Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bushkill Falls: Waterfall hiking less than 2 hours from NYC

We spent weekends in June outside of Otisville, NY- a delightful area of Orange County just near the intersection of NY, PA and NJ. We went to PA to see Bushkill Falls, often touted as the "Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania." While this is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, we really loved this scenic little park, full of roaring streams leading to pretty waterfalls.

The main waterfall is right at the beginning of all the trailheads, so if you aren't much a hiker you can see the big falls right away.
But I highly recommend taking the time to meander through the Swiss Family Robinson-esque staircases to view the falls from other vantage points, and then embark on one of the 3 main hikes.

Swiss-Family-Robinson-Esque walkways & bridges, just like at Disneyworld
Since I was 7 months pregnant, we took it easy on the Yellow Trail, which was about an hour. It followed a roaring creek through the woods. We ran into very few people, but we went on a day that was a bit rainy so perhaps that deterred the tourists. There are other trails that range from 15 min to 2 hours.

A few more shots of our hike through the woods:

Ferns... lots of 'em
Bushkill Falls is easy to find, and costs $12.50 per adult. All the logistics can be found on their website.

After our hike, we had a delicious lunch at the Waterwheel Cafe, in the cute town of Milford, PA.

It has a breezy outdoor eating area alongside a stream, but the indoors next to the old Waterwheel encased in glass was also charming.
From Waterwheel's site
It has a lot of typical lunch foods like sandwiches and salads. I really enjoyed the Vietnamese Noodle Salad and rhubarb pie for dessert. Lots of homemade dessert options.

Last but not least, my husband couldn't resist the temptation of purchasing fireworks at PA's branch of famous firework chain Phantom Fireworks ... which you have to have an out-of-state license to buy as you can't actually shoot them in PA.

We both had to show IDs and sign waivers to get in this high security spot, manned by a slew of bored looking 16-year-olds on summer break.

Phantom rewards big spenders with a shout-out. I'm glad we didn't make the list:

I'm also glad my husband didn't buy this package for $1499. As the name suggests, it really might have been grounds for divorce.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Norwalk Islands: Your own private beach near NYC!

Recently, we discovered where to have your own private beach near NYC! I almost hesitate to publish this because it was so remote and wonderful. But... it's your lucky day, if you are willing to embark on a rigorous kayak journey to get there. 

The Norwalk Islands are a little chain of over 25 islands just off the coast of Norwalk Connecticut... right off of Calf Pasture Beach. Hop on a train from Grand Central to East Norwalk, and you'll be there in about an hour. The walk to CPB is about 20 minutes. We rented kayaks at Norwalk Sailing School (cash only!) and set off on a 3 hour journey around the islands. Paddling out was relatively easy. We travelled to a few of the nearby islands... most had rocky shores but were easy to land on. (I recommend wearing water shoes like Keens - it was hard to walk on the rocks barefooted)

We discovered one little uninhabited spot and set up our umbrella and chilled out. The water was pretty cold, and smelled a bit lake-ish, but was still nice to take a dip in on a hot summer day.
The ride back was a bit challenging, since we caught high tide and a bit of wind. I'd suggest checking tide times online prior to renting, so you aren't trying to paddle against the tide.

Calf Pasture Beach looked pretty nice and not too crowded - and you can rent chairs for $5! There was a nice burger joint and clean restrooms. We didn't really spend much time here, but plan to return.

Calf Pasture Beach 
After our big kayak adventure, we hitched a ride to a little area by the water where there were seafood shops, a pizza joint (Partners Cafe) and ice cream stands. This is also walkable from Calf Pasture Beach - probably about 20 minutes, and about a 10 minute walk from the train station. We enjoyed pizza followed by shakes from Mr. Frosty's ice cream stand:

 (photo credit: Videler photography)