New York City is truly the place where dreams come to life! From taking in iconic views of the Empire State Building or Times Square to stepping back and admiring the majestic Manhattan Bridge, there’s something for everyone who wants to take day trips from NYC.
If you feel overwhelmed deciding the perfect day trip from NYC, worry not! We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 day trips from NYC to help you pin down the perfect outdoor adventure — read on to see our top picks.
The 15 Best Day Trips From NYC in 2023
One can easily mistake NYC as the epitome of urban chaos. However, this majestic city has a lot more to offer. You can enjoy the beauty of the picturesque countryside and partake in outdoor adventures whenever you want.
If you need a break from the Big Apple’s nonstop energy, there are plenty of charming getaways within just two hours or less.
From historical sites to lush valleys and quaint communities, these destinations offer an unforgettable escape for visitors looking to relax and go sightseeing. Check out some top spots right around NYC, such as:
- The picturesque Hudson Valley
- The historical city of Beacon
- Trails at the Bear Mountain Park
- Breathtaking waterfalls near the Poconos
- Kayaking or boat cruises at Cold Springs
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the top 15 best day trips from NYC and iconic places to explore on your escape from the Big Apple.
1. Washington, D.C.
- Travel Time: 4 hrs 18 min by car
Adding a visit to the historical city of Washington, D.C., in your day trips from NYC is one of the best ways to spend a day near the Big Apple.
For starters, you can admire the beauty of the 107-acre Tidal Basin that runs along the Potomac River. Each spring, cherry blossom trees decorate the paths surrounding the basin, making for a breathtaking view.
Departing from Penn Station, the train offers a fast mode of transportation from NYC to Washington, D.C. Travel time by train takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours, depending on the time of day and the season. Other modes of transportation include bus and car rentals.
Other points of interest in Washington, D.C., include the following attractions:
- An unforgettable visit to the U.S. Congress Building and the White House
- Historical monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial
- The Smithsonian Space Museum, the National Art Gallery, and the Museum of History
- The Washington National Cathedral
2. Cold Spring, New York
- Travel Time: 1 hr 30 min by car
One of the shortest trips from NYC is a scenic day tour to Cold Spring, New York. A visit to Cold Spring is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, kayaking, and paddle boarding along the panoramic Hudson River.
Travel time by train to Cold Spring takes around 75 minutes from the Grand Central Train Station in NYC.
Other points of interest in Cold Spring, New York, include the following attractions:
- The Magazzino Italian Art Museum for history and culture lovers.
- Restaurants and shops on the main street of Cold Spring.
- A visit to Stone Crop Gardens in the spring and summer.
3. Beacon, New York
- Travel Time: 1 hr 45 min by car
Nestled along the Hudson Highlands, Beacon offers plenty to do, including charming art galleries, gift shops, and restaurants. Beacon is also a quick day trip from NYC, taking only around 90 minutes by train from the Grand Central Train Station in NYC.
Other points of interest in Beacon, New York, include the following attractions:
- The Dia Museum for art lovers.
- Visit the Bannerman Castle via ferry or kayaking tour.
- Beacon Roundhouse Restaurant with scenic waterfall views.
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Travel Time: 2 hrs by car
Philadelphia, known as the city of “Brotherly Love,” is about 90 minutes by train from NYC and is an excellent day trip for art lovers. Philadelphia also boasts several museums, tax-free shops, and fabulous restaurants rich in diversity and culture.
Other points of interest in Philadelphia include the following attractions:
- Independence Hall, the Historic District, and the Liberty Bell.
- Independence Historical Park
- Cherry Street Pier
5. Sleepy Hollow
- Travel Time: 1 hr by car
You can visit Sleepy Hollow for an unforgettable day trip away from the busy metropolis of NYC. This versatile attraction is only about 55 minutes by train from NYC.
Sleepy Hollow is the perfect place for taking in panoramic views of the eastern Hudson River shorelines and urban amenities.
As a visitor, you can enjoy picnicking and waterfront activities, such as kayaking and sailboating. Plus, there are countless restaurants and retail stores to keep you occupied for the day – perfect for a shopping day trip!
In our opinion, Sleepy Hollow provides a great intersection between tranquility and an urban atmosphere.
Other points of interest in Sleepy Hollow include the following attractions:
- Kingsland Point Park
- A stroll down Valley Street
- The Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse built in 1883.
6. Bear Mountain State Park
- Travel Time: 1 hr 20 min by car
Day trips from NYC to Bear Mountain State Park are an excellent way to spend your day away from city life. Getting to Bear Mountain State Park takes around 50 minutes by train from NYC.
Bear Mountain State Park is located between the rugged mountains along the Hudson River. By featuring shaded picnic areas, a swimming pool, river access, and plenty of outdoor activities, Bear Mountain Park is worth including in your list of day trips from NYC.
Other points of interest at Bear Mountain State Park include the following attractions:
- Trailside Museums and Zoo
- An outdoor skating rink is open from October to March.
- Perkins Memorial Tower
7. Shelter Island, Long Island
- Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 min by car
Shelter Island offers a quaint getaway from NYC that takes approximately 2.5 hours by train from NYC. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll want to make a weekend getaway to Shelter Island to escape the atrocity of urban life.
As a visitor, you can enjoy a multicultural experience with plenty of places to explore and many activities to partake in.
From outdoor adventures such as bike rentals and kayaking to hiking and nature preserves, you’re in for an iconic day trip. To top off these exciting adventures, you also get plenty of restaurants that offer a classic New York food experience.
Other points of interest at Shelter Island, Long Island, include the following attractions:
8. Long Island Beaches
- Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 min by train
Long Island beaches offer a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC in summer. Long island beaches have always been among visitors’ favorite day trips from NYC, partly due to their golden sands, crystal clear water, and warm sunshine.
The good news is that the beautiful shores of Long Island beaches are easy to access by train — they’re just 2.5 hours away! Pack your watersport gear for beachfront fun, like sunbathing and boating.
However, you need to consider certain factors before you decide to visit Long Island beaches. These include:
- Beach popularity
- Beachfront activities offered
- Public access
- Distance from NYC
9. New Windsor
- Travel Time: 1 hr 30 min by car
A day trip from NYC to New Windsor takes approximately 1.5 hours by train and is well worth the short ride, especially if you’re an art lover.
At New Windsor, you can enjoy one of the most extensive art collections in the United States when they stop at the Storm King Art Center, which stretches nearly 500 acres.
Other points of interest at New Windsor include the following attractions:
10. Albany, New York
- Travel Time: 2 hr 50 min by car
Albany, New York, has plenty of attractions to offer tourists on a day trip from NYC. It takes approximately 2.5 hours by train to travel from NYC to Albany, New York.
Visitors to the area can boast about visiting the capital of New York and enjoy the New York State Capitol Building, which features a rich European design and an elegant interior.
Other points of interest when visiting Albany, New York, include the following attractions:
11. Catskill Mountains
- Travel Time: 2 hrs 45 min by car
If we’re talking about popular day trips, we can’t miss out on the Catskill Mountains. About 100 miles upstate, you can reach the Catskill Mountains in approximately 2 hours by train from NYC.
Visitors can find plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking, zip lining, and clear water lakes, for water activities or fishing.
Other points of interest when visiting the Catskill Mountains include the following attractions:
12. Morristown, New Jersey
- Travel Time: 1 hr by car
For another relaxing escape from city life, you should consider Morristown as your destination for day trips from NYC. This vibrant town along the Transit Railway is just an hour away by train – with plenty to offer regarding culture and history!
You can take some time to go sightseeing at Ford Mansion House, where George Washington resided from 1779-1780; today’s furnishings perfectly capture its original atmosphere.
Then, make sure you check out these points of interest when visiting Morristown:
13. The Poconos
- Travel Time: 2 hrs 15 min by car
Just a couple of hours west of NYC, the Poconos is approximately one and a half hours away from NYC and is an ideal location to explore nature. The best mode of travel from NYC to the Poconos is by bus.
Visitors can enjoy white sand beaches, water sports, kayaking, and hiking. With multiple resorts overseeing the glorious waterfalls, staying at the Poconos can be a truly liberating experience.
Other points of interest when visiting the Poconos include the following attractions:
14. Wildwood, New Jersey
- Travel Time: 2 hrs 45 min by car
Anyone who loves adventure, Wildwood, New Jersey, is a must-see destination with over 100 amusement park rides lining the Jersey shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
The best method of transportation from NYC to Wildwood is by bus, which takes approximately 2.5 hours. Visitors to Wildwood can enjoy swimming at the beaches, cooling off with tasty ice cream cones beachside, and taking a stroll along the scenic boardwalks.
Other points of interest when visiting Wildwood include the following attractions:
15. New Haven, Connecticut
- Travel Time: 2 hrs 15 min by car
New Haven, Connecticut, is a charming town approximately 70 miles from NYC. It takes around 1.5 hours to visit New Haven by train.
Tourists admire the brick buildings adorned with crawling ivy, art galleries, museums, and plenty of scenic parks, so if you’re into art and history, New Haven is waiting for you!
Other points of interest on your visit to New Haven, Connecticut, include the following attractions:
Things to Consider
Planning the perfect day trip from NYC requires some preparation. But don’t worry — we’ve compiled a list of travel tips and suggestions to ensure you have the best day possible.
Our top recommendations include:
- Book your excursions ahead of time to avoid disappointment upon arrival.
- Shop around for bargains, sales, and coupon codes online.
- Plan your itinerary so you use your time wisely.
- Choose the best mode of transportation for your day trips, such as train, bus, or taxi.
- Dress according to the weather.
- Remember to bring bug spray, suntan lotion, and a sun hat.
- Leave expensive jewelry in your hotel room to prevent loss or theft on your day trip.
- Travel light and wear comfortable clothing for your day trip.
- Book restaurants ahead of time or pack a lunch to ensure seating and meals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to further assist you in planning the perfect day trip from NYC:
What are the best one-hour day trips from NYC for people without a car?
There are plenty of beautiful destinations within an hour of NYC. Some of the most popular areas to visit by train from NYC include Beacon, New Paltz, Queens, New York, and Long Beach.
What can you do that is off the beaten path of the hustle and bustle of NYC?
NYC can be extremely busy and filled with tourists. Still, some attractions are often less crowded, including BLDG 92, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and the New York Historical Society Museum.
Which upstate town is closest to NYC?
Albany sits between the Hudson Valley and the Adirondack Mountains and is the closest upstate town to NYC.
Where is the cheapest place to live near NYC?
Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse are the most affordable places to live near NYC.
What should you do in NYC for a day?
There’s plenty to do in NYC for a day, such as visiting the Top of the Rock, the New York Public Library, and the Brooklyn Bridge. You can also plan day trips from NYC to visit historical monuments and art galleries or partake in outdoor adventures like water sports or hiking.
So, What Is the Best Day Trip From NYC?
New York City is an exciting destination for tourists seeking adventure, thrill, and bright city lights. Some of the most iconic sights to see when in NYC include the Empire State Building, the Manhattan Bridge, and Times Square.
Day trips from NYC provide the perfect weekend getaway for New Yorkers or tourists looking to take a break from the city’s chaos. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!