When the concrete streets of New York absorb so much summer heat you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, it’s time to take a day trip. Escape the sweat and grime of the city by traveling to a green, lush state park where you can enjoy a myriad of activities or, do nothing at all, except relax in quiet comfort. There are literally hundreds of parks throughout New York State, most of which are easily accessible by car or public transportation. For starters, you can find your escape hatch in one of these 10 interesting locations.
Women’s Rights National Historical Park
Seneca Falls, N.Y.
Learn about the beginnings of the Suffragette Movement and those who spearheaded women’s rights in this historical park. Women’s Rights National Historical Park consists of four landmark properties, including the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Wesleyan Chapel, where the First Women’s Rights Convention was held.
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain, N.Y.
Breathtaking scenery and aerial, mountain views earmark Bear Mountain State Park, one of nature’s marvels. This massive state park is filled with hiking trails, picnic areas, a zoo and a swimming pool, making it a popular family destination, situated just one hour away from New York City.
Harriman State Park
Stony Point, N.Y.
A nature-lover’s dream, nearby Harriman State Park features over 200 miles of hiking trails, three gentle beaches and 31 lakes and reservoirs. An abundance of wildlife can be viewed along miles of nature trails and camp grounds. Boating at Harriman requires an easily-accessible permit.
Hudson River Islands State Park
Schodack Landing, N.Y.
A great location for adventurous souls, this park sprawled over two islands is accessible only by boat. Hudson Park is populated by endangered plant and animal species begging to be explored as well as protected. Transient camping, grilling and fishing are popular activities here, as are nature trail walks and photography.
Jones Beach State Park
Life is a beach and it’s calling your name. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, 6.5 mile-long Jones Beach was designed along the lines of an ocean liner and boasts 2,400 acres of maritime enjoyment. Hang on the beach or enjoy the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, miniature golf, great concerts, surfing and so much more. After all, what could be more intoxicating than the scent of salted air?
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Possibly one of the most beautiful locations in the country, Lake Minnewaska features cascading water falls, dramatic cliff-side views, rolling mountains and crystal-clear glacial lakes. Hiking trails feature scenic pagodas and bird watching.
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park
Fishing, bird watching and hunting are popular activities in this sprawling park, which features four ponds stocked all year long with bass, pickerel and rainbow trout. A beach and row boating make for summer family fun, but Fahnestock is also a winter sports paradise, featuring snow mobiles, ice-fishing, sledding and cross-country skiing.
Nyack Beach State Park
Upper Nyack, N.Y.
The jewel of Rockland County, Nyack Beach State Park is situated on 61 acres of scenic beachfront, nestled along the beautiful Hudson River. Kayaking and wind-surfing are popular activities here, or bring your bicycles for enjoyable, scenic riding. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch; Nyack boasts a lovely picnic area, perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
Sterling Forest State Park
Almost 22,000 acres of deep forest are home to resident and migratory species of birds and animals, including hawks, songbirds and black bear. A large and varied recreational area features a multitude of sports and activities, plus hunting, fishing and hiking. A visitor’s center includes exhibits about the local wildlife and environs, as well as views of Sterling Lake.
Rockland Lake State Park
This Hudson Valley park is just 25 miles from New York City and features an 18-hole championship golf course, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and six tennis courts. Fishing, hiking and boating complete the picture for summer; cross-country skiing makes this park a year-round go-to spot.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.