By Jonathan Sperling
Looking to get away from Queens this holiday season but feeling overwhelmed by the options? We picked five budget-friendly getaway ideas that will let you escape the hustle and bustle of the borough without straying too far from home:
Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street, Flushing
Going on a trip doesn’t necessarily mean you have to venture outside the borough. The Queens Botanical Gardens, located just a short bus ride from the No. 7 train, features nearly 40 acres of plants, an arboretum and an art gallery, as well as educational programs. The garden is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and admission is free through March 2019.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
175-10 Cross Bay Blvd. Broad Channel
You can’t trek from mainland Queens to Rockaway without passing through this oasis of plant and animal life located in Broad Channel. More than 330 species of birds call Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge home, but if birding isn’t you thing, a walk around the West Pond Trail offers views of the Manhattan skyline, sans the noise and smell. Using a car or bicycle is your best bet when getting to the refuge, but the A train will also take you within reach. Entry is free.
Port Jefferson, Long Island
Looking for a trip a bit further out? Suffolk County is home to an array of quaint villages, including Port Jefferson, or “Port Jeff” as it is affectionately known. Located on Long Island’s North Shore, Port Jefferson features a harborfront community complete with fine and casual dining options, shopping and hotels. An off-peak Long Island Rail Road ticket from Jamaica costs $10.50, so no worries if you’re without a car.
The Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx
Approximately 4,000 animals call The Bronx Zoo home, and with its proximity to the New York Botanical Garden, there’s no shortage of things to do if you choose to visit this sprawling, 265-acre zoo. The zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and an adult admission ticket costs $22.95. However, an MTA package nets you admission, plus a Metro North Ticket from Grand Central Station to the zoo, for $22.50.
Don’t be fooled by its distance from Queens — Beacon is just an 80-minute Metro North ride from Grand Central Station.Visitors will enjoy Beacon’s quaint-but-busy Main Street, varied food options and Dia: Beacon — an enormous modern art museum located in a former Nabisco box printing factory, among other Dutchess County novelties. A round-trip MTA ticket package that includes museum admission and Metro North tickets can be had for $39.50 and comes complete with stunning views of the Hudson River — just make sure you sit on the correct side of the train.