Three Northeastern destinations -- Portsmouth, N.H., Lake George and Cape May, N.J. -- require little preparation other than a full gas tank and a few hundred dollars.
Portsmouth, N.H.: Wedged into New Hampshire's 18-mile oceanfront along the rushing Piscataqua River, Portsmouth is the Granite State's only working seaport.
Portsmouth, N.H.: Settled in 1623, history buffs will note that Portsmouth is one of the nation's oldest cities. The role players at the living history Strawbery Banke Museum museum recreate every-day life in the Puddle Dock neighborhood from the 1600s to the 1950s.
Portsmouth, N.H.: The town is a little gem of a vacation spot, with a small but busy, modernized downtown chock-full of cozy restaurants, independent retailers and lively pubs.
Lake George: The Fort William Henry Hotel, on a hill overlooking the lake, is one of the area's better-known lodgings.
Lake George: Frolicking on the water.
Lake George: A view of the lake from one of the trails in the Tongue Mountain Range.
Lake George: The sky's the limit for lovers of the outdoors. You can go parasailing over the lake, or hire a water taxi at one of the marinas on Lakeshore Drive, and picnic on a state-owned island.
Lake George: Canoe Island Lodge.
Lake George: Fishing by the pier at Canoe Island Lodge.
Cape May, N.J.: Tours of the Cape May Lighthouse are available.
Cape May, N.J.: Peter Shield's Inn (far right), Angel of the Sea (with turrets, behind Peter Shield's) and private homes along Beach Avenue.
Cape May, N.J.: The Washington Street Mall, a three-block outdoor walking mall featuring boutiques and restaurants.
Cape May, N.J.: The historic Chalfonte Hotel. Architecture buffs can have a field day checking out Cape May's 600 Victorian homes.
Cape May, N.J.: A Victorian house, the Eldridge Johnson House, is more commonly known as The Pink House. It currently houses a boutique clothing store (Pink), and dates to 1882.
Cape May, N.J.: The Abbey Bed and Breakfast Inn is among 40-some B&Bs in Cape May.