Keep the spirit of the summer road trip alive this Columbus Day weekend. From the countryside of Pennsylvania to a wine tour of the North Fork of Long Island, here are three ways to spend the long weekend.
Old Fashioned Fun on the North Fork
In autumn, Long Island farm stands are electric with mums, the beaches are warm enough for a jacketed walk, and fun abounds at the numerous wineries. After being in the car so long, let the kids stretch their legs at Harbes Family Farm’s Barnyard Adventure (715 Sound Avenue; Mattituck). The Harbes Family is famous on the North Fork for their destination farm stands — Hot apple cider, donuts, pig races, hay rides, race a rubber duck and feed the baby animals. When bellies are growling, head to Love Lane Kitchen in nearby Mattituck where lunch is served in a rustic cafe with checkerboard floors (think: lobster rolls, salads, stuffed french toast).
Don’t hesitate to go to the vineyards. You won’t get to all 36, of course, but many of the vineyards encourage families to picnic, explore the vines and listen to live music. While Martha Clara Vineyards is certainly the most kid-friendly, stop instead at Bedell Cellars, a winery located in a 1919 renovated potato barn, or their tasting room, Corey Creek, which encourages families to picnic on the lawn. If you’re only going to stop at one winery, don’t miss The Old Field Vineyards, whose wine has been featured in Bon Appetit and the Today Show. You drive down a long drive all the way to the Peconic Bay, where the tasting room is in a rustic, down-home barn. For more information about the North Fork Wine Trail, visit the website of the Long Island Wine Council.
Other hotspots: Tanger Outlets has a huge complex of stores, everything from Pottery Barn to Restoration Hardware, Justice and J. Crew. If you have time: Don’t miss the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. They pack a lot of marine life into a small space, with everything from penguins to sharks on-site. Perfectly sized for the pint-sized.
For the Kids: Longwood Gardens, Sesame Place and Crayola Factory!
Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA) is reason enough for a trip south. With over 1,000 acres of outdoor gardens and a four acre conservatory, you’d be happy on a walkabout. An indoor Children’s Garden will keep your kids interested (so will the insect eating plants), but there’s lots for mom and dad too. Think: a five acre fountain garden that shoots water 130 feet into the air. An Italian water garden inspires serenity, and many more gardens packed with the colors of fall. Even better, the Garden Railway sends small-scale trains in and out of bridges, tunnels and special water features.
About an hour east is the famed Sesame Place Theme Park (100 Sesame Road, Longhorne, PA), where your kids can shake hands with their favorite characters. If you go at this time of year, drop into the Count’s Spooktacular, a not-too-spooky take on Halloween, and don’t miss the age-appropriate rides.
From there, head an hour north to color your family’s word at the Crayola Factory (30 Centre Square, Easton, PA). Get to see how crayons are made, explore four floors of coloring-inspired attractions, and encourage your kids to color outside the lines.
Joy Ride: Road Tripping the Hudson
Columbus Day Weekend is the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair (Dutchess County Fairgrounds), so it’s the perfect excuse to visit this full-of-charm historic town. Beyond the fair, there’s lots of lovely shopping: My son loves Land of Oz toy shop, while I like to pop in and out of the home stores. I’m dying to go to Upstate Films, a center for film buffs located in town. There’s plenty of good eats in Rhinebeck, but you may want to reserve some snacking for the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market (61 Market Street, Rhinebeck), which operates an outdoor market on Sundays from 10am to 2pm through Thanksgiving. You know how crafty the Hudson Valley folk are — there are chutneys and jams, falafel, soups, granola, breads, pickles, and craft beer.
When you’ve finished here, take the Kingston-Rhinebeck Bridge over the Hudson, a thrill in itself, to tour Kingston, where cobblestone streets meet chic eateries and historic homes. Head to the Hudson River Maritime Museum, where the Hudson River Clearwater Sloop is docked, and you can learn about the Hudson River’s importance in the past and in the future.
From here, you’re only 20 minutes from Woodstock, an epicenter of artsy cool shopping. Think of it as the Brooklyn of the Catskills, only artisans were doing handmade way before Etsy (and Brooklyn) commercialized it. Its authenticity at its best.