NEW YORK — Being cooped up in an apartment during the cold winter months can bring out the Jack Torrance in any of us — especially those with no means of driving out of the city. But living in a city that's a hub for public transportation makes it easy to avoid going all redrum on your roommates.
The destinations below are all accessible by train or bus, and are easy to explore on foot — perfect for when you need a refreshing escape from city life.
Take that, cabin fever!
Milford, Pa., The Poconos
Total Travel Time: Two hours and 20 minutes from the Port Authority
Transportation: Shortline/Coach USA bus
What to See: Milford is one of the most walkable towns in the Pocono Mountains, with a bus line that drops visitors off right downtown. While buses to Stroudsburg and Jim Thorpe don’t go to their respective downtown areas, the hotel you choose in those areas may be able to arrange pickup transportation for you.
“There’s a variety of art dealers, antique shops, galleries — some really niche shopping," said Alicia Quinn, communications director for the Pocono Mountains Visitor’s Bureau.
Milford was also the home of Gifford Pinchot, a two-time governor of Pennsylvania who started the conservation movement with his friend, President Theodore Roosevelt. Pinchot's three-story mansion, Grey Towers, is a national historic landmark.
Total Travel Time: Two hours and 15 minutes
Transportation: From Penn Station on NJ Transit to Newark Penn Station, where you switch to the Raritan Valley Line
What To See: This attractive little hamlet offers a refreshing small-town vibe for the city-weary. Two historic grist mills bookend the town’s 200-foot-wide waterfall. The Red Mill Museum inside one of those mills is home to 40,000 artifacts from the area’s agricultural history. The nearby shops and Hunterdon Art Museum offer plenty for an afternoon perusal. Restaurants that line the main street, like Christie’s Bakeshop and Clinton House, make it easy to stop for a bite after some sightseeing.
Beacon, N.Y., Hudson Valley
Total Travel Time: One hour from Grand Central Station
Transportation: Metro-North via the Hudson Line
What To See: Beacon’s fame (and Hudson’s for that matter) has grown in recent years, as a result of a migration of city families hoping to recreate trendy Brooklyn in the Hudson Valley. Both areas continue to develop more of an arts and culture scene, but Beacon's scene is slightly newer. Think of it as upstate's Bushwick to Hudson's Williamsburg, but with both towns more evenly matched in the looks department.
Art museum Dia Beacon is a great place to start exploring Beacon, according to Mark Price, recreation director for the city. There's also plenty of sights to explore on foot.
“For the outdoor-minded we have a riverside trail that’s great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing right off the train. It’s about a 2-mile loop. It’s a few minutes walk up to Main Street where all the shops and galleries are,” he said.
Every month the town has a Second Saturday Celebration, in which the Main Street galleries and shops stay open late. Listen up for live music that can often be heard coming from the new music venue in town, the Towne Crier Café.
Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck, Hudson Valley
Total Travel Time: One hour and 40 minutes
Mode of Transportation: Amtrak to Rhinecliff plus a mile cab ride to the downtown area.
What to See: Beyond the reaches of Metro-North, not far from Poughkeepsie, sits a charming town that’s quite easy to explore on foot once you catch a cab into town.
“You can take Amtrak up to Rhinecliff, which is a beautiful little hamlet,” said Mary Kay Vrba, executive director of Duchess Tourism.
“You can stay overnight at the Rhinecliff Hotel. Within a 1-mile taxi ride is Rhinebeck, N.Y., which is a great village with lots of restaurants and boutique shops, antique shops and lots of good bed-and-breakfasts,” she said.
Greenport, Long Island
Total Travel Time: About three hours
Mode of Transportation: LIRR
What to See: On the eastern end of Long Island’s North Fork, Greenport is a tranquil little fishing village. There’s plenty of shopping, dining and charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations right along the town’s two main streets, which border Greenport's harbor. Biking and hiking options abound for hearty winter athletes. And a few of the town's summertime attractions — like an operating antique carousel — remain operating through the winter. There's even a winter-specific treat: the waterfront ice rink. The East End Seaport Museum is also right downtown, easily accessible for the history nerds in your group.