Where’s a good place to go and write (and vacation)?
July 30, 2016 8:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a book proposal I need to write. I would like to leave NYC for a bit to do it. I’m taking off at the end of August/Labor Day weekend, so I have six days. Where should I go? Caveat: I don’t drive.

I’m *not* looking for a isolation chamber — this isn’t an impossible project, so I’m looking for a place where I can, say, work until noon and then go to the beach (or the woods or the lake or the museum). I’m considering a beach trip, with the idea that the draw of beach time will motivate me to get X number of pages done per day, but I’m not married to it. This proposal is NOT for my day job, so this trip is part writing, part vacation.

Mostly I think I need a change of scene. I’d like to keep the cost of this trip to under $1,800, but could noodle it a little if something seemed perfect. I’m in New York City and have a valid passport, and will likely be traveling solo, though possibly with a friend. I will need my computer and would strongly prefer Internet, too. Where should I go?
posted by Charity Garfein to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
San Marcos (prettier, slightly more pricey) or San Pedro (cheaper, better restaurants and markets) on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is a lovely place to retreat to. It's not so isolated that you are on your own (unless you rent a cabin waaaay up the mountain side), and everything is walkable. Pretty much all the people speak English there, and the tourist vans will take you straight there from the airport in Guatemala City for $10. There's a big ex-pat group in both towns.

San Marcos has lots of hotels (around the $15-35 a night range) in forest-y areas, which are a short stroll from the main town square, or larger house rentals a bit further from town center. San Pedro also has plenty of hotels (in the $8-15 a night range), and fantastic international cuisine and active nightlife. Decent (but not super fast) wifi is fairly ubiquitous, but you can also buy a USB modem and pay for your own data plan from kiosks at the airport.

There are beaches on the lake, plenty of jungle and volcano hikes, kayaking on the lake, and as much yoga as you want to do (especially in San Marcos, which is a $3 boat ride from San Pedro). I have a favorite outdoor cafe in San Pedro I like to work in that is covered in jungle flowers and has great French pastries and local coffee. There are also solar heated hot tubs you can visit for around $5.

You'll be there right before the main tourist season, so it will be extra calm (it's always pretty chill tho). Weather is in the mid 70s during the day, dropping to the low 60s at night. It's a mile up, but very close to the equator, so it doesn't get that cold.

Another idea is to stay at Punta Mona in Costa Rica, which is right on the beach and is owned by an ethno-botanist who has filled his property with every fruit and flower that will grow in the region. It's a bit longer to get there, but it repays the effort with beautiful views, lovely beaches, amazing food prepared on site and included in the price, and lots of quiet. PM me for more details about either place!
posted by ananci at 11:10 PM on July 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am writing my thesis in Tbilisi, Georgia this summer. It is perfect and cheap but a bit far for six days!

Beach without a car is a bit tricky, but what about something on the water loke Lisbon or Porto? Both nearish to NYC, both delicious, both have a lot of lodging and flat-rental possibilities.
posted by mdonley at 7:35 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a wonderful time in San Juan Puerto Rico last September and would totally go there for a writing holiday.
posted by BibiRose at 8:17 AM on July 31, 2016

Portland, Maine, perhaps maybe one of the Casco Bay Islands? You can take the train to Portland and the ferry to the island.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on July 31, 2016

As far as nearby spots go, Cape May, NJ would serve, if not being very ambitious. Going east, Newport, RI or Cape Cod (e.g.Provincetown) would work. These places are reachable by some combination of train and bus.

But when I think of a writer holed up in a cabin to write the Great American Novel, I think Adirondacks. Tupper Lake didn't look very intriguing as a town the couple times I've driven thru, but there is woods and Lake.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:39 AM on July 31, 2016

Portland, Maine should be awesome that time of year. It's a bit of a haul by train, but definitely doable. Stay in one of the downtown hotels or B&Bs for maximum effect.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:14 PM on August 1, 2016

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