Five boroughs, 3 counties. A quarter tank of gas. The Toyota Corolla hybrid is a low cost solution to day tripping around New York City.
Even with gas prices at record lows, I am always about saving gas. This is for environmental reasons, but saving money at the ump is an added bonus. Whether gas is $4 a gallon, or $1.72, 55 mpg costs loss.
I recently spent a week taking advantage of blue skies, low traffic, and a suite of safety features packed into the bargain priced Corolla.
Trip to Outer Banks?
Fort Tilden, a semi-wild beach sandwiched between Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways and Breezy Point gives the appearance of being in theOuter Banks. Yet, this is Queens. Swaying beach grass and empty biking / running trails let you maintain social distance. We took a day trip here and literally saw no one as we crisscrossed the paved trails. Fort Tilden can be accessed by walking over from Jacob Riis, which has a huge parking lot. You can also walk over from Breezy Point, but the private community has no public parking.
The adventuresome can bike here. It is about 32 miles round trip from my Brooklyn neighborhood.
Note that with much of New York still on pause, public restrooms are closed.
Cultural Access Denied
On Staten Island, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden encompasses museums, gardens and a performing arts center. All are currently closed, but the grounds, with gorgeous trees in bloom, are open. And dog friendly. And with free parking!
We wandered around here and saw exactly no one. There was one other car in the parking lot, but the 83 acres were empty. We looked at the 19th century buildings and peered into the lush gardens. This was a delightful retreat from the crowds in our local park. And it is a worthy destination for NYC tourists, leaving the bustle of the city without leaving the city.
Rockland & Orange County Ramble
Hiking is one of the best socially distant exercises. We drove to Harriman State Park, which straddles Rockland and Orange counties. Parking is free (get there early!) but due to Covid-19 restrictions, bathrooms are closed. Water fountains are also turned off, so bring plenty of water for a hike.
Once we got a few minutes into our hike, we saw very few hikers. Harriman offers over 200 miles of hiking trails. We chose a four and half mile loop, with a two mile accidental addition.
Many New Yorkers have decamped to their parents’ homes in Westchester, just north of NYC. My niece and nephew, who live in Brooklyn and Queens, respectively, have been quarantining in their childhood bedrooms. We were able to spend a gorgeous late spring afternoon in their suburban backyard, easily keeping six feet apart.
If you are a cyclist, Bicycle Sundays are a prime reason to get out of the city. On Sundays in May, June and September, bicyclists, runners and walkers swarm the Bronx River Parkway, which is closed to motor vehicles.
Westchester also has 6 18-hole golf courses.
Fort Tryon Park
So technically we never stopped in the Bronx, though we passed through it twice on the way upstate. But we did spend a day at Fort Tryon Park, just a couple of miles from The Bronx in Inwood.
Fort Tryon is home to The Cloisters. The museum, part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, specializes in medieval arts. The Unicorn tapestries are spectacular. But the museum is temporarily closed, and besides, it was a beautiful day. We walked around the flowers gardens and wooded areas. The park was extremely crowded (it was Memorial Day) but some of the more remote parts were blessedly quiet.
[Note: on one of the narrow wooded paths, we chanced upon a naked couple enjoyed a midday tryst.]
The museum has free parking. You can also the A train, but the stop, 190th Street, is deep underground and not for the claustrophobic. It is also a steep climb to the museum. We have also biked here, but that hill is brutal when you are 18 miles from home. And have to ride back.
Zipping around NYC
The 2020 Toyota Corolla (MSP: $22,950) has Apple CarPlay, 60/40 spit rear seat (you can fit 2 bikes in) and an 8 inch touchscreen. There is only 1 USB charge port.
Safety is foremost. The small sedan has pedestrian detection – important in NYC, where people dart out from every direction – lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. This automatically adjusts the car speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
The quiet hybrid engine is rated at 53 miles per gallon in the city and 52 on the highway. We actually did better, getting almost 55 mpg combined. Gas prices are low right now, but conservation is always important.
Note: Toyota loaned me the 2020 Corolla hybrid. Opinions expressed are my own.