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The Long Weekend


The Lake Austin Spa Resort, in Austin, Texas.  

Barnard, Vermont
Get primo atmosphere at $100 a night.


Hours From New York: 4.5
DAYTIME TEMP: 36 °
TYPE OF VACATION: Romance
MODE:

Most of the New England hotels that answer the “Where’s a cushy, cozy, romantic inn?” question are priced upwards of $300 a night for the most basic rooms. But in the bucolic town of Barnard, Vermont, the three-room 1840s Fan House, so named for the fans carved in the wood frames over each window, offers a shockingly high standard of hospitality (handmade lamps by Simon Pearce, Anichini bed linens, Gobelin tapestries on the wall, Bulgari bath amenities) for just over a hundred dollars a night. Hiking, ice skating, snowshoeing, and massages in your room (particularly nice in the fireplace suite) can all be arranged, and the shops and restaurants of Woodstock and the artisan studios of Simon Pearce, Charles Shackleton, and Miranda Thomas are all within a 30-minute drive, tops. You’ll return to a fire roaring in the living room and a mug of hot apple cider prepared by owner Sara Widness, who used to work in New York handling public relations for upscale travel clients like the Orient-Express and who seems to know instinctively when to welcome you and when to leave you alone. With the money you save on lodging, splurge on dinner just down the street at the Barnard Inn Restaurant (802-234-9961), noted for its local lamb with a Zinfandel reduction—and its rave review in the Boston Globe. Rooms start at $130 including breakfast (802-234-6704 or thefanhouse.com).

Austin, Texas
Settle into a spa with southern hospitality.


Hours From New York: 4.5
DAYTIME TEMP: 60 °
TYPE OF VACATION: Female Bonding
MODE:

With so many spas in New York, you might think it nutty to fly three hours for a deep-tissue massage. But the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas, where ladies with big hair and big diamonds check in for healthy living, great services, and the chance to get all Oprah in poolside cabanas with their pals, is worth it. Sure, there are bits that might feel silly to a cynical New Yorker: staffers with warm, sugary drawls (“It’s all about YEW!”) and the laminated cards that turn up at bedtime featuring whimsical watercolors and aphorisms such as “I like myself!” and “I am at peace with my sexuality.” But the weather is caressing and balmy, and there’s something uniquely curative about the space, the quiet, and that very big sky. There’s a mostly empty lap pool in an open-sided barn, with a clear view through a garden down to the glassy surface of the lake. The exercise program accommodates all levels (and of course comes with lots of affirmation), and the top-notch spa services (try the Lake Breeze facial) in the cushy, chintzy, handmade-quilt-ish spa will make you wonder why you ever patronized those austere, snooty urban spas in the first place (from $1,455 for three nights; 512-372-7300 or lakeaustin.com).

Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Windsurf in a rum- scented paradise.


Hours From New York: 4
DAYTIME TEMP: 77 °
TYPE OF VACATION: Adventure
MODE:

Years ago, the story goes, a legendary windsurfer who called himself Doctor Fun happened on Cabarete’s protected bay and constant trade winds and declared it the next windsurfer paradise (it’s good for kite-surfing too). Fly direct from Newark to Puerto Plata in under four hours on Continental. If you catch a morning flight, cab straight to the beach. Ask for the Happy Surf outpost, and rent one of the Easter-egg-colorful Windsurfers lined up on the beach. (Classes for beginners are available.) After a stint, have a fresh-fruit plate at one of the beach bars or indulge in a cheap massage or a Dominican cigar. Then flag down one of the hundreds of motorcycles that troll the center of town and, for 50 cents, go just about anywhere. La Otra Cosa is an excellent open-air French restaurant (809-571-0897); Ali’s Surfcamp is a terrific, reasonably priced barbecue place in a swamp (809-571-0753). Stay at one of Natura Cabañas’ ten lovely thatched huts, each different, most with kitchens (from $160 for two; 809-571-1504 or naturacabana.com). The nearby beach is breathtaking and almost empty, not counting the scrappy hut where a local will machete a coconut in half and pour in rum (skip the ice).

North Adams, Massachusetts
Be avant- avant-garde.


Hours From New York: 4
DAYTIME TEMP: 37 °
TYPE OF VACATION: Family Friendly
MODE:

Three years ago, Christoph Büchel hacked through two floors of a New York gallery to make a kind of conceptual fun house through which visitors crawled while thinking about things like Armageddon. Now, in his first major U.S. museum installation, the Swiss conceptual artist is taking over Mass MoCA’s football-field-size Building 5 and building an intricate, hyperrealistic soundstage called “Training Ground for Democracy” (think Dogtown meets the fun house). The installation, built inside shipping containers and trailers, will be a series of rooms, each mimicking a social institution like a movie theater, a pharmacy, and something called a “psychological operations vehicle.” It opens December 16 ($10; massmoca.org). Afterward, return to reality with a little shopping and eating in North Adams. Mull the mind-expanding exhibit over a plate of swordfish with butternut-squash risotto at Gideon’s (413-664-9449). Stay the night at the Porches Inn, a hotel composed of six Victorian houses that have been converted into comfortably plush guest rooms (Büchel had nothing to do with it) right across from the museum (from $170; 413-664-0400 or porches.com).

Greensboro, North Carolina
Furnish the house on the cheap.


Hours From New York: 2
DAYTIME TEMP: 49 °
TYPE OF VACATION: Female Bonding
MODE:

It’s not exactly a romantic, relaxing getaway, but if you’re redoing the apartment or furnishing a second house, consider this an investment trip that can pay for itself. North Carolina’s famous factory outlets are open to the public and charge at least 30 percent (and sometimes up to 70 percent) under retail. The best time to go is late October, when the display samples are up for grabs at a mere pittance and the weather is cool but not freezing. Every chain hotel imaginable has a Greensboro outpost, but for something a little swankier, book the O.Henry (from $229; 877-854-2100 or ohenryhotel.com). Bring your tape measure and camera, and make the immense Furnitureland South in Jamestown (336-841-4328) your first stop for its mind-blowing breadth of brands. Across the street, the more upscale Boyles (336-812-2200) stocks designs from lines like Ralph Lauren and Gloster. In High Point, go to Stickley (336-887-1336) for furniture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie designs. Return to Greensboro for dinner: caramelized pork and whole flounder at Saigon (336-294-9286). The next day, drive to Resource Design in Hickory (828-322-3161) for textiles from Nina Campbell, Brunschwig & Fils, and Cowtan & Tout. Replenish with a fried-oyster salad at Youssef 242 (828-324-2005).


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