Best Summer Day Trips
By Lauren Hurwitz
Westchester offers an endless amount of activities throughout the year – but summers here offer a special time for unmatched daytrips. With the price of gas finally down, there’s no better time than the present to get in your car and zoom around with your family, friends or take some time for yourself.
In just about 90 minutes, you can arrive at some of the region’s outdoor adventure spots and make memories to last a lifetime. Nestled in the Hudson Valley and situated on a private glacial lake with views of the Catskill Mountains, Mohonk Mountain provides one of the most picturesque getaways within driving distance from home. For almost 155 years, this Victorian castle resort has been a delight for visitors of all ages given with a wide range of offerings including miles of protected forest, scenic hiking trails, and a crystal-clear lake. In addition to offering access to the outdoors, Mohonk touts one of the region’s most award-winning spas with a brand-new open-air Lakeview Summerhouse where you can choose from a menu of services or opt for their Signature Elements of Nature Mohonk Red Massage. When considering a visit, make sure you choose from one of their day pass options in advance. Regardless of your abilities, the mountain offers hiking trails at various levels from beginner to advanced. If you prefer to only use the grounds for hiking, the fee is $35 and you’ll gain access to 85 miles of winding Hudson Valley trails. For those who desire a more robust experience, add on the Outdoor Recreation pass to ensure access to Lake Mohonk, or hike to the famous Sky Top Tower and take a Carriage Ride around the grounds or have a Semi-Private Horseback back experience for an additional $22-$100 per person. If you only wish to enjoy a meal on the mountain, skip those passes and purchase the Dining Day Pass with which you’ll choose between lunch in the main dining room, weekend brunch, dinner on the mountain or at the Granary which features an outdoor BBQ. The prices for this pass range from $98-130 per person and provide access to all the outdoor trails and lake. Just be sure to swap into a fresh outfit before dining as the restaurants do have a dress code in place and note you will need reservations in advance. Day visitors can also take advantage of several special events hosted at Mohonk this summer including the Music on the Mountain festival featuring performances from the boat dock (June 12-18), Fourth of July fireworks throughout the holiday weekend, Festival of the Arts highlighting music, dance, theater and more (July 5-Aug 18), and even their Garden Holiday celebration showcasing gardening and greenhouse experts for lectures, hands-on workshops and demonstrations (August 27-September 1).
If 90-minutes sounds like the perfect drive, but you’d rather head northeast, take I-95 to Connecticut to Steep Rock in the town of Washington Depot. The preserve spans 998 acres and offers trails along a river and incredible forest views. Whether you’re looking to take a pause from the sun in the 235-foot curved railroad tunnel, visit the Holiday House that once served as a vacation retreat for working class women from Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan, or climb to an elevation of 776 feet to the Steep Rock Summit where you’ll find unmatched views of the Clamshell section of the Shepaug River Valley, this Preserve has something for everyone. And for those who prefer to travel by mountain bike over foot, just be sure to dismount as horses approach! After your hike, head to the nearby The Mayflower Inn and Spa for lunch and some well-deserved rest.
Even further east brings you to Mystic, CT, home of the nationally recognized Mystic Aquarium that is celebrating 50 years of inspiring, “people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research.” As the 4th most visited cultural attraction in New England, it’s no surprise the Aquarium is home to over 300 species of animals with both indoor and outdoor exhibits. While there, make sure to check out the largest beluga exhibit in the nation, a colony of 31 African penguins which are on the endangered species list, and one of the most diverse jelly fish exhibits in the world. The aquarium even features an interactive touch-tank called, “SHARKS!” where guests can safely touch live sharks and rays, and the Ray Touch Pool, where visitors can touch and feed cownose rays. After your visit, make sure to grab a slice at the famous shop, Mystic Pizza then head over to Mystic Boat Adventures where you can drive along the coastline in your own boat while sightseeing landmarks such as the local drawbridge that was built in 1922, and even the Mystic Seaport Museum. Take your private boat a little further and head into Fishers Island Sound where there are a handful of local lighthouses and beautiful views of CT, NY and Rhode Island water passages. Boat rides last either one, or three hours, depending on what ride you choose with up to two people (one driver, one passenger) allowed to drive up to 30mph and no boating license required. If you’re brave enough to stay late, check out a two-hour walking ghost adventure with Seaside Shadows Haunted History Tours. The tour is a, “blend of history and mystery. Tours include tales of the true, gruesome and historic past of Mystic, and will take guests, from the 17th through 20th centuries in old Mystic with true terrifying tales from their hidden archives and remarkable history amid legends and lord.”
Looking to go the distance for your road trip? Then off to “The Sweetest Place on Earth” you will go! Hersheypark awaits you, and as of this summer, it will have bragging rights as the park with the highest number of coasters in the Northeast at a whopping 15 when it opens Wildcat’s Revenge. This all-new hybrid experience adds a new steel track, “with unique elements to the wooden framework.” The name is a historic nod to the very first coaster at Hersheypark as the original Wildcat that debuted at Hersheypark 100 years ago. For a total of 2 minutes 36 seconds, thrill riders will ascend to, “140-foot hill, plunge into an 82-degree drop and hit a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour along 3,510 feet of red track on a black steel and wood structure. The pursuit continues as riders stalk their prey through four inversions, including the World’s Largest Underflip, an inversion that begins with an upward climb, followed by a counterclockwise 270° roll and a dive down towards the side.” Now in its 117th season, Hersheypark spans over 120 acres with admission including three parks in one “with more than 70 family-friendly and thrill attractions thoughtfully placed together, so families never have to split up to enjoy the fun at every level. Tickets also grant access to The Boardwalk At Hersheypark Water Park, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park by accessing the Zoo through the bridge inside
Hersheypark during posted Park hours.” For the first time ever, Hersheypark will be open every weekend from April 1 through the end of the 2023 season with daily operations commencing May 25th. If by the end of the day you don’t want to leave, or have wiped yourself clean of all energy, be sure to check in to The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge or Hersheypark Camping Resort to ensure a restful but chocolate-filled evening before heading home to Westchester.
Regardless of where you go, you’ll want to look and feel good, beginning with your outfit. Diana Jankovsky, Lead Buyer at Palmer and Purchase in Larchmont and Rye (and Westhampton Beach) says this year, “we are seeing a return to minimalism – not boring – but a return to more staples, less over the top ruffles and bows and poofs. We’ll have lots of floral dresses, easy breezy cover ups but also more pants than ever. We’re seeing a big trend towards oversized and pleated trousers, and we’re buying it for a way that can be worn a little more casual.” In terms of materials, there will be something for everyone with various pieces in poplin that “look cool with sneakers or sandals and are a great transitional item to refresh you” – an important factor to keep in mind if you’re trying to go from day to night on a day trip without overpacking. Some of Jankovsky’s favorite colors for this summer include chartreuse which she describes as an “unexpected yellow green”, but also says bright Kelly green, pale pinks and pale blues will be all the rage. “We’re also seeing a lot of accent reds in items like tops and dresses…like a tomato red,” she adds. Not sure what to pack in your bag if it gets cool outside? Jankovsky says the shape of jeans have gotten interesting. “We are seeing lots of barrel legs, bell bottoms and flares.
It’s a nice a way to wear the wider leg without making yourself look too stumpy if you’re petite.” If you’re going somewhere a little chic, a cashmere sweater is a great addition to our day-to-night wardrobe because you can wear it with a sneaker. Jankovsky is also seeing a return to slip dresses but says it’s a not a great style for everyone. You could pair it with a chunky sweater for a quick transition into the evening and then add a fun earring or shoe. Lastly, Jankovsky suggests packing a Naghedia neoprene bag and a pair of Krewe sunglasses to finish the look. Abbey Solomon, Co-Founder of I Am More Scarsdale says, “If I was going on a daytrip, I would throw on a pretty floral skirt and start the day in a cute crop top or a tank, and throw a long sleeve linen or cotton solid top over it with a button down or a crochet sweater to wear over it,” she says. For the evening, she would take the top off wear the cute crop top with the skirt, and pack a high heel and fun necklace. “We’re seeing a lot of long necklaces, either beaded or chunky. “I personally love yellow gold or wearing a tennis necklace and layering with other gold jewelry and making it casual. I also love a great hoop earring – it always goes day to night. You could wear a thicker or a thinner one but big hoop earrings are great all the time!” Solomon offers her expertise on accessories saying if you choose the hiking or active day-trip route, “we have some good fanny packs from Hi, Love Travel that are recyclable and water-resistant. They [come as] flat [or puffy] and roomy and even come in black and white, but they’re really cute and everyone loves them. We sell out every season!” This lightweight belt bag can be worn over the shoulder, around the waist or crossbody and can be used to store everything from a cell phone, credit cards, keys, lip balm or more. For big totes, she loves a FloraBella and notes this popular brand also makes amazing clutches and beach bags, some of which offer matching colors and patterns. If you’re keeping sun protection in mind, Solomon recommends having a foldable or packable hat but says even a great cowboy hat with some fringe and beads is very instyle right now to wear with whatever you choose day or night. She’s a big fan of the Shihreen brand because they’re one size fits all, have SPF and are totally packable.