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Treat Yourself to a Relaxing Vacation in One of These Charming New York Towns

These getaways offer alllll the cozy vibes just a short drive from the big city.

collage of upstate hotels
courtesy of hotel instagram

After being cooped up in New York City for more than a year and a half, the concrete jungle was getting old and I needed some fresh air. Hey, Siri, play “New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.” So when New York State’s tourism board, I Love New York, offered to show me some of what the rest of the state has to offer in September 2021, I gladly took them up. Because there’s nothing like NY in the fall! (And you best believe I was sooo ready to pack my bags and GTFO of NYC.)

All of these getaways are within a two- to four-hour drive from the city (depending on what mood the Traffic Gods are in) and can be accessed by public transit—but more easily by car. For a few of these stays, Buick let me test out their 2021 Avener, which was a cute garnet color that matched the fall foliage perfectly. The size was perfect for about four nights away and fit all the treats we picked up along the way. The car has a backup camera with an overhead view (how do they do this?) for easy parking and blind-spot sensors to keep me safe in the weekend traffic. My blood pressure thanks you, Buick.

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The author received comped stays, meals, activities, transportation, and a spa treatment in order to write this story.


Hutton Brickyards

Kingston, New York

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Located on—you guessed it—an old brickyard, this hotel is actually made up of super-adorable modular cabins, aka tiny homes that are great for the ’gram. Besides the cozy cabin vibes, this approach has a smaller environmental footprint and a lighter infrastructure impact, something especially important when going upstate means experiencing Mother Nature at her finest. Our cabin had all the regular amenities you could expect in a hotel plus some fab bonuses like heated bathroom floors and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that led to a private patio.

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Hutton Brickyards is a great jumping-off point for exploring the rest of Kingston and Ulster County. Mid-quarantine, renowned NYC chefs fled upstate and started establishing a robust food scene. For that posh date night, I loved Kinsley and Lola Pizza for a more casual mood.

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The Catskills region also has tons of beverage destinations, namely microdistilleries and breweries. In this area, Hudson House is one you can’t miss. Located in West Park about 20 minutes away from downtown Kingston, this whiskey distillery was started by a former New Yorker who is now making award-winning bourbons and ryes. Their setup is in a hilltop former monastery overlooking the Hudson River with turn-of-the-century architecture and design elements that make sipping whiskey among the trees an excellent hangout.

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Shandaken Inn

Shandaken, New York

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If my richest aunt and uncle had a place just for family parties, it would look like the Shandaken Inn. Each room has its own personality, ranging from rustic plaid to Cape Cod chic. The inn vibes are extremely snug with their fluffy white bathrobes and four-poster beds. And even though the place was recently renovated, it still holds on to the historical charm. It was easy to spend all our time on the property, as the inn’s hiking trails, tennis courts, and mountain views offered plenty of activities even on a colder evening.

For dinner, we enjoyed pasta and wine that competes with NYC’s Italian restaurant scene, making sure to leave room for dessert, which was obviously s’mores cooked over one of the inn’s firepits. Outside of the inn, we explored the surrounding area with a giant breakfast at Phoenicia Diner, a popular spot for locally sourced food, and the Peekamoose Blue Hole for a hike and a very brisk swim.

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The Roundtree Amagansett

Amagansett, New York

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Something to keep in mind: In the Hamptons, each town has its own personality. I’d say Amagansett is more on the mature and polished side but still very much laid-back. The Roundtree is a perfect new addition to the scene and reflects that mood completely. With a clean, neutral-colored aesthetic, the hotel immediately decompressed my mental stress knots as we were greeted with tea and the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Later, we took advantage of the hotel’s proximity to the ocean and borrowed their complimentary bikes for a short ride to the water for a stroll and an amateur photo shoot.

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After the delightful bike ride, the Roundtree treated me to a blissful hour-long massage that eased every lingering city-based stress. The hotel offers in-room massages available for purchase or within its packages, and it’s worth every penny for topping off a relaxing trip out east.

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Marram

Montauk, New York

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If you’re into wellness or you just feel like you need a reset, Marram should be at the top of your list. The hotel has a beach motel-style layout with a large gathering space in the middle with a sandy floor and firepits. This space opens up to the loungy pool and, just beyond, the Atlantic Ocean. The proximity to the water from the water is unbeatable.

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In the rooms, Marram nailed the cool-tranquil vibes in the rooms, from the paper Naguchi lamps to the linen daybed and throw pillows. Marram hooked us up with a room with a balcony overlooking the ocean. Between the Frette linens on the bed and the sound of the waves, I did something I’ve never done before—knowing I would sleep like a baby, I willingly set an alarm to wake up before 8 a.m. on vacation to enjoy more of the property before checkout. It was extremely worth it as I woke up to surfers catching the dawn waves before heading to a complimentary yoga class and meditation workshop (available to all guests free of charge).

The night before, I wanted to shake up the zen vibes at dinner with something a lil more upbeat. We headed to Showfish, located in Gurney’s Star Island, the second Gurney’s property to open in the Hamptons. The restaurant treated us to an evening of seafood and pasta. This place is a must as you’ll get the quintessential Hamptons beachy bougie vibe with a marina view and a top-notch culinary experience. I would recommend wearing your finest boho ’fit and ordering the lobster kimchi.

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Glen Falls House

Roundtop, New York

The team at Glen Falls House restored a historical motel to cater to a Brooklyn dance crowd. It’s located on a gorgeous sprawling property with several actual active waterfalls (including its namesake, Glen Falls). The hotel’s restaurant, Trotwood, is open Thursday to Saturday and on Sunday for brunch, and I would definitely recommend planning your visit around this schedule. The hotel treated us to dinner, where the classic and relatively simple dishes we ordered were the best I’ve ever had. The Caesar salad had a perfect crunch and zest, the hummus had a unique carrot spin, and the Impossible cheeseburger rivaled the real thing.

Side note: During the summer, they throw epic pool parties—complete with a DJ whose booth is in a waterside canvas tent (very on-theme)—so ya know we’ll definitely be returning in the warmer months.

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Kenoza Hall

Kenoza Lake, New York

Did you know leaf-peeping was A Thing? Well, apparently it is, and every fall, the Catskills attract NYC residents for peak foliage viewing, aka leaf-peeping. For our ~experience~, we stayed at Kenoza Hall, a classic historical house converted to an inn. Overlooking Kenoza Lake and across to a mountainside, this was exactly the view we needed to take in the changing leaf colors. From the comfort of our comfy room and balcony, we took in a cascade of oranges, reds, and yellows covering the side of the mountain.

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Once I took in as much foliage as one person really can (aka got all my pics), I ventured off the property to some of the local attractions. The highlight was Buck Brook Alpaca Farm, where I fed, pet, and frolicked with some very fluffy friends.

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Like I said earlier, there are a ton of food and beverage experiences to be had upstate, but extra densely in Sullivan Country. During a visit on a rainy day, we organized a beer and spirits tour around the area. We spent the day sampling beer, whiskey, vodka, and gin, and before I go on, I will say that of course we had a designated driver. We started the day at Catskill Brewery for a flight and tacos, followed by a spirit tasting at Do Good Spirits in an old firehouse, a casual pint at Upward Brewing (which sits on a mountain and produces beer from its spring), and finally a little more beer at Rosco Beer Co. (Do NOT leave without a growler of its sour.)

Our group ended the night with a family-style pasta dinner at Northern Farmhouse Pasta, which felt like my nonna’s dining room. We passed plates of pesto gnocchi and red sauce spaghetti, then sopped it up with house-made focaccia. To cap off our culinary and beverage tour—and the trip—we stopped at Catskills Provisions in Callicoon on the way back to the Big Apple. Our cute lunch was paired with cocktails made with the distillery’s spirits, and on the way out, I snatched up gifts for my catsitters, friends, and myself, like the honey-infused gin, ketchup (artisanal!), and whiskey.

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If you’re ever in need of escaping the hustle-bustle lifestyle of New York City, just know that a serene, fresh oasis is only a few hours away. :)

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