Are you currently freaking out because summer’s almost over, and you haven’t been to Rockaway beach or the Hamptons as many times as you’d like, let alone booked that dream vacation to the white sand shores of Oahu or pebble beaches of Capri? Well, take a deep breath, because while you can’t exactly hop the subway to a supremely exotic, palm tree-ringed locale, there are actually a number of totally destination-worthy daycation spots (touting seriously awesome eats), located just hours outside of the city!
Hudson Valley Wine Trails: Provided you can rent a car and find a designated driver, it will only take you an hour and a half to reach the Hudson Valley, America’s oldest winemaking and grape growing region in the country. Spanning both sides of the river, there are more than 40 wineries, distilleries and cideries spread over four different, bucolic trails. We’re especially partial to the 80-mile-long Shawangunk Trail, which includes Brotherhood, America’s oldest winery (est. 1839) and Benmarl, America’s oldest vineyard, selling estate grown, award-winning Cabernet Franc and rich Baco Noir. Best of all, it’s just a stones throw away from Hyde Park, home of the celebrated C.I.A., where you can dine at one of eight different terrific, student-run restaurants, from the buttoned-up Bocuse to the casual Apple Pie Bakery Café.
Pocantico Hills/Stone Barns: Granted, you can’t exactly head to this upstate town on a whim and expect to score a table at Dan Barber’s seminal farm-to-table spot, Blue Hill at Stone Barns. But for the cost of a Metro-North ticket to Tarrytown, you’ll have the whole day to explore the sprawling Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a four-season, 80-acre farm and educational hub focused on sustainable food systems. Help collect eggs, pet a Berkshire pig, chat with the beekeepers and learn how to make the most out of your own urban gardening space, before picking up provisions at the on-site farm market or Blue Hill Café, which sells fresh-baked goodies, seasonal salads and a variety of unusual jams and pickles. (And, of course, ask if there’s any last minute cancellations in the dining room because you never know.)
Sandy Hook Beach: For a taste of the Jersey shore (without a taste of “The Jersey Shore”), simply take a 40-minute ferry ride from Wall Street to the seven-mile stretch of Sandy Hook. Not bad, right? Perfect for swimming, surfing or just relaxing, the bay and ocean beaches are also home to 300+ species of migratory birds, which have settled in the surrounding holly forests. And like any seaside haven worth its salt, Sandy Hook has a number of relaxed waterfront restaurants, like Bahr’s Landing (known for its lobster bakes, belly clams and New England Chowder) and Lorenzo’s Clam Hut, a fried fish and raw bar oasis at the foot of the Highland Bridge.
City Island: Okay, so technically this is only the Bronx, but cross the bridge from the mainland into this 1.5 mile-long, water-ringed inlet, and you’ll feel like you’re in a quaint coastal town, not minutes away from the 6-train. Spend your day antiquing and exploring, whether by foot (the Nautical Museum, housed in a historic, 1897 schoolhouse, once served as a set piece for “Boardwalk Empire”), or by motorboat, with rentals available from Jack’s Bait and Tackle. And opportunities abound to indulge in our two favorite summer food groups — shellfish and ice cream — from full-out seafood feasts at Lobster House and Crab Shanty, to deep-fried delights from Sammy’s Shrimp Box and Johnny’s Reef, and scoops and sundaes from the cheerful Lickety Split.
Fire Island: Spanning 32 miles in length but just 1 mile in width, this barrier island is located off the south shore of Long Island, and comprised of several resort villages overlooking the ocean. No cars are allowed, which means the entire island is accessible by ferry, with regular shuttles leaving from Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue. Being compelled to traverse the area by foot or bike makes for an especially peaceful getaway, so lounge on the pristine sand beaches, wonder at the native, white-tailed deer, wander through boutique shops, and hit up happy hour at any one of the excellent restaurants and bars, from the South of France-styled The Hideaway to the rough and rowdy C.J’s and the nautical, relaxed Albatross.
Coastal Connecticut: The three-hour pilgrimage to the Connecticut shoreline is worth it, to try their famous, warm, butter-slathered lobster rolls (and it’s considerably quicker than a trip to Maine)! So take your time driving down Route 1, which winds through inlets and marshlands, hugs the sweet-smelling waterfront, and is dotted with antiques shops, old-timey ice cream parlors, and numerous laid-back seafood shacks. Sounds like the makings of an All-Lobster Roll Stroll! You’ll definitely want to stage a side-by-side comparison of the offerings at Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock, The Lobster Landing, and Abbot’s Lobster in the Rough.