No doubt New York City is pretty wondrous, but so are the surrounding areas. Trains departing regularly from Grand Central take you to tiny towns, great art, manicured gardens with stunning views, and even an abandoned castle in the middle of the Hudson River. Plan one of these trips from Grand Central this weekend. By Jessica Allen/By Carly Petrone.
Take in the views of the Hudson River from Denning's Point, or conquer a hike up Mount Beacon. If you're a baseball fan, make sure to catch a game at Dutchess Stadium to watch their minor league baseball team, the Hudson Valley Renegades, take the field. Mark the second Saturday of the month on your calendar, because businesses stay open late for customers to enjoy art gallery openings, culinary tastings, and more. This adorable town is less than two hours away by train, so make sure to check it out this fall while the weather is still nice.
If you're into art, Dia:Beacon showcases contemporary art, much of it extremely large and site-specific, on 30 acres alongside the Hudson River. Built in 1929, the main building was once a box-making factory for Nabisco; today its 240,000 square feet houses works by Donald Judd, Richard Serra, On Kawara, and Louise Bourgeois, among other significant artists of the past 50 or so years.
The 3,500-acre estate known as Kykuit was completed in 1913 for John D. Rockefeller, then the richest man in America. A guided tour takes you through the house where four generations of Rockefellers once lived, from the bowling alley in the basement to art by Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and Henry Moore in the hallways, to horse-drawn carriages and classic cars in the garages. For the best experience, consider taking the 50-or-so-minute train trip in the fall, when the Hudson Valley has turned ocher, amber, magenta, and pumpkin.
Feeling lucky? This Connecticut entertainment emporium, about two hours from Grand Central, offers all kinds of games of chance spread over three different casinos, including several daily poker tournaments. If you're not into gambling, you can go to a concert, head to a comedy show, hang out at the world's largest indoor planetarium dome, get a spa treatment, shop, or eat at one of the more than 25 on-site restaurant.
Unlike most gardens, Wave Hill lets visitors go off the gravel paths, wandering onto the lawns and into the woods of this 28-acre estate in the Bronx that overlooks the Hudson River and the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades. The grounds include a cultural center and art gallery, along with several well-manicured gardens, including elliptical, conifer, shade border, and wild. A free shuttle runs to the nearby Metro-North Riverdale Station (about 30 minutes from Grand Central).
In the middle of the Hudson River is Bannerman Castle, a mock-Scottish armory and home dating to the early decades of the 20th Century. An explosion in the armory + abandonment + time = the ruins you see today. Take the 90-minute train to Beacon, then a boat to Pollepel Island for one of the weekend tours. You'll hear tales about the history of the buildings and the island itself, which served as a cooling tank for unruly Dutch passengers, a meeting ground for 19th Century prostitutes and their clients, the scene of a fairy tale romance, and a massive munitions depot.
Glass House in New Canaan, CT
If you're an architecture buff, then you'll definitely want to take the short 75-minute train ride to see The Glass House. This magnificent and National Trust Historic Site is located in New Canaan, Connecticut and was built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson. Explore the pastoral 49-acre landscape (made up of fourteen structures) as well as the permanent collection of 20th-century paintings and sculptures that can be found on the premises. Tours of the site are available from May – November.
A quick 25 miles north of Manhattan is the adorable town of Tarrytown, New York. This small community, roughly about 12,000 residents, has a vibrant downtown, a rich history, and is also adjacent to Sleepy Hollow (the birthplace of Washington Irving). Craft beer drinkers will be happy to find The Oath Craft Beer Sanctuary and The Tapp gastropubs right along main street. Grab a pint at the Bridge View Tavern and take in the beautiful views of the Hudson River as the sun sets. Your train ride back to the city is less than hour so feel free to take your time exploring this quaint village.
Enjoy picturesque views as you travel to New Haven, CT, a mere two hours away from Manhattan. Yes, this is home to the prestigious Yale University but there are also plenty of things to do in this university town that don't involve academics. Visit the Connecticut Children's Museum, take a stroll through historic park New Haven Green, or nibble on some of the city's best grub during a Taste of New Haven food tour. Of course you can always see what exhibit is currently on display at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History or the Yale University Art Gallery. You can also feel like a kid again over at the Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park – come on, we know you want to go for a ride. Learn more here.
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