With a population of over 8 million people, New York City is the largest city in the United States. While its immense size does come with a lot of perks (24/7 delivery service, anyone?), sometimes you can't help but wish for a little bit of open space and greenery. If you're missing the great outdoors but don't want to stray too far from the amenities of the city, don't worry. Here are five great day trips you can take from NYC.
Bear Mountain State Park
If you'd like to spend a day hiking through beautiful mountains and seeing lots of wildlife, consider a trip out to Bear Mountain State Park. This area is particularly striking in autumn when the leaves change, and the fiery red of the mountains is reflected in the Hudson River below. From October through March, the park also has an outdoor skating rink open to visitors.
However, this day trip can be enjoyed any time of the year. The hike to the top of Bear Mountain is easy enough that beginners and children can enjoy it, and the top of the mountain has beautiful views from the Perkins Memorial Tower. On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline.
If hiking isn't your thing, there are still plenty of activities to try at the park. Take a look at the small zoo or trail-side museums, picnic in a shaded grove, fish in the river, or take a dip in the swimming pool. If bird watching sounds like fun, take a little excursion to the bird conservation areas and see if you can spot a bald eagle. Have kids with you? Let them take a ride on the park's hand-painted merry-go-round.
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary
This non-profit, located in Short Hills, New Jersey, is a perfect family getaway. With origins dating back to 1923, the arboretum includes 16.45 acres of woodlands and offers many hiking trails. It states that its goal is to "promote an understanding of the relationship between people and the environment" through its many volunteer-run programs.
The arboretum offers a wide range of activities throughout the year, from family activities such as summer camps and field trips to workshops designed specifically for adults. Their programs change with the seasons, but some examples of their offerings include monthly guided hikes, fall family camp-outs, and an annual hot chocolate open house in December.
The arboretum is home to a wide variety of wildflowers, trees, and flora and fauna. It also provides food and resting areas to migrating birds in the spring and fall and boasts unique geological features such as an amphitheater. With programs open to members and non-members alike, this arboretum offers an excellent way to get into nature for a day.
Storm King Art Center
If you want to take in a museum and get plenty of fresh air at the same time, why not take a trip out to the Storm King Art Center in Hudson Valley? Founded in 1960, this museum is spread out across 500 acres, and it focuses particularly on modern and contemporary art.
Storm King aims to support local artists and connect artwork and nature in a unique, dynamic way. While visiting, you are likely to see quite a few large-scale sculptures nestled in among the hills and forests of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to an ever-changing rotation of exhibits, Storm King offers a number of programs open to the public. In Wanderings & Wonderings, a participating artist puts together a completely unique method of engaging with their exhibit. Perhaps you'll take part in a poetry and movement workshop, or go on a personalized guided tour. For a truly different experience, try going on an after-hours moonlit walking tour of the museum. Storm King also offers beekeeper tours, outdoor concerts, and Saturday morning yoga classes.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Located less than an hour outside New York City, Blue Hill Farm consists of a working farm, a farmer's market, and two restaurants. If you're curious about where your food comes from, a trip out to Blue Hill at Stone Barns offers both an educational and elegant experience. Ranked at number 11 by The World's 50 Best Restaurants, Blue Hill is certainly worth your time — you will get a tour around the farm before you eat, and a constant supply of information regarding the products and ingredients that went into every dish you try.
Interestingly, there is no menu provided at this restaurant. Due to the freshness and local nature of the meals, the menu is always designed by the chef to reflect what is currently in season and delicious.
If you want to skip the restaurant and just learn more about the farm, you can explore the property on your own or take a look at the programming offered by the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Some activities offered include a farmer-led pasture walk, a greenhouse tour, and a chance to meet and learn more about the bees in the farm's apiary.
East End Bike Tours, NY
Located in Mattituck, the East End Bike Tours are a great way to get some leisurely exercise and explore the scenic North Fork Vineyards. The general biking tour is about 13.5 miles and takes you on a route along the Peconic Bay. However, there are numerous tour options for any mood.
If you're a fan of the arts, try the Paint and Sip Tour — this 15-mile ride takes you through the Long Island countryside. You'll work with a professional art teacher to create a painting, which you can then take home with you as a memory. You will also get plenty of wine to taste, as well as fresh olive oil and unlimited non-alcoholic refreshments.
Are you looking for a great anniversary date without much travel? East End Bike Tours has an option for that, too. Try their Tour for Two for a more intimate experience, where you can explore harbors and beaches, taste local wine, and eat chocolate-covered strawberries. The guides take pictures throughout the day, so your memories will be captured without you ever needing to pull out your camera.
If you'd rather explore without a guide, there is also a self-guided tour available — just rent a bike and explore the beautiful landscape!