The 8 Best Day Trips from NYC

New York City has so much to offer—restaurants serving nearly every cuisine in the world, amazing museums, even the best public park on the planet, among so much else. It’s easy to forget there are things to see and experience outside this metropolis of five boroughs and nearly nine million inhabitants.  

View of a former Victorian castle perched on a rock above a body of water with rolling green hills in the background
Picture-perfect views surround historic Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, Upstate New York. Photo credit: Samwoo E

But, in fact, taking a day trip from New York is a worthy endeavor, as there are charming towns, comfortable beaches, and lush wilderness in nearly every direction. Here are the eight best day trips from NYC.  

Asbury Park, NJ 

When Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park,” was released in 1973, it cemented the Boss’s connection to this seaside New Jersey town. After all, local music venue The Stone Pony was where the singer got his start. And the club is still there, in case any mega-fans want to make a pilgrimage.  

But one need not be a Springsteen fan to love Asbury Park. For one, it’s an ideal Jersey Shore beach town with a recently revitalized boardwalk and a historic downtown where the streets are flanked by seafood-serving restaurants, cafes, and bars.   

How to get there:  

  • By car: An hour and 15 minutes driving from Manhattan 
  • By train: Two hours and 15 minutes via New Jersey Transit from New York Penn Station 
Busy beach full of people and umbrellas on a clear day with a large brick building at rear left
A beautiful day for the beach in Asbury Park. Photo credit: Jazz Guy

Beacon, NY 

In 2003, a former Nabisco factory was transformed into a cutting-edge art museum in the small town of Beacon. After that, hip people from the big city began gravitating here—many of them moved here—and cool cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques followed. Beacon, a town of about 13,000 denizens on the Hudson River, was reborn.  

Today, Beacon is one of the most common and attractive day trips from NYC thanks, in part, to Dia: Beacon, that factory-turned-art-museum. The museum exhibits art from the 1960s to the present and is worth the trip to Beacon alone.  

In addition to Dia, galleries are sprinkled throughout the center of Beacon. Stroll the streets in the center of town, popping into galleries and planting yourself at one of the many cool cafes and restaurants. Head just south of the train station to catch a look at Bannerman Castle, a partially ruined, early-20th-century, Scottish-inspired fortress on an island in the middle of the Hudson River.   

How to get there:  

  • By car: 90 minutes driving from Manhattan 
  • Two hours via Metro-North Railroad 
Ruins of a large stone castle near a body of water on a clear day
Bannerman Castle is one of Beacon’s coolest sights. Photo credit: Garrett Ziegler

Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY 

Art aficionados should also put Cornwall-on-Hudson on their list of potential day trips from NYC. Located about 50 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, this village of 3,000 people is home to Storm King Art Center.  

Located just outside of the village, Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum that, since 1960, has combined contemporary art with nature. Dotted throughout the low-rolling hills, green meadows, and lush orchards are works of art by Maya Lin, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Serra, among other notable artists.  

City folk come here for the art, but there are also great hiking trails around Cornwall. And when all that walking builds up an appetite, the village has a handful of lovely cafes and restaurants.  

How to get there:  

  • By car: 90 minutes driving from Manhattan 
  • By bus: Two hours from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.  
  • By train: 90 minutes by Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal with a change in Cold Spring to a taxi or car service.  
Five large stone columns in an open outdoor space with several other sculptures visible in the background
Columns and sculptures dot the countryside at the Storm King Art Center. Photo credit: Ron Cogswell

New Paltz, NY 

New Paltz is an ideal Upstate New York town to explore and one of the most picturesque day trips from NYC. Its tree-lined streets are flanked with 17th-century buildings that house bookstores, antique shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars.  

The town is worth checking out in and of itself but most people combine a visit with the Mohonk Preserve, a beautiful swath of landscape just outside of New Paltz that boasts 70 miles of hiking trails. It’s also home to the historic Mohonk Mountain House, a majestic Victorian castle that doubles as a 265-room hotel.   

You need not book a room in the castle to enjoy it. The Mohonk Mountain House boasts a few restaurants serving up everything from burgers to lamb chops to seafood. And the view is a feast for the eyes.  

How to get there:  

  • By car: Two hours from Manhattan 
  • By bus: About two hours by bus via Port Authority Bus Terminal 
  • By train: Tw0-and-a-half hours on AmTrak via Penn Station. 
Hiking trails framed by green and red-leaf trees on a mostly sunny day
One of the many incredible hiking trails at Mohonk on a beautiful fall day. Photo credit: PilotGirl

Nyack, NY 

Similar to the town of Beacon, this village of about 7,000 people up the Hudson River is populated by young, hip couples who fled Brooklyn for small-town life. As a result, the tranquil streets of Nyack are lined with cool cafes, bookstores, art galleries, and antique shops.  

People who like 20th-century American art will be keen to stop into the Edward Hopper House, the birthplace of the famed painter and today a museum displaying some of his work. The house dates back to 1858 when Hopper’s maternal grandmother lived here.  

The location, just 25 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, makes it an easy trip from the city.   

How to get there:  

  • By car: 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan 
  • By train: Two hours via Grand Central Terminal with a change in Tarrytown.  
White two-story house on a suburban street
The historic Edward Hopper House in Nyack. Photo credit: Pierre Marcel

Paterson, NJ 

A few facts about Paterson, NJ: It was founded, partly, by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. The town is home to the 77-foot Great Falls, which also makes up one of the smallest National Parks in the United States. The 2016 film Paterson, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Adam Driver, was set here. Paterson is the hometown of Lou Costello, of Abbott & Costello fame, and poet Allen Ginsberg.  

Another lure to Paterson is that it’s home to Little Lima, a swath of the town’s historic downtown section that is made up of a large community of Peruvians. Visitors stroll the streets, stopping into Peruvian food markets and into Peruvian restaurants to graze on excellent South American staples like fresh ceviche and lomo saltado before washing it down with a pisco sour.  

How to get there:

  • By car: Just 30 minutes across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan 
  • By bus: From Port Authority Bus Station in Midtown Manhattan, take bus 190. The journey takes under an hour.  
  • By train: Take the PATH subway train from Manhattan to Journal Square in Hoboken and change to the train, taking the Main/Bergen County Line, 35 minutes to Paterson. The entire journey takes under an hour.  
Statue of a man with a real American flag in his hand, seen in a park on a fall day
A statue of Lou Costello in the Paterson park that now bears his name. Photo credit: Wally Gobetz

Rhinebeck, NY 

If there’s such a thing as a perfect village in the northeastern United States, Rhinebeck is it. The tree-lined streets of this historic village of about 7,000 people are filled with historic buildings that house B&Bs, antique shops, and cafes.  

The village was founded by the Dutch in 1686 and has since lured people on day trips from NYC and elsewhere to stroll its charming streets. For being such a small settlement, there’s an absurd number of art galleries and museums in Rhinebeck.   

The area around the village becomes a mecca for leafpeepers—people who travel to gawk at fall foliage—in September and October. Singer Rufus Wainwright and actor Paul Rudd were born here.  

How to get there:  

  • By car: One hour and 45 minutes up the Hudson River 
  • By train: One hour and 45 minutes by train from Penn Station. 
Trees with leaves changing color in the fall with a small village festival taking place in the foreground
Rhinebeck’s stunning fall foliage. Photo credit: The Loopweaver

Sleepy Hollow, NY 

Readers familiar with Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” might be interested in spending some time in this quant Westchester County town, about 30 miles north of New York City. But have no fear: there are (probably) no headless horseman haunting the village of 9,000 people today.  

Because it’s so accessible to the city, Sleepy Hollow makes for one of the quickest and most pleasant day trips from NYC. The town’s streets are lined with historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries and the old cemetery—where famed aristocrats Andrew Carnegie and Brooke Astor and writer Washington Irving are buried—is a must-see site.  

How to get there:  

  • By bus: One-hour drive from Manhattan 
  • By train: One-hour ride from Grand Central Terminal 
18th century wooden house and wooden bridge on a fall day
Sleepy Hollow is the perfect idyllic escape for bookworms. Photo credit: Daniel Mennerich