Looking to escape the mundanity of the regular week? A long weekend is the perfect time to get out and shake off a case of blues, but you don’t need to wait for one. Even with a regular weekend, Maharashtra has several destinations worthy of a visit, from long, sandy beaches to rocky hills, dense jungles of plenty to ancient forts. So rather than wait for your next extended weekend, pack your bags light and head to any of Maharashtra’s incredible destinations to relax and unwind. Here is a look at the best picnic spots in Maharashtra for 2-3 days.

Matheran

Matheran

Matheran

The tiny hill station of Matheran is perfect to explore in a couple of days. It is not just the smallest hill station in the country, but also the only one that does not allow motorized vehicles in its vicinity, which makes this destination a literal breath of fresh air. Aspiring trekkers can make the around half-hour trek to the hill station with ease, or simply catch a horse ride to the top, from where the majestic Sahyadris can be seen across the horizon. Matheran has up to 36 viewpoints that you can visit in your stay there. It lies just around 117 km from Pune and 80 km from Mumbai, making it a popular spot for people of the two cities. You can also visit nearby trekking trails like Vikatgadh and Peb from here.

Sula Vineyards

Sula Vineyards, Photograph Courtesy: Sulawines1234/Wikimedia Commons

Nashik has several vineyards dotting its landscape, the oldest being Sula Vineyards. This is also the more popular vineyard, but Nashik has several others to offer, with the wines produced here being sold across the country. Sula, in fact, was one of the first to commercially open its vineyard to tours and visits, which is why it is the preferred wine touring destination for many. A wine tasting weekend is the perfect antidote to the hustle of the city, and Sula even organizes the Sula Fest to attract more tourists. You can take a tour of the vineyard, which includes a visit to an amphitheatre and wine-tasting room, or simply relax at the upstairs French restaurant.

Bhandardara

Bhandardara

Bhandardara

Lying around 165 km from Mumbai city and 170 km from Pune, Bhandardara captures everything you would want in an ideal scenery, including a waterfall if you come in the monsoon. Considered a trekker’s paradise, Bhandardara is the place to visit if you want to lose yourself in the cradle of nature. It lies along the way to Nashik and was once a stopover to the more popular pilgrimage spot. But now, it is a getaway in its own right. From here, you are a short distance away from the foothills of the highest peak in the state, Kalsubai. Bhandardara also attracts families looking for a break from the city and the religious folk who come to pray at the ancient Amruteshwar Temple. History buffs would also marvel at the architecture of this temple.

Alibag

Cannons on the beach, Alibag

Cannons on the beach, Alibag

The small beach town of Alibag is the picture of a Konkan beach destination, save for Goa of course. That is probably why this is also called the Goa of Maharashtra. Comparisons aside, Alibag makes for an alluring weekend destination to break away from the urban life. You can spend your days visiting and walking along the several long, wide beaches in the region, including pristine Kihim, from where you can bask in the sun and watch and listen to the ocean meet the shore. You can reach Alibag by road or boat from Mumbai, and this accessibly is part of what makes Alibag so popular. Kolaba Fort off the coast makes for a fascinating visit during low tides, and you can also see the twin forts of Kanderi and Underi.

Kolad

Whitewater rafting, Kolad

Whitewater rafting, Kolad

The village of Kolad lies along the banks of the Kundalika River and the journey to this place takes you along the waters of the river, which is a wonderful experience in itself. Kolad lies along the mighty Sahyadri range and is a hit among river rafters and trekkers. The white waters of the Kundalika River are Maharashtra’s version of the exhilarating experiences in Rishikesh, Coorg and Ladakh. The two-hour rafting trip takes you through a bunch of rapids, and you can take the journey or simply spend your 2 days here chilling in the midst of nature. Apart from rafting, you can also indulge your taste for adventure by going kayaking, canoeing or zip-lining across the river. Waterfall rappelling, rock climbing and other activities are also available.

Karjat

Karjat, Photograph Courtesy: Ramnath Bhat/Creative Commons

Karjat, Photograph Courtesy: Ramnath Bhat/Creative Commons

Located around 80 km from Kolad, Karjat is a weekend destination popular for its proximity to Mumbai and its scenic mountains, rock-cut caves and forts. The place, situated around 68 km from Mumbai and a little over 100 km from Pune, is also popular among trekkers and adventure enthusiasts. You can go rappelling, river rafting along the Ulhas River or waterfall rappelling at Karjat. If you prefer less adventurous activities, you can go boating along the water reservoir of nearby Morbe Dam for a more relaxed picnic. Karjat is the starting point of three famous trekking trails: Rambagh Point, Matheran and Chanderi, and you can also visit the Peth Fort, Kondana Caves, Bhor Ghat and Ulhas Valley from here.