Living in New York City can feel like you are at the center of the universe. You can order Chinese food at 3am, have your groceries and wine delivered straight to your door, and on any given night of the year, there are literally thousands of options of fun things to do. However, every once in a while, after a particularly long wait for the subway, or while trudging through the rain with a broken umbrella, the charm of the city begins to wear off. Take advantage of this moment and escape the city for a day to recharge your batteries.
New York may be a teeming metropolis of opportunities, but there are plenty of fun alternatives just a short bus ride away. Try one of these day trips to breathe in some fresh, country air and take a break from the bustle of the city.
The best part? All these places are reachable by public transportation! No need to rent that zipcar, or brush up on your parallel parking skills. Just check out the daily bus and train schedule and pack a good book for the ride.
Just a one-hour train ride up the Hudson lies the city of Beacon. Make sure to snag a window seat for the ride to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as they circle the river. During the warmer months, Beacon holds a weekly Sunday farmers market right next to the train station. Local bakers and jewelry artisans set up their tiny stands, offering tasty bites of their homemade wares. Snack your way through the booths and then walk down the adjacent boardwalk for some more Hudson River views. The air up here tastes sweet and crisp, and the surrounding nature is a far cry from the concrete city.
The town itself is quite small and revolves around two main sites: the Dia Art Foundation and Main Street. As you head away from the train station, just follow the ever-present signs towards the attraction of your choice. The Dia is one of those museum experiences that overturns all previous ones. Formerly a Nabisco printing factory, the actual building has floor to ceiling windows lining the back wall, and slanted roof slats that allow the sun to pour in. The museum boasts a clean, modern aesthetic consisting of white walls, concrete floors and an overall warm environment.
Many of the exhibit areas were created specifically for each individual piece, allowing the art to be presented in its intended form. Make sure not to miss the permanent Richard Serra exhibit, for a real sculptural treat. After you have explored the museum and its grounds, grab a bite in the small café, where the menu offers locally sourced lunch options.
Spend the remaining afternoon strolling down Main Street and wandering through each of the shops. Observe glassblowing at Hudson Beach Glass, buy little stocking stuffers at the local gift shops, and pick up some special treats for your furry friends at The Beacon Barkery. End your day with dinner at Café Amarcord for a warm bowl of Italian style pasta. Head back down towards the train station and wander around the waterfront for some last minute views of the landscape.
Get an early start at Port Authority for the three-hour bus ride to Mystic or splurge on an Amtrak ticket. The town of Mystic Pizza fame offers visitors much more than a hot slice, and provides the perfect antithesis to the city way of life. Start your visit in Olde Mistik Village, a recreation of a New England colonial town. Stroll through the winding lanes and discover over 40 different shops selling food and gifts from around the world. Try the salt-water taffy and homemade fudge at Franklin’s General Store, and don’t miss the Famous Lobster Grilled Cheese at the Bleu Squid Bakery & Cheese Shop.
Head out of the Village and follow Route 27 towards the iconic Mystic Seaport. Just a short fifteen-minute walk and you will start seeing the sails in the harbor. Wander around the boardwalk and learn the history of the Mystic sea force. Keep an eye out for the scaffold covered Charles W. Morgan, the oldest whaling ship in existence. As you head towards the town center make sure to examine the counterweight bridge that separates east and west Mystic. With your appetite worked up from the walk through town, visit the acclaimed Mystic Pizza shop and dig in to the local delicacy. The pizza lives up to its hype, and can rival many of the classic New York joints. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry; the pizza shop has it playing on a loop.
Amble down through the Main Street and stop for coffee at local hangout, The Green Marble. The house-brewed coffee has a cult following in Mystic, and on any given day you’ll enjoy some prime people watching opportunities. Grab a pastry to go to enjoy on the ride back to the city.
Pindar Vineyards, NY
Beat your winter cold with a wine tasting visit at Pindar Vineyards. Jump on the Long Island Rail Road and in less than three hours you’ll arrive in Long Island wine country. Just a five-minute cab right from the train station, Pindar Vineyards is the largest vineyard out on Long Island, with over 30 years of winemaking history. Bring your friends and family together for a fun day of wine tasting in the Pindar tasting rooms. Guests will receive both red and white varieties, and will have the opportunity to learn about the wine making process as well. In the warmer months, the grounds are open to the public, and you can stroll through the vineyard’s backyard and enjoy the strong scent of freshly pressed grapes.
On your way out, don’t forget to stock up on bottles of wine straight from the vineyard for the holiday season. Pindar Vineyards hosts a Mulled Wine & Cookies event during weekends in December, where visitors can snack on holiday cookies and mulled wine as they browse through the extensive wine selection. Don’t miss the Winter White gift package, an excellent gift for your favorite oenophile.