Saturday, August 2, 2008

Long weekend getaways

Your employer gives you, what, 10 lousy vacation days a year? No wonder we find ourselves working so insanely hard to make those precious three-day weekends really count. When warm weather finally rolls around, that urge is tripled. (Sorry, Mom, we wanted to visit you on Memorial Day weekend, really. It's just that ...)

So, to help you make the absolute most out of summer Fridays (or Mondays), we've compiled a list of getaways that are close, quick and a cinch to plan. All are easily reached via hub airports with loads of nonstop flights; we've even included their codes to make it faster to search for fares.

Whatever your interests, and wherever you live, we promise you a fab mini-vacation.

1. The classic East Coast summer experience
Fly into: Logan International Airport, Boston (BOS)

Check out: Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The lure: Beaches lined with sand dunes, bike rides through Main Street towns, and clambakes on the shore — all within a two-hour drive of the city, even with summer traffic

The experience: Even if the ocean doesn't really warm up till late summer, all of the outdoor pools feel just right. The ice cream shops and seafood shacks are all open to much fanfare, and preppy locals clad in Nantucket Reds dive into the fried clam rolls and steamers they've been craving all winter. As the summer wears on, the place just gets better.

Where to stay? The Chatham Bars Inn on the Lower Cape (or CBI, as the Boston Brahmins who have summered here for decades call the resort), which has the charm of a beach hotel with many more comforts. Think oysters served on silver trays, a regulation croquet court, clay tennis courts and weekly clambakes.