In case you haven't done so already, please stop reading and open your window. Can you smell it? The scent of oncoming spring after a brutal, heart-wrenching winter?
Okay, so we didn't actually have a horrible winter... it's been pretty meager in the snow department to say the least, and it was a balmy 70˚F on Christmas, but still, we're pretty hyped for spring weather.
We love spring in New York City, but it's just as incredible to get out of the city for a weekend to take in all of the beautiful blooming forests of trees and flowers that we just don't get in our crowded city.
So instead of whining about having nothing to do on the weekends in spring, how about taking a trip to one of these incredible spots right outside the city?
They're close enough for a day trip, but far enough away from the city to really get in touch with nature.
Here are the best day-trips to take right outside of NYC this Spring.
1. Barnegat Lighthouse (Barnegat Light - LBI, NJ)
Have you ever been to the Jersey Shore? No, we don't mean the skeevy, sketchy cesspool that is Seaside, NJ (aka Sleazeside). We're talking about the actual Jersey Shore that people from NY, NJ, and PA flock to once the weather warms up. If you haven't been there, you really need to make the trip.
Just under two hours south of NYC, Barnegat Lighthouse stands tall, though a little crooked (thanks, Sandy) over the Barnegat Inlet, separating the Barnegat Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. It's a hike to the top, with 217 steps, but offers a wide view all around.
Why go in the spring? The island is primarily occupied by locals throughout the off season, which doesn't really start up until late May. You'll have no trouble with crowds. Additionally, it's just the perfect temperature to make the trek to the top.
Before you leave, check out the jetties spanning the length of Barnegat State Park. Just don't get too close to the water when a boat drives through, unless you want to go for a swim.
2. Breakneck Ridge (Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, NY)
Are you looking to get in touch with nature, but also grab a workout in the process? Check out the Breakneck Ridge loop hike in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve. It's a hike (pun intended) but well worth the views of tree-lined ridges and the Hudson River.
Don't think you can climb and hike for panoramic views? Try an easier route like the Arden Point and Glenclyffe trail. You'll still get incredible views, but don't need to be in peak condition. Instead, you'll get to see a part of the escape route used by Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.
3. Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse (2000 Oregon Road, Mattituck, NY)
Everyone always says that the best time to visit a vineyard is in the fall, during crush season when the grapes are harvested from the vines to be made into grapes. However, there is nothing like a vineyard in the spring.
The green leaves of the vines hiding small bunches of budding grapes makes for a wonderful sight. Plus, there's wine.
Visit the Shinn Estate on a Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a guided tour with Barbara Shinn. Plus, their farmhouse guest rooms make for a wonderful, relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC, especially if you've drank a little too much wine to get home for the night.
4. Gettysburg Ghost Tour
Have you ever been to Gettysburg, PA? If you haven't, you really should. It offers a wonderful insight to our country during the Civil War, a far cry from the modern world of NYC. However, there's something so intriguing about walking these battlegrounds after the sun goes down.
Did you know that many people believe that Gettysburg is haunted by some of the 7,000 soldiers that lost their lives in the short battle? Instead of taking a boring old history tour, take a guided ghost tour depending on your level of fear.
However, cheer yourself up the next day with a trip to Hershey Park before traveling home. Munch on as much chocolate as it takes to remove the image of ghosts from your mind.
5. Nassau County Museum of Art Sculpture Garden (1 Museum Drive - Roslyn Harbor, NY)
After you check out the Nassau County Museum of Art, take in the beautiful spring weather and wonderful works of art in the 145-acre sculpture garden. The formal gardens are publicly owned, running on donations from the public to keep up with maintenance.
If you visit them now, you'll have the opportunity to check out about 40 pieces of impressive artwork throughout the grounds, as well as blooming florals.
6. Zipline Hunter Mountain (64 Klein Avenue - Hunter, NY)
Did you know that many ski resorts transform into warm weather outdoor activity areas once the snow thaws? Instead of lamenting the loss of a full season of skiing due to an unseasonably warm winter, get ready for some speed and beautiful scenery and book your zipline tour of Hunter Mountain.
We're obsessed with the "Skyrider Tour" that spans over 4.6 miles, and is the longest, fastest, and highest zipline tour in North America. We're betting those that are afraid of heights or speeds of 50 mph should probably sit this one out.
If you're too afraid of the "Skyrider Tour," try the more family (and less frightening) "NY Mid-Mountain Tour," which includes a ropes course, as well as six ziplines.
7. Whitewater rafting along the Hudson River
Look, none of us ever really want to find ourselves in the Hudson River near NYC... It's not exactly the cleanest body of water known to man. However, head up about 4 hours north of NYC to Waverton, NY to rush down the Hudson with some adventurous white water rafting tours.
Spring sees the most big waves, as the snow melts into the Hudson, creating a swift current. However, after the first few weeks of April (and quite possibly well before that considering this warm weather), the rapids will calm to a manageable pace for the inexperienced.
8. Storm King Art Center (1 Museum Road - New Windsor, NY)
Head up to the Storm King Art Center for a truly unforgettable day trip filled with art, beautiful views, and a lot of walking.
Better yet? It's only an hour north of NYC. You can get there by bus from Port Authority, as the Coach Shortline provides two different day trip options to Storm King. Otherwise, you can drive or take a train.
The 500-acre park is filled with sculptures created by talented artists from around the world that rotate every year. Though the park doesn't open until the beginning of April, it's something to look forward to on our next beautiful spring day.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]