A quick guide to beating the summer blahs

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Whether its fun outdoors, an outlet shopping spree,...

By Brian M. Rafferty

With vacation season in full swing, and many families looking for something to do to beat the summer doldrums, spending a day outside of the five boroughs may be the answer so many of us seek.

Whether its fun outdoors, an outlet shopping spree, amusement parks or something to do indoors to beat the heat, there is plenty to do if you’re willing to go a bit out of your way.


Bear Mountain State Park, about 50 miles north of New York City, offers fun for the family. With miles of hiking trails, a zoo, an enormous public pool and paddle boats on Hessian Lake, there is sonething for everybody. For information call the park office at 845-786-2701.

The Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center offers trips out on the Atlantic to see the largest mammal in the world—the humpback whale—surface from the depths. While waiting for whales, families can see dolphins froclicing, pelicans flying overhead and a host of other sealife during a day of strong ocean winds and educational fun. For information, call toll-free 888-531-0055.

Mystic Seaport, in Mystic, Conn., is an educational and entertaining day trip that you may have visited when you were in school, but has undergone massive changes in the last several years. From the “Amistad-Voyage to Freedom” display to the star chart displays to on-the-water tours of fishing and sea life in Connecticut and Long island Sound, Mystic has more than just the rope factory you may remember from your childhood. Call 888-9-SEAPORT.


The Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, about 75 miles northeats of New York, in Connecticut, offers more than 70 top-brand stores, including Anne Klein, Bass, Donna Karan, Gap, Perry Ellis, Coach, Harry & David and Crate & Barrel. For more information and directions call 860-664-0700.

Woodbury Commons, just off Exit 16 of the New York State Thruway, has some of the greatest shopping bargains in New York. With Williams-Sonoma, Le Cruset, Movado, Carter’s, K-B Toys, Bally, Puma, Nike, Hugo Boss and Betsey Johnson among the 220 outlet stores, Woodbury Commons has enough shopping for any taste. For more information and directions call 845-928-4000.

Amusement Parks

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., offers some of the greatest thrill rides in the country, including Nitro, Medusa and Batman the Ride. With a water park next door and rides for the little ones, Six Flags provides more than anybody can do in a single day. They offer a great deal on a return ticket that allows you to come back the next day at a reduced rate. Call 732-928-1821.

Indoor Activities

The Edison National Hisoric Site in West Orange, N.J., offers daily tours of Thomas Alva Edison’s home, Glenmont, and laboratory. Learn about his creations, see where he slept and get inside the mind of the world’s most prolific inventor. Call 973-736-0550, Ext. 42 for more information.

The Long Island Rail Road also has a couple of ideas for day trips out to the island this week, and throughout the summer.

On Thursday the LIRR will offer its “Skyline Cruise” and that will be followed by a “Lighthouse Cruise” on Friday. There are also dates set for the Gatsby Estates tour.

The Skyline Cruise

Beginning with a guided tour of Falaise, the tour moves on to a lunch at Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grill in Port Washington, followed by a narrated cruise to the Throgs Neck Bridge along the island’s Gold Coast.

The train for the tour leaves New York at 9:16 a.m., Woodside at 9:27 a.m., Brooklyn at 9:11 a.m. Jamaica at 9:38 a.m. and arrives in Mineola at 9:52 a.m.

The Lighthouse Cruise

The steamboat Lauren Kristy will take tourists along the Great South Bay. There will be a buffet lunch along the coast of Fire Island, ending in a landing by the Fire Island lighthouse and a tour of the beach.

The train for the tour leaves New York at 9:59 a.m., Woodside at 10:10 a.m., Brooklyn at 9:33 a.m. and Jamaica at 10:24 a.m.

The Gatsby Estates

After a stop at the Vanderbilt Museum and a trip to the Village of Huntington for lunch, its off to Old Westbury Gardens and a tour of the Phipps Mansion.

The train for the tour leaves New York at 9:42 a.m., Woodside at 9:27 a.m., Brooklyn at 9:33 a.m. Jamaica at 10:01 a.m. and Mineola at 10:18 a.m.

In addition to this week, the tour will run on the following days: Gatsby Estates, Aug. 8, Aug. 23; Skyline Cruise, Aug. 2, Aug. 16 and Aug. 28; and Lighthouse Cruise, Aug. 1, Aug. 15 and Aug. 30.

For more information about fees, or for a brochure, call 217-LIRR or go online to

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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