Look at you, working hard. As we tunnel deeper into autumn and summer begins to look smaller in the rear view mirror, a fall weekend getaway is in order. There’s a crispness in the air which demands that you drop everything to go jump in a tractor and pick apples. There’s only one problem: you probably don’t have a car, and you want to go now! Good news: there’s a bevvy of pubic transport systems which guarantee you a glorious day of North Eastern foliage, pretty cheap and pretty fast.
If your family lives anywhere on the East Coast, you are (unfortunately) well familiar with the variety of coach bus services that leave from Penn Station. BUT, did you know that for $45 roundtrip, you can take the Coach USA ShortLine to Storm King Art Center? Storm King is an 500 acre sculpture park and museum in the Hudson Valley which offers spectacular mountain/foliage views, rolling golf course-y grounds, tram rides, and big ol’ sculptures. Student admission is another $8. If you really want to go all-out, a special $55 package will get you to Storm King and to Woodbury Common Outlet Mall, where you can enjoy a Cinnabon at a store called “Last Call by Neiman Marcus.”
If you want to take the train, there are a few options available to you: Metro North, NJ Transit, the PATH, and Amtrak. Metro North is great because in most towns, it’ll drop you off right in walking distance of the main drag. Half a mile from the Port Chester station ($16.50 off peak from Grand Central) is Mario Batali’s Tarry Market, where you can buy a bear claw or a $400 white truffle. Two miles from where Metro North drops you off in Rye ($16.50 off peak, then take a short cab ride or hop into some nice Rye lady’s Escalade) you can go to Playland, America’s oldest functioning amusement park, and visit the boardwalk. Playland boasts rickety wooden rides, games, two ice rinks, a beach, a dog park, a little museum, and an after-hours bar scene.
If you’re thinking “but wait! I want to do all of these things, and I want to be able to drive around those state parks and mountains on the way” then you should rent a car, duh! If you don’t have a Zip Car membership, which can take a while to set up because you need to have your driving record approved, consider Dollar Rent-A-Car. At this fine establishment, you can pick up a car from several garages in the city, like the one in Gramercy on 22nd and 1st Ave. Unlike other car rental places, the minimum age requirement is 21 instead of 25, so there’s a good chance that you or someone you know can make the reservation. The weekend day rate for an economy car is $92, but if you consider that a car can seat you and 3-4 friends, it’s really only $20 a person plus gas money. For that $28ish, you can cruise around upstate to your heart’s content. On your way to Storm King and the outlet mall, you can visit nearby Applewood Farms for apple picking. Their business model is terrific: you pay for your picking bags ($.50-$1.00) and your apples, with no charges for parking, admission, or hayrides. A quarter bushel is $14 and a half bushel is $28. If you don’t fill your bag, they’ll just charge you by weight for what you grabbed. There are also horses, rabbits, a pumpkin patch, and a winery on site.
If this is all sounding like too much money and too much hassle, consider staying closer to home. Did you know there was a cute pumpkin patch on Staten Island? Of course there is, and it’s super easy to get to! Decker Farm is a pumpkin patch and farm stand which is a part of Historic Richmond Town, one of those 17th Century American experience towns that lets you churn your own butter. To get there, take the Staten Island Ferry (free!) and then hop on the S74 bus to Richmond Rd/St. Patrick’s Place (get a free transfer if you’ve used your MetroCard within two hours prior). From there, Historic Richmond Town runs a shuttle every 10 minutes which is included in the $5 price of admission. You can wander around historic homes, watch someone’s soccer coach demonstrate how to fire a musket, and check out cute babies in the pumpkin patch – all for $5 + subway fare.