Looking to get away from the city this summer? Don’t worry about taking vacation days—NYC has lots of nearby destinations with fun theatrical goings on that would make for a perfect weekend getaway.
Our nation’s capital is a bit more of a journey than the other destinations on this list—anywhere between four to six hours by car, train, or bus—but the multitude of things to do and see there make the travel well worth it. Along with the countless museums and historical sites offering artifacts from the birth of our country, you could visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has costumes from The Wiz in its permanent collection, along with a current special exhibit on the life and work of Broadway producer Oprah Winfrey.
Theatrically, D.C. has a lot to offer. The national tour of Hamilton will be playing the Kennedy Center through September, or you could catch one of two new Broadway-aimed musicals playing D.C. tryouts this summer: Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, a jukebox musical featuring a book by Dominique Morisseau, choreography by Serjio Trujillo, and direction by Des McAnuff at the Kennedy Center; and Dave, based on the 1993 film and featuring music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Mean Girls, Legally Blonde), and direction by Tina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical) at Arena Stage.
Speaking of historical landmarks and pre-Broadway productions, Boston is a great weekend destination for New Yorkers, at around four hours away by bus, train, or car. Home to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library, Samuel Adams Brewery, and Fenway Park, there’s lots of non-theatrical things to do in Boston, most easily accessible via public transit.
But Boston is also a hot-spot for high-profile Broadway-aimed musicals this summer. Jagged Little Pill, inspired by and featuring the music from the Grammy-winning Alanis Morissette album, is playing American Repertory Theatre through July 15. A few days later, Moulin Rouge! The Musical begins performances at the newly renovated Emerson Colonial Theatre. Based on the Baz Luhrman’s 2001 film, this new stage adaptation stars Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, the Les Misérables film) and Tony winner Karen Olivo (In the Heights, West Side Story), with direction by Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher). You can also visit national tour engagements of Aladdin and The Book of Mormon.
A little over three hours away from New York City by car, The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts offer idyllic mountain views, quaint villages, and the most plentiful theatrical options of any destination on this list.
Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is presenting the new William Finn musical The Royal Family of Broadway through July 7, with productions of A Doll’s House, Part 2; West Side Story; and The Glass Menagerie coming up later this summer.
Stockbridge’s Berkshire Theatre Group, birth place of Broadway’s recent Children of a Lesser God, has productions of Church & State; Coming Back Like a Song; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Hair; Tarzan; The Petrified Forest; and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You, the latter of which is set to star Tony winner Harriet Harris.
Williamstown Theatre Festival’s summer season includes world premieres of new works by Douglas Carter Beane, Adam Rapp, Theresa Rebeck, and Jen Silverman, with casts that include Eden Espinosa, Krysta Rodriguez, Rachel Tucker, Andrew Samonsky, Carmen Cusack, Chita Rivera, and many more.
Tanglewood is more of a concert venue, though many Broadway favorites (such as Audra McDonald and Harry Connick, Jr.) are scheduled to give concerts. The outdoor music venue is also celebrating the Leonard Bernstein centennial this summer with concert performances of Candide and On the Town, along with a screening of the West Side Story film with live accompaniment from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. You can get a ticket for a seat near the stage for a traditional concert experience or grab a lawn seat and bring your own quilt for a relaxing summer picnic.
And when you’re not watching a performance, The Berkshires is full of unique shopping, antiques, wine tastings, and hiking opportunities.
For more information on everything about The Berkshires, visit Berkshires.org.
Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Bucks County is even closer to New York City than The Berkshires, at about 90 minutes by car. You can visit Washington Crossing Historic Park (where Washington crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War), the James A. Michener Art Museum, or one of many other historic sites and museums.
For a bit of theatrical history, head to Highland Farm in Doylestown, the former country home of Oscar Hammerstein II (of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame, of course). Hammerstein reportedly was inspired to write his immortal lyric to “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” sitting on the home’s front porch, and wrote South Pacific, The King and I, Flower Drum Song, and The Sound of Music while living there. Highland Farm is also where a young Stephen Sondheim would have met the Hammerstein family, beginning a mentorship that would last till Oscar’s death. Though there are plans to turn the site into a museum in the near future, Highland Farm is currently run as a bed and breakfast. You can sleep in one of four rooms, each themed after one of Hammerstein’s most-loved musicals.
Then head to downtown New Hope, where you’ll find restaurants and shopping, but also the Bucks County Playhouse. Operating since 1939, this historic theatre has featured performances by such theatrical luminaries as Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Grace Kelly, Bert Lahr, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli, and Audra McDonald. This summer you’ll find productions of 42nd Street and Million Dollar Quartet, both directed by Tony Award nominee and Urinetown star Hunter Foster.
For more information on everything about Bucks County, visit VisitBucksCounty.com.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Are you a beach fan? Why not consider hitting the boardwalk in Asbury Park! Easily and quickly accessible by train, bus, or car, this destination could easily make a great day or weekend trip. Take a dip in Atlantic Ocean, lounge on the beach, or peruse the numerous restaurants and shops along the boardwalk.
And as for theatre, Axelrod Performing Arts Center is a 5-minute Uber drive away from the boardwalk. Their next musical isn’t until late July (High School Musical, directed and choreographed by Disney Channel and Nickelodeon star Lane Napper) but if you can wait until August 15, you can catch Broadway star and Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis in a 50th Anniversary concert production of Hair.
For more information on everything about Asbury Park, visit APBoardwalk.com.