Even the most loyal New Yorker needs to take a break from the hustle and bustle. Now that winter is in its home stretch, escaping the city is more appealing than even, with plenty of nearby escapes perfect to unwind, recharge, and explore. Here are the top five weekend getaways within reasonable driving distance of NYC.
Just a two and a half hour drive up the shoreline brings you across state lines into Connecticut. Mystic earned its name from the river that runs through it and is fitting for combining New England charm with stunning coastal beauty. Among the many historic gems in this family-friendly town is the last wood whale ship remaining in the world. Stroll through a replica of a boating village from the 19th-century, visit the whales and exotic sea creatures at the Mystic Aquarium, and then fill up on fresh seafood. Any experience there is guaranteed to be mystical.
A ride further north up the shore will reach Newport, Rhode Island, another charming coastal town for those who might crave a little more excitement. Aside from the sunny beaches, Newport offers a wide variety of gems to explore like mansions that make you feel like you’re on the Italian coast rather than the American one. For amazing scenic views, jump on a Newport Helicopter Tour or walk along the Cliff Walk at sunset. Eat a five-star meal at Chanler at Cliff Walk, a mansion-turned-hotel and restaurant, or any of the fresh seafood options right on the water. Newport is also home to two well-known music festivals that attract folk and jazz fans from near and far. Choose from a variety of charming hotels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts. For romance, solitude, or family fun, Newport has something for everyone.
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Not in the mood for the ocean? Head about three hours west into the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains to enjoy fun, adventure, and relaxation at a higher elevation. In the Poconos, visitors can find everything from valleys to vistas, spas to rugged hikes, and more. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from the many hiking and mountain biking trails, waterfalls, and stunning views. If the climate still lingers in winter, ski resorts are plentiful here. At any time of year, indoor water parks will entertain families for hours while saving a few dollars on sunblock.
Nestled in the famous Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York is Lake George, the ultimate weekend getaway destination. Its variety of gorgeous lakes and nature provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Even Georgia O’Keefe thought so, proven by her many works still there from her many visits. The 32-mile long Lake George has entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts and city dwellers alike. If you wait until summer, you can catch the Elvis Festival featuring impersonators and activities. Also attractive to visitors is the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival, featuring the region’s best mouth-watering local options.
- The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires offer the best of western Massachusetts in terms of both recreation and cultural events. When you’re not taking advantage of the lush outdoors, get centered with yoga at Kripalu, attend concerts at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and enjoy the food and shopping options of the historic town of Lenox. Stop to smell the flowers in the garden tour at The Mount, former home of Edith Wharton and inspiration for her novel The Age of Innocence.
Are you inspired yet to hit the road? Book your stays now at any of all of these conveniently located escapes in easy driving distance from New York City. Your sanity deserves it.
Want more vacation and travel tips? Check out our blog post on The Beach Escapes of New York City!
Much has been written over the past several years about the extinction of what was once a city staple: the greasy-spoon diners and unassuming luncheonettes of yore. It’s true. So many of the idiosyncratic places that used to form the fabric of New York City have been replaced with more stylish, homogeneous versions of themselves. The NYC diner isn’t completely dead, but its heyday has seemingly come and gone.
Recent closures include Chinatown’s nearly 70-year-old The Cup and Saucer, the Lyric Diner in Gramercy, the 40-year-old Del Rio in Brooklyn, the Village’s Joe Jr., the 53-year-old Market Diner in Hell’s Kitchen and, of course, the much maligned closure of Broadway’s 34-year-old Cafe Edison, an absolute institution in the heart of the Theater District.
Diners have been upended for a variety of reasons, usually some combination of lower receipts, higher rent, and competition from ubiquitous chain eateries. Those factors, plus the reality that a new generation of college-educated professionals is proving reluctant to run family businesses that involve long, hard hours and slim margins, are converging in what has felt like a massive diner die-off.
It’s no wonder that city staples have been replaced by glossy alternatives like Pret a Manger and Le Pain Quotidien. In fact, a recent Crain’s article said that while the city had over 1,000 diners and coffee shops 20 years ago, today that number has been whittled down to fewer than 400.
And, while many New Yorkers are lamenting the loss of their favorite spots for affordable comfort food, overall, the population’s tastes have changed. Some diners have struggled to keep pace by switching to upscale ingredients or replacing meat-heavy dishes with vegan and vegetarian options. Champ’s Diner in Brooklyn specializes in vegan fare. The Empire Diner in Chelsea offers upmarket menu items like tuna “poke” bowls, beef carpaccio and antibiotic-free chicken. Some might argue that menu items in the $30-range go against the spirit of the diner, while others are thankful for the cozy, retro atmosphere and the ingenuity.
Thankfully, there are still some old-time diners that grace our great city. More of them tend to be located in the outer boroughs rather than Manhattan, but there are diners to be found in either case. Favorites include the appropriately named Manhattan Diner, Broadway Restaurant, Comfort Diner, Bel Aire Diner, and the Neptune Diner.
For most of us, the days of walking a few blocks to get to our neighborhood diner, a place chock-full of friendly and familiar faces, may be over. But that doesn’t mean that the experience is lost entirely. If we’re willing to travel a little farther and perhaps endure a little anonymity, we can still bask in the warmth and comfort of eating scrambled eggs on a vinyl seat, surrounded by chrome and Formica.
Hopefully, the high-profile closures have generated enough interest to convince a large customer base to patronize our remaining local treasures. Perhaps NYC’s remaining diners can survive against the odds, pouring coffee and grilling burgers in perpetuity.
Looking for a different type of NYC eating experience? Read about ethnic food enclaves in Brooklyn and the Bronx, or satisfy your sweet tooth at one of our most instragrammable dessert spots.
As the summer heats up, many New York City residents head for the hills (or the Jersey Shore) for a weekend getaway and fun in the sun. But for those of us staying in the city, there are still plenty of summertime vibes to be found. Strolling the boardwalk at Coney Island, sipping frosé at a sidewalk cafe, rowboats on central park lake and our favorite past-time: Grilling meats in the open air!
An outdoor bbq with friends and family is the quintessential American summer activity. Luckily for New Yorkers, there are 1,700 parks stretched across the five boroughs! Large, small, wooded, or oceanfront, here are just a few of the parks that allow public grilling:
Inwood Hill Park (enter at Dyckman Street & Hudson River)
Inwood Hill Park is a 196.4-acre slice of New York History with sweeping vistas, dramatic caves, valleys, and ridges. The park offers athletic fields, playgrounds, dog runs, and a barbecue area, in harmony with its natural assets and striking views of the Hudson.
Morningside Park (enter at Morningside Avenue & West 121st Street)
Close to Columbia University, the Apollo Theater and the northern tip of Central Park, Morningside Park stretches thirteen blocks through the neighborhoods of Harlem and Morningside Heights. This nicely landscaped community park has playgrounds, jogging and bike paths, ballfields, picnicking, cliff-like hillsides with unique views, and even a waterfall. And the bonus feature: there’s a farmers market on Saturdays.
Randall’s Island Park (enter at the waterfront near the south end of the park).
Randall’s Island Park is a recreation hub in the middle of the East River that has all things that make summertime a beloved New York season! With incredible flora, athletics, urban farming, and fantastic waterfronts, this is a great place to plan a large all-day get-together.
Queensbridge Park (enter at Vernon Blvd and 41st Avenue)
Conveniently located on the East River waterfront, Queensbridge Park is a community park with great views from the Queens side of life, and a couple of great spots to grill! This park has a seawall, playgrounds, handball courts, dog-friendly areas, and convenient bathrooms making it easier for the older and younger members of the family.
Manhattan Beach Park (enter northeast of the promenade, median adjacent to the parking lot)
This is a popular stretch of beach great for picnicking, swimming (yes, people do actually swim in the water. It’s warm!) and volleyball. Manhattan Beach is a good alternative spot for grilling because it isn’t allowed on the beach at Coney Island. And as a reminder, for better or worse, there is no amplified sound permitted.
Now for the bad news, here is a short list of the parks that do not allow outdoor grilling:
Central Park (with the exception of Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day)
Coney Island (but between the surf, the rides, and the iconic boardwalk, you’ll have plenty else to do)
Washington Square Park
East River Park also disallows grilling without a permit, so be sure to grab one if you’re looking to cook out in the shadow of the stunning Manhattan Bridge!
Don’t forget that there’s plenty more to do in NYC world-class parks system! For even more activity ideas, check out our Summer 2018 events that aren’t to be missed!
A day at the park doesn’t have to mean leisure time. Many New Yorkers, eager to make the most of their workouts, hit the city’s many parks to get and stay fit all throughout the year. These are four spots across the city where fitness freaks can get an intense workout while enjoying the city’s best green spaces.
Running Track – Van Cortlandt Park
The Bronx’s showcase (and third largest park in NYC), Van Cortlandt Park is home to a golf course, cricket pitch, bocce court, and even a Gaelic football field, but those looking to work up a solo sweat will find it in the park’s southwest corner, just south of the tennis courts. The Van Cortlandt Stadium on Broadway between 240 and 242nd street is the perfect staging area for cardio at any level, from marathoners to weekend warriors. Test out your speed on the 400 meter track, or run up the concrete stadium steps for a vertical element to your workout.
Swimming – Flushing Meadows Corona Park
If you’re looking to burn some calories and build muscle without getting drenched in sweat, the pool is where you belong. Queens’ biggest park is home to a state-of-the-art aquatics center with an Olympic-sized pool, with all levels of swimmers welcome. A nominal membership fee (much lower than typical gym fees) will get you in for swimming year-round and seasonal ice skating at the attached rink-the best of both worlds in recreation and fitness.
Hanging Bars – Tompkins Square Park
Alphabet City’s green oasis is also home to one of New York City Parks’ most well-known and tough public fitness areas. What at a glance might look like a garden variety jungle gym is, in fact, an adult-ready set of steel frames to test even the most accomplished pull-up champ. Bring your A-game to this array of multi-colored hanging bars in the northeast corner of the park, or risk getting squeezed out by the park’s ultra-toned regulars.
Watersports – Marine Park
If your interests tend a little towards the unexpected (for NYC, at least) a ride down to Marine Park for some kayaking and paddleboarding is well worth the trip. This far-flung Brooklyn neighborhood’s namesake park (reachable by car or bus, but not subway) features not only 530 acres of grassland, but the Gerritsen inlet, a purpose-built launching spot for small boats and watercraft. Bring your own or rent one from a nearby kiosk and get your blood pumping while enjoying a day on the water!
The snow is finally melting and that means one thing across New York City: a multitude of great springtime festivals that cater to every interest. As we look for more reasons to spend time outside, there’s no shortage of great events to plan those longer days around. Here are just a few of the offerings at hand for the warmer months ahead.
Frieze New York
While NYC’s many art museums are generally open year-round, Frieze New York is a weekend-long festival that offers the chance to see high art while simultaneously enjoying the spring weather, a rare opportunity. While it’s primarily a showcase for collectors and dealers, this tented art fair on Randall’s Island welcomes art lovers of every stripe to enjoy the thousands of works on display. More than a simple market, the Frieze Fair features site-specific and groundbreaking new works. For NYC’s rapidly evolving art scene, nothing less will do.
9th Avenue Food Festival
Stretching all the way from 42nd to 57th Street (Times Square-area to Columbus Circle-area, roughly), this long-running food fest has enough room for the best tastes from around the globe. From French Crepes to Indian Curry to South America Pupusas, New York’s international character perhaps sees its best representation in Ninth Avenue’s bustling yearly fair. If the good isn’t enough to entice you, there are vendors and games to keep you around even after you fill up on the goods.
Macy’s Flower Show
March 25 – April 8
Nothing says spring like flowers, and nothing says NYC like Macy’s, so what better way to celebrate the season by enjoying the best of both? Macy’s isn’t just the host of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade down 5th Avenue, but their cherished flower show festoons the aisles of their landmark Herald Square location with a spectacular array of fresh flower arrangements from floor to ceiling. This parade-worthy display is only up for two weeks, so hop on the train and pay them a visit-no purchase necessary.
Bloody Mary Festival
For 5 years running, this celebration has drawn the crowds looking for the most creative takes on breakfast’s favorite cocktail. Featuring live music, food tastings and more, this event promises the best brunch of the spring. This year’s event will host 17 masters of the Mary at Park Slope’s regal Grand Prospect Hall, so feel free to dress in your Sunday best as you sip the finest vodka-and-tomato juice cocktails the city has to offer.
Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival
Since the 1870s, New Yorkers have shown off their finest at this Easter celebration where too much decoration is almost never enough. This solemn holiday celebration has morphed over the years into a colorful display of creativity with bonnets with every color and ornamentation imaginable, even with live animals festooning some of the more outlandish designs. Centering (naturally) around St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the festival is just part of a larger parade that runs up to 57th Street. Even if you can’t make it into Mass, getting to the church is enough to take part in or simply witness the festivities.