For Earth Day, Car-Free Vacations Outside New York City
Published on April 22nd, 2013 | by Charu Suri
1 For Earth Day, Car-Free Vacations Outside New York City
A car-free getaway to the outskirts of New York City is not a plan that should cause undue stress, given the many options that exist. For Earth Day, we caught up with Lauren Matison, founder of offMetro.com, to get her views on a “greener” getaway.
Escape Car-Free to the Hudson Valley, New York
Q: Is a car-free vacation outside New York possible?
OffMetro.com: Not only is it possible, but it’s generally much faster, more cost-effective and less stressful to travel out of town without the car–especially for a quick day trip or weekend getaway. There are myriad transportation options at your disposal in NYC, and I think it’s a real luxury that native New Yorkers and tourists don’t take enough advantage of.
Whether you’re traveling by train (LIRR, Amtrak, Metro North, New Jersey Transit) or by bus (Megabus, Bolt Bus, Hampton Jitney, Know It Express, Tripper Bus), by boat (SeaStreak, Fire Island Ferry) or by bike, escaping the city using alternative modes of transportation not only helps lighten the carbon footprint—one Greyhound bus takes an average of 19 cars off the road and Amtrak removes eight million cars from the road each year—it also makes the journey more enjoyable. We’d rather relax, have a glass of wine, watch the scenery outside a train window than sit in traffic and deal with the hassles of driving.
Q: You mentioned that several B&B’s are offering transportation-inclusive packages. Can you name a few?
Hotel shuttle pickup is all well and good, but we love this increasing trend throughout the northeast, which has hotels offering packages that include roundtrip transportation. From $139, the Take the Train to Maine offers overnight accommodations for two at the Inn at Brunswick Station and roundtrip tickets on Amtrak’s newly expanded Downeaster line from Boston to Brunswick. In Greenwich, Connecticut, The Delamar Hotel’s Romance on the Harbor package (from $555) includes welcome drinks, late checkout, breakfast and dinner for two, spa discounts, a bottle of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, a harborview room, and two roundtrip Metro North New Haven Line tickets. Amtrak, Metro North, and Coach USA also offer a wide range of transit-inclusive deals, like a day trip to Mohegan Sun, a visit to Edward Hopper’s home in Nyack, kayaking to Bannerman Castle on the Hudson River, a family getaway to South Norwalk and the Maritime Aquarium, and a romantic retreat to the Finger Lakes, plus many more.
In the winter, Thunder Ridge, Belleayre, Hunter Mountain, Windham Mountain, and several other ski resorts provide packages that combine transportation, lift tickets, and accommodations.
Washington D.C. is easily accessible without the four-wheeling gas guzzler
Q: What are some of your popular car-free getaways?
For a quick aquatic escape, take the free ferry to Governors Island and explore the area by bike, have a picnic with spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and attend one of the many free events, from art and food festivals to jazz concerts. For a more ambitious seafaring adventure, the SeaStreak Ferry departs every weekend from Manhattan and arrives in Martha’s Vineyard five hours later.
Cold Spring is one of my favorite effortless getaways, just an hour Metro North ride up the Hudson River to the center of town. Stay at the Pig Hill Inn, dine at Le Bouchon, stroll Main Street, and take the trolley for $.10 to the Boscobel House in Garrison for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival from June 11-September 1.
There are endless outdoor activities that are an easy budget-friendly trip from New York. While free kayaking on the Hudson or the East River feels like a getaway, if you’d like to lose sight of the skyline, take the LIRR to Long Beach for a day of surfing (arrive before 9am to avoid the $10 beach fee). Get off at the Metro North Breakneck Ridge station for one of the most rewarding hikes within an hour of the city. For more outdoor adventures, read offMetro’s guide to the best campsites near NYC—all accessible without the car. Art enthusiasts will delight in Dia Beacon and Storm King Art Center , both in the Hudson Valley and both a breezy car-free escape from NYC. If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to spend the night in a lighthouse, book a room at Saugerties Lighthouse on the Hudson River or Rose Lighthouse in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.
Since Bike Month is in May, one tip for two-wheeled travelers is you can take your bike on Metro North and LIRR if you go to Grand Central and get a $5 lifetime permit. And here are five great rides on Long Island to get you started.