Getting Artsy + Outdoorsy at Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson Valley

Getting Artsy + Outdoorsy at Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson Valley

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a museum person. While I can appreciate the historical and cultural significance of art, there are very few museums that can hold my attention for more than 30 minutes. I’d rather be out and about doing something than simply looking at paintings or sculptures. But this weekend I discovered an art museum that’s perfect for adventure-loving active travelers: Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson Valley.

An easy day trip from NYC, Storm King is an expansive sculpture garden that features large-scale sculptures set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains, hills, and woods. With more than 100 sculptures and installations sited across 500 acres, I’d more accurately describe it as a sculpture world vs. a garden!

Storm King Art Center :: An Easy Day Trip From NYC

It seems like I’ve been day tripping to the Hudson Valley every weekend this fall, and with good reason: the scenery out there is stunning all season long. After spending my week squished like a sardine on the subway, battling the crowds of Times Square on my way to work and waiting in line for hours at Whole Foods, an escape to the peaceful riverside towns and foliage-rich mountains of the Hudson Valley is just what the doctor ordered.

Despite these frequent trips, I hadn’t heard about Storm King before. So when I read about what a cool place it was, I knew I needed to put it on the weekend agenda before it got too cold out.

After Camila and I arrived and parked, we began to wander around and explore the sculptures in Storm King’s South Fields. I personally loved the red steel sculptures by Mark Suvero, which really stood out against the natural backdrop and were fun to photograph. The “Mother Peace” sculpture caught my eye with an unexpected peace sign in the middle, which was a symbol of the artist’s opposition to the Vietnam War. Interesting tidbit: “Mother Peace” actually once stood in front of the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland, California, until officials realized its message and had it removed.

Another attention-grabbing piece at Storm King was the enormous “Three Legged Buddha,” a work inspired by Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s travels in Tibet. Nearly 28 feet tall, the forged copper sculpture depicts a three-legged Buddha whose foot rests on a large human head, almost as if it’s stomping this person into the ground. This behemoth was clearly one of the most popular sculptures, with visitors crowding around to snap photos and pose next to the head. While many of them pretended to pick its nose or climb out of its ear, we simply chose to smile!

The “Three Legged Buddha” is located in a sugar-maple tree grove along with several other works by Huang.

Storm King Art Center :: An Easy Day Trip From NYC

Artist Zhang Huan's Replica at Storm King Art Center

While we did venture into some of the Museum Hill section of Storm King, we didn’t have enough time to explore the entire garden or make it to the other sections, North Woods and Meadows, before the park had to close at 4:30. Damn you, early sunsets!

Since Storm King closes for the season at the end of November, the window of time left to visit this year is pretty small. But I’ll definitely be planning a return trip in 2015 to complete the tour and capture even more interesting photos in a different season.

Storm King Art Center :: An Easy Day Trip From NYC

Storm King Art Center :: An Easy Day Trip From NYC

Usually I don’t quite “get” abstract art, as I just can’t wrap my mind around a random shape or object being something worth talking about. But when the sculptures are placed in the great outdoors, they instantly become much more interesting. Plus it was nice to be roaming around outside, getting some exercise and taking in the scenery instead of wandering around a stuffy museum.

Storm King Art Center :: An Easy Day Trip From NYC

If you’re into art, you’ll definitely want to visit Storm King Art Center. But even if you’re someone who isn’t (like me!), it’s still a fun and easy day trip from NYC. The area also has hiking trails on the nearby Storm King Mountain to the east and Schunnemunk Mountain to the west if you’re looking to spend more time there.

Practical-Stuff

  • Storm King Art Center is located about a 1.5 hour drive from NYC, and admission is $15 ($8 for students).
  • If you don’t have a car, a Coach USA bus departs from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan at 10:00 a.m. The $46 ticket gets you round trip transportation and admission to the sculpture garden.
  • Another way to get there that will end up costing you about the same is via NJ Transit. Take the train from Penn Station to Sailsbury Mills ($16 each way), and then a taxi to Storm King.
  • If you want more flexibility to explore the area, Enterprise rental cars offers a 10% discount to Metro North riders. Take the Poughkeepsie train from Grand Central to Beacon ($15.25 each way) and call them 20 minutes before you arrive. A representative will meet you at the station (reservation required). When you leave, you can simply drop the keys in a drop box.
  • When I looked, daily rental prices seemed cheaper in Tarrytown, another Metro North stop. While this town is an hour away from Storm King, it is on the way and it would make sense to stop here if you’re going to save money. It’s also a very cute town to have dinner in before you head back to the city!
  • While the car rental option is the most expensive, it’s probably the best choice if you want the freedom to drive around the surrounding area, check out local restaurants or the Beacon Flea Market on seasonal Sundays.
  • Storm King is open from April through November from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 or 5:30 p.m., but it’s closed on Mondays + Tuesdays.
  • Wear long pants and appropriate, closed toe shoes as you’ll be walking through grass.
  • You can explore the sculpture garden on foot, on a bicycle rented at the museum, or via tram.

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