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The best summer getaways from NYC

When you need to escape the city, these summer getaways from NYC have everything you need for relaxation or adventure

By Keith Flanagan, Lynn Freehill-Maye, Will Gleason and Jennifer Picht
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By the time summer arrives in New York, most of us are more than ready to get out of the city. While there are plenty of things to do to stay cool — from checking out the hottest new rooftop restaurants and bars to kayaking our local waterways and hitting up the best nearby beaches — there comes a point when you just need to get away. Fortunately there are plenty of summer getaways from NYC that offer a refreshing change of scenery and a whole slew of new activities.

All within 6 hours of the city these getaway destinations are chock full of relaxing and surprising things to do. Visiting a farm, walking through treetops, dining in a quaint seaside hamlet and getting a full spa treatment are all within reach. Explore these towns and you might discover a new hobby or the next best regional food trend. Whatever you choose, you’ll return to the city recharged and ready to get back into the daily grind. If you can’t get away for more than a day, check out these day trips from New York for a quick trip. Just get out there and try something new for the best summer ever.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to weekend getaways from NYC

Best summer getaways from NYC

Assateague Island, MD
Assateague Island, MD
Photograph: Stutterstock

11. Assateague Island, MD

4hrs 30mins from NYC

Want to get away from civilization and get in touch with your wild side? Plant yourself right on the beach on this 37-mile barrier island for an affordable respite. Two thirds of this wave-tossed ribbon of dunes and salt marshes is in Maryland, where camping is allowed; the rest is Virginia.

At Assateague Island National Seashore, you can build a beach bonfire, stargaze over the Atlantic Ocean and straight-up hang with wild horses. But that’s not all: Whales, dolphins—dolphins, you guys—sika deer, island foxes and great blue herons also flock to Assateague. Sea kayaking, crabbing, beach yoga and tours of 18th-century coastal plantation Rackliffe House are also on offer.

Naturally, getting away from it all means roughing it a bit. The sandy “primitive camping” setup includes toilets and cool-water showers. Stock up on firewood, sunscreen, practically mandatory bug repellent and steamed Maryland crabs at various provision stores along the way. And if you start craving off-island action, the sweet brick village of Berlin, which Huffington Post named the Absolute Cutest Town in Maryland and the Ocean City Boardwalk are each less than 10 miles from the island.

Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth, NH
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Portsmouth, NH

4hrs 30mins from NYC

This New England fave is the salty dog of New Hampshire’s seacoast—old, sure, but not tired. One of the three oldest towns in the nation, the waterfront settlement of 21,000 is ideal for imagining yourself in the United States’ (pub-jammed, beer-soaked) colonial past.

Portsmouth’s trusty vintage features include cobblestone streets, retro sailboats and centuries-old brick shops selling antiques and curios. But the city has new tricks, too. Try the 2,800-square-foot Portsmouth Book & Bar, in the refurbished, stately Custom House, for a highbrow mix of reading and drinking. Keep the old-timey appreciation going at Strawbery Banke Museum, an old waterfront settlement turned living-history museum with blacksmiths and other craftspeople at work.

Lap up more recent—and boozy—history at Portsmouth Brewery, brother brewhouse to the well-known Smuttynose Brewing Co. that helped start Portsmouth’s craft-brew revolution 20 years ago. No need to leave the suds behind at bedtime: Ale House Inn features 10 rooms set in a former brewery, with all the exposed brick and industrial-chicness that implies. Free bicycle use and tickets to its next-door Seacoast Repertory Theatre are part of the deal, too.

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13. Portland, ME

5hrs 20mins from NYC

Mix eco-conscious chefs, Northeastern ingredients and a critical mass of adventurous young eaters, and you know damn well what’s been cooking during the last decade: one of the best dining scenes anywhere. Earnest, creative Portland has crafted itself into a fever dream of sorts for diners, and it goes way beyond lobster to include offbeat all-local ingredients like sea beans and beach peas foraged on Maine’s coast.

So get up there and stuff yourself already. A few clutch recommendations on a choice-rich scene: New-classic Fore Street helped get the whole local-gathering trend started. Central Provisions, serving tapas like soft-shell crab banh mi on reclaimed heart-pine tables, was recently a James Beard Award finalist for Best New Restaurant. And Eventide Oyster Co. draws massive lines for its genius placement of a lobster roll on an Asian-style steamed bun.

But don’t just stay on the mainland: Some 4,600 islands sit off the coast of Maine. Even on an urban stay, catch that rugged-rural beauty by ferrying to Peaks Island (Via Casco Bay Lines ferry). Pedal off the calories by renting bikes and tooling around the sweet three-mile land chunk. For lodging that jibes with Portland’s local-sustainable ethos on the mainland, bed down at Mercury Inn. The ornate Victorian holds seven guest rooms, bright with poppy graphics against clean white walls, and careful sourcing throughout like local, seasonal breakfasts and natural-ingredient soap and shampoo.

Provincetown, MA
Provincetown, MA
Photograph: Shutterstock

14. Provincetown, MA

5hrs 20mins from NYC

Back in the day, the dune-backed Portuguese fishing village at Cape Cod’s outer end drew writers (Tennessee Williams and Norman Mailer, to name two), but over the decades it has morphed into the funky-fun LGBTQ hot spot it is today. During the morning, give P-town’s ethnic history a breakfast nod with a creamy little custard tart, or pastel de nata, at the zero-frills Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, then jump to the modern era of fine art and rocking good times.

Provincetown is all about laid-back mingling—and there’s no better way to get into it than hopping among the town’s color-saturated galleries and boutiques. Get teased en route by drag queens who tickle you with feathers while inviting you to shows. Chow on crispy cod tacos at the casual but fabulous and friendly spot The Canteen, where you’ll try in vain to resist a frozen-rosé drink dubbed the frosé. Suck it down out back, where day-drinking fun meets ocean views. With the Provincetown pier as a backdrop, you can play the most Instagram-worthy game of Ping-Pong in town.

If you’re ready to rage, the seaside destination has your number, too: The afternoon Tea Dance that goes down from 4 to 7pm every day is justly famous at Boatslip Beach Club. Gems like the crooner-boasting Cabaret Room in the Crown & Anchor are also teasingly fun. P-town bars close at 1am, but the after-hours party continues on the street. When you’ve finally exhausted yourself, crawl home to the White Porch Inn, a grand 19th-century home renovated into a thoroughly beachy, unstuffy, clean-white B&B steps from the bay, and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

And since you made it all the way here, why not go to the very end? A shiny beacon of Provincetown’s West End, the AWOL boasts light, airy interiors and low-slung furniture to match the dunes outside your window. And you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the private bar only available to hotel guests.

Provincetown also has no shortage of bike rentals. After cycling your way through town, take the 5.45-mile Province Lands Bike Trail, which winds through a vast pine forest (with plenty of detours to the beach).

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Williamstown, MA
Williamstown, MA
Photorgaph: Florian Holzherr

15. Williamstown, MA

3hrs 11min from NYC

Psst: You don’t have to hit Broadway to take in Broadway-level theater. Every summer in western Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains, a theatrical hot spring bubbles up. At the Williamstown Theatre Festival, established in 1955, you can see world-class productions, readings, workshops and late-night cabarets, all in the fresh mountain air. 

Experience quaintness overload at the Porches Inn, which operates as a row of 19th-century houses connected by, yes, one giant porch.

The Porches Inn is on the site of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a verdant, 13-acre institution that hosts large-scale exhibitions. If theater isn't your beat but you still love live music, head to Solid Sound (cancelled for 2021), a three-day music fest created by the legendary band Wilco. Aside from tunes from the band (duh) as well as Courtney Barnett, Tortoise, The Feelies, Buck Meek and others, check out comedians, author talks and more activations onsite. 

16. Lake George, NY

4hrs from NYC

The 11-mile-long Tongue Mountain Loop may be modest by peak standards, but since it juts 1,000 feet into Lake George, the views of the water and the many piney private islands are ever-changing and superlative. (It’s no wonder some consider this hiking trail to be one of the best in the U.S.) Along the second half of the trail, don’t miss a refreshing dip at the famously sunny Montcalm Point. Now that’s our kind of rugged.

Holding court on a private island for more than a century and recently restored, Sagamore Resort remains the classy and timeless grande dame of Lake George hotels.

Tiki Tour is a floating BYOB bar, complete with a kitschy, bamboo-framed thatched roof and a captain who is ready to spin you and up to five friends around the lake.

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Photograph: Lawrence Braun

17. Sullivan County, NY

2hrs 30mins from NYC

When most New Yorkers make a break for the Catskills, they stick to towns near the Hudson. For a road less traveled, anchor yourself on the lush banks of the Delaware River in western Sullivan County, just a two-hour drive from Manhattan. Here, on the other side of the mountains, a string of hamlets offers hip boutiques and rustic-chic restaurants—stop by the North Branch Inn (North Branch) for a mind-blowing whole roast chicken—as well as small-batch distilleries and outdoorsy adventures (try fly-fishing!).

In itty-bitty Callicoon, home to the county’s only movie theater, a former late-19th-century furniture store houses 9 River Road, a boutique hotel that’s stuffed with stylish antiques and other delights (like freshly baked cookies in the living room).

If you enjoyed those cookies, you’re in for another treat: Nearby, the same owners opened the 600-acre DeBruce. Here, the chef’s ever-changing menu is strictly seasonal, with ingredients for most dishes coming straight from the on-site garden.

Greenport, NY
Greenport, NY
Photograph: Angie McCaffrey

18. Greenport, NY

3hrs 45min from NYC

Who’s famished? Start your stuffing soujourn at Little Creek Oysters, a dockside favorite where diners can shuck just-caught oysters between pints of beer. Then, hit up Barba Bianca, from chef Frank DeCarlo (Little Italy’s Peasant) that’s set in an old coal shack over the water and serves “junk fish”—skate, whelk and other species many commercial fishermen throw back—with Italian flair and all-local produce (stuffed zucchini flowers, for starters). Go the short distance to The Haylard, where, just outside the historic village and perched over the Long Island Sound, classics (fresh mussels in a garlic broth, beer-battered fish-and-chips) pair nicely with on-tap rosé and sunset views.

For accommodations, you’ll find the cream of the crop in Greenport. The latest to open, The Menhaden, checks all the boxes: Just steps from the harbor, the hotel offers neat, bright rooms, a breezy rooftop, complimentary bikes and a private water taxi for day trips to Shelter Island.

Jet Ski between Greenport and Shelter Island, past abandoned lighthouses and maybe even a herd of seals with a little help from Peconic Water Sports.

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