Thrillist Wants to Take You on an RV Road Trip This Summer

For barbecue, beer, bonfires, and other surprises that may or may not begin with B.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Picture it: You’re on the wide open road in a fully-stocked RV, heading towards your own secluded campsite under the stars. By day you explore tiny lake towns and organic farms, hike past endless waterfalls and swimming holes, even learn a new skill or two. By night you settle in by the campfire for chef-cooked meals paired with award-winning local wines, topped off with s’mores and stargazing with an astronomer. Turns out, van life is pretty good. 

“Okay!” you say, “but how do I even begin to plan it?” That, friend, is where Thrillist Caravan comes in. We’ve curated a four day, three-night RV extravaganza in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state, packed with exclusive experiences so you can live out all your socially-distanced road trip dreams. 

Get all the juicy details….right here

We know your mind is abuzz with questions, like: What’s this gonna cost me? What are the RVs like? How do I even drive an RV? And what are the COVID protocols? All will be revealed at the Thrillist Caravan page, and here are some FAQs while you’re at it. 

The basic gist is this: Grab anywhere from one to five friends, book your luxury land yacht, and pick a long weekend that works for you: We’ll be heading upstate over various weekends throughout June, July, and August. All the bases are covered, including the RV. Just show up with your buddies, your stretchy pants, and your best road trip playlist, and we’ll provide the rest. 

Want a sneak preview? Here are just a few things we’re excited about: 

Sample local wines, cheese, and brews at their source

With over 100 wineries in the region, the Finger Lakes is legit one of America’s most overlooked wine destinations-but with a rustic, laid-back vibe that’s refreshingly unpretentious. (Honestly, it’s hard to find a winery up here that doesn’t have dogs running around and an enticing corn hole setup.) The area is lousy with cideries, breweries, distilleries, and organic farms. When you arrive, expect the first of many wine tastings at the Castel Grisch Winery, where you’ll snack on local organic cheeses and park your wheeled palace for the night.

So. Many. Waterfalls.

Named for the 11 long, crooked lakes that dot its densely forested landscape, the Finger Lakes region is overflowing with stunning scenery-the perfect antidote after being cooped up all… spring? Winter? What year is this? Dozens of waterfalls provide a mystical backdrop to hiking trails at spots like Watkins Glen State Park, which we’ll be hitting on Day Two. We’ve got our own secret campground at Robert Treman State Park on Night Three, a mere stone’s throw from waterfalls, rock formations, and the region’s largest natural swimming hole. We’re also taking a boat out on Cayuga Lake-so, yeah, bring your swimsuit.

Blow some glass

We’ll swing into Corning, one of the twee lake towns that pack this region with small-town character. Corning is particularly famous for the Corning Museum of Glass, as seen in the Netflix reality show, Blown Away. After a fiery glass blowing demonstration, you’ll try your own hand at making a translucent keepsake, then explore the charming downtown for lunch on your own (which should probably be a hotdog at Jim’s Texas Hots, just throwing that out there).

Get a taste of Ithaca

Ithaca has long been one of our favorite small towns in America, and their bonkers farm-to-table food scene is a big reason why. We’ll graze the famously eclectic Farmers Market alongside local chef Emma Frisch, who will help pick the freshest seasonal ingredients for dinner back at the campsite, where Emma will drop some knowledge with a hands-on cooking class over the campfire. Save room for s’mores.

Three words: sunset goat yoga

But not only that, you’ll have a chance to meet White Lightning, the resident albino buffalo at Mud Creek Bison Ranch, which we can only assume makes this trip the most noteworthy thing you’ve done in the past year. There’s more surprises where that came from, so rally your crew out of hibernation and come escape upstate with us. Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Travel Director Keller Powell and Senior Travel Writer Vanita Salisbury contributed to this article. It is their greatest wish to meet White Lightning.


Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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