Escaping from the hustle and bustle of New York City doesn’t have to mean a long vacation. With a full tank of gas or by using the city’s public transportation, it’s easier than ever to get out of town for an unbelievable day trip.
Within two hours of the city, you can find a complete change of scenery: unplug in some nature, soothe your serotonin levels in the sand, or get cultured in upstate museums. Here’s our pick of the best day trips from NYC.
Editor’s note: please check the latest travel restrictions and opening hours before booking any trip and always follow government health advice.
1. Woodstock, NY
Why go: Although the infamous concert actually took place in Bethel, NY, there is still tie-dye to be found in Woodstock, NY, a town filled with arts and nature. A ban on chain stores keeps this town feeling free-spirited.
What to do: Get back to nature by taking a local hike up Overlook Mountain and take in the picturesque views from the top. Also, Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag, entices with unique gift stores and cafes.
Where to eat: There are a plethora of restaurant choices in the town of Woodstock, but for an extra special breakfast, you’ll want to take a 20-minute drive to the Phoenicia Diner, an elevated diner known for unbelievable pancakes and a recently released cookbook.
How to get there: The car is the fastest way to get to Woodstock, NY. Or from Port Authority, take a bus directly to Woodstock, NY.
Travel time: 2 hours by car; 2 hours and 45 minutes by bus.
2. Bedford- Katonah, NY
Why go: This part of Westchester is known for its rolling green hills and quaint hamlets with sleepy downtowns. It’s perfect for recharging on a wellness-focused day trip.
What to do: Start at the Katonah Art Museum, known for showing up-and-coming and established modern artists in a small but innovative setting. Afterward, an eight-minute uber ride will take you to the Richard Gere-owned Bedford Post, an 8-room luxury inn that hosts daily yoga classes in the sun-drenched barn.
Where to eat: The Barn, one of the two restaurants on the Bedford Post property is a casual, yet charming, wood-beamed room with a lovely porch for eating al fresco.
How to get there: Take the Metro-North Harlem Line to Katonah Station. Take a short taxi ride to the Katonah Art Museum.
Travel Time: The trip takes about 1 hour by train.
3. Asbury Park, NJ
Why go: With a multi-million dollar renovation, the Jersey Shore beach town of Asbury Park, most synonymous with Bruce Springsteen, has transformed into a destination with boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, and unique shops – while maintaining its funky edge.
What to do: Spend time relaxing on the beach but don’t miss the Wooden Walls Project, a public art initiative started in 2015 consisting of large-scale murals. Shop the quirky beachside boardwalk boutiques and don’t forget to book tickets for a show at the legendary rock venue, Stone Pony (reopens 2021).
Where to eat: The restaurant credited with transforming the food scene in Asbury Park is Porta, an upscale pizza spot in a breezy and lively location close to the beach.
How to get there: The quickest way to get to Asbury Park is by car, but it is also possible to take a subway and bus.
Travel Time: 1 hour 15 mins by car; 3 hours by subway and bus.
Follow our New York City Trail
Follow our New York City Trail
4. Beacon, NY
Why go: A hotbed of creativity in a historical blue-collar town; Beacon has art, fine dining, and shopping all along the Hudson River.
What to do: A stop at the Dia: Beacon is a must when day-tripping to Beacon. The light-filled 300,000 square-foot gallery space in a converted factory hosts conceptual large-scale art by Gerard Richter, Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra. Also, Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre outdoor sculpture garden, is a short drive away, bringing together fine art and fresh air.
Where to eat: The most charming setting to eat is Roundhouse, a farm-to-table restaurant overlooking a waterfall. Inventive favorites like Spicy Lobster Mac n’ Cheese pair nicely with a signature cocktail or a glass of wine.
How to get there: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station.
Travel time: The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes by train.
5. New Hope, PA
Why go: New Hope might be one of the most progressive small towns in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with a giant yearly LGBT festival, late-night bar scene, and artistic stores.
What to do: Shop ‘til you drop on Main Street or to take advantage of the scenery, rent a tube and drift down the Delaware River (reopens 2021) letting your urban stress melt away.
Where to eat: You won’t go wrong with Salt House, a charming gastropub located in a historical building built in 1751. Eat chowder by the fire in the tavern, steak frites in the upstairs library or oysters on the half shell “al fresco” on the stone patio.
How to get there: From Port Authority, take a direct bus to New Hope.
Travel time: 1 hour and 30 mins by car; 2 hours by bus, depending on schedule.
6. Rockaways, Queens
Why go: For a hip surf scene that is reachable by subway, grab your swimsuit and catch the A train to the Rockaways. Technically still in New York City (it’s in Queens), you’ll feel like you’re in a seaside town, but without the unbearable traffic.
What to do: Before you go, reserve your umbrella and beach lounge chair through Lido Beach Butlers (currently closed) at Jacob Riis Beach, and arrive to find everything set up for maximum relaxation. For a unique experience in the summer, book a tent at Camp Rockaway, a seasonal “glampground” located mere steps from the ocean, where the sounds of the surf will lull you to sleep.
Where to eat: The Riis Park Beach Bazaar concession stands have updated seaside fare including a weekly lobster boil at Rockaway Clam Bar (reopens 2021). Grab a picnic table on the boardwalk, crack open a beer, and groove to the live music playing most summer nights.
How to get there: Take the NYC ferry directly to Jacob Riis Beach or the A train to a shuttle bus.
Travel Time: The trip takes about 45 minutes.