Everyone needs to escape from the concrete jungle from time to time. And our centrally located city allows even the car-less to take easy, affordable, and convenient day trips. All you need is a free Saturday, some friends, and a sense of adventure, and you can flee for sand and surf, charming river towns, or nostalgic boardwalks without too much trouble.
The name of the game is accessibility, and it couldn't be more simple to plan a trip to the outer boroughs, upstate New York, or (gasp!) New Jersey. We've rounded up some stellar day trips for outdoor types, foodies, architecture and art lovers, adventure seekers, and music aficionados. And there are plenty of activities for both the budget-savvy and the high-roller (and everyone in between).
day trips to take this weekend. Is it Friday yet?
Asbury Park, NJ This beachside town is on the upward swing in recent years, thanks to a glossy new hotel opening and a flurry of new condo developments. But for the most part, the quiet coastal charm still retains. The Boardwalk is where you should spend your day stuffing yourself with Korean tacos, homemade popsicles, and fresh oysters.
Getting There: Asbury Park is a two-hour bus ride away from Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo: Courtesy of Asbury Park Boardwalk More
Trenton, NJ There's no better way to deepen your understanding of the land you live in than a trip to the bedrock of the American Revolution. Trenton, the capital of Garden State, is a great day trip destination for history buffs and museum lovers. The gargantuan New Jersey State Museum should at least take up half your itinerary, with its wide-ranging collection of art, Native American artifacts and a planetarium. The Old Barracks Museum — which has lived many past lives as a military compound, a brothel, and a window's private residence — will also provide you with a better understanding of colonial life via musket firings and war reenactments.
Getting There: Trenton is a stop along the NJ Transit line from Penn Station. The train ride will take about 55 minutes. Photo: Courtesy of Visit NJ More
City Island, The Bronx To see a little-known side to The Big Apple, take a jaunt up to the Bronx to experience the quaint and sleepy City Island. This narrow island has a cozy small town vibe, despite being just a 35-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan. Get your fresh seafood fix at Johnny's Reef and The Lobster Box, two of many old-school surf shacks by the marina. Take a stroll around this tiny town and you'll be intrigued by its many quirks: In true patriotic fashion, the majority of the houses are decked in American flags, and you might come across a buried treasure or two in Early Ruth Art & Antiques.
Getting There: Take the 6 train to Pelhem Bay Park subway station and transfer to the Bx29 bus. Photo: Courtesy of nyc.go More
There's no shortage of picturesque towns in New England, but Kent is postcard-pretty on a whole different level. You can hike up the ethereal waterfalls or picnic under the lush foliage at Kent Falls State Park, which boasts some of the loveliest greenery in the tri-state area. Stop by for a cone at
Annie Bananie Ice Cream, a family-owned parlor serving homemade gelato from upstate New York.
Getting There: Kent is a two-hour drive from New York City. Unfortunately, the Metro-North station at Kent has long been defunct, but you can get a taxi from the nearest station at Wassaic, New York. Photo: John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images. More
Red Bank, NJ
Red Bank might just be The Garden State's best kept secret. Teeming with cute boutiques and hearty American-Italian eateries, this riverside town is often praised for its residential quality of life. The destination also impresses on the arts and entertainment front — check out the musical revues at
Count Basie Theatre and plays at Two Rivers Theatre. Should you decide to spend the night, there's the lovely Molly Pitcher Inn — a red brick waterfront hotel that looks like something straight out of a storybook.
Getting There: Red Bank is easily accessible via the North Jersey Coast Line of the New Jersey Transit. It can also be reached by bus via Coach USA, Academy Bus and other operators. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bank Visitors Center More
Thunder Ridge Ski Area
These are no unfathomably steep Colorado peaks, but they
are some solid ski slopes just 75 minutes outside of NYC. Whether your a skier or a boarder, a novice or a Black Diamond aficionado, you can grab a lift ticket (and a lesson if you need it), get in a whole day on the slopes, and still make it back to Brooklyn by bedtime.
Getting There: On weekends and holidays, you can get a Thunder Ski Trip package that includes Metro-North fare to Paterson, NY and then a shuttle straight to the slopes. Photo: Getty Images. More Read More
Edward Hopper House
For fans of the quintessential "
painter of light and shadow," there's no better place to nerd out than at the home of the artist. The Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY hosts contemporary exhibitions as well as iconic works and memorabilia from the American icon himself. There are also gallery talks, music in the gardens, and other events.
If you're not familiar with Hopper's work, well, a) where on earth have you been? But b) if this
1946 quote by critic Clement Greenberg doesn't pique your interest, nothing will: "Hopper simply happens to be a bad painter. But if he were a better painter, he would, most likely, not be so superior an artist."
Getting There: The drive from NYC is just an hour, but if you're feeling the public-transport route you can hop on Metro-North to Tarrytown and then take the Tappan Zee Express Bus to Nyack. You're guaranteed some gorgeous Hudson Valley views either way. Photo courtesy of the Edward Hopper House Art Center. More
For shoppers in the tri-state area,
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is the real Mall of America. Except it's not quite like any other mall in America; in typical Westchester fashion, this shit is fancy. Woodbury stores include Tory Burch, Celine, Bottega Veneta, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Burberry, and Coach — all outlet versions, of course, which means savings of up to 65%.
Getting There: Oh, the ways you can go! The Woodbury Common website lists a few dozen, from shuttles to taxis to Metro-North. And don't forget: "Helicopter service available." Obviously. Photo: Getty Images. More
This bucolic gem is actually situated within — surprise! — the Bronx.
Wave Hill 's sprawling public gardens have been a landmark of urban greenery for 50 years, and if you wander them enough, you'll definitely forget you're in NYC and not just lost in the woods. There's also a cultural center with rotating exhibits and educational activities for kiddos and adults alike.
If you're up for a half-hour walk (and what New Yorker isn't?), you can take the 1 train all the way to the end (242nd street and Van Cortlandt Park) and enjoy the stroll through Posh Bronx, a.k.a. the Riverdale neighborhood. Or you can just hop on the
free Wave Hill shuttle — either at the 242nd street subway stop or the Riverdale Metro-North station. Photo: Getty Images. More
Mohegan Sun It's not Vegas, but for an overnight — or even just a day — this huge complex has plenty to keep you entertained. There's the 30,000-square-feet casino, two spas, and an incredible indoor/outdoor pool. Play slots or Black Jack, shop, catch a show, or dine at one of the 40 restaurants (whether you want to go upscale at Bobby Flay's Bar Amercain or just enjoy some Chick-Fil-A). This isn't the ultimate cultural getaway, but when you're bored in March and it's gloomy outside, Mohegan Sun is a great escape. Getting There Mohegan Sun is a two-hour drive from New York City. Greyhound offers daily bus service. If a train is more your speed, take Metro-North from NYC to New Haven, connect to Shore Line East for New London, where you can pick up a free shuttle bus. More
Princeton, NJ You don't have to be a high school senior to spend a day at the home of Princeton University. Even non-academics can enjoy a few hour wandering around the picturesque campus (either on your own or through a walking tour). For history nerds — or just fans of Hamilton — the Princeton Cemetery, final resting place of Aaron Burr among other notables, is a must-see. Once you've walked up an appetite, find out why students and locals alike have been hitting up Hoagie Haven since the 1970's. For dessert, Halo Pub and their ice cream and espresso is a must. Getting There: For the carless, you can get to Princeton via New Jersey Transit. Trains leave from Penn Station; from there, transfer at Princeton Junction to the Princeton Shuttle, a one-car train also known as the Dinky, to get to Princeton proper. Megabus also makes several trips daily. More
Bannerman Castle, Fishkill, NY If you ever have the urge to explore abandoned buildings, we have the perfect day trip for you. Bannerman Castle is most often glimpsed by eagle-eyed MetroNorth riders, looking out of place on an island in the Hudson River, not in the English Countryside. But you don't have to fence-hop or trespass to get a closer look. The Bannerman Castle Trust offers tours, either by ferry or kayak. During the tour, you'll learn about the island's past as an armory, as well as enjoy the garden and grounds. The island also hosts several live performances a year; check the website for latest dates. Getting There: Tours depart from Beacon, NY, as well as from Newburgh, NY, on both sides of the Hudson River. The Beacon tours depart directly across the street from the Beacon Station stop on MetroNorth, making it easily accessible to anyone without a car. Trains depart frequently from Grand Central, with an additional stop in Harlem, before heading up the Hudson Valley. More
Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate, Sleepy Hollow, NY If you love historic estates, you’ve got to make the trip up to Sleepy Hollow to see the home of four generations of Rockefellers. Here you’ll see breathtaking architecture, sprawling gardens, and remarkable views of the Hudson Valley. The 6-story house holds innumerable pieces of art from renowned artists including Picasso and the gardens contain Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller's impressive collection of 20th century sculpture. Immerse yourself in history, art, architecture, and even nature with this single day trip.
Getting There: Take Metro-North from Grand Central Station to Tarrytown. From Tarrytown, you can walk 15 minutes to the destination or take a cab. The total trip takes about an hour. Historic Hudson Valley offers a special $5 discount for visitors who purchase a round-trip Metro-North ticket and a Kykuit tour ticket in advance online. See details here. Photo: Remi BENALI/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images. More
The Bronx Zoo As the largest metropolitan zoo in the country, The Bronx Zoo offers award-winning exhibits and a diverse collection of animals. It's managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization devoted to animal rescue and wild land conservation around the world. Here you can come face to face with animals from the African plains to the Himalayan Highlands.
Getting There: The zoo is located within Bronx Park, and there are a number of public transit options (see here for more info). The zoo is about 50 minutes from Midtown. Photo: David Handschuh/Getty Images. More
Warwick Valley Wine & Distillery, Warwick, NY Delight your inner wino by spending a day at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery in the mid-Hudson Valley. Explore the apple orchard (where more than 60 different varieties of apple are grown), or simply enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley while sipping a glass of cider. Then it's on to the tasting room, located in a renovated apple-packing house, where you can sit back and sample Warwick Valley’s many wines, ciders, brandies, and liqueurs. Grab a bite at the café, or take in some free live music on the tasting-room patio (every weekend afternoon between 2 and 5 p.m.). It's an unbeatable combination of food, drink, music, and nature that makes for a perfect escape from city life.
Getting There: Driving is best (there's no direct train route between NYC and Warwick), and it'll take around two hours from Manhattan. See here for more info. Photo: Courtesy of Warwick Valley Wine & Distillery. More
Fire Island A closer (and less pretentious) alternative to the Hamptons, Fire Island is a cluster of villages and hamlets off the southern coast of Long Island. There are no cars allowed on the island, but you won't need one, as everything is accessible by foot or bike. You'll find plenty of restaurants, shops, bars, and outdoor preserves, and the island is also home to several dedicated LGBTQ communities (The Pines and The Grove). Whatever village you visit, the beach is never more than a short stroll away.
Getting There: Ferries depart from several different ports on Long Island, and you can drive or take the LIRR to those points. Find more info here. Photo: Getty Images. More
Philadelphia It's less than 100 miles from NYC, and Philly has loads to do and see in a day. Experience some of America's most significant historical attractions, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed). There are also plenty of beer halls where you can grab a pint, plus lush outdoor spots that are prime for an afternoon picnic. But you can't come to Philly without having a cheesesteak at Geno's or Pat's. Don't let the lines intimidate you — they move quickly.
Getting There: Amtrak goes from Penn Station to Philly multiple times a day and takes around 90 minutes. It's under two hours by car. Photo: REX/Shutterstock. More
Brooklyn Botanic Garden If you haven't been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you don't know what you're missing. Since the early 1900s, the vast and breathtaking grounds have provided New Yorkers with an unlikely escape from the fast life of Manhattan — a place to experience some urban horticulture, and revel in the majestic beauty of the trees, flowers, and other plant life. Spring and summer are the best times to visit, when the gardens are in full-bloom and the lily pool terrace is at its most serene. There are also indoor exhibitions, should you encounter any untimely April showers.
Getting There: The gardens are located in Prospect Park, and there are are many subway stops and bus routes nearby. See here for specifics. (About 35 minutes from Midtown by subway.) Photo: Liz Ligon / Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. More
The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, NY Perched on a hill in upper Manhattan, The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, houses a world-class collection of medieval art surrounded by 67-acres of gorgeous gardens, stunning river views, peaceful vistas, and flowering walkways. Enjoy lunch at New Leaf Restaurant, housed in a 1930s cottage — the shady patio is perfect for dining al fresco.
Getting There: Take the A train to 190th Street (about 30 minutes from Midtown) and a 10-minutes' walk through Fort Tryon Park. Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More
Coney Island, Brooklyn There’s no shortage of beachy nostalgia at Coney Island. For a yesteryear experience, cruise the boardwalk or take in a Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame. Adrenaline seekers will love the 125-foot steel Thunderbolt roller coaster (and the 90-degree drop), while sentimentalists and food lovers should opt for a hot dog or two at the original Nathan’s Famous or a pie at Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano (cash only, no slices). And, of course, a ride on the Cyclone is obligatory.
Getting There: D/Q/N/F subways to Stillwell Avenue (about 75 minutes from Midtown). Photo: Courtesy of Coney Island. More
Rockaway Beach, Queens This seaside hot spot in Queens is a hip, up-and-coming destination. Rent a surfboard, sunbathe, or go for an invigorating swim. Sample the grub at Rockaway Beach Surf Club (from the same chef as dearly departed Rockaway Taco) or head to Rippers, which doles out juicy grass-fed burgers.
Getting There: Hop the A train to Far Rockaway (1 hour from Midtown) or take the LIRR from Penn Station to the Far Rockaway station. Photo: Courtesy of New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. More
Dia:Beacon, Beacon, NY Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon is an ideal visual escape. Housed in a stunning 300,000-square-foot space, this light-filled contemporary art shrine exhibits incredible pieces by world-famous artists (think Warhol, Louise Bourgeois) and grand installations (including Richard Serra’s metal sculptures). Stroll the lush gardens and grab a bite at the locavore spot Homespun Foods.
Getting There: Take Metro-North 's Hudson Line from Grand Central Station to Beacon, then walk a short distance to the museum (85 minutes from Midtown). Photo: Courtesy of the Dia Art Foundation. More
Glass House, New Canaan, CT Architect Philip Johnson’s iconic, steel-framed Glass House, built in 1949, sits perched atop a 47-acre estate. This simple, sophisticated transparent box is a celebrated residential dwelling. The 2016 season will feature such exhibits as , a magnificent landscape installation consisting of 1,300 floating steel spheres. Tickets required; reservations strongly recommended. Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden
Getting There: Take the Metro-North New Haven line from Grand Central Station to New Canaan (about 75 minutes from Grand Central). Photo: Courtesy of the Glass House. More
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY Located on an old Rockefeller estate, Blue Hill Farm is a working farm, education center, and home to a top-notch restaurant helmed by chef Dan Barber. Stroll the peaceful grounds, tour the barnyard, and enjoy the delight of eating the day’s harvest as part of chef Barber’s multi-course tasting menus. A restaurant this popular requires advanced reservations. Grab iced lattes, light snacks, and baked goodies from the café to enjoy on the train ride home.
Getting There: Take the Metro-North Hudson line from Grand Central Station to Tarrytown (about 35 minutes) and a 10-minute cab ride to the farm. Photo: Courtesy of Blue Hill Farm. More
Governors Island From Manhattan, a free ferry ushers you to 30 acres of blissful (car-free) green park at Governors Island. Enjoy a picnic lunch, lounge in a hammock, eat ice cream, rent bikes, and kayak (free of charge). Check out one of the guest food vendors and grab a cold brew at Little Eva’s. In August, the fashionable Heminway-esque Jazz Age Lawn Party showcases an array of 1920s costumes and musical performances.
Getting There: Take a ferry from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 (only on Saturdays and Sundays). Photo: Courtesy of Governors Island. More
Cold Spring, NY Experience the arty, charming, and well-preserved 19th-century town of Cold Spring, 50 miles north of Manhattan, along the Hudson River. Enjoy the leisurely pace, take in the rolling hills, and go hiking, kayaking, or biking. Pack a basket with some provisions (think cheese and charcuterie), a bottle of your favorite Champagne, and set up an epic picnic.
Getting There: Take the Metro-North Hudson line from Grand Central Station to Cold Spring (about 75 minutes from Grand Central). Photographed by Laura Miller. More
Asbury Park, NJ Embrace your inner Jersey girl (or guy) at this boisterous summertime haven, made famous by Bruce Springsteen. You'll find Victorian architecture, a lively 130-year-old boardwalk scene (with old-school spots like a pinball museum), and vibrant live music. Don’t miss the artisanal pizza at Porta's, or the raw bar at Asbury Oyster Bar.
Getting There: Take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station to Asbury Park (about 98 minutes from Midtown). Photo: Courtesy of Asbury Park. More
Storm King, Mountainville, NY The picturesque, open-air sculpture collection at Storm King is set on 500 rolling acres and includes 100 strategically placed works by unique artists, à la Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Moore, and Andy Goldsworthy. Pack a picnic lunch and take a leisurely bike tour of the surrounding grounds. Afterward, sip a cold drink or a grab a quick nap by Maya Lin’s Wave Field.
Getting There: Coach USA (Short Line Bus) offers day packages to Storm King, leaving from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Click here for more details. Photo: Courtesy of Storm King Art Center. More
Arthur Avenue If you stop by Arthur Avenue, locals will tell you you’ve discovered New York’s real Little Italy. Less crowded than its Manhattan counterpart (and a bit harder to get to by subway), this stretch of Belmont Avenue in the Bronx has had an Italian presence for over 100 years. Artisans from Northern Italy were originally recruited to live in the area and help construct the Bronx Zoo just up the road. The community they created around Arthur Ave remains a vibrant neighborhood full of stores selling cheese, handmade pasta, cannoli, pizza, and olives. You could spend a day wandering from storefront to storefront, but don’t miss Teitel Brothers, a fourth-generation salumeria that has been declared the best pork sausage in New York (never mind that the owners are Jewish). Grab pasta from Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodles, and try some fresh mozzarella from Casa Della Mozzarella. For dessert, you can't beat cannoli from Artuso. After all that dining, consider a stroll to the nearby zoo or New York Botanical Garden, both worthwhile destinations in their own right. Getting There: Take the 4 or D train to Fordham Road or the 2 or 5 Train to Pelham Parkway; then, board the Bx12 Bus headed west. Alternatively, take the Metro North Harlem or New Haven line to Fordham Road. More
Tarrytown, NY Located right off Metro-North, Tarrytown is most known for being home to Sleep Hollow (yes, as in the Headless Horseman). But the town offers much more for a day trip than haunted history. Just steps away from the train station, you'll find the town's main street. Full of breweries, brunch spots, and boutiques, it's easy to spend an afternoon exploring. A bit further away, you can meet up with the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail for an easy hike or stroll. And yes, just a few miles up the road is the Old Dutch Church, the (alleged) home of the headless horseman.
Getting There: Even those with a car may find it easier to forgo their own wheels for a ride on Metro-North. Trains leave several times an hour. If you grab an express, it's a 39 minute trip up the Hudson. Photo: Getty Images. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? You Have To See The Crazy Cool Food From Disney World's Pandora Soon You'll Be Able To Fly To Italy For Less Than $200 Wait, You Can Fly To The Caribbean For $79 Right NOW? BRB