Friday, June 10, 2016

Short Trips From New York City: Readers’ Tips

Readers share their favourite jaunts from the Big Apple, many to upstate New York, but also to New Jersey and beyond

WINNING TIP: Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

A few hours by bus (from Penn station) or car is Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Rugged, verdant hills and a river of gentle tranquillity hide an impressive industrial past. There’s the town named after athlete Jim Thorpe, a splendid museum in one of the great small stately homes of America (Trout Hall in Allentown), excellent food and boutique B&Bs. It’s spectacular in summer and winter, and hiking, biking and canoeing are all readily available.

West Point and Bear Mountain, New York

The Hudson river and Bear Mountain bridge.
 The Hudson river and Bear Mountain bridge. Photograph: Alamy
From NYC drive up the Westside highway, cross the Tappan Zee bridge and head north to West Point military academy. It’s a beautiful drive of about an hour. The views of the Hudson river are breathtaking and West Point is a lovely typical Upstate NY town. On the way back, cross the Hudson near West Point on the Bear Mountain bridge and take the river road back to NYC, Route 202. You will go through many small villages, especially Croton-on-Hudson. All of this area has a wonderful history, including the story of Rip Van Winkle.

Hike Breakneck Ridge, NY

Breakneck Ridge
 Photograph: Michael Kirby/Rex
Breakneck Ridge Trailhead is an hour by train from Grand Central Station on the Metro North line. The hike begins at river level and ascends some 1,500 feet, a mad scramble over big rocks with an incredible view of the Hudson Valley. Trains from NYC run only at weekends, and there aren’t many. To save a long wait for the 4pm return train from Breakneck Ridge station, walk south a few more miles. You end up at the town of Cold Spring (maps available at trail start), where there are loads of places to eat and hourly trains back to NYC.

Lazy Meadow, NY

Lazy Meadow, New York
Kate’s Lazy Meadow motel is your spiritual home if you love mid-century modern, atomic-themed lamps and place names that could be straight from Mark Twain. Owned by Kate Pierson of punk band the B-52s and close to Woodstock in the Catskills, this is where lovers of psycho rock come to hook trout, ride the river or pose with a perfect martini. There’s the Lazy Shack with its own babbling brook on top of a mountain road and a Lazy Lodge with its own streamed music – of water from the river and falls nearby. Come night time, switch on those atomic lamps and watch bubbles of light swirl around the room, glinting off walls scented with cedar and pine.
 Two-bedroom suites from $155 a night,

Hudson, NY

Warren Street townhouses in Hudson.
 Warren Street townhouses in Hudson. Photograph: Alamy
Take a train from Penn Station and two hours later, up the wide Hudson river, you reach the funky town of Hudson. There are glimpses of the out-of-town mansions of the rich and famous, and stylishly restored Warren Street is lined with antique shops, specialist food and wine emporiums, restaurants, bars and not a high-street name in sight. There’s even a theatre. And don’t miss the Spotty Dog, a unique blend of real-ale bar and bookshop in a former brewery. This is where New Yorkers come to chill.

Hobofest, Lake Saranac, NY

The Saranac Hobofest takes place every year over Labor Day weekend (early September) in this mountain village about three hours’ drive north of NYC. Don’t let the name put you off. It’s a long weekend celebrating the independent, hobo-roving spirit of the US, with bands, poets and artists converging on this pretty lakeside town. All events are free and Manhattan’s finest often come out to check out the indie scene – making for a great vibe!

Beach life, Long Island, NY

Jones Beach State Park
 Photograph: Alamy
After a few days in the city you can feel like you need a trip to the beach. Within an hour you can be amid the tranquillity of the ocean and six miles of soft white sand at Jones Beach state park, on Long Island. With lots of free concerts during the summer months, you might find yourself dancing the night away to Latin music with the locals. And there are four miles of cycle paths, so you could hire a bike for a trip along the coast.

Hyde Park, home of FDR, NY

Hyde Park New York
 Photograph: Alamy
About 90 miles north of NYC in the glorious Hudson valley is Hyde Park, former home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The house and grounds are maintained by the US National Parks Service, and the displays and explanations are very interesting and informative. You could go for a day (easier by car, but train to Poughkeepsie and then taxi is a possibility), but I found a bed-and-breakfast almost immediately opposite and a brew pub with great food nearby.
Adult $18, under-16 free,

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey

Testing Togethernes: sculpture of sleeping college students by Seward Johnson.
 Testing Togetherness: sculpture of sleeping students by Seward Johnson. Photograph: Alamy
With galleries inside and beautiful gardens outside, this park has some incredible pieces of contemporary sculpture to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. It has great places to eat, including Rat’s Restaurant, The Gazebo and two cafes. Lovely day out.

Atlantic City Casinos, NJ

Borgata Casino, Atlantic City, NJ.
 Borgata Casino, Atlantic City. Photograph: Alamy
Try your luck in the Boardwalk Empire of Atlantic City, the east coast’s answer to Las Vegas. The casinos may be a little worn, but there are still some gems, such as the Borgata. Chill out at its spa between gambling sessions, or catch a show by a world-famous act. With five restaurants, three bars and a nightclub on site, you may find you’re hard-pushed to return to New York!
Sarah Eaglesfield

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