Angling is the main game in this fishing village
Whether a river runs through it, the sea shimmers beside it, or healing mineral springs flow beneath it, a getaway near the water is perfect for putting some spring in your step. This quintet of quick escapes, all within easy driving distance, offers an abundance of activities, from boating and bathing to seal watching and surf casting to seafood feasting and sunset gazing.
Montauk Point Lighthouse offers views across the
sound to Block Island, Rhode Island
Montauk, New York
Legend has it that in the late 17th century, Captain Kidd buried treasure in this 10,000-acre hamlet (part of the town of East Hampton) on the easternmost point of Long Island. While you’re probably not going to unearth any long-hidden pirates’ booty, your 4½ hour drive will deliver you to a destination rich in history, beauty and recreational opportunities on its beaches and in its six state parks.
Riding at Deep Island Ranch is an authentic experience:
The ranch claims to be the birthplace of the American cowboy.
Taking a naturalist-led hike (through April; $5) to see the harbor seals sunning on the rocks off Montauk Point State Park (631-668-3781, nysparks.state.ny.us).
Catching the view across the waves to Connecticut and Block Island, Rhode Island, from the top of the more than 200-year-old, 110-foot-high (that’s 137 iron steps) Montauk Point Lighthouse (631-668-2544, montauklighthouse.com; $7, $3/kids).
Casting for stripers at Camp Hero, Montauk Point Lighthouse and Gin Beach, widely recognized spots for some of the best surfcasting in the world (sports fishing permit required, $15 for seven days).
Renting a skiff or center console, and heading out on Montauk Harbor or Block Island Sound from Uihlein’s Marina (444 W. Lake Drive, Montauk, 631-668-3799, uihleinsmarina.com).
Riding horseback on Block Island Sound’s sandy beach with a guide from Deep Hollow Ranch (631-668-2744, deephollowranch.com; $75 for 90 minutes, $95 for private rides), which claims to be the nation’s oldest cattle ranch and birthplace of the American cowboy.
Taking in the view from the Tuscan-style terrace of Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Winery (139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, 631-537-5106, wolffer.com) while sipping a glass of Estate Reserve Merlot or Chardonnay. There’s free cheese and live music Thursday evenings.
Pretty, lace-canopied four-poster beds, antique decor
and breakfast served on lace tablecloths under a crystal
chandelier create an air of romance at the Maples Inn.
Fairfield County, Connecticut
Fairfield County’s 13 coastal towns may be bedroom communities for many Manhattan commuters, but there’s nothing sleepy about them when it comes to fun. For families, South Norwalk (a.k.a. SoNo) offers educational experiences ranging from the ecological to the epicurean. Shove off in search of stripers in the salty Long Island Sound off Stamford, or wake the credit cards from their post-winter-holiday hibernation at the shopping strip known as the “East Coast’s Rodeo Drive.” Count on about a three-hour road trip to get here.
Watching a loggerhead turtle at the
Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.
Getting up-close and personal with local denizens of the deep during the 2 ½ hour Marine Life Study Cruise of the Long Island Sound sponsored by the Maritime Aquarium (10 N. Water St., Norwalk, 203-852-0700, maritimeaquarium.org, $20.50
Fly fishing for striped bass aboard Salty Flies’ (Stamford, 203-561-9683, saltyflies.com) 23-foot Hydra-Sports Bay Bolt ($450 for a four-hour charter for two, $550 for five hours, including an Orvis-endorsed fly-rod casting clinic).
Taking in a production at the old red barn of Westport Country Playhouse (25 Powers Court, Westport, 203-227-4177, westportplayhouse.com), a professional theater company that counts Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward among its board members ($35 to $55).
Spending an afternoon reveling in retail along on Greenwich Avenue. For a host of hautes in one store—from Armani to Valentino—visit Richards of Greenwich (359 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-622-0551).
Tarrytown, New York
In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a headless horseman haunted the Hudson River Valley. While the ectoplasmic equestrian may have been a figment of imagination, the communities of Westchester County have long been favorite haunts of the rich and famous. At the turn of the 20th century, there were so many grand estates owned by families of fortune that Tarrytown and its environs, especially Irvington and Pocantico Hills, were nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Colony.” Take a three-hour drive to tour their mansions—or even spend the night.
The homes once belonged to Baltimore and Ohio railroad
executive Thomas M. King, American Tobacco Company
founder William R. Harris, and diplomat Anthony Joseph
Drexel Biddle Jr. and his wife, heiress Mary Duke Biddle.
Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, (3 W. Sunnyside Lane,
Viewing the castle-like architecture and treasure trove of period decorative arts, furnishings and toys at financier and railroad tycoon Jay Gould’s 1838 Gothic Revival mansion Lyndhurst (635 S. Broadway, Tarrytown, hudsonvalley.org, $5 for kids, $12 for adults).
Kykuit (Route 9, Sleepy Hollow, hudsonvalley.org), the early-20th-century villa where four generations of Rockefellers lived the high life, from Standard Oil founder John D. to former U.S. Vice President Nelson A. It’s high atop a hill. The name means “lookout” in Dutch. Tours range from one to three hours ($15 to $38).
Catching a glimpse of colonial life at the mill and on the farm at Philipsburg Manor (Route 9, Sleepy Hollow, hudsonvalley.org, $6 for kids, $12 for adults).
Viewing the 10 stained-glass windows by famous artists Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills (555 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, hudsonvalley.org, $5).
Kayaking with a knowledgeable guide in the daylight or at sunset with Hudson River Recreation (
A tranquil Chesapeake.
Easton and Oxford, Maryland
Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is often called the “Crown Jewel of the Chesapeake”—and the tiny towns of Easton and Oxford are certainly precious gems. Less than a two-hour drive from home, these nautical neighbors share a water-faring history that goes back to colonial times. The colorful communities also share an affinity for the arts—from painting to performance, to creatively coaxing sculptures out of stone and boats out of wood. With their compact downtown districts, filled with innovative retail and art boutiques, Easton and Oxford are made for spring strolling.
In a town known for the arts, public works
sometimes get a humorous twist.
Reeling in a 20- to 50-pound rockfish (or striped bass) from the Chesapeake with Giant Fishing Charters (7677 Ocean Gateway, Easton, 410-822-1201, giantfishingcharters.com, six-hour excursions $700 for six).
Riding the 14-mile scenic bike path that winds from Easton to Oxford. Get a rental from Easton Cycle and Sport (723 Goldsborough St., Easton, 410-822-7433, eastoncycleandsport.com, $40 a day, $30 half-day). If you would prefer to paddle, the shop also rents kayaks ($40 a day).
Seeing the sun set from the deck of the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry (27456 Oxford Road, Oxford, 410-745-9023, oxfordbellevueferry.com) as you cross the Tred Avon River. Founded in 1683, Oxford-Bellevue is thought to be the oldest privately owned ferry in the country. Walk on for only $2, half the usual fare.
Watching craftsmen build wooden yachts using a combination of traditional and state-of-the-art tools and techniques at Cutts and Case Shipyard (306 Tilghman St., Oxford, 410-226-5416, cuttsandcase.com). It’s a fascinating education for aspiring shipwrights and others.
Visiting some of Easton’s premier painters at work in their studios at South Street Art Gallery (5 South St., 410-770-8350, southstreetartgallery.com), Grafton Galleries (32 E. Dover St., 410-822-8922, graftonart.com) and Troika Gallery Fine Art Studio (9 S. Harrison St., 410-770-9190, troikagallery.com).
The historic holes of Bedford Springs Old Course
were designed by legends Spencer Oldham, A.W.
Tillinghast and Donald Ross.
Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania
Native Americans had long known about the restorative powers of the seven (an eighth was recently discovered) mineral springs bubbling up from the earth in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains. Then physician John Anderson began prescribing their liquid contents in the early 19th century as a cure for a wide range of ailments. To accommodate the growing number of visitors who traveled from around the world to take the waters at Bedford Springs, Anderson built a 24-room inn. Nicknamed the “Carlsbad of America” after one of Europe’s most famous spas, Anderson’s enterprise grew into one of the nation’s premier luxury resorts, hosting 10 U.S. presidents, including Zachary Taylor and Ronald Reagan. For President James Buchanan, the resort served as the summer White House. Though it fell on hard times in later years, this National Historic Landmark underwent a Cinderella-like $120 million restoration before reopening last summer with a full range of spa and golf amenities. It will take you just more than three hours to drive from your front door to the flower-framed, circular drive of this 2,200-acre retreat.
Relaxing at Springs Eternal Spa, which offers a complete
line of relaxation and beauty services, is the height of
luxury at what has long been one of the country’s most
Springs Eternal Spa for anything from the basic bath, a multi-sensory experience that includes a self-administered nut-and-spice rub, warm- and cool-jetted pool plunges, and aromatherapy steam (free with appointment) to season-specific facials, full-body treatments and packages. Services are $18 to $485.
Golfing on the Bedford Springs Old Course, a one-of-a-kind par-72 with historic holes designed by Spencer Oldham, A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross ($75 to $135).
Fly-fishing in Shobers Run, the resort’s stocked, Gold Medal-designated trout stream.
Soaking in more minerals at the resort’s spring-fed indoor pool.
Taking a hike or renting a bike to explore the 25 miles of well-marked trails that meander through the resort.