With the clock counting down on the summer holidays, it’s your last chance to get in a beach vacation, city break, or relaxing getaway. After all, Labor Day (and back to the grind) is just around the corner!
Here, we’ve found the perfect last-minute destination getaways: Places that are oh-so-cool, but also won’t break the bank.
Delray Beach, Florida
Located in Palm Beach County, the seaside community of Delray Beach is perfectly situated for exploring everything caliente that South Florida has to offer. Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami are all reachable by car within an hour. There’s also a bustling main street filled with lively restaurants, packed bars, cute shops, and local art galleries, as well as a pristine beach with wonderfully warm water perfect for swimming in. Not for nothing, it was voted “America’s Most Fun Small Town.”
Stay: Located just across the street from the beach, the Delray Beach Marriott (from $161) features both traditional rooms as well as multi-floor townhouse suites complete with kitchens, living rooms, multiple bedrooms, and pool-front patios.
Or stay at the character-filled Colony Club (from $119), which has 70 rooms, prides itself on being pet-friendly (bring the pups!), and feels like a slice of Havana, Cuba.
If privacy is your thing, the Adirondacks are your best bet. Located in upstate New York, the massive Adirondack mountains are spread out over more than 6 million acres. With literally thousands of lakes and ponds, greenery as far as the eye can see, and the tallest mountains in New York, it’s a blissful summertime paradise perfect for relaxing away from prying eyes.
There are several popular areas, including Lake Placid (home of the 1980 Olympics and USA’s Miracle on Ice win over the USSR), as well as Mark Twain’s favorite, Saranac Lake, and the North Hudson.
Stay: On Lake Placid, check into Main Street’s perfectly located Best Western Adirondacks Inn (from $179).
Try the log cabins on Saranac Lake at Ampersand Bay Resort & Boat Club (from $150).
Or try the Elk Lake Lodge (from $120), which is located on the North Hudson and features a rustic 100+ year old lodge, as well as eight remote cottages.
Buzzy oasis in the desert, Palm Springs has become California’s hottest new destination—even though it’s been around for ages. (Hey, everything old is new again!) With Jet Blue now offering non-stop flights from New York’s JFK (not to mention various airlines flying non-stop from cities like Dallas, Chicago, and Denver), it’s never been easier to reach from anywhere in the country. No matter the time of year, Palm Springs is all about lounging by the pool with an icy drink in hand, so summer is actually an excellent time to go—resorts slash their prices big-time.
Stay: Hyatt Palm Springs (from $99), the only all-suites hotel in town, is located on the main strip and within easy walking distance from the Palm Springs Art Museum and many of its best restaurants.
Try the super trendy Ace Hotel (from $139).
For further afield, try the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (from $139), a massive resort with multiple pools, a full-service spa, and golf course equally great for families and singles.
Or the tranquil Miramonte Resort (from $124).
If you only think of Maine as a freezing winterland near Canada, you’ve obviously never been in August. Summers in Maine—think warm air, clear blue skies, ample hiking, and rugged coastline everywhere—are so gorgeous that it’s actually known as Vacationland.
Acadia National Park, celebrating their 100th anniversary this summer, is the perfect place for camping, hiking, canoeing, lake swimming, and all those traditional American summertime pleasures that call to mind s’mores and summer camp.
Stay: For the most authentic experience, stay at one of the many campsites in the area, both private and public.
But if roughing it isn’t exactly your thing, try the nearby The Colony Cottages (from $169/night),
Arguably the most beautiful town in arguably the most beautiful state, Santa Barbara, California has to be seen to be believed. Known as The American Riviera, Santa Barbara’s Mexican heritage is visible everywhere, but it has a strong Mediterranean flair (and some of the country’s best Spanish-influenced food to boot).
Downtown Santa Barbara, especially State Street, is popular with shoppers and passers-by who want to gawk and stroll, while the Anacapa Street area features wine tasting rooms and craft breweries. Stay in Montecito for a more upscale, celebrity experience with great boutique shopping.
Stay: Founded by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford as a retreat from Hollywood, Montecito Inn (from $355/night) is laden with charm. Across the street, try the more budget-friendly Coast Village Inn (from $179/night).
In downtown Santa Barbara, opt the trendy hotel/hostel The Wayfarer (private rooms from $259)
or the lovely Lavender Inn by the Sea (from $246), which is close to the beach.
Voted America’s number one small city, the charming and historic waterfront town of Charleston makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Eat and shop your way through Charleston City Market, stroll along the battery, and gawk at the genteel mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor, or take in some US history by visiting Fort Sumter (where the first shots of the Civil War were fired). Want to be spooked? Charleston is reportedly one of America’s most haunted cities, with ghost tours aplenty.
And if small-town city life isn’t your thing, only 12 miles away is Folly Beach, a gorgeous stretch of coastline full of seashells, bursting with restaurants, and boasting soft white sand. It’s the perfect summer getaway.
Stay: Built in 1763 and just a few blocks from the waterfront, historic and antique-laden John Rutledge House Inn (from $219) is named after one of the signers of the Constitution, and rates includes both breakfast and afternoon tea.
Ansonborough Inn (from $149) is set in a former warehouse and dripping with authentic character.
Or for an elegant, five-star experience, try the Belmond Charleston Place (from $295), an old-world, high-society hotel in the heart of downtown Charleston.