Having lived in NYC for over 6 years now, I’ve come to realize how important it is to take a break from the city every once in a while. But, being a 20-something living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, I unfortunately don’t have enough disposable income to regularly go on lavish weekend trips, which is why I’ve settled for affordable day trips easily accessible via public transportation. Luckily, with New York being the transportation hub that it is, there are so many easy, fun and affordable destinations to explore all off of public transportation. Here’s my recommendations of the best day trips from New York City.
(Roughly $32 roundtrip) – Located an hour and a half outside of the city via MetroNorth, Beacon, NY is the ultimate upstate destination for 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 cities 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.
Favorite Beacon Spots:
- Hudson Valley Brewery – A local craft brewery that serves up some pretty tasty sour beers.
- Denning’s Point Distillery – Great for locally made spirits – I higly recommend stopping by for a tasting!
- Beacon Bread Company – The ultimate comfort food breakfast spot.
- Beacon Fire Tower Trail – One of my favorite upstate hikes.
Read more about Beacon in my detailed post here.
Cold Spring, NY
(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.
Favorite Cold Spring spots:
- Barber and Brew – A cool barber shop with a speakeasy type craft beer bar in the back.
- Cold Spring Apothecary – A chic health and beauty store stocked with locally made goods.
- Cold Spring General Store – The epitome of upstate New York, this shop has everything from hiking guides to stylish travel journals.
(on the pricier side as it’s only accessible via Amtrak; prices range from $49-100 each way or rent a car) – 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.
Favorite Hudson spots:
- 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.
Long Island, NY
(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 their wineries. Luckily, there are a number of bus winery tours that conveniently leave from Manhattan and take you to a variety of different wineries throughout the day.
Favorite Long Island spots:
- 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!
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY
($23 to enter + roughly $13 for MetroNorth ticket) – Located in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden is a 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.
(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.
Favorite Philadelphia spots:
- 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 grab a cheesesteak – Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks stand is one of my favorites – pick up some fresh food for dinner or just stop by to grab samples from all of the food stands).
- Philadelphia Distilling – A newer spot in the city, this local distillery is a great spot for an afternoon drink.
- Fishtown – A hip Brooklyn-like neighborhood packed with unique vintage and antique shops and some of the cities best restaurants!
Read more about all that Philadelphia has to offer in my post here.
Rockaway Beach, NY
($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 only as much as two swipes of your MetroCard 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 this area 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.
Favorite Rockaway Beach spots:
- Rockaway Beach Surf Club – You really can’t go to Rockaway Beach without making a pitstop here. Located right off the subway, this local surfer transports you right to the tropics.
- The Swell Life – A local women’s shop, this place has the best summer clothing and accessory finds!
- OffSeasonNYC – A newer shop to the area, OffSeason has some pretty cool Rockaway Beach branded apparel and homewares.
Read more about Rockaway Beach in my post here.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Staten Island
($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
(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 is no direct train transportation to Storm King but they do offer a number of bus and train packages which includes 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.3