Summer travel is back. No matter what kind of travel you’ve been missing, here’s the no-FOMO, YOLO guide to your perfect — and long-overdue — trip.
So you missed out on your big summer vacation last year, but who can blame you? After two-plus years of life with COVID, we’re all still testing the boundaries of our comfort levels, whiplashed by variants and rapidly changing guidelines. But now is the time. You deserve a vacation — and a great one, at that. Do you miss your extended family? We know just the place to gather in the great outdoors and reconnect. Longing for luxury? Here’s a nearby resort where you can while the day away in a cabana by the pool. Read on for seven vacations that will cure your wanderlust and pandemic-induced FOMO for good.—Edited by Regan Fletcher Stephens
If You Missed … Luxury
Head south for lush vineyards, fine dining, and just the right amount of excess in Charlottesville, Virginia
Less than five hours southwest of Center City, there’s a swank sanctuary in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally built in 1912, Keswick Hall (rates from $600) reopened last fall after a multimillion-dollar renovation by locals Molly and Robert Hardie. Out went dated Laura Ashley prints in favor of elegant guest rooms reimagined in an airy color palette, some with terraces from which to take in the sweeping mountain views.
Luxury is in the abundant common spaces — the adults-only infinity pool with cabanas; a snug library and billiards room that channels a fancy friend’s country home. (There’s a family pool, too, for those with kids in tow.) But it’s also in the tiniest details, like the Red Flower bath amenities custom-made to incorporate local blossoms from the Hardies’ nearby farm and the made-in-house chocolates that appear via nightly turndown service. Keep reading here.
If You Missed … Romance
An escape to the the Poconos will revive that spark with your S.O.
Don’t feel guilty: You and your partner deserve to treat yourselves. So send the kiddos to Camp Grandma and head to the Lodge at Woodloch (rates from $454 per person), a 500-acre adults-only, all-inclusive playground in the Poconos. The resort, about three hours from Philly, boasts woodland beauty at every turn. Each of the 58 rooms, updated in December, has a veranda and a marble bathroom stocked with signature body products. The tranquil vibes continue in the 40,000-square-foot spa, with treatments like the new fascial stretch therapy to relieve tension. And the Himalayan salt sauna and snow room do wonders for circulation and inflammation.
It’s also worth checking out the small-group programs. Join nature buffs on a three-mile hike to the former estate of glassmaker Christian Dorflinger, or try a wine-and-chocolate pairing with sommelier Leslie Britt. You could go from a smudging meditation to drawing for stress management — or even learn to belly-dance.
If you prefer to simply soak in each other’s company, spend a morning in the window-lined indoor pool and a lazy afternoon in a hammock. Other solo activities include biking on more than seven miles of trails and kayaking on the 15-acre private lake.
Save room for meals at Tree Restaurant, which serves seasonal, healthy-ish fare like a lox breakfast made with cauliflower flatbread and, for dinner, scallops with parsnip puree. (The team is extremely conscious of dietary restrictions.) The drink menu has 278 wines — the Clos St. Hune dry riesling is a resort exclusive — plus a selection of cocktails and mocktails.
Afterward? Cozy up around the lakeside firepit — or on your porch, for another night of guilt-free bliss. — Kristen Schott
If You Missed … Exploring Another City’s Food and Drink Scene
Farm-to-table gems, craft beer, lobster rolls aplenty — this Portland is much closer to home
If your first thought when you hear “Portland” is the West Coast version, you’re missing out on one much closer to home. The coastal city about a six-hour drive from Philly is home to a surprisingly vibrant food-and-drink scene. Thanks to thriving local farms and seafood purveyors, an influx of chef talent from cities like Boston and D.C., and a supportive, hungry year-round community, the city proves that Maine cuisine is more than blueberry pie and lobster rolls (though you can get those, too!).
In the morning, queue up at Tandem Coffee and Bakery for a latte and house-baked cinnamon bun. For a proper sit-down breakfast, hit up Hot Suppa for Southern-infused dishes like shrimp and grits and fried chicken with buttermilk waffles. At the Holy Donut, pick up a few treats made with potato, which adds a pleasingly dense texture to flavors like honey lavender and sweet potato ginger glazed. Keep reading here.
YO! Where ya going?
Notable Philadelphians share their summer travel plans
Owner, Moore Vintage Archive
“The lines between work and vacation need near-constant supervision. I’ll be in Brimfield and L.A. this summer, but I’ll be sourcing from dusk till dawn! I need to hear the ocean to know I’m on holiday, and I’m always craving a touch of France, so I’ll be in the French West Indies as well, getting some much-needed R&R.”
Owner, Good King Tavern and Le Caveau
“I’ll be near Chamonix in early July for my best friend’s wedding. It looks like we’ll be flying through Milan and driving through Valle d’Aosta to get to France. I’m talking now with some importer friends about pit-stopping in some vines.”
“I’ll be making my inaugural visit to Fire Island this summer for a few days with some friends. I’m hoping our trip channels Fire Island — the new movie coming out in June with Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang and Margaret Cho that takes place on the beaches and in the bars of the beautiful, buzzing New York island.”
If You Missed … Family
The Sullivan Catskills make an ideal home base for a (trendy!) multi-generational post-pandemic reunion
Reconnect with extended family in a place that isn’t your own backyard. Three hours north of the city, Kenoza Hall (rates from $499) is a 22-room lakeside retreat — a grown-up summer camp surrounded by serene woodland. The onetime boardinghouse dating back to the 1880s has been reimagined by husband-and-wife design team Foster Supply Hospitality, who’ve added custom wallpaper and soaking tubs while keeping historic details like the original hardwood floors.
There’s also a Philly connection (there always is): The kitchen is overseen by chef Eric Leveillee, who worked at Marigold Kitchen and Vernick Food + Drink before becoming the culinary director of Foster Supply. His all-day menus combine classic dishes with local and seasonal ingredients.
The 55-acre property is packed with activities to occupy the whole group — an outdoor pool, a movement studio, private lake access for swimming and canoeing, walking and hiking trails — but also allows enough room for more tranquil time away from the herd. Keep reading here.
If You Missed … Thrills
Head to these amusement parks within driving distance of Philly
Whether your idea of summer fun involves high-speed, upside-down thrills or floating in a tube down a lazy river, your next adventure is just a car ride away. There are so many local (and local-ish) spots to choose from — some perfect for little kids, others full of coasters guaranteed to get your heart racing — but here are the best of the best. Now all that’s left to do is get your tickets, pack your SPF, and save us some funnel cake. Keep reading here.
If You Missed … A.C., Baby
Glitzy new hotel rooms, go-karts, a rotating bar — there’s a whole lot happening down the Shore
Remember Revel, the doomed hotel and casino that opened in 2012? It was so ill-planned and mismanaged that they didn’t finish building all the rooms, leaving 12 floors of the shiny tower a shell. Now, at last, Ocean Casino Resort (rates from $149), Revel’s replacement that debuted in 2018, is set to unveil 465 new rooms and high-roller suites on those floors this month — and having toured one recently, we can safely say these are the poshest rooms with the most killer views on the Boardwalk.
While at Ocean, you won’t want to miss the just-debuted Serendipity3, the iconic New York City comfort-food and dessert spot (don’t sleep on the frozen hot chocolate!), or the Gallery, the decked-out new luxury sports bar, with its VIP lounge and towering screens.
Down the Boardwalk a bit, Caesars (rates from $129) gets a swanky new restaurant in the form of Nobu, the Asian eatery made famous in Tribeca and Los Angeles (having screen legend Robert De Niro as an investor probably doesn’t hurt), to be followed by a Nobu Hotel (nobuhotels.com) makeover on the top three floors of the casino’s Centurion Tower. Plus, foul-mouthed celeb chef Gordon Ramsay, who already has one restaurant at Caesars, is opening another, Hell’s Kitchen.
Putt-putt fans will delight in the bi-level North Beach Mini Golf on the north end of the Boardwalk — 18 holes with views of Brigantine and the Inlet, plus bike rentals for your cruising needs.
And briefly noted: Soul-food-and-jazz destination Kelsey’s unveils a major expansion; Bally’s gets what’s billed as the only 360-degree rotating bar in the state; and megadeveloper Bart Blatstein, who’s about to open a high-speed electric go-kart course inside his Showboat hotel, brings elegant alfresco dinner party Dîner en Blanc to Atlantic City for the first time on June 25th, at a surprise location. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain! — Victor Fiorillo
If You Missed … European Flair
Montreal has culture, old-world charm, and that certain je ne sais quoi
Just 90 minutes by direct flight from PHL, Montreal, a UNESCO City of Design and the largest city in Canada’s Quebec Province, conjures European charm from its cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, historic churches, and world-class dining destinations. Check into Four Seasons Montreal (rates from $463) for centrally located luxury in Golden Square Mile; swish rooms feature soaking tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows. Dine at Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous, buzzy restaurant on the third-floor terrace, and book a refreshing Energy & Glow facial at the brand-new Guerlain Spa. Don’t leave without taking a dip in the spa’s skylit swimming pool.
It’s easy to get around in this supremely walkable city. Fully immerse yourself in French culture at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where you can peruse a vast collection of works, including galleries spotlighting Quebecois and Canadian art. A 10-minute walk takes you to the McCord Museum, which explores Montreal social history through its collection of roughly 1.5 million artifacts, from textiles and fashion to the Indigenous Cultures collection of tools and other historical objects. Keep reading here.
The New Rules of Travel
If you haven’t ventured far during the pandemic, it’s a different world out there. Whether you’re crossing international borders or traversing your state, Alexis Rich Chami, travel adviser and founder of Palomar Travel, has advice on how to navigate.
1. Know when to go
“If there are any must-do sights, attractions or restaurants on the top of your list, a little research in advance is always a great idea. Call to confirm opening times—staffing shortages and other pandemic-prompted changes may alter the business’s listed hours of operation.”
2. Have your vax card handy
“Make sure you have an easily accessible photo of your vaccination card and that your last vaccination isn’t more than 270 days old. Many countries still require proof of vaccination to enter—not just countries, but also museums, sights and restaurants.”
3. Pack masks anyway
“Even though your city or region might have lifted the mask mandate, check what the policies are where you’re headed. I like to carry a few extra N-95 masks with me regardless—I’ve noticed that wearing a mask on a plane has safeguarded us from catching travel bugs that we used to come home with after flying.”
4. Spring for travel insurance
“Travel insurance is worth the peace of mind. If you contract COVID—or any illness—and can’t travel last-minute, you’ll be covered. Hotels and other travel vendors are less likely to issue COVID-related refunds now, and having travel insurance means you’ll still be protected.”
5. Re-check entry guidelines
“If you’re traveling out of the country, double-check your destination’s entry requirements three to four days before your departure, because things can still change.”
Published as “The No-FOMO, YOLO Guide to Your Perfect (Long-Overdue) Summer Vacation” in the June 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.