updated 11/3/2008 9:39:53 AM ET 2008-11-03T14:39:53

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The deal
While there may be no place like home, sometimes, we all need to get away, even if it's just for the day. We've rounded up easy day trips that will fill the vacation void without the expenses of airfare or hotel! Escape the daily grind and forget your financial woes with these quick vacation fixes, just a short drive or train ride from N.Y., Boston, L.A., and more. From only $64 a day, that includes round-trip bus transportation and sightseeing tour, you can unwind in a charming New England fishing town, taste award-winning vintages in Long Island's North Fork wine country, tour the wild seascapes of Big Sur, or try your luck at two of Connecticut's world-class casinos. We've included overnight options as well, in case you find yourself hankering for one more day out of town.

Provincetown from $64/day, including round-trip bus and tour
Along the northernmost tip of Cape Cod sits the historic fishing port of Provincetown, at the very spot where the Mayflower dropped anchor in the year 1620. It’s no surprise that this iconic New England community continues to draw so many visitors, attracting not only fisherman and sailors but also painters, playwrights and authors for centuries. Between the town’s quaint old homes and guesthouses, you’ll also find a thriving arts community with many fine galleries and theaters offering free cultural events and exhibitions. From March through November, catch the art bus for a free tour of the town’s galleries and art spaces. By day, a 40-minute ride aboard the old-fashioned Provincetown Trolley is the easiest way to see the town’s sights. This narrated tour costs only $8 and leaves you with the rest of the day free to explore on your own.

Get there: Drive approximately 2.5 hours from both Boston and Providence. Bus companies like Plymouth & Brockton run frequently to Provincetown from Boston ($56 roundtrip) and other New England towns.

Overnight it: The romantic Provincetown Inn offers quiet seaside accommodations and daily breakfast; rates start at $129/night.

Hilton Head Island trolley tour from $30/day
Known as the jewel of the South Carolina coastline, 14-mile-long Hilton Head Islandhas long been a topdestination for golfers and sports lovers, and it’s easy to see why. The tiny barrier island has over 350 top-rated tennis courts, more than 15 challenging golf courses, and an abundance of well-marked nature trails, paved pathways, and pristine sandy beaches. The island is also a perfect day trip destination for families. Stop by the Coastal Discovery Museum to learn about Hilton Head’s unique history and ecology and embark on one of the museum’s guided tours or cruises around the island. We recommend the 2.5 hour Red Trolley Tour ($30), with an itinerary that includes a stop at the island’s landmark lighthouse and charming Harbor Town village where you’ll find many boutique clothing shops, jewelry stores, and independent art galleries.

Get there: Drive 1 hour from Savannah; 2.5 hours from Charleston; and 4.5 hours from Atlanta.

Overnight it: Try the Sea Pines Resort Island Indulgence package which includes accommodations, complimentary bike rental, and two free hours of tennis from $149/night (valid through Dec 31).

Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun by train from $40/day
Southeastern Connecticut is home to two of the largest casinos in the world, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Foxwoods is the older and larger of the two, boasting 340,000 square feet of gaming space with more than 7,000 slot machines and 17 different types of table games. Within the complex, you’ll also find the Pequot Museum, with extensive life-size dioramas and exhibits depicting 18,000 years of Native American history. Nearby Mohegan Sun caters to a younger, hipper clientele with several impressive gaming spaces, such as the Casinos of the Earth and Sky, and the new Casino of the Wind, featuring a 35-foot high waterfall, and a selection of bars and restaurants.

Get there: Drive to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun (only 8 miles apart) from New York (2.5 hours); Boston (2 hours); Hartford (1 hour); and Providence (1 hour). Amtrak will get you to New London and from there it’s only a short bus ride to either casino. Round-trip train fares go for $109 from New York; $66 from Boston; $56 from Hartford; and $40 from Providence. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak for more info.

Overnight it: Rates at Foxwoods resort start at around $120/night, or, snag the Legendary Escape package at Mohegan Sun for $99 per person, with free bet and food coupons.

Long Island wine country from $149/day, with transportation & tastings
Just 1.5 hours east of New York, Long Island’s scenic wine region encompasses 3,000 acres of vines and is home to over 30 wineries producing world-class vintages. Concentrated mainly along the island’s North Fork, many of these up-and-coming wineries offer pubic tours and tastings at surprisingly affordable fees. At Pindar Vineyards, for example, you’ll pay just $4 to sample critically acclaimed wines from a light and fruity Winter White, to a crisp and refreshing Chardonnay Late Harvest, with hints of crisp apples and honey. Vineyard hop with North Fork Wine Tours on a guided tour of 4 to 5 vineyards with dinner in the seaport town of Greenport and Hampton Jitney transportation included. The tour starts at $149 per person and kicks off at the Jitney stop in Greenport.

Get there: Drive about 2.5 hours from Manhattan or hop on the Hampton Jitney (stops at several North Fork towns). Or, you can take the LIRR to Mattitick for $30 roundtrip.

Overnight it: For a weekend getaway, try the Vine Time food and wine “Holiday Spirits” package that includes a 2-night stay at a bed and breakfast of your choice (Acorn Hollow, The Morning Glory, The Sterling House, or Homeport B&B), full day winery tour, and more from $439.

Big Sur private driving tour from $185/day
Drive about two hours south of San Francisco along California’s scenic Highway One and you’ll come across the spectacular coastal region of Big Sur, a place defined by crashing waves and sheer rock cliffs where the Santa Lucia mountains rise sharply from the Pacific. It’s the perfect escape for nature lovers with gray and blue whales often spotted just off the coastal waters, along with California condors, red-tailed hawks, and an occasional bald eagle. Many well-marked hiking trails also wind throughout the area’s nine state parks, providing plenty of access to the region’s tall redwoods, waterfalls, shorelines, and hidden coves. For visitors who want to avoid driving hassles, a company like Central Coast Tours offers flexible private trips accommodating up to four passengers at the cost of $185 for a two-hour tour.

Get there: Drive approximately 2 hours from San Francisco; 8 hours from San Diego; and 6 hours from downtown Los Angeles.

Overnight it: Spend the night at Big Sur Lodge for cottage-style accommodations and admission to nearby state parks included in rates, starting at $149/night.

The dollars
Taxes and fees are additional.

The catch
The cost of gas is not included in day trip pricing.

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