While your friends are sitting in traffic on the LIE or lugging suitcases through JFK, try one of these mini-vacations that will make you feel a million miles from the city.
»Instead of a weekend in the Caribbean... Hit up the West Indian American Day Carnival (wiadcacarnival.org), a weekend-long celebration capped by the Labor Day Carnival Parade, with 40-plus bands and revelers in elaborate costumes making their way down Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway. On Saturday night, check out the pan (steel drum) competition at the Brooklyn Museum (advance tickets $40). Fortify yourself for dancing by visiting Gloria’s (764 Nostrand Ave.; 718-773-3476) for classic Trinidadian snacks.
»Instead of dancing the night away in Ibiza... Get down at the Electric Zoo Festival (advance tickets at www.electriczoofestival.com), three days of electronic dance music headlined by heavy hitters like David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Tiësto and Skrillex. Taking over 24 acres on Randall’s Island, last year’s event attracted more than 85,000 partiers. When you need a break from the music, wander through the Garden of Ez, filled with neon butterflies. And if your outfit doesn’t live up to the costumes donned by the other revelers, don’t worry: Professional face- and body-painters will be on site.
»Instead of dropping a grand on a flight to Seoul… Head to College Point’s Spa Castle (131-10 11th Ave.; 718-939-6300) by taking the 7 to Main Street Flushing, and then the free shuttle bus from the Flushing Municipal Parking Lot on Union Street and 39th Avenue. Modeled on the spas found all over East Asia, Spa Castle sprawls more than five stories of pools, saunas and treatment rooms. “I highly recommend the Korean body scrubs,” says frequent Castle-goer Marilyn Stotts. “An old lady will climb all over your butt-naked body scrubbing three layers of skin off. You come out soft as a baby and even shinier.” Once shiny and refreshed, stop by Flushing’s San Soo Kap San (171-10 Northern Blvd.; 718-445-4850) for Korean BBQ.
»Instead of rushing to Europe and back... Visit Our Lady of Fatima (82 Congress St.; 973-589-8433) in Newark’s Portuguese-heavy Ironbound district. All weekend, the church hosts a festival including a religious procession for Our Lady of Good Voyage on Sunday afternoon, folkloric dances and — most importantly — delicious Portuguese food. “They have lots of yummy street-food vendors set up in the church’s parking lot,” says Newark resident Ana Morais. “There you can find grilled sardines, barbecued chicken (Portuguese style), roast suckling pig as well as all the farturas (a sort of zeppole) you can eat.” Stop by for the food and performances on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to midnight.
»Instead of a trip to Russia... Get just a taste of it on the seaside. After a walk along Brighton Beach, have plates of smoked fish and cold Baltika beers at one of the three branches of Tatiana (3152 Brighton 6th St., or enter along the boardwalk; 718-891-5151). Then head over to the Manhattan Beach neighborhood to marvel at the mansions built by Russian millionaires. And stop by Anyway Cafe (111 Oriental Blvd.; 718-648-3906) for crepes with caviar, dumplings and infused vodka.