Last-minute road trips from Long Island
If you never got around to planning a summer break, there are plenty of beaches, mountains, vineyards and amusement parks you can explore, all within driving distance of Long Island. Here are a few trips for the last-minute planner with a car.
Camp out(Credit: Camp Orenda)
If a rustic vacation by a cool Adirondack lake appeals, head to a camp or cottage compound in upstate New York, where you can fish, canoe or just sit on the shore and contemplate nature. Canvas tents at Camp Orenda (camporenda.com, 347-287-7359, $190 for adults, $100 for children per night) are outfitted with beds, linens and towels. Wood-burning stoves in each cabin come with stacked firewood. Three meals a day are provided by the staff, who cook by a campfire and pack lunches for daytime excursions. On-site activities include kayaking, archery, fishing, swimming, and arts and crafts for kids.
Plan a wine trail holiday(Credit: Finger Lakes Wine Country / Bonnie Gustin)
Follow New York State's Seneca Lake Wine Trail (senecalakewine.com), a series of more than 30 wineries, to discover the Northeast's largest wine-producing region. Bikes are available for rent (genevabikes.com). At fingerlakes.org you'll find downloadable routes that take you past wineries, historic sites or antiques stores. Or take a hike in Watkins Glen State Park, where you'll see some of the gorges and waterfalls the area is famous for. The SheQuaGa Falls, in the town of Watkins Glen, are lit up at night and become a spectacular background for an evening stroll after dinner at the Blue Pointe Grill, in the deluxe Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel (watkinsglenharborhotel.com, 607-535-6116). The restaurant has one of the area's best local wine lists. For thoughtful pairings of wine and casual food, try the Red Newt Bistro, in the winery of the same name (rednewt.com). In addition to bigger hotels, lakeside cabins and motels such as the recently renovated Savannah House (savannahhousevacation.com, 607-243-7787, rooms start at $159 a night through October) abound. Some wineries, including the Inn at Miles Wine Cellars (mileswinecellars.com, 607-243-7742, rooms from $225 a night), offer B&B accommodations. About 5 hours from the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Explore Portsmouth, New Hampshire(Credit: Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce / Ralph Morang)
History buffs will love Portsmouth, a quaint little New Hampshire city. Stroll the Colonial-era downtown's cobblestone streets, visit its historic houses (William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, lived here), churches (George Washington worshipped at the North Congregational Church in 1789), and Strawbery Banke (strawberybanke.org, 603-433-1100), an outdoor museum with 10 acres of historic buildings dating from 1695. Shop for 17th-century candlesticks at Ed Weissman Antiques (edweissmanantiques.com, 603-431-7575) and vintage cameos at Ingather (603-924-2550, ingatherhome.com). Sail on the Piscataqua, a reproduction of a traditional flat-bottom barge (gundalow.org, 603-433-9505). For the athletically inclined, there are kayak and stand-up paddleboard tours of local waterways (603-559-1000, portsmouthkayak.com). Hungry? Portsmouth is a food town. Perfect burgers can be found at Lexie's Joint (lexiesjoint.com, 603-319-4055). For fancier fare including house-made charcuterie, chocolate and chili-rubbed shortribs with blackberry bacon jam, try Mombo (momborestaurant.com, 603-433-2340). Getting a last-minute room at a chain hotel isn't difficult, but with a little luck you may score a bed at the Hotel Portsmouth, a Queen Anne Victorian mansion with 32 rooms, from $189 a night (thehotelportsmouth.com, 603-433-1200). About 4 1/2 hours from the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Discover a new beach(Credit: Delaware Tourism Office / kam)
There's no reason to limit your enjoyment of Atlantic beaches to Long Island. Head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where you'll find an old-fashioned seaside atmosphere, including a boardwalk with amusements, go-carts and funnel cakes galore. Take a drive north to Cape Henlopen State Park for a less commercial place to park your blanket. Either way, pack your beach bag with picnic fixings from world-class Morgan & Gower Cheesemongers (302-727-5566, morganandgower.com). Or grab gourmet sandwiches to go at Grub Grocery (302-226-4782, grubgrocery.com). If it looks like rain, tour the nationally acclaimed Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (dogfish.com, 302-684-1000). At night, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society (rehobothfilm.com, 302-645-9095) screens free movies at the bandstand. Then there are restaurants, including farm-to-table Salt Air (saltairrestaurant.com, 302-227-3744) and Henlopen City Oyster House (hcoysterhouse.com, 302-260-9193), a classic seafood house. The most luxurious hotel in town is the Boardwalk Plaza (boardwalkplaza.com, 800-33-BEACH, rooms from $329 a night). A budget-friendly choice for families is the Oceanus Motel, where kids under 14 sleep free and five-night midweek packages are available (oceanusmotel.com, 800-852-5011, rooms from $239 a night). About 31/2 hours from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Spoil the kids(Credit: Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom)
For a classic family trip that includes plenty of thrill rides and water slides, pack your kids in the car and drive them to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where you will find everything they've been begging for at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom (dorneypark.com, 610-395-3724). With eight roller coasters, from the old-fashioned wooden ThunderHawk to the floorless Hydra, there's a ride for all tastes. New this summer is the Snake Pit, six consecutive water slides sure to keep you cool. You might splurge on Fast Lane Plus passes (buy them ahead of time, online). Smaller children will love the Crayola Experience (crayolaexperience.com, 610-515-8000) in nearby Easton, where they can play and create with melted crayon wax, animate their crayon drawings on a big screen and shop the world's largest selection of crayons. After a day of amusements, Mom and Dad might need a drink. The whole family will enjoy Allentown Brew Works (thebrewworks.com, 610-433-7777), where the brewery's signature beers are served with a menu of beer- and kid-friendly food. Or take a 10-minute drive to Bethlehem, to the Mint Gastropub (bethlehemmint.com, 610-419-3810), which pours beer from around the world to go with upscale comfort food. Wind down with a family-friendly first-run movie at Becky's Drive In (610-767-2249; beckysdi.com). The Wingate By Wyndham Allentown (wingatehotels.com, 610-366- 1600, rooms from $129 a night) is near Dorney Park's entrance. About an hour and 45 minutes from the Holland Tunnel.
Head to an Adirondacks resort(Credit: MYKO Photography / Gary D. Paige)
If you like your wilderness with a side of luxury, check out Elk Lake Lodge in New York State's Adirondacks (elklakelodge.com, 518-532-7616, rooms from $145 a person, cottages from $450 a night), an inn with eight private cabins. The resort sits on Clear Pond Preserve and includes 40 miles of private trails. Rowboats, kayaks and canoes are provided. Rates include breakfast and dinner served around a huge stone fireplace in the lodge's dining room, plus a packed trail lunch. About 41/2 hours from the Throgs Neck Bridge.