With school letting out and temperatures climbing, summer is officially in full swing. And that means, it seems, that every conversation turns to summer plans. For those of us who have booked glamorous beach escapes or cabins by the lake, that’s all well and good. But for those who have exhausted our credit cards and vacation time, there’s not a whole lot to brag about.
Not to worry. With a few bucks and a weekend to spare, you can find plenty of great places to sneak off to. Here are a few (booze-themed) getaways that are close, convenient and a whole lot of fun.
Columbus (about 3 hours from Pittsburgh). Columbus is home to one of my favorite bars on the planet. Curio is a cozy, welcoming cocktail bar tucked away on an unassuming street in the German Village neighborhood. From the wildly creative original cocktails to the perfect wood-fired pizza (ordered from sister restaurant Harvest), no trip to Columbus would be complete without a visit to Curio. That said, Columbus offers plenty of other options for the intrepid boozehound. The city is home to a number of acclaimed breweries, including Seventh Son, Hoof Hearted and Wolf’s Ridge. Check out Watershed, a craft distillery that now boasts a full kitchen and bar, or stop by one of the city’s many “barcades” for classic arcade games and cold pints.
Lancaster/Harrisburg/Hershey (about 3.5 hours from Pittsburgh). There’s a lot more to this state than Philly and Pittsburgh. Central Pennsylvania is home to plenty of great drinking destinations, along with lovely scenery and family-friendly attractions. Tröegs (located in Hershey) is a must-visit. The bright, airy brewery offers excellent food, guided tours and a rotating selection of brewery-exclusive beers. And the surrounding area is thick with craft breweries both young and old, from Pizza Boy, in Enola, to Stoudts, in Adamstown. If you tire of beer (gasp!), stop by one of the distilleries or wineries sprinkled across the region. And when you need a break from boozing, explore central Pennsylvania’s rich culture and history. Be sure to swing by Lancaster’s Central Market, the oldest farmers’ market in the country.
The Finger Lakes (about 5 hours from Pittsburgh). The Finger Lakes region of New York has long been known for its world-class wines. Though closely associated with Riesling, Finger Lakes vineyards grow a wide array of grapes. From Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, a historic winery that put the region on the map, to Bloomer Creek, a small, all-natural vineyard established in 1999, the Finger Lakes offer wines for all palates. Though you could easily spend a weekend in a happy wine haze, take a moment to enjoy the spectacular views and outdoor recreation of the region. And while wine is still king, breweries like Abandon Brewing and distilleries like Finger Lakes Distilling prove there’s more to the Lakes than grapes.