Spending time in a major world metropolis never fails to exhilarate. Cities like New York have an infectiously energetic vibe and a seemingly endless array of iconic attractions, superlative restaurants and tempting shopping options. But after a few days of tearing around the city, it can come as something of a relief to escape to the countryside. The landscape opens, the pace slows and the head clears.
The following day trips would make for excellent appendices to a spell in New York. If you’ve visited the city but never left its confines to explore the areas around it, here are three fine excuses to return.
This original American colony in New England is sometimes overlooked as a travel destination because of its reputation as a bedroom community for Manhattan. But there is much to recommend Connecticut, which contains a wealth of history and geographical diversity.
Depart the city in the morning and drive an hour north to Greenwich, just over the state line. On your way to the Homestead Inn, take a scenic drive through Belle Haven, originally designed in the 19th century as a park and now one of Greenwich's most charming neighborhoods.
Homestead Inn is a renovated Victorian mansion on the Belle Haven peninsula that combines period charm with Asian artifacts, bronze sculptures and contemporary paintings. But its biggest draw is Thomas Henkelmann’s classic French cuisine, served in a timbered dining room flanked by an airy sunporch and a flower-bedecked veranda furnished with white wicker chairs.
Besides fine restaurants, Greenwich has a lively shopping scene, with high-end retailers lining the very strollable Greenwich Avenue. If you are interested in art, consider a visit to the Bruce Museum, which highlights art, science and natural history, or the Bush-Holley House, originally a colonial saltbox constructed in the 1730s that became one of America's first art colonies in the 1890s. Now home to the Greenwich Historical Society, the museum offers art exhibitions and tours of its circa-1900 landscaped gardens.
Hudson Valley, New York
Just an hour outside of New York City is the tranquil Hudson Valley, with its orchards, vineyards, fine restaurants and stately homes that afforded escape to some of the greatest names in American history — Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt among them.
Head to Pocantico Hills, two miles east of Tarrytown, and visit the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, which is much less famous than it deserves to be. No fewer than nine of its stained glass windows are by Chagall, and one, a rose window, is by Matisse. Nearby is Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow, known for its architecture and gardens and also for the extraordinary art collection assembled over several generations, with sculptures by Picasso, Henry Moore and Alexander Calder.
If you have time, drive about an hour north along the Hudson River to Beacon and visit Dia:Beacon, a collection of works from the Dia Art Foundation now housed in a 300,000-square-foot former Nabisco factory. Dia:Beacon has proved to be such a draw for urbanites that the town is now chock-full of shops, galleries and restaurants.
Continue about 45 miles west to Glenmere, a Tuscan villa-style hotel that Andrew Harper calls “the Hudson Valley’s true class act.” The 18-room Gilded Age property suffered from years of neglect and decline before being spectacularly reborn with an investment of $30 million and a renovation that lasted for several years.
Have dinner at the hotel in The Supper Room, which is under the supervision of talented chef Geoffroy Deconinck.
West Point, New York
You might make an excursion to West Point, the famous home of the United States Military Academy. Even if you just take the one-hour tour, you can see the Cadet Chapel, with the largest church organ in the world; the legendary parade grounds; and the West Point Museum, filled with artifacts from every conflict in U.S. history.
Stay at Glenmere Mansion and relax. Diversions on the estate’s 150 acres include tennis, croquet, a heated outdoor pool and a magnificent full-service spa.