I love a good bargain AND weekend getaways
One thing I have grown to love is traveling whenever I get the chance. Even if it is in close proximity to home here in New Jersey, it’s nice to get away from time to time. With the hectic pace of everyday life, I’ve learned it’s important to put yourself first and take time to reboot and relax from time to time. I’ve learned the hard way, that taking care of yourself and making yourself a priority is important otherwise you can head towards burnout.
So with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and official start of Summer coming sooner than later, today I’ll share with you a few cheap getaway ideas for couples under $500. Keep in mind that although these destinations are couple friendly, a few are also family friendly as well. Since I’m in the northeast, I prefer to take long three-day weekends when I can and travel in driving distance to the New York area.
So the following five destinations I will share today are all places I have traveled to before and have first hand experience. I’m a bargain hunter and love money-saving sites like Travelocity, Livingsocial or Booking.com so that’s another way in which my husband and I save money. The following trips cost around $500/couple for 2 nights and 3 days. I love finding a good bargain. If you like to travel or even just looking to getaway for an evening consider these places as an option. All locations are approximately 1 hour or less from Northern New Jersey.
I remember a couple of years ago my husband and I took an anniversary getaway for the weekend to Long Branch, NJ. They have beautiful beaches, fine and casual dining by the boardwalk area and eclectic shops. It’s a nice place to unwind, enjoy the sun and let the water waves run between your toes. There is lodging along the boardwalk however a short drive away you can find very affordable accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express in Eatontown, NJ.
What I love about Holiday Inn Express is that they include free breakfast daily and some locations are pet friendly. (You can check out their parent website to see their variety of hotel accommodations, some of which are pet friendly too.) The Holiday Inn Express Eatontown offers clean rooms, free wi-fi, free parking, and easy access to the Garden State Parkway.
In the Long Branch area, you can soak up the sun and work on your tan or swim at the beach. If beachside sun and shopping isn’t quite your fancy, there is shopping nearby at the Monmouth Mall. Here you’ll find a variety of retail stores as well as an AMC movie theatre and local restaurants for fill you up after a long day.
Another great thing about Long Branch is its close driving proximity to Red Bank, NJ. Red Bank is another popular destination in New Jersey for its eclectic charm. That’s next on my list of future trips.
Next up, is New York. Nope, not classic New York City but up north a little further. More specifically, if you like to gamble or play the slots like me you’ll enjoy a getaway to Empire Casino in Yonkers, NY. Only an hour drive away from north Jersey you can find easy accommodations close to the casino.
Recently hubby and I took an overnight getaway and stayed at the Hyatt Place hotel. This place offers access to a gym, free Wi-Fi and close proximity to the casino and freeways. They have breakfast and dining on site for an additional fee. This particular hotel location shares the same space with an outdoor mall on site so it makes for easy access to different restaurants and shopping. We had great overnight trip and won $200 on the slots!
If you want to travel a bit further out and explore a little history, travel to Philadelphia, PA. About an hour and change on the Amtrak train and you will find yourself in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Although we have a car, we decided to be extra adventurous and take the train to Philly. This turned out to be a good idea to avoid traffic and we saved money on gas, tolls and parking!
We took the Amtrak train on a Friday afternoon from Newark Penn Station and reached our destination in under 90 minutes. I loved taking the Amtrak because of the nice quiet comfortable ride and good service. If you are on an even tighter budget for travel, you can take a NJ Transit train to Philadelphia for a deeper discount in price however the trade-off is time. With the NJ Transit train you will get to Philadelphia however you will need to transfer trains and the travel time is twice as long.
Hubby and I traveled to Philly for an end of summer couples getaway in the past and explored Philly by taking the Red City Bus Tours. We saw many historic sites including the Eastern State Penitentiary, The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Zoo and the famous stairs Sylvester Stallone ran up in the movie Rocky.
Philadelphia is a great place to visit for couples or families. They have great eats, culture and a lot of history of America here. There are plenty accommodations in downtown Philly with easy access to SEPTA (that’s Philly’s transit system). We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn downtown.
Marriott not only has great rooms, they have great hospitable service, free wi-fi and options for in room food delivery. Additionally the room rates were very reasonable, and close proximity to the popular landmark Reading Terminal Market. It’s one of America’s oldest public markets featuring locally sourced fresh produce and goods from the area. It’s quite the site to see. You can learn more about it in the video below.
If you like sightseeing, trees and the peace and quiet nature brings, head to Hudson Valley, NY. An easy drive up north on the Garden State Parkway and you will find yourself in the town of Sleep Hollow. This makes for a perfect spring/summer getaway especially since the trees are in bloom and blue skies are shining.
We had 3 day / 2 night stay at Comfort Inn and Suites. Although a little older the accommodations were very clean, with free hot breakfast, and dining options on site in the same area. Free parking, pool and gym are included in the rate.
At the time we traveled here our anniversary had passed and we wanted to have a getaway to just relax but also try something different. Our unique sightseeing adventure took us to Kykuit- The Rockefeller Estate. Put this on your bucket list. On the tour you will walk the grounds and tour the home of one of the wealthy Rockefellers, including the gardens, horse stables and car garage where Rockefeller kept his collection of classic cars. It’s quite the site to see, even in the 21st century.
Don’t forget your camera phone as the tour is a little over 2 hours and you can witness a piece of history through the eyes of a wealthy Rockefeller. The historical landmark mansion, architecture and grounds are a sight to behold and worth the $25 ticket price tag. (Note: Prices vary based on tour type) You can learn more about the Kykuit Rockefeller Estate here.
Last but not least is an oldie but goodie for couples or families the Poconos, PA. If you crave peace and quiet and relaxation the Poconos is the perfect getaway without an exorbitant price tag. Whether you want to go to unwind, ski or shop the outlets, the Poconos has something for almost everyone.
I happened to find a Travelzoo deal for the Poconos a while back and it was for $250 for 2 nights/ 3 days at The Settlers Inn. I never heard of this place before however why not try a 4 star Bed & Breakfast right? Score! This great historic 4 star Bed & Breakfast Inn boasts great service, free parking, and free Wi-Fi and quality organic food from their on-site dining restaurant.
The Settlers Inn has fine dining and quality service. We happened to visit The Settlers Inn for an anniversary weekend and the staff made our stay very personable with a hand written note upon checking into our room. (Who does that anymore?! Nice touch!)
The Poconos is an area of Northeastern Pennsylvania made up of many small towns in the Appalachian mountains. Our accommodations at the Settlers Inn was located in the small town of Hawley, PA so there were only a few small businesses and gift shops within walking distance. Other landmark sites to visit include Lake Wallenpaupack or the shops at the Hawley Silk Mill a short drive away.
If sightseeing or nature isn’t quite your thing, there is a bowling alley nearby only a 5 minute drive away from the Settlers Inn or if you prefer shopping, you can drive to the The Premium Crossings Outlet Mall however it’s about an hour drive away. To see a glimpse of this fabulous Bed and Breakfast, check out this video.
Think outside the box
So those are my five cheap and affordable getaway ideas you may want to try if you are in the tri-state area. With all of these destinations we did our due diligence to search out the best hotel rates with the most amenities without the extra charges. On average our hotel room rates were about $125-$150/ night so that left around $200 for expenses like dinners, gas and souvenirs hence the $500 total.
I think that’s pretty reasonable for two people, three days and two nights. Traveling and having fun doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The goal is to relax and reboot. You just have to know where to look. I hope I’ve given you some ideas to consider.
What are your travel plans?
Let me know. Do you have any travel plans for the upcoming Memorial holiday or summer season? Have you visited any of the places I mentioned? How do you like to save money when traveling? Comment and share your thoughts below.