Weekend escapes from New York City

By Lizzy Wilkinson for British Airways High Life Magazine

Photography by Colin Young / 123RF

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July 2016

New Yorkers love nothing more than zipping along the Long Island Expressway to the summer playground of the Hamptons. But there are also other hideaways that are just a few hours’ drive in any direction. Lizzy Wilkinson picks three of the best.

The Catskills

Drive from NYC: 2 hours

Head north out of the city, joining the picturesque 9W highway along the way, and soon you’ll find yourself in the heart of the Catskills, an epic nature reserve complete with rugged mountains, fast-flowing rivers and impressive waterfalls.

Stay: The Graham & Co

At first glance, The Graham & Co. is a small motel on the edge of a sleepy riverside town. But, thanks to an impeccable job by a team of NYC-based designers, its organic vibe has hipsters flocking from far and wide. Each of its 20 rooms are minimal yet beautiful and activities plentiful; from the sleek black fixed-gear cruisers out front, to the idyllic pool and countless hiking trails.

Where? 80 Route 214, Phoenicia (+1 845 688 7871; thegrahamandco.com)

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  • Head to Phoenicia Diner for comfort food with a New York flair © Kevin Trageser

    Try it for yourself…

    For those with a sweet tooth, go for the Phoenicia Diner’s famous Pumpkin pie with cream and rhubarb sauce. Opening times: Thursday to Monday (07:00-17:00). Fly from London to New York from:£281 return

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  • Art alfresco: Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley © Jerry Thompson

    Valley of sculptures

    The best way to experience Storm King’s outdoor art collection is on two wheels. Hire a bike onsite and peddle your way through its vast collection of sculptures peppered along the Hudson Valley’s rolling landscape.

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  • Penthouse preservation: Bubble away in the Hudson Valley at The Roundhouse © Sarah Tew

Eat: Phoenicia Diner

Serving traditional comfort food with New York flair, this classic 1960s diner has locals and out-of-towners alike queuing throughout the summer with its all-day breakfast and hearty sandwiches. The ideal place to kick off a day’s mountain activities.

Where? 5681 Route 28, Phoenicia (+1 845 688 9957; phoeniciadiner.com)

See: Kaaterskill Falls

For the more adventurous weekender, a trip to the breath-taking Kaaterskill Falls is in order. This two-drop waterfall is roughly half an hour’s drive from Phoenicia and, if you’re lucky (and feeling energetic — it’s a steep hike), you may even have the summit to yourself.

Shelter Island

Drive from NYC: 2 hours 30 minutes

Shelter Island is perfect for those looking to avoid the crowds of the Hamptons. A nine-minute ferry ride from Long Island’s glamorous South Fork, this comparatively low-key island boasts idyllic beaches, bicycle-friendly roads and classic 19th-century houses.

Stay: Shelter Island House

Enjoy the best of Shelter Island with a stay at this peaceful, all-American hotel, complete with white-washed walls, a wrap-around porch and rooms decorated in soothing pastel tones.

Where? 11 Stearns Point Road, Shelter Island Heights (+1 631 749 1633; shelterislandhouse.com)

  • Boutique retreat: Shelter Island House © Christian Gianneli

    Beach break

    Surrounded by sand and sea, Shelter Island House is perched at the Eastern tip of Long Island. You can reach Shelter Islands’ sandy beaches by road in just over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Fly from London to New York and rent a car for 7 days from:£424 pp

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Eat: Marie Eiffel Market

Close proximity to the Island’s clear blue waters makes this gourmet deli, bakery and café one of the hottest destinations for a relaxed summer brunch — gluten-free options are also available.

Where? 184 N Ferry Rd, Shelter Island (+1 631 749 0003; marieeiffelmarket.com)

See: Crescent Beach

Famous for its spectacular sunsets, while away a lazy day chilling out on this pristine beach. And if you’re looking for an adventure, the waters surrounding the island are relatively calm, ideal for a spot of kayaking.

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Hudson Valley

Drive from NYC: 45 minutes

Consider yourself more of a day-tripper? Then the Hudson Valley should top your to-do list. Ideal for those spending a week or less in Manhattan.

Stay: The Roundhouse

If you find yourself wanting to extend your stay overnight, this 41-room boutique hotel is your best bet. Set in a beautifully restored mill, it overlooks a roaring waterfall and has a stylish restaurant with alfresco patio area.

Where? 2 East Main St, Beacon (+1 845 765 8369; roundhousebeacon.com)

See: Dia: Beacon

Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, this light-filled contemporary gallery houses installations by world-renowned artists, including Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Fred Sandback. No car? No worries. Hop on Metro-North’s Hudson line from Grand Central Station.

Where? 3 Beekman Street, Beacon (+1 845 440 0100; diaart.org)

See: Storm King Art Center

Set in 500-acres of meadows, hills and woodland, Storm King is interspersed with a collection of more than 100 sculptures by notable artists. Head here in the summer, armed with your chicest trainers and a picnic lunch.

Where? 1 Museum Rd, New Windsor (+1 845 534 3115; stormking.org)