Short Day Trips from New York City into the Great Outdoors.
Flashy billboards, sun blocking skyscrapers, bright lights, horns and voices blaring everywhere: these are the calling cards of New York City. But this exciting city with the reputation of a city that never sleeps can get overwhelming-- this is true for the visitor and for the local. Those looking for a little escape into the quiet and calm of nature will be delighted to find that just within three hours of New York City, there are places that are so different from the city, they will seem almost foreign. From green cattle dotted farmlands to hiking in the woodlands, here is a list of daytrips from New York City that will rejuvenate and quiet the soul.
The farms in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
On the physical level, farmlands represent the food that sustains our bodies. But somehow, just seeing miles and miles of unending lush, green farmlands also has a calming effect on the soul. For those seeking calm, a day trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is just what the doctor ordered. Unlike New York City, this is a place where nature takes center place: there are no buildings blocking the views of the land, no billboards anywhere, and once one leaves the highway traffic is almost non existent. Instead, expect to see quiet farms dotted with horses and cattle, horse drawn buggies slowly passing by and the gurgling sound of streams flowing merrily along.
Lancaster County is about a three hours drive from new York City (at the time of writing there was no convenient way to use public transportation to get there). This serene place in rural Pennsylvania, known for its fresh farm foods, open air markets and quiet, peaceful residents, is the place to visit for solitude and long walks in endless fields. Plan an early daytrip so that there is enough time to visit a farm, a farmers market and have lunch or dinner at one of the many smorgasbord buffets in the county before heading back to the city. Arrange for a tour of any of the many working farms which offer tours and sometimes opportunities to actually milk the cows or collect eggs through discoverlancaster.com . Feel free to stop and take a walk along any farm or stream: these peaceful people wont mind. Also, don't miss the chance to have homemade ice cream or milkshake from one of the excellent dairy farms.
If you visit Lancaster County, you may also want to learn about the fascinating Amish People.
Amish Country-- Pennsylvania
Nothing could be further away from the brashness of New Yorkers than the humility of the Amish people. Living among the farmlands in Lancaster, a visit to the Amish people of Amish country is a lesson on what the slow life feels like. The Amish people are a religious group from Germany and Switzerland that arrived in America in the early 18th century. The Amish view separation from worldy views and goods and non- resistance as the acceptable Christian way.
The interesting result is a people who live in the secluded farmlands of Lancaster county, banning the use of higher education and all modern niceties. So, instead of cars, expect to see horse drawn buggies and lots of people walking. Also, don't be surprised to see the Amish looking fascinatedly at your Ipad or iPhone as you snap pictures (speaking of pictures, do not attempt to take a picture of an Amish persons face as this goes against their beliefs). The Amish do not use any form of electronics including televisions and telephones.
For a unique way to see the Amish, book a buggy ride at amishbuggyrides.com. Depending on which ride you choose, you may glimpse Amish children playing in their yard, have an intimate experience with an Amish family in their home or stop at an Amish schoolhouse.
If Amish Country seems too far away, ocean lovers will find lots of serenity in the easily accessible beaches on the Jersey Shore.
The beach on the Jersey Shore
Water is claimed to be amongst the most soothing properties on earth. Combine the soothing waters of the ocean with soft sand, great restaurants, and quaintly historic homes and one gets the picturesque towns on the New Jersey Shore.
The state of New Jersey lays next to New York City, and is easily accessible by train or bus (njtranist.com for schedules and fares) or by car . For beach lovers looking to unwind on a beach, this makes a daytrip to one of the shore towns a no brainer. The trip to the beach can take from an hour to three hours depending on which town is chosen.
Quieter towns like Ocean Grove will be best for those who just want to be on the beach and do a little shopping with little excitement. Those who want to walk along a boardwalk and take in all the sights common to a boardwalk--- funnel cake, fudge shops, mini golf will prefer Ocean city or Point Pleasant Beach. Regardless of which beach you choose, know that in summer, the beaches can get packed so for some quiet its best to visit on a warm day in early June when the kids are still in school and the vacationers haven't yet swarmed the shore.
Although very different from the beach, woodlands, and forestry carry a charm all their own for those seeking quiet. This next place is perfect for finding peace among the trees.
Hike the Palisades in Fort Lee
Hiking is ubiquitious on any list of great nature activities. Surprising then that less than ten minutes out of New York City, lies a hilly region with hiking trails and green forest land known as the Palisades. Who would have thought that this city sat close to such a natural beauty?
The Palisades is a hilly range in New Jersey with numerous hiking trails that range from easy to moderate. Because of its location by the Hudson river, many trails run parallel to the river making for a beautiful, calm hike. Most trails, lead through serene green forestry filled with streams and wildlife. Don't be startled if you suddenly walk into a family of deers ( I spotted three young ones on my hike) or snakes. For a perfect view of the Hudson River and the surrounding hills, take the trail to the top (this is less than two hours hiking slowly). Alternatively, some trails lead down to a picnic area by the river, where one can get drinks and snacks or have a prepacked picnic.
To get there, take the NYC subway system's A train to 175th street stop , and walk across the George Washington Bridge towards the town of Fort Lee, to enter the Palisades. New Jersey. For information on visiting, njpalisades.org.