Take a Fun Day Trip This Fall

These four easy getaways remind us why we love to hit the road in autumn.
fall day trips

Clockwise from top left: A Long Island vineyard, the bar at First and South in Greenport, Bedell Cellars vineyard in Cutchogue, the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton, Greenport waterfront and village. Photography: Thinkstock, First and South/Randee Daddona, Bedell Cellars, Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, GreenportVillage.com.

North Fork, Long Island

For millennials (or anyone) on a wallet-friendly day trip.
By Grace Kelly

The broke millennial is a breed that’s often hard for outsiders to notice. We’re trendy spenders: we have iPhones in one hand and cups of single-origin coffee in the other. But the reality is, we are broke as — well, I can’t say the word here.

But there is a light at the end of the money pit. Day trips are the broke millennial’s taste of luxury, a toenail dip in the pool of world experiences we can’t afford. To find some fun nearby, my boyfriend and I (two self-proclaimed broke millennials who are blessed with wanderlust) take a day trip to Long Island, land of Ina Garten’s popped collar, muse to F. Scott Fitzgerald and the namesake of a vicious cocktail.

The plan: A semi-affordable-but-further-than-Massachusetts trip.
The budget: With a $114 roundtrip ferry ticket (including self, car and boyfriend), we are hoping to keep it under $300.

Do we succeed? Read on.

The drive to New London from home is a mere thirty-eight minutes, and we board the ferry without a hitch.

The sea breeze blows our hair in our eyes, but we still enjoy the scenery, watching sailboats cut through the water and admiring two cute canine travelers. An array of attractive couples chat, all of them sporting preppy clothes. Good thing I wore my white pants, I think. To get the full Long Island experience, a dash of prep is necessary. My boyfriend, wearing jeans and T-shirt, clearly hasn’t gotten the memo. At least he’s wearing Sperrys.

An hour-and-a-half later, we dock on Long Island with a lurch.

With breakfast being the most pressing issue at hand, we consult Google maps (how millennial) and decide on the quaintly named Country Corner Cafe.

And what a wonderful suggestion from the all-knowing Google. I scarf down a delish plate of corned beef and hash, while my boyfriend opts for a more sophisticated sausage scramble on flatbread (fancy). Both are accompanied by the best hash browns we’ve ever tasted, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. countrycornersouthold.com

We swig our coffee before hitching up our pants and putting on a facade of decorum for our visit to Bedell Cellars, a vineyard down the road.

Long Island is known for its vineyards. You can’t drive ten feet in North Fork without seeing a sign cheerfully suggesting you ditch your beach plans and have a glass of wine instead. The vineyards run the gamut from rustic charm to full-on-fancy, so to splurge a little, we choose the latter.

Bedell Cellars belongs on the cover of a paperback novel set in a quaint seaside town, complete with the requisite hydrangea bushes. We get a table and a gentlemanly waiter with round spectacles and a sense of humor starts us on our tastings.

A metal container is graciously provided, allowing us to sip, swish and then spit the wine into it for a true wine-tasting experience. But who are they kidding?! What kind of person goes to a vineyard, spends $40 on wine flights, discerns a hint of blackberry and oak, and then spits it out? Definitely not the broke millennial.

We sip our wines, attempting to note the various textures and flavors, and are surprised at our lucidity.

“Wow, this wine is oak-y, but doesn’t dry your mouth out!” my boyfriend exclaims, holding up a glass of white.

I sip and am surprised that I too taste oak, followed by vanilla and a buttery finish.

After discerning our newfound wine chops and getting sufficiently tipsy, we wander the grounds, take Boomerangs of grape vines waving in the breeze, then leave to pick up lunch. bedellcellars.com

The vineyard was a splurge, so lunch is on a budget.

We visit King Kullen, an island supermarket, where we pick up some cheese, bread and fruit. kingkullen.com

Goods in hand, we drive down to Meschutt Beach in the crotch of the fork. Upon arrival, the seagulls caw (Jonathan, is that you?), we munch on our tres chic lunch, then hit the road to our final destination: Greenport.

Nestled on the coast facing Shelter Island, Greenport is a quaint town of boutiques, waterfront views and a vast array of trendy eateries. Being a food freak, this is my chance to cajole my boyfriend into eating at a not blatantly fancy place (we are on a budget after all) but a somewhat fancy place. He likes to joke that I have expensive taste, but sadly for his wallet, it’s no joke.

We decide on First and South, a restaurant where the nautical pillows are plentiful and the food is, too.

I go a little nuts, ordering a mezcal cocktail, peel and eat shrimp, blistered shishito peppers and a bowl of smoky seafood chowder (after all the driving we did, I was hungry!). He goes simple and gets a lamb burger. After inhaling our delicious victuals, we walk through the scenic town. firstandsouth.com

As dusk glides over Greenport, I do some mental math. Our broke-as-bleep-themed trip hadn’t burned a hole in my $10 wallet, rounding out to around $260 including the ferry ticket. Not bad, I think, as we get back in my car, the seaside town now cast in shades of golden sun. Not bad at all.

Nuts and Bolts

Travel time: Drive, West Greenwich to New London, thirty minutes. Ferry, New London to Orient Point, ninety minutes
Miles: Seventy-six roundtrip to New London, plus eighty-five on Long Island
How to get there: Take 95 S to New London, then the ferry to Orient Point
Best season to go: Late summer, early fall or late spring to avoid beach traffic
If you stay over: airbnb or Forever Bungalows
For the broke millennial, airbnb.com is the way to go. For a splurge, try an eco-friendly boutique hotel, Forever Bungalows, in Sag Harbor. foreverbungalows.com
Don’t miss: Greenport Harbor Brewery
If you have time to wander about Greenport, check out this stellar brewery. Not only will you be in with an uber hip millennial crowd, you get to drink great beer. Try the Pith N’ Peel IPA, a true explosion of citrusy hops that will have your eyes bulging in flavorful ecstasy. 234 Carpenter St., Greenport, New York, greenportharborbrewing.com
Worth a detour: Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
Jackson Pollock pushed the boundaries of the painted canvas and is now considered a pioneer in abstract expressionism. See where he composed his splattered works and walk on the paint-splotched floor. 830 Springs Fireplace Rd., East Hampton, New York, stonybrook.edu/pkhouse
Closer to home: Beer’d Brewing Company
It’s not wine, but if you or your craft-brew-fanatic S.O. want a taste of the golden nectar of the hipster gods, head to one of the best breweries in the northeast: Beer’d. Must-tries include the hop-tastic Hobbit Juice and the juicy, tropical Dogs and Boats. 22 Bayview Ave., Stonington, Conn., beerdbrewing.com

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