Best Places in New York to Escape New York
Without a doubt, the greatest thing about living in—or visiting—New York City is the diversity of its offerings. The city that never sleeps can be anything to anyone, but it’s an exceptionally good fit for would-be world travelers: in just one day, you can stroll China’s alleyways in Manhattan, learn about Congo in the Bronx, discover Tibet on Staten Island, and get a taste of Italy in Brooklyn and Egypt in Queens.
You can even, I’ve discovered, escape the feeling of being in any city, be it New York, Beijing, or Rome. Here, my top picks for strolling bucolic pastures or burying your feet in the sand—without ever leaving city limits.
Queens County Farm Museum
I’m crazy about this urban farm (pictured above). In 1697, it was a family homestead; today, it welcomes visitors to its farmhouse, butterfly garden, animal pens, greenhouse, orchard, vineyard, hayrides, and events (I’m in for the maize maze). If you could see a few more stars in the sky and a few less jets taking off from LaGuardia, this could be Nebraska. (It feels even more like a local secret when your taxi driver tries to tell you there is no farm in these parts.)
The Cloisters Museum & Gardens
The Cloisters is where the Metropolitan Museum of Art displays its collections of medieval art and architecture, but it’s located about 100 blocks north of the main museum in beautiful Fort Tyron Park. I recommend spending a day exploring the Cloisters’ enclosed gardens and exhibits and then relaxing in the park on the Hudson—you can sit for ages without seeing one other person. If you can, attend a concert in the Cloisters’ acoustically gifted chapel.
There are tons of parks in New York, including the grande dame of them all, but I love this one for its sights and sangria. You can check out the old railcar elevator at one end and Grant’s tomb at the other, and then grab a table at Pier I for a completely laid-back evening of food and drinks. Any highway noise behind you sounds like waves after a while.
Water Taxi Beach
In years past, you had to take a water taxi to Long Island City, Queens, to enjoy a beach-bar scene, but this year Water Taxi Beach debuted two new sites, allowing visitors to choose from Queens, Manhattan, and Governors Island locations. Each one has a slightly different personality, but all have the same delicious hot dogs and soft sand.
What are your picks for New York City escapes? Or city escapes in general?
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.