Easy day trips from NYC during COVID-19

Fall in New York City is always about planning those weekend getaways.

And after months in isolation, that need is more necessary than ever.

But where can you go in this COVID-restricted era?

Luckily, there are plenty of outdoor (and socially distant) activities that can satisfy your seasonal yearnings for entertainment, culture and sporty fun.

Catch a movie at a drive-in

Story Screen in Beacon

With movie theaters still on lockdown, drive-ins have been making a resurgence across the country, including the Hudson Valley. Story Screen drive-in launched in Beacon, New York, shows a range of movies from newer releases like “Mad Max: Fury Road” to family classics such as “The Goonies.” Up to 35 cars can park to watch the flicks in the open-air forum that opened earlier this year, after the 91-year-old Beacon Theater nearby was restored in 2019. There’s a special lineup of Halloween films, too. Cost of admission is $10 per adult and $8 per child.

445 Main St, Beacon

Pick your own fruit at a farm

Alstede Farms
Alstede Farms

We’ve all spent months begrudgingly washing our groceries and are understandably fed up with it. Bring some joy back into the food foraging process (and get the kids out of the house) by picking your own fruits and veggies. Alstede Farms, just an hour outside the city in Chester, New Jersey, hosts daily sessions where you can roam the fields and orchards handpicking the freshest seasonal produce to take home. Limited capacity hay wagons ridges are also available as well as an evergreen maze, and sunflower cutting Pre-purchased tickets are a must and become available 24 hours in advance. Entry plus a pint is $15.99, an extra pint is $6.99, a veggie box is $49.99, and cut-your-own sunflowers are $2 per stem.

1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester Township, New Jersey

Enjoy a wine tasting at a vineyard

Grace Winery
Brianna Banfield

Let’s face it: Booze is almost a necessity in a pandemic. But it can be a relaxing social experience thanks to nearby vineyards hosting outdoor tastings. Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead (5120 Sound Ave) allows groups up to 6 to sip their varietals after passing a temperature check. And the Inn at Grace Winery in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (about 2 hours outside NYC), set up an outdoor tasting area near the growing vines allowing plenty of space between tables. What’s more, is they’re dog and kid-friendly with 35 acres to run around and farm where you can pet animals.

50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Visit outdoor art galleries

Art Omi
Bryan Zimmerman

The last thing you want after months of isolation is staring at more walls. Swap your typical gallery visit with an outdoor art experience at one of the many nearby outside exhibits. There’s a new Kiki Smith River Light outdoor flags exhibit at Storm King Art Center in Windsor, New York (1 Museum Road). The sculptures spread out at Art Omi, shown above, in Ghent (1405 Co Rte 22) are always worth a visit, as is the series of stone ramps and platforms created by Harvey Fite at Opus 40 in Saugerties (50 Fite Road).

Kayak to an abandoned castle

View of historic Bannerman's Castle as seen from the Hudson River in New York State.
Shutterstock / littlenySTOCK

Did you know there’s an abandoned castle in the middle of Hudson River? Bannerman Castle, located on Pollepel Island off the coast of Beacon, New York, is accessible via boat tours. Or, you can kayak over to check out the ruins on the 6.5-acre island. Once there, you can walk the grounds to learn how Frank Bannerman used the island as a home and artillery surplus, which led to the devastating fire in 1969. Guided kayak tours run regularly and include all the necessary equipment. Or, you can bring your own gear and complete a regulated self-guided tour.

Hang out on a beachy rooftop

Baronet rooftop at The Asbury
Nikolas Koenig

Missing rooftop pool season in NYC? Head just over an hour south to Asbury Park, New Jersey, where The Asbury hotel opened its 4,300-square-foot rooftop space called Baronet. There you can comfortably lounge by the pool in a cabana or lounge chair by day or sip on a cocktail from the Salvation bar by the fire pit at night. They’re also hosting yoga and outdoor movie nights with social distancing decal squares similar to the circles in New York City’s Domino Park. Reservations are required.

210 5th Ave., Asbury Park

This story appeared in the New York Post print editions on July 31.