10 artsy daycation escapes from NYC to visit this summer

July 13, 2017

For some of us, the idea of a summer vacation is a fantastical memory from childhood, now seeming a far cry from demanding jobs and lack of PTO. But the same cultural rejuvenation can be yours—if only for a day. Whether by bus, train or if you want to get fancy and rent a car, an art-filled daycation could be just what you need this summer to get that vacation glow. From Jackson Pollock’s Hamptons studio and Dia Beacon’s minimalist art collection to the Rockefeller family’s historic mansion Kykuit and the Gilded Age ruins of Bannerman Castle, we’ve rounded up 10 artsy day trips that are just a stone’s throw from NYC.

1. Pollock Krasner House
830 Springs-Fireplace Road, East Hampton

Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner moved from Manhattan to this historic farm house abode in East Hampton in 1945, where Pollock continued to paint. Now, both the 1879 main house and studio barn–the floorboards of which still bear signature drips from Pollock’s art-making–have been carefully preserved as a museum. The house contains all the furniture and decor that were there at the time of Krasner’s death in 1894, many of which were there during Pollock’s lifetime, including his hi-fi phonograph, jazz record collection, and personal library. It also hosts rotating exhibitions.

Parrish Museum

2. Parrish Art Museum
279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill

Founded in 1897, the museum moved to the gorgeous new Herzog & de Meuron-designed building in 2012, set among a gorgeous 14-acre property in Water Mill. The giant barn-style structure houses an impressive collection of works from the 19th century to the present, with highlights that include Elizabeth Peyton, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Chuck Close. Don’t miss the current exhibition, “John Graham: Maverick Modernist,” which ends on July 30th, and multimedia artist Clifford Ross’ installation “Light | Waves,” large-scale digital prints of storms off the Long Island coast in East Hampton in the 1990s.

Pollock Krasner House, Jackson Pollock, Bannerman Castle, Parrish Art Museum, Escapes from New York, day trips from New York, Dia Beacon, Olana, Jack Shainman The School, Snug Harbor, Kykuit, Rockefellers

bannerman castleImage via Blues Guy from NY

3. Bannerman Castle
Pollepel Island, New York

The Gilded Age castle is visible if you’re paying attention whilst traveling on Metro-North, but the palatial structure was never used as a home. Built by Francis Bannerman to house the surplus of his arms dealership in 1901, the castle has been victim to explosions (from the obvious live weaponry on-site) and fire, but is now open for public tours that focus on the history, architecture, and/or gardens. Guests can also hike the grounds or buy tickets to one of the theatrical performances or fundraising food events.

dia beacon

4. Dia Beacon
3 Beekman Street, Beacon

Not far from Bannerman Castle is the epic Dia Beacon Museum, an enormous daylight exhibition space set in an old Nabisco box-printing factory. The museum houses the foundation’s collection of works from the 1960s to present day, heavy on the Minimalism, including pieces by Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and Anne Truitt. If that era isn’t your thing, think of the museum as one giant artwork itself.

jack shainman gallery The school

5. Jack Shainman, The School
25 Broad Street, Kinderhook

Gallerist Jack Shainman bought up an idyllic old school in upstate New York to transform into an artsy outpost escape from the regular gallery scene in New York. Open only on Saturdays, this year’s exhibition is “The Gold Coast Slave Castles of Paa Joe,” which honors the Ghanaian legacy of abebuu adekai, or fantasy coffins.

olana hudson ny

olana hudson ny
6. Olana
5720 State Route 9G, Hudson

Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church’s palatial Hudson Valley home is an odd architectural mix of Moorish, Victorian and Persian styles and is meticulously stenciled inside and out. The inside looks much like it did when Church lived there, as do the 250 acres of gorgeous landscape, designed by the artist himself. Take a tour of the main house, the landscaping, or both.

You can also check out this year’s featured exhibition “Overlook” by installation artist Teresita Fernández. Its 55 works from t he Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and 18 original site-specific pieces by Fernández examine Frederic Church and his contemporaries’ response to the cultures and landscapes experienced during their Latin American travels.

Kykuit, Rockefeller Estate, Tarrytown, Historic Hudson Valley

kykuit hudson valley picassosTop photo via 6sqft; bottom by Bryan Haeffele via HudsonValley.org

7. Kykuit
381 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow

The grandiose mansion built in 1913 was inhabited by four generations of New York royalty, the Rockefeller family. Today, you can tour the ridiculously fancy six-story house; the terraced gardens that contain Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller’s 20th-century sculpture collection with works from Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith; the Coach Barn and its many classic automobiles and horse-drawn carriages, and the underground art galleries’ rare collection of Picasso tapestries.

Pollock Krasner House, Jackson Pollock, Bannerman Castle, Parrish Art Museum, Escapes from New York, day trips from New York, Dia Beacon, Olana, Jack Shainman The School, Snug Harbor, Kykuit, Rockefellers

snug harbor gardens
8. Snug Harbor
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island

It’s true, Staten Island is technically part of New York City, but venturing there on the ferry makes it feel like a day trip–especially to the Shangri-la that is Snug Harbor. There is pretty much something for everyone there: a traditional Japanese garden, contemporary art, horticulture, performing arts and music, educational farming, all amid the idyllic grounds of a former 19th century home for sailors.

9. Mana Contemporary
888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City

Sure it’s closer than some spots within the boroughs, but traveling to a different state makes us feel like getting away. Mana Contemporary is a 35-acre art studio and exhibition space that opened in 2011, just as Jersey City was about to hit its boom time. Richard Meier’s hangar-like Mana Glass Gallery is the focal point; it’s a 50,000-square-foot, column-free space, one of the largest exhibition spaces in the country. Guests can also tour the famed architect’s model museum, as well as visit artist Ben Keating’s on-site metal-casting facility and get a behind-the-scenes look at the projects happening in the studios, from painting and sculpture to dance and film.

Current exhibits include: “Little Big Show,” a group show from Base 12 (a group of 12 NYC-based emerging and experimental artists currently in residence at Mana) about experiencing art in a post-digital age; In Between: Contemporary Iranian Art; and “Andy Warhol: The Original Silkscreens.” Also don’t miss the building’s exterior murals by Shepard Fairey, Bradley Theodore, and How and Nosm.

10. Grounds for Sculpture
80 Sculptor’s Way, Hamilton, NJ

Less than two hours outside of the city, New Jersey’s Grounds for Sculpture offer 42 acres to roam. Conceived by sculptor and philanthropist Seward Johnson, the property features plenty of his life-like works, among a total of 270 pieces including those by Jersey native George Segal, Kiki Smith, Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, and Beverly Pepper. There’s also a lovely restaurant to have lunch or dinner, landscaped gardens and a roving muster of peacocks, and six indoor galleries with rotating exhibitions. This year’s outdoor exhibition is “wind, water, stone” by Elyn Zimmerman in which slabs of quarried stone reference the artist’s attraction to archaic architectural form.



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  1. D

    Dia Beacon is a amazing. What a great list — I’ll definitely check out some of the others on here!

  2. N

    I love how a place on Staten Island is on this list haha does seem like such a far away place!