Brainstorm my vacation
February 3, 2015 6:52 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are planning a vacation to visit our daughter. She lives in Brooklyn. We would like to get out of the city for most of the week and go see...something. Can you throw some ideas at me please?

It's going to be the last week in March, and on the cool side I imagine. (We are from Los Angeles, so the weather alone is interesting to us)

We'd like to see something of the natural beauty of the area but we are not hikers at this point in our lives. Something attractive to a younger person would be good.

Husband is into permaculture, I like to knit. Daughter is into theater. Maple sugaring would be fun. Is it too early in the season? Or we could cruise down to Philadelphia, or take the train to DC or, what? We may end up going to Rhode Island to meet up with some cousins, too. Clearly, we are all over the place right now.

Things we have enjoyed in the past: Boston history walk, the Mall and museums in DC, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and those fancy mansions near Providence.

We are brainstorming and open to almost anything at this point. Got any suggestions for us Metafilter?
posted by SLC Mom to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the Hudson valley area, I'm thinking specifically the tarrytown theater or beacon ny. Gl!
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:23 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

March could be 50 degrees and sunny or it could be 32 and snowbound. So that will make choosing outdoors activities difficult.

I love the New Paltz area. There is a gorgeous ridge, famous to hikers and skiiers and rock climbers, known as the Gunks, to the west of town. If the weather permits, you could go into the woods up there and walk miles of very gentle carriage trails. If not, you could stay in town and go shopping and make a day trip to DIA Beacon, a fabulous modern art museum about a half hour away. West Point and Cold Spring are also nearby.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:29 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

NY is a major maple state, check for sugaring off and other events.
posted by brujita at 7:43 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you like museums and you like the natural beauty of the Northeast, Storm King. There's nothing like it. But it looks like it opens April 1; will you still be there?
posted by escabeche at 9:25 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Long Island also has fancy old Mansions like the ones in Providence. Check out North Fork and Montauk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:40 PM on February 3, 2015

I've always thought that the train ride up/down the Hudson River on the Hudson River Line Metro North was one of the more beautiful train rides. The train tracks are right on the water and give you the most amazing views of the river and the Palisades. It is especially lovely around sunrise and sunset. I don't know specifically good places for end points for this but take the train out of Grand Central around sunset and stop somewhere along the Hudson for dinner, then take the train back to the city.

When you get on the train, be sure to sit on the west side.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:26 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Perfect timing for New York Maple Weekend!

Depending on time, my recommendation would be to take Metro-North's Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie, then rent a car there. There are lots of maple events going on all over the area, especially in the Catskills, the last two weekends in March. I'd especially recommend visiting Crown Maple, which is not in the Catskills, but about a half-hour east of Poughkeepsie, and is supposedly the largest maple farm in the country.

There are lots of other things to do in the Hudson Valley. Unfortunately, the landscape may still be kind of drab, as we'll be coming out of winter then, but if it's a nice day, you must visit the Walkway Over the Hudson. And of course, there are the historic sites related to FDR and Eleanor in and around Hyde Park.

See also this previous AskMe.

The area is full of interesting stuff. Have fun!
posted by Leatherstocking at 4:39 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The university may be on spring break the last week in March, but seconding New Paltz as a base and nthing: train to Poughkeepsie and renting car from there, Walkway Over Hudson, DIA Beacon and poking around in Beacon, all things maple, and Hyde Park, especially Eleanor R's pad. Definitely add hiking around Mohonk Mountain House with a lovely tea afternoon tea at the end of the day--you may need reservation and it is pricey. (There will likely be snow on the ground for hiking so you'll need to rent gear--spikes and poles at a minimum, or snowshoes, or cross country skis, shoes, and poles. New Paltz probably has a rental outdoor places.) Alas, Storm King, the phenomenal outdoor sculpture museum doesn't reopen until April 1. Towns to check out in addition to New Paltz: Rhinebeck, Hudson, and Cold Spring.
posted by Elsie at 7:15 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Piling on all the people who are recommending the Hudson Valley. I live in Brooklyn and have a brother who lives in a River Town and I love taking the train there... Beacon is great, Rhinebeck, Hudson and Cold Spring are all great. The only new thing I'll offer is Stone Barns
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:32 AM on February 4, 2015

If you do decide on the Hudson Valley, I highly recommend the National Heritage Area Guidebook. You can find all this info online, but it's much easier to get a feel for the area using the book, which includes basically everything you would want to see along with some useful maps.

I should add that if you like historic mansions, the Hudson Valley has A LOT. (They are all in the book.) I'd especially recommend Olana, near Hudson; you will probably want to call ahead to make sure that any historic house you want to visit is open at the end of March and that they have available tours. Most are closed during the winter, although Olana seems to be open then.

If you make it up to Albany, the State Museum is fun and often has very interesting and intellectually engaging exhibitions; the State Capitol is not to be missed (they have tours during the week) and is an incredible monument to government extravagance built at the time when the state was the richest in the country (and full of graft).
posted by Leatherstocking at 10:26 AM on February 6, 2015

Response by poster: This is still open! I thought I had procrastinated too long.
Thanks, everyone! Things just sort of evolved on this trip, even though I went in with all your good suggestions. The weather was perfect for us with a little snow, a little rain, plenty of coolness and plenty of sun.
So, here's what we did:
--We flew in and out of JFK, but took a cab to LaGuardia to rent a car as it was loads cheaper that way. We were able to return it to JFK when we left, so it was easy.
--Relaxed in Brooklyn at a really awful AirBNB for two nights; wandered around a bit, ate donuts at daughter's favorite coffee shop, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and took the subway back, bought a hat. Dinner at Peaches one night--awesome food-southern flavor, but foodie style southern.
--Drove up river a bit, went to Crown Maple. Did you know that they make Bourbon Maple Syrup? ohgod
Wandered around the grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion, ate at Hyde Park Brewing Company, which had FDR on the gent's door and Eleanor on the women's. Slept at a motel in Poughkeepsie.
--Morning'd in New Paltz, wandering around the shops and had lunch there. Very cool little town. Bought a scarf.
--Drove out to Lancaster and stayed at the Old Cork Factory Hotel. Nice place. Spent two days wandering around farm country and enjoying the calm. Bought a skein of yarn. Had lunches in diners (scrapple. hmmmm.), drinks in bars, and a dinner at Quips. Browsed an Amish farm, and furniture stores, looked as old farm equipment. Slept in.
--Drove west to small-towns-ville, PA and stayed at the Old Stone House Inn. SO COOL, and not very expensive on a weeknight.
--Toured Fallingwater. This is the home that put Frank Loyd Wright on the cover of Time Magazine. Truly amazing. Bought a mousepad that I am using today and a little book on architecture. This was really the highlight of the trip for me.
--Started driving back home, overnighted in sometown-I don't know where. But the hotel we happened into was having a fund raiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society(you want to support them, you really do) where I bid on something and lost AND a dance contest for little girls in Irish style dance costumes with big hair-dos who were running charmingly all through the halls. The bar was packed so we went to another and played cribbage and drank margaritas until the (very good) live music overwhelmed us and we left.
--And drove back to NYC, where we spent the evening eating take-in Chinese food and playing cards, then said good-bye to our lovely charming delightful self-sufficient smart creative and beautiful daughter and slept at the Sheraton (*spits on their over-crowded parking lot and their $18 breakfast*) next to the airport and then flew home in the morning.

This was such a nice trip!
posted by SLC Mom at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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