"Where locals go" is our series featuring under-the-radar holiday destinations that are often overlooked by visitors but cherished by locals. In this edition, our NYC experts showcase their favorite holiday spots at home.

While those of us who live in New York City know there is no place like home, we also know there is nothing like getting out of town. It has long been a tradition for the locals to flee to cooler and more relaxing destinations when the tourists descend and the city starts to feel too small, even for us. That's why four New York-based Lonely Planet team members have shared their beloved nearby escapes that they return to year after year.

Left: Shopping in Martha's Vineyard, Right: Landscape of a bay in Martha's Vineyard
Whether you're spending time in one of Martha's Vineyard's charming towns or enjoying its peaceful landscapes, it'll scratch the itch for a city break © Left: Lena Mirisola/Getty Images, Right: Ann Douglas Lott

Martha’s Vineyard

An idyllic NYC Getaway
Ann Douglas Lott, Associate Editor

Every New Yorker has a go-to close-ish summer beach destination they dream about the rest of the year. Martha’s Vineyard is so special because it’s so uniquely itself – almost no chains, walkable towns with unique personalities, all kinds of beaches to suit your vibe, and undeniably gorgeous pink sunsets. The best news? Delta and JetBlue have insanely cheap direct flights from NYC if you book early enough. I’m currently eyeing one that’s less than $200 for a round trip.

Oh, and let’s talk about the incredibly fresh seafood. My favorite bite here is hands-down the lobster roll from The Net Result in Vineyard Haven, taken to-go for a secluded sunset picnic at Lambert’s Cove Beach. Honorable mentions go to the ice cream at The Scoop Shack in Edgartown and cocktails on Atlantic Restaurant’s waterfront deck.

I’m headed there in July, and we’re planning a Midsommar-esque garden dinner one night and will spend the rest of our trip beach-hopping and strolling through Edgartown. Some beach recs: South Beach has fun crowds and big waves, while Lighthouse Beach is a more peaceful tanning spot.

You could go the Airbnb route (they’re all over the island), but if you prefer a hotel, the historic Harbor View Hotel and The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown have that classic Martha’s Vineyard feel. If you’re basing yourself in Oak Bluffs (most ferries dock here), a room at the Oak Bluffs Inn is not far from the iconic, colorful “gingerbread cottages.”

Need a car-free getaway? These 10 destinations are perfect.

Left: Catskills Mountains, Right: Exterior view of Olana
One thing the Catskills promise: a change of scenery © light photo / Getty Images, Laura Motta

The Catskills

For hikers, shoppers, and foodies
Laura Motta, Senior Director of Content

The Catskills has to be NYC’s worst-kept secret. We all love it, and there’s nothing better than a weekend escape, but it would be a crime not to give it the recognition it deserves. I spent some time there last year, and it’s exactly what you hope for: a change of scenery.

Every town in the Catskills has a unique charm and holds the promise of wonderful restaurants, trendy bars, and excellent shopping. I love to stop by Subversive Malting + Brewing for smash burgers, quirky brews, and a great outdoor space. The postcard-ready town of Hudson is another great stop. Shop for vintage clothes and records here, or have afternoon tea. Head over to Spotty Dog for two of my favorite things – drinks and books – all under one roof. For dinner, try Swoon in Hudson, which has mouthwatering steak and an upscale vibe. Or if you are open to a 30-minute drive, Silvia in Woodstock and its fame-to-table fare will forever live in my mind.

For an artsy excursion, drive to Olana, the historic (and gorgeously eccentric) home of painter Frederic Church. It sits perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson and welcomes you as you cross the Rip Van Winkle bridge into town.

Not only is it super easy to get to the Catskills from NYC (rent a car or hop on the Amtrak), but there's a lot of nice lodging that's reinventing the idea of the cabin/deep woods getaway. Hunter Lodge feels right for skiers and hikers, but it also is great if you're pursuing lower-impact sightseeing. The Maker Hotel is pricey but oh-so-stylish and is located right in the heart of Hudson. 

In need of more inspo? Check out where the Lonely Planet team is going this summer

Collage of coastal landscapes on Shelter Island
Plan a more relaxed Hamptons getaway in Shelter Island © Brekke Fletcher

Shelter Island

The Hamptons for people who hate the Hamptons
Brekke Fletcher, Senior Director of Content

I’ve lived in New York City for years, and there are two universal truths:
1) The city on a summer weekend is kind of amazing because it’s empty!
2) The city on a summer weekend is a hellscape from which there is no escape.

I used to be more like a 1. Now I’m a full-fledged 2. So where do I go? Shelter Island, situated between the North and South Forks of Long Island. It’s about 3 hours from the city, depending on lots of things I cannot control. It’s not “easy” to get there, but it is very easy to be there. You can drive (I can’t, no car), or you can take the LIRR or Hampton Jitney to Greenport, then hop on the ferry (for which you need $3 in cash to buy a token – make sure you’ve got some ones). But the truth is once you’re there, you’re going to want a car – pro tip for the carless: rent one at JFK.

My dear friends bought a house there during the pandemic, and because I’m basically a charwoman who cooks and cleans, I’m a frequently invited guest. (JK, they totally love me.) You can either rent a house for the week or book a room at one of the island’s charming hotels. It’s summer in the Hamptons, so it’s not cheap. If you can midweek it, so much the better. I love The Pridwin the most: it’s on Crescent Beach, it has a pool, a fantastic bar and restaurant, a lovely spa, and it’s newly renovated. The Chequit, if you’re not driving, is a walkable option, and Shelter Island House.

When it comes to food, you have to pay through the nose. My favorite place to spend $25 on a baby wheel of cheese is Marie Eifell. I love their breakfast sandwiches on baguettes. Grab a less fussy breakfast from Eccentric Bagel (go for the Za'atar). For lunch: Stars Cafe and The Islander are solid choices. Watch the sunset with oysters and martinis at the Rams Head Inn, or listen to live music in the afternoon at Shipwreck Bar. For fancy-ish dinner go to  Leon or Vine Street Cafe.

For things to do, there is a public golf course and outdoor massages at Crescent Beach. Another great beach, particularly for swimming, is Wades, which is not far from the Mashomack Preserve (bring your bug spray and wear socks to guard against ticks). There’s also an adorable farmstand at Sylvester Manor. And there is no place I love more than the island’s only grocery store: the IGA.

Want to get away for a day? Here are some ideas for day trips from NYC

Left: Landscape view of Lake George, Right: Chamidae Ford shopping near Lake George
If you're looking for your inner child, it's probably in Lake George © Chamidae Ford

Lake George

For lake lovers 
Chamidae Ford, Associate Writer

Lake George, in the wide and beautiful Adirondacks region, is a newer summer tradition in my life, but I love it all the same. My boyfriend grew up going to this lake every year, and now I get the very lucky experience of tagging along. Lake George feels like home to me as it holds the west coast charm of a massive shimmering, oh-so-clear lake and towering trees to provide a respite on the hot days. 

At 32 miles long, the lake spans a few areas, but the Lake George Town and nearby spots are where most people stay. The town is kitschy but maintains a timeless charm you can’t help but find endearing. Plus, it is chock-full of activities. 

Take a tiki boat cruise with your friends (who doesn't love a party on the lake?), play miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure, swim along the shores at Million Dollar Beach, rent a paddleboard, and blow some money at one of the arcades. Unlike other popular NY getaways that can lean very glamorous, Lake George feels wholesome and rustic. If you’re looking for your inner child, it's probably here.

The area is not one for fine dining, but spots like Gaslight and the Adirondack Pub and Brewery will hold you over. 

The Lodges at Cresthaven has all the amenities a family needs to enjoy a lake trip. There are cabin-style rooms, a pool, lake access, and a lovely boathouse restaurant. A more mid-range option is Blue Lagoon Resort and its lakeside abodes. Airbnb also has viable options for cozy stays. Don’t forget to buy a tacky graphic tee on your way out that says “Lake Life Living” before heading home. 

Want to know more places to swim Upstate? Here are our 7 favorites

Left: Walking along the C&O Canal in Georgetown, Washington, DC; Right: Exploring the National Gallery
Left: Walk along the C&O Canal in DC's Georgetown neighborhood © Steve Heap / Getty Images, Right: Take some time to meander through the National Gallery of Art © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Washington, DC

For city lovers who want a little less city
Ann Douglas Lott, Associate Editor

This is kind of an unexpected "getaway," but when you spend so much time in a city as big as NYC, DC feels a bit more "quaint." But it’s not actually quaint – there’s so much to do here. Here's why I love making a couple of trips here every year (aside from visiting friends):

1. You can Amtrak here in 3.5 hours. If I book at least two months in advance, it costs around $30 per way. And once you’ve arrived, getting around is very manageable.

2. The best things to do here are free. The Smithsonian museums, strolling around neighborhoods like Georgetown and Dupont, visiting national monuments, walking through Rock Creek Park – the list goes on.

3. Eating out here is so fun: Balkan food from Ambar, brunch in the back of Kramers bookstore, Le Diplomate for a taste of French cafe culture, and Call Your Mother for bagel sandwiches and latkes, to call out a few.

As for museums, you’ve got the museums on the National Mall, like the National Gallery, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Air and Space Museum. But also venture beyond this area for others like the Phillips Collection, the National Postal Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Most importantly, DC’s museums are air-conditioned, making them a fabulous summer activity. Or you can head to a Washington Nationals baseball game.

I usually stay with friends in Dupont Circle, but you’ve got plenty of stellar hotel options, like the Lyle in Dupont Circle, the Dupont Circle Hotel and the iconic downtown Willard InterContinental Hotel.

Spending a few days in DC? This is the ultimate long weekend itinerary

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