In the mood for a quick escape, but can’t decide where to go? Let your Netflix queue be your guide. (Note: Not recommended to fans of crime dramas, Hannibal Lecter, or series set in meth labs.)
Alas, this summer’s tours of Highclere Castle — the real Downton Abbey — are nearly sold out. But if your waistcoat pockets are really deep, you can rent the entire property for a cool $15,000 pounds (about $25,000) and party like a post-Edwardian aristocrat. Or you can live the lush life locally — complete with sumptuous furnishings, manicured parklands, and a staff of 70 to cater to your every whim — at Blantyre. (16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, 413-637-3356, www.blantyre.com, from $600). Modeled after an estate in Blantyre, Scotland, this Tudor-style castle is adorned with turrets, towers, and gargoyles — a true Anglophile’s delight. Indulge your Mary Crawley-esque fantasies as you stroll the grounds with your suitor, play croquet on the greensward, or be pampered in the spa. By night, feast on lamb, pheasant, or roast game in the dining room. This level of luxury doesn’t come cheap, but you won’t have to pony up airfare to London. As for the bodice-ripping drama? That’s BYO.
Pull on a Pucci print and immerse yourself in the golden age of mod in New Canaan, Conn. Visit Philip Johnson’s famous Glass House (199 Elm St., 866-811-4111, www.theglasshouse.org, $30 and up) and do a drive-by tour of some of most significant midcentury-modern homes in the country. Before you go, put Ang Lee’s 1997 film, “The Ice Storm,” in your queue. It’s set in New Canaan, and local residences make cameo appearances. Driving past these gloriously boxy dwellings, it’s easy to envision Don Draper behind a soaring glass window, sipping a whiskey sour and looking terminally tormented. Speaking of cocktails, stop into elm (73 Elm St., www.elmrestaurant.com), for retro tipples.
If you know what that means, you’re a fan of “The Big Bang Theory,” a long-running comedy that’s as popular as its main characters are nerdy. (A joke from Season 3: “A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a drink. The bartender replies, ‘For you, no charge.’ ”) Big Bang is set at Caltech, but we on the East Coast have our own Nerd Central: MIT. Bring your Inner Geek out to play at the MIT Museum (265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-253-5927, www.mit.edu/museum, $10), where science and technology meet in fascinating ways. The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of holograms (remember when Leonard tries to seduce Penny with a hologram in “The Holographic Excitation,” Season 6?), plus exhibits like “Robots and Beyond,” an exploration of artificial intelligence that includes socially intelligent humanoid robots that interact with their environment in human-like ways. (That is so Sheldon Cooper, Season 4!)
Have you jumped on the “Orange Is the New Black” bandwagon? Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about spending a year in a Connecticut prison after transporting drug money for her girlfriend, this dark comedy has become a pop culture phenomenon. We recommend you skip the Litchfield Penitentiary — and the requisite rap sheet — in favor of the former Charles Street Jail, a.k.a. the 298-room Liberty Hotel Boston (215 Charles St., 617-224-4000, www.libertyhotel.com, rooms from $349.) Complete with its original catwalks, the Liberty makes cheeky references to its former life — for example, the Alibi Bar, the former “drunk tank,” is decorated with DUI mug shots — while hosting chic events like fashion shows (no prison jumpsuits here) and offering great food at Lydia Shire’s Scampo. Hollywood types love this property, but the place had some big-name guests during its past life, too, including the Boston Strangler and Malcolm X. The hotel’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs are reason enough to stay: They read ‘Solitary’ and feature a large replica of a 19th-century jailer’s key.
There’s the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut (1 Royce Circle, Storrs, Conn., 860-486-8580; www.bimp.uconn.edu, Tue-Sun, free, $5 donation suggested). Plan your visit to coincide with the puppet shows (suitable for all ages) presented by students from the UConn Puppet Arts Program, on Saturdays at 3 p.m. from June 29-July 27. For those with major Muppet fever, here’s a future travel tip: In 2015, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y., will unveil the Jim Henson Exhibition & Gallery, featuring nearly 500 objects related to the late Muppets’ creator’s career. It will include historic puppets Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Ernie, and Bert among them. A traveling version of the exhibit will launch in 2016. For details, visit www.movingimage.us.
ventures.com, $325 per person/two-person minimum), a three-day, two-night survival course in northern Vermont. Led by a certified instructor, you’ll learn the basics of first-aid, how to make shelter, how to use a rifle and crossbow, plus other useful techniques for surviving in a zombie-plagued world. (Elements can be personalized to suit your interests.) Participants stay overnight in an unplugged (and we hope, certified zombie-free) rustic campsite alongside a brook.
If you love high-octane thrillers like “Fast & Furious” and “Need for Speed,” have we got the trip for you: The Skip Barber Racing School at historic Lime Rock Park (60 White Hollow Road, Lakeville, Conn, 800-221-1131, from $995) offers one-day and longer racing classes. You’ll drive a Mazda Miata MX-5 or a Formula Skip Barber 2000 open-wheel single-seater at dizzying speeds — crazy fun, even if you’re more “Semi-Fast & Slightly Miffed” than “Fast & Furious.” Or live out your racecar driver dreams in your own car, on Lime Rock’s mini racetrack, the half-mile autocross. You’ll get professional coaching, and it’s only $225 (860-435-5000).
“The Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen is fierce, confident, and single-handedly making archery the hottest sport around. In the films, actress Jennifer Lawrence’s incredible aim is no special-effects gimmick; she earned her archer’s cred with 15 one-hour lessons from Olympic bronze medal archer Khatuna Lorig. If you’d like to gain some serious archery skills in time for “Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2,” coming out in November, channel your inner Katniss at a local archery school, such as the L. L. Bean Archery Discovery Course (95 Main St., Freeport, Maine, 800-441-5713, www.llbean.com, $20
for 90 min, age 8 and up.) You’ll begin with a safety briefing, learn proper technique, and hit targets with a recurve bow similar to the one Katniss uses.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com.