June 6, 2010

Day Trip: Fire Island

Every New Yorker knows that while the city is amazing, there comes a time when we need to leave, explore other places and rejuvenate. That time happens about, oh, every couple of months. Whether it's a day trip, a long weekend upstate or a week in St. Lucia, it's necessary to slow down and recharge our batteries. I've always said the mayor should set up a vacation fund for New Yorkers and require that we get out of the city every 60 days. At least.

First stop: total relaxation at...Fire Island! Only 60 miles from NYC is a 30-mile long, 1/2 mile-wide pristine oasis. The only way to get there is by ferry as cars aren't allowed on the island. There are many different towns to visit, some much more lively than others. Ocean Beach is the unofficial capital of Fire Island with lots of bars, restaurants and shopping. I prefer the quiet areas, like Sunken Forest at Sailors' Haven, where there are people around, but most are a half-mile down the beach. It's lovely.

Sunken Forest is great because not only do you get to enjoy the beach, you have the option to meander along a nature walk with 300-year old trees on your way to the beach. There are also a variety of animals to spot in the forest (they hang out in the "sunken" part, you're safe), including the big deer I saw on my last visit. And during the summer the MTA offers getaway packages, making the trip cheaper.

Ready to get to the deer and the beach? Here's how:
• Take the LIRR from Penn Station (34th St/8th Ave) or if in Brooklyn, from Atlantic Terminal (Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center subway station) to SAYVILLE. It's on the Montauk line and you may need to transfer--the conductor punching tickets on board will tell you. (Time: about 1.5 hours)
• Once in Sayville there are "taxis"--which are actually small shuttle buses--waiting at the train station to take you to the ferry. (Time: 10 minutes)
• The ferry will take you to Fire Island. (Time: 20 minutes)
• Once off the ferry, you can go to the left and get food, straight to go directly to the beach and/or restrooms or go to the right and walk through the Sunken Forest, which also takes you to the beach
• Last step: sweet, sweet relaxation...