MIDTOWN — Camping is not just for those with wheels. Believe it or not, some state campgrounds are available by public transportation and a short cab ride or hike.
"You don’t have to go very far at all to get to a place where you can be in relative seclusion," said Scott Reynhout, 27, a camping enthusiast and manager at SoHo's REI sport and camping goods store and instructor in REI's Outdoor School for camping.
Originally from Michigan, the Park Slope resident said that getting to open green spaces is vital to him and many other New Yorkers.
"I just tend to go stir crazy in the city and being able to get out, even if it’s just for a day or a weekend, it’s very important for my personal well-being — to be able to have that release, to be out in green space away from people. Fresh air, lush greenery surrounding you," he said.
"We’ve been doing very well as a business here and that’s a testament to how much people here really do value the outdoors, which is something I wouldn’t have thought about."
New York State Parks representatives Karen Melanson and Dan Keefe gave us a few tips for doing camping right. Reservations, even for tent camping, are always recommended and can be made at Reserve America. Below are the parks that are easiest to reach by mass transit, along with a list of what to pack. Don't forget your sense of adventure.
Hither Hills State Park — Montauk, Long Island
Directions: LIRR to Montauk and a short cab ride — or a hike — to the park.
Total travel time: About three hours
What to bring: Tent, sleeping bag, pillow, food, flashlight, rain poncho and matches.
The scene: Right now is the optimal time to hit this beachy camping spot. With 168 spots in the park’s oceanside campground, you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the shore. Swim, fish, hike or bike during the day and settle down in front of a fireplace at night.
Wildwood State Park — Wading River, Long Island
Directions: LIRR to Riverhead and 15 minute cab ride to the park.
Total travel time: About two hours and 45 minutes
What to bring: Tent, sleeping bag, pillow, food, flashlight, rain poncho and matches. Bring your own barbecue if you plan on cooking. Firewood is for sale at the park.
The scene: On Long Island’s North Shore, the Wildwood State Park offers campground space for those in tents and campers. Swim in Long Island Sound or go fishing, biking or hiking elsewhere on the grounds. Much of the park is completely undeveloped hardwood forest. Recreational events at the park include weekly movie screenings and line and square dancing.
Mills Norrie State Park — Staatsburg, Hudson Valley
Directions: Amtrak to Rutland or Metro-North to Poughkeepsie and a 13 minute cab ride to the park
Total travel time: About two hours
What to bring: If staying in a cabin, you will need to bring sheets, a blanket or sleeping bag, small pillow, food, a flashlight and matches.
The scene: Mills Norrie has cabins for rent at $85/night and tent site pricing ranges from $18-$22. With a marina as part of the park, boating and kayaking are popular activities, as are hiking, fishing, grilling and even golfing. Dogs are allowed, but owners must show proof of Fido’s current shots. The park is also situated five minutes from the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Vanderbilt Estates, both of which are open to the public.
Harriman State Park — Bear Mountain, Hudson Valley
Directions: Metro-North to Middletown and a 13 minute cab ride to the park
Total travel time: About an hour and a half
What to bring: Tent, sleeping bag, pillow, food, flashlight, rain poncho and matches. If staying in a cabin, bring sheets, a blanket or sleeping bag, small pillow, food, flashlight and matches.
The scene: The second-largest park in New York State has tons to offer on its 44,000 acres: Lake Tiorati Beach and Lake Welch Beach are open for swimming. Boat rentals are on offer as are cabin and tent site rentals. Hike over 200 miles of trails, or go for biking, fishing or picnicking.
Floyd Bennett Field — Gateway National Recreation Area, Brooklyn
Directions: 5 or 2 train to Q35 bus
Total travel time: One hour and 45 minutes from Midtown.
What to bring: Tent, tarps, sleeping bag, pillow, food, flashlight and a rain poncho.
The scene: Yes, that's right. You can camp right in the city. A variety of educational programs available through the park can teach you to kayak, camp and canoe. There's even a Floyd Bennett Field Archery Range where you can practice with a bow and arrow — just keep the crossbow at home. RV parking is available, but there are 38 spots where you can pitch a tent. There is a $20 charge per day with a limit of 14 days maximum stay. Showers are available and cost $10 per person. Save a spot ahead of time at Reserve America.