Where should we go for a short break from Ottawa?
October 25, 2012 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I have some vacation time to use up, and I'd love to get away for a few days in November. Budget is a big concern, and there are a number of other snowflakes, too.

My partner and I would like to go away for a few days, sometime pretty soon. We live in Ottawa, and ideally would like to drive, but would consider flying if we could fly direct. We'd like to go somewhere at least a bit warmer than Ottawa. We've thought about driving down the east coast of the US, but don't know where to end up. I don't mind driving for a couple of days if there are good things to see on the way there.

A few details about what we want/need:
-we are vegan, so either places we can get vegan food, or places we could get accommodations where we can cook for ourselves
-we love hiking and being outdoors, and would like to do that on this vacation
-we do like museums/galleries, but I think given our short time would prefer to be able to do outdoor things on this vacation
-we are a lesbian couple in our late 20s/early 30s so somewhere we won't be totally harassed would be awesome

Our budget is pretty tight - ideally I'd love to keep this to around $1,000 but could go higher. I just have no idea of where to start - we'd just go back to the Adirondacks where we've gone before, but we're worried that many of the hikes will be too snowy by mid-November.

I'd love any and all suggestions! I need a break!
posted by sabotagerabbit to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The White Mountains
posted by murfed13 at 6:11 AM on October 25, 2012

How about Provincetown and the Cape Cod National Seashore? The weather will not be great (and can be downright awful that time of year, with nor'easters and whatnot), but off-season prices mean you can get fabulous accomodations for reasonable prices. You won't have to deal with crowds, and walking on the beach on a brisk fall day is really quite wonderful. P-town is legendarily GLBT-friendly, and the rest of the Cape is open-minded as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:29 AM on October 25, 2012

Book yourselves into Farmhouse Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY! Vegan breakfast included, lots of farm-y and other outdoors-y activities right there, and just a short drive to Ithaca if you decide you want to see some galleries or eat at Moosewood. 5 hours' drive from Ottawa.
posted by apparently at 6:33 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, sorry, I see that the Sanctuary only takes guests through 10/31. Good for the "someday" file, though!
posted by apparently at 6:35 AM on October 25, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, Farm Sanctuary would have been perfect! Definitely filed for "someday".

I'm liking the idea of P-Town, even if the weather won't be great. Do you have any sense of whether a lot of places (restaurants, etc.) will be closed at this time of year?

Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by sabotagerabbit at 6:56 AM on October 25, 2012

To bad your budget doesn't allow but Santa Fe, NM would be perfect for you. Maybe consider for a future trip. It meets all your requirements.
posted by incandissonance at 7:04 AM on October 25, 2012

sabotagerabbit: Do you have any sense of whether a lot of places (restaurants, etc.) will be closed at this time of year?

You definitely do get a number of places that close for the season, but there is a year-round population, so many (I'd even go so far as to say most?) places stay open, though maybe with limited hours or only open for dinner or whatever.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:10 AM on October 25, 2012

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, how about Gatlinburg, TN? It's a pretty drive down I-81.

You can explore the Smoky Mountains, Cade's Cove is really interesting. Dollywood does a fall/Christmas thing and it's really charming.

We stay at the Holiday Inn Vacation Club hotel. They have full kitchens so you can do your own cooking (this is what I do when I go there) and the kitchens are very well stocked.

There are as many tacky tourist things to do, or as many nature things to do, or as much loafing around as you want to do.

As for being gay, I've seen three of everything in Gatlinburg and sure, TN is the buckle of the bible belt, but I've never known anyone to be anything but kind and polite.

The last time I was there (August) we saw an adolecent bear!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:14 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're in Cape Cod on November 17, you made see folks out on the beach with telescopes for the Leonid meteor shower.
posted by troika at 7:29 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Western Massachusetts might be a good option! Northampton and its environs are basically Lesbiantown USA. There's good hiking and biking all around and there's unlikely to be significant snowfall for at least another month or two. Vegan eating is probably as easy as anywhere. There are great museums AND great hiking in Williamstown and North Adams, smaller museums and mountains in Northampton and Amherst. Google Maps says it's about a 7 hour drive from Ottawa to Northampton, or 6 hours to Williamstown.

The only caveat I have is that the fall colors will be over and it's kind of a blegh time of year weather-wise, but that's probably true of anywhere that's driving distance from Ottawa.
posted by mskyle at 8:29 AM on October 25, 2012

I'm biased because I live here, but Philly might actually be a good choice. It's not too far of a drive, it will be warmer than Canada, and it's meets many of your criteria:
  • Plenty of vegan restaurants, bakeries, cupcake food trucks, etc. As in many hipster areas, there has *also* been a resurgence of the pro-meat movement but that coexists peacefully with a large number of vegetarian and vegan options in the city. Chinatown for example has 3-4 100% vegan restaurants that are very good. I know money is tight, but if you want to really treat yourselves as vegans there are a couple of gourmet options that are really fantastic, especially Govinda's
  • Hiking - Philly has one of the largest city parks in the U.S., with miles and miles of hiking trails. Now this is obviously not the wilderness, but it is still isolated enough that you will be completely surrounded by trees.
  • If you've never seen it (and even if you have) the Philly Art Museum is pretty special. You could the first half of the day there and then zip through some other sites in Philly in the afternoon.
  • Philadelphia on the whole is pretty gay friendly. There's even a section lovingly called the Gayborhood.
Although Provincetown is extremely gay friendly -- in the same way that, say, an anthill is ant-friendly -- it is also extremely expensive. A huge portion of your budget will go to accommodation and food, and you'll have to drive out of town to get to anywhere outdoorsy.

If you do choose Provincetown, do not try to drive there from Boston. The traffic in and out of the cape is horrible (although, admittedly, probably not as bad in November as it was in August). But definitely take the ferry to and from Boston. And rent a car on the Cape as it's pretty much impossible to get around without a car.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:42 AM on October 25, 2012

One other thing about P-Town: when I was there I saw some lesbians but it was overwhelmingly men there. So while there are a ton of homosexuals there I don't think there are that many lesbians. I mean, you might find more in my neighborhood (Mt. Airy, which has a very large number of lesbian couples).
posted by Deathalicious at 8:45 AM on October 25, 2012

Ooh! I'll add that Burlington (and most of Vermont as well!) is very, very beautiful, and you could even make a detour to meet one of our dear leaders.

I doubt whether it will be significantly warmer than Ottawa, though.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:47 AM on October 25, 2012

One more addition then I'm done: I frankly found Provincetown to be a little bit boring -- everything basically happens on one street and it's all shopping, so if you get sick of shopping after a couple of hours like I do you might not like it. I imagine its best feature -- people watching -- is better in the summer, when there are tons of people and they don't have to bundle themselves up and can wear whatever they want.

Two serious gems, though:
  1. There's a wonderful used book store set far back from the road. Inside it smells like old books and feels like you're in someone's living room or study. The people who work there really, really know their books.
  2. The Provincetown library is this incredible and beautiful old building. The beautiful curving stairs are roped off but you can take the back stairs to get to the second floor, where they have managed to squeeze in a giant sailing ship with a mast that goes up several stories. This is the children's library reading room and it is seriously the coolest kid's library anywhere.

posted by Deathalicious at 8:56 AM on October 25, 2012

Gatlinburg is a great place to visit, but it is leaf season. When I went to the aquarium there last week the traffic was awful.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:28 AM on October 25, 2012

Seconding the Northampton area. It's truly magical and the weather should be ok in November. If you go there, make sure to go to the Montague Book Mill.
posted by lunasol at 10:31 AM on October 25, 2012

Another thing about Provincetown - the ferry is over for the year. So you do have to drive. I like P-town but I don't know how much fun it would be outside of summer. It's a beach town. There's not what I would call proper hiking, although there are nature-walk-ish kinds of things. And it is expensive.

Seriously, come to Northampton. I will take you out for coffee with almond milk. You can go out to the Mt. Greylock reservation for moderately serious hiking, or do the Mt. Tom or Seven Sisters hikes just a few minutes from downtown. You can ride your bikes through the hill towns. If it rains, there are nice little museums right in in the neighborhood or drive a little ways to the really special MASS MoCA. There are cute shops and restaurants (many vegan-friendly).

Oh, or I visited Hudson, NY back in the spring and it might suit - reasonably-priced accomodations, some with self-catering; I wasn't looking for vegan food but it seems like the kind of place that would have vegan food; I was there for a lesbian wedding, so I think you would be OK for gay-friendliness; due to the aftereffects of the aforementioned wedding I was in no condition for intense activity, but I was informed that there is excellent hiking and biking in the area.
posted by mskyle at 11:22 AM on October 25, 2012

Response by poster: Northampton is sounding pretty cool - and not somewhere I was even really aware of. I will do some research!

And Deathalicious, I'm putting Philly on the list for next time, for sure. I just think we don't want to be in an actual city for this particular trip, but I hadn't thought of Philly before.

Thanks all!
posted by sabotagerabbit at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2012

If you do choose Provincetown, do not try to drive there from Boston. The traffic in and out of the cape is horrible (although, admittedly, probably not as bad in November as it was in August)

Traffic on the Cape in August is completely different from traffic on the Cape in November. Aside from accidents or other unpredictable events on the roads, traffic will not be an issue.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:05 PM on October 25, 2012

When I went to the aquarium there last week the traffic was awful

Yeah, that's a thing. I think after Thanksgiving and the first weeks of December are quieter and the town really does it up nicely with lights.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2012

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