Long Weekend Road Trip Leaving from Central NJ
July 6, 2009 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Help us narrow down our choices for an extended weekend road trip leaving from central NJ.

My husband and I are debating where to go away for a long weekend later this month. We'll be driving, and plan to be away Friday to Monday. We can leave on Thursday night if the first night's destination is close enough.

Things we like:
- good food, could be gourmet or brewpub or bakery or farmers market or diner, as long as it's interesting
- used bookstores, the bigger the better (we've done Book Barn in Niantic)
- funky, artsy towns with interesting shopping (if there's lots of cool handcrafted jewelry, even better!)
- minor league baseball
- scenic drives
- state fairs and other quirky local events
- craft fairs
- random wish: I'd like to find a wine store that could sell me a case of Putney Mountain Winery's Maple Apple Wine. Mmmmm, tasty!

Things we don't want for this trip:
- nightlife/nightclubs
- camping/hiking
- bed and breakfasts (we're on the heftier side, and have points to use up as well)
- the beach (both grew up at the Jersey Shore, like water views, not so much with the tourists)
- amusement parks

We adore Vermont, and had considered a Saratoga Springs, NY/Middlebury, VT trip as both are places we've only seen a little of and had earmarked to explore further. We're trying to branch out and explore new places. We'd like to keep each day's driving portion to less than 3 hours total. Monday's drive can be longer.

We've already been extensively to: Bennington, Brattleboro, Manchester, Burlington, Woodstock VT; Northampton MA; Mystic CT. He spent 4 years at college in Boston, and a large city isn't our first choice. On the list of possible destinations, besides Saratoga Springs and Middlebury are Rhinebeck NY, non-Northampton bits of central MA, Providence RI and parts of Southern Vermont. I'll happily listen to discussion of other parts of New England, as well as points south of us - we just tend to have a New England orientation for road trips.
posted by booksherpa to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by madcaptenor at 6:50 PM on July 6, 2009

I say venture southward!

How about first hitting up Havre de Grace, MD? I'm not sure which weekend you're planning for, but they're having all sorts of festivals later this month. You can catch an Ironbirds game in nearby Aberdeen.

You can even head down to Baltimore for a day and eat crabcakes at Lexington Market, shop in Fells Point, enjoy the Inner Harbor.

The weekend of July 23rd there's going to be a huge book sale out in Frederick, MD. There's the Frederick Keys baseball team out there too. There's cute shops and historic stuff as well.
posted by mrsshotglass at 7:14 PM on July 6, 2009

Lake George, NY is beautiful.
posted by WhySharksMatter at 7:21 PM on July 6, 2009

State College, PA! Amazing scenery, fun shopping, interesting restaurants, used bookstore, and this weekend is the completely awesome Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. The local minor league baseball team, the Altoona Curve, is only ~45min drive away. And lots more interesting shopping/eating in nearby towns like Boalsburg and Bellefonte.
posted by Bardolph at 7:36 PM on July 6, 2009

If you head south, Baltimore has Book Thing, the free (really!) used book "store". I haven't been there, but a friend who lives in Baltimore goes regularly.
posted by fings at 8:36 PM on July 6, 2009

Response by poster: All good suggestions so far based on what I posted, but . . .

Ithaca is sadly not near anyplace else we've considered. It's on my list to do someday, we have a friend in that area to visit when we go.

Havre de Grace/Aberdeen was rejected by my husband (with a chuckle) - most of his business trips involve Aberdeen, and he's spent a LOT of time in that area. We've been to Baltimore, and will probably go back, but not looking for the big city thing this time. I'd definitely like to revisit the Inner Harbor and Fells Point at some point, and see if the American Visionary Art Museum is as odd as I remember it being. Book Thing has been on my mental "book places to visit" list for some time now; thanks for the reminder.

State College will be one of my husband's stops on his own road trip in a few weeks, on the way back from the National Scrabble Tournament in Dayton.

People have the right idea - keep ideas coming, please!
posted by booksherpa at 8:51 PM on July 6, 2009

Whaling history in New Bedford, Mass? You can day trip to the Vineyard from there.
posted by vrakatar at 9:39 PM on July 6, 2009

It is hot. I recommend you head north this time of year. Upstate New York has so many options. If you like culture one place that is quite interesting is the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. There is music every night, lectures and an old time feel. (For anyone with kids who frets over today's thread about how sheltered kids are versus a generation or two ago, you can feel free to let them roam wild here without fear.) Each year brings a different theme to the lecture series so it may be best to plan a trip during a year with a theme that suits your interests. Other interesting things in upstate NY include the Finger Lakes, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Niagra Falls (bring your passport). It's close, there is good weather in the summer and it is made for tourists.
posted by caddis at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2009

New Hope, PA. and Lambertville, NJ (across the river from each other).
We used to go down there a lot, it's a hard town to describe, but it's got everything from a vintage toy store, to antiques, to biker leather shops, in a very pleasant somewhat pictuesque area. In addition, the Buck's County Playhouse is actually one of best "little" theatres around, and lots of their cast end up on Broadway.

New Hope especially is a very laid back town - I always joke to wifeHawk that it's the only town I've ever seen where Harley's and Crotch Rockets can be parked next to each other and no one cares :-)
posted by niteHawk at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2009

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