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While visiting NYC, consider checking out one or two of the best cities near New York. The Big Apple’s convenient location is just a few hours from several awesome destinations, like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Whether you only have time for a day trip from NYC, or you have a couple of days, I recommend taking advantage of it. Visiting one of the cities near Manhattan will give you a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of NYC, and it’s a great way to maximize your time, especially if you won’t return to the area anytime soon.
Also, since there are several big cities near NYC, it’s quite easy to visit one or two of them. You can rent a car in NYC or, depending on which town you want to visit, take an organized tour. In this guide, I’ll help you choose a city to explore, although I’ll tell you now that they all offer something different.
1. Philadelphia, PA, a historic city near New York
Just a two-hour drive from NYC, Philadelphia’s top attractions are waiting. As one of the most historic cities near New York, you’ll find no shortage of things to do here.
Of course, you must do the touristy things, especially if it’s your first time here. Be sure to visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, and Penn’s Landing, which often hosts events, vendors, and activities.
Philly also has amazing museums, like the Franklin Institute and the Mutter Museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the best, but even if you don’t go inside, you should still run up the Rocky Steps and get a photo of the Rocky statue.
There are all kinds of dining options here, from Reading Terminal Market to the iconic Philly cheesesteaks at Pat’s and Geno’s. You can also find lots of gourmet restaurants in Rittenhouse Square, along with high-end shops and casual stores.
We have a whole guide on how to plan a Philadelphia day trip from NYC, but if you’re short on time, I recommend this day tour. It includes a visit to Philly and Lancaster, a Pennsylvania city near New York that’s known for its Amish community.
- Recommended accommodation: The Windsor Suites Philadelphia is right on the Ben Franklin Parkway and has an outdoor terrace and rooftop pool. You can find other great hotels in our guide on where to stay in Philadelphia.
2. Washington, D.C., one of the best cities near NYC
Washington, D.C. is another major city near New York City that you must visit, and we have a complete guide on taking a Washington, D.C. daytrip from NYC.
It’s worth the 4.5-hour drive to see the historic attractions in Washington, D.C., which range from presidential monuments and state buildings to internationally recognized museums and institutions. For starters, the Smithsonian institutes appeal to all interests, although some of the most popular are the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of American History.
You’ll also love seeing the impressive memorials and monuments here, like the Lincoln Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial is by the Tidal Basin and looks beautiful in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. Year-round, you can get a lovely view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, and there are several war memorials where you can pay your respects.
Don’t forget to stop by the U.S. Capitol building and the White House, which offers free (reserved) tours. I also recommend adding Arlington National Cemetery, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Botanic Garden to your list.
If you’re short on time or overwhelmed by everything in D.C., this day tour from NYC will cover the highlights and take care of transportation for you.
- Recommended accommodation: The Melrose Georgetown Hotel is a beautiful hotel less than a mile from the National Mall. You can find other great hotels in Washington, D.C. in our guide.
3. Boston, MA, a beautiful city near New York
Boston is a sophisticated city near NYC to visit, either on your own or with a day tour from NYC to Boston like this one. This city is a four-hour drive from New York and has a distinct atmosphere full of history and charm.
You can see a handful of historic landmarks along the Freedom Trail, which starts downtown at the Boston Common. This former cow pasture is one of the oldest parks in the country, so it’s a great starting point. Along the trail, you’ll see the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, the Massachusetts State House, and much more.
The Freedom Trail also goes through the North End, Boston’s oldest neighborhood and home to the city’s Little Italy community. Another neighborhood you should visit is Beacon Hill, which has quaint cobblestone roads and gas street lamps.
If you like museums, you’ll have plenty to choose from in Boston. A few of the most popular ones are the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.
Of course, you don’t have to stay inside all day. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, Boston Public Garden, and Fenway Park are all awesome outdoor venues. Also, don’t miss the Faneuil Hall Marketplace for food, shopping, and more history.
- Recommended accommodation: The Club Quarters Hotel Faneuil Hall has a great downtown location as well as modern rooms, a restaurant, and a gym.
4. Baltimore, MD, a city near New York with lots to do
Baltimore is one of New York’s nearby cities, specifically 3.5 hours to the southwest. One of the biggest draws of this port city is its Inner Harbor, where you’ll find the National Aquarium and seafood restaurants where you can try Maryland crab cakes. Water taxis and cruises are also popular, so consider something like this lunch cruise through the Inner Harbor and along the Patapsco River.
There are other attractions on the waterfront, including the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, the Maryland Science Center, Federal Hill Park, and the American Visionary Art Museum.
Downtown Baltimore’s Arts District is a great place to hang out and explore since it’s the site of the Walters Art Museum, the George Peabody Library, and other institutions.
Along the Patapsco River is the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Here, you can see an important site from the War of 1812, which inspired the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner.
Another photogenic spot is Graffiti Alley, north of downtown. If you keep traveling north, you can visit the hipster neighborhood of Hampden and the beautiful Sherwood Gardens.
- Recommended accommodation: Staybridge Suites Baltimore is a comfortable waterfront hotel with views of the Inner Harbor and downtown Baltimore.
5. Atlantic City, NJ, one of the best coastal cities near New York
Atlantic City is a coastal city near NY with history, entertainment, dining, and more. Plus, it’s just a 2.5-hour drive from the Big Apple, so you can easily make this a couple’s day trip or weekend getaway.
AC’s famous boardwalk is its most popular attraction, and it even inspired the Monopoly boardwalk. Since 1870, the 5.5-mile boardwalk has been attracting tourists and beachgoers. While you’ll find typical boardwalk features like shops and food stalls, Atlantic City stands out for the 124-year-old Steel Pier, its rolling chairs, and the Entrance to the Stars with handprints from celebrity visitors like Cher, Johnny Carson, and Frank Sinatra.
The boardwalk is also lined with glitzy casinos, and you don’t have to be a gambler to have fun at one of them. These casino resorts are full of gourmet restaurants, luxury shops, and intimate theaters where you can watch a concert or show.
Towards the northern end of the boardwalk, you can admire the views from the 171-foot-tall Absecon Lighthouse. It’s also worth the 20-minute drive to Margate, another New Jersey city close to NYC. There, you can visit Lucy the Elephant, a 65-foot novelty statue.
Atlantic City is one of the best places to visit in New Jersey, and it’s close to other beaches like Ocean City and Cape May.
- Recommended accommodation: The beachfront Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has a pool, sun terrace, gym, restaurant, and bar.
6. Providence, RI, one of the best cities near New York for families
In just under four hours, you can experience the New England charm of Providence, Rhode Island. This major city near New York City is worth the drive thanks to its historical landmarks, entertainment options, and cultural institutions. It’s no wonder it makes for one of the best road trips from NYC.
Providence is home to several universities, including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), so it has that vibrant college town vibe. At the same time, it’s one of the oldest cities in New England, so there is a lot of history to discover.
For example, you can take in the culture and legacy of Providence at the RISD Museum, the Providence Performing Arts Center, and the Providence Athenaeum, one of the oldest libraries in the U.S.
For a great overview of the city’s history, walk along Benefit Street, which is lined with Federal period homes, the Governor Stephen Hopkins House, and the John Brown House.
Back in the downtown (or “Downcity”) area, you’ll find amazing Art Deco and Beaux-Arts architecture as well as Victorian facades. Cross the Woonasquatucket River and visit Waterplace Park and the famous WaterFire sculpture.
You can discover the different neighborhoods of Providence and some hidden gems with this small group tour. You’ll visit the Rhode Island State House, see the views from Prospect Terrace Park, go to Providence’s Little Italy, Federal Hill, and more.
- Recommended accommodation: Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown offers a shuttle service, complimentary breakfast, and comfy rooms.
7. Albany, NY, another interesting city near New York
Albany is another cool city outside New York City that you should visit. It’s three hours north of NYC and serves as the state capitol, so it’s full of impressive governmental buildings.
Besides the New York State Capitol, I recommend visiting the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, which consists of several offices, government buildings, and The Egg Performing Arts Center.
Speaking of the arts, Albany is home to the Albany Institute of History & Art as well as the New York State Museum, which has 12 million artifacts like gems, minerals, fossils, and ancient artwork. It’s also worth visiting the museum and planetarium at the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center.
If you prefer the outdoors, be sure to check out Washington Park and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Also, Albany is near the Adirondack Mountains, one of the best things to see in NY state.
Back in the city proper, I also recommend some historic estates that were built in the late 18th century. Cherry Hill was built in 1787 for the noble Van Rensselaer family, while the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site dates back to the 1760s. More recently, the USS Slater is a destroyer escort ship that launched in 1944 and today serves as a museum.
- Recommended accommodation: The Renaissance Albany Hotel is right downtown and has elegant rooms, private parking, a gym, and a restaurant.
8. New Haven, CT, one of the best cities near New York for couples
New Haven, CT is a little over two hours northeast of NYC, so it’s the perfect place to visit for a weekend. This city near New York is along Long Island Sound, so it’ll give you a different viewpoint of Long Island.
You can get a beautiful panorama of the water from East Rock Park, which also has a rose garden and hiking trails. Downtown, New Haven Green is a lovely park and National Historic Landmark with several 19th-century churches. I also recommend Lighthouse Point Park, a picturesque area with nice views, a playground, and a carousel.
If you’re into art and culture, New Haven is one of the best cities near New York to visit. It’s home to Yale University, which has its own Art Gallery, Center for British Art, and the Peabody Museum. Off-campus, there are other institutions like the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the New Haven Museum, and Shubert Theater. The Shore Line Trolley Museum and the Connecticut Science Center are great places to visit with kids.
Finally, take a walk down Wooster Street in the city center, which is known as New Haven’s Little Italy. Here, you can pop into Italian bakeries and pizza shops to try New Haven-style pizza, which is coal-fired and has a thin crust.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay in the heart of the city at Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, where you can walk to Yale and several downtown attractions.
9. Hartford, CT, another one of the best cities to visit near New York
Hartford, CT is another city to visit near New York, and it’s just 45 minutes north of New Haven. As the capital city of Connecticut, Hartford has lots of attractions as well as shopping and dining venues.
First, the Connecticut State Capitol features beautiful Victorian Gothic architecture and offers guided and self-guided tours. You can also see amazing Gothic Revival structures in the Coltsville Historic District, including the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Hartford was incorporated in 1784, so some of the oldest buildings in the country are here. For example, you can visit author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s former home and the Ancient Burying Ground, which has gravestones dating back to 1648. Mark Twain lived in the city in the late 1800s, and you can take a tour of his Victorian mansion.
If you’re traveling with family, check out the Connecticut Science Center and Bushnell Park. The latter is the site of a 1914 Stein and Goldstein carousel and the Museum of Connecticut History. Not far is Riverside Park, an outdoor space with walking trails and playgrounds. There, you can enjoy the fresh air or take a cruise along the Connecticut River.
Finally, I recommend the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden outside the city center, especially if you’re traveling as a couple.
- Recommended accommodation: The Goodwin is in the middle of downtown Hartford and has an intimate vibe with cozy rooms and an Italian restaurant.
10. Syracuse, NY, the best city near New York to visit with friends
The last city near New York that I recommend is Syracuse, NY. It’s about 4.5 hours from NYC, and it’s in the Finger Lakes region, specifically near Onondaga Lake.
While you’re here, be sure to stop by Onondaga Lake Park, also known as the Central Park of Central New York. This waterfront area has over seven miles of walking paths and trails, a dog park, a playground, and a Salt Museum.
Over in the city center, check out Clinton Square, a downtown park surrounded by beautiful buildings. The park is within walking distance of several popular attractions like the Erie Canal Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology, and the Landmark Theatre. It’s also close to the Niagara Mohawk Building, an Art Deco “cathedral of light” that served as the headquarters for the Niagara Hudson Electric Company.
If it’s a rainy day or you want to pick up some souvenirs, you’ll find everything you’re looking for at Destiny USA, the largest mall in New York. The Everson Museum of Art and the Community Folk Art Center are also worth visiting.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, where you can get a good night’s sleep after a full day exploring this city outside New York.
That’s it for the best cities near New York. Don’t forget to check out the map below to see each city’s location in relation to NYC.
I’d love to hear about your favorite city near New York or any questions you may have. Leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you! Until then, have fun!