Best Day Trips Around the World
In need of a change of scenery? Hit the road in the direction of these charming towns — all a short drive (or ferry ride!) away from a major international city.
Los Angeles to Catalina Island
We know, we know: California is a road tripper's paradise. But once in a while, it’s a good idea to ditch the wheels in favor of something more off-the-beaten track. Enter Catalina Island, the car-free island off the coast of SoCal. The rocky isle looks straight out of a Mediterranean postcard — red tiled roofs, parasol-lined beach clubs, ritzy casinos and harbors dotted with sailboats — despite being a mere hour ferry ride away from Long Beach. Once the set location for a number of Hollywood films (including Harry Houdini’s Terror Island), there’s enough history here to fill an entire weekend's worth of museum visits. Our advice? Check out the monuments, but leave time for a bike ride along the mountaintops or a scuba/snorkeling trip in Lover’s Cove. Lunch is served on the breezy wraparound terrace at The Inn on Mt. Ada, the mansion that was once the home of chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley Jr.
RELATED: California for Everyone
Lisbon to Alentejo
Lisbon’s food and wine scene is nothing short of legendary, and you could spend weeks sampling its diverse palate. But why not go straight to the source to Alentejo, the region best known as Portugal’s gastronomic soul. You'll know you've arrived once you start passing "Sheep Xing" road signs and ripe meadows full of lemon, olive and fig trees. And while you'll want to jump out of the car and start exploring by foot, there are a few regional highlights you can't miss. L’AND Vineyards, a high-design resort set amid rivers and vines, has a Michelin-starred restaurant with a drool-worthy tasting menu (order the roasted merino lamb with date tangine and pepper-topped cockle panade). The nearby village of Évora has an abundance of alfresco terraces, where you can enjoy a glass of vino accompanied by views of crumbling ruins, rolling hills and whitewashed houses.
Mexico City to Tlaxcala
Mexico City is having a moment, thanks to its world-class museums, trendy boutiques and innovative culinary scene. In spite of these attractions, the city of 21 million people can be, well, overwhelming. Escape the crowds and head two hours west to Tlaxcala, the capital of Mexico’s smallest state. With a bucolic setting and a rich sense of history, the city provides a welcome respite from Mexico City’s madness. On your hit list? Museo de Arte de Tlaxcala, the city's contemporary art museum, and the eighteenth-century Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Ocotlán, a Spanish baroque-style church whose architecture alone is worth the steep hike up to its hilltop perch. Finish the day with regional, home-style cooking at the perenially-packed café, Fonda del Convento.
RELATED: Mexico's Best Beach Towns
New York City to Hudson
When the Big Apple’s go-go pace gets to you, consider Hudson Valley an integral part of your escape plan. The river retreat is only 115 miles from Manhattan, but feels worlds away owing to its rural landscape, small town charm and pleasantly drowsy rhythm. Explore the area’s granite cliffs, vast swaths of farmland and waterfront trails, and when you’ve had your fill of fresh air amble over to Hudson’s Warren Street, a treasure trove for antique hunters with more than 51 different boutiques. We love Mark McDonald’s midcentury-design store and Rural Residence, a purveyor of fine linen. Your best bet for dinner is Fish & Game, where farm-to-table fare is served in a beautifully renovated 19th century blacksmith's shop.
Mumbai to Pune
Spend a week or two in Mumbai and you’ll be in dire need of a break from the city’s frenetic energy. Pune is three hours away and has long been considered a spiritual center thanks to the iconic Osho International Meditation Resort located in one of its suburbs. But beware: the ashram-resort's meditation classes will set you back hundreds. For a cost-effective alternative, bring a picnic and stroll the temple-dotted gardens that make up the Saras Baug park. Spanning over 25 acres, there's plenty to see and do, but a must-visit is the Talyatla Ganapti Temple where the soothing chants of worshippers fill the air. If you're looking to REALLY get off the grid, burn some rubber on the curvy and scenic mountain passes in the Western Ghat range of Maharashtra, outside Pune's city center. In addition to the high-altitude views, you'll also see cuckoos, quails and even flamingos.
RELATED: Trip of a Lifetime: Rajasthan
Copenhagen to Funen
If you think Copenhagen is magical, Funen — Copenhagen’s small and oft-overlooked little sister — will seriously blow you away. Promising fairy-tale views at every turn, the tiny island is filled with patchwork farms, picture-book castles and cozy B&B’s, as you’d expect from the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. Tour the writer’s eponymous museum, which showcases mementos from his life (drawings, manuscripts and school reports), then tuck into a meal of Norweigan lobster in a garlic-butter sauce at the waterfront restaurant, Rudolf Mathis. You'll need to hop back in your car to reach Egeskov — one of Europe's most impressive moated Renaissance castles, just 30 minutes away. Set aside a few hours to stroll through its four mazes, Baroque gardens and nine museums, which house a collection of vintage cars and aircrafts.
Paris to Giverny
You don't need to be a student of Impressionism to be bewitched by the beauty of Giverny, a small Seine Valley village most famous for being the site of Claude Monet’s house and garden. A horticulturalist's dream, the painter's pastel-pink home is surrounded by lush gardens filled with irises, tulips, poppies and roses. Be sure to check out his studio and the famous green Japanese bridge before moving along to the nearby Museum of Impressionisms, where you can view Monet's work along with other Impressionist masters, Gustave Calliebotte and Joaquín Sorolla.
RELATED: 8 Places that Prove Spring is Here