17 Refreshing Day Trips From NYC – Food, Culture & Nature

New Yorkers! Are you looking for an easy but refreshing New York getaway? Consider one of these day trips from NYC. From small New York towns to natural wonders – there is so much for us to explore just two hours from Manhattan. And if you don’t have a car, don’t worry, we’ve also included ways to reach most of these destinations by bus or train. Below are 17 best day trips from NYC.

Beautiful Day Trips from New York City: Small Towns, Food/Wine, Culture & the Outdoors

Beacon, New York

The town of Beacon, New York is located in the majestic Hudson Highlands, along the Hudson River. Here, visitors are greeted with a charming art scene, delicious restaurants, boutique shops, a book store proudly displaying a “BLACK LIVES MATTER” sign that warms up the street.

Beacon Day Trip From NYC Things to Do

Dia: Beacon Museum – Reserve tickets ahead of time to visit this museum’s collection of art from the 1960s to the present.

Bannerman Castle: Take a ferry to Pollepel Island to see visit the Bannerman Castle (pictured above) with Bannerman Island Tours.

Go Kayaking: Consider kayaking along the Hudson River with Mountain Top Outfitters. You can also kayak to Bannerman Castle!

Main Street: Check out the beautiful shops along Main Street

Waterfall + Roundhouse: Get lunch of dinner at the palatial Roundhouse Restaurant overlooking a beautiful waterfall. For a more affordable option, get a cocktail at Roundhouse and then dinner at Melzingah Tap House.

Should you Decide to Stay Longer in Beacon…

If you decide to spend the night here, check out this beautiful spot located in the center of town with mountain views. Or this beautiful private room in Beacon for budget travelers. If you have a higher budget, Roundhouse is a must with its bucolic and sleek decor and views of the waterfall.

HOW TO GET TO BEACON FROM NYC

Train – Beacon is a 90-minute train ride on the Metro-North from Grand Central Station for about $20 each way. From the Beacon train station, you walk to Main Street in 10 minutes.

Car – 90 minutes driving north of mid-town Manhattan.

Woodstock, New York

Hands down, one of the best small New York towns to visit near NYC. Although the town has been famed for the historic Woodstock Festival (which actually took place in Bethel), Woodstock still offers the friendly hippie vibes, a unique art scene, and that charming 60s culture.

The downtown area has several restaurants, shops, and a bookstore that warms up the street with a sign that reads “Black Lives F*cking Matter“. Amen to that. It’s not easy feeling welcomed as a person of color once you leave the city, so signs like this help us feel a little relief.

When I first entered Woodstock, I stumbled upon a circle of drummers playing music, and seconds later one of them invited us to play with them. Woodstock is also a wonderful place to connect with friendly locals.

Woodstock Things to Do on Your New York Day Trip

Waterfalls & Hikes: Go hiking in one o the many nearby trails or waterfalls such as Kaaterskill Falls or Fawns Leap. Or, if it the weather permits, jump into one of the natural swimming holes nearby for a refreshing swim.

Downtown Area: Stop at one of the many delicious restaurants in Woodstock. If you like tacos, I recommend Oriole. Woodstock has a ton of charming restaurants from Asian fusion cuisine to restaurants perched along the water with outdoor picnic tables.

Dessert lovers must stop at Sweet Dreams Organic for their ice cream.

Art: Check out art spaces such as Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, the Elena Zang Gallery, and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

Shopping: Pop into the town’s many boutique shops and bookstores like The Golden Notebook.

Should You Decide to Stay Longer in Woodstock…

Woodstock has several stunning homes like this historic artist’s estate and this guest house with hammock swings facing the mountain views! Both pictured above.

HOW TO GET TO WOODSTOCK FROM NYC

Bus – You can take the Trailways bus from Manhattan to Woodstock in about 2 hours for about $30 each way. From here, you could spend the day in town and/or take Ubers for trips to nearby spots.

Car – Driving to Woodstock is about 2 hours from Manhattan.

Phoenicia, New York

day trip near nyc to the small NY town of phoenicia to try rail explorers

Once you arrive at the atmospheric town of Phoenicia, you may easily forget you’re anywhere near NYC. There is a quiet stillness, a green fragrance, and lush vibrance that this town exudes, perfect for a relaxing day trip from NYC or a spa weekend getaway.

Things You Can’t Miss in Phoenicia

Esopus Creek River – Phoenicia is located along the Esopus Creek River which offers visitors opportunities for tubing or rafting.

Rail Explorers – The locals may make fun of you for this, but so what?! It’s a fun experience literally peddling your way over a train track along stunning views of the Catskills.

Phoenicia Diner – A classic spot for travelers to pop in for an all American plate of food between excursions.

Hiking – Go hiking along the many trails of Phoenicia.

If You Decide to Stay longer in Phoenicia…

Consider this beautiful cabin in town (pictured above) or this cottage with stunning views of the Catskills (pictured above) just 10 minutes away from the town’s center, in Westkill.

HOW TO GET TO PHOENICIA FROM NYC

BUSTrailways bus can get you there from Manhattan for $35 in 2.5 hours.

CAR – Or you can drive there in 2 hours from Manhattan.

Greenport, Long Island

This port town is located towards the far end of Long Island’s North Fork; a region renowned for its vineyards/wineries, small farms, restaurants, and flower fields. Best of all? There is an LIRR station there! And you can take a ferry from there to Shelter Island (listed as #5 below).

Can’t-Miss Experiences in Greenport, Long Island

Tea Garden – Have high tea in this beautiful garden where you can order beautiful herbal infusions and pastries like biscuits or lavender macaroons.

Downtown Area – Walk through the area to really absorb the vibe of this port town. Check out the boutique shops and antique stores. And/or create your own foodie tour by stopping at one of the many restaurants in town. A must-visit spot is Crabby Jerry’s or Claudio’s (same owners) for their stuff clams!

Ferry Ride to Shelter Island – Take a $2 ferry to Shelter Island – listed below.

Long Island Wine Country – Go to one of the many wineries/vineyards nearby for an afternoon of wine tasting – listed below.

Lavender by the Bay – Buy some of their local lavender honey, stroll through the lavender fields, and stock up on lavender-scented-everything.

Should you Decide to Stay Longer in Greenport…

Since there is so much to do in this underrated and beautiful region, you may want to spend at least a night or two here to really get to do it all. I recommend this artist’s home in the heart of town. Or this spacious condo with ocean views.

HOW TO GET TO GREENPORT FROM NYC

Train – Take the LIRR to Greenport. The station is right in the center of the town. Or, if the schedules don’t align for you, take the LIRR to Ronkonkoma and then an Uber to Greenport (if you’re with friends you can easily split this ride to save on costs).

Driving – Or you can drive there in 2 hours from NYC.

Shelter Island, Long Island

Day trip from NYC to Shelter Island for kayaking and delicious seafood

Shelter Island is special. Not just because it’s lush, quaint, underrated, and located just minutes from Long Island by ferry–but there is also a unique history of Greek and other European immigrants who moved here in the 1900s and have shaped the island’s modern-day ambiance. Today, the island retains a unique multicultural heritage while also being home to some of the most expensive and lavish homes in the country.

Be sure to pair your trip to Shelter Island with a visit to Greenport (listed above).

Things You Can’t Miss in Shelter Island

Rent Bikes – To peddle around the island.

KayakingRent kayaks here for about $50 per person to see the beautiful bay, stop by a historic home, see the beaches, and other natural wonders.

Mashomack Preserve – 2,000+ acres of nature reserve with marshes, forest & creeks.

Commander Cody’s – This black-owned restaurant serves delicious seafood out of a cozy space that feels like home. Don’t forget to try the fried pickles and cornbread!

New Paltz, New York

New Paltz is special. As soon as you enter the town you’ll see a small Dominican restaurant at the foot of the main street two hours north of NYC. That alone wins major points for this small artistic college town in the Catskills. For foodies, art lovers, cultural enthusiasts, and outdoor aficionados, New Paltz is one of the best small towns in New York to visit and makes for one of the best day trips from NYC.

New Paltz Top Things to Do – NYC Day Trip

Stroll the downtown area – New Paltz is home to several restaurants and shops in their expansive downtown area. Their restaurant selections range from Turkish to Dominican food! And there are several side streets to explore for art or shopping as well.

Hiking – New Paltz is at the foot of so many different hikes from NYC to choose from. The most popular ones being in Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Mohonk Preserve.

Art – Since New Paltz is home to the college of SUNY NEW Paltz, which specializes in art, you can find several art galleries in town such as DM Weil Art Gallery Unison Art Center.

HOW TO GET TO NEW PALTZ

Driving – You can drive here from NYC within two hours.

Train + Uber – Take the Metronorth up to Poughkeepsie and then take an Uber to New Paltz.

Bus – Take a 2-hour Trailways bus from Port Authority in Manhattan.

Cold Spring, New York

This small New York town is one of the easiest NYC day trips because it’s less than 90 minutes by train and has its own Metro-North station. The perfect NYC getaway to the Hudson Valley.

Easy NYC Day Trip to Cold Spring

Kayaking & Paddleboarding – Over the Hudson River with Hudson River Expeditions.

Hiking – There are several hikes from Cold Spring such as: Breakneck Ridge, Bull Hill, Anthony’s Nose, Meadow Pine, and more.

Magazzino Italian Art Museum – A must-visit for art and culture lovers. This museum is a gorgeous homage to Italian cultural heritage.

Downtown – The downtown area (pictured above) is full of shops and restaurants to choose from. If you want all the way down, you can stop by a beautiful open space facing the Hudson River where you can sit on one of the many benches over a scoop of local ice cream.

Stone Crop Gardens – Beautiful public garden. Book your appointment here.

HOW TO GET TO COLD SPRING

Train – Take the Metro-North just 8 stops from Grand Central!

Driving – A little over an hour driving from Manhattan.

Fruit Picking in Redhook, New York

Redhook is home to several of New York’s farms. Here you can stop by local small farms to buy produce and other foods or to do some fruit picking. Perfect for relaxing in nature or an activity for your family/kids.

Greig Farm is where I went for blueberry picking and apple cider donuts. They also offer a variety of fruit pickings that naturally changes per season.

HOW TO GET TO REDHOOK FROM NYC

CAR – About 2.5 hours driving from NYC.

Port Jefferson, Long Island

Day trip from nyc to long island

This underrated Long Island town feels a world away from NYC. Here you can visit the waterfront/beach, enjoy watersports, go boutique shopping, pop into the restaurants, and more. But my favorite? Pirate’s Cove (pictured above) – a beautiful sand dune formation with a beautiful beach area at the bottom.

HOW TO GET TO PORT JEFFERSON FROM NYC

Train – Take the LIRR to Port Jefferson train station. From there a 5 minute Uber will take you into the town’s center.

Driving – Two hours from Brooklyn.

Long Island Wine Country

Did you know there is a quaint region renown for its vineyards, wineries, beautiful outdoors, and local markets? On the same island as Brooklyn and Queens? Welcome to Long Island’s North Fork where you can find Long Island Wine Country.

Wineries to Try on Your Day Trip

  • Shinn Estate Vineyards & Farmhouse – Stunning vineyard with high quality wines and ingredients.
  • Pindar Vineyards – Stop by their beautiful sunflower garden
  • Sparkling Pointe
  • Kontokosta Winery

Bonus: Consider stopping by the Halyward Restaurant for dinner. Or dropping into Greenport (listed above) on your trip.

HOW TO GET THERE FROM NYC

The region expands from Mattituck all the way through around East Marion. So it depends on what part you’d like to go to. Google one of the vineyards and take the LIRR to the nearest point and then call an Uber.

Bonus: Ubers are a third of the price in Long Island than they are in New York City.

Kingston, New York

The first capital of New York State, Kingston, offers several things to do for a quaint day trip. As one of the battlegrounds during the American Revolution, much of Kingston was burned down by the British. But still, remnants of Dutch and colonial influence can be found well-preserved especially in its historic center.

The city of Kingston is divided into three parts: Uptown, Midtown, and the Rondout¬†(the waterfront). If you can only pick one, I recommend strolling around uptown. Here you can head straight to Rough Draft Bar & Books located in an old colonial-style building on a historic street. And if you’re in Kingston on a weekend, stop by the Kingston Farmers Market.

HOW TO GET TO KINGSTON FROM NYC

Bus – Trailways bus from Port Authority for about $30.

Driving – About 2 hours north of NYC by car.

Hudson Valley & Catskill Hikes Day Trip Near NYC

There are hundreds of different hiking trails within 2 hours day trip near NYC. Consider taking a day in nature to enjoy the outdoors while moving your body. A much-needed experience for many of us quarantined New Yorkers. Here is a full list of our top recommended beautiful hikes from NYC.

Tullin Ranch Horseback Riding in Saugerties, NY

When you think of New York, I’m sure horses are one of the last things you imagine. But New York is home to horse ranches where you can do a horse back riding lesson or trail tour through the beautiful outdoors. The perfect break from the hustle and bustle of city living while reconnecting with nature and getting a great workout!

Just between the cute town of Saugerties and the historic small city of Kingston, is Tullin Ranch. Here, you can ride through Scenic Hudson enjoying the beautiful sights. You can also combine a trail ride with a lesson, perfect for beginners who want to become better acquainted with horses. Riders of all experiences are welcomed. The owner, Tammy, a New York cow girl, will teach you everything you need to know.

HOW TO GET TO TULLIN RANCH FROM NYC

Bus – Trailways bus from Port Authority for about $30. And then an Uber for about $10-15 each way. Contact John – a wonderful driver whom I met through Lyft. He can drive you around the area for the same price as Uber/Lyft or less.

Driving – About 2 hours north of NYC by car.

Storm King Art Center, NY

Storm King Art Center is renown as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks for 50+ years. Just one hour driving from NYC, this art center offers 500 acres of rolling hills, meadows, and tree-lined woodlands that will make you think you’re in another country.

The combination of natural beauty and stunning modern art makes for the perfect cultural, outdoors, and social distancing experience. This is a must-visit day trip from NYC for art lovers.

This region in the Hudson Valley makes it easy to add other unique experiences into your day trip out of NYC:

  • Go hiking at Stewart State Forest, Schunemunk Mountain State Park, or Storm King Mountain.
  • Visit Angry Orchards cider house.
  • Check out Beacon, NY (listed above).
  • Visit the town of Cornwall-on-Hudson
  • Check out Bannerman Castle
  • Visit one of the many wineries in the region such as the Brotherhood Winery

HOW TO GET TO STORM KING ART CENTER FROM NYC

Metro-North + Uber – Take the Metro-North train to Beacon, New York. Then an Uber to the Storm King Art Center.

Driving – About 90 minutes north of NYC by car.

Peekamoose Blue Hole

Peekamoose Blue Hole is a crystalline, emerald-blue, natural swimming pool tucked within the verdant Sundown Wild Forest in the Catskill Forest Preserve. This idyllic blue hole is formed as a part of the Rondout Creek which flows into the Rondout Reservoir where nearly half of our drinking water in New York City comes from!

However, today, Peekamoose Blue Hole is at risk of being shut down to the public due to the pollution and environmental strain from the mass crowds visiting every year. So if you do a day trip here, get there during off-peak season and be mindful. Please read these important things to know beforehand so that you can better enjoy your experience while still conserving it.

HOW TO GET TO PEEKAMOOSE BLUE HOLE

CarAbout two hours north of NYC.


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