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Escape the City: 5 Easy Last-Minute Weekends Away

By Serena Solomon | June 30, 2014 7:19am | Updated on June 30, 2014 9:13am
 In every direction out of New York there are relaxing, but little-known destinations for a weekend away.
5 Easy Last-Minute Weekends Away
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NEW YORK CITY —  As the masses trudge the well-worn path to Montauk and the Hamptons, lesser-known destinations within a few hours of the city can offer respite for a quick weekend away.

Here are five places within three hours of New York City by public transportation where last-minute weekend vacancies may be found:

Riverhead on Long Island

Getting there: The trip to Riverhead from Penn Station is a little more than two hours on Long Island Rail Road. A one-way ticket is $27.

Accommodation: The Budget Host East End Hotel is a 5-minute cab ride from the Riverhead Station. The hotel offers basic accommodation, a tennis court and a sunny pool area. Rooms start at $159 a night for the weekend.

What to do: Rent a bike from Twin Forks Bicycles (about a 10-minute walk from Budget Host East End Hotel) and see the town from a saddle. The cost is $35 per day and the town council has created an extensive map of attractions within riding distance. The Riverhead Farmers Market happens every Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 49 East Main St. and attracts about 40 vendors. Kayaks can be rented for paddling the Peconic River with prices starting at $29. The Splish Splash Water Park is a 10-minute drive away in Calverton.

Lake Sebago, Harriman State Park

Getting there: The Sebago Cabins are an 8-mile cab ride from Sloatsburg after a one-hour bus ride on Shortline, with return tickets costing $25.90. The town can also be reached by New Jersey transit via an hourlong ride from Hoboken for about $15 one-way. Anytime Taxi — the company's number is 845-357-2465 — will do the trip between Sloatsburg and the Sebago Cabins for $25 one-way.

Where to Stay: The Sebago Cabins on Harriman State Park's west side offer a "rustic" experience for about $75 a night. There's a collection of two dozen cabins that sleep up to six people, with a refrigerator and two hot plates for cooking. Showers and toilets are located nearby at communal facilities. Campers need to bring their own linens, cooking utensils and food.

What to do: Besides being surrounded by hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Harriman State Park, Sebago Cabins are on the lake that shares their name. There is a beach and swimming area with access to fishing and boat hire. There are also tennis courts, a Saturday bonfire and rainy day movies.

Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey

Getting there: A trip on NJ Transit from Penn Station to Point Pleasant will take about two hours. A one-way ticket is $15.50. The White Sands Resort is a 6-minute cab ride from the station.

Where to Stay: There are a handful of hotels and homestays around the area. The White Sands is only one block from the beach and weekend night rooms start at $210. The hotel has two ocean-side pools, a sauna, steam room and fitness club.

What to do: Spending the day at Point Pleasant Beach is great inexpensive fun, with entry costing $9.50 per person. Jenkinson's Boardwalk is alive with amusement rides, carnival food, an aquarium and a handful of mini-golf establishments. Bikes can also be rented from Shore Riders for $20 a day. 

Phoenicia in the Catskills Mountains

Getting there: Phoenicia is a little more than a two-hour drive. Trailways bus company does several drop-offs and pick-ups each day for the three-hour bus journey between the town and New York City. A round-trip ticket is $64.50.

Accommodations: The Phoenicia Belle is a bed-and-breakfast in the center of town run by husband and wife Tom and Dana Fraser. While summer is busy, there are still vacancies on some weekends and during the weekdays for a room ranging from $100 to $150 a night. There are three other main accommodations around town: Simpler Times, the Phoenicia Lodge and newcomer the Graham and Co.

What to do: Many activities in and around the town can be reached on foot. A handful of trailheads such as the Tanbark Trail and the Mount Temper Fire Tower Trail are on the edge of town. Town Tinker Tube Rental launches down the Esopus Creek from the center of town. The Phoenicia Belle has bikes available upon request.

Mills Norrie State Park in the Hudson Valley

Getting there: Take the Amtrak to Rhinecliff Station for $27. The trip takes an hour and 40 minutes. The campsite is another 16 minutes away in a taxi.

Accommodation: The 10 basic two-bedroom cabins have bunk beds, a refrigerator, a stove and a cold-water sink. The communal showers and toilets are within the campground. Cabins cost $85 a night on a weekend.

What to do: The campsite is located on the Hudson River with access to swimming, fishing and boating. There are plenty of trails for bike riding and hiking around the 1,000-acre Mills Norrie State Park. A golf course is also within the park.