It's our second edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. Four times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email

Sure you can always be a houseguest at a friend’s home or take the bus to Atlantic City with a gambler who has a free room offer, but here are some alternatives for other cheap weekend getaways. And all three options cost less than a hotel room or possibly a meal in the Hamptons.

Fort Wadsworth (istockphoto © JaysonPhotography)

Have Smores in Staten Island
It’s twenty dollars a night for a campsite that can house two tents and up to six people at Fort Wadsworth. If you have a MetroCard, a tent, and enough food to pack a picnic, you’re all set for your weekend at a shorefront campground with views of the Verrazano. Lounge at the beach, explore the former military installation, and watch the herd of goats that summer at Fort Wadsworth graze on poison ivy and weeds.

Go Retro in Catskill, NY
If you want to get the real experience of enjoying a motor lodge and a weekend in the country, without being surrounded by hipsters, head to Catskill and book a room at the Red Ranch Motel (all rooms are well under $100 a night). Don’t look for flat screen TVs or indulging in a bath of organic body products, but instead enjoy a visit to their arcade, a game of shuffleboard or Ping-Pong, and a dip in the pool. Each room has a fridge if you want to bring food to keep costs down.

Kaaterskill Falls (istockphoto © RbbrDckyBK)

Just twenty minutes away is Kaaterskill Falls, New York’s highest waterfall. Pack a picnic and drive to North-South Lake State Park to hike around the falls. Beginning hikers might enjoy the hike to the site of the former Catskill Mountain House. If you don’t want to shell out the cash for the motel, you can always pitch a tent at the park’s campground.

Boutique Hotel on a Budget in Philly
If you book far enough in advance you can score a $1 seat on a Peter Pan bus to Philadelphia. Book a room at The Alexander Inn, a boutique hotel located in Center City, with rates starting at $119 for a room with a twin bed/$129 for a room with a queen bed, including breakfast.

Rodin Museum (J.D. Thomas/Flickr)

If you spend the weekend subsiding on cheesesteaks (veggies go to Govindas) and Tasty Cakes, you probably won’t go over budget. Especially since you can fill your day perusing the exhibits at the Institute of Contemporary Art or relaxing in the garden of Rodin Museum, both offer free, pay-as-you-wish admission. Fans of macabre, will find themselves at home at the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, also free.

Alison Lowenstein, Gothamist Getaways editor, is the author of NYC guidebooks, and travel articles for National Geographic Traveler, Newsday, NY Daily News,, etc. When she isn’t planning trips, she enjoys jogging around the streets of NYC. Despite her athletic pursuits, her favorite food is the donut. You can find her on Twitter at @cityweekendsnyc.