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    North of NYC North of NYC By Houlihan Lawrence By Houlihan Lawrence by

    We love the big city, but when it morphs into a concrete-lined kiln infused with unfortunate aromas (namely on subway cars trash day sidewalks), it can be just a tad overwhelming.  Here's why we think spending summer north of the urban jungle can't be beat:

    You can eat outside with amazing scenery.

    [caption id="attachment_11003" align="alignnone" width="428"]05027afedb8d11e2a3aa22000a1f97a4_7 Enjoying a refreshing scallop ceviche over Beacon Falls.

    Eat over a roaring waterfall at The Roundhouse in Beacon, catch jazz brunch-on-Hudson at The Rhinecliff or take in the Palisades at Harvest-on-Hudson.  And if you live here, sometimes the best outdoor dining is literally right in your backyard. Besides, haven't you seen enough copy-paste downtown terraces with exposed brick and rodeo lights?

    You can ride a roller coaster after work.


    Even Coney doesn't have this many Wacky Waving Arm-Flailing Inflatable Tube Men.

    Really, where else in the burbs can you do this?  Rye Playland is like the niche Coney Island, with more art deco and without the freak shows (and you needn't spend an hour on the Q train to get there). Nothing says summer like a gut-wrenching ride on a spindly seaside coaster, and the venerable Dragon Coaster delivers.  Come enjoy America's only county-owned amusement park in the country and see where Tom Hanks shot the Zoltar scenes from Big.  Sure, there's no Nathan's, but who needs it when we've got Walter's?

    It smells. So. Good.

    [caption id="attachment_11002" align="alignnone" width="448"]1208193_428346993933781_1245700591_n Union Hall General Store in Salem Center: An olfactory nirvana.[/caption]

    Have you caught some of the aromas wafting through Katonah or Scarsdale lately, namely those with $40 scented candles or other artisanal wares?  It's more than just fresh air and keeping rubbish bins *behind* buildings: some of our Main Streets literally smell like lavender, clean laundry and Mrs. Meyer's aromatherapeutic cleaning products to the point you'll want to cuddle up on the curb and take an afternoon nap, and for that we're working our bragging rights.  (Plus, our waters are more than just a bit more pleasant to sniff than the Gowanus).  Consider the alternatives.

    You can be on a boat.

    [caption id="attachment_11005" align="alignnone" width="448"]boats Classier than that booze cruise you took from Chelsea Piers.

    From paddling the Hudson to speeding through the Sound on a Hinckley, there's every opportunity to enjoy life on the water.  Kayakers can row past Bannerman's Castle and West Point, while those adept with a second oar can fish by permit in our area's countless reservoirs.  And for jetsetters who don't have docks of their own, the yacht clubs of the Gold Coast are accessible paradise.  Enjoy with or  without the Nautical-themed pashmina Afghan.

    It's closer than the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore.


    Summertime is the most precious time, especially after winters like this last one.

    Penn Station?  No thanks.  Thankfully, our portal to Metropolis is America's most celebrated cathedral of rail travel and a pioneer in locavore grab-and-go.  Enjoy your ride over a mason jar filled from one of six rotating taps at Beer Table-to-Go (in the Graybar passage), or iced coffee from the Hudson Valley's own Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (roasted right in Millerton), and chortle in your joy that you're not noshing on dollar slices and tall boys.

    You don't have to endure three-figure temperatures waiting for the train.

    [caption id="attachment_11004" align="alignnone" width="428"]db9efc4ea1f011e284c322000a1fbca9_7 "Who wants to play 'what's that smell?' while we wait?"

    Because the station isn't a subterranean blast furnace. Save the soaked shirts for the waterpark.

    Fire department parades.


    We can't all have ticker tape parades.  Nothing brings out small-town pride like a polished LaFrance piloting the crimson convoy down Main Street, and it's a great way to keep the kids occupied.  Follow Big Red to the carnival, then have your screams for ice cream answered late into the night at famous King Kone in Somers (which scoops past 10pm on weekends).

    Drinks at our place!

    [caption id="attachment_11012" align="alignnone" width="428"]602309a100134aca840a8987aab8563e_7 From chic cocktail lounges to historic watering holes, the Hudson Valley has it all.[/caption]

    We're giving you excitations for picking up good libations.  Nothing says "summer" like a cold adult beverage, and with wine bars, breweries, a roof bar stradding a smokestack in Irvington and now a biergarten by Heartland Brewery in the old Port Chester train station, you can pick your poison and your scene.  Did we mention Whole Foods and DeCicco's markets offer growler refills (if the craft beer grocers in Beacon or Croton-on-Hudson aren't on your errand route)?  Good, good, good, good libations.

    It's bike paradise.

    [caption id="attachment_11011" align="alignnone" width="428"]91150240503411e1abb01231381b65e3_7 Walkway over the Hudson is a higher, bike-friendly High Line.[/caption]

    We're confident the NYPD won't be ticketing pedalers on the region's impressive mileage of scenic bike trails.

    It's all just a train ride away from the city.

    Whether you're escaping for a weekend or forever, everything you love about the big city is always comfortingly close.  It's the best of both worlds.

    Photos: E.J. Kelley
    Playland images courtesy Emily Prager.