10 Best Day Trips from NYC
Ask any New Yorker, and they'll tell you: City life is exhilarating, but sometimes you just need a break from sweaty subways and tourist-congested sidewalks. Here, 10 easy day trips — all within a two-hour radius — that promise a swift reprieve.
Asbury Park, NJ
An hour and 15 minutes by car or 2 hours by train from NYC
Asbury Park has been steadily reviving itself, adding a slew of new places to eat, sleep, and drink to its roster of long-standing bars, theaters, and art galleries. The delightfully retro Asbury Hotel and German-inspired Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten are two venues that have helped earn Asbury its shiny new "Brooklyn of the Jersey Shore" nickname. Everything in this seaside city revolves around the boardwalk – a stretch that houses the seasonal North Eats food truck park (selling homemade fruit pops, Peruvian ceviche, and gourmet street foods), as well as old-school spots like psychic studio Madam Marie's, the Stone Pony and its Stone Pony Summer Stage shows, and the Paramount Theatre. Don't leave without popping by the Storehouse retail collective for eclectic, vintage, handmade beach buys (reminiscent of the trinkets you'd find at NYC's Smorgasburg).
Fire Island, Long Island, NY
Just over 2 hours from NYC
Far from the honks of mad city cabbies, Fire Island and its 17 car-free villages and hamlets is blissfully without traffic noise or games of human frogger. The five-mile-long Robert Moses State Park, on the isle's western end, is a quieter version of Long Island's Jones Beach, drawing visitors with a lively marina and prime swimming and boogie boarding surf. After your fill of the beach scene, catch a ferry to Sailors Haven, in the the center of the island, and Sunken Forest. The one-and-a-half-mile-long boardwalk intersects the maritime preserve where, from the vantage of its wooden slats, you can peer out on the marshes, bogs, and various trees that flourish in the shadow of sand dunes. For a quick bite between beaches, Rachel's Bakery and Restaurant on Ocean Beach is the place locals gravitate to for ginormous chocolate chip cookies, flaky slices of pie, and black and white cookies that rival those from NYC's top bakeries.
1.5 hours by car from NYC
New York City has some of the best art collections in the world, but what it sorely lacks is the sheer outdoor space needed for an epic sculpture park. That's where Storm King Art Center comes into play, just an hour-and-a-half drive from the city. This 100-plus-piece collection of massive iron and stone sculptures unfolds on 500 acres of landscaped fields and rolling hills in the Lower Hudson Valley. After an afternoon in the sun, head to the Hudson Street Cafe in nearby Cornwall-on-Hudson to nosh on a specialty salad or sandwich, like grilled seasonal veggies on ciabatta with goat cheese and basil pesto. If you chose to take the train (or won a pre-trip designated driver coin toss), end your day at the Newburgh Brewing Company taproom with a funky brew – the tart Black Oyster Cult or aromatic Chile Lime Stout, perhaps – in hand.
Atlantic City, NJ
Just over 2 hours by car from NYC
Are you a city-based beach bum who’s sick of journeying to Rockaway or Coney Island for your sun and sand fix? If so, consider AC your breezy alternative. Here, after parking their coolers and towels on the sand, visitors can saunter along the iconic Steel Pier for rides on the Double Decker carousel and Ferris Wheel between dips in the Atlantic. After spending all that energy in the surf, lunch is in order. Dock's Oyster House, a sit-down spot whose raw bar features 10 oyster varieties, has been in business since 1897. Or, for a low-key lunch you can easily lug back to the shore, look for the red-and-white awning of the White House Sub Shop on the corner of Arctic and Mississippi.
One hour by car or train from NYC
Graveyard visits are usually a somber ordeal, but the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery offers the unique opportunity to see where a whole bunch of Rockefellers, Astors, and American author Washington Irving – the man behind the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" – have been laid to rest. If you're particularly into the tale, hit up the weekly Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown Farmer's Market, which promises not only fresh produce, cheeses, and wines but also a glimpse at the very spot where fictitious Ichabod Crane first saw the Headless Horseman. For a pick-me-up, let your foodie flag fly at Blue Hill at Stone Barns where, rather than ordering a specific meal, guests are invited to taste multiple dishes from a seasonal 'Grazing, Rooting, Pecking' menu featuring ingredients sourced from local Hudson Valley farms. If you happen to fall in love with the place (spoiler: you will), fear not. Back in the city, you'll find the original Blue Hill tucked away in Greenwich Village, near Washington Square Park.
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New Canaan, CT
1.5 hours by car or just over an hour by train from NYC
If you head to New Canaan for one thing and one thing only, make it a visit to architect Philip Johnson's stunning Glass House, a place he calls his living "diary." On a 49-acre estate in southern Connecticut, the all-glass structure is surrounded by 14 other buildings that utilize quintessential New England stone walls and barn foundations and feature a permanent collection of 20th-century paintings and sculptures as well as temporary exhibits. You can also dedicate a full day to artistic expression and nature with a visit to Grace Farms, an 80-acre former equestrian facility that now functions as a modern architecture showcase, community center, loaning library, and nonprofit incubator. Post-art binge, take to the communal tables at speakeasy-style Uncorked in the heart of downtown, where (if we were you) we'd polish off some local burrata with a glass of Sabine Rose.
1.5 hours by car or train from NYC
Dia:Beacon is the driving force that has so many day-trippers boarding the MetroNorth train to this charming town on the Hudson. The museum's impressive collection of 60s-era art is housed in an old Nabisco box-printing factory, where painting, photography, and sculpture galleries – like Bernd and Hilla Becher's black and whites of industrial architecture and Robert Smithson's crystalline formations – are heightened by natural light that filters in through skylights. Think it over with a craft beer and artisanal cheese plate at The Hop, but save some room to fit in another Beacon favorite: the Roundhouse. Right off of Main Street, the boutique hotel rocks one of the hottest al fresco patios in town, complete with an outdoor bar and postcard-perfect views of Beacon Falls. Start with Coach Farm's goat ricotta (with pine nuts, acacia honey, and arugula pesto) before diving into mains like farro and wild mushroom ragu or seared Maine sea scallops.
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North Fork, Long Island, NY
2 hours by car from NYC
Wine, wine, and more wine is what you’ll find on Long Island’s sprawling North Fork, perhaps best seen via self-guided vineyard tour. Palmer Vineyards, one of the area's original wineries, is a good place to start, where every one of its 20-plus varieties is produced sustainably from grape to bottle. The estate even hosts pig roasts, yoga sessions, and weekly TGIF pizza nights. If a glass of red is your go-to, make a beeline for the tasting cottage at family-owned Mattebella Vineyards, where you can sit back and sip through a flight of old-world Bordeaux-style wines while surrounded being by fig trees and rose gardens. Over on the east end of Southold Village is Old Field Vineyard, a fifth-generation family business that brings Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir to the table. After indulging in a light tasting (or grabbing a bottle to take home, if you're driving), leave time to learn more about the farm's dairy barn-turned-wine cellar and Old Park Hotel-turned-private family home.
Cold Spring, NY
1.5 hours by car or an hour and 15 minutes by train from NYC
Calling all hikers: a quick train ride from Grand Central Terminal is all it takes to reach Cold Spring’s Breakneck Ridge Loop, a challenging three-mile trek that rewards climbers with summit views of Bannerman's Castle and Storm King Mountain just across the Hudson. After working up an appetite, head to Whistling Willie's for a well-deserved victory meal that in our opinion should start with nachos and an Ithaca Flower Power IPA and end with a goat cheese-stuffed turkey burger. Conclude your trip with a stop at Stonecrop Gardens in the Hudson Highlands, whose 15 gorgeously diverse acres are blanketed in raised alpine stone beds, English flower gardens, and greenhouses of succulents and tropicals.
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2 hours by car or 1.5 hours by train from NYC
If the point of your day trip isn’t necessarily about escaping city life as much as it is escaping your city, might we suggest another? Trying to condense Philly into a best-of list is near impossible, but recently we’ve been excited by the casual comfort-meets-gourmet menu at the mellow Hungry Pigeon café in Queen Village (which garners extra points for their bib-wearing pigeon mascot). Work off the meal with an urban hike along the Schuylkill River Trail, a 130-mile path that, depending on your entry point, winds its way through downtown Philly, the Blue Mountains, or quaint Pennsylvania Dutch communities. For a more laid-back afternoon, the Spruce Street Harbor Park summer pop-up — with its floating beer garden, restaurants fashioned out of shipping containers, and LED-lit hammock grove — is a perennial favorite.
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