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Mystic, Connecticut
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The best weekend getaways off the Acela

Want quick, car-less access to the biggest cities on the Eastern Seaboard? Check out these best weekend getaways off the Acela train route.

Written by
Andrew Hirschfeld
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Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC have many things in common and one of the most notable is that despite their sprawling, metropolis-like scale, they're all cities where you can comfortably survive in without a car. But what happens when you want to explore the cultural treasures and history that other cities up and down the Eastern Seaboard have to offer?

Well, you're in luck. If you weren't already aware, the Acela is a reliable high-speed rail link run by Amtrak that offers affordable access to the biggest cities on the Atlantic coast. With summer just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to get out of the house and get on that weekend getaway. With more space and legroom than typical airline seating, it offers downtown to downtown service between all the major cities, plus free Wi-Fi, power outlets at your seat and amazing views as you speeds across the country at speeds of up to 150 mph. (And Amtrak often offers deal on tickets!) 

With gas prices where they are, make this the summer you schedule a scenic train ride instead. 

Best weekend getaways off the Acela

A snowy sojourn in Hunter Mountain, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Hunter Mountain

1. A snowy sojourn in Hunter Mountain, NY

Still up for some skiing? While it may not be the best this time of year, you can ski for a few more weeks at Hunter Mountain; it’s open until April 10. It’s easy to access from New York City. There are buses daily, operated by charter companies, that take skiers from Manhattan to Hunter Mountain making it easy access from Penn Station. It’s close enough for a day trip but you can always stay at the Hunter Mountain Sanctuary nearby.

A nautical excursion in Mystic, CT
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2. A nautical excursion in Mystic, CT

Mystic is a quaint town on the Constitution State’s coast. Known for its marine theme, it’s ideal for a nautical weekend getaway near New London and comfortably between New York and Boston. The Seaport Museum is the town’s key attraction but be sure this spring you may want to add water activities to your itinerary; with all the boat themes, why not hit the water on a paddleboard, kayak or take out a boat. Amtrak even stops directly in the town on the Northeast Regional, but a small number also stop in nearby New London.

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A night at the tables in Atlantic City, NJ
Photograph: Bob Krist

3. A night at the tables in Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City needs no introduction—known for its casinos and beaches, the seaside city is a great place for a weekend getaway. Book a room at the Borgata Hotel or maybe at the Hard Rock Hotel and try your luck in the casino. The beaches and boardwalk are also a must check out this spring as the weather warms up. It’s not directly on the Acela but it’s an easy transfer. Catch the NJ Transit from Philadelphia 30th Street Station. Then it’s a quick 90-minute trip. 

Discover the best things to do in Atlantic City

An active weekend in Washington, DC
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4. An active weekend in Washington, DC

If you live along the Acela, chances are you’ve seen the typical touristy stuff. Skip the White House tour and swap it for a more active weekend. Try your luck renting kayaks at any one of a number of outlets in Georgetown. Another must see is Rock Creek Park, which is massive—in fact, it’s twice the size of Central Park. There you can get your equine fix. It has horse stables where you can ride and take lessons. At the end of the day, maybe grab dinner at Le Diplomate; the iconic French restaurant is the place to go to spot some of the nation’s top political figures. 

Discover the best things to do in Washington DC

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An artsy outing in Philadelphia, PA
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5. An artsy outing in Philadelphia, PA

If you are a friend of the arts, the city of brotherly love has a lot to offer. From small galleries to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, which currently has an exhibition on political descent called Waiting For Tear Gas, there is something for everyone. No trip to the museum is complete without a picture on the iconic Rocky steps sure to please any movie buff. Check out Barnes Foundation as well which currently has an exhibition of Native American art on until May 15.

Discover the best things to do in Philadelphia

A winter escape in Loon Mountain, NH
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6. A winter escape in Loon Mountain, NH

For the ski and snowboard fanatics looking to get that last chair, Loon Mountain is a place to go. Nestled on the southern end of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the resort offers world class skiing. It’s super easy to get to, that’s why it touts itself as the most accessible ski resort in New England. Get off the Amtrak at South Station in Boston and you can catch the Concord Coach bus which can bring you right to Lincoln, where the resort is. There are loads of hotel options including the Mountain Club Resort and Spa.

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A chowder-filled excursion in Newport, RI
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7. A chowder-filled excursion in Newport, RI

On the Rhode Island shore is Newport, one of the most iconic shoreline towns in New England. Known for its jazz festival in the summer, there are events and attractions to check out this spring including the oyster and chowder festival in May. For the history buffs check out The Breakers—a summer cottage of the Vanderbilt family turned historical museum. It’s easy to get to from Providence but the definite way to go is on the Seastreak ferry.

A literary deep dive In Boston, MA
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8. A literary deep dive In Boston, MA

The greater Boston area is filled with colleges and universities and as one of the most prevalent cities in early US history, it’s a book lover's goldmine. Of course you want to check the Boston Public Library, the first large municipal library in the United States. Brattle Books is a must see famous for its outdoor bookstalls. Take a stroll in Beacon Hill where notable authors including David Thoreau once lived. Stay the night at Omni Parker House, which housed the Saturday Club in the 19th century, which included literary icons including Ralph Waldo Emerson and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Discover the best things to do in Boston

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A tasty tour of Brooklyn, NY
Photograph: Mystic Stock Photography / Shutterstock.com

9. A tasty tour of Brooklyn, NY

Skip the Manhattan-entric New York food tours and head to Brooklyn. Try a taste of New Mexico at Santa Fe BK or Jewish American cuisine Edith’s Eatery, which just opened in Greenpoint. While in Brooklyn check out Brooklyn Kura, a sake brewery, or if an urban aesthetic is more your style, check out Brooklyn Grange. The Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg is also a must see, which currently has an exhibition of African American Culinary Culture. The museum is right across from McCarren Park with ample space to walk off a big lunch.

Discover the best things to do in Brooklyn

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