Summer is the best and worst time to be a 20-something living in the city.

  • spirits are generally higher during the summer (I dare you to find me a New Yorker who prefers the winter to the summer — I still have PTSD from my first gray, frigid, snow-laden winter in the city)
  • there is so much to do! Parks, BBQs, festivals, rooftops, beer gardens, you name it!
  • plenty of work holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc)
  • it can be a money suck (a pattern I’ve noticed: happier friends = more alcohol consumption = more money spent)
  • sweaty bodies on the subway and the smell of hot garbage on the streets
  • plenty of work holidays… when your co-workers are vacationing to their summer homes, and you are vacationing to… your tiny apartment
  • While there are a lot of amazing things about New York City in the summertime, I’ve come to realize how important it is to leave every once in a while. Without these mini mental health breaks, I become stressed and strung out; I didn’t know how restorative it could be until I was in the middle of some woods, smelling fresh air again. The challenge? Finding a way to “vacation” without the cost of airfare, hotels, or house rentals.

    Over the last two weekends, I’ve discovered two easy, cost-efficient ways to escape the city for a day.


    The first, hiking: my friends and I took a day trip to Hudson Highlands Gateway Park, and got to witness this incredible view of the river (no skyscrapers as far as the eye could see). Fortunately, I have a car in the city (borrowed from my brother), but for those who are searching for hikes accessible by public transit, look no further than this handy list.


    The second, the beach: I spent this past weekend at the Rockaways. The fact that I am less than an hour subway ride away from salt water, sand and bright blue open skies feels like some sort of small miracle. Looking around from my beach towel on Saturday, I kept thinking about how far away I felt from the city, even though I wasn’t that far at all. The change of scenery helped to clear my mind, not to mention give me the dose of Vitamin D my sunlight-deprived skin has been missing.

    Although these options won’t keep me from daydreaming about an extended vacation somewhere tropical, they do add balance to my life while keeping my wallet happy. The great escape can be right in your own backyard — I hope this post offers a little inspiration on how to find it.