So you’re back from vacay and though you’re not totally psyched about packing your suitcase again, the team is sort of antsy and the weekends are long. Plus, there are still two weeks until school starts. So what should you do? Toss a few things in a bag and head out for one of these five quick getaways close to Bergen County that are a sure bet to entertain the kids and make you look like a hero! And as far as how to get out there, we had the lucky experience of driving the GMC Acadia Denali thanks to the folks at GMC and all we can say is Wow! This luxe car made our trip easy and comfortable with captains chairs and tech that the kids loved.
Where to Stay: We all know that Gurney’s on Montauk is amazing and is also surprisingly kid-friendly, but if that’s not your bag, check out Baron's Cove in Sag Harbor. Between the gorgeous location, the swanky public areas and the variety of room types, you’ll find something for everyone in the fam!
Where to Dine: The holy grail for foodie parents is the place where you can get upscale, delicious food but your kids won’t whine about strange menu items or ask, “What’s that green stuff on top?” Ruschmeyer’s fits that bill. Adult fare that is completely worth marking your calendar to make the reservations 30 days prior and a kid’s menu that will satisfy even the most, shall we say, discerning, palate. Need something that requires a little less advance planning? Duryea’s Lobster fit the bill. Fresh seafood for the parents, an accessible food menu for kids, and not for nothing, a dessert menu that features both a cookie plate and mochi. Or stop by The Clam Bar, a laid back, roadside shack that’s been sticking to the same vibe for over 30 years.
What to Do: Well, let’s see. You’re at the beach. So, swimming, boating, sunning and biking are givens. But beyond that, check out the Children’s Studio at The Art Barge: The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art. If you’re staying longer than a weekend, the Children’s Studio offers half-day camps for kids ages 5-13 through August.
On Your Way Home: Don’t forget to stop for baked goods at Levain in Wainscott because you’ve left the beach – so go ahead and get the cookie that’s the size of your head. Or, a quick detour to Southampton for Tate’s straight from the source.
Long Beach Island:
Where to Stay: Okay, so most people rent houses on LBI and stay for a week or longer (lucky ducks!) but you don’t have that kind of time because back-to-school shoes aren’t going to buy themselves. So, for short stays, take a look at The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club. They’ve got their own beach and pool, three on-site dining options and rooms that have been recently renovated. Or, for a more adult experience, check out Daddy O, a 22-room boutique hotel (please enjoy the retro surfer art in the guest rooms!).
Where to Dine: For a down and dirty breakfast (think monster sized chocolate chip pancakes) head over early to Mustache Bill’s Diner in Barnegat Light. Fresh catch can be found at Ship Bottom Shellfish if you’re willing to wait or get there early.Or, stop by artisanal The Local Market & Kitchen’s brand new airstream food truck for a quick nosh.
What to Do: Generations love the Victorian-themed Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven for rides, games and an arcade, plus the historic carousel and ferris wheel when they tire of the beach. Make sure to hit up the new Lane Master Bowling and Willy Wonka Chocokate Experience. Water park lovers can spend the day at the Thundering Surf Water Park which caters to every age and stage kid (even us big ones) and just opened the exciting new Rainbow racing slide.
On Your Way Home: Take a detour to Duke Farms, 1,000 acres of preserved native landscape, open to the public for self-discovery, outdoor activities, and education and research related to ecological sustainability.
Where to Stay: If you can swing it, stay at the Hotel Hershey. It’s worth the hefty price tag and the mandatory minimum stays for the proximity to the parks and the cushy digs.
Where to Dine: Who are you kidding? You have come here to ride the rides (or at least your kids have) so just go with it and eat in the park. But if you can sneak away, make reservations at Harvest for fresh, seasonal cuisine and the obligatory chocolate martini.
What to Do: Um, we’re gonna go out an a limb and say that if you’re at Hershey, you know how you’re spending your day. But we would encourage you to make reservations to create your own candy bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Space is limited so reserve early.
On Your Way Home: Do yourself a favor and leave time to visit the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. You’ll be glad you did. Your kid will get to wrap their own crayons, try out Crayola products and experiences and create wax spin art, to name a few attractions. But plan to spend several hours – even more if you decide to do a wax hand mold. That’s a long process, we can tell you from experience.
Where to Stay: If you’re expecting us to say The Sagamore, you are correct! Because why wouldn’t we? It’s iconic and family friendly and you’ve got to stay there at least once. But if you’ve already been there, done that, then why not rent a house on a private island? You’ll need a boat to get there but once you’re there, you’ll be as away from it all as you’d like to be!
Where to Dine: If you somehow manage a date night on your getaway, try the farm fresh, inspired cuisine at the very charming restaurant at the Inn at Erlowest. Just want something easy after a long day on the lake? Try Pizza Jerks, if for no other reason than they win the name game. And if you can’t get enough of the view and you really want to eat al fresco, the Lake George Beach Club is the place for you.
What to Do: Rent a pontoon boat. Your driver will have to watch a video before getting behind the wheel, but then you’re good to go. Bring your inner tubes, head out to the middle of the lake and float along to your hearts content. Or, scratch your shopping itch at the Outlets at Lake George. Because you may as well get some BTS shopping done while you’re having fun!
On Your Way Home: Stretch your legs by crossing the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. At just over a mile and a quarter, this walkway is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. Or, stop off at the super fun Storm King Art Center. Your kids can run to their hearts content while you take in the amazing oversized sculptures (and maybe stealthily cram a little culture into your kiddos as well)
Where to Stay: You’ll never go wrong at The Rittenhouse. Especially since you’ll be greeted with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. After a longish drive with kids, this kind of treatment is priceless. But if you need something a little less fancy, we are huge fans of Kimpton properties and the Hotel Palomar happens to be right in the heart of the city. A recent stay at a Kimpton was impressive from the reservation experience right through the friendly desk staff, the lobby refreshments and the loveable parade of pups at this pet friendly brand.
Where to Dine: You can not, repeat can not, leave Philadelphia without having at least one cheesesteak sandwich. But we propose that you try two. Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks both claim to be the best cheesesteak around. We’ll let you be the judge of that. Then leave room for an old fashioned ice cream extravaganza at The Franklin Fountain or Bassetts, known as America’s Oldest Ice Cream Company.
What to Do: After you’ve run the Rocky stairs (which you’ll need to do after a meal of cheesesteak and ice cream!), head yourselves right to the newish Museum of the American Revolution which offers a dynamic look at the nation's founding era through a collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, letters, diaries, works of art, films, digital interactives, immersive galleries, and recreated historical scenes. PSST! Or, you could wait for October when the Museum unveils its new interactive playscape, Hamilton Was Here: Rising Up in Revolutionary Philadelphia.
On Your Way Home: Stop in West Orange and shed a little light on the story of Thomas Edison (see what we did there?) with a visit to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park including Edison’slaboratory and residence, Glenmont.