Every once in a while you’ve got to spirit yourself out of the city to reset your brain. Here are three trips, no car necessary, that will have you breathing clean country air at lunchtime, and then back in Brooklyn in time for bed–unless of course you decide to really treat yourself and stay the night.
Hiking in Peekskill
New York City’s parks are wonderful, but sometimes you need a more challenging hike than you can find in Prospect Park’s Ravine. Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, just an hour away on the train, has hiking and cycling trails, beautiful views, and best of all, a brewery nearby to get a bite and a pint before heading home.
To get there, hop a Metro North train at Grand Central to Peekskill. The ride ranges from $11.75-$22.00 each way depending on the day and time–on the weekend a round-trip ticket will run you $23.50 and trains leave once an hour starting at 6:43am.
Once you arrive in Peekskill, grab a cab (if there’s not one at the station, call Royal House Taxi, 914-293-0807) or take a half-hour walk through town–about a mile and a half–to Blue Mountain Reservation at 45 Welcher Avenue. At just over 1,500 acres, the park features trails for hiking, nature spotting and mountain biking. Most of the paths range from easy to moderate and following the middle of the road blue trails is usually best as they’re challenging but not grueling. If you’re looking for something steeper, the path up the side of Blue Mountain is perfect. Entry is free, just be sure to either download or grab a hard copy of a trail map. If you drive, parking is $10. There are also extensive mountain biking trails, and bikes are allowed on Metro North with a bike permit, which is just $5.
Once you’ve had your fill of nature, make your way back through town to the Peekskill Brewery (47-53 S Water Street), conveniently located right across from the train station. The brewery offers their own beers as well as selections from other nearby brewers, and flights are available. If beer isn’t your thing, their wine list has a New York focus, there are close to a dozen ciders available, many made locally, and they specialize in quirky Bloody Marys. The brewery also has a restaurant with views of the river, and a limited (but super tasty) menu is available in the taproom. Relax! The last train doesn’t leave until 11:35pm (though the 10:35pm is direct and will get you back faster).–G.S.
Art and Fleas in Cold Spring and Beacon
Beacon is synonymous with the Dia: Beacon art center, and for anyone who appreciates conceptual art, it’s well worth the pilgrimage to see John Chamberlain’s junkyard carcasses, and Sol leWitt’s very orderly wall drawings. If you suspect you will be unimpressed with the minimalists and are annoyed by phrases like “negative sculpture,” skip the museum. Visit Beacon just for the gorgeous train ride and a day spent popping into eclectic shops and galleries along the town’s very long Main Street. And if you’ve got a car, you can also hit two flea/artisan markets.
After the hour-and-20-minute train ride from Grand Central, take the loop bus that stops at DIA, Main Street and back again. It leaves every half hour starting at noon Mondays through Saturdays (see schedule here), just be sure to have the exact fare, $1.75, on hand. Get off at Main and East Main, make a detour past Beacon Falls for Vintage: Beacon to flip through designer consigned and vintage pieces from Gucci, Jill Sander and more. Head back up Main Street, stopping first into Bau Gallery before hitting up Blackbird Attic for more vintage finds. For lunch, take your pick of a garden seat at Homespun Foods, a café with market fresh soups, panini and comfort food like mac ‘n’ cheese, or get a grass-fed burger and fries at Poppy’s, where they rotate the New York beers on tap. The last bus to the train is at 6:20 at Wolcott and Main, near Bank Square Coffeehouse. Before you leave, visit Mad Dooley Gallery, where a current show reunites women artists who lived in Brooklyn in the mid-90s and worked at the L cafe; Dream in Plastic or Clay Wood and Cotton for a cute gift to bring home and check out Fovea, a gallery whose focus is photojournalism and documentary photographers like those in its current exhibit, “War & Memory.”
If you can come by car, do it on a Sunday, when you can stop first in Cold Spring for a yummy, country kitchen breakfast at Hudson Hil’s (the sheared eggs are the bomb), then visit Bazaar-on-Hudson on the one day it’s open for a tiny but adorable selection of handmade jewelry, letterpress cards, and other artisan goods. Once you reach Beacon, there’s a genuine flea market at Henry St. and Veteran’s Pl. You’ll really need to hunt for the good stuff, but you’ll be rewarded with gems like $8 vintage dresses.–N.D.
Good Food and Waterfront Views in Greenport
Greenport really comes to life in summer, but what you’ll gain by visiting this North Fork harbor town now is a lot more tranquility and the same great food and drink, so long as you go during the weekend. You can take the train, but the two-hour drive will be faster. And if you decide to stay the night, the Greenporter has some affordable rooms in walking distance of all the restaurants. (See below for two deals).
Your plan of action is to eat, drink and gaze out at the water. Start with a happy hour brunch on the patio at First and South, a gastropub that serves delicious fries and burgers (house ground beef or black bean). The chef here trained at Noma in Copenhagen, so feel free to be more adventurous or come back for dinner. Get your drink on at the Greenport Harbor Brewery tasting room, where $8 will get you six samples of tasty IPAs and ales and a pint glass to keep, and then head to Konokosta, the only winery in Greenport, and a stunning one at that. (Hometown Taxi, 631-765-5336, will get you here for about $15.) Bring a bottle of their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc for the walk across their meadow to the bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound. It may be greener come summer, but your view won’t be nearly as good. Head back to town for a cocktail with a view on the deck of Blue Canoe Oyster Bar (complete with fire pit on cool nights). You can either eat here or go fancy at Noah’s or The Frisky Oyster for dinner, and if you’re spending the night, grab a dive bar beer at Whiskey Wind Tavern before turning in. In the morning find your caffeine fix at Aldo’s and a diner breakfast at Coronet Luncheonette.
Overnighters have lots of options but The Greenporter Hotel is throwing in some meals to sweeten visits before May 17. Get a complimentary three-course dinner at Cuvée Seafood and Grille for two on Friday night if you book a Friday and Saturday queen room starting the weekend of 4/18 with the code BRKBS2, and a free Sunday brunch for two for Sunday night-only stays using the code BRKBS1, starting 4/13. In the notes section, specify the time you want to eat dinner or brunch so the restaurant can reserve your spot. Plan on staying longer on the North Fork? We’ve got a guide for that.–N.D.