Winter day trips by car from Brooklyn
November 13, 2020 6:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a car In Brooklyn now and I want to escape the city on the weekend! But it's closing in on winter, so the usual summer/fall trips to pretty state parks for a hike or beach are meh. Suggestions for easy day trips--solo adult, no kids in tow.

All the usual suspects like Storm King or Long Island beaches or Bear Mountain etc are just not as appealing in cold gray winter. I love a moderate hike when there is a gorgeous view payoff, but leafless trees aren't gonna do it for me.

I love browsing a bookstore or antique store or whatever in a cute little village. I've done a lot of the Hudson Valley towns between here and Albany already (Sleepy Hollow, Cold Spring, Hudson, Beacon, Woodstock, Kingston, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, etc) so wouldn't mind suggestions outside of those. I like old mansions and mansion tours (unclear on what house tours would be open during covid though). But I especially love old abandoned ruined mansions where you can just openly explore the grounds (or maybe not-so-openly, but no one really pays attention). I love grand cemeteries and otherwise creepy-but-beautiful things. Wandering about and seeing what I can get into is a favorite pastime.

I have zero experience of anything out on Long Island, so would be down to poke around out there too. I've been around the parts of NJ near the city, and those don't interest me much, but open to a hidden gem. I'm also regularly in Philly, so no need to go there either.

Mostly I'm looking for day drives that are no more than two hours away, where a solo woman in her late 30's is safe, that may hold some appeal in winter and are likely to be open during COVID times (I will definitely call and confirm if needed). I don't mind walking around in the cold some if there's something good to be found.

posted by greta simone to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Normally I would suggest going to New Hope, PA/Lambertville, NJ and adjacent towns, along the Delaware River. It's a pretty area even in winter, to my mind. You would need to do some investigating to see what might be open in COVID times. It looks like the Ghost Tours are still operating for a couple more weekend tours before the season ends, for example.
posted by gudrun at 8:51 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

In Nassau County there is Garvey's Point and also Teddy Roosevelt's Home at Sagamore Hill. I think strolling around Ridgefieold CT can be interesting. I also think the new walking lane/path on the Tappan Zee Bridge (The Mario Cuomo if you must) is great. Similarly although probably nicer but farther than the Tap is the Walkway Over the Hudson. It can get windy and chilly in the winter, but still is worth it if you dress appropriately.
posted by AugustWest at 10:43 PM on November 13, 2020

I can think of two wonderful places on Long Island that possess some of the qualities you named. The first is the peninsula that is now Caumsett Park. It includes a Gatsby-esque mansion and some very pleasant hiking trails.

The second that I would recommend is Shelter Island and Mashomack preserve. There is a lot to explore and admire there even in winter. Most of the homes are well-maintained historic private residences, not abandoned ruins, but it's still a pleasure to view the up-to-date mansions' facades.,_New_York
posted by ponibrown at 7:16 AM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Skylands Manor & the NJ Botanic Garden
posted by minervous at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2020

I once went to the Hancock Shaker Village, and it was really lovely. We got lost on the way and saw a lot of other interesting stuff, so I have no sense of how far away it really is. But it was a day trip.
posted by mumimor at 3:55 PM on November 14, 2020

I'm sort of in the same boat. As mentioned above New Hope/Lambertville are really nice towns. The drive along the Delaware north of New Hope is very pretty.

Both Easton and Bethlehem PA have lively downtowns. The Saturday morning farmers' market in Easton is the excellent and runs through December. There are also a couple of antique shops, a great little food hall, a used bookstore/cafe and other interesting shops near the square. And, of course, there is the Crayola World store. The Towpath Trail along the Delaware Canal runs from Easton to south of New Hope.

I haven't explored Bethlehem as much but it has a great bookstore (one of the oldest in the country) downtown and some of the ruins of the Bethlehem Steel plant have been preserved.

Clinton and Frenchtown, NJ are cute but they are tiny. The house at Ringwood Manor near the border with NY is currently closed but the grounds are worth exploring with their odd collection of sculptures.

Have you seen the Great Falls in Paterson? They are worth a visit, especially after a rainy period or snow melt when the river is full. Next to the falls is Hinchliffe Stadium which is worth checking out. There's a path next to the stadium above the falls that takes you down to the river. The Colt factory ruins are next to the falls but they are technically off limits. Note that Paterson has a reputation for being dangerous, and there certainly appear to be very rough areas of the city, but I've never felt unsafe near the falls or downtown (fwiw I'm a middle-aged white guy) and there are a lot of interesting buildings downtown and lots of old converted factory buildings around the falls. Also, there's a statue of native son Lou Costello! Garrett Mountain Reservation to the south of I-80 has great views of the New York skyline.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:28 PM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Cornish Ruins near Cold Spring are fun to explore. Jim Thorpe PA is a charming little town
posted by Neeuq Nus at 11:52 PM on November 14, 2020

For ruins, check out the Hudson Valley Ruins site--it's very web 1.0, but also, very complete. You could also try WeirdNJ for New Jersey sites, though I don't have any personal experience using it.

Hike the Hudson Valley is my bible for hikes--I know you're not into leafless trees, but you can still troll through it for hikes that include interesting sights.

If we get any snow, highly recommend Fahnestock Winter Park (in Clarence Fahnestock State Park) for snowshoeing!

You can't currently go into the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh but the grounds are pretty neat (including some outbuildings, as I recall) and there is a good hike there that takes you right by the river.

Have fun!
posted by CiaoMela at 8:53 AM on November 16, 2020

Nassau County Museum of Art has a really nice sculpture park and wooded trails.
posted by Pineapplicious at 1:53 PM on November 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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