By Jay Lloyd

If you want to make Mother Nature double up with hysterical laughter, just show her your weekend getaway plan. Weather is fickle, but often, weekend reservations are cast in stone. That means they’re expensive to change or cancel if the roads are difficult and airports are shut down. How about planning a weekend getaway without planning a destination? In others words, “be spontaneous.” Last minute decisions when the forecasts are more certain can come with some unexpected benefits, like lower prices on unbooked rooms. Here’s a sampling of my winter rambling. – Jay Lloyd

TIPS

In wintertime, keep the getaways within a reasonable distance of home. Check the Sunday and Monday forecasts as well as Friday. Remember, you may luck out and have fine weather on the way out, but you still have to get back. Or, you can always call the office Monday morning and explain, “Boss, I’m snowed in. Can’t get back today.” Some bosses are understanding, but some are not. So, where to go? Draw a hundred mile circle around home and work within it.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT

101 Doe Mountain Rd
Macungie, PA 18062
www.bcmountainresort.com/the-resort

Bear Creek makes the list for a snow sports weekend without having to deal with weather impacted roads during your stay because it’s self contained. Once you arrive and park the car, it doesn’t have to move until you leave. The resort is close, in nearby Berks County. For skiers and riders, there’s a weekend on the slopes and terrain park. Non-skiers can get an outdoor glow in snow-tubing chutes or relax and luxuriate in the spa, indoor pool and a variety of restaurants and bars. You’re also close enough to home.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

NEW YORK CITY

New York, New York. It’s a helluva town, and you don’t have to drive to get there. Trains directly from 30th Street Station generally run in fair weather and foul. Right now, you can land some unheard of prices on hotels. I just scored a room at a major hotel near Central Park for $109 a night. The great thing about the Big Apple for a spontaneous weekend is that weather, short of a major flood (Hurricane Sandy), does not shut down the public transit system. Subway stations are near most hotels and they run frequently to get you to restaurants, theaters, clubs and museums. Just get a good transit app; I use Embark NYC.

The Atlantic City boardwalk. (Credit:  KYW's Andrew Kramer)

The Atlantic City boardwalk. (Credit: KYW’s Andrew Kramer)

ATLANTIC CITY

You don’t have to be a gambler to get a bang out of Atlantic City. The town was a popular Philadelphia and New York getaway destination long before casinos were planted on the boardwalk and inlet. But it’s the casinos that make AC an ideal spontaneous destination. They are self contained, with enough restaurants to feed a family of hungry bears. They offer gyms, spas, nightclubs and theaters, along with the ever jingling and high-energy casinos. And if the weather should be fair, a walk on the boardwalk can stoke memories – for those old enough to remember a pre-casino seashore gem.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

BALTIMORE, MD

It’s just a whisker under a hundred miles to Baltimore, and you can forget the car. The city by the bay — Chesapeake, that is — can be reached by Amtrak from Philadelphia. The ride is pleasant, scenic and rarely affected by foul weather. For a spontaneous weekend getaway, choose a hotel at the inner harbor. You’ll be just steps from a parade of restaurants at all points of the price spectrum. Little Italy is next door, nautical attractions are at the doorstep, and the Lexington Market (Baltimore’s Reading Terminal Market) is a few blocks away.