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Photograph: Jerry L. Thompson

New York State’s 20 coolest out-of-town spots

Discover the top travelworthy destinations in the state

Written by
Cindy Augustine
Tolly Wright

From bucolic cultural hubs and wine trails to sleepy towns and go-to restaurants, a whole other world lies outside New York City's borders. These are just a few of the many weekend getaways you can enjoy if you're into, you know, fresh air, quiet spaces, fewer people and those sorts of things. Whether you're planning an extended vacation or just a quick day trip from NYC, these cool spots will have you almost forgetting about the bustling city. Just as a precaution, though, if you hear banjos, run.

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Coolest out-of-town spots in New York State

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

1. Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Get your fix of critter cuteness at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, where you can meet nearly 300 goats, pigs, chickens, sheep and assorted barnyard beauties who freely wander the 110-acre property. Since its launch in 2001, the rehabilitation center has taken in around 2,000 neglected and abused farm animals. And yes, you can give 'em a cuddle. 316 Old Stage Rd, Saugerties, NY (845-336-8447,

Best for: Cuddling cute animals

Getting there from NYC: 2hrs by car; 2hrs 10mins by bus to Kingston, plus a 10mins cab ride

Kate's Lazy Meadow

2. Kate's Lazy Meadow

Kate Pierson and her partner, Monica Coleman, opened the quirky motel dubbed Kate’s Lazy Meadow in the Catskills more than a decade ago, attracting ironic urbanites to its kitschy neon-colored rooms, Eames furniture, Airstream trailers and Norman Rockwell–like cabins ever since. 5191 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY (845-688-7200,

Best for: Getting kitschy in the Catskills

Getting there from NYC: 2hrs by car

Yaddo Gardens

3. Yaddo Gardens

Yaddo Gardens is an artists’ community in Saratoga Springs set on 400 verdant acres. The riffraff can still cruise the beautiful Italian-style rose garden, peep the ivy-covered Tudor mansion, check out the idyllic pools and even take a ghost tour of Yaddo’s supposedly haunted, um, haunts. 312 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY (518-584-0746,

Best for: Chilling like an artist

Getting there from NYC: 3hrs by car

Alamo Drafthouse
Photograph: Faye Murman

4. Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse has been dominating the dinner-and-a-movie revolution since its 1997 launch in Austin. With a strict no-talking-and-texting policy. The outpost highlights brews and grub from around the state and screens everything from black-and-white classics to midnight cult faves. Look for a Brooklyn branch opening later this year. 2548 Central Park Ave, Yonkers (914-226-3082, $12.25 and up.

Best for: Catching dinner and a movie

Getting there from NYC: 45mins by car or Metro-North to Yonkers

The Midnight Ramble

5. The Midnight Ramble

The Band hero Levon Helm may be no longer with us, but the glorious, rootsy gigs he created—as the Midnight Ramble—continue to this day in Woodstock. Sets go down every few Fridays at the Barn, and have attracted big names like Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris and Dr. John, as well as more modern acts like Elvis Perkins and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Levon Helm Studios, 160 Plochmann Ln, Woodstock, NY (845-679-2744,

Best for: Rambling on

Getting there from NYC: 2hrs by car

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

6. Seneca Lake Wine Trail

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail has 35 wineries over as many miles dotted around Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes region. This upstate nook has been producing vino since the late 1800s, and these days the wineries are picking up top prizes at national awards ceremonies and producing varietals such as riesling, pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and mead. Yes, mead. 2 North Franklin St #320, Watkins Glen, NY (607-535-8080,

Best for: Hitting the long and wine-y road

Getting there from NYC: 4hrs 30mins by car

Mohonk Mountain House

7. Mohonk Mountain House

We agree, it does look like something out of The Shining—but in an awesomely cool way. Perched on a bluff above a glacial lake, the Mohonk's Victorian-style buildings house a spa and white-tablecloth restaurants. While it’s tempting to stay in and admire the sweeping view, we suggest you take an adventure through the rock scramble—a complicated maze of boulders (and try not to think of The Shining). 1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY (855-883-3798, Double-occupancy rooms $336–$700.

Best for: Indulging in old-time grandiosity

Getting there from NYC: 1hr 45mins by car

Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

8. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

Woodbury Common Premium Outlets has a range of shops selling discounted goods: Banana Republic, Barneys New York, Nike, Theory, Fendi, Levi’s and more than 200 other open-year-round stores. Take advantage of the free VIP Shopper Club on Woodbury’s site for discounts and other perks. 498 Red Apple Ct, Central Valley, NY (845-928-4000,

Best for: Stocking up on duds for cheap(er)

Getting there from NYC: 1hr by car or bus from Port Authority

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Photograph: Jonathan Young

9. Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Presenting your dream farm-to-table setup: Blue Hill at Stone Barns is Dan Barber’s acclaimed restaurant, set on 80 acres of bucolic farmland. The pricey experience ($198 for the tasting menu, plus $138 for the wine pairing) is unlike any we’ve enjoyed in the state—you might even get whisked into the jaw-dropping kitchen for a course. You can also tour the manicured grounds, check out the freely roaming chickens, pigs and other critters, and visit the spectacular greenhouse. 630 Bedford Rd, Tarrytown, NY (914-366-9600,

Best for: Enjoying fancy fare on the farm

Getting there from NYC: 1hr by car; 35mins by Metro-North to Tarrytown, plus a 10min cab ride

The Surf Lodge

10. The Surf Lodge

Montauk motel the Surf Lodge welcomes hip bands (Sky Ferreira, Real Estate) to play on its outdoor deck overlooking Fort Pond Bay. The gigs happen on Saturdays and Sundays from June through August. We suggest booking a night now (and nabbing a spot close to the stage early), as these throwdowns get packed. 183 Edgemere St, Montauk, NY (631-483-5037,

Best for: Grooving along the beach

Getting there from NYC: 3hrs by car, 3hrs 30mins by LIRR to Montauk

Howe Caverns

11. Howe Caverns

Descend 156 feet under the earth’s surface to view strange formations, giant boulders and an underground lake. If you feel like time-tripping to the era of Lester Howe, the farmer who discovered the cave in 1842, you can go on one of the evening lantern tours. If you’re a true daredevil, team up with spelunkers, and crawl through tight spaces. 255 Discovery Dr, Howes Cave, NY (518-296-8900,

Best for: Getting low

Getting there from NYC: 3hrs by car; 3hrs and 45mins bus to Schenectady, plus a 30mins shuttle

Storm King Art Center

12. Storm King Art Center

The 55-year-old Storm King Art Center consists of 500 breathtaking acres that meld art with nature. Its rotating contemporary-sculpture collection features about 100 pieces dotted around the property. In the spring, Storm King reopens with “Lynda Benglis: Water Sources,” with some pieces on view for the first time. 1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY (845-534-3115, $15, seniors $12, children 5–8 and students $8, children under 4 and members free; opens Apr 1.

Best for: Viewing fresh art in the fresh air

Getting there from NYC: 1hr 30mins by car

Hudson Supermarket
Photograph: Courtesy: Red Chair on Warren

13. Hudson Supermarket

Today the 250-year-old riverside town overflows with antique shops—nearly 50 of them. Visit during the warmer months and you'll find faves like the Hudson Valley–by-way-of-Flatiron staple Sutter Antiques, alongside the midcentury-leaning Red Chair and the smorgasbord Hudson Supermarket for furniture, lighting, art and other bragworthy buys.

Best for: Digging for vintage treasures

Getting there from NYC: 2hrs 15mins by car; 2hrs by Amtrak to Hudson

Bear Mountain State Park
Photograph: Christoffer Delsinger

14. Bear Mountain State Park

Spread across 5,000 acres on the west side of the Hudson, Bear Mountain State Park is just a short trip from NYC. Expert hikers can venture off the beaten path and climb up to 1,300 feet or hit the Appalachian Trail. Lazybones can get in on the fun too, by picnicking in a waterside pasture and taking in the river views. 55 Hessian Dr, Bear Mountain, NY (845-786-2701,

Best for: Taking it easy

Getting there from NYC: 1hr by car

The Capitol Theatre

15. The Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre started as a movie palace dating back to 1926 and these days throws concerts by the likes Wilco and the Dead’s Phil Lesh. Bonus? It kills T5 in the sight-lines department. Double bonus? There’s nary a standstill hipster in sight. 149 Westchester Ave between Broad and N Pearl Sts, Port Chester, NY (877-987-6487,

Best for: Rocking out

Getting there from NYC: 50mins by car or Metro-North to Port Chester

Photograph: Richard Barnes

16. Dia:Beacon

Dia:Beacon expertly mixes contemporary art with calming scenery. The foundation displays works by Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Louise Bourgeois, and this summer promises the debut of a Robert Irwin installation made specifically for the space. No car? The institution is a pretty five-minute walk from the Dia:Beacon train stop. 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY; (845-440-0100,

Best for: Seeing art and clearing your head

Getting there from NYC: 1hr 30mins by car or Metro-North to Beacon

Historic Huguenot Street tour

17. Historic Huguenot Street tour

Several stone houses and a church constructed by the town's original settlers 300 years ago still stand. Marvel at the architecture and furnishings of the residences during the Historic Huguenot Street tour, while several actors, dolled up in period garb, take you through the lives of its former residents. 81 Huguenot Street, New Paltz, NY (845-255-1660, $15, seniors and children under 12 $10, SUNY New Paltz students and children under 7 free.

Best for: Going back in time

Getting there from NYC: 1hr 35mins by car (parking on Broadhead Ave); 1hr 30mins by Trailways bus to New Paltz

Xaviars X20 on the Hudson

18. Xaviars X20 on the Hudson

Xaviars X20 on the Hudson sits atop a 19th-century pier, offering diners romantic views of the Palisades, Tappan Zee Bridge and Manhattan skyline through its large wraparound windows. The sights are best enjoyed in the daytime—like during Sunday brunch, when two courses such as the scallion-and–black-truffle risotto and the miso-glazed king salmon, a dessert and unlimited champagne will set you back just $45. 71 Water Grant St, Yonkers (914-965-1111,

Best for: Feasting and swooning

Getting there from NYC: 35mins by car, 30mins by Metro-North to Yonkers

Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
Photograph: Peter Aaron/Esto

19. Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts

The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College is pretty marvelous—complete with a Frank Gehry center and two theaters hosting dance, performance art, plays and music. Throughout the year, the center celebrates the work of famed 20th-century Mexican composer, conductor and educator Carlos Chávez with a series of operatic and theatrical productions. Summertime is the best at the Fisher Center, when Bard SummerScape hosts eight weeks of themed events. 60 Manor Ave, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (845-758-7900, $25 and up.

Best for: Getting classy

Getting there from NYC: 2hrs by car; 2hrs by Amtrak to Rhinecliff, plus 15min cab ride

Green Lakes State Park

20. Green Lakes State Park

East of Syracuse lies Green Lakes State Park, a 2,100-acre park with an upland forest and two stunning glacier lakes. Taking a dip here is something we can all get excited about. 7900 Green Lakes Rd, Fayetteville, NY (315-637-6111,

Best for: Cooling off in a lake

Getting there from NYC: 4hrs by car

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