New York City dutifully endured months of shutdowns, restrictions, and quarantine orders to battle COVID-19. As coronavirus cases surge nationally but wane locally, NYC residents are hungry for a much-needed, safe change of scenery.
Experience Escape on a Day Trip
Here are some great spots for city dwellers to visit that are only two hours from the Big Apple. As always, remember to wear a mask!
The Metro-North train journey to Beacon is just over an hour. Once visitors have stepped off the train, heartier travels can start the hike up Mount Beacon right from the station. The rigorous, uphill hike is two hours round trip but well worth the effort. The summit offers panoramic views of downtown Beacon and the surrounding Hudson River Valley. The mountaintop ruins of the old gear house that used to pull trolley cars up the mountain are an artistic reminder of the beauty in urban decay. Visitors hoping for a more leisurely afternoon should stroll down Main Street. The central thoroughfare is filled with restaurants, bars, antique shops, and other small local businesses to support. For a small town, Beacon is incredibly, for lack of a better word, cool. Tourists will have no trouble finding everything from vegetarian cuisine to artisanal candles.
Fire Island, Long Island
Fire Island is a 90-minute trip by train and ferry just off the South Shore of Long Island. The barrier-island has 32 miles of white sand beaches and several small communities that sprung up long before it became a National Park. There are no cars on the island, just stretches of whimsical boardwalks lined with shops and restaurants. Each small community has its own vibe from busy Ocean Bay Park to sleepy Lonelyville. The Fire Island Pines community is famously LGBTQ+ friendly. The Fire Island National Seashore is home to rare, natural ecosystems such as the Sunken Forest (a mature, maritime forest) and eelgrass beds (a flowering plant that grows while completely submerged).
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is easily accessible by either train (45 minutes) or car (1 hour). The park rises up the mountainsides along the western bank of the Hudson River. It’s a great place to take the family to hike, fish, or cycle for the day. The bird watching is particularly good because of its proximity to the Iona Island and Doodletown Bird Conservation Area. The CDC has placed strict capacity guidelines on state parks to ensure social distancing can be maintained. Before traveling to Bear Mountain check their website for updates about closures, capacity limits, and black bear sightings.
City Island, Bronx
For city dwellers looking for a last-minute excursion from the city, City Island is an easy commute. Accessible via public transit or private car, City Island has all the trappings of a quaint seaside town in Maine; you’d never guess you’re in the Bronx. The town exudes Americana and there are so many nautical activities. Families can rent kayaks or go fishing in the marina. There are boat rentals for anglers that want to venture farther to sea. Day trippers that don’t want to catch their own meal can cozy up to any number of restaurants offering the freshest catches of the day including fried or boiled fish, oysters, and clams. The main drag has lots of unique shops and galleries to peruse. There are plenty of places to go antiquing or pick up some local, handmade jewelry.
Anyone looking to escape the bustle of city life and take refuge in nature should journey 2 hours to the Pocono Mountains. There are more than 10 national, state, and local parks in the Pocono Mountains. So much protected natural expanse makes this an ideal place to go hiking or spend a day on the Delaware Rivers for canoeing and kayaking. Thrill-seekers can now make reservations for the 2020 whitewater rafting season down the Lehigh River. After a long day in the great outdoors, tuck into a meal at one of the plentiful farm-to-table restaurants before venturing home. The Blue Ridge Winery has reopened for outdoor table service for oenophiles that would like to sample the local terroir. The Barley Creek Brewing Company crafts artisanal brews and serves delicious pub snacks to the hungry masses as well. They’re currently offering a large to-go menu in addition to their outdoor dining selections.