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Philadelphia, PA
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 20 best day trips from New York City

The best day trips from New York City will take you to beautiful beaches, fun wineries outstanding museums and more.

By Tazi Phillips, Annalise Mantz and Time Out contributors
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DISCLAIMER: Given current regional and national guidelines, certain businesses mentioned in this article are operating on different schedules and limited capacities. Call each business before your visit to receive up-to-date information.

The best day trips from New York City are quite literally essential escapes for pro city dwellers. After all, incessant honking cabs, overcrowded streets and sardine-packed subway cars are enough to drive any New York mad every so often. A change of scenery—whether a road trip, a weekend getaway or a shorter day trip—is a great way to clear your head and feel rejuvenated. But our list does something more: all of the highlighted destinations are not only excellent places to relax but offer a bevvy of activities for both the adventerous and cultural set. Ready to get traveling?

RECOMMENDED: Find more weekend getaway ideas

Day trips from New York City

best weekend getaways from nyc
best weekend getaways from nyc
Photograph: Bill Jacobson

1. Beacon, NY

Good for culture hounds
1hr 20mins by Metro-North

This quaint city in Dutchess County boasts an exceptionally good eating, drinking and art scene for its size. Walk five minutes from the train station to Dia:Beacon, a modern art museum housed in a former Nabisco box factory. It houses the Dia Foundation’s permanent collection of works from the ‘60s on, including minimalist sculpture by Anne Truitt and Dan Flavin’s work with fluorescent lights. If you’d rather spend the day sampling some booze, Dennings Point Distillery on Main Street also offers tours and tastings of their bourbon, whiskey, gin and vodka every Friday and Saturday. Before you board the train back to the city, spend a few quiet minutes watching the sun set over the Hudson at Long Dock Park. –Annalise Mantz

Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Bethlehem, PA

Good for gamblers
1 hr 44mins by car

Take a walk on the wild side when you visit Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s prime casino and resort: The Sands. Rattle the dice, try your luck on the slots, play table games or simply go for the cocktails. While there are ten fine dining options (including three Emeril’s eateries—bam!), we recommend hitting Main Street in historic Bethlehem for a bite. Enjoy a flight of sangria and eat small plates such as bacon wrapped dates and, hummus ad burrata at Tapas On Main. Afterward, oblige your sweet tooth across the street at Penn State’s Creamy Ice Cream shop inside Hotel Bethlehem.

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Fire Island lighthouse
Fire Island lighthouse
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Fire Island, L.I.

Good for sunseekers
1hr 30mins by LIRR and ferry

Once a haven for nude sunbathers, Fire Island’s federally managed beaches have made clothing very much mandatory since 2013. There’s still plenty of fun to be had on the 31-mile barrier island, including lifeguard-supervised, all-ages swimming on Sailors Haven, Watch Hill, Davis Park and Atlantique. Nature lovers might want to walk along the elevated boardwalk at Sunken Forest Preserve, a rare maritime ecosystem growing in the low spot between two sand dunes. Holly trees, sassafras, black cherry and prickly cat-briar all grow together in a tangle of vegetation. Staying through the evening? The bar scenes in Ocean Beach and Kismet draw crowds of attractive young professionals, while Cherry Grove and the Pines thrive with vibrant LGBT communities. —Rosie Haney

Cape May
Cape May
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Cape May, NJ

Good for adventurers
2hrs 30mins by NJ Transit bus

Aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher, you’ll skip into the Delaware Bay on a quest for dolphins, humpbacks and finbacks. The knowledgeable captain explains cetacean behaviors, such as spyhopping (popping the head up and holding the position to have a look around) and breaching (the classic Shamu jump-splash routine), and the company promises a free future trip if you don’t spot any marine mammals between spring and fall. Once you get your back on dry land, feast on seafood at Lucky Bones Backwater Grille, a local restaurant named for the hooklike claw found on male horseshoe crabs that superstitious sailors used to wear for a safe return. Continue your day with a friendly game of putt-putt at Cape May Miniature Golf. If you want to up the stakes, bet on who can get the lowest score; winner buys a round of Italian ices or sundaes from the ground’s old-school ice-cream parlor, Cocomoe’s.—Caren Oppenheim

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Storm King Art Center, Art day trips
Storm King Art Center, Art day trips
Photograph: Courtesy of Storm King

5. Cornwall, NY

Good for culture hounds and adventurers
1hr by car

With its rolling green hills and massive sculpture installations, Storm King Art Center is tailor-made for stunning photographs. Art aficionados and nature lovers alike will enjoy wandering the 500-acre art park featuring works from more than 100 artists including Alexander Calder and Maya Lin. Take the guided tram tour around the park once to get the lay of the land, then set off on foot or rent a bike for a day of exploring and Instagramming. Visitors can even climb inside a select number of the works. The artistic flair extends to the riverfront village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, where you can dine at the eclectic restaurant–art gallery combo Painter’s–Annalise Mantz

things to do in atlantic city
things to do in atlantic city
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Atlantic City, NJ

Good for sunseekers and history buffs
2hrs by car or 2hrs 30mins by bus

The casino town remains lively as ever since Hurricane Sandy, and several new events and recent additions to the boardwalk prove it’s possible to spend a pleasant day here without ending up at the blackjack table. The annual Atlantic City Airshow provides an opportunity to sprawl on the beach while watching vintage planes take stomach-dropping nosedives over the ocean. After an afternoon of sunning yourself on the sand, sample the old-fashioned salt-water taffy at Fralinger’s on the boardwalk. The historic family-run business has been making the candy since 1884. Atlantic City is also home to Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest in New Jersey. For a nominal fee, you can climb the 228-step spiral staircase to the top of the tower and take in the sweeping views of the waves. —Alex Schechter

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Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Photograph: NYS Parks / J. Rozell

7. Kerhonkson, NY

Good for adventurers
2hrs by car

Between its rugged landscape and forested pine-barrens area, upstate has some stellar natural spots, and Minnewaska State Park Preserve is one of the best. The more than 22,000-acre spread has been converted into an egalitarian playground with 50 miles of trails, a new rock-climbing spot at the Dickie Barre cliffs, as well as old carriage roads well suited for mountain biking. Cool off with a swim in Lake Minnewaska or Lake Awosting, nestled between towering white bluffs and known for their translucent aquamarine color. Afterward, head to New Paltz for a break at the Water Street Market, where you can eat, shop, and take in art, outdoor movies on Monday nights (June–Aug) and free music on Tuesdays. Historic Huguenot Street is also worth a gander; the road features seven 300-year-old stone houses from the original settlement and provides a tangible glimpse at the history of the town.—Rosie Haney

Freeport, L.I., Captain Lou Fleet
Freeport, L.I., Captain Lou Fleet
Photograph: courtesy Captain Lou Fleet

8. Freeport, L.I.

Good for adventurers 1hr by car

This sleepy, bucolic town is the perfect location for casting a line. Take a four-hour fluke-fishing excursion on a 100-foot-long supercruiser with the Captain Lou Fleet. To stay on land, head to Sea Isle Tackle, grab freshly shucked clams for bait, and make for the dock at the Town of Hempstead Marina (we hear striped bass and fluke are biting). For dinner, try seafood-centric dishes like cedar-planked Atlantic salmon with Vermont maple glaze and horseradish-crusted rare tuna with shrimp dumplings at the cozy Nautilus Café, and if you’re not the designated driver, stop by fisherman shanty Jeremy’s Ale House for a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup of the house brew. Just mind the signed bras hanging from the ceiling—you don’t want to be the one getting hooked.—Christopher Ross

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Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Philadelphia, PA

Good for culture hounds
1hr 30mins by Amtrak, 2hrs by bus

Skip southward to shop Philly’s flourishing secondhand scene of vintage clothing shops and thrifty treasure spots. A few steps off South Street (but still not far from a cheesesteak) is Heres2CoolStuff, acclaimed for its colorful and inexpensive collection of men's and women’s apparel. For dapper gentlemen, Briar boasts a meticulously edited collection of classic Americana style, including tailored sport coats, varsity jackets and military boots alongside sartorial accessories (bowties, cufflinks, hats) and oddities for the curious collector. Don’t leave without hitting up what just might be every Macklemore fan’s fantasy come true: Bulk Vintage, a warehouse for hunters who don’t mind digging—literally—for retro duds sold at wholesale prices that rival any thrift shop north of Jersey. If you can’t make the public opening hours, make an appointment to rummage. —Sammy Davis

Montauk
Montauk
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Montauk, L.I.

Good for adventurers and sunseekers
2hrs 30mins by car, 3hrs 15mins by LIRR, 3hrs 30mins by Hampton Jitney

Known to locals as “the End,” the chilled-out Hamptons village at the easternmost reach of the South Fork offers some of the best surfing in the region. Rent a board—fiberglass, foam or epoxy—and a wet suit from the family-owned Air and Speed Surf Shop. Drive your gear to Ditch Plains beach for a lesson with local fixture and professional instructor Corey Senese. Towel off and refuel at Ditch Witch, a beloved food truck slinging breakfast burritos, addictive Asian sesame noodles  and Zen Blend iced green tea. Before you head home, join everyone else in town at the Montauket, a neighborhood joint where you can sip a pint of Blue Point toasted lager while watching the sun melt into the rippling horizon of Fort Pond Bay.—Chris Ross

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Cold Spring, NY, Northgate ruins on the Cornish Estate Trail
Cold Spring, NY, Northgate ruins on the Cornish Estate Trail
Photograph: Thom Johnson

11. Cold Spring, NY

Good for adventurers
70mins by Metro-North

The Hudson Highlands have lush landscapes, peaks and breathtaking hikes for all levels. Little Stony Point Loop offers a relaxed jaunt along a flat peninsula where you can wade into the Hudson River at the beach. Explore old ruins, including a crumbled mansion and defunct dairy farm, on the gradually sloping, partially unpaved Cornish Estate Trail, which starts opposite Little Stony Point Loop, marked by blue blazes. The adventurous should tackle the steep climbs and rock scrambles that lead to the summit of Breakneck Ridge for an impressive 360-degree vista of Storm King Mountain, Bannerman Castle and, on clear days, the Catskills. For detailed guidebooks and maps, check out New York–New Jersey Trail Conference, Open Space Institute and Appalachian Mountain Club, and bring water and appropriate footwear, even for the simpler treks.—Nadia Chaudhury

Hunter, NY, New York Zipline Adventure Tours
Hunter, NY, New York Zipline Adventure Tours
Photograph: Cesar Tirado

12. Hunter, NY

Good for adventurers
2hrs by car

Put some space between you and the ground on an adrenaline-revving three-hour zip-line excursion at Hunter Mountain. Daredevils should check out the SkyRider Tour, an above-the-canopy course with more than two miles of whooshing fun split over five separate lines, each of which reaches a height of 600 feet and shoots riders along at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. For something more low-key but still high up, try the Mid-Mountain Tour, which tops out at 60 feet and includes six lines, nine tree platforms and four rope bridges. Take your buzz to Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Café, a quirky combination of a gourmet cheese shop with an extensive beer list that also hosts local live bands. —Sarah Rammos

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Hamilton, NJ, Grounds for Sculpture
Hamilton, NJ, Grounds for Sculpture
Photograph: David W. Steele

13. Hamilton, NJ

Good for culture hounds
1hr 20mins by NJ Transit

Wandering amid the 270 pieces of contemporary art at Grounds for Sculpture, five minutes by cab from the Hamilton station, makes for a serene escape, with playful surprises around every corner. Visitors are encouraged to snoop for secret spots among the 42 picturesque acres, such as the hidden hammock room near the Nine Muses sculpture (take a snooze without fear—the door locks from the inside), and keep an eye out for the many peacocks. The park’s indoor gallery at Seward Johnson has four exhibits, including two site-specific glass installations by sculptor Daniel Clayman. End your day with upscale local cuisine at on-site restaurant Rat’s. Nibble on the mussels mouclade and the charcuterie platter, or sip a cocktail during happy hour. Imbibe on the patio overlooking a re-creation of Monet’s iconically depicted bridge in Giverny, or even bring your drink out into the park.—Lauren Piro

Short Hills, NJ, Greenwood Gardens
Short Hills, NJ, Greenwood Gardens
Photograph: Joy Yagid

14. Short Hills, NJ

Good for culture hounds
45mins by car

Nudged up against the South Mountain Reservation, Greenwood Gardens presents a tranquil, isolated escape. The grounds have been around since the early 1900s, but not until April 2013, following several years of renovation, did they open to the public. Begin at the orientation center, a redbrick revival Georgian manor, and proceed to a formal Italianate garden marked by stone terraces and wooden pergolas. Follow stone paths to the rustic Arts and Crafts–style cottages, then wind your way to the three-foot-tall limestone chess pieces lining the steps to the teahouse. Seek out the summerhouse on your own and admire the resident swans, chickens and goats, or join a guide on a 45-minute walking tour. —Jen Michalski

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Sleepy Hollow, NY, Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills living-history museum
Sleepy Hollow, NY, Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills living-history museum
Photograph: Bryan Haeffele

15. Sleepy Hollow, NY

DISCLAIMER: Given current guidelines, the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills museum is currently closed to the public.

Good for culture hounds
30–45mins by Metro-North to Tarrytown

Take a five-minute cab ride from the station to Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills living-history museum—a farm and mill dating back to 1750—to try hands-on activities. Staffers in period costume demonstrate grinding grain in the gristmill, threshing wheat and preparing goods for shipping with traditional instruments. The visit also provides a sobering reminder that slavery was not confined to the South, which guided tours highlight. Explore the dairy, kitchens and bedchambers in the main house, then bask in the rustic scenery from the bridge overlooking the pond. Take the 15-minute walk to the Bridge View Tavern for craft brews, pub grub, and views of the bridge and stretch of the Hudson River known as the Tappan Zee. —Lauren Piro

The Palisades, NJ
The Palisades, NJ
Photograph: Anthony Taranto/PIPCNJ

16. The Palisades, NJ

Good for adventurers
30min by bike

Throw on your best Lululemon gear and head to the next state over for a cycling jaunt. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, stop by Tread Bike Shop; rentals include helmets, and the friendly staff supplies sage advice for newbies. Set off and make your way through the hilly, neighborhood streets of Inwood and follow signs for the George Washington Bridge. Take in panoramic views of Manhattan while gliding over the Hudson via the bridge’s cyclist-and-pedestrian-only path. Veer left to stay on Henry Hudson Drive, the Palisades’ main bike path, which will take you along mountain roads past rustling trees and views of the water. At the bottom of the trail, riders will find grassy picnic areas on the river. The return ride back to the city is, mercifully, a simpler, mostly downhill ride. —Allison Merzel

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Stony Brook, L.I., Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages's carriage house and fountain
Stony Brook, L.I., Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages's carriage house and fountain
Photograph: Julie Diamond

17. Stony Brook, L.I.

DISCLAIMER: Given current guidelines, the Long Island Museum is currently closed to the public.

Good for culture hounds
1hr 20mins by car

A quintessential New England–like town filled with historical places and picturesque scenery, this romantic village is populated with quaint shops and restaurants. Robinson’s Tea Room serves up British high tea Tuesday through Sunday. Get lost in Avalon Park, a preserve comprising of 84 acres of flora, fauna and numerous nature trails, or explore Stony Brook’s West Meadow Creek via the Discovery Wetlands Cruises. If you prefer to stay on land, the harbor’s Hercules Pavilion houses a historic figurehead from the USS Ohio. Legend has it that if a woman kisses the object’s forehead, she’ll be married within a year. Another notable destination is the Long Island Museum, which boasts a collection of 200 horse-drawn carriages. When you find yourself hungry, sample classic American fare at the neighboring Country House Restaurant, one of Long Island’s most haunted places harboring a ghost of a previous owner and a history of holding séances. —Jen Michalski

New Canaan
New Canaan
Photograph: Shutterstock

18. New Canaan, CT

Good for culture hounds
1hr 15mins by Metro-North

Architect Philip Johnson built a completely transparent modern home on his 47-acre estate in Connecticut in 1949, a feat that quickly brought him worldwide notoriety. You might also recognize his work from the sculpture garden at MoMA. After his death, the Glass House was opened to the public in 2007. Curious visitors can explore the property by buying a timed ticket to for the one-hour, two-hour or three-hour tour. Take in the sleek, spartan design, then head into town to spy some examples of classic New England architecture. There’s the one-room Little Red Schoolhouse, the Greek Revival Hanford-Silliman House and a replica of the original Cody Drug Store from 1918. Stop for a freshly made dulce de leche gelato at Gelatissimo before leaving town. –Annalise Mantz

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Thomas Nemeskeri

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Smithtown, NY, patio at H2O
Smithtown, NY, patio at H2O
Photograph: Jim Lennon

19. Smithtown, NY

Good for adventurers
1hr by car

Few things are as invigorating as paddling down a burbling river on a warm summer day. For some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the New York area, hit this Long Island hamlet, where the main attraction is the tidal Nissequogue River, which flows in and out of the Long Island Sound. Nissequogue River Canoe and Kayak Rentals will provide your vessel of choice at a variety of push-off points and send you on the 2.5-hour, 5.5-mile-long journey on the waterway before driving you back to your car. Keep your eyes peeled for snapping turtles and more than 40 species of waterfowl, including herons and egrets. Replenish your energy at seafood grill H2O with shrimp-and-lobster wontons and hazelnut-Parmesan crusted swordfish. Afterward, grab a Guinness at haunted watering hole Katies of Smithtown, where the staff tells stories of deceased bartender Charlie Klein knocking glasses off the shelf. —Chris Ross

Wevertown, NY, Beaver Brook Rafting
Wevertown, NY, Beaver Brook Rafting
Photograph: Jim Swedberg

20. Wevertown, NY

Good for adventurers
3hrs 40mins by car

Find legit whitewater rapids with Beaver Brook Outfitters, which runs three different tours down two rivers every day through October. Those with some experience can take the all-day trip from Indian Lakes in the Adirondacks to North River via the Hudson River Gorge, which covers 17 miles of river and class III and IV rapids. The route also includes a stop at Elephant Rock, where paddlers can cool off by jumping into calm waters from a small cliff, as well as a riverside meal at the Inn on Gore Mountain when you return. Newcomers can opt for the five-mile journey down the Sacandaga, which covers slightly less volatile terrain (class III and under). The ticket includes all your gear—wet suit, life jacket, paddle and shoes. —Sarah Rammos

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Ken Lockwood Gorge
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Khürt L. Williams

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