While there are so many cool things to do in NYC, it’s not a bad idea to consider taking a day trip from New York City. The noise, traffic, and crowds of the Big Apple can be a bit much at times, and there are many wonderful places near Manhattan that you can reach within just a few hours.
You can rent a car for your excursion from NYC or take your own vehicle. If you don’t want to drive, don’t worry. NYC is very well connected with many cities and towns around ($11 discount on bus and train connections).
Also, you can even find some day tours from New York City to several of the destinations I’ll mention in this guide.
Here, I’m sharing the 15 best NYC day trips, from the most beautiful state parks to major cities and historical places. So, whether you’re looking for the best beach getaway from NYC or a mountain escape, I’ve got you covered! Also, for even more ideas, check out our guide on the best things to do outside NYC.
1. Philadelphia, PA, one of the best day trips from New York City
Philadelphia offers something for everyone, and it’s just a couple of hours outside Manhattan, so it’s a perfect choice. You can easily get there by car or make it an Amtrak day trip from NYC if you prefer to travel by train (check schedule and best rates here).
History buffs will have a field day in the City of Brotherly Love, where they can see the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, and Independence Mall. If it’s art and culture that you’re after, the Avenue of the Arts is home to reputable institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, and the Franklin Institute. It’s also worth snapping a photo with the famous LOVE sculpture or the Rocky statue if that’s more your thing.
Stretch your legs while walking along the Schuylkill River Trail, browse the shops on South Street, and check out Penn’s Landing, which often hosts festivals and events. If you want more ideas, we have a complete guide on the best things to do in Philadelphia.
When you get hungry, Reading Terminal Market is a large food hall where you can find all kinds of foods, such as cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and Amish baked goods. Speaking of which, Philly isn’t far from Amish Country in Lancaster, PA. If you want to maximize this day trip from New York City, consider this tour, which visits both Philadelphia and Lancaster in a day.
2. Washington, D.C., the best NYC day trip to take in the spring
A visit to the country’s capital city won’t disappoint, as Washington, D.C. is full of important monuments, interesting museums, and a few hidden gems. A day trip from New York City to Washington, D.C. is something you can do as a family or with your partner since there are activities for all ages.
If you go here, you must check out the monuments and historical landmarks, many of which commemorate former U.S. Presidents. Some of the best ones are the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
I also recommend stopping by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, or World War II Memorial to pay your respects.
Moreover, the National Mall is one of the best places to see in Washington, D.C. Here, you can capture gorgeous photos of the Washington Memorial and Reflecting Pool. Also, the National Mall is bordered by Smithsonian museums such as the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
If you visit in the spring, you can see the famous cherry blossoms, but if you miss them, there is still plenty to see here. While D.C. is mostly known for its historical landmarks, it’s a great food city, and you can find just about any type of cuisine here.
3. The Hamptons, the best beach day trip from NYC
Any savvy New Yorker knows that The Hamptons is one of the best summer getaways from NYC, so if you’re looking for a place to visit during the warmer months, don’t hesitate to go!
The Hamptons consist of several beach communities and towns on the eastern end of Long Island, NY. Here, you can find some of the best beaches near NYC, such as Main Beach, a family-friendly and well-maintained beach. It’s in East Hampton, one of the most popular summer colonies in The Hamptons, which includes smaller villages like Montauk and Sag Harbor.
Montauk is a pleasant town in East Hampton with cute B&Bs and a historic lighthouse. As for Sag Harbor, it has a charming, small-town feel and several old buildings dating back to the early 1800s.
If you want to enjoy some watersports, Cooper’s Beach in Southampton is a great choice. The coastline is pristine and has lifeguards on duty during the high season, so you can go swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding. Plus, the downtown area has scenic shops and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat.
As you can see, a trip to The Hamptons makes for one of the best beach getaways from NYC. If you don’t want to worry about driving and finding a parking spot, consider this day trip from New York City, which includes stops in Southampton, Sag Harbor, and the Tanger Outlets.
4. Beacon, NY, the best NYC day trip to upstate New York
Nestled in the Hudson Valley, just 60 miles north of NYC, Beacon is a lovely historic town with an artsy vibe. That said, it also offers plenty of outdoor activities, so it’s the perfect upstate NY day trip from New York City.
Back in the day, Beacon was one of New York’s industrial centers, and today it’s a hidden gem that you shouldn’t pass by. You’ll quickly become enchanted by the city’s historical charm and small-town feel. Stroll through the downtown area and pop into the museums and galleries, the most famous being Dia Beacon, an old Nabisco boxing factory turned contemporary art gallery.
Beacon is also home to old landmarks and colonial architecture like the Madam Brett Homestead and the Eustatia cottage. If you venture towards the outskirts of the city, you can enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of the Hudson Valley.
Consider spending a few hours exploring the hiking trails around Hudson Highlands State Park or Mt. Beacon Park. The area is particularly beautiful in fall, so if you can, plan this Hudson Valley day trip from NYC in September or October.
It takes just an hour and a half to drive to Beacon from the Big Apple, which is why it’s one of the best NYC weekend getaways.
5. Niagara Falls, NY, a fun family day trip from NYC
Without a doubt, a Niagara Falls day trip from New York City will not disappoint. Niagara Falls is a gorgeous natural wonder that you should see at least once. It extends into Ontario, Canada, although you’ll find plenty of cool things to do in Niagara Falls on the New York side.
The U.S. portion of Niagara Falls includes several lookout points where you can get stunning views of the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls. For example, Terrapin Point, on Goat Island, is a secluded place where you can clearly see Horseshoe Falls. Of course, Prospect Point is the most famous viewpoint, which will grant you a panorama of the American Falls and Ontario, Canada.
While you’re gazing at the majestic cascades, you’ll notice people riding through the Niagara Gorge on the Maid of the Mist boat, as well as individuals walking along the Cave of the Winds platforms at the base of the falls. If you don’t mind getting wet, these two activities are a great way to get closer to the waterfalls and witness their sheer power.
For something calmer, check out the walking trails along the Niagara River Gorge, or journey out to Old Fort Niagara, a colonial fortification and museum about 20 minutes from the falls.
6. Full-day Long Island wine tour, a romantic day trip from NYC
Another lovely warm-weather locale near NYC is Long Island, where you’ll find everything from watersports to wineries. Stretching from New York Harbor to the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island encompasses several densely-populated cities and communities, such as The Hamptons, Great Neck, and Mineola.
Planning a day trip to Long Island from NYC can be a bit confusing, but I’ll tell you that one of the best things to do here is to visit a winery. You can find vineyards and wineries throughout the region, although some of the best ones are Pellegrini Vineyards and Sannino Vineyard in Cutchogue; Sparkling Pointe Vineyard in Southold; and Baiting Hollow Vineyard in Calverton.
For the ultimate winery day trip from NYC, do this vineyard bike tour, which combines the amazing wineries of North Fork with the beautiful beaches of The Hamptons.
In fact, one of the nicest things about Long Island is that you can sip on some delightful wines and visit the beach in one day. Some of the best beaches on Long Island are Jones Beach State Park, Robert Moses State Park, Montauk, and Fire Island, which I’ll talk about next. So, if you’re looking for a romantic day trip from NYC, Long Island is a prime destination.
7. Fire Island, NY, one of the best summer getaways from NYC
As I mentioned, Fire Island is on Long Island, and it stands out for its family-centric atmosphere, summertime activities, and pristine natural parks. If you’re going to be in the area during the summer, taking a beach day trip from NYC to Fire Island is the perfect way to relax and cool off.
Fire Island stretches for 30 miles and is home to a number of private communities and unspoiled beaches. I recommend visiting Robert Moses State Park, which features five miles of coastline and an entry point to the Fire Island National Seashore. Here, you can spend time with family, enjoy swimming in the sea, and venture along the nearby nature trails. There are also lots of bird and animal species here, particularly along the 1.5-mile boardwalk trail through the Sunken Forest.
If you want to splash out on something fancier, you can book a boat rental at Barrett Beach Park, a quieter and more secluded coastal community. Alternatively, Watch Hill has a scenic and serene campground, marina, nature trail, and lifeguarded beach.
8. Boston, MA, a great daytrip from NYC for history lovers
For a change of scenery, Boston, Massachusetts offers culture, food, history, and more, making it one of the top daytrips from New York City. It takes a little over 3.5 hours to drive to Boston from Manhattan, and there is never a bad time to visit the city, although it’s prone to New England’s winter storms.
Of course, it’s that New England charm that brings so many people to Boston. Here, you can visit the Boston Public Garden, the country’s first botanical garden, as well as Boston Common, the city’s central square and the oldest public park in the U.S.
The sightseeing here is unmatched, so if you’re into art, history, or entertainment, you’re in for a treat. Be sure to check out the 900-foot-tall Prudential Tower, the deCordova Museum & Sculpture Park, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the museums at Harvard.
You can also get a great overview of the city by strolling along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a one-mile stretch through Chinatown, the Financial District, and the North End. The Greenway contains several parks and goes past Boston Harbor, where you can enjoy a cruise or watch from the Harborwalk.
You can also find hikes and nature reservations near the city, and Boston is one of the best foodie day trips from NYC, so leave room for lobster rolls, clam chowder, and Boston Cream Pie!
9. Jersey shore, a fun summer daytrip from NYC for families
Another fun day trip from NYC that crosses state lines is the Jersey shore. Stretching from South Jersey’s Cape May coast to Asbury Park in the north, the 130-mile shoreline includes over 40 beaches. We have a complete guide to the best beaches in New Jersey, so you can find exactly the kind of environment you’re looking for.
If you want a Jersey beach that’s not too far from Manhattan, check out Asbury Park, a historical beach town with amusements, a waterpark, and a pinball arcade museum. Alternatively, Island Beach State Park is much more rustic and natural, so it’s good for outdoor enthusiasts.
If you travel further south, you can visit Ocean City, NJ, another top family resort with a boardwalk, amusements, and Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. You can also go kayaking, parasailing, and paddleboarding in Great Egg Harbor Bay.
Finally, in South Jersey, you can enjoy two of the best beach day trips from NYC. First, Wildwood has a youthful vibe with lots of amusements, arcades, and beach bars here. Just 20 minutes away, Cape May is a quieter beach community with colorful Victorian mansions. If you go here, be sure to check out the Cape May Point State Park and Lighthouse, the wineries, or one of the Cape May dolphin-watching tours.
10. Storm King Art Center, another excellent day trip from NYC
Back in the Hudson Highlands, the Storm King Art Center is another NYC day trip you should do. It’s just an hour from Manhattan, and close to Storm King Mountain, so the scenery is stunning.
The Art Center is a huge open-air museum and sculpture garden, so it’s best to visit when the weather is warmer (it closes in the winter.) Also, since it’s in the Hudson River Valley, it would make for a great fall day trip from NYC. Along with the wonderful works of art, you can enjoy the autumn foliage and colorful leaves.
There are over 100 sculptures here, including pieces by well-known artists like Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, and David Smith. The Art Center also hosts special exhibits from time to time, so it’s worth visiting more than once.
Finally, this outdoor museum covers about 500 acres of wooded areas, meadows, and hills, so take your time to enjoy the environment and the artwork. You can even rent a bike and follow the bike trails around the premises.
11. Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown, NY, the best daytrip from NYC to take in the fall
Sleepy Hollow is a historic and, according to some, haunted village along the Hudson River. It’s just 30 minutes from the Big Apple, so it’s one of the best day trips from NYC. The town is most famous for the short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was written in 1820 and describes the village’s Headless Horseman.
While the horseman was a fictional character, that didn’t stop Sleepy Hollow from becoming a legendary town full of history and lore. Even though some say that the place is haunted, it has more of a quaint vibe than a creepy one.
That said, Sleepy Hollow is a popular fall day trip from NYC since the autumn colors and Halloween season bring lots of festivities. Be sure to visit the Old Dutch Church and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, two unique sites from the 17th century. If you’re a fan of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman Bridge is a small, rustic footbridge, that’s nearby.
Right next to Sleepy Hollow is Tarrytown, another interesting village with a storybook feel. Tarrytown has a strong Dutch history and several impressive structures dating back to the 1800s, like the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns, the Lyndhurst mansion, the Sunnyside house, and the Tarrytown Music Hall. I also recommend visiting the Tarrytown Lighthouse and the Philipsburg Manor House, built in the late 1600s.
12. Cold Spring, NY, another wonderful daytrip from NYC
Right next to Beacon, you’ll find Cold Spring, another beautiful city near NYC. Located along the Hudson River, Cold Spring is a pretty town known for its art, culture, and proximity to gorgeous natural areas.
Spend some time walking along Main Street, the lively town center where you can dine alfresco, go antique shopping, and enjoy live music and theater. There is also Dockside Park, a lovely riverfront park that provides views of Storm King Mountain.
If you love museums, be sure to check out the Magazzino Italian Art gallery and the Putnam History Museum, which preserves the history of the West Point Foundry ironworking shop. The outdoor portion of the museum preserves an old Civil War-era artillery site.
Moreover, Cold Spring is one of the best New York City daytrips to take if you want some fresh air and outdoor recreation. Stonecrop Gardens is a 12-acre public alpine garden that’s perfect for visiting if you’re short on time. However, if you can, I recommend exploring the biking or hiking trails in the area. The Breakneck Ridge Loop is a challenging hike with a steep incline, while the Fjord Trail is a shorter out-and-back route that goes through Hudson Highlands State Park from Cold Spring to Beacon.
This city is also one of the best summer getaways from NYC, so if you visit during the warmer months, you must go boating, paddleboarding, or kayaking on the Hudson River.
13. The Catskills, the ultimate winter day trip from NYC
If you’re looking for the perfect winter day trip from New York City, I can’t recommend The Catskills enough. The Catskill Mountains are a popular winter destination for New Yorkers, not to mention one of the best things to do in New York state, so you’re sure to have a blast here.
The Catskills are part of the Appalachian Mountains and offer stunning scenery, majestic views, and countless activities. There are several ski resorts in the area, which makes the Catskills one of the top places for a skiing daytrip from NYC. Spend the day skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing at Belleayre Mountain or Hunter Mountain, then head to one of the nearby towns, like Phoenicia or Saugerties.
Phoenicia has a nice downtown area full of galleries, antique shops, and breweries, and it’s close to the Phoenicia Mt. Tobias Wild Forest. Saugerties, which is nearby, is home to the Opus 40 Museum and Sculpture Park, the Saugerties Lighthouse, and the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve. If you love to hike, you can find more hiking routes in the towns of Hudson and Woodstock.
While the Catskills are best known for winter sports, you can visit during the summer to enjoy the waterfalls, hiking trails, and activities like rafting and tubing. The Catskill Scenic Trail is especially popular, as is driving along the 52-mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway.
14. Bear Mountain State Park, a nice daytrip from NYC for nature lovers
Located an hour north of Manhattan, Bear Mountain State Park is a beautiful natural area nestled next to the Hudson River and shadowed by Bear Mountain. The entire park spans 5,200 acres and features lots of activities and attractions for all ages. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best family day trips from NYC that you can take any time of year.
If you go during the summer, you can take a swim in the park’s public pool or Hessian Lake, which also has paddleboat rentals. The park also has a playground, picnic areas, and numerous biking and hiking trails. The Hessian Lake Loop is an easy 1.5-mile route, while the Fort Montgomery Trail is a more difficult route that begins on the Appalachian Trail and leads to the ruins of Fort Montgomery, a fortification from the American Revolution.
Again, Bear Mountain State Park is a quick road trip from NYC that you can do year-round, so if you go in the winter, you can go skiing, ice skating, and sledding. If you’re visiting with kids, there are also the Trailside Museums, which include a reptile and amphibian house, a geology exhibit, and a history museum.
15. New Canaan, CT, a day trip from New York City you can do on the weekend
Finally, New Canaan, Connecticut, which is about 1.5 hours from Manhattan, is home to architecture, parks, activities, and nature, so it’s the perfect destination to round out our list of New York City day trips. New Canaan may not be the first place you think of near NYC, but it’s a beautiful little town that you can enjoy with family or as a couple.
For example, there are several lovely parks where you can stretch your legs, have a picnic, and enjoy some outdoor recreation. Waveny Park is one of the best parks in town, with a pool, a paddle tennis court, walking trails, and even a castle. It’s also worth seeing Mead Memorial Park, Mill Pond Park, or Irwin Park, which is known for its family of goats.
Speaking of wildlife, the Bristow Bird Sanctuary has over 100 bird species, and the New Canaan Nature Center is full of meadows, ponds, and wetlands, as well as an arboretum, botanical garden, and greenhouse. The Olive and George Lee Memorial Garden is a gorgeous hidden gem, especially during azalea season.
If you’re into art and culture, New Canaan’s downtown district is a must-see. Along with its restaurants, vintage shops, bookstores, and theater, it’s close to the Philip Johnson Glass House, a contemporary art museum.
With that, you now have 15 New York City day trip ideas for your next stay in the Big Apple. Some of these places are pretty close to each other, so you may want to consider visiting multiple locations during your trip. You can download this tourist map of New York to help you plan out your perfect day trip route.
I hope you found some day trips from NYC you like! If you have any questions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll be happy to help. Have a fun trip!