Vacation-Filter; help us choose where to go!
June 24, 2015 8:47 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I are looking to take a weekend trip to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We have a couple potential options in mind, and are looking for additional suggestions for locations we might not have thought of or might not know exist.

Our location preferences are: Not more than ~8 hours on a bus or a train. Our budget for travel (especially relevant in the case of flights, which we're also open to) is ~$250/person round trip at most. If we must, we can drive, but we don't want to be in the car more than 5 hours at most. We both have current passports.

Definite days are July 11th and 12th. Boyfriend is willing to use some vacation time if necessary, so Friday or Monday may be an option. We need to be back by Monday afternoon at the latest.

What we're looking for:
- Walkable/public transit. Even if we drive there, I would vastly prefer to be able to walk to 90% of destinations from our hotel/B&B. If we do drive, we can bring bicycles, but we're not going to ship them on a train/plane simply because it's an extra hassle we don't want to deal with.
- Nighttime activities. We're not planning on staying up until 3am (necessarily) but we would like the option of deciding at 10-11pm that we're not tired and have the town/city not be completely closed. We're interested in late-night comedy shows, burlesque, drag shows, whatever. This is not a deal-breaker, though.
- Safety. We would like to be able to wander around without worrying about being mugged or harassed. We're both men, but we're also a couple, so there's a potential for unpleasantness there in some locations. That's not to say that we're steering clear of any and every town with a "bad spot."
- A water feature, whether ocean, lake, river, etcetera is nice, but totally optional. Water-based activities like renting a canoe/tandem kayak appeal more than just lounging on a beach.
- We like to spend our money at locally-owned businesses and at establishments that are eco-friendly.

As far as activities go:
- We go in for experiences over comfort/convenience. We'd rather go to a show or try something new than use that money at restaurants, and all we really need in lodging is a place to sleep and maybe store a cooler of food.
- I love natural history museums, aquariums, etcetera. They're by no means a necessary component, but the presence of one or more of those things gets bonus points from me.
- I'm athletic and enjoy things that challenge me physically. My boyfriend is game for trying most things, but physical activities should be able to scale to different levels of ability and risk tolerance.
posted by Urban Winter to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are you travelling from? That's pretty fundamental to this question.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:51 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ack. I'm an idiot.

We're traveling from the Albany, NY area.
posted by Urban Winter at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2015

You should go to Montreal if you haven't been there. It's a quick drive from Albany and really interesting to drive into Quebec from the US and see the immediate changeover to French. You won't have any trouble communicating once you're in the city, though; most everyone there is bilingual. The old part of town is beautiful and romantic, perfect for an anniversary. The whole city is doable by public transit; we never took the car out from the hotel parking garage.

One of my favorite things we did there was riding bikes on the Formula 1 racetrack on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. There's also a huge park in the middle of town with miles of trails if you want to get some nature time in.
posted by something something at 9:16 AM on June 24, 2015 [4 favorites]



the correct answer is Montreal
posted by barnone at 9:22 AM on June 24, 2015 [9 favorites]

You have so many options, you lucky duck!

Basically any New England medium-sized city will match your criteria. Boston, Cape Cod (Provincetown), Newport Rhode Island, Providence Rhode Island, Portland Maine, and Burlington Vermont ALL seem like they could fit the bill. All have active nightlife in the summer time; all can be navigated fairly cheaply (with Boston maybe being the exception, although there's always AirB&B); all have access to the ocean and/or a nice lake with opportunities for water activities; all really walkable; all gay-friendly and artsy; all very historic.

If one of those cities sparks your interest in particular, I'd be happy to provide more specific recommendations.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Montreal, my favourite city in Canada! Great food, people, culture, nightlife, architecture, Metro system, etc. I have yet to hear someone say "Yeah, I didn't really like Montreal..."
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:52 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also think Montreal would be kickass.

But you happen to be within easy reach of one of my favorite places: Burlington, VT. You can do boat things on Lake Champlain There is an aquarium by the lakefront. There are a few good local music spots, an art gallery, a nice Saturday farmer's and artist's market. You can walk around the cute downtown, where there are some nice restaurants. All of the aforementioned is walkable. Plus, Burlington is a super-progressive community (you won't turn any heads) that's all about local and eco this-and-that.

Getting slightly outside Burlington, you can go hiking in the Green Mountains or swimming in a nearby swimming hole.
posted by the_blizz at 9:54 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lake Placid. It's a few hours by bus from Albany.
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2015

Western Mass hits every single one of your wishlist. Northampton/Pioneer Valley area is lgbt-friendly with appropriate music venues/drag shows/night clubs, progressive, local economy oriented/green, tons of nature activities like hiking/kayaking, safe, and mostly walkable/definitely bike friendly. have fun wherever you end up!
posted by carlypennylane at 11:01 AM on June 24, 2015

Echoing Montreal for sure, perhaps with an overnight also in Quebec City (not worth it for just a simple weekend, but if you're there for 4 nights, maybe worth one overnight in Quebec City).
posted by vunder at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Montreal is home to legendary Cabaret Mado, where there's drag every night!
posted by missmary6 at 2:13 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Montreal! Another enthusiastic vote for Montreal.
posted by slateyness at 7:45 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Literally just went through and favorited every answer that said "Montreal," but thought I would add my capslock and emphatic punctuation for good measure.)
posted by Devika at 9:30 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

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