Driving to Distractions


Whether you’re hoping to escape to a serene landscape or spice up your vacation with plenty of action, here are several options within driving distance to suit any taste.

The summer road trip has beckoned seemingly since the first Model T’s began rolling off of the assembly line in 1908. The call of the road gets louder as the temperature rises, with possibilities stretching as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re escaping the city in search of a serene landscape or looking to spice up your vacation time with plenty of action, driving a few hours in just about any direction will do the trick. 

The Great Outdoors — Great for Families

If you’re a nature lover, but you don’t like to stray too far from creature comforts, then glamping is for you. A trendy term for “glamorous” camping, glamping aficionados like the idea of hiking by day and toasting marshmallows around the fire once the sun dips below the horizon. What they aren’t down with is sleeping on a lumpy air mattress and peeing in the woods. 

The best of this genre is generally found out west, home of luxury camping resorts that serve gourmet cuisine and provide butlers who do everything but tell you a bedtime story. Closer to home, there are options from rustic lean-tos to cabins and yurts — overnight stays that will get you to that sweet spot without breaking your vacation budget in the process. 

Ideal for families, outdoor vacations give families the chance to unplug from technology and commune with the real world. And since these spots are well-equipped, you don’t have to do so much work in advance to get ready for the trip.

Loomis Lair

Situated in central New York’s Oneida County, Loomis Lair features a yurt — a circular, semi-permanent tentlike structure — set on 80 gorgeous, private acres complete with its own swamp. An ideal place to unplug and commune with flora and fauna, the yurt has just about everything you need, including a queen and twin bed, basic kitchen, indoor bath/shower and Adirondack chairs perfect for woolgathering. This escape is named after The Loomis Gang, a notorious New York crime family who got their start as horse thieves and hid out in these parts. Well-behaved dogs are welcome. loomislair.com

A Catskills Retreat

Located in New York’s Catskill Forest Preserve, the Willowemoc Wild Forest Yurt is perched above a ferny knoll on the Willowemoc River. Rustic hewn beams, a dome ceiling and spacious wraparound porch invite guests to come sit a spell. If you aim to stay green, you’ll appreciate the solar lighting, composting toilets and ingenious use of reclaimed materials. The perfect escape for fishermen, photographers or nature lovers, the yurt is set on 50-plus private acres with direct access to 14,800 acres of the Forever Wild Catskill Forest Preserve. willowemocwildforestyurt.com

Kate’s Lazy Meadow

The B-52’s “Love Shack” isn’t just a hit song from 1989 — it comes to life at Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel on Esopus Creek near Woodstock, N.Y. Kate is the band’s Kate Pierson, who transformed nine ’50s-era cabins into kitschy stays decorated in Mid-Century Jetsons décor, complete with period-appropriate kitchens and accessories. Each bedroom has its own bath, the linens are designer and the toiletries were hand-snagged by Kate while touring the world with the B-52s. The motel is on nine rolling acres and close to Catskills hiking, water sports and the artsy appeal of nearby Woodstock. lazymeadow.com

Bring Your Best Friend With

Vacation just wouldn’t be the same without your best friend. According to the American Pet Products Association, of the 72.9 million pet-owning households in the U.S., 67 percent travel with their pets each year. This can range from taking Fluffy by car to the beach or mountains to stowing her under the seat in an airline-approved carrier for a jet-setting getaway. Here are a few places for you and your dearest canine companion to sit and stay. 

Billmae Cottages, Cape May 

This Victorian seashore getaway is well known for being pedestrian- and pet-friendly, especially if you’re based at these comfy cottage suites located about 15 minutes from the beach. Reserve an 18th-century four-bedroom cottage if you’re traveling with the family, or a one- or two-bedroom place for two people and up to two dogs. All units have kitchens and are decorated with “rustic charm,” i.e. put your feet up and Daisy can get on the couch. Ask about “yappy” hour on the wraparound porch, where dogs and owners get to meet and have treats. billmae.com

Martini Cottage, Oxford, MD

It doesn’t get any sleepier than the Eastern Shore of Maryland, with its water culture, laid-back towns and historic settings. Chill out in Oxford at Martini Cottage, one of more than 30 dog-friendly vacation rentals offered by Eastern Shore Vacations. (Note: most rentals here have a three-night minimum stay.) This Sears Cottage charmer is in walking distance to town, sleeps four and is next to a tavern — definitely a plus. Among other niceties, you can bring up to two dogs along, bikes and kayaks are included, and there’s a screened porch, Wi-Fi and water views. easternshorevacations.com

Lazy L at Willow Creek, Lewes, DE

Located about 20 minutes from the beach and dog-friendly Cape Henlopen State Park, the Lazy L is super pet-friendly and welcoming to up to three (socialized, well-mannered and housebroken) dogs per room (a $20 per pet fee is charged). There’s a large, fenced-in off-leash exercise area, directions are provided to pet-friendly beaches and restaurants, and amenities include a dog run and an outside shower with a hand-held sprayer to keep sand (mostly) out of your bed. Dogs are even allowed to hang out at the pool (but not to go in it). Comfy rooms all have coffeemakers, queen-sized beds, ceiling fans/AC and small fridges. A larger cottage with a kitchenette is also offered. lazyl.net

Spa Getaway with the Girls

Pack your girlfriends in the car and head for the hills — Litchfield Hills in northwestern Connecticut. Your destination is Washington, one of the picture-postcard burgs that dot the state’s northwestern corner and home to the Mayflower Grace Hotel and Spa. Distinguished by rolling landscapes and an eclectic mix of Colonial Revival clapboard houses, Washington is nestled in an upland area of forested hills overlooking the Shepaug River Valley. 

You can do all kinds of outdoor activities while you’re in the area — the Mayflower Grace offers private lessons for tennis, fly fishing, archery, kayaking and more. But this hidden gem of a resort, tucked away on 58 scenic acres not far from the Steep Rock Reserve, specializes in pampering of the most spa-rrific variety.

The journey starts in the entranceway to the freestanding spa. Here’s where you stow your outside shoes, donning Sensi spa sandals (in pink or black) that give your feet a reflexological workout while you walk. There is a sense of hushed comfort about the place, a serenity enhanced by a palette of cream, beige and pale pastels. Designed by Randy Ridless — who created the original Burburry’s in London and much of Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman — the space updates tradition without a hint of fussiness. Soothing textures of polished-plaster walls, cashmere throws, bleached-oak flooring, wool rugs and silk curtains create a relaxing tableau. There are works by the likes of Willem De Kooning and Miguel Barcelo, as well as striking glass sculptures by local artist Timothy Hochstetter. The outside is invited in, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Blue Heron pond, where both a titular bird and an artfully painted blue canoe reside. Cushy cream-colored chaise lounges face the view, inviting reading, repose or, in some cases, gentle snoring. 

During the week, the spa is taken up by guests who book three- to five-night packages that include indoor and outdoor activities, all meals and unlimited spa treatments. Many of the weekday packages are designated women-only, although there are also options for couples.

Besides a menu of treatments that includes scrubs, detoxing wraps, stone massage and salon services, guests can choose mind/body activities like meditation, reiki, ballet, t’ai chi, yoga and Pilates. A fully equipped gym and several intimate workout studios offer additional exercise options. There isn’t a hint of boot camp here; instead, the environment is designed to inspire, from the seasonally driven and delicious spa cuisine to the elegant finishes in every room. This spa is a sanctuary, a retreat and a place to rejuvenate, all wrapped into one. gracehotels.com/mayflower

Beth D’Addono is a longtime contributor to This Summer. This article originally appeared in This Summer, a Jewish Exponent publication.



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