Scattered all around New York City you’ll find villages steeped in history, B&B’s with old world charm, parks with larger than life sculptures, and picturesque hiking trails. To the seasoned New Yorker, day trips are a tried and true way to recharge and enjoy a slower pace of life. Some of the best day trips offer world famous art or cuisine, and others are simply a great way to escape the bustle of the city. Plan your next getaway with our list of the 6 best day trips from NYC.
NYC Day Trips by Train
90 mins on the Metro North
A scenic 90 min train ride from Grand Central Station brings you to the glistening, victorian-era town of Beacon, NY. Spend the day browsing the antique shops, bakeries, art galleries, and boutiques that line the main street. Beacon also boasts a surprisingly sophisticated food and drink scene given its size; discover the ice cream shops, breweries, distilleries, and eateries that define this quintessential village town.
For art lovers, the main attraction is Dia:Beacon, a contemporary art museum located in a former Nabisco box printing facility. The 300,000 square foot museum is considered a landmark of early twentieth-century architecture; the concrete, steel, and glass building pay homage to Beacon’s history as a major industrial city. From the 1960’s forward, the museum has housed the Dia Foundation’s permanent collection of works. Each gallery room inside the museum was designed specifically for each individual artist’s work.
1.5 hours by Amtrak / 2 hours by Bus
Regardless of your affinity for the sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Philadelphia is a fun and surprisingly accessible day trip from NYC. The southward trip takes just under 2 hours, and once you’ve arrived, you’ll find yourself in a different world – one filled with cheesesteaks, trendy vintage shops, the historic Liberty Bell, and the famous Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Philadelphia boasts a strong food scene and the iconic cheesesteak reigns supreme. The debate for the greatest is unlikely to ever be settled, but you can’t go wrong with either Geno’s Steaks or Pat’s King of Steaks. Be sure to leave room for other delicacies found at Reading Terminal Market, a 127 year old market built under a former railroad terminal. Since 1893, this market has been offering visitors the freshest meats, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections, and all under one roof. In between meals, stroll the historic, urban streets of Philly and take in the scenic views on the Delaware River waterfront and visit an array of museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Magic Gardens, a funky, mosaicked wonderland full of color and art is another unique Philadelphia attraction not to be missed.
3. Storm King Art Center
80 min drive / 2.5 hours by bus
Since the 1960’s, this magical 500-acre open-air preserve has exhibited several artists’ most ambitious works. The larger-than-life sculptures at Storm King are displayed in outdoor galleries and shaped by the hills, meadows, and forests that make up the surrounding landscape. The art is bold, ambitious, and site-specific and the scenery provides a tranquil space for visitation and reflection. Storm King makes our list for best day trips from NYC because one can spend an entire day here viewing the art, picnicking, relaxing, and simply enjoying being in nature.
4. Coney Island
1 hour 10 mins by train from Midtown
Although Brooklyn might not feel like day trip status, Coney Island resides in a league of its own. Home to Luna Park, the old school amusement park located in the southernmost part of Brooklyn, Coney Island is a destination synonymous with fun that feels like a world apart from the high-rise buildings and concrete jungle that is Manhattan.
It’s not just Luna Park that makes Coney Island special. The neighborhood boasts a dazzling variety of venues and activities including the thunderbolt roller coaster, New York aquarium, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team, and the iconic beachside boardwalk. Whether your goal is to relax in the sand or ride all the roller coasters possible, Coney Island provides a plethora of exciting options.
5. Blue Hill Farm
50 min drive / 1 hour 20 mins by train
For those looking to excite their taste buds and their knowledge of a sustainable food system, look no further than the iconic Blue Hill farm at Stone Barns, located 30 miles north of Manhattan, in Westchester County. The family-owned and operated 80-acre estate includes an enchanting barn, non-profit educational space, lush farmland, and a curated market.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is most well known for chef and co-owner Dan Barber’s progressive approach toward creating sustainable, upscale food. The restaurant works closely with grain and vegetable growers and breeders to develop and champion sustainable food varieties. The two Michelin star restaurant has pivoted in 2021 to a chef-in-residence format, with a new chef taking over each season.
On the day trip from NY, one can take a farm tour, led by a Blue Hill farmer and cook, to learn about Blue Hill’s food system and explore the innovation lab. The market, curated by Laureen Barber, offers a place to shop while the cafe and grain bar sells sandwiches, baked goods, and lunch items to-go.
6. Cold Spring
1 hour 20 mins by train
After a short, scenic train ride on the metro-north, you will find yourself immersed in the charming country village of Cold Spring. An idyllic town nestled by the Hudson River that features plenty of art and antiques, homemade ice cream and fudge shops, and quaint B&B’s. One can spend hours walking and shopping the main street and settling into a slower pace of life.
For those interested in breaking a sweat, the Hudson Highlands State Park is a nearby preserve with over 70 miles of hiking trails. Bull Hill is a popular hike that is walkable from the Cold Spring train station and offers panoramic, picturesque views of the Hudson Valley throughout. Keep a lookout for ancient ruins, babbling brooks, wooded enclaves, and stunning views.
If getting out of the city is more and more appealing to you, search properties in Westchester or the Hamptons here.