This trip begins in one of the world’s most magnificent train stations: the beautifully restored Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan. We suggest starting early in the morning, when tens of thousands of commuters are pouring into the city for a hard day’s work, as it is particularly sweet to stroll through the station against the imposing human tide. Ride the Metro-North train heading in the opposite direction of the masses, toward Rowayton, a lovely, relatively undiscovered Connecticut coastal district in the city of Norwalk, less than an hour from Manhattan.

Folks there hit the water in a number of ways. For those who aren’t skilled enough to sail with confidence and who prefer a more intimate experience than a motorboat can offer, kayaking is the perfect way to experience the small, traditional New England village. Local outfitter Downunder Kayaking is great for visitors because it provides equipment, safety gear, and a place to rinse off and change after your excursion. The experienced staff will briefly instruct you, and then you’re on your own to explore the river at your leisure. While you glide on the water, be sure to take in the bird life -- snowy egrets, great blue herons, and cormorants are common in this region -- and enjoy the view of the great estates built along the waterway, which separates Rowayton and the town of Darien, another prosperous Connecticut area. Several islands are close enough for experienced kayakers to reach, but newcomers are discouraged from venturing so far out, as quickly changing weather conditions can make a return trip difficult. After several hours of paddling through the area’s creeks and around the inlets, you’ll feel like you know Rowayton -- or at least its seductive, working waterfront, where lobster boats are still mixed in with pleasure crafts.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to the Downunder Kayaking office and rinse off. You can grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants within walking distance of the docks or grab a hot coffee and a sandwich at the deli above the office before returning to Manhattan.