Falltime Fun II: Off-Season Travel

Having the beach to yourself means no large senior citizens in speedos. I'm talking to you, Coney Island.

In that last (first) post I was pseudo-bitching about dragging my toddler to fall-themed events, as if checking festivals off my list would help us to enjoy this best of all seasons any better.  Well, what I mean to write about here is all the very very lovely things about autumn in New York. The leaves are just beginning to turn.  I’ve been constantly roasting root vegetables while listening to Blonde Redhead’s In an Expression of the Inexpressible – perfect moody falltime music – and eating humiliating quantities of candy corn.  I have the feeling that once the park is crispy with fallen leaves Harper is going to very much enjoy frolicking in some nice disease-infested piles.

Another wonderful thing about fall, I think, is the option of local off-season travel.  Last week we – Adam, Harper, and I — spent a few days in Montauk.  We’ve now done this twice, this October and last, which I think contributes to our feeling that Montauk is an enchantedly quiet little fishing village belonging to us and us alone.  (Does something happen to the Hamptons in the summer? Hm – I wouldn’t know.)  We went during the week, too, which made it even cheaper (you know, for New York), and more peaceful.  I highly recommend this for a relaxing family trip, but not on the days when we go, when I think everyone else should stay away.

The drawbacks of traveling off-season are obvious: most of the famous seafood restaurants and lobster shacks are closed all winter (we happen to believe in our family that fish, seeing as how it smells like fish, is totally gross, so we’re fine with this), and you can’t go swimming.

The view from our hotel room. Weirdly, we have the exact same view from our Brooklyn apartment! Well, sort of.

But the joys of it! Our hotel room at Ocean Beach(with kitchenette – pretty important when traveling with a toddler) had a perfect view of the ocean and was a relative steal, price-wise.  There seemed to be only be two other guests in the whole place – a slightly creepy Boomer couple who kept setting up their tripod to take photos of themselves looking pensively out to sea (?!).   Harper was overjoyed to race around on the empty beach and not have any bigger kids steal her bucket – a huge, private sandbox!  We strolled around the tiny downtown area and had lunch at a cute diner where we enjoyed the novelty of being somewhere uncrowded (which almost never happens in our daily life).  The wonderful Bake Shoppe was open and happy to serve me as many scrumptious scones and muffins as my pregnant self desired, which was many.

On the drive home, we stopped at Hank’s Pumpkin Town in Watermill.    Now, I would like to highly recommend this place, as we had the most charming of afternoons there, but I should note that I remember driving by it on our way home from Montauk last year on a weekend and how it was so incredibly crowded that it literally caused a traffic jam for miles in either direction.  It seems like there are also more things going on there on weekends – there’s U-Pick Apples and pony rides and a pretty killer looking hayride – and maybe for bigger kids these things are worth it.  But little Harper didn’t miss a thing, and had a terrific time strolling around the muddy Pick-Your-Own pumpkin patch and racing around playing on the idiosyncratic homemade playground equipment.  We got back in the car with a tired-out kid ready to nap all the way home, a bag of delicious apples, a few lovely pumpkins and the lingering quandary of where you put a jack-o-lantern when you live in an apartment.

Harper picks a pumpkin.

Oh, and the best thing about traveling during the week?  No Sunday-evening traffic heading back into the city! Joy!

Enjoying something called "fresh air."

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