Take In Views Of The New York City Skyline At This Beautiful State Park

Combining the stillness of nature with the grandeur of a city is a seemingly impossible task; yet, New York's Bear Mountain State Park enables you to do just that with its scenic day hikes. You'll be fully immersed in nature as you hike its 200 miles of trails; but when you reach certain summits, you'll look off into the expanse and, rather than seeing hills and trees and bodies of water extend for miles, you'll find the New York City skyline twinkling in the distance. Modern architecture and ancient trees are all within view when you venture out to this park.

The park is located along the Hudson River and is about a 90-minute drive from New York City, depending on traffic. It's relatively quick and easy to get to if you're looking for an escape in the great outdoors. It's ideal for those who love both cities and nature and can't decide on which they prefer. The park essentially gives you the best of both worlds. If you're looking for a unique place to hike or for an opportunity to step outside of the city on your next trip to New York City, then Bear Mountain State Park is just for you.

How to spend your days

Bear Mountain State Park consists of more than 5,000 acres. To see the New York City skyline, head up to the Perkins Memorial Tower. You can hike or drive to the summit. In addition to hiking and biking, you can also fill your time here with everything from swimming to visiting a zoo with animals from the region. The park has its own pool, which is open during the summer months. The zoo, which is made up entirely of rescued animals that likely wouldn't make it in the wild, is open year-round. Donations are accepted for admissions costs, though you have to pay for parking. If you visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can rent pedal boats and spend your day out on the water. You can also take a spin on the park's merry-go-round, an especially great option for those visiting with kids.

If you prefer winter activities, you can test your endurance with cross-country skiing, throw on some skates and grace the ice while ice skating, or try your hand at snowshoeing. While you can't rent skies and snowshoes, you can rent skates at the park's ice rink. Admission for the ice skating rink is $5, and rentals are $10.

Visiting and lodging

If you're trying to stay for a weekend or a couple of days, you can camp out at the park. The campground is open from May to September and starts at $18 per night. You can book your campsite far in advance, nine months to be exact. If camping isn't your forte, you can book a couple nights at the Bear Mountain Inn or, you can rent a stone cottage, which gives you a rustic feel while also treating you to modern amenities. These options are available year-round. 

The best time of year to visit depends entirely on your preference. If you prefer a less crowded park, then avoid peak season, which is July through September. Otherwise, choose for yourself if you want to visit in the autumn when the leaves are turning, in the spring when new life is forming, in the winter when snow blankets just about everything, or in the summer when everything is lush and opportunities for outdoor activities abound.

Next time you're looking to get out of the city but also want to keep it within view, head to Bear Mountain State Park. You'll find yourself spending time in nature while being within sight of the city.