Every one of us who lives in a big city needs to take a break once in a while, and sometimes all we need to unwind, escape, and recharge is just a day or two. Below is a list of five great day trips for anyone living in the New York City area. From beaches to mountains, its time to hop in the car (or train) and make your way to these great day trip destinations.
Covered bridges, rolling vineyards, breathtaking waterfalls, rustic cabins, farm-to-table dining, excellent theater, and superb hiking, biking, and paddling…The Catskills quite literally has something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking to hit the trail or visit art galleries, New York’s famous Catskills region has what you’re looking for.
Highlights include the Catskill Park (which is actually a 286,000-acre forest preserve), home to lakes, meadows, rivers, woodlands, wetlands, and a wide array of wildlife. It’s the perfect spot for anyone who needs a break from the concrete jungle.
For the culture buff, points of interest include the Phoenicia Playhouse and Forestburgh Playhouse, along with a few locally-made artisan treats to take home as edible souvenirs from Catskill Provisions.
Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook
Located at the northern tip of New Jersey, the Gateway National Recreation Area is perfect for anyone looking for a bit of history and outdoor activities. For starters, there are the miles of beachfront, perfect for watching the seals come to shore, or even for that new beach read you’ve been meaning to finish. There’s also a seven-mile trail (that’s bike and rollerblade friendly) that winds through the historic Fort Hancock, which was built in the 1800s. You can see the old barracks, cannons, and artillery.
The park also houses the Sandy Hook Light, America’s oldest operating lighthouse, which was built in 1764. Aside from the historic fort, there are salt marshes, boardwalks, sand dunes, and inland ponds, all of which make for some excellent birding.
For that quintessential laid back, small-town charm, the Hamptons are a must-visit. Main streets straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting greet you with big-name stores like J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, and Vineyard Vines, along with local shops like BookHampton and the famous Tate’s bakeshop. After shopping, take a stroll through the LongHouse Reserve, a massive botanical and sculpture garden that also puts on events and lectures throughout the year. It’s full of gorgeous, manicured pathways and massive sculptures, as well as numerous songbirds and butterflies.
And no trip to the Hamptons would be complete without a visit to the beach. Wake up early for a sunrise walk along the sand or grab a fresh lemonade and soak up the afternoon sun. The beaches also make for a beautiful autumn escape as well.
Nature lovers will have a blast visiting Bear Mountain. The park is nestled on the Hudson River and is filled with forests and mountains that provide excellent panoramic views of the Hudson Highlands. Aside from the park’s miles upon miles of trails for hiking and biking, it’s also home to a collection of small museums, including a history museum, a geology museum, and the Herpetology House, where visitors can get up close to native snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, fish, and more. The Hudson River also makes for great boating and paddling.
During the winter months, the park becomes a haven for cross country skiing, and they even set up an ice-skating rink from November to March. If you’re looking to turn your day trip into a weekend stay, the park has the Bear Mountain Inn, a historic lodge built in 1915. The Inn also has a restaurant, general store, and spa, and many famous athletes, celebrities, and dignitaries have stayed within its walls.
The island of surprises. Fire Island is known by most as a gay party spot. Which, it is. But it’s also so much more. The 32-mile, mostly car-free island is accessed by ferry. It has multiple communities as well as miles of protected land.
The Pines and Cherry Grove are home to the LGBTQ bars and clubs, where partiers dance the night away, without having to worry about driving home. For a more relaxed stay, try Ocean Beach. It’s a bit more mellow and is home to restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops.
But to truly escape, a visit to the Robert Moses State Park is a must. It’s made up of miles of protected land and provides great briding, fishing, swimming, lazy days on the beach or a visit to the historic lighthouse. For anyone looking to camp out on the beach, on the other end of the island, there’s Smith Point County Park.
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