Despite what your tweeting Hamptons-bound "friend" might tell you, there's nothing wrong with staying put right here in NYC during the summer. But if you've got the itch to venture beyond the boroughs, there are also a number of splendid destinations located just a stone's throw from the city. As we enter the season's home stretch, we've rounded up some possible day trips—none more than two hours away—that with a bit of planning can make for an excellent escape. For most of them, you don't need a car.
For the art-inclined:
Nestled in the idyllic Hudson River Valley is Dia:Beacon, the gorgeous and vast space that houses the Dia Art Foundation's collection of art from the 1960s to present. An hour ride from Grand Central Terminal, the institution boasts a permanent collection from some of the most prolific artists from the last century, as well as temporary exhibitions, installations, public education programs, and plenty of room to display it all in. With 240,000 feet of exhibition space situated on 31 acres, plan to spend a good chunk of time combing through all the galleries and enjoying the grounds. General admission is 10 bucks and children under 12 enter free, and when you pair that with the Dia:Beacon package you can purchase at any Metro-North ticket booth, this is one of the most affordable and enriching escapes.
3 Beekman Street, Beacon, NY 12508 // 845-440-0100
Head an hour north of the city to Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY, where the green grass of its 500 acre landscape is punctuated by monumental sculptures. Pack a picnic and forget the city while basking in the grandeur of the open air works of Richard Serra and Alexander Calder, both mainstays of the permanent collection. A car would certainly make this trip easier, but for those without that luxury, Coach USA offers two different day packages to the park that leave from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Alternatively, ride the New Jersey Transit/MetroNorth from Penn Station to the Salisbury Mills train station and take a taxi a mere three miles to your final destination.
Old Pleasant Hill Road, Mountainville, NY 10953 // 845-534-3115
If you're looking for a break from urban cycling, head out to Long Island where you can follow miles of designated bike paths before cooling off in the salty waters of the Atlantic at Jones Beach State Park. There are many ways to attack this adventure, but we suggest taking the Long Island Railroad just 50 minutes to Wantagh, packing a map and finding your way to the Jones Beach Bikeway's trailhead located in Cedar Creek Park. (You'll need to get a $5 LIRR bike permit.)
Walk, blade, or bike the easy 4.4 miles of paved surface that ends at the beach. Alternatively, if you're feeling a bit more adventurous and are looking for a harder ride, you can take the Long Island Railroad to Bethpage Station where you can follow the Bethpage Bikeway 9.6 miles until it turns into the Jones Beach Bikepath. Just keep in mind you'll have to do a return trip! A bit of planning will be necessary to find the perfect permutation of bike and train, but just bring a compass and call yourself Magellan.
Wantagh, New York
Hop an early train at Penn Station to Smithtown where the Nissequogue River Canoe & Kayak Rentals Inc. is located. Rent a kayak or canoe and cruise the 5.5 miles of the Nissequogue River, surrounded by marsh and wildlife at its best. Pack a lunch and when your arms get tired, pull over to any of the periodic optional stopping points along the way. You'll be on the river for about 2 hours or so but this will vary with how many stops you make. It'll be about $50 a person, depending on if you rent a two-seater or a single and if you have your own life vest. Don't forget sunscreen!
Paul T. Given County Park, Rtes 25 & 25A, Smithtown, NY 11787 // 631-979-8244
Eating and Drinking:
75 minutes north of the city by car is the Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery in the foothills of the Hudson Valley. For 5 dollars, try 6 different wines and one dessert wine in the tasting room and then head over to the rustic winery's own Pané Bakery Café to sample from the seasonal menu of fresh made artisan pizzas and fancy sandwiches. There, you can also pair a newly purchased bottle of wine, cider, or spirits with cheeses and cured meats before heading out to the patio to listen to the free live music hosted Saturday and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. And if you catch the right weekend, you may even run into one of the winery's monthly mini-music festivals. Keep this place in mind for when the weather turns; apple and pear picking starts up again in the fall.
114 Little York Road, Warwick, New York 10990 // 845-258-4858
If day drinking isn't your bag, look no further than Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, NJ, for a more family-oriented day trip. Sign up for the Milk & Cheese tour where you can watch the cheese-making process from beginning to end, starting with the milking of the sheep and ending with a sampling of the cheese. The 1.5 hour tour is only $8.75 for people over 12 years of age and $6.75 for children 2-12. Get there a little early for your tour and have lunch of fresh bread and cheese from the farm store while the ewes graze in their lush green pastures. It's less than hour's drive away.
50 Fairmount Rd., Long Valley, NJ 07853 // 908-876-3200