian, many of their friends and neighbors are newer to the community, drawn in large part by the creative atmosphere anchored by Carnegie. For example, Hall Hitzig, who goes by the moniker the Crazy Baker, came in 1986 and "never looked back" (thecrazybaker.com). Now, he makes granola in the nearby mountains—and sells it everywhere from Puerto Rico to Arkansas. Hitzig's sticky toffee cake also wins raves at Lewisburg's sunny Stardust Café (102 E. Washington St., stardustcafewv.com, cake slice $8). At Stardust, co-run by Hitzig's twin sister, Destiny, and her daughter Sparrow, glasses are filled with "local spring water" (don't call it tap), and the greens are cultivated largely in local gardens. Lewisburg's arts scene is hardly limited to traditional performers like Marsalis; next door to Stardust, for instance, Tamera Pence identifies the potter of each espresso mug at her year-old emporium, Bella the Corner Gourmet (100 E. Washington St., bellathecornergourmet.com, mugs from $14). "We're very locally driven here," she explains. "And we're also a central hub. I have clients bringing their coolers in all the way from Charleston, more than two and a half hours away." -Nina Willdorf 2. ASTORIA, OREGON (POPULATION 9,477) Pioneers on the PacificAstoria has always been on the frontier, both the Lewis and Clark variety (they set up camp here in 1805) and the geographic (it sits both at the mouth of the Columbia River and in a teeming temperate rain forest). Sure, the place has prettied itself up nicely since those pioneer days with the addition of aging Victorians and craftsman-style bungalows, but the folks in sleepy coastal Astoria have never lost touch with their rough-and-tumble side. Take, for example, the surfers off of Astoria's scenic beaches, where ocean temperatures rarely break 60 degrees until midsummer. "You really have to suit up," says Mark Taylor, owner of Cold Water Surf (1001 Commercial St., coldwatersurf.com). "We're talking five-millimeter wet suits, gloves, and booties—but Astorians have always been a tough bunch!" Even the city's swankiest design hotel, the Commodore, embraces a decidedly masculine and nautical aesthetic (258 14th St., commodoreastoria.com, from $89). Reopened two years ago after being shuttered since 1966, the property pairs modern furnishings with sly nods to the city's history as a seaside cannery hub: thick braided ropes, nautical charts, and fishing floats. As afternoon rolls around, locals gather at the four-year-old Fort George Brewery + Public House for burgers made from local beef, as well as pints of the hoppy Vortex IPA, the Belgian-style Quick Wit ale, and as of this year, the 1811 Pre-Prohibition Lager, created in honor of Astoria's bicentennial (1483 Duane St., fortgeorgebrewery.com, pints from $4.25). You didn't really think these former pioneers would celebrate with champagne, did you? -Beth Collins 3. CLAYTON, NEW YORK (POPULATION 1,978) A River Runs to ItSome shore communities take their location for granted. Not so with Clayton. "I have lunch on the river every day," says Gregory Ingerson, a guide at the 320-ship Antique Boat Museum (750 Mary St., abm.org, admission $12). The curators are so proud of their nautical heritage that they use Q-tips to clean the exhibits, right down to the well-preserved heel marks in the floor of one turn-of-the-century houseboat. Clayton sits on a peninsula that juts out into the St. Lawrence River, so far north that the fire department's boat flies the American and Canadian flags. One of the benefits of that isolation is that the river itself is like a neighbor. In the summer, the old ferry terminal, where wealthy visitors once caught rides to their cottages on the Thousand Islands (birthplace of Thousand Island salad dressing), now hosts concerts. Out on the water, the family-run Ferguson Fishing Charters offers morning fishing trips followed by picnics on a private island, where a guide cooks the day's catch over a fire for lunch (fergusonfishingcharters.com, half-day charters for a group of four $325). Back on dry land, K's Motel & Cottages' two-night "ship watch special" includes a room, a two-and-a-half-hour boat cruise, admission to the Antique Boat Museum, and two meals (1075 State St., thousandislands.com/k, $159 per person). -Ray Pagliarulo 4. EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS (POPULATION 2,073) Honeymoons and MoreSure, you could sleep in one of the Queen Anne-style B&Bs, visit the monumental 67-foot-tall hilltop Christ of the Ozarks, catch a Branson-style show, or hunt for ghosts in the historic downtown. You could easily spend a week on the tourist circuit in this late-1800s Victorian spa retreat. But you'd never get to meet the real Eureka Springs. Eureka Springs may be the honeymoon capital of the Ozarks, but don't let the kitschy, heart-shaped Jacuzzis fool you. "The guy on the street corner playing fiddle?" says local artist Cathy Harris. "He is a trained concert violinist." "And those men at the bar just may be geniuses," adds Harris's husband, J.D., a sculptor with beaded gray dreadlocks. "We had a team win the international Mensa competition two years in a row." The current of creativity bubbles up just about everywhere, if you look hard enough. At the Eureka Thyme gallery, Marsha Havens skips the trinkets of other tourist traps in favor of works that draw on Ozark inspirations: wooden bowls made from found downed trees and clay bird whistles that warble like the real thing (19 Spring St., eurekathyme.com, wooden bowls from $50). You might even say that an artisan spirit is part of the recipe of Garden Bistro, where partners Lana Campbell and Robert Herrera draw from local ingredients for their Amish-style bread baked in flowerpots and unfussy plates of family-style veggies grown on her farm (119 N. Main St., 479/253-1281, pork chops $19). The biggest surprise of all may be the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, a palatial ivy-covered grand hotel with claw-foot tubs and manicured gardens (75 Prospect Ave., crescent-hotel.com, doubles from $129). From this perch, you'll be inclined to look back to see Eureka Springs, but the leafy Ozarks keep the valley all but hidden from view—an apt vista for a town dubbed Tree City USA. -Nicholas DeRenzo 5. LA POINTE, WISCONSIN (POPULATION 309) A Superior HamletIt's called the Island Wave, and to the folks on Madeline Island—a quiet, North Woods enclave of artists on Lake Superior—it means you greet everyone, even when you're driving. It's a lovely idea, but in summer it can get, well, dangerous. That's when La Pointe, the island's only town, swells with visitors. "The line goes out the door for hours on July 4th," says Marie Noha, owner of the Mission Hill Coffee House (105-106 Lakeview Pl., on Middle Rd., 715/747-3100, coffee $1.45). And then there's the winter, when the only way off Manhattan-size Madeline is by wind sled or ice road. Then the Island Wave becomes a way to connect to the outside world. "I don't mind the loneliness," says Amitty Romundstad, manager of the Inn on Madeline Island (641 Main St., madisland.com, doubles from $95). The literary and opera societies meet in the off-season, and occasionally there's a gorgeous show put on courtesy of the northern lights, when hearty La Pointe locals gather on the ice road to be dazzled together. "We're not a community," says novelist and boat captain Richard Coleman. "We're a tribe." -Debra Weiner 6. PHOENICIA, NEW YORK (POPULATION 309) A Riverside RetreatThe library in Phoenicia burned down this spring, and suddenly there were books everywhere. Not casualties of the fire, but boxes and boxes of donations to replace what was lost. Residents now check out books (and fishing poles) at the temporary library branch housed in the old medical building on Ava Maria Drive. Phoenicia may look like a one-street river town sandwiched between hills in New York's Catskills—it does a wicked tubing business in the summer—but it's got a bookish, cosmopolitan vibe in its soul. "It's not just crazy guys with cars in their yards," says Michael Koegel of Mama's Boy, a hip little cafe and smoothie bar (7 Church St., mamasboymarket.com, mac 'n' cheese $4.95). Like Koegel, many Phoenicians came from Manhattan, and they've brought a healthy dose of quirk with them. For instance, former New Yorker Alan Fliegel, who owns A Community Store, sells locally made clothing and underground comic books—and runs a well-stocked communal art gallery upstairs (60 Main St., 845/688-5395, comic books from $1). Yet like its library that loans fishing poles, Phoenicia hasn't lost touch with its down-home roots. If you spend the night at the cozy Phoenicia Lodge, you may feel like you've woken up in Mayberry (5987 Rte. 28, phoenicialodge.com, doubles from $70). You certainly will after breakfast at Sweet Sue's Restaurant (49 Main St., 845/688-7852, mixed-berry pancakes from $5.25). The pancakes (pumpkin, pineapple-coconut, and 20-plus other varieties) are legendary, as are the lines waiting to get inside. -R.P. 7. NEWTOWN BOROUGH, PENNSYLVANIA (POPULATION 2,384) Amish Country CharmNewtown Borough isn't the kind of place where you'd expect to see millionaires tooling around in a fancy car. In fact, the rural Bucks County burg is close enough to Amish Country that most of the convertibles around these parts are horses-and-buggies. But when Rick Krotz and his brother-in-law Bill Kane hit an astounding sort of daily doubl—Krotz won $607,000 on the Cash 5 lottery in 2006, and Kane netted $3 million from a single scratch-off ticket in 2009—this is exactly the place they wanted to be. Both men grew up nearby and had always loved Newtown's well-worn charms. It's home to the nation's oldest movie theater, Newtown Theatre, a 375-seat, red-brick treasure that's been in operation since 1906 (120 N. State St., newtowntheatre.com, tickets $9). The Brick Hotel, built in 1764 and still looking sharp decked out in hunter green shutters and striped awnings, is one of the few places that can honestly claim that George Washington slept here (1 E. Washington Ave., brickhotel.com, doubles from $80). And director M. Night Shyamalan likes the look of Newtown so much, he filmed Signs here in 2002. So last year, the lottery brothers bought Ned's Cigar Store (4 S. State St., nedscigar.com, cigars from $3). It's now filled with mahogany chairs, cherrywood cabinets—and a steady stream of hopeful lotto-ticket buyers. "I guess they think our luck might rub off on them," Krotz says. "That would really be the dream come true—to sell someone else a big winner." -Andrea Minarcek 8. CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA (POPULATION 896) Unspoiled on the GulfIf someone asked you where to get the best New England clam chowder, you might be inclined to say, "Duh, New England." You'd be wrong—by over 1,000 miles. For the past three years, the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport, R.I., has been won by Tony's Seafood Restaurant of Cedar Key (597 2nd St., tonyschowder.com, cup $4.65). In fact, the town is America's second-largest producer of farmed clams, one of many surprises in this two-square-mile hamlet 130 miles north of Tampa. Despite its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, Cedar Key has escaped the pull of developers-its spit of beach isn't long enough to attract large-scale building projects. Instead, it still feels like a ramshackle, old fishing village straight out of Hemingway. "People always say it's like Key West 30 years ago," says innkeeper Ada Lang. Built in 1919 and restored in 2004, Ada's Wabi Sabi Cottage is a time-capsule example of a "Cracker" cottage, a style of wood-frame house popular in the 19th century (689 4th St., 352/543-5696, from $130). The last time outside developers set their sights on Cedar Key was in the late 1880s, when pencil makers carted off the island's namesake cedars. (There's still a bit left in the worn wooden exteriors of tackle shops and clam shacks on Dock Street.) If you're looking to catch your own lunch, Kayak Cedar Keys offers boats specially equipped with rod holders and anchors, perfect for whiling away hours in search of redfish and trout (kayakcedarkeys.com, rentals $50 per day). Weary paddlers can rest up at Point Cottage, an octagonal stilt house overlooking Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge (12218 Franko Circle, pointcottage.com, $179 a night, sleeps six). And there's always dinner at Tony's. The menu is extensive, but don't you dare skip the chowder: The recipe has been entered into the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall of Fame. -N.D. 9. RIPON, WISCONSIN (POPULATION 7,733) College Town PerfectionThey must have made odd neighbors: the Utopian Socialists on the prairie and the entrepreneurial abolitionists up on the hill. The socialists lived on a commune. The abolitionists later founded the Republican party. And yet, in the 1850s, they joined forces to found Ripon (the town) and then Ripon (the college). Town and gown have been intertwined ever since, proudly perched in the middle of the cornfields 85 miles northwest of Milwaukee. In some college towns, the locals and students get along like rivals at the Michigan-Ohio State football game. Not in Ripon. The professors sit on the local school board. The students sing in the church choirs, and church folk welcome the school's 1,000 or so students with a potluck every fall. Friday evenings in summer, across from the college president's office in the old public library, townies and academics alike turn out for concerts on the Village Green. "My favorite is Tuba Dan's polka band," says Professor Mary Avery, who oversees a student group that helps local businesses, such as the Watson Street Sub Shop, create financial plans (314 Watson St., watsonstreetsubs.com, subs from $6.75). Watson Street in turn lets the students use its storefront for fund-raisers. "We are the quintessential college town," says David Joyce, president of Ripon. "Or maybe it should be the quintessential town with a college?" -D.W. 10. GREENSBURG, KANSAS (POPULATION 777) The Real Emerald CityWhen you pull into Greensburg, you may well think you're not in Kansas anymore: Elegant wind turbines and LED streetlights have replaced cornfields and barns. After a 2007 tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, those who stayed vowed to build the ecofriendliest town ever. "Being green is such a part of our identity that people assume we changed our name after the storm," says Ruth Ann Wedel, site manager of GreenTown, the city's rebuilding campaign. (For the record, the "green" comes from stagecoach driver D.R. Green.) Like the name, the idea of going green dates back further than you'd expect. "These are not hippie-dippy concepts," says Stacy Barnes, director of the 5.4.7 Arts Center (204 W. Wisconsin Ave., 547artscenter.org, free). "These are the same tenets used in pioneer days—south-facing windows in chicken coops to increase sunlight, reusing everything like Mennonites do. We got lazy over the past century." The gallery, named for the day the storm hit, houses contemporary art from around the U.S. Many businesses here pay tribute to the past. Green Bean Coffee Co. serves milkshakes to fill the void left by the destruction of the old soda fountain (105 E. Kansas Ave., notyourmommascoffee.com, shakes $3.50). Nearby, you'll find innovations both high-tech (solar panels) and low (banisters made from tractor parts) at the Silo Eco-Home B&B (402 S. Sycamore St., 620/723-2790, doubles from $110). Just goes to show: It's not so hard being green after all. -N.D.
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Great Northern Catskills
The Catskill Mountains, also known as the Catskills, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located in southeastern New York. As a cultural and geographic region, the Catskills are generally defined as those areas close to or within the borders of the Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre (2,800 km2) forest preserve forever protected from many forms of development under New York state law. Geologically, the Catskills are a mature dissected plateau, a flat region subsequently uplifted and eroded into sharp relief by watercourses. The Catskills form the northeastern end of the Allegheny Plateau (also known as the Appalachian Plateau).The Catskills were named by early Dutch settlers. They are well known in American society as the setting for films and works of art, including many 19th-century Hudson River School paintings, as well as for being a favored destination for vacationers from New York City in the mid-20th century. The region's many large resorts gave countless young stand-up comedians an opportunity to hone their craft. The Catskills have long been a haven for artists, musicians and writers, especially in and around the towns of Phoenicia and Woodstock.