The ordinarily perspicacious Thrillist.com misses badly today by recommending the Circle Line's "Bear Mountain Oktoberfest" cruise.
It sounds perfectly grand. You take a boat from a midtown Hudson River pier, ride up the river a few hours to Bear Mountain State Park, walk around, admire the changing leaves, go drink some beer and eat some food and dance to some oompah music, and then ride the boat home.
DON'T DO IT. Danger, Will Robinson.
Carrie and I got suckered into this deal last year. Autumn leaves! Beer! Outdoor dining! Three of our most favorite things ever.
We signed up and paid the high ticket prices happily, bucolic visions of dunkelsbier and fall colors dancing in our heads.
OK, there's a few things wrong with this rosy picture. Ready?
First, everybody and his brother and his brother's dog thought this was a good idea. The boat is small, ridiculously overcrowded, slow, and stinky.
Second, once you actually *get* to Bear Mountain, which is lovely at other times of year, you'll find that "Oktoberfest" involves long lines for mediocre food and worse beer, with incredibly craptastic "music" playing in the background. Which you have to climb a steep incline and take a long walk to get to. (Some of the more geriatric folks in our party looked as if they might be in imminent danger of a coronary, and I must admit that I was breathing pretty hard myself.)
Thankfully, Carrie and I had packed a small picnic lunch as a backup (Faicco's cold cuts, fresh fruit and cheese) which took the curse off of the poor offerings at the "festival." But as soon as we were off that damned boat, did some deep-breathing exercises to calm down and got to a place where we could raise a faint cell-phone signal, we found out where the nearest Metro North station was, arranged emergency taxi evacuation from the Bear Mountain Lodge to said railroad stop, and drank several stiff ones in the tavern by the station as we waited for the train that would carry us home to Manhattan.
On the way back down to our own little Island of Misfit Toys (the tracks run parallel to the river) we passed Old Stinkpot, the Circle Line boat, on its way home.
You've been warned.