As the most populous
city in the United States, New York has plenty to offer in terms of first-class
restaurants, world-famous museums and far-out fashions. But being in the city
that never sleeps can be exhausting. For visitors and locals who want to enjoy
a different pace of life, here are a few ways to get away from the Big Apple in
three hours or less.
Slightly more than 20 miles southeast from midtown Manhattan is Rockaway Beach in the
borough of Queens – a stretch of land once called the “Irish Riviera” thanks to
its large Irish population. With 170 acres of sand, it is the largest urban
beach in the country.
In October 2012,
Hurricane Sandy hit the coastal neighbourhood hard, destroying much of the
5.5-mile wooden boardwalk, but the federal government has pledged $300 million
to repair the damage and volunteer efforts have cleaned up much of the surrounding
As a testament
to the neighbourhood’s strength, the concession stands that were located on the
concrete part of the boardwalk will reopen this summer along with a new wine
bar called Sarya’s.
Known as the Rockaway Beach Club,
the collection of stands serves up everything from Venezuelan street food to
classic boardwalk fare like ice cream and lobster rolls.
Rent a cruiser from Ride Brooklyn in Park Slope off Bergen Avenue and take nearby Flatbush Avenue to
Prospect Park West until hitting Ocean Parkway (one of
the country’s very first bike roads). Take Emmons Road to Flatbush Avenue which
becomes the Marine Parkway Bridge (which has a small lane for cyclists and
pedestrians). Ride east to Rockaway Park and the beach. Burned out on biking
for the day? The A line at the Rockaway subway station will shuttle you back to
the city (though avoid rush hour if you want to board with the bike).
The college town of New Haven, Connecticut, often gets overshadowed by its larger
New England neighbours Boston and Portland, but the town’s colonial charm and diverse
restaurant scene is easily accessible via a two-hour train ride from New York.
Start with lunch
at one of the many “apizza” joints around town, so called for New Haven’s thin-crust,
brick-oven take on the classic pie. The unique fresh clam apizza can be found at
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in
the Wooster Square neighbourhood just east of the State Street train station.
After lunch, walk
off the slices around the New
Haven Green, built in 1638 as a central square for early puritan colonists
and used today as a park and festival grounds. Take a peek inside the park’s
Federalist-style First Church of
Christ, constructed in 1814, and venture down into its crypt, the resting
spot of 137 gravestones, including infamous traitor to the British Benedict Arnold’s
first wife. Visitors can enjoy the church’s massive pipe organ during the 10 am
New Haven also
has a number of art galleries and museums, thanks to the presence and influence
of nearby Yale University, the third oldest
university in the country. Visit the Yale
University Art Gallery, which houses more than 185,000 pieces of
international and American art, or the Peabody
Museum of Natural History, which displays mounted apatosaurus and stegosaurus
dinosaur bones in its great hall.
Take the New Haven Metro North
line from Grand Central Station to New Haven State Street Station, about an
hour and 45 minute trip. Once there, downtown New Haven can be traversed by
foot, or a bike can be rented at Devil’s Gear Bike Shop.
Just 150 miles west of Manhattan, the scenery changes from soaring skyscrapers
to open farmland.
More than 31,000
Amish people call Pennsylvania’s Lancaster
County home, the oldest community of its kind in the United States. The
community chooses to avoid modern technologies such as gas-powered automobiles,
electricity and telephones. Instead, they carry on in much the same way as when
they immigrated from Europe more than 300 years ago, relying on passed-down
farming techniques, horses and buggies, and large families to sustain their
population does not mind sharing their way of life with visitors, and welcomes
guests to experience their lifestyle with farm tours, buggy rides and local
shops that feature handmade quilts, furniture and jams. Start at the Amish Farm and House near the city
of Lancaster, where visitors can tour an 1805 farmhouse, 15 acres of farmland,
as well as an Amish schoolhouse and blacksmith, then book a 55-minute,
five-mile ride with a horse and buggy through the back country roads and
farmland through AAA
Buggy Rides. Bring home a memento of the slower-paced life from Riehl’s
Quilts and Crafts, housed on a working dairy farm in the town of Leola,
where colourful quilts, handmade dolls and wooden train whistles are on display.
Take I-95 South
to I-276 West, then follow the signs to US 30 West. Once in Lancaster County,
download the Lancaster County Exploration Map to plot out must-see stops or stop at the
visitor’s centre to take one of the daily 90-minute countryside tours.
Only a 90-minute flight from New York, Montreal mirrors New York City as
Canada’s cultural capital, but does so in a completely different language (French
is the city’s official language, and 60% of residents speak it as their primary
language). If you visit in winter, wander the city through the expansive underground
tunnels that connect shopping centres like Complex Desjardins with spectacular
museums like the Montreal Museum of Fine
Art, which has a strong Canadian and Quebecois art collection, and the Musée d’art Contemporain, which primarily showcases
In summer, walk
the cobbled streets of Old Montreal just southeast of downtown, enjoy local food
and crafts, and take in the city’s past at Pointe-à-Callière, a history and archaeology
museum built above the ruins of the first settlement. A 18-minute multimedia
presentation on a 270-degree screen gives an initial overview of the city’s
founding, then visitors can wander on the carefully constructed landings over
the archaeological digs that have uncovered artefacts and structures from the
city’s founding, such as a Catholic cemetery dating from 1643.
do claim that their city’s bagels beat their New York neighbours, thanks to their
wood-oven taste and denser recipe. So before you leave, put your taste buds to
the test at Fairmount Bagel or St-Viateur Bagel, both in the
northwest Mile End neighbourhood, and try a poppy or sesame seed bagel as it
comes hot out of the oven.
Book a nonstop flight on AirCanada or West Jet, then
flag a cab or take a bus to the city centre. From there, the efficient Métro allows for easy access across the city. Once you are there, book a
free, 75-minute guided walking tour with Free
Montreal Tours, which takes
visitors to historical spots throughout Old Montreal.