15 Best Day Trips from New York City

Written by Jenny Hart
Updated on
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As one of the most popular destinations in the world, New York City has it all, the nightlife, the energy and every cuisine under the sun.

The other thing it also happens to have is a host of unmissable destinations all in easy reaching distance and all offering something you wouldn’t be able to find in the Big Apple.

From serene wildernesses to river canoeing tours and niche foodie locales, the areas surrounding NYC are full of possibilities for day trips while you’re in town, so without further ado, here are the 15 Best day trips from NYC:

1. Washington DC

Washington DCSource: Orhan Cam / shutterstock
Washington DC

Behind the curtain of suited and booted political personas in Washington DC, there’s an irresistible abundance of culture, rich and powerful history and an incredible food scene.

Easily reachable from New York, you’ll have the opportunity to pass through New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland on the way – with a full day in the capital itself.

Explore the Capitol, Senate and The White House – after all, it is the political center of the world, before venturing further into the vibrant city.

Indulge in every cuisine under the sun, from French-Chinese fusion to Michelin starred US Virgin Island gastronomy and everything in between.

Plan your trip for Spring to enjoy the city’s beautiful cherry blossoms.

2. Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck RidgeSource: Verysmallplanet / shutterstock
Breakneck Ridge

Though the name suggests this trip isn’t for the faint of heart, a hike through Breakneck Ridge is one of the most rewarding excursions on the East Coast thanks to its remarkable views of the tree-lined Delaware River.

Don’t get complacent though – the first 40 minutes of steep terrain have to be completed basically on all-fours! The rewards for your efforts, asides from the spectacular views, come in the form of refreshing beers at the summit where you can shop for artisan goods of all kinds.

3. Storm King

Storm King Art CenterSource: Victoria Lipov / shutterstock
Storm King Art Center

Only an hour away from New York City, you’ll find the Storm King Art Center, 500 acres of larger than life, majestic and bizarre sculptures that are dotted around the beautiful grounds.

Predominantly modern and contemporary in nature, the sculptures are a must-see for anyone seeking to take a day off from the hectic day-to-day lifestyle in the Big Apple and escape to the attractive Hudson Valley.

Be sure to check their website to coincide your visit with one of the many talks, concerts or temporary exhibitions.

4. Fire Island

Fire Island LighthouseSource: Francois Roux / shutterstock
Fire Island Lighthouse

The refreshingly alternative option to The Hamptons.

Fire Island is a 32-mile-long, one mile wide barrier island that is fast becoming a favourite destination, particularly in the summer months, for people looking to escape the city.

With a number of distinct communities from gay-friendly to isolated and tranquil, Fire Island is comprised of quaint, sleepy towns and long expanses of impeccably preserved beaches.

Arrive in summer to enjoy the sun and water, or visit in winter, where the serene and windswept shores of Fire Island are just as beautiful.

5. The Delaware River

Delaware River, New YorkSource: mandritoiu / shutterstock
Delaware River

The impressively vast Delaware River meanders approximately 14,119 miles through 5 states before reaching the Atlantic in New Jersey.

Where it passes through New York is the attractive and forested Catskills region, which, only a short distance from NYC – makes the perfect day trip.

Take a stroll on the river banks, or crank things up a notch by hiring a canoe or tubing ring to carry you down the river.

The adrenaline lovers amongst you will be pleased to know that the river tour operator Lander’s River Trips also offers rapids routes.

6. Oyster Bay Festival

Oyster Bay FestivalSource: theoysterfestival.org
Oyster Bay Festival

The famed Oyster Bay Festival on Long Island is an unmissable day trip if you can make it for the 17th and 18th of October.

Only an hour away from the city, prepare to indulge in some of the highest quality oysters on the planet and about as many fried clams as you can manage.

Aside from the excellent food, you can expect music, crafts and other entertainment that’ll have you coming back for more each year.

7. Wineries on Long Island

Long Island VineyardSource: Justin Starr Photography / shutterstock
Long Island Vineyard

Also found on Long Island is the region of North Fork, a gorgeous peninsula made up of rural wine country and populated with world-class wineries.

The days here are as fun as you make them, with a huge array of options in both winery and wine.

Enjoy clam chowder at many establishments and taste as many varieties of fine wine as you please.

Be sure to pay a visit to the beautiful Bedell Cellars, situated in a stunning house with wrap-around decking, or if cider is more to your taste, head over to Woodside Orchard.

8. Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain

Oktoberfest at Bear MountainSource: visitbearmountain.com
Oktoberfest At Bear Mountain

Found at the Anthony Wayne recreation center in the beautiful region of Bear Mountain, this Oktoberfest is wildly popular among residents of NYC looking to celebrate outside of the city.

Beginning in September, the festivities continue through until the end of October and you can enjoy German food, music and crafts every weekend until then.

Complete with unique and spectacular views of the Hudson Valley, there’s no better way to get out of the city mindset for a day than Oktoberfest.

9. Philadelphia

PhiladelphiaSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Though admittedly this is a city escape to another city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a unique charm sometimes hard to find in the vast metropolis that is New York and its boroughs.

Spend the day here soaking in the sights like the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, or pay a visit to one of the many phenomenal breweries the city is famous for.

Last and certainly not least, the Philadelphia food scene is a force to be reckoned with, serving up everything from cheesesteaks to scrapple and a spread of American delicacies in between.

10. Glass House

The Glass HouseSource: theglasshouse.org
The Glass House

Just over an hour away from the big city is another rare find, perfect for a day’s worth of exploring.

The Glass House is an iconic, contemporary building built in 1955 that is perfect for modern art and architecture lovers alike.

What’s more, its sat in a 49 acre plot of stunning forested land that house 14 other architectural masterpieces alongside a collection of 20th century art.

Spend the day marvelling at the various works of art on a tour, or feel free to enjoy them yourself by simply wandering around.

11. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic GardensSource: Colin D. Young / shutterstock
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

A place that isn’t so much away from the city, but certainly feels as though it is – the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

With the added plus of no transport costs or lengthy journeys, you can enjoy the endless greenery these unique gardens have to offer.

From Japanese pond gardens populated with Koi fish, to blooming plant nurseries and every breed of flower imaginable, you’ll be hard pressed to believe you’re a mere few miles from the center of Manhattan.

Bear in mind that the Gardens are open every single day, so you’ve got the freedom to plan a visit around your other commitments.

12. Warwick Valley Wine and Distillery

Warwick Valley Wine and DistillerySource: www.wvwinery.com
Warwick Valley Wine And Distillery

A two-hour drive away from the city of Manhattan is a winery situated in some of the most beautiful rural valley country in the region.

Giving the sense that you’re in a completely different world to the city, you can enjoy an impeccable, hand-picked selection of wines, ciders, liqueurs and gins, all brewed and distilled onsite.

Be sure to arrive on the weekend to make the most of free live music shows and keep in mind that during the summer, the stunning views of the Hudson River will be all the more memorable.

13. Hudson

Small town on the Hudson River, NYSource: Donald R. Swartz / shutterstock
Small Town On The Hudson River, NY

The one place to beat birds-eye views of the Hudson River from mountaintops would be by visiting the Hudson itself.

Visit one of the many quaint, sleepy towns lining its banks, but for a real treat, head over to the town of Hudson itself.

Famed for its stylish converted guesthouses that began as shops, there’s no shortage of quirky places to spend the day.

A widely recognized foodie haven, Hudson also boasts New York quality eats without the chaos of the city.

14. The Adirondacks

The AdirondacksSource: mandritoiu / shutterstock
The Adirondacks

The idyllic offering for those looking to truly escape city life and get back to nature.

The Adirondacks is a huge expanse of beautifully serene wilderness that hosts some highly recommended and popular camping spots and modes of transport through the unblemished land include canoeing, skiing, or simply walking.

The day can be entirely spent enjoying the tranquillity of it all, but if you’re after some excitement, head over to the Wild Walk – which involves close encounters with the trees and animals at canopy level on a network of elevated trails.

15. Kripalu

KripaluSource: Niranjan Arminius / Flickr
Kripalu Center

Perfectly located in the peaceful Berkshire countryside, the world renowned Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is the unbeatable remedy for city blues and for rejuvenating oneself.

Being the largest retreat in the country, it attracts all manner of clientele and has something for everyone, from yoga classes to self-improvement to meditation.

Whether you’re looking for groundbreaking nutritional alternatives or simply a day of rest and relaxation, Kripalu has the edge on almost all similar establishments in the city.

15 Best Day Trips from New York City:

  • Washington DC
  • Breakneck Ridge
  • Storm King
  • Fire Island
  • The Delaware River
  • Oyster Bay Festival
  • Wineries on Long Island
  • Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain
  • Philadelphia
  • Glass House
  • Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
  • Warwick Valley Wine and Distillery
  • Hudson
  • The Adirondacks
  • Kripalu