These Socially Distanced Getaways In The Northeast Are Primed For "Safe" Traveling During COVID-19

by Danielle Naer
Originally Published: 

As cloudless, 85-degree days come and go, many city folk are itching to trade out fire escapes for something slightly more inviting. Say, coastal vistas and clean air, for instance. If you, too, are looking to pack up your laptop and "work from home," elsewhere — there are tons of waterfront getaways in the Northeast that are making it simple (and safe) to do so. While travel amidst the COVID-19 pandemic can be tricky to navigate, TZR consulted hoteliers and infectious disease experts alike to find the top destinations putting the CDC's best-practices into play, so that you can plan your next adventure accordingly.

While there are tons of hotels re-opening safely and upping their cleaning practices, you'll want to continue to exercise caution and have a plan at all times. "It's all about doing little bit of extra research," says Barun Mathema, infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at Columbia University. "Caution is the key word. We’re still very much in this pandemic. Be aware of what your route looks like ... do some wipe down [when you get there], be vigilant, wear masks, try not to be in somebody's inner space."

Traveling now also affords the opportunity to tap into some of the quiet, local charm of some of the buzzier hotspots. Take Montauk, for example: due to social distancing restrictions, the party scene that typically spills over from the Hamptons is taking pause, reviving the charm of the old "Out East". This is true across the board — small group regulations have given rise to more subdued sojourns, and now's as good a time as any to take advantage of the mellow travel trend.

From Cape Cod to Cape May, continue ahead for the top places to take your next trip:

Waterfront Getaways In The Northeast: Newport, RI


How To Go: Driving is typically accepted as the safest bet in COVID-era travel, but not so fast. While public transit poses more obvious risks of exposure, road-tripping is safest when done alone, or with members of your immediate family. "If you’re taking a road trip with a friend who lives in a harder-hit area, or that has not been practicing social distancing, and you're in a car with closed windows — that, to me, would be a very high-risk activity," says Mathema. "You’re in a confined space, you’re re-breathing each other's air for a good chunk of the time." When heading to Newport, opt to ride solo or with people in your household and meet any other friends there, if possible.

Where To Stay: Known for its well-ornamented rooms and stately guests, the Chanler at Cliff Walk has long been the crown jewel of Newport — with its Ocean Villas setting the gold standard for safe travel amidst COVID-19. Employing contactless check-in, each villa features an exterior entrance, so that entering the hotel's common spaces is totally optional. All three ocean villas are themed after a different New England island — Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, and Nantucket — offering a little slice of each oasis that's closer to home (a veritable plus, while multi-step travel remains risky amidst COVID-19). Equipped with its own private courtyard, hot tub, and sauna, there's plenty of outdoor and indoor space to escape into. Plus, its famed bed-and-breakfast package is available through contactless, in-room dining.

What To Do: Right outside of your villa, there's a public path dubbed the "Cliff Walk" — a coal-age rock path (dating back 300 million years) that invites visitors to indulge in scenic views, local fauna and birds along the Newport coast.

Waterfront Getaways In The Northeast: The Hamptons & Montauk

How To Go: This season, the Hampton Jitney has conjured an all-new, socially distanced travel experience. Jitney X Rove calls on its first-class, "Ambassador" buses, offering an upgraded beverage menu of wine, Volley's boozy seltzers, and beer from Montauk Brewing Co. Ambassador buses have additional room between seats, and will reduce capacity by 30 percent to meet (and exceed) social distancing guidelines. That said, considering this will still mean exposing yourself to a larger group, if you're able to drive yourself, that is always the better and safer option.

Where To Stay: In years past, Stay Marquis was comprised of rental homes tended by top-notch concierge, who'd help coordinate a beach clambake, a sunset cruise, or yoga lessons for guests. This season, the service pivoted to help hotels offer ultra-safe experiences for long-term guests — many of which you're probably already familiar with. Take, for example, The Surf Lodge, which has played host to all of Montauk's buzziest fêtes in years past. The hotel has renovated all rooms — adding kitchenettes, private outdoor space, personal WiFi, and more. The finished product? A Surf Lodge that's equipped to welcome long-term guests and remote workers.

In the wake of COVID-19, keeping staff and guests safe is paramount. Staff is rapid-tested weekly, the property is closed entirely to non-hotel guests, and the rooms are cleaned to the nines. There's a 48-hour period after guest check-out where the room cannot be entered or filled, as to protect staff and guests from COVID-19 exposure.

What To Do: The East End's well-curated boutiques and pop-ups are a must-see. This season, Lynn Levoy's A Wild Dove has descended upon Solé East — and it's offering luxe styles old (vintage caftans from Morphew) and new (ribbed knits from Live The Process). Also, Alison Lou, who famously helped with Emily Ratajkowski's engagement ring setting, just opened her boutique in East Hampton — and it's giving 15 percent of all sales to The Loveland Foundation, indefinitely.

Waterfront Getaways In The Northeast: Provincetown, MA


How To Go: At the very tip of the Cape Cod peninsula, driving is entirely possible — though often traffic-clogged. If you're a boat-owner in Boston or elsewhere along the coast, zipping over the bay is likely going to be your plan of action. If not, the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce suggests taking the ferry before driving, as to help the flow of traffic and take advantage of the town's famed whale-watching [although, again, this should be a last resort option as it involves exposing yourself to larger crowds and increasing the chances of spreading the virus.].

Where To Stay: The Salt House Inn is a renovated 19th-century salt miner lodging, reconciling clean minimalism with quintessential New England design. This season, the Inn has made its signature rustic breakfast 100 percent complimentary, offering a changing menu of fresh ingredients (homemade granola; oven-baked pastries; fresh fruit) through contactless room service. Moreover, for the safety of guests and staff, the Inn has suspended daily room cleanings to cut down on contact, providing fresh towels and other essentials as needed. Between bookings, the Inn housekeeping staff executes a three-step decontamination process, using medical-grade cleaning supplies throughout.

What To Do: Everything in P-Town is walkable, with a five-minute trek from the Inn to the colorful main strip, Commercial Street, and the sea lying just a bit further. Whale-watching is a major to-do, as the town plays host to feeding grounds for some of the most rare whales in the world. You can also bike the National Seashore, which offers miles and miles of trails through forests and dunes. Overall, Provincetown is a place to wander for hours and indulge in life's simple pleasures.

Waterfront Getaways In The Northeast: Cape May, NJ

How To Go: Travelers from Delaware can take the ferry from Lewes into Cape — otherwise, driving is the best plan of action. On the southernmost tip of New Jersey, it takes around 2.5 hours to get there — a trip you could try to make without stopping. "If you have the space for a cooler, take food with you in the car. Take everything that makes you self sufficient, so [you can] make as few stops as possible," Mathema tells TZR. "You want to minimize points of contact with others during your trip."

Where To Stay: While "cottagecore" continues to trend in fashion and travel alike, the idea of staying in a picturesque Victorian home has never sounded better. The Virginia Hotel affords the opportunity to stay in one of six private cottages, which have wrap-around oceanfront terraces, a fully-stocked kitchen, daily no-contact continental breakfast, and easy beach access a half-mile away. Each cottage also screens all guests via a pre-arrival health questionnaire, during which time the guests can choose which services (bellhop, valet parking, housekeeping) their party is comfortable with during their stay.

What To Do: Head to Beach Plum Farm for outdoor morning yoga, which takes place Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at its Amish Barn. After, be sure to have breakfast: its Farm Kitchen puts together a menu based on what's plucked from the fields that day. You can order from the kitchen, grab a picnic table, and enjoy a farm-fresh, contactless meal. There's also tons of walking and biking trails to take advantage of. Before you leave, stop by Beach Plum's Farm Market, should you want to take something home.

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