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.
8. Paddleboard, then pig out
Travel time: Two and a half hours by car.
Take in Cape May’s picturesque waterways via the new Aqua Trails: a 90-minute, stand-up paddleboard excursion ($30 a person) through the inland wildlife- and bird-filled salt marshes. Get back on firmer ground at the Beach Shack, a ’70s-style hotel that’s debuting a Monday-night pig roast at its Rusty Nail restaurant (which kicks off June 30). Stay the night at one of the Beach Shack’s new rooms (from $119 a night). Aqua Trails at the Nature Center, 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, N.J.; 609-884-5600. The Beach Shack, 205 Beach Ave.; 877-742-2507.
9. Traverse the gunks
Travel time: Two hours by car.
Kerhonkson, a small hamlet in Ulster County, is where you’ll find access to the Shawangunk Mountains and the state’s newest hiking trail. The Mine Hole Trail, a 3.5-mile section within Minnewaska State Park Preserve, winds through the Gunks, gaining elevation (the walk is described as “moderately difficult”) and giving worth-the-climb views of the Catskill Mountains. 111 Foordemore Ave., Kerhonkson, N.Y.; nynjtc.org.
10. Suds up at a water park and, later, a brewery
Travel time: An hour and a half by car.
Long Island water park Splish Splash offers 96 acres of slides, rapids, floating pools, and, as of this year, the Battle of Mutiny Bay (admission is $41): Passengers in different ships follow a track and shoot “cannons” at each other and bystanders. Once you’ve dried off, it’s just a short drive to Riverhead’s Moustache Brewing Co., a new craft-beer-maker (open only on weekends) in a homespun space with banners and lights strung from the ceiling. Splish Splash Water Park, 2549 Splish Splash Dr., Calverton, N.Y.; 631-727-3600. Moustache Brewing Co., 400 Hallett Ave., Riverhead, N.Y.; 631-591-3250.
11. View art in an old school
Travel time: Two hours and 35 minutes by car.
Architect Antonio Jimenez Torrecillas has transformed the shuttered Martin Van Buren Elementary School into the School, a 30,000-square-foot space that’s a second home for the city’s Jack Shainman Gallery. It houses the gallery’s private collection (Carlos Vega, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems) as well as special exhibitions. On view this summer are new works by sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave, known for his body-camouflaging suits. Jack Shainman’s the School, 25 Broad St., Kinderhook, N.Y.; 212-645-1701; by appointment only.
12. Have some innocent (and maybe not-so-innocent) fun
Travel time: Two hours by car.
Wild Bill’s 45-acre Nostalgia Center in Middletown, Connecticut, boasts an oddities store (for sale: the jawbone of a 55-foot whale), a fun house, and a massive jack-in-the-box. And this summer, Bill has added the Pretzel Dark Ride: a vintage Staten Island Beachland Amusements ride. Enhance your visit by stopping by one of the medical-marijuana dispensaries now open in Connecticut (Arrow Alternative Care is just a 20-minute drive away), although you’ll need a state resident to fetch the goods. Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center, 1003 Newfield St., Middletown, Conn.; 860-635-1226.
13. Eat pizza on the beach
Travel time: One hour by car.
Starting May 23, Jones Beach (in the midst of a $65 million post-Sandy restoration) will get its very own Smorgasburg satellite. The Brooklyn Flea founders have a roster of local menus on deck, like fried fish from Handsome Hank’s, Rubirosa pizza, and a raw bar from Brooklyn Oyster Party on weekends. Local craft beers—along with spiked Kelvin’s slushies—will be served from a painted shipping container just behind the boardwalk. Beachgoers can re–work up an appetite between meals, thanks to a mix of sand games like badminton, tetherball, and pétanque. Central Mall at Jones Beach; through June 16, open Friday to Sunday; June 16 to Labor Day, open seven days a week.
Illustration by Tim Lahan
Horse Bones and Buff Bods
Stars and creators of the film Fort Tilden, which recently made the festival rounds, on the real Fort Tilden:
“It feels so far from New York. It’s not at all a ‘curated’ experience. You don’t have the food stands or the bathrooms, and it feels sort of ethereal. Like this weird timeless community.” —Bridey Elliot, actress
“Naked people.” —Charlie Rogers, co-director and co-writer
“All the people wandering the paths trying to find the actual fort. Everyone thinks they know where to go, and it leads to a lot of funny arguments. I still haven’t found it myself.” —Sarah-Violet Bliss, co-director and co-writer
“Dead Horse Bay, right across from Fort Tilden. It’s a quiet inlet that has all these artifacts. You’ll find old horse bones and beautiful pieces of glass.”—Clare McNulty, actress