1. Visit Puerto Rico via City Island
Travel time: One hour by subway and bus from Grand Central.
Don Coquí has opened the latest outpost of its traditional Puerto Rican restaurant mini-chain amid the docked sailboats of City Island. Known as much for its outsize portions of fried-plantain mofongo as for the dancing and carousing that take place there (the Bronx location doesn’t have a cabaret license, so the booty-shaking isn’t technically sanctioned), the newest spot also has a transporting waterfront view. After a few colossal coconut mojitos, Eastchester Bay will start to look like the Caribbean. Don Coquí, 565 City Island Ave., the Bronx; 914-648-4848.
2. Eat a sandwich on the Hudson River
Travel time: One hour and 20 minutes by train from Grand Central, plus a ten-minute trolley ride.
This stately 19th-century country house, ten minutes from Cold Spring, was saved from demolition in 1955 and turned into a museum of Federal-style architecture. Now, instead of heading into town for lunch post-tour, you can buy picnic fare on the grounds. Choose from the sandwiches, salads, and cheeses (all from nearby Hudson Hil’s Café & Market), then pick one of the benches or patches of grass and gaze at the panoramic backdrop of the Hudson River and the Highlands. Boscobel House & Gardens, 1601 Rt. 9D, Garrison, N.Y.; 845-265-3638.
3. Country-line-dance at a mountain inn
Travel time: One hour by car.
The Bear Mountain Inn reopened last year following extensive renovations; now its famous line-dances are back as of this spring. Led by the versatile, patient teachers at Knights Line Dancing, a mixed crowd of local after-work revelers and retirees (who range in dance experience from beginner to expert) get down to show tunes, ’50s hits, hip-hop jams, and country classics. Held the third Friday of every month from 7 to 11 p.m. (for $10 per person), the sessions kick off with a half-hour lesson before the crowd is on its own. The Overlook Lodge at Bear Mountain Inn, 55 Hessian Dr., Highland Falls, N.Y.; 845-786-2731.
4. Eat homemade pasta in a farmhouse
Travel time: One hour by car.
In 2007, Richard Gere bought and refurbished the run-down Bedford Post Inn; now it has a celebrity chef, too. At the end of June, Michael White will open Campagna, a locally sourcing Italian restaurant with an outdoor terrace grill, with PJ Calapa of Ai Fiori as the executive chef. Expect housemade pasta puttanesca tossed with shrimp (at about $19 a dish, it’s a bargain compared with White’s Manhattan restaurants). If you want to linger, the hotel has eight rooms (from $395 a night). Campagna at the Bedford Post Inn, 954 Old Post Rd., Bedford, N.Y.; 914-234-6386.
5. Walk under a snow leopard
Travel time: One hour by train from Penn Station to Philadelphia, plus a 30-minute bus ride.
In a groundbreaking move for a U.S. zoo, earlier this month the Philadelphia Zoo created an overhead walkway for its big cats—Amur tigers, African lions, pumas, and snow leopards. The Big Cat Crossing, a 330-foot mesh passageway that rises from 11 to 16 feet above ground and crosses over the main pathway, lets visitors gaze skyward to see the grand felines strolling. (While zoo officials don’t anticipate bystanders’ being doused in big-cat urine, it’s not an impossibility.) Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave.; 215-243-5254.
6. Welcome the return of Fort Tilden
Travel time: One hour by ferry from Wall Street Landing; about two hours by subway and bus.
After closing for post-Sandy restoration last summer, the “Hipster Hamptons” has finally reopened. In addition to repairing the ocean-adjacent concrete path of Shore Road that was destroyed by Sandy, the National Park Service and a steady stream of volunteers cleared away debris on the shore and the interior running trails, and also cleaned up the rubble that had accumulated even before Sandy along the Battery Harris East and Battery Harris West trails. As for amenities, old favorites have returned. Trek to Maria’s Famous Breezy Hot Dog Food Truck, parked again at 5 Breezy Point Boulevard, or grab a burger at the Sugar Shack (reopened at 2 Roxbury Avenue). Fort Tilden Beach, Beach 169th St., the Rockaways; 718-318-4300.
7. See the glass house covered in fog
Travel time: One hour and 17 minutes by train from Grand Central.
To mark the 65th anniversary of Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House, Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya has created the “Veil,” a site-specific project that wraps the clear-walled structure in a dense mist, making it appear to vanish. The fog sculpture, Nakaya’s signature, is created by pumping fresh water at high pressure through 600 nozzles. Tours start at $30, and reservations are required. The Glass House, 199 Elm St., New Canaan, Conn.; 866-811-4111.