Best Eastern Cities for a Luxury Staycation Road Trip in the U.S.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

You may not have the cash on hand to take an impromptu trip to the Eiffel Tower, but don't let that stop you from enjoying the vacation you deserve. By setting your sights a little closer to home, you can go all-out for your vacation without abandoning your budget.

This is how to plan for travel when you aren't traveling very far. Each city on the list is accompanied by advice for how to make the most out of your staycation and some specific examples for that city. Keep this in mind: if you're doing a staycation right, you'll forget that you're just minutes away from home.

There aren't many other places in the country where you can book an alpaca yoga session, so take advantage of the cool local quirk.

Charleston, South Carolina

Since your staycation will save you money on gas, you can put that extra money toward a luxurious hotel stay in your hometown. Getting out of the house for the night will put you in a whole different headspace. It'll save you the stress of tedious little chores and put your to-do list out of sight and out of mind.

Charleston, South Carolina includes several upscale spots to call home for the night. Belmond Charleston Place is a grand marketplace hotel right in the heart of downtown. Feel like taking a soak? Head to the roof for a saltwater pool below a retractable ceiling.

Not far away, you'll find The Restoration Hotel. The roof there doesn't have a pool, but there's a bar and restaurant that has become a community gathering spot. Weekly events include live music, wine tastings, and outdoor movie screenings.

To infuse your hotel stay with a dose of history, check out The Inn at Middleton Place. This hotel sits on a 200-year-old rice plantation along the Ashley River. Booking a night there also earns you free admission to Middleton Place, featuring the oldest landscaped garden in the country and a home-turned-museum.

If you care less about luxury, and just want to experience something new, rent a houseboat and spend the night on the water.

New York, New York

If you love your bed and don't want to spring for a nice hotel, you can put that money toward treating yourself. Live it up with luxurious, relaxing getaways that are just a short drive from your home.

New York City offers around-the-clock activities, ranging from the mundane to the ultra-posh. You can live like a 19th century aristocrat by dressing to the nines and taking in a show at the Metropolitan Opera House. See some of the finest works of art at one of New York's many famous art galleries, like the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even if you decide against staying in a hotel, you can still enjoy the five-star experience with a spa day somewhere like the Mandarin Oriental.

If your idea of relaxation involves sand and ocean waves, head to Rockaway Beach. There, you can enjoy fresh seafood and tropical drinks. You can even surf, if you feel like paddling out into the waves. For those with a desire to truly splurge, book a helicopter tour and take in iconic sights from a less-common point of view. And of course, foodies have plenty to geek out over in New York City. When you're on staycation, eat right and check out one of the city's many world-famous restaurants and bars.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Sometimes you don't just want to take a vacation, you need to. When the stresses of day-to-day life pile up, it can be hard to leave it all behind on a staycation. It might be tough for some of the more tech-addicted staycationers, but the best way to truly release the stress is to unplug from it all. Turn the phone off, let the social media notifications go unanswered, and turn to nature for your entertainment. It'll be tempting to turn the phone back on for the first hour or so, but before long you'll forget all about your digital persona and start embracing the moment.

In Virginia Beach, the beach is obviously an easy way to soak up natural beauty, but it's so obvious many locals actually overlook it as an activity. Live like a tourist and head to the beach to take in some rays, splash around in the waves, or paddle out in a kayak. There are guided kayak tours that will introduce you to the diverse ocean wildlife that, unbeknownst to you, has been sharing your hometown all this time.

To get a little more adventurous, head to the Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium for ziplining and climbing challenges. Want to keep it simple? Pack up food and water and hit the trails somewhere like First Landing State Park. Make it a true getaway by camping overnight for a multi-day hiking adventure.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

As with natural beauty, it's easy to miss out on an area's unique cultures and history during day-to-day life. Diving into the local oddities and unique attractions during a staycation will give you a fresh view of an area you probably already thought you knew.

As far as local oddities around Martha's Vineyard go, it's hard to beat Island Alpaca. 72 alpacas call the 19-acre plot of land home. There aren't many other places in the country where you can book an alpaca yoga session, so take advantage of the cool local quirk. The Oak Bluff Campground features picturesque homes that seem to come straight out of a storybook, but there's history there, too. Tour the Cottage Museum to learn all about the neighborhood's 19th century roots as a Methodist summer retreat. What was once a campground later turned into a permanent community. Homes there are still owned by the families that camped out at those original Methodist retreats.

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