Day: Long Dock Park; Beacon, NY (1½hrs from NYC by Metro-North) Local preservation and environmental group Scenic Hudson (scenichudson.org) transformed a neglected industrial site into this 15-acre waterside park, which opened in July 2011. The 19th-century ferry terminal now houses rental kayaks (two hours $30, four hours $40, day $50; mountaintopsonline.com) and a boat-launch area. Not much for aquatics? Picnic by the water, keeping an eye out for wildlife attracted to the restored wetlands, then explore the Klara Sauer Trail, which crosses into the 6,000 acres of Dennings Point State Park.
Weekend: Farm Sanctuary; Watkins Glen, NY (4½hrs from NYC by car) The resident pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys and chickens at this 175-acre rural haven in the Finger Lakes region have all been rescued from factory farming, slaughterhouses and other dire situations. Volunteer to help feed and brush the animals, clean their digs or, in some cases, assist with socialization skills (e.g., rubbing their bellies). On your way home, take a detour for a hike in Watkins Glen State Park (nysparks.com/parks/142), where you can view a gorge and 19 breathtaking waterfalls. Where to stay: Three cozy cabins on the shelter’s grounds offer a vegan breakfast and views of the pig pasture. (607-583-2225, ext 230; farmsanctuary.org). Rates start at $110.
Long weekend: Orenda; Johnsburg, NY (4½hrs from NYC by car) This 40-acre retreat within the massive Adirondack Park offers a customized experience, depending on your skill level and how much you actually want to commune with the great outdoors. Gourmet treats, such as portobello mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese, are made from locally farmed ingredients and prepared for you over an open flame. Set off on a casual afternoon walk through the woodland terrain or embark on a six- to eight-hour guided hike ($25) through the pristine mountain landscape. The truly adventurous can test their mettle whitewater rafting on the Hudson River ($80), rock climbing ($185) or spelunking ($185). Where to stay: Novices and seasoned outdoorsy types alike will appreciate the canvas cabins, complete with beds, wood-burning stoves and heated showers. (347-287-7359, camporenda.com). If you opt to take a train, the camp offers pick-up from the station. Rates start at $135.