After being cramped up indoors for so long, isn’t it so incredible to be able to walk outside without immediately freezing in place? (Yes. The correct answer is yes.)
Soon after the winter thaw and warmer temperatures, the blooms open up and the countryside bursts back to life, and we’re all looking to stretch our legs a little… preferably, outside the hustle and bustle of the city.
Luckily, we got you. Here are six of the best spring day trips from NYC–where you can stretch those winter legs, get some fresh air, and explore what lies beyond the city.
1. The Lower Hudson Valley, NY
Photo: Ian Poley / IanPoley.com
The Lower Hudson Valley towns of Cold Spring and Peekskill are in full bloom, and really easy to get to, thanks to the MetroNorth service up the Hudson River. The closest is Peekskill, where the highlight (and walkable from the train) is the Peekskill Brewery; or rent a bike and explore the village. For more ideas, check out the Escape Brooklyn Guide to Peekskill.
A little further up the Hudson River on the MetroNorth is Cold Spring, where visitors are dropped on its very cute and shoppable Main Street. In town, check out Poor George, Cold Spring Apothecary, Cold Spring General, and all the little antique shops–and check out our Escape Brooklyn Guide to Cold Spring, too.
2. Glass House in New Canaan, CT
Photo: Michael Biondo
In New Canaan, Connecticut, The Glass House is pastoral 49-acre landscape comprised of fourteen structures. Created by by architect Philip Johnson in 1949-1995, the highlight is its namesake Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture, along with temporary exhibitions.
Tours of the site are available May through November. Advance reservations are required; tours begin at $25. To get here, rent a car, or take the MetroNorth to New Canaan and call a cab.
3. Harriman State Park, NY and NJ
Harriman State Park is the closest large park to NYC, and NJ Transit Port Jervis train line can take you there. The Sloatsburg, Tuxedo and Harriman stops are all close to trailheads for hiking. For those in a car, don’t miss 7 Lakes Drive for a leisurely drive, bike ride, or a swim. Also of note is the beautiful new Valley Rock Inn, an organic market, garden café, bike shop, and coming soon – its hotel.
To get here, rent a car, or take the MetroNorth to Sloatsburg or Tuxedo. For technical details on specific hiking trails, visit the NY/NJ Trail Conference.
4. Bronx Botanical Garden
Okay, so technically you’re still in New York City at the Bronx Botanical Garden, but we promise you’ll feel a world away perusing its iconic Greenhouses or its 250-acre outdoor spread. On-site, there are several restaurants, a plant store/gift shop, and tons of space to spread out. Upcoming events include orchid evenings (sip on cocktails in a greenhouse full of orchids), a massive plant sale, and the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. From there, you can check out the nautical village of City Island, grab dinner at New York’s real Little Italy, or hit up the Bronx Brewery. Check out our New York Botanical Garden feature for more ideas!
The NYBG is open year-round, Tuesday to Sunday, and select holiday Mondays; hours are typically 10 a.m.–6 p.m. To get here, you can take the B, D, 4, or 2 trains, or it’s a 20 minute ride on the MetroNorth from Grand Central.
5. Storm King Art Center, Cornwall, NY
The iconic Storm King Art Center could easily live in the Lower Hudson Valley part of this list, but it’s worthy of a daytrip itself. The 500-acre outdoor museum located just outside Newburgh, where visitors experience large-scale sculpture and site-specific commissions under open sky. Since 1960, Storm King has been dedicated to stewarding the hills, meadows, and forests of its site and surrounding landscape; spring is an especially good time to visit, before the heat of the summer and the major crowds in autumn.
Storm King is open seasonally from spring until late fall. We’d suggest you rent a car for this excursion, although there are also several public transportation alternatives listed on Storm King’s website.
6. Shawangunk Ridge, NY
Photo: Ian Poley / IanPoley.com
Home to some of our favorite hikes in New York State, the Shawangunk Ridge has become known for its outdoor recreation – most notably as one of the major rock climbing areas of North America. But you definitely don’t have to be a climber to enjoy it! Spring is one of the best times to visit, when everything is blooming and the waterfalls are bursting back to life after a long winter. Check out the hikes at Sam’s Point, Bonticou Crag, and Awosting Falls. For more info on hiking here, check out the NY/NJ Trail Conference website.