A stolen summer day: outside

sand island sacandaga lake

Sometimes the best places to get away are a little out of the way.

If you're lucky enough get a summer day all to yourself -- no work, no commitments, no rush -- you've gotta spend it outside, right?

Because as cold and harsh a winter's day here can be, we also get some of the most beautiful summer days -- bright blue skies with puffy white clouds, warm sun, and the occasional cooling breeze.

So we asked a handful of people who love spending time outdoors how they'd spend a stolen summer day...

Aaron Mair
Aaron Mair is president of the Sierra Club, and a resident of Schenectady

aaron mair sierra club 2015

I would slip out early for a three hour drive to Point Judith, Rhode Island and get a day pass to Block Island to sun and swim on the beach at the Great Salt Pond.

Laura McCarthy
Laura is an artist, outdoor enthusiast, and conservationist at Audubon New York

laura mccarthy kayaking

I'd steal a summer day kayaking to Sand Island! My friends and I plan a "hooky day" here at least once a summer for a day of picnicking and swimming, kayaking the short (but sometimes choppy) paddle in the Great Sacandaga Lake from the Broadalbin Boat Launch. Sand Island (and the other islands in the lake) were hilltops before the lake was created when the area was flooded in the 1930s. When the water is high, the sandy beach is covered and you can actually kayak around in the woods. It's just gorgeous with huge trees, the clear water, sandy bottom, and Adirondacks in the distance. A perfect summer day! It's a busy destination on weekends, when big boats ring the island and tie up for the day though, so stealing a weekday off is the best time to enjoy it.

Julie from Julie Journeys
Julie writes about her many travels at Julie Journeys

julie from julie journeys camping

I always have too many to-do's on my summer bucket list, but if I could steal a perfect summer day I'd whisk away to Dippikill. I'd be greedy and make it a whole weekend! I try go camping at least once a summer and as a SUNY alum Dippikill is my go to spot in the Adirondacks. I love stopping at Oscar's Smoke House in town for tasty local treats, chopping wood for a huge fire, making s'mores, hiking up the mountain, and cooling off in the lake. The best part of the camping trip is leaving the technology behind in exchange for eyes on nature and ears on the people you go with. The skies are so dark up in the Adirondacks gazing up at the stars you can see the Milky Way clouds. No summer of mine is complete without a revitalizing camping trip to peaceful Dippikill, right in Albany's backyard!

Jona from zeelemons
Jona writers about hiking, running, life and other topics at zeelemons

jona 13th lake camping

If I could steal an extra summer day, I would return to Thirteenth Lake up in the Adirondacks. I spent three days here a couple of weeks ago and wish I had planned more down time on the water for kayaking. It's a small lake, I believe only two miles in length, with a couple of campsites along the shore accessible by boat that I'd love to explore. Also worth noting is the abandoned garnet mine just a short hike from the shores of 13th Lake. It's quiet -- you can't hear any traffic -- and I didn't have any cell service, which is a must when playing hooky.

Jen from Jen is Green
Jen writes about running marathons and hiking to become an Adirondack 46er at Jen is Green

jen is green mountain top

On my ideal summer day I would get to sleep in and make breakfast at home--preferably pancakes. And then I'd walk over to Troy's Riverfront Park for one of their free outdoor yoga classes. Outdoor yoga with views of the Hudson is pretty nice. Then I would walk back home and pack my daypack and head to the Adirondacks for a short hike. Some of my favorites include Black Mountain, Crane Mountain, or Hadley Mountain, all of which are not too far from the Albany area. Or if I was feeling a bit more adventurous, I would go mountain biking with my boyfriend and ride the trails at Luther Forest, Thacher Park or Grafton. My stolen day would most definitely be spend outdoors on a trail somewhere. On the way home, we'd order a pizza from DeFazio's in Troy (the smoked mozzarella) and bring it home for dinner. Then we'd walk over to Rare Form for a beer or The Shop for a fancy cocktail. Yum!

Chris from Albany Wayfarer
Chris writes about running, hiking, and everyday life at Albany Wayfarer

albany wayfarer mountain top

This summer I've been looking forward to going back to the Dix Range in the Adirondacks for a combination of backpacking and hiking. I think all camping is great, but there is something special about hiking in, being away from cell phone temptations, and enjoying the wilderness and the company (or lack thereof).

Duncan Crary
Duncan is a writer and publicist

duncan crary tugboat
photo: Neil Grabowsky

Before binge-watching TV shows on Netflix reduced my brain to a cottage cheese-like mush, one of my "guilty" pleasures was binge-reading novels. Now I can't even remember the last time I had an all-day affair with a great novel. So if I could snatch up a summer day all to myself, I'd paddle out to one of my favorite islands and slowly spend it in my hammock, reading and snoozing and swaying in breeze.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A stolen summer day: eating
+ A stolen summer day: wandering


Thanks for these posts AOA and friends! What cool ideas, and fun to see so many islands mentioned. I have some wonderful friends to thank for introducing me to some the most magical (and otherwise almost inaccessible) places to paddle. For those looking for local spots to explore by kayak, the link in Duncan's entry is a perfect place to start - great places and so close, too.

As an aside, I took the photo at the top on Sand Island last year when their was a little more beach. When I went in July, we could kayak right through all those trees.

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