Ready to Travel Again? Come Escape Astoria
Although there’s no place like home, we’re all overdue for a vacation. Between the warmer weather and eased restrictions, there’s no better time to escape the city and enjoy the humble beauty of nature than during National Parks & Recreation Month. America’s National Parks Service will be celebrating its 105th birthday this summer, and with the year we just had, I’ll take any reason to party in the USA (safely, of course). While there are over 400 national parks across the country, dozens are within only a few hours’ drive of Astoria.
Check out a few of our favorites for a weekend getaway.
For those dreaming of a trip outside the country, don’t flip the page just yet! Current international travel restrictions may make that a bit tricky, but if you’re itching to put a stamp in your passport, pick up a National Parks Passport. Similar to your actual passport, visitor centers at every national park site provide a free ink stamp that records the date of your visit. The National Parks Passport can be bought online or in most visitor centers with all net proceeds going towards supporting the National Parks Service; at just $10, it makes for a fun and interactive way to collect stamps and memories.
National Historical Park
No need to leave The Empire State to get in touch with nature; New York boasts 24 national parks, including Saratoga National Historical Park. It may be a 3-hour drive from Astoria, (4.5 hours via Amtrak out of Penn Station) but it’s a 200+-year dive into American history. Here, history buffs and outdoor adventure lovers alike will enjoy hiking through a key Revolutionary War battleground. In 1777, American troops battled and won against a British invasion force which would be the first time in history that a British army ever surrendered(*mic-drop*). Enjoy a self-guided tour through the battlefield grounds or explore at your leisure across the 3,000+-acre park. After getting your history lesson for the day, head on over to Saratoga Springs and mosey down the streets to explore the local shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a splash, rent a boat on nearby Saratoga Springs Lake or trot on over to Saratoga Race Track, which reopens this month, to place your bets.
(Part of) The Appalachian Trail
I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the iconic 2,180+-mile Appalachian Trail during National Parks Month. While you won’t be able to hike all 88 miles that run through New York State (or maybe you can, please prove me wrong), a great stretch is located in nearby Warwick, filled with plenty of activities for a full weekend. Park in the trailhead lot located off Route 17A (N41.245856, W74.285194) and you can hike as much or as little as you want; just be sure to save energy for the return hike back to the car! Cool off with a milkshake or a sundae at Bellvale Farms Creamery, just 0.2 miles away from the trailhead lot.
A family-run business for seven generations, Bellvale Farms will celebrate 202 years this summer. Indulge in your frozen delights as you look over the most picturesque view of the Hudson Valley. For more sweet treats, pick your own fresh peaches, blueberries, raspberries and plums at Ochs Orchard. To complete the weekend, enjoy a flick or two at the Warwick Drive-In Theater for a double feature on one of their three screens.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
If you’re looking for a true weekend getaway to unplug, take a 1.5-hour drive to the Delaware Water Gap in the Pocono Mountains. The Water Gap straddles the New Jersey & Pennsylvania border along the Delaware River, making for magnificent natural vistas. For the trivia lovers out there, the Delaware Water Gap is actually the source of the name for the whole Pocono region, meaning “stream between two mountains,” in the Native American Lenni-Lenape tribe language.
Although the Mount Tammany trail is one of the most popular hikes, there are more than 150 miles of hiking trails to choose from. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, picnicking, canoeing and catching some rays on one of three river beaches. (Check local guidelines for daily permits for some of the water activities.)
Travel slightly north in the Delaware Water Gap and you’ll find Bushkill Falls. Coined the “Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls is comprised of eight different falls, making for a fun hike along the water. Round out the weekend by renting a cozy cabin in nearby East Stroudsburg to truly disconnect and take in the fresh mountain air.
Prior to booking travel, please be sure to read local COVID-19 regulations for the latest information and CDC guidelines.