We love to delight many New Yorkers with some hidden spots close by in our backyard. The Chuang Yen Monastery is one of those spots. Chuang Yen, meaning "majestically adorned", is just that, with the buddhas and the pristine grounds to peacefully wander and explore. Amongst other things, there is a temple, a zen garden, pond with koi, the 7 Jewels Lake, and the Bodhi Path. It's a lovely place to spend a couple of hours and a delight when you see it pop up next to residential homes. I.M.Pei, the renowned architect was responsible for the design. Nearby there is lake beach and some hiking at Fahnestock State Park, with kayaks and canoes for rent. Being quiet on the water felt like a proper way to honor the serenity of the monastery. This area of Putnam County is pretty quiet but there are some very scenic roads to drive on, albeit less quaint towns to pop into than most pretty drives. This itinerary can easily be combined with several others if you want it to be an "in route" stop, but we think it's a lovely few hours well-spent, all by itself. If in route, consider with Beacon, Cold Spring or Millbrook and Amenia. You get to see more pretty country roads that way!
DISTANCE: 58 MILES
GETTING THERE: DRIVE APPROX 1 HOUR AND 10 MINUTES
EAT: EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY YOU CAN HAVE A VEGETARIAN MEAL AT THE MONASTERY, BETWEEN NOON AND 1PM, OFFERED BY VOLUNTEERS
FOR GRILLED CHEESE, DOGS AND SANDWICHES, BLISS, IN THE TOWN OF MAHOPAC, IS THE PLACE TO GO
THE DECK IS GREAT FOR AN APERITIVO AND A SUNSET VIEW OVER THE LAKE AT IL LAGHETTO. IT'S A SWEET SPOT, ALTHOUGH NEEDING AN UPDATE, TO REST AND BE AMONGST THE LAKE HOUSES AND SPEEDBOATS.
LAS MANANITAS IS HARD TO DESCRIBE; PART RUSTIC LAKE HOUSE AND PART PALAPA WITH A BREATHTAKING MOUNTAIN AND LAKE VIEW AND VERY CLASSIC MEXICAN FARE.
TO DO: BRING A BLANKET AND A (VEGETARIAN) PICNIC AND SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS AT THE SERENE CHUANG YEN MONASTERY.
VISIT FAHNESTOCK STATE PARK AND TAKE THE KAYAKS OUT FOR A SPIN
N.B. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE MONASTERY IS A SPIRITUAL PLACE FOR MANY. THEY ASK NO ALCOHOL BE BROUGHT ON PREMISES AND FOOD BE KEPT TO VEGETARIAN FARE FOR PICNICS. SHOES ARE TO BE TAKEN OFF WHEN ENTERING THE TEMPLE.