Friday, June 14, 2013

Day Trip Destination: Rockland County

An Artists’ Enclave in Manhattan’s Backyard
By Valerie Williams-Sanchez

(NYACK, New York) June 12, 2013 – Balmy days, when sunshine glistens on leaves, are among the best for summer road trips. Ventures into neighborhoods and communities not-so-far away can provide affordable, otherworldly escapes from the day-to-day.
     Sight-seeing begins outside your window travelling in the country where nature flaunts full foliage, fragrant blooms like roses and jasmine, and light dances on rivers and lakes.
     Just a stone’s throw from Manhattan, Rockland County is a thriving community of artists, an enclave brimming with history and interest. Set against a backdrop of natural beauty, there are myriad sights, sounds and tastes to explore, as well as restorative departures that won’t bust your budget.
     To plan your excursion, a first stop should be the county’s website, Complete with a driving map and details on the area’s most renowned points of interest, Rockland Tourism-dot-com offers a thorough lay-of-the-land.
     Worth adding to the itinerary, the following short list includes a few suggestions (from a local’s perspective) on how to enjoy a few low to no-cost destinations that are slightly off the beaten path, or squarely in the mix of things, presented in a fresh way:

1. Just Buns Bakery – Specialty Bakery, Congers, NY

·WHEN TO GO:Dana Reyes bakes her signature Swirly Buns daily. But on weekends, 8 AM on Saturdays is the hour when her sweet little shop at 33 Lake Road, fills with the rich scent of freshly baked, Mallorca sweet bread-style pastry.

· WHAT TO EXPECT: This venue makes the list as a culinary destination worth trying for its artisan quality, yeast-based pastries. Hand-crafted of all natural ingredients, Just Buns’ new world ensaimadas have a light-as-air texture and delicious flavor.

· ON THIS DAY TRIP: Bring and fill a basket with Swirly Buns – they come in more than a dozen flavors, including top selling cinnamon and chocolate -- to enjoy along the way. Even mix-in a few savory flavored buns– like pesto, roasted garlic or roasted onion --for a tasty and inexpensive lunch that travels well. A dozen Just Buns’ Swirly Buns costs $23, and leaves room and cash to enjoy dinner dining at one of the areas finer restaurants.

· GETTING THERE: Cross the Tappan Zee Bridge into the county, exit in Nyack (the first exit across the bridge) and follow Route 9W north to Congers. Turn left onto Lake Road and continue a ¼ mile to the shop on the left. Visit for details.

2. Catherine Konner Sculpture Park -- Rockland Art Center, West Nyack, NY

·WHEN TO GO:Open sunrise to sunset, year-round, this destination will be a favorite among early birds and late-comers to the grounds of Rockland Center for the Arts, (ROCA). Serene and often provocative, the space at 27 S. Greenbush Rd., and the works featured offer a high-art escape, anytime.

· WHAT TO EXPECT: Free to the public, the outdoor walking paths offer distinctive modern art installations by local, Rockland artists, including: Bill Hochhausen, Pomona, NY (; Elaine Lorenz, Hawthorne, NJ (; Rodger Stevens, Nyack, NY (; James Garvey, Piermont, NY, (; and Grace Knowlton, Palisades, NY (

· ON THIS DAY TRIP: Bring your morning cup-o'-Joe, or better -- your hot cocoa, to sip while you stroll through Catherine Konner Sculpture Park’s two, scenic walking trails. Pack a sack lunch, or gnosh a few Just Buns’ Swirly Buns on one of the benches while you take in the sights and breath in the beauty.

·GETTING THERE: To get there from Just Buns, head back on Route 9W, to Nyack. Follow the signs, once past the Palisade Center. Also visit www.rocklandartcenter.orgfor details.

3. Downtown Nyack and Edward Hopper House Art Center – Nyack, NY

·WHEN TO GO: Nyack is home to more than a half dozen street fairs during the summer months. So, time your trip to coincide with one and enjoy a Nyack summer tradition, just one of the sweet charms of this quaint, riverside village founded in 1883.

·WHAT TO EXPECT: Crowds will await you on festival or fair days. But the hustle and bustle that typically intersects at South Broadway and Main streets, in Nyack’s Downtown, adds to its charm. Set against the backdrop of centuries old buildings and distinctive architecture as demonstrated by the Nyack Public Library, and U.S. Post Office buildings on South Broadway, Nyack is simply a refreshing place to be.

·ON THIS DAY TRIP: Spend the better part of the day exploring the shops, like Chocolaterie at 6 S. Broadway, Archive Home at 9 S. Broadway, and Colin Holmes at 13 S. Broadway, or visit the childhood home of iconic American, realist painter, Edward Hopper at his residence located at 82 N. Broadway.

·GETTING THERE:From ROCA, head due south on Rte. 59 into the heart of Nyack. There is ample metered parking, but bring plenty of change. The Nyack parking authority is prolific and unforgiving! Visit or search any of the shops listed on Facebook for details.

4. Piermont Flywheel Park – Piermont Landing, Piermont, NY

·WHEN TO GO: Bountiful spring and early summer blooms make for magnificent views mid-year. Noon through early evening, the sights and scents along River Road, the two-lane swath of roadway connect Nyack to Piermont come into full focus, with a lesser need for maneuvering past the hordes of cyclists who come to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

·WHAT TO EXPECT: Piermont is not known as a budget-shopper’s destination, but it does offer experiences that range in price, including world-class dining and art. Many of Piermont’s indulgences are worth the splurge.

·ON THIS DAY TRIP: Enjoy a leisurely walk on Piermont Pier; fly a kite at Flywheel Park (at 554 Piermont Ave.) alongside the venue’s namesake, an authentic rotating mechanical device used more than 100 years ago to store energy for Piermont’s first factory, The Piermont Paper Company. Visitors to commercial galleries at Piermont Landing, including the Piermont Flywheel Gallery at 223 Ash Street will enjoy local artists’ work and imagery, including collections by Catherine Minnery (, Sueim Koo, and CarlStoveland ( Relax and unwind with a viewing tour to end your day. A sampling of small plates at celebrity Chef Peter Kelley’s Freelance Café, or in his five star dining room Xaviar’s are among places to dine (reservations are recommended for the latter). O lar Restaurant, (reviewed in the New York Times Dinning section on Feb. 24, 2013), also offers memorable epicurean diversions. Follow your meal with a stroll along the pier. The views of the Hudson are a feast for the eyes!

·GETTING THERE: Take River Road from Nyack and drive through Grand View-on-the-Hudson, following the run of the River, into Piermont. Visit for artists’ bios and a calendar of events, including details on the recently held Piermont Art Walk, June 22, 2013.

5. The Market and the Filing Station -- Palisades, NY
·WHEN TO GO: At days end, once the cyclists have gone and traffic has begun to subside, make a final pit-stop that offers a little something extra. The 9W Market and the Filing Station are ideal locales in which to catch your breath before beginning your journey home, or to simply keep in mind for your next tour of through the area.

·WHAT TO EXPECT: A favorite among neighborhood locals, this community watering hole is a great place to be among friends. Locals lounge in Adirondack chairs or picnic tables and enjoy beer, wine and casual dining on grilled or bistro-style fare. The 9W Market and neighboring eatery, Filling Station (not affiliated with the Filing Station in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market), are located at 243 Route 9W, Palisades, NY.

·ON THIS DAY TRIP: Indulge in specialty entrees, fresh bakery items and pizzas, salads, sandwiches or other favorites, and desserts, as well as Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate offered year-round (served frozen in the summer months), coffees and espresso. Or, share a bench outside the Filing Station and make a new friend while you savor a scoop of Jane’s Ice Cream, a Hudson Valley favorite since 1985, made locally in Ulster County, Rockland’s neighbor to the north.

·GETTING THERE: From Piermont, follow River Road to the intersection at Route 9W. Drive south to the Palisades Parkway. Continue across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. Visit for menus and directions.

(c) 2013 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All Rights reserved.

No comments: