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Day: Bannerman Castle; Fishkill, NY (1½hrs from NYC by Metro-North)
Scottish immigrant Francis Bannerman VI made his fortune by selling surplus military stock purchased at the end of the Civil War; in 1901, he designed a massive arsenal warehouse on the Hudson River’s Pollepel Island to store his excess goods and equipment. The structure has decayed beautifully over the last century, and you can still see the picturesque ruins via a Hudson River Adventures tour. The excursion begins with a half-hour boat ride on the Pollepel, after which a guide from the Bannerman Castle Trust (bannermancastle.org) will walk you around the castle itself, plus the Bannermans’ adjacent summer home and garden. (prideofthehudson.com, 800-979-3370). Advance reservations recommended. Through Oct 28, times vary; $30, children under 12 $25.
Weekend: Swanky estates and the slammer; Newport, RI (4hrs from NYC by car)
Though many escape to this seaside town for sailing, Newport’s famed Gilded Age mansions (401-847-1000, newportmansions.org) demand equal attention. We’re partial to Rosecliff, which was modeled after a royal French garden retreat. After you ogle all the antique finery, take a stroll through the Brick Market Place (brickmarketnewport.com), comprising 25-plus specialty shops and food vendors.
Where to stay: Jailhouse Inn, a former Colonial penitentiary, built in 1772, has been converted into luxury lodgings that feature modern decor and cushy beds. A continental breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea and a close proximity to the sweetest sights in the area are among the swank amenities. (800-427-9444, jailhouse.com). Rates $140–$300.
Long weekend: Jawsfest: The Tribute; Martha’s Vineyard, MA (8hrs by bus and ferry)
Shark Week obsessives can celebrate those toothy man-eaters at this four-day fan event (Aug 9–12) held on the island where the seminal Spielberg thriller, Jaws, was filmed. Highlights include a big outdoor screening of the movie (Aug 11 at 8pm), preceded by a special tribute VIP appearances from cast members and screenwriter Carl Gottlieb. (jawstribute.com)
Where to stay: The cozy Twin Oaks Inn offers a choice between the Clark House, a bed-and-breakfast, or the Hanover House, a country inn. (twinoaksinn.net). Rates start at $175.
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