Road Trips

The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Dubbed the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia is famous for its rich revolution-era history, its architecture (modern landmark skyscrapers and historic brick buildings sit side-by-side), and its truly fanatic sports fans (the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, and Eagles all play here). And although plenty of tourists flock here to taste a slice of Americana, Philadelphia’s residents may be eager to escape — even if just to another metropolis. So pack your bags, crank up the A/C, and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ

  • Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 61.9 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’ve got cash to spend — and not a clue where to start spending it.

Casinos are arguably AC's biggest draw. (Pun intended.)

The (aptly-named) Water Club at the Borgata offers several serene indoor havens like this.

Resorts has an Art Deco vibe -- which we find to be very chic.

Unlike other Northeastern beach destinations like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, Atlantic City (located on the Jersey Shore) is described as the Las Vegas of the East Coast, and with bright flashing lights dotting the boardwalk, big events (concerts, boxing matches), big gambling options, and boozed-up visitors, it’s clear the reputation is deserved. During the warmer months, expect to see guests soaking up the sun beachside during the day, then mingling over chic cocktails or gambling during the evening. Make sure to stroll the boardwalk and pick up some salt-water taffy, too — the city’s most celebrated treat. Stay in a resort along the oceanfront boardwalk to be closest to the action, or in the marina if you’re looking to feel a bit more secluded. A fantastic luxury option is the Water Club at the Borgata, an 800-room modern and exclusive escape from the bustle of Atlantic City. Guests have access to the casino, restaurants, and nightlife of the attached Borgata Hotel — but have their own exclusive amenities, too, including five adults-only heated pools and the serene two-story Immersion spa. For those looking to spend more green on gambling than on room rates, check out the Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City, which has its very own “Roaring Twenties” vibe — thanks in large part to the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Rooms here lack modern amenities such as duvet covers and flat-screen TVs, but there is an indoor/outdoor pool, and nightlife options — including Prohibition, the city’s first gay club — which are all pretty solid.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

With a thriving arts scene, diverse shopping districts, the NFL’s Buccaneers, and a rich local history, the Floridian city of Tampa has a lot to offer itself. The beaches along Tampa Bay are lovely spots to take a dip and — after exploring such attractions as Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, and the historic Ybor City (once the bustling center of America’s cigar industry, and now a great shopping area and artistic haven) — a welcome respite at the end of the day. With average temperatures staying at a nice 75° to 80° Fahrenheit nearly year round, it must be hard to convince Tampanians to part from the Big Guava. But Buccaneers are known to set sail, and while the whip can’t take you off to sea, it can certainly get you to some great land locales. So pack your bags, crank the A.C., and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Tampa to Jacksonville, FL

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 226 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking to hit the links (and maybe the shops).
Street at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa

Palm tree lined streets will guide you from the shops to the links in no time.

Beach at the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa

The One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa offers a luxury stay on an expansive stretch of white, sandy beach.

Pool at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach

The heated pool and Jacuzzi at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach is a relaxing find in a value hotel, perfect for families on a budget.

With a lively arts scene, a great downtown district, and some of the country’s best golf courses, Jacksonville is a hidden gem located in Northern Florida. But since the weather is a bit crisper upstate (winters are too cold to play on the sand), the conditions make for ideal golf weather. And with a less-crowded beach scene, this once underrated seaside city has become a vibrant spot, with an NFL team to boot. Those seeking a luxury experience should head straight to the One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa. Situated directly on a clean, white-sand beach, this resort has a fantastic on-site spa (great for girls’ weekends or couples’ vacations), contemporary decor, and bathrooms with double shower heads. Or, save a bundle and book a space at the Holiday Inn Express Jacksonville Beach, a value hotel that offers awesome freebies like Wi-Fi, breakfast, and self-parking. Rooms are clean, the pool is relaxed, and the prices are great. And although you’re just a few minutes drive from the beach, that won’t matter — you’ve got the whip with you.

  • Top Driving Tip: While taking I-75N is faster, we recommend sticking it out an extra 15 minutes or so in the car. Take I-4E to I-95; you’ll pass right through Orlando — and maybe stop for a few roller coaster rides.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Nicknamed Valley of the Sun, Phoenix is known for its sub-tropical desert climate, where temperatures can skyrocket beyond 100° Fahrenheit in the summer. With a host of museums and galleries, top-notch Tex-Mex cuisine, and cactus-dotted landscape, Arizona’s state capital is one of the most unique metropolises in the country. But the city’s 4.2 million residents need to venture out every once in a while and take advantage of myriad vacations spots within (somewhat-reasonable) driving distance. So pack your bags, crank the A.C., and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Phoenix to Sedona, AZ

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 117 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You need a spiritual re-awakening.
Sedona

The iconic red rock formations of Sedona are surrounded by natural energy forces known as vortexes.

Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa

The Rouge Hotel offers visitors a world-class stay in an incredible setting.

Bell Rock Inn

The Bell Rock offers a family-friendly atmosphere for those with kids in tow.

With its iconic Red Rock landscape and spiritually-charged environment, Sedona is an other-worldly paradise for earthbound explorers. The city is practically ensconced by endless hiking trails, and has four vortexes — natural energy fields said to possess mystical powers. But Sedona is also a blossoming cultural center, filled with eclectic local galleries, Native American craft shops, and indie boutiques. For a truly indulgent experience, check out the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. The property boasts incredible vistas of the Rocks from the fire pit on the observation deck, as well as from the private, in-room balconies. But the hotel’s real draw is the lavish spa, with treatments inspired by the vortexes and daily outdoor yoga classes. For a no-frills yet family-friendly stay, the Bell Rock Inn is a great budget option that still has the scenery and amenities necessary for a proper Sedona stay. The inn has two heated pools, a BBQ and picnic area, and an outdoor playground for kids, all with the same magnificent views of the rocks.

  • Top Driving Tip: Jerome, a 30-mile detour on the trip to Sedona, is about 45 miles outside of your final destination. Past the Old West ruins, this legendary ghost town is actually home to a thriving winery owned and operated by the frontman for the heavy metal band Tool.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Seattle may be known as the home of grunge rock, Starbucks coffee, and grey skies, but that doesn’t mean its residents are grim. In fact, the city has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire country; and has both beautiful scenery and a bangin’ nightlife scene. But should locals (or visitors!) need a day off the java or a weekend without rain, there are plenty of nearby places to check out. The best part — each of these three trips takes less than three hours to drive, meaning if you only have one day to spend outside of Seattle, you can do it up right. So pack your bags, slather on some SPF (hey, you can burnt when there are clouds!) and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Seattle to San Juan Islands, WA

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 104 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking for an island escape that doesn’t require a transcontinental flight.
San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands offer Seattlites a quick break from city life.

The Outlook Inn

The Outlook Inn offers amazing views from its perch on Orca Island.

Bird Rock Hotel

The Bird Rock Hotel is within walking distance of the ferry landing.

The San Juan Islands (a collection of around 800; 600 of the isles are unnamed) are a popular summer getaway for Washingtonians, and have a relaxed, back-to-nature vibe; expect farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching, and mom-and-pop shops. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting (whale-watching in particular is common, and the Shark Reef trail on Lopez Island leads to a harbor seal hangout), sailing, and kayaking. For those days when it does rain, the islands have several wineries, farms, and museums. Although properties are more intimate than luxurious, the Outlook Inn is a romantic boutique that boasts killer views of Eastsound from almost anywhere you can stand. Service is incredibly personalized, and perks like free Wi-Fi and fresh food from an on-site cafe make this hotel a choice pick. Those with slimmer budgets should check out the Bird Rock Hotel, a charming, 15-room no-frills B&B. The hotel’s central location, though, is definitely the highlight — just a block from the ferry landing, and within walking distance to plenty of shopping and dining in downtown Friday Harbor.

  • Top Driving Tip: In peak season (summer), the ferries fill up fast — so you’ll need to arrive early in order to ensure you get on board, as the lines can take hours to get through. You can find the latest ferry schedule here.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Miami is one of the U.S.’s most celebrated metropolises, a Cuban-influenced coastal city on the Southern tip of Florida, known as the “gateway to the Americas.” But Miami’s wild reputation and glamorous lifestyle can really wear on the locals (and their bank accounts). With its high-brow art scene, luxurious shopping, and A-list clubs, Miami is an energetic, ultra-lively hub for young partiers and jet-setting tourists — but to escape the rowdy scene, southern Floridans have several spots to flock to within the Sunshine State for some much-needed R&R. Put on you sexiest string bikini (or Speedo), pack your bags, and jump in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Miami to Key West

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 161.7 miles
  • Take This Trip If: It’s been too long since you’ve last passed out in a hammock with margarita in hand.
Key West is known for extreme leisure

Key West is known for moving at an...errr... leisurely pace.

Casa Marina Resort is island luxury at its finest.

Eden House boasts beautiful grounds at an affordable price

There’s a reason even the most sunny of Floridians love visiting Key West: Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best vacation destinations in the country. Miami residents may get their share of water sports and authentic Cuban cuisine, but Key West maintains a much slower pace. The island boasts warm weather year-round thanks to its Southernmost U.S City status, which even steamy Miami can’t compete with. For a supremely luxurious experience, the Casa Marina Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers a sophisticated setting while maintaining a chill vibe with its poolside bar, beach hammocks, and lush grounds. Although not quite a steal, the Eden House is offers a variety of amenities at a fraction of Casa Marina’s price. Within the beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hour, outdoor pool (make sure to apply your FREE sunscreen!), koi ponds, hammocks, or barbecue on the small rolling grill. What more do you need for some fun in the sun?

  • Top Driving Tip: Be prepared for Seven Mile Drive to the Keys to feel like Seven Hour Drive. The bridge spanning the Florida Keys is usually heavily congested, but does offer some of the most scenic views of the Altantic Ocean just about everywhere.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Los Angeles is awesome whichever way you look at it. Despite its reputation of having few attractions for tourists and huge distances to cover to get to any of them, L.A. has plenty to offer with top-notch restaurants, world-class museums, a vibrant nightlife scene, and wonderful beaches that attract millions of visitors every year. But it’s good to take a break from all the buzz sometimes and head somewhere new, be it a more relaxed spot for some serious R&R, or the perfect stretch of sand for surfing. So whether you’re in town visiting and want to mix it up a bit, or you’re a resident and want to get away from it all, start packing and hit the road! We’ve got the perfect nearby spots that are just a short drive away.

Road Trip #1: Los Angeles to Orange County, CA

  • Total Driving Time:1 hour
  • Distance Covered:51 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re ready for some pampering
It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Have lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Orange County is known for its well-heeled residents and high prices, but if you want to get some serious R&R, it’s the place to be. This string of uncrowded beaches is a good pick for families, but the area is popular among couples as well for its bucolic landscape and unparalleled sunsets. The beaches (and the waves) are definitely the main draw. If you’re planning a trip with the family, the ultra-luxe Pelican Hill is a wonderful choice. The property boasts two great golf courses, along with a plethora of other amenities, such as two gorgeous pools, a world-class spa, a fitness center, and a top-notch kids’ club. If it’s just you and your significant other, the Montage Laguna Beach is great for spending some quality time together. It offers an excellent spa, impeccable grounds, and beautiful rooms with breathtaking views.

  • Top Driving Tip: The fastest and shortest way to get there is the Santa Ana Freeway, but if you’ve got some time to spare, Cabrillo Highway (SR 1) is the most scenic. Along the way you’ll see gorgeous beaches and rolling hills.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Some associate Boston with crooked old cobblestone streets, the American Revolution, and clam chowder. (Yum.) And it’s got all that. But those who work and play there know that it’s also filled with sprawling convention centers, progressive universities, and biotech research facilities. A forward-looking town with an eye on the past, Boston combines the charm of a New England harbor town with the mindset of a bustling, modern metropolis. And sometimes, its non-stop vibe can seriously wear a resident out. So if you’re a Bostonian looking for a weekend escape, why not hop in the car and head to a not-too-far destination where you can find some R&R? Get your bags packed and set your GPS: We’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Boston to Kennebunkport, ME

  • Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 85.4 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You want to bask in the sun like a quality Kennedy or Bush family member would.
Life's a beach.

Life's a beach in luxe Kennebunkport.

A Jonathan Adler-designed guestroom at the Tides Beach Club? Sign us up.

A Jonathan Adler-designed guestroom at the Tides Beach Club? Sign us up.

Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs at The Colony Hotel.

Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs at The Colony Hotel.

Originally settled in 1610, Kennebunkport was a small fishing village that experienced an economic boom during the shipbuilding era. But it wasn’t until after the Civil War that Kennebunkport became what it is today: a summer retreat for wealthy families. In fact, former President George W. Bush’s great-grandfather’s compound, Walker’s Point, is located in Kennebunkport, and both he and his father (also former President Bush) have hosted foreign dignitaries at the summer home. What, you may ask, attracts the elite crowds to this Northeastern haven during the summer months? The private-feeling beaches are the area’s main draw and activities such as kayaking, whale-watching, golfing, and fishing are also popular pastimes. If you’re looking for a cozy hotel that’s also spot-on chic, The Tides Beach Club is the perfect choice. Fully renovated in 2011, the hotel’s vibe is South Beach-esque and trendy while maintaining a quaint New England feel. Two suites designed by Jonathan Adler, spectacular ocean views, and a contemporary restaurant with a sophisticated menu are just some of the upgrades that came with the renovation. For a more budget-conscious option, stay at The Colony Hotel. This historic hotel has a welcoming attitude to both kids and dogs, attracting families with its heated saltwater swimming pool and private sandy beach.

  • Top Driving Tip: Don’t forget about all the neighboring areas: Kennebunkport is a great launching point for visiting nearby towns like Ogunquit — known for its long sandy beaches and as being Maine’s biggest LGBT destination — or York, to see the famous Neddick Lighthouse.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Houston has just about everything Texans could want right at their fingertips. The Lonestar State’s biggest city also has some of the biggest attractions including the famed Museum and Theater districts as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center (as in, “Houston, we have a problem”). But one of Space City’s greatest assets is its mere proximity to some of the other most unique and cultured cities. So saddle up for a true taste of Texas goodness, from beaches and rock ‘n roll; from water parks to oil rigs. Let’s hit the road!

Road Trip #1: Houston to Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi is the best beachside locale in Texas.

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 51 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 222 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You need a much-needed day at the beach.

The rooftop restaurant at the Omni Corpus Christi lets us enjoy miles of the Gulf.

The fishing dock at the Lighthouse Inn is perfect for enjoy the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting pretty on the Gulf of Mexico’s crystal blue coast, Corpus Christi really does live up to its “sparkling city by the sea” nickname. With more than 131 miles of beaches, the city’s main shores of Corpus Christi and McGee beaches draw large summer crowds. The city’s sand helped earn Corpus Christi a “Best Restored Beach “award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association last year, one of only seven cities in the nation to receive the honor.  For some of the best views of the beach, the waterfront Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay can’t be beat, especially when looking out from on-site fishing dock and private balconies with rocking chairs. And a slightly more affordable option is the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel Bayfront Tower. The hotel also has incredible views from the rooftop lounge, and is within walking distance of many other downtown attractions.

  • Top Driving Tip: Weedhaven was once a tiny bustling village settled by wealthy businessman J.F. Weed, about halfway between the two cities. His store, cafe, and inn may have closed, but the Wild West remains of Weedhaven make it a popular roadside stop along the route.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

If you live in Charlotte, you know that there is more to this city than just a booming business district. The Queen City, naturally, has also proved to be a highly-cultured one, with both a symphony and opera that are each among the best of their respective fields in the nation. And, there are plenty of other sights and museums in Charlotte that are available to keep locals busy. But there’s definitely something to be said for getting out of the city and hitting the dusty trail for some new and some far – but still within driving distance, of course – destinations. So, get your bags packed and hop in the car: We’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Charlotte to Charleston, SC

Charleston is all about old-school Southern charm, dahlingg.

Charleston is all about old-school Southern charm, dahlingg.

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 209 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re searching for some good ‘ole Southern charm.
Front Porch at The Jasmine House Inn

We just want to sit back and relax on the front porch at The Jasmine House Inn.

Courtyard at the Hampton Inn Charleston-Historic District

Here's the Courtyard at the budget-friendly Hampton Inn Charleston-Historic District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Charlotte is the “New South,” Charleston must be the “Old South.” It’s no wonder why some of the most popular romance novels — Dear John, The Notebook, The Last Song — have been set in or near the city of Charleston. Between the horse-drawn carriages, the colorful gardens, and the historic architecture, Charleston exudes old-world charm. Plus, the city’s height restriction ordinance has kept the downtown skyline relatively low, giving Charleston a small-town vibe. Its streets are ideal for walking, and almost always move at a quiet, relaxed pace. If you’re aiming for the ultimate historic experience, the Jasmine House Inn is the perfect choice. Housed in a beautifully renovated mansion dating to 1843, the Inn’s 12 rooms have all the charm of a B&B and the comforts of an upscale hotel, plus great freebies such as continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. For a more budget-conscious option, stay at the Hampton Inn Historic District. It has a perfectly nice outdoor pool and a cozy lobby with plenty of seating and a fireplace to cozy up next to with someone you love.

  • Top Driving Tip: It’s nearly an hour out of the way, but many road-trippers like to swing by Congaree National Park on their way down to Charleston by switching over to US-601 after hitting Columbia. The park features scenic rivers for canoeing, as well as beautiful plant growth.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Home to about 8 million folks — and tons of our readers, the Big Apple is a behemoth destination to explore itself. But should you be longing to escape the crowded streets, know you’re in similar company; New York’s residents seemingly flock town every Friday. Plus, there are so many great vacation spots just a few hours away by car (and what seems like a million ZipCar locations should you not have your own ride). So get your bags packed, slather on some sunscreen and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: New York City to Montauk, NY

Life's a beach in the tony Hamptons.

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 48 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 119 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You love a good scene — the otherwise-sleepy town is crawling with celebs during the summer.

The grounds at the Montauk Yacht Club.

One of the Panoramic View's amazing pool views.

Originally famous for both its surfing and fishing, Montauk, Long Island’s easternmost tip, is considered part of The Hamptons and has plenty to offer a variety of tourists, including six national state parks. Always in the background is the ubitiquous Montauk Lighthouse, New York’s oldest and the fourth in the national overall. Aside from its rich history and scenic landscape, Montauk also offers visitors sleek shopping at vintage stores like Screaming Mimi’s and incredible local eats like lunch at Dureyea’s Lobster Deck, where the lobster rolls, naturally, are second to none. Splurge on a stay at the Panoramic View, a sprawling resort tucked away off Old Mountak Highway in which every single guest room boasts gorgeous Atlantic Ocean vistas. And should you get too much sun (or sand) on the beach, check out the pool’s cabana for some shaded R&R. Savvy folks should opt for the Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marinas; even though it’s off the ocean, it has lovely little villas that are perfect for a couple’s getaway. A free shuttle into town makes the inflated prices a bit more worthwhile.

  • Top Driving Tip: Most directions will tell you to take the Long Island Expressway, but skip the always-clogged I-495 and take the Grand Central Parkway/Northern State Parkway instead; it’ll save you precious minutes you’ll need when Montauk Highway becomes one lane in South Hampton.

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