Day Trip: Storm King, You Know You’ve Been Meaning to Check it Out

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There’s no lack of ink out there about Storm King Art Center, the extraordinary 500-acre outdoor sculpture park located about an hour-and-a-half’s drive north of Brooklyn in the lower Hudson Valley. But every time I go and come back raving about it to people, they always seem to have the same response: they’ve never been, even though they’ve always wanted to check it out. So, after visiting Storm King this past Saturday with my sister and my dad and being reminded how great it is, I figured one more write-up won’t kill anyone, particularly if it helps you realize how easy it is to make this day trip.

schawarmaI grew up not far from Storm King and spent a significant amount of time as a kid walking the grounds with my family, although back then I was more interested in rolling down the grassy hills faster than my sister (anyone looking for a place to tire out young children take note) than I was in outsized pieces of abstract modern art. The collection is striking enough to leave an impression on someone of any age though, and the imposing steel structures by Mark di Suvero and Alexander Calder dotting the stunning natural landscape stuck with me always. Those familiar pieces are all still there, but they’ve been joined by an impressive batch of newer works, like Maya Lin’s much-hyped Storm King Wavefield and a serpentine stone wall by Andy Goldsworthy that squiggles around trees and dives underwater into a pond, only to emerge triumphantly on the other side. Brooklynites might be especially struck by Luba, a new sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard located near the Visitor Center; if it looks familiar, it’s because a similar piece by the same artist sits in the entrance pavilion to the Barclays Center (you know, the one that looks a little bit like the giant piece of meat that schawarma gets carved off of in a falafel place).

Other innovations in recent years include revamped picnic areas, a café serving organic, local food, and an on-site bike rental facility for anyone who wants to maximize ground coverage. I normally find audio museum tours to be sort of annoying, but last weekend I decided to try the 40-minute tour by tram so that my wheelchair-bound dad could see more of the park. Despite a long-winded, eyeroll-inducing recitation of safety precautions at the outset, the tour was actually really helpful–it oriented us within the park, gave us a sense of the areas we’d like to revisit on foot, and was a great source of info about some of the collection’s more iconic pieces. You can also hop on and off whenever you feel like it.

Storm King is open until 5:30 every day except Tuesdays, and on weekends they open at 9am. Start early because you’ll want a significant chunk of time once you’re there. If you’re driving, be sure to take the Palisades Parkway route—it’s much prettier than the Thruway and you can explore nearby West Point, Cornwall, or Bear Mountain State Park if you have time. If you don’t have access to a car, there are regular bus and train routes that can get you to Storm King quickly and cheaply. Storm King is as good as everyone always says it is, so isn’t it time to check it out for yourself?

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