05 Couples Travel
By Donna Rosato

(MONEY Magazine) – If you have children at home, you know that hitting the road without them is the only way to have a true vacation. So go ahead, take the in-laws up on their offer to watch the kids for a few days and pamper yourself with an unforgettable weekend in New York City. Or you can spend a full week kicking back at one of the plush resorts that dot the American West. Either option will set you back the same $5,000. The first one delivers more anything-can-happen excitement and variety. The second promises more of the one thing children don't add to your life: free time. --DONNA ROSATO AND KATE ASHFORD

Money $5,000 BUDGET

Urban Bliss

Hotel There are 62,800 hotel rooms in Manhattan. We say, choose one of the Mandarin Oriental's 109 with this view of Central Park and champagne on ice. And orchids on your pillow. And a lap pool. And a chauffeur to drive you anywhere within 20 blocks. Three nights here and you'll know you've made it. And if you can make it here... MANDARINORIENTAL.COM; 212-805-8800 $2,925[1]

Theater Two tickets to see Spamalot, the Tony winner and hottest show in town. SEE THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL CONCIERGE $500

Cocktail Hour At the bar on the roof of the Peninsula hotel, the price of the center-cut smoked salmon appetizer and two Big Apple martinis, plus tip, may be high, but the skyline view is free. 212-956-2888; NEWYORK.PENINSULA.COM $70

Dinner Four hours is what locals recommend you allot for the tasting menu with wine at the white-hot, 16-table eatery Per Se. The food changes daily, but if butter-poached lobster tails and duck with ruby plums and foie gras sound good, you'll be happy. PERSENY.COM; 212-823-9335 $600

Helicopter Tour You think a lot happens in a New York minute? Wait till you spend 15 of them aboard a private helicopter. LIBERTYHELICOPTERS.COM; 800-542-9933 $849

Hot Dogs Two classic dogs, two fresh-squeezed lemonades. At Nathan's, a Coney Island institution since 1916, that's all you need. NATHANSFAMOUS.COM; 718-946-2202 $10

Souvenirs Fifty famous H&H bagels, any flavor. HHBAGELS.COM; 212-595-8003 $46

NOTE: [1] Book the Fantastic Celebration package with a Central Park view room.

Rustic Luxury

Hotel This is how your morning starts in a one-bedroom suite at the Lodge at Vail: Your feet hit the heated marble floor. You wrap a fluffy terry robe around your body. Your coffee awaits you by the fire--or would you like it on the deck? Which deck? The rest of your day could include golfing, horseback riding or guided fly fishing and hiking. 877-528-7625; LODGEATVAIL.COM $3,837 for six nights, with activities (fall rates)

Food La Tour serves up a mean Colorado lamb ravioli and a vast wine list, and Vail Village offers plenty of other options for any budget. LATOUR-VAIL.COM $783

Spa Two 75-minute, deep-tissue massages by the pros at Vail Mountain Lodge. 970-476-7721; VAILMOUNTAINLODGE.COM $380