About 50 miles north of New York City is an escape that will make the crowded city feel light years away. Bear Mountain State Park, nestled against the Hudson River, is a haven filled with rolling mountains, dense woodland, and plenty of fresh air. Besides the rustic, Adirondack-inspired architecture, zoo, and natural history museum, there are plenty of ways to experience the natural beauty that abounds here. The Appalachian Trail cuts through the park, and there's also Perkins Memorial Drive, which winds its way to the top of Bear Mountain, providing different views of the Hudson River and surrounding landscapes along the way. At the top, you can climb the Perkins Memorial Tower to see into four states. And, if you look really carefully, you might be able to see the skyline of Manhattan, worlds away!
Nestled in the mountains and featuring some gorgeous views of the Hudson River, Bear Mountain State Park is not your average park. Hike among the beautiful changing fall foliage, ice skate in the winter and warm up with some hot cocoa, or fish for hours in the warm summer air. It features a zoo, a lake, and even a pool. They have something for the hiker, the biker, the history-lover, and relaxed vacationer in all of us. Your $10 per car rate will cover most amenities, but splurging for a boat rental or paying $1 to ride the unique merry-go-round is worth the extra money! Stay for the day, or even book a night at the inn for the full experience, because you will want to give yourself time to take advantage of as many activities as you can in this beautiful paradise.
Open daily until 4:30PM, with the bears and coyotes going off exhibit at 4:00, the Bear Mountain Zoo and Trailside Museum is a perfect experience to add to your trip. All of the animals found here are rehabilitating from injuries or are unable to survive alone in the wild, which is an amazing concept and is absolutely worth the suggested $1 donation for entrance. Four museums are on the property, ready to educate you about native reptiles and amphibians, geology, Native Americans, and the area's special Revolutionary War ties. This is the perfect day activity, with plenty to entertain!
An intense battle during the Revolutionary War for control over the Hudson River took place on the 14-acre Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, located on a cliff overlooking the water. The museum features a movie, old weapons and artifacts, and even a cannon that's occasionally launched! For history buffs or those who want to embrace American history, walking the grounds of Fort Montgomery and the surrounding water bring the past back to life.
The site is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly to include it in your trip to the park.
The Bear Mountain Bridge is a toll suspension bridge, which for over a year after completion held the record for longest suspension bridge in the world. It connects Palisades Interstate Parkway and US 9W on the west bank near Bear Mountain Inn to New York State Route 9D on the east. With pedestrian walkways on both sides, the view from the bridge is breathtaking, no matter the time of the year. It carries the Appalachian Trail and New York State Bicycle Route 9 across the Hudson River and even contains a cute little toll house, currently used as an information center.
When visiting Bear Mountain, your trip isn't complete until you drive up the mountain on Perkins Memorial Drive, where a tower greets you at the top. From the tower, you have drop-dead gorgeous views of the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the south, and the Catskill Mountains to the north! This half-day excursion costs very little money, and even contains trails along the way if visitors feel like taking a break from driving. Maps around the tower can even guide you in identifying the various towns and mountains you see.
Try to get there early in the day for a peaceful sightseeing experience before the afternoon rush!
Keep your walking shoes on, because you don't want to miss this cultural experience! Said to be one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King is a 500-acre haven that is home to more than 100 sculptures. For just $8 for students and kids 5-18, and $18 for adults, you'll want to spend your entire day walking the grounds! Trams run throughout the day in case you don't want to hike around. The center features art from renowned sculptors and special exhibitions are often on display.
Each season the hours of operation change. From April 5–August 31, Storm King is open Wednesday–Sunday 10AM–5:30PM, but be sure to check before you make the trip out.
Once inhabited, this abandoned military warehouse is now a part of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It offers passenger tour boats or guided kayak excursion for experiencing the rich history, as it's on an island. The boat ride in offers a unique vantage point of the surrounding land that provides for a unique experience, and once you arrive at the castle, you are led by a knowledgeable tour guide throughout the grounds. For an off-the-beaten-path type adventure, Bannerman Castle is absolutely incredible.
Bear Mountain State Park and the surrounding Hudson River landscape offer a fun, adventurous vacation for anyone wanting to get out of the city, or just experience the unique nature and history here! If you don't mind walking and enjoy taking in beautiful landscapes or feeling the past come alive, this is the trip for you. You'll almost forget how close you are to the hustle and bustle of the city!
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