Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Get the East Village vibe in the Southwest.
Hours From New York: 6.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Relax
Until 1950, when as a PR stunt the sleepy town renamed itself after a popular TV quiz show to get its host, Ralph Edwards, to come film there, Truth or Consequences was known by the banal but more accurate name Hot Springs, owing to the geothermal waters. Today, it’s a collection of fifties-style courtyard motels, storefront art galleries, vintage stores, an organic grocery store, and several churches with a low-key, ambient weirdness (and a growing population of New York expats) that makes for a restful yet still intriguing long weekend. The Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa (505-894-6974) is the most upscale of the hotel-spas; rooms start at $89. More typical is the Fire Water Lodge (505-740-0315), which features spring-fed tubs in the $75 rooms. You can also “soak,” as the locals call it, in cisterns on the Rio Grande at Riverbend Hot Springs (505-894-7625) for $15 an hour, looking out over the desert toward Turtle Mountain. Ted Turner, who owns buffalo ranches nearby, is sometimes spotted at the Big-A-Burger takeout, and Shayna Samuels, a former teacher at OM yoga in Manhattan, has moved here to start the Mothership Yoga Lounge in a disused church. Unlike other artsy southwestern towns, this one is still affordable—though that may change when Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceport opens nearby in a couple of years.
See new art in an old southern city.
Hours From New York: 2.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Art
Sleepy, beautiful, Spanish-moss-draped Savannah has been quietly developing a reputation as an art center worth noticing. The Savannah College of Art and Design (scad) has helped transform the historic downtown into a gallery-strewn haven. The Red Gallery, a former department store (912-525-4735), and the Pei Ling Chan Gallery (912-525-6990) show the work of alumni and nationally recognized contemporary artists (scad.edu/exhibitions). Installations and performance art are common in the Starland design district, anchored by the Desot O Row Gallery (912-220-0939) and the Red Kite Studio (912-238-1508). Check out the Kemper Collection exhibit (through June 10) and Alen MacWeeney’s Ireland portraits (through May 20) at the Moshe Safdie–designed Jepson Center for the Arts (912-790-8800), a year-old expansion of the Telfair Museum of Art dedicated to contemporary work. Lunch in an airy gallery at the Soho South Cafe (912-233-1633). Indulge in inventive nouveau-southern fare in a Greek Revival mansion at Elizabeth on 37th (912-236-5547), or visit the Lady & Sons (912-233-2600) for the buffet; don’t overlook the crab cakes. Refuel with Back in the Day Bakery’s (912-495-9292) oven-roasted chicken sandwich and red-velvet cupcakes. Rest at the Mansion on Forsyth Park (from $199; 912-238-5158), Savannah’s de rigueur boutique hotel.
Get muddy with the Kings of Leon.
Hours From New York: 2
TYPE OF VACATION: Adventure
If you’re going to subject yourself to the sweaty, dusty misery of a music festival this summer, make it Bonnaroo June 14–17, the long-running jam-band bonanza held annually on a verdant farm in sleepy Manchester. Direct flights to Nashville out of JFK are cheap—and short, at barely two hours. This year’s incarnation boasts an unmissable lineup, including the White Stripes, in their first American appearance of the summer; the newly reunited Police; and the sure-to-be-right-at-home southern rockers Kings of Leon—not to mention a great roster of indie acts that could easily pack venues on their own. Arrive as early as possible on Thursday to avoid the traffic crunch. All the RVs in Nashville were rented ages ago, so bring the best tent you can find. Bring a tarp or umbrella for added shade, trash bags for sitting on, a large tub of hand wipes, and as much water as you can haul, plus sunscreen, bug spray, and tons of snacks. One old-timer’s excellent suggestion: Hoist a flag at your campsite so you’ll be able to find your way home during the long, drunken trudge back after the shows ($214 weekend-pass tickets available at bonnarootickets.com; price includes parking and camping).
Bathe in the light that inspired Hopper.
Hours From New York: 4.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Adventure
There are other islands on the coastline here with negligible populations, quaint restaurants, and proximity to a major city. But none has Monhegan’s 480 acres of untouched woods, coastline, and stunning cliffs that drop dramatically to the ocean in the east, which accounts for why Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth painted here. Monhegan can be reached only by an hour-long ferry ride (three departure points; check schedules at monhegan.com), preceded by a plane ride to Portland and a two-hour drive to the ferry landing. The village is a working fishing community with a year-round population of less than 80, clustered at a harbor on the island’s far western side. There on a bluff overlooking the ocean, you’ll find the Island Inn (207-596-0371), a renovated 1816 structure that offers some of the only rooms on the island with private baths (starting at $115 until mid-June, then $145) and a restaurant with a menu that changes with the day’s catch. There are no passenger cars—or paved roads, for that matter. Just seventeen miles of hiking trails, an ever-changing rotation of crossbills and purple finches, and countless views that could make painters of us all.