Shave two strokes off your handicap in two days.
Hours From New York: 4
TYPE OF VACATION: Male Bonding
Many golf junkies try every new club looking for a soul mate, but with endless, ever-changing models that neither you nor the golf-shop guys understand, it’s hopeless. Pros customize their gear to maximize their swing, and so should you. The new TaylorMade Performance Lab, millions of R&D dollars in the making, is at Georgia’s Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, an easy drive from Atlanta. Step inside, put sensors all over your body, swing for an array of nasa-like cameras and computers, and let the PGA teaching pros punch up your perfect clubs. This is the same fitting Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen get, except they do it in a California warehouse, and you do it at Ritz-Carlton’s best golf resort, a lakefront lodge reminiscent of the Adirondacks, complete with a spa and five courses designed by Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones, and Bob Cupp. Adding the hotel, lab, and a new golf academy has quickly made Reynolds a marquee-destination golf resort (lab fitting, $400; package with lodging and one round of golf daily, from $675 per couple; 760-467-0600).
Rhode Island’s South Shore
Go bivalve bingeing at the source.
Hours From New York: 4
TYPE OF VACATION: Eating
For seafood fans, only a sandy beach day topped off with a shack meal properly celebrates summer. Some of the best bivalves and beaches are in the Victorian beach and port towns lining Rhode Island’s south shore, where clams are venerated and Narragansett Harbor narrows produce crisp, briny oysters—watch for Moonstone, Watch Hill, and Prudence Island varieties. Start with a wander around Watch Hill’s early-1900s ocean cottages, then drive north on Route 1A for Watch Hill oysters sold off the road on Saturdays from June through August at Tom’s Clam Stand. Bypass overdeveloped Misquamicut Beach’s carnival rides in favor of Charleston’s East Beach and pristine South Kingston town beach. Listen to rolling waves from your room at the Victorian Admiral Dewey Inn (401-783-2090; from $120) overlooking Matunuck Beach. Feast on juicy steamers and clam cakes (the doughy puff of clams and cornmeal, a Rhode Island specialty, originated here) at Aunt Carrie’s (401-783-7930). Cross a bridge to mile-wide Conanicut Island, boasting picturesque Jamestown, where Chopmist Charlie’s (401-423-1020) serves prize-winning seafood (try the clear-broth clam chowder), and the Jamestown Oyster Bar & Grill (401-423-3380) shucks the local finest. For enthusiasts, several Narragansett-area harvesters will let you wade through the shallows or watch shellfish farming by appointment; call Bob Rheault (401-783-3360) or Perry Raso (401-932-4946). Finish in Newport: Stay at the elegant Castle Hill Inn & Resort (401-849-3800) and have the spicy stuffed quahogs (“stuffies”) and littlenecks on the half-shell at Flo’s Clam Shack (401-847-8141).
See Broadway-caliber theater in bucolic surroundings.
Hours From New York: 2.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Female Bonding
Ivoryton, a small village in the lower Connecticut River Valley, is a stone’s throw from the Goodspeed Opera House and about as far from 42nd Street as you can get: You’ll see original productions (no touring shows here!) in a regal white Victorian playhouse. This summer, go for Singin’ in the Rain, which plays through July 1: a reworking of Twyla Tharp’s not-so-successful Broadway adaptation from the eighties, but this time going back to the original MGM movie’s story line (plus real rain onstage!). The Ivoryton Playhouse is the nation’s oldest summer-stock theater; this summer’s shows are A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Stay at the elegant Copper Beech Inn (from $195; 860-767-0330).
Woodstock, New York
Study soft focus in the deep Catskills.
Hours From New York: 2.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Art
There’s no chance that legendary Japanese photographer Eikoh Hosoe could teach his two-day workshop, “Nude Study in Open Air,” in Central Park without racking up some public-lewdness tickets. So Hosoe has wisely chosen to host his first workshop in years as part of the Center for Photography at Woodstock’s (845-679-9957) 30th anniversary. He’ll hand-pick the fifteen students he’ll be working with, but if you don’t make the cut there are plenty of other prestigious instructors making their way to the Hudson Valley this summer, including Mary Ellen Mark teaching “The World Observed” August 4 and 5 (she usually takes her class to a county fair), and the country’s leading environmental photographer, Robert Glenn Ketchum, who plans to take his class on field trips through the Catskill Mountains July 14 and 15. The center hosts one or two workshops per weekend. Most offer intense 10 a.m.–to–5 p.m. instruction both days with no more than fifteen students per class. There are classes on old-fashioned salt- and silver-printing techniques, photojournalism, and even Photoshop (see the schedule at cpw.org/WPW/wpw2007.html; registration begins April 25, and classes fill up quickly). Most classes use high-grade digital cameras (they’ll provide one if you don’t have one) so the instructors can give instant feedback. Stay at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream (845-679-8211; from $119), a restored motel from the forties just steps from the center, or half an hour away at the Inn at Stone Ridge (from $195; 845-687-0736), an eighteenth-century stone mansion set on 40 acres of gardens. At night, shop, visit galleries, and eat at the Bear Café (845-679-5555), where locals swear by the fresh fish. Practice your new skills on the sweeping grounds of nearby estates like Olana, the Persian-fortress-style home of Frederic Edwin Church.
See the country’s coolest new museum for yourself.
Hours From New York: 3.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Art
Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s new Institute of Contemporary Art (617-478-3100) has been mobbed since its opening in December, wowing architects, art critics, and locals alike with its vertiginous views, lenticular glass walls, and cutting-edge program. This June, a major survey of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s psychologically probing photographs gives New Yorkers good incentive to join the crowd. Several hotels offer packages; Kimpton’s Nine Zero Hotel (617-772-5800) in nearby downtown Boston has the most contemporary design behind its stodgy redbrick façade. Its rates, starting at $479 per night for a double, include two VIP tickets and a one-hour in-room massage. The year-old Westin Boston Waterfront (617-532-4600) is a short walk from the museum and has packages from $239. Try the high-tech LTK Bar and Lounge (617-330-7430) for dinner, where you can dock your iPod at the table. Take in a music, dance, or experimental-film performance at the ICA’s bi-level theater with a full glass wall overlooking the bay.
Great Wolf Lodge
Plunge into whirling depths, then have some ice cream.
Hours From New York: 2
TYPE OF VACATION: Family
Mega–water parks are Midwest things. But last year we got one that’s sort of close by: Great Wolf Lodge (570-688-9899), a $92 million, 78,000-acre, 380,000-gallon marvel of indoor water-park wizardry that’s in sleepy Scotrun, a kitsch Pocono Mountains town about a 90-minute drive from the George Washington Bridge. Highlights: the 727-foot high Hydro Plunge roller coaster, and the Coyote Canyon, a human-size bowl that flushes you around and around and around, followed by a dizzying 40-foot drop. To access the water park, you need to spend the night; rooms start at $184.