New York City's 10 best day-trips

Richard Mellor

Autumn’s a wonderful time to see New York and the apple orchards, galleries and Gatsby locations nearby. Here are the city’s best day-trips.

Fall fun

Leaf peeping

Bear Mountain park fall

Just an hour’s drive but several worlds away from New York is Bear Mountain State Park.

It includes a chunk of the Appalachian Trail currently being walked on screen by Robert Redford in A Walk in the Woods. The fabulous Fall foliage is best viewed in early October.

 

Apple-picking

Apple picking

Collecting apples ready to bake them in pies and doughnuts is New England's autumn tradition.

One of the best pick-your-own spots is Masker Orchards in the rural Orange County town of Warwick, 45 minutes by car from the city. Apples can be plucked between the first week of September and late October.

 

Seaside

Day-trip for trendies

Playland Motel Queen's rockaway beach
Image via Random Acts of Pastel

Located on the far fringes of NYC and accessible by ferry from Manhattan, Queens’ Rockaway Beach is where Big Apple hipsters—and surfers—flock during summer.

Artisanal food vendors sell their wares at boardwalk-side Rockaway Beach Club, while the pink Playland Motel pairs deckchairs and imported sand with concerts and funky, artist-designed rooms.

 

On a blanket with my baby

The Stone Pony

"Under the boardwalk, down by the sea." Immortalised by Bruce Springsteen, Asbury Park’s boardwalk is one reason for Boss fans to venture the 40 miles south to this New Jersey town.

The other? The legendary Stone Pony, a music venue where he played early shows.

 

Upscale

Daisy’s dock

Hempstead House

Swanky, sleepy Sands Point sits atop Long Island’s north shore. It’s said to have inspired East Egg, the home of Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby and it’s less than an hour’s drive from New York.

Highlights include Hempstead House, designed to mimic Ireland’s Castle Kilkenny, and a surrounding nature preserve dotted with trails and oak-tree woodland.

 

The un-Hamptons

Shelter Island the Hamptons
Image via Guest of a Guest

West of Sands Point is the Hamptons—a desirable strip of land where every wealthy New Yorker has a holiday house.

One of its quietest corners is Shelter Island, accessible only via ferry, and boasting the same beaches and fine seafood but far fewer crowds.

 

Art

Sculpture extravaganza

Grounds for Sculpture Forever Marilyn
Image via SJ Magazine

Down in Trenton, New Jersey, Grounds for Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park with works by both emerging artists and legends like Seward Johnson. His divisive, 26-foot-tall piece 'Forever Marilyn' is exhibited here.

Peacocks wander the beautiful grounds, and private golf cart tours are available.

 

Modern-art must

Dia:Beacon

Once a 300,000-square-foot box-printing factory, Dia:Beacon is now a gallery. It boasts Andy Warhol installations and monumental Richard Serra steel constructs, plus expansive riverside gardens.

60 miles north of New York, it makes an excellent add-on to Manhattan’s MoMA.

 

Activity

Hiking heaven

Cold Spring on the hudson

Slightly south of Dia:Beacon, Bull Hill—known as Mount Taurus—is surmountable in a day, and affords sensational summit views of the Hudson River.

Next, retreat to the quaint town of Cold Spring, whose 19th-century-style Main Street hosts antique shops, homeware stores and farm-to-table bistros.

 

Waterfalls and wild rides

The Catskills mountains

Another hour north are The Catskills: mountains known for their wild forests and creeks. Fall colours are again a draw, but so too is the golf, kayaking, hiking and horseback-riding.

Among many waterfalls, Buttermilk Falls makes for an excellent stop if time’s against you. Meanwhile the SkyRider Zipline provides North America’s fastest, longest and highest canopy tour.