- Sometimes, it's best to get out.
Labor Day weekend tends to be bittersweet for a lot of reasons, and chief among them is that sad, privately embarrassing realization that you forgot to take a real vacation (or at least get out of town) all summer. But even if you only start your planing today, it's not too late.
Brooklyn is close to a lot of stuff, after all, and whether you've actually got your own car, are relegated to places you can get to by train or Greyhound, or just don't feel like leaving the borough at all, you can still get away for the weekend. Breathe some slightly cleaner air, eat some seafood, maybe even see some swimming ponies. You'll be better for it, we promise.
Even if you're not so into gambling, nothing wrong with sitting at the penny slots nursing free white wine in between walks on the beach and trips to White House Sub Shop
for the biggest, meatiest sandwiches you've ever eaten (and also a look at what's supposedly Frank Sinatra's used towel, which they keep behind protective glass).
This is also one of the easiest out-of-town destinations to get to in a hurry: the trip is less than three hours and Greyhounds that drop you off right at the casinos not only leave constantly, but come with special casino credits. Meaning, then, that you'll have the extra money to throw at a trip to Dock's Oyster House, tickets to the all-out drag show Divas Do AC, or both.
Really, this is worth it for the train ride up the Hudson River alone (be sure to get a seat on the river-facing side of the train for the optimal view). And Metro North makes it pretty easy, with special package deal that'll get you a round trip ticket to Beacon
and admission to the Dia:Beacon
, one of the most beautiful places in the world to take in both modern art and the incredible natural light that flows into the windows of the cavernous former factory building.
The town's beloved Pinball Museum closed down a few years back due to archaic city ordinances banning arcade games (seriously), but there's a tour of the nearby Bannerman Castle available on Monday, 9/2, and if you have a car you may want to think about driving 14 miles south of Beacon to the massive sculpture park at Storm King. If all else fails, follow up your museum visit with a walk into town for some lobster mac and cheese at Cafe Amarcord. It's never the wrong choice.
- Photo via Tom's Cove Park
So this is a little bit more of a hike, and the one trip that really necessitates a car—the island, off the coast of Virginia, is a four or five hour drive from New York. But isn't it worth a little extra effort to see those famous ponies?
The island has become a fairly popular tourist destination, and thus has a staggering number of hotel and
B&B options to suit just about every taste and budget. Hanging out on the beach watching the ponies is sort of the main event here, but there are also tours of the island's gorgeous wildlife refuge
, as well as pony-watching boat tours
of the adjacent Assateague Island. A delight, even if you didn't actually read that book as a kid.
Sure, it's pretty packed this time of year. But did you really want to throw yourself into its nightmarish "meatpacking district east" nightclub scene, as chronicled in today's Times style section?
No, best to make this a day trip. It's a three hour trip, so hop on the LIRR early (you can sleep and eat on the ride), spend the afternoon at the beach, spring for a lobster roll at, uh, The Lobster Roll
(or a few tacos at The Hideaway
) once you get hungry, maybe even visit the Montauk Point Lighthouse if you're feeling industrious. All of which can be done in time to catch the train back into Brooklyn for the night. No prolonged interaction with vacationing finance types required.
Floyd Bennett Field
See? You really don't
have to leave Brooklyn if you don't want to. Not only is Floyd Bennett Field the only national park that's really accessible by public transportation, but it's also one of the easiest possible spots to do a little last minute camping. Campsites, which come with a picnic table, a grill, and firewood, go for $20 per day, and can accommodate up to six people (reservations are available on the park's website
). You've got to bring your own tent and sleeping bag (and have a working knowledge of how to set those things up), but seems well worth it for the opportunity to cook s'mores over an open flame in a park without actually leaving the borough. And also, still much cheaper than a hotel.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.