Island retreats right in the NY area
Mon Jul 19 2010
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Glen Island Park
In the 1920s, Glen Island was the site of a famous theme park, spread out across different islands connected by a series of piers. Today, the isle, part of New Rochelle in Westchester, is sought after for picnics and fishing, and as a site to launch boats into the Long Island Sound. A Westchester County park pass, available only to Westchester residents, is required for admission. Make friends with a commuter or wait for a party to come up at the tony Glen Island Harbour Club.
Travel: Metro-North to New Rochelle, round trip $13--$30
It’s not exactly a far-off destination, but this island has come a long way since the Coast Guard shut down its base there in 1996, and can provide the feeling of a real escape. The formerly forgotten isle is now home to a sandy beach and concert venue, numerous arts exhibitions and festivals, free-bike nights and a kayak landing. Just be sure to bring your own water—the water on the island isn’t drinkable. (govisland.com). Fri--Sun through Oct 10.
Travel: 1 to South Ferry, then take the free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, slip 7. Free.
Great Captain Island and Island Beach
These two islands, both off the coast of Greenwich, Connecticut, provide two different excursions. Island Beach has a quiet shoreline with some shaded picnic areas. (You can pretend you’re running with a snooty, exclusive crowd—the beach was off-limits to non-Greenwich residents until 2008.) But if you’re up for a little sightseeing, take a ferry from Greenwich to Great Captain Island, where you can see a 19th-century lighthouse.
Travel: Metro-North to Greenwich, round-trip $16--$34. Ferries for both islands depart from the landing at Arch Street in central Greenwich, $3 plus $5 beach pass (cash only).
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Jamaica Bay is the only wildlife refuge in our national parks system. Hop the A train out there to commune with the animals. Park Rangers often lead tours dedicated to bird-watching or pointing out turtle nests. nps.gov/gate. Subway: A to Broad Channel.
Pollepel Island, NY
This island, situated in the middle of the Hudson River, is home to the near-ruins of Bannerman Castle (bannermancastle.org), a Scottish-style castle and fortress that was used as an arsenal in the early 1900s. You can take guided hard-hat tours that reach the island by ferry from Newburgh, New York (Hudson River Adventures, 800-979-3370, prideofthehudson.com; $27--$32). The truly adventurous, though, approach via guided kayak tours (Hudson Valley Outfitters, 845-265-0221, hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com; $120).
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