Day trips are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, even if just for a few hours. Luckily, with New York being the transportation hub that it is, there are so many easy, fun and affordable destinations to explore using public transportation. Here are my recommendations for the best day trips from New York City.
Beacon, New York
Cost: Roughly $32 roundtrip
Located an hour and a half outside of the city via MetroNorth, Beacon, NY is the ultimate upstate getaway any time of the year. Whether you’re looking to spend the day browsing vintage shops, hiking Mount Beacon or hitting up some of the city’s hottest day drinking spots, over the years Beacon has become one of our favorite places to go when we need a quick reprieve from city life.
What to do in Beacon:
- Visit Hudson Valley Brewery: A local craft brewery that serves up some pretty tasty sour beers.
- Pop by Denning’s Point Distillery: This is a great spot for locally made spirits; I highly recommend stopping by for a tasting!
- Grab some baked goods at Beacon Bread Company: The ultimate comfort food breakfast spot.
- Pop in all of the shops on Main Street.
- Hike the Beacon Fire Tower Trail: This is by far one of my favorite hikes in Upstate New York. While it can be difficult in spots, the views at the top make it all worth it. You can walk to the trail from the town of Beacon.
Read more about Beacon in my detailed post here.
Cold Spring, New York
Cost: Roughly $24 roundtrip
Only an hour and half outside of NYC (the train stop right before Beacon), Cold Spring has some of the best hiking trails and along with Beacon, is one of my favorite places to escape to the outdoors in the fall and springtime.
What to do in Cold Spring:
- Grab a craft beer at Barber and Brew speakeasy.
- Shop locally made goods at Cold Spring Apothecary, a chic health and beauty store.
- Get some cool, Upstate New York great at the Cold Spring General Store: This shop has everything from hiking guides to stylish travel journals.
Hudson, New York
Cost: A trip to Hudson is on the pricier side as it’s only accessible via Amtrak where prices range from $49-100 each way or you can pay to rent a car which could be anywhere from $50-100 per day.
*If you book your trip far enough ahead of time, you can sometimes find great deals on Amtrak so I highly recommend checking the prices every once in a while.
A 2-hour train ride from New York City, Hudson, NY is a hip Hudson Valley town packed with stylish art galleries, unique antique shops and trendy hotels. Spend the day popping in the antique stores and coffee shops that line Main Street, take a hike on the mountain or grab a drink at the Rivertown Lodge. A quintessential upstate New York city, Hudson is the ultimate city escape.
What to do in Hudson:
- Pop in all of the shops on Warren Street: You’ll find a selection women’s boutiques, antique stores and art galleries.
- Grab a meal or spend a night at the Rivertown Lodge: I had the opportunity to stay here a few years back and it is still one of my favorite hotel experiences. Locally owned, this vintage-modern style hotel, which was previously a movie theater, has some pretty unique interiors custom-made by local craftsmen and a really great cozy bar for afternoon drinks. Read more about my experience here.
- Pop by Talbott & Arding for cheese and other provisions and head to Hudson River from Promenade Hill Park for a picnic.
If you’re looking to spend more time in Hudson, check out my travel guide to Hudson.
Long Island, New York
Cost: Winery tours range from $75-200 or you can round up a group and hire a car to drive you on your own tour.
There are so many different towns to explore on Long Island, but one thing that this area of New York is known best for is its wineries. Luckily, there are a number of winery tours that conveniently leave from Manhattan and take you to a variety of different wineries throughout the day.
The Best Wineries on Long Island:
- Bedell Cellars: Located in Cutchogue, NY, Bedell Cellars is the epitome of a modern Long Island winery.
- Greenpoint Harbor Brewing Company: A local brewery with a seriously tasty food menu to match their delicious brews.
- Macari Vineyards: By far one of my favorite wineries in long island, this family run establishment is not only absolutely beautiful but has some of my favorite local New York wines. They also have a pizza truck on premises – Avelino’s Pizza – also run by a family member, and let me tell you it is tasty!
Read about my Long Island experiences in my posts here and here.
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
Cost: $23 to enter + roughly $13 for MetroNorth ticket.
Located in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden is about an hour and a half from Brooklyn (roughly 40 mins from Manhattan) and is one of New York’s top tourist destinations.
Though it can get crowded in the warmer months, the botanical garden is a great place to visit any time of year.
Cost: Bus tickets range from $10-30 depending on time of day and how far ahead you purchase, while Amtrak is typically $50 one way.
Only a mere two hours away from NYC by bus or an hour and a half by Amtrak train, my hometown of Philadelphia offers a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of NYC.
Whether you’re looking to get in some shopping, explore Philly’s sites or check out some of the cities hottest restaurants, there are endless things to do and see here and a variety of neighborhoods to visit.
What to do in Philadelphia:
- Visit the Reading Terminal Market: This place is a must if you’re in Philly! An indoor food market, this is the place to go if you’re looking to get a taste of what Philly has to offer. I highly recommend Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks for a delicious authentic cheesesteak.
- Pop by Philadelphia Distilling for a drink: A newer spot in the city, this local distillery is a great spot for an afternoon drink.
- Walk around Fishtown: A hip neighborhood packed with unique vintage and antique shops and some of the city’s best restaurants!
- Wander through Old City: If you’re looking to take in a bit of culture on your trip, you’ll find a number of Colonial-era sites in this area of the city.
Read more about all that Philadelphia has to offer in my post on how to spend 24 hours in Philadelphia.
Rockaway Beach, NY
Cost: $2.75 each way via the MTA.
If you can’t afford to regularly go to the Hamptons throughout the summer, Rockaway Beach is the next best thing. Costing just under $6 for a round trip and taking roughly an hour to an hour and a half to get to, it’s an affordable alternative if you’re looking to get your toes in the sand.
On top of that there have been some really great restaurants, bars and shops popping up in the area over the past few years which have helped turn it into more of a destination, rather than just a beach stop.
If you’re planning to make a day out of it I highly recommend packing a cooler with snacks, sandwiches and drinks to enjoy on the beach throughout the day. Then, once you’ve had enough sun head to one of the areas local bars/restaurants for some after beach dinner and drinks.
What to do in Rockaway Beach:
- Load up on tacos at Rockaway Beach Surf Club: You really can’t go to Rockaway Beach without making a pitstop here. Conveniently located just a few minutes from the subway, this local surfer hangout transports you right to the tropics.
- Shop local goods at The Swell Life: a local women’s shop, this place has the best summer clothing and accessory finds!
- Grab a lunch burger at Ripper’s: The ultimate beachside burger shack, this is the ideal place to go for an afternoon snack.
- Enjoy a seafood feast at Bungalow Bar: After a long day at the beach, a meal here is a great way to end the night.
Read more about Rockaway Beach in my post here.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Staten Island
Cost: $2.75 each way via the MTA.
A regional arts center and botanical gardens roughly an hour and 15 minutes from Brooklyn (less if you live in Manhattan), this beautiful 83-acre park is completely free to the public.
With a number of different gardens on the premises, you could spend hours wandering the grounds. A small snack stand there serves up basic food and drinks but if you’re able to plan ahead, I recommend packing a lunch and snacks/drinks that you can enjoy on the grounds.
Read more about Snug Harbor in my post here.
Storm King Art Center
Cost: Park cost: $18 per person + cost of rental car.
A large 500-acre sculpture park located about an hour and a half outside of New York City, the Storm King Art Center is a great trip if you’re interested in immersing yourself in nature for the day. You can spend the day roaming through the park by foot or rent the bikes that they have there if you prefer to see it on wheels.
Unfortunately there’s no direct train transportation to Storm King but there are a number of bus and train packages that include discounted access to the park. You can check these out here, but I recommend renting a car for the day so that you can also explore neighboring towns.
Read more about Storm King Art Center in my detailed post here.
This post will be updated as I discover more of the best day trips from New York City, and I’d love to know if there are any others that you’d recommend.7
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