It's a bright, nippy fall Saturday -- and you're kicking yourself for not having booked a room in the Berkshires. Instead of sitting around feeling glum, pull on your hiking boots, pack a sandwich, and hop a bus to the Catskills. Within two hours of Manhattan, you'll find top-notch trails and gorgeous fall foliage. Best of all, a day trip will probably cost you less than an afternoon of bumming around the city.
By far the simplest short hop is Bear Mountain State Park, only 45 miles from Manhattan. A $19.95, 75-minute ShortLine bus ride will drop you at the gate for a day of hiking or fishing (bring your own gear). For the less athletically inclined, there's a zoo. For sport and culture, try the Storm King Art Center. A $37.95 ShortLine ticket includes an hour-and-45-minute bus ride from Port Authority at 10 a.m. any weekend day, admission, and a bus back in the evening. The outdoor museum has 500 acres of rolling hills, dotted with world-class sculpture and pretty picnic spots.
For off-the-beaten-path hiking, you'll want to head further north. Take a $31.95 (round trip), 90-minute Adirondack Trailways bus to New Paltz -- they leave several times daily -- and then a short taxi ride to any of three huge interconnected hiking areas (remember to arrange for a cab to pick you up!). The biggest, Minnewaska State Park, is short on services but has 12,000 acres of cliffs and waterfalls, and 50 miles of walking paths and biking trails. Entrance is free if you're not driving.
Day-trippers can also pay $13 ($10 on weekdays) to access miles of trails around the Mohonk Mountain House resort. The trails and "scrambles," as the steepest ones are called, offer the best local views; rustic gazebos are good for breaks. Treat yourself to a fancy post-hike lunch in the restaurant (reservations required).
For wilder terrain, head to Mohonk Preserve, a nearby section of the Shawangunk Ridge. The 'Gunks offer world-class rock-climbing and 60 miles of foot paths and rugged trails with killer views. Entrance is $7 ($5 on weekdays). Climbing lessons are run from the Eastern Mountain Sports store at the base of the mountain. A full-day group class is $165 per person. Reserve ahead.
Bear Mountain (914-786-2701); ShortLine Buses (800-631-8405 or 212-736-4700); Bear Mountain Inn (914-786-2731); Storm King Art Center (914-534-3115); Adirondack Trailways (800-858-8555); Minnewaska State Park Preserve (914-255-0752); Mohonk Mountain House (914-255-1000); Mohonk Preserve (914-255-0919); Eastern Mountain Sports, 3124 Route 44-55, Gardiner, N.Y. (800-310-4504).
Picks of the Week
SoHo Shoe Salon is shaving 30 to 70 percent off prices on large-size shoes for women (sizes 10 to 14). Sale items are $29 to $89 a pair. Bizz Productions, 36 W. 37th St., fifth floor (877-838-3220); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Wed. noon-7; 9/25-9/27.
Salon Moderne is clearing 100 pieces of stylish contemporary furniture at 40 to 70 percent off. Prices range from $30 for a Moeve towel to $2,700 for a Jean-Michel Frank cashmere sofa. A few vintage things, too. Tribeca Loft, 169 Hudson St., second floor (212-219-3439); A.E., M.C., V.; Fri.-Tues. 10-7; 9/29-10/3.
This & That's brightly colored Indian textiles and shawls (sold at stores like Calypso) are 60 to 75 percent off at the sale, from $25 to $100. 376 Broadway, near Franklin St., Suite 19B (212-791-9737); cash only; Thurs.-Sat. 1-8; 9/28-9/30.
Editor's note: In the September 18 "Sales & Bargains," one "Picks of the Week" listing misrepresented the event. Though the sale did include Cerruti clothes, it had no connection to the company or its stores. New York regrets any misunderstanding.
Check out New York Shops, our guide to the city's best stores, including a five-month roundup of "Sales & Bargains." On sale at newsstands now. To order a copy, call 800-496-7833 ($4.99 plus $2 shipping and handling).