10 Fresh Getaways For The "Outdoorsy" New Yorker

UPDATE: This story was originally published on July 17.
With constant talk of weekend getaways and city escapes, summer has us convinced that we’ve always been the outdoorsy type. Yes, seeing as though we’re substituting perpetual subway commutes with oxygen-nutrient saunters, demanding patio seating at our favorite lunch spots, and swearing by rooftop nightlife, we’re obviously terrestrial beings — right? All this delusion that we’re suddenly off the grid has us wondering if there’s any way to actually get in touch with Mama Nature...as New Yorkers, that is.
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It goes without saying that hopelessly wandering the city for truly ventilated terrain can feel, well, hopeless. Central Park is to nature as kitten is to heel; it’s almost there, but not quite. But, lucky for us, right outside of Manhattan are some of the most awe-inspiring places to grab a breath of real fresh air. Understandably, not all of us are Mount Everest ready. So, we’ve tailored our sanctuary finds to fit the needs of the vegetating and the vagabond alike to guarantee that we can all get our enviro-fix before falling back into arctic hibernation.
Photo: Jerry L. Thompson; Courtesy of Storm King Art Center.
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Greenwood Gardens
Created in the early 1900s as the stomping grounds for a millionaire’s large family, Greenwood Gardens was eventually purchased by a lawyer (doubling as a farmer), who transformed the grounds into a sculptural celebration of horticulture. Today, the gardens are a nonprofit conservation organization and have the prestigious title of being one of the 16 American gardens that the Garden Conservancy has deemed "exceptional." Talk about a green thumb!

Greenwood Gardens, 274 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills, NJ; (973) 258-4026/
Photo: Courtesy of Greenwood Gardens.
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Storm King Art Center
Just an hour north of the city, in the lower Hudson Valley, you’ll find an artist’s playground in the form of an open-air museum. Storm King Art Center consists of 500 acres of hills, woodlands, and fields that exhibit over 100 sculptures by some of the most iconic artists of our time. Among others, you’ll see work by Andy Goldsworthy, Roy Lichtenstein, and Maya Lin. You have the option of walking or renting a bike, so if you choose not to part with your leather-soled loafers, Storm King won’t do too much damage.

Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY; (845) 534-3115
Photo: Jerry L. Thompson; Courtesy of Storm King Art Center.
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The Giant Stairs At Palisades:
The title itself gives away what you’re in for if you make the 25-minute trek to Palisades Interstate Park. The four-mile trail includes a small section of boulders that have been rightly named: The ‘Giant Stairs.’ We promise it’s a do-able hike, but if you’re not looking to break a sweat, the park has some trails that let you skip the dose of stairmaster and offer great views of the cliffs along the Hudson. So, if you’re committed to getting yourself onto a real trail, you don’t have to climb the Giant to find what you’re looking for.

Palisades Interstate Park, Alpine, NJ; (201) 784-1430.
Photo: Anthony Taranto; Courtesy of Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
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Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate
History buffs and socialites rejoice! As former home to four generations of the quintessential New York Rockefeller family, the six-story estate sits atop rolling hills overlooking the Hudson. Kykuit, Dutch for “lookout,” houses an extensive art collection, immaculately manicured gardens, and is a piece of Manhattan history that is often missed.

Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate, 381 Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY; (914) 631-8200.
Photo: Mick Hales; Courtesy of Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate.
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Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
For a bit of fresh booze air, Millbrook Vineyards and Winery is duly noted. Crafting anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 bottles of top-shelf wine per year, it’s safe to say that you might leave this place with not only a higher O2 count, but a boosted BAC, too. To shame with rooftop bars, and cheers to this 130-acre joint!

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, 26 Wing Road, Millbrook, NY; (845) 677-8383.
Photo: Courtesy of Millbrook Vineyards & Winery.
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Target Rock Wildlife Refuge
Taking Animal House literally, Target Rock Wildlife Refuge is the turf of diving ducks, harbor seals, reptiles, and many of New York’s federally protected birds. With wooded trails and a half-mile beach, the dose of symbiosis may come with a side of creepy crawlies. So, the zoologically fearful may want to stick to the souvenir shop.

Target Rock Wildlife Refuge, 340 Smith Road, Shirley, NY; (631) 286-0485.
Photo: Courtesy of Target Rock Wildlife Refuge.
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Blue Hill At Stone Barns
Meet the Holy Grail of locally grown, organic dining: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Since 2004, Blue Hill has been offering one of the most unique dining experiences yet. Don’t ask for a menu upon your arrival because they won’t only refuse your request, but they won’t even have one to give you. Instead, Blue Hill provides its guests with a list of over 100 ingredients grown on its own turf and surrounding farms. From these ingredients, you create your own five-to-12-course meal. For those of you who caught us: We’ll admit that Blue Hill has a restaurant in Greenwich Village. But, if you’re going to call lower Manhattan farm country, then the joke is on you. The trip to the homeland of the Greenwich Village eatery will certainly satisfy your quench for nature more than the collegiate-infested streets of the village.

Blue Hill At Stone Barns: 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY; (914) 366-9600.
Photo: Courtesy of Blue Hill At Stone Barns.
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Grounds For Sculpture
Sitting on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Grounds for Sculpture hasn’t lost its festive roots. With concerts, lectures, wine tastings, and an endless list of upcoming events, it’s anything but blasé. Focused on education, the grounds are a feast for the knowledge-hungry and art savvy alike.

Grounds For Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamiltion, NJ; (609) 586-0616.
Photo: Isaac Witkin, Eolith, 1994, Blue Mountain granite, 96” x 68” x 48”, Courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc., © Estate of Isaac Witkin. Photo by David W. Steele
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Bear Mountain Inn
Glamping is real, and Bear Mountain Inn is there to prove it. With hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, biking, and even a zoo, there’s no shortage on camp-like pastimes. However, when the day in the dirt has gotten a bit too dirty, the Inn is there to soften the blow. Guests can partake in the activities without checking in for some shut-eye. But, with grade-A dining and heaven-sent bedding, we vote it as the best place to camp — well, glamp.

Bear Mountain Inn, 55 Hessian Drive, Highland Falls, NY; (845) 786-2731.
Photo: Todd Marti; Courtesy of Bear Mountain Inn.
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Village of Cold Spring
Summer camp calling! Cold Springs is rich in Civil War history, scout-worthy activities, and small town friendliness. Hiking, kayaking, fishing, and crafts, waken (nonexistent) memories of tent pitching and sleeping-bag slumbers from our childhoods. To cap the day off, a step back to reality leads visitors into family-run restaurants with toothsome meals to match. Scout’s honor, you’ll find us there.

Village of Cold Spring, 85 Main Street, Cold Spring, NY; (845) 265-3611.
Photo: Gregory Phillips; Courtesy of Village of Cold Spring.
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