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Day: City Island (40mins from NYC by car, 1¼hrs by subway and bus)
Seaside charm abounds on this petite isle in the Bronx. Channel a bygone era as you stroll the picturesque, New England–style main street on your way to the City Island Nautical Museum (718-885-0008, cityislandmuseum.org). You may be tempted to sail off into the sunset after inspecting vintage photographs, yachting paraphernalia and boat models, but don’t peace out just yet—City Island Avenue, the main thoroughfare, is lined with indie boutiques selling international tchotchkes, antiques and other offbeat merchandise. Browse artwork and locally made jewelry while noshing on a sandwich at Starving Artist Cafe and Gallery (718-885-3779, starvingartistonline.com), then treat yourselves to a cone at old-timey Lickity Split Ice Cream Parlor (718-885-9654, licketyspliticecream.biz). After poking your head into other shops that spark your interest, stop for dinner at Portofino Ristorante (718-885-1220, portofinocityisland.com), where you can share a pair of lobsters sautéed with garlic and spices ($46.95).
Weekend: R&R in Brandywine, PA (2¼hrs from NYC by car)
Stroll hand-in-hand along the winding paths of vibrant azaleas and wisteria at Longwood Gardens (610-388-1000, longwoodgardens.org; $18), an expansive property with 325 acres open to the public. Sneak a kiss as you wander past the bell tower and waterfall in the West Outdoor Gardens, and if you’re planning your trip for June or later in the summer, don’t miss Bruce Munro’s Light: Installations, comprising glowing towers, illuminated “flowers” and other twinkling surprises. Once you’ve finished exploring by foot, treat your S.O. to a bird’s-eye view of the landscape on a hot-air balloon ride (800-826-6361, air-ventures.com; one hour $199 per person). Or pretend you’re posh late-19th-century aristocrats at Henry Francis du Pont’s regal, 175-room mansion, Winterthur (302-888-4600, winterthur.org)—now a museum housing American decorative arts from the mid-1600s through late 1800s.
Where to stay: All seven rooms at Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast are spacious and well-appointed—some even have meadow or waterfall views—but if you’re seeking seclusion, consider springing for one of the cottages. (610-459-3000, hamanassett.com). Room rates start at $194, cottage rates start at $335.
Long weekend: Wine tasting and pampering in the Finger Lakes, NY (4½hrs from NYC by car)
Rife with rich soil surrounding the namesake bodies of water, this lush region is home to more than 100 vineyards. You can narrow down the options by choosing a route that circles one of the four main lakes, or you could focus on producers that specialize in your favorite varietal—the area’s German grapes riesling and gewürztraminer are notable. In particular, we like the peppery 2007 Vintner’s Select cabernet franc from Bloomer Creek Vineyard (607-546-5027, bloomercreek.com), as well as the award-winning 2008 semidry riesling at Anthony Road Wine Company (800-559-2182, anthonyroadwine.com), where you can sip a flight while you relax in the verdant garden. On your way back to the city, leave time to stop in Ithaca to see the famous gorges and waterfalls.
Where to stay: The posh Mirbeau Inn & Spa tempts lovers with a 14,000-square-foot wellness retreat and lush gardens reminiscent of Monet’s water-lily-strewn sanctuary at Giverny. Through June 30, couples can take advantage of the Adult Spring Break package, which includes a one-night stay and 50-minute spa treatment for each person, plus a full breakfast and a basket of swanky bath goodies. (315-685-5006, mirbeau.com). Regular weekend rates start at $399, Adult Spring Break package $615.