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  • The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Berkshires, MA

  • The Berkshires, MA

  • Wildwood, NJ

  • Wildwood, NJ

  • Poconos, PA

  • Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen, NY

  • Watkins Glen, NY

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Berkshires, MA

Outdoor music and art: The Berkshires, MA
In the summer, the Berkshires’ blue-tinted hills pulsate with music and arts festivals, many of them with accessible price tags. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (clarkart.edu), which has a stunning collection of Monet and Degas works (as well as a fine collection of trails through its 140 acres of wooded grounds), is running a summer promotion with Tanglewood (617-266-1492, tanglewood.org): two museum admissions and two lawn-seating concert tickets for $50 (saving you at least $14). Stay at the Bascom Lodge (bascomlodge.net; bunks from $35), a 1930s Arts and Crafts lodge made of timber and stone.


Shore escape: Wildwood, NJ
As if there weren’t enough going on in this Jersey shore town (a two-and-a-mile boardwalk, retro motels, arcades, souvenir shops, etc.), Wildwood has padded its tourist to-do list with an extensive roster of free events: fireworks every Friday, music on the pier, block parties (wildwoodsnj.com). A boardwalk standout: Maui’s Dog House, a takeaway joint that serves German franks in 22 dressings, such as the Cheesy Drunk Horse made with Wisconsin cheese, horseradish mustard and beer-soaked kraut (mauisdoghouse.com; hot dogs from $2.75). Rest your head away from Wildwood’s crowds 15 minutes down the road in Cape May, where Holly Shores’ cabins and campsites border freshwater fishing lakes (hollyshores.com; campsites from $59).


River adventure: Poconos, PA
Best known for wooded cliffs and gushing waterfalls, the Delaware River Valley has bucolic terrain for hiking, camping and canoeing. Pitch a tent at Otter Lake Camp Resort (Marshall’s Creek; 800-345-1369, otterlake.com; campsites from $45), then head to Milford, a storybook Victorian town and base for Kittatiny Canoes (Milford; 800-356-2852, kittatinny.com; full-day rental from $45) for a gentle downstream paddle. Nearby, Bushkill Park (Bushkill Falls Rd, Bushkill; 570-588-6682, visitbushkillfalls.com; $10), the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” boasts manicured trails with jaw-dropping vantage points of a network of waterfalls. 800poconos.org

Urban outing: Washington, D.C.
In the nation’s capital, there are plenty of accommodations that won’t break the bank. At Hostelling International (hiwashingtondc.org; beds from $29, plus $3 fee for nonmembers), staffers armed with local tips will point out cheap eats (the Indian street-cart food of the Fojol Brothers) and free performances (the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage; catch the Brazilian Origem Band on Friday 23 or the International Young Artist Piano Competition on July 31). They even host weekly guided tours. Try the walk through the vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood, which includes a pub crawl, or the tour of historic monuments.

Wine and the races: Watkins Glen, NY
If you’re a racing fan, then Watkins Glen’s course (theglen.com; tickets from $25)is a necessary pit stop. After a few hours in the stands, raise a stein at the memorabilia-laden tavern (NASCAR tires hang from the ceiling) at Seneca Lodge (senecalodge.com; cabins from $40),part motel, part rustic A-frame cabins and part restaurant-bar. At some point, take a free-flowing detour: A “Riesling to Visit” passport will buy you tastings at 26 wineries around the nearby Seneca Lake (senecalakewine.com; $12 plus tax).

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