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Atlanta, Charleston, Orlando more: Budget-friendly destinations from MacArthur Airport

The pier in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a

The pier in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a favorite tourist spot. Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / Kruck20

You drive to the mall, you drive to the city, you might even cruise up to Boston or down to Philadelphia — but nothing feels quite as vacation-like as a trip by plane. Here are a few places you can fly to in a pinch, and make the trip from MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

ATLANTA

Anyone whose parents made them drive to Disney World may have recurring nightmares about a long drive down I-95, but a nonstop flight to the ATL can take less than three hours and cost about $100 round-trip (flyfrontier.com). A bustling city, its dining options and social scene are a major draw — for a night out, consider MJQ (736 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE; no number or website), a cash-only underground spot actually located under the ground — or give Tongue & Groove (565 Main St. NE; 404-261-2325, tandgonline.com) a look for where a younger crowd goes for a more upscale dance party. Atlanta Breakfast Club (249 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd.; 470-428-3825, atlantabreakfastclub.com) is drawing rave reviews for its brunch; Umi (3050 Peachtree Rd.; 404-841-0040, umiatlanta.com) both serves celebrated sushi and celebrities, as famous folks are seen here regularly. Seek out sweets at either location of Revolution Doughnuts (745 Edgewood Ave. NE, 908 West College Ave. in Decatur; revolutiondonuts.com), where some vegan options are available. 

Of course not everything is about food and parties — so if you want to get that tourist energy into your ‘Gram, the World of Coca-Cola (121 Baker St. NW; 1-800-676-2653, worldofcoca-cola.com) gets to close to the history, production and secret formula behind the iconic soft drink. If the weather is fair, you can walk to and through many of the places that were a part of the life — and the final resting place — of  MLK in the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park (450 Auburn Ave. NE; 404-331-5190, nps.gov/malu). To see animals in action, the Atlanta Zoo (800 Cherokee Ave. SE; 404-624-9453, zooatlanta.org) has a collection of beasts from around the globe, while the Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St.; 404-581-4000, georgiaaquarium.org) has a wide variety of fish, birds, mammals and other creatures that connect to the H2O that makes up much of our world.

CHARLESTON

Roundtrips to this Southern city can be had for about $170 via Expedia (expedia.com/lp/flights/isp/chs/islip-to-charleston). Make your way to the historic Charleston City Market (188 Meeting St.; 843-937-0920; thecharlestoncitymarket.com) where offbeat foods and baubles — some made by hand — can be found, or shop King Street, which is a longtime favorite for College of Charleston students. Hang out at The Alley (131 Columbus St.; 843-818-4080; thealleycharleston.com) for bowling, craft beer and unusual dishes like the “Alleygator Bites” (hot sauce and buttermilk marinated, then battered and fried gator tail) and fried Oreos; seek Doar Bros. (225 Meeting St.; doarbros.com, no phone) where the staff is friendly and the cocktails are incredibly well reviewed. Try Poogan's Porch (72 Queen St.; 843-577-2337; poogansporch.com) for a brunch noted for its Southern style; menu items include fried green tomatoes, grits and biscuits with gravy.

MYRTLE BEACH

As its name implies, this destination tends to shine most during the summer, but there’s still lots to do this time of year. Frontier does offer round-trip flights for less than $100 (flyfrontier.com) on a seasonal basis, but to get there currently you'll need to fly American Airlines for a significantly higher rate (check aa.com for dates and prices). It’s not a top spot for historic sites, but for retro check out the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum (607 N. 27th Ave.; 843-282-9018, myrtlebeachpinballmuseum.org) with all-you-can-play pinball, or to drop some cash shop at Broadway At The Beach (1325 Celebrity Cir.; 843-444-3200; broadwayatthebeach.com) which among the stores also offers dining, bars and live entertainment. For a less touristy meal, ART (706 N. Ocean Blvd.; 843-839-4774, artsushibar.com) does burgers and sushi in a space where local artists hang their work; Pulse Ultra Club (2701 S Kings Hwy.; 843-315-0019) is where to go for drag shows and dance floor action.

ORLANDO

Not the cheapest place to fly to — if you’re lucky you can find round-trip flights for under $150 (expedia.com/lp/flights/isp/mco/islip-to-orlando) — but the temperature there usually stays over 70 degrees even in winter so, yes, you can beach right into November — and there’s always Walt Disney World (disneyworld.disney.go.com). Not loaded with nightlife, night life, it does have some worthy stops; right now people are talking a lot about Vault 5421 (5421 International Dr.; 407-270-6273, godmonsters.com/vault-5421), a craft beer bar located inside a comic-and-collectibles shop that also offers cocktails, mead and several mixed drinks served by cosplay bartenders. Another place to visit is Icebar Orlando (8967 International Dr.; 407-351-0361, icebarorlando.com) which, despite those aforementioned temperatures, is made of ice (!) so you’ll actually need something warm to wear there; it’s considered a major selfie stop. Among the restaurants down there, Santiago's Bodega (802 Virginia Dr.; 407-412-6979, santiagosbodega.com) has a beloved brunch buffet that goes deep with a carving station and a pasta station plus items like cheese grits, brown sugar bacon and snow crab claws; consider Seito Sushi (8031 Turkey Lake Rd.; 407-248-8888, seitosushi.com) for reasonably-priced and well regarded Japanese food.

ALSO TRY

If you would rather do a road trip, skip the big cities and go for funkier locales that draw college-age and 20-somethings. Like a longer version of Long Beach, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware has blocks of restaurants and shops from which to choose, including the Dogfish Head craft brewery (320 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-2739, dogfish.com) and — while it’s really best in the summer when the beach is active — the nearby Cape Henlopen State Park (15099 Cape Henlopen Dr., Lewes; 302-645-8983, destateparks.com/Beaches/CapeHenlopen) offers a decommissioned World War II-era military base that can be wandered and photographed. It’s about a six or seven-hour drive from Long Island, but for ticket prices starting as low as $56, Amtrak can get you to Wilmington, Delaware, in about two hours — but to Uber from there to Rehoboth Beach could be more than $160, so a long drive might be tiring but cost-efficient.

Vermont is established as a great place to ski and snowboard, but before the snow falls, autumn in Burlington can be a blast with its many restaurants and bars. Popular options include the daily brunch at Juniper (41 Cherry St.; 855-650-0080, hotelvt.com) in the Hotel Vermont, where hot toddies and Irish coffee are among the morning cocktails available — or try ArtsRiot (400 Pine St.; 802-540-0406, artsriot.com), which serves an eclectic menu that ranges from rice with kimchi to popcorn chicken; it’s also got an events calendar packed with live bands and offbeat performances. Also, if your Instagram needs a snack, charge your phone and head to a 38-foot-tall tower made from filing cabinets that have been welded together (208 Flynn Ave.); it’s billed as the “World's Tallest File Cabinet.” It’s about a seven-hour straight-shot-north drive from Long Island to Burlington, but consider Amtrak: although there’s usually only one train a day running from NYC to Burlington, tickets start at only $60.

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