New York City has so much to offer that many visitors and even locals almost never venture outside of Manhattan. But there are some amazing day trips from New York you should consider adding to your itinerary.
You’d be surprised to find out how much there actually is to do outside of the Big Apple. With varied transportation options available, planning day trips from New York don’t really require a ton of effort, making it super easy to explore the state of New York…beyond its sky-high buildings.
From picturesque historic towns to spooky villages and lush state parks perfect for horseback riding, these are some of the best day trips from New York City you absolutely need to place on your bucket list!
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Some day trips from NYC are perfect for renting a car and hitting the open road, some are great for using the train, or sometimes what you need is to turn your day trip over to someone else to handle the transportation and itinerary.
There are a wide variety of different kinds of day trips here.
First up, guided tour day trips.
Guided tour day trips from New York
These guided day tours from New York City are perfect for when you want to see cities that are just a little too far to do as a day trip by yourself or you don’t want to rent a car. But with someone else doing the driving, why not?
Check them out!
Explore the outer boroughs
You don’t have to venture hours away from Manhattan for your day trip. What if you just want to explore the boroughs and Coney Island?
This guided motor coach tour will take you through Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Coney Island before returning you to Manhattan.
Venture out to Sag Harbor, the Hamptons and do some shopping
Another option for a day trip is to take a day and explore Southampton and Sag Harbor (on Long Island) and then do a little shopping at the outlets.
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Take a day in Boston
Noted for its importance in American history, consider taking a day trip from New York to Boston, Mass.
Both guided day trip options below offer free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
This day trip includes stops at Harvard University, Boston’s Freedom Trail (a must do!) and the site of the Boston Tea Party.
This option includes two pickup points and offers a stop at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
Wonder at Niagara Falls
It’s a loooong way from NYC, but with someone else doing the driving, Niagara Falls can be done in a full day from the Big Apple.
And when I say full day, I mean full day. Expect this round trip tour to take 19 hours.
Experience Washington, DC
Enjoy a ride down to Washington, DC, with your tour guide, and then explore key sites in the Nation’s Capital. Stops include Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial.
Now, if you’re not really a guided day tour kind of person (I hear you!) and want to get out on the road yourself, then give one of these day trips a look.
These are some of the most popular and spectacular day trips from New York. I’ve arranged them in order of distance from Midtown Manhattan.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Distance: 29 miles
Can you imagine getting to personally visit the setting of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?
This small town was once famous for its milling and farming, but today, its fame comes from its Halloween festivities throughout the month of October, when the town bursts to life with haunted hayrides, parades, live music, and spooky decor all over. Of course, the Headless Horseman is part of the festivities.
While here, make sure you check out The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, with tours available day and night.
Do the Seven Lakes Scenic Drive
Distance: starts about 40 miles from New York
Cutting through two beautiful state parks–Harriman and Bear Mountain–the Seven Lakes Drive is an easy road trip from New York City where you’ll get to explore some of the best Hudson Valley has to offer.
If possible, try planning this drive to coincide with peak fall colors. You’ll be glad you did.
As you make your way through its twisty roads, you’ll get glimpses of the gorgeous mountains in the area, see seven idyllic lakes, and stumble across wildlife all along the way.
As if that weren’t enough reason to give this short 18-mile drive a try, this road offers hiking opportunities aplenty. Herriman State Park features 22 miles of trails, with swimming, boating, and rock climbing being other fun ways to explore the park.
Bear Mountain State Park is also a great place to hike or bike.
For more drives like this, check out my post about the best scenic drives in New York State.
Princeton, New Jersey
Distance: 53 miles
More than just the home of Princeton University, Princeton (the city) is rich in historical significance.
At Princeton Battlefield State Park, you can explore the site of one of the fiercest battles of the American Revolution. Or tour Drumthwacket, the New Jersey governor’s mansion.
I think that’s just about the best governor’s mansion name probably ever.
Words cannot adequately express to you all how much I love that name.
I think I’ll name my next cat Drumthwacket.
Don’t tell Hubby.
Those who enjoy cemeteries, might want to check out Princeton Cemetery, burial place of Aaron Burr (yup), former president Grover Cleveland and Jonathan Edwards (yes, I am a history nerd).
Princeton is also home to a vibrant arts community. Tour the public sculpture park, Grounds for Sculpture, or the Morven Museum and Garden.
Morven is housed in the former home of Richard Stockton, who was a signer of the declaration of independence. The house was also the New Jersey governor’s mansion prior to Drumthwacket (there it is again!)
Cold Spring, New York
Distance: 58 miles
A charming town with a river lined by sidewalk cafés and restaurants? Yes, please!
Considered one of the best-preserved 19th-century towns in the Hudson Valley area, Cold Spring is set just 50 miles north of Manhattan, making it a perfect day trip if Instagram eye candy is what you’re after.
As you stroll through its picturesque historic center, you’ll find riverside restaurants, boutiques, antique stores, and quaint coffee shops dotting every corner. During the summer, a favorite activity is having coffee at sidewalk cafes and dining by the riverfront or at outdoor patios, many of which feature live music.
If you’d like to enjoy a little nature during your day trip, Cold Spring has a lot of that as well. There are also several hiking and biking trails in the outskirts of town, as well as water sports, including boating, canoeing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and waterskiing on the river.
During the autumn, fall foliage cruises are quite popular.
Storm King Art Center (Windsor, New York)
Distance: 60 miles
Storm King Art Center is a popular day trip from New York City.
Is it any wonder? Storm King is a 500-acre outdoor art museum tucked away in the Hudson Valley full of very large sculptures displayed among and (in some cases) commissioned to complement their natural surroundings.
It’s a truly unique experience that’s very worthy of an excursion away from the confines of the big city.
Instead of trying to describe it with words, take a look at this overview of Storm King by drone.
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park
Distance: 60 miles
This lovely state park features mesmerizing views all over, all of which you can enjoy while boating, fishing, birdwatching, or hiking…and it’s only about 60 miles from New York City.
There are over 100 miles of hiking trails to choose from here. Some of the trails even intersect the Appalachian Trail, so you can try a piece and tell everyone you “hiked the Appalachian Trail”!
After a day spent hiking and exploring in nature, you can choose to spend a night under the stars at one of the 80 campsites around the park.
Beacon, New York
Distance: 70 miles
In the mood for awesome food and a thriving art scene? Then quaint Beacon, New York (Dutchess County) should be right up your alley.
You’ll find it just about 70 miles from New York City in the beautiful Hudson countryside, making Beacon a top notch day trip (and an easy one) if you want to escape the noise and bustle of the Big Apple for a day.
The historic town bursts with charm, with red-brick architecture lining Main Street and Victorian-era buildings that now house local art galleries, charming coffee shops, and trendy restaurants awaiting visitors.
Art lovers might want to check out Dia Beacon housed in an old Nabisco box-printing factory.
Mohonk Preserve, New York
Distance: 88 miles
Love riding horses or want to take a shot at it? Head to 8,000+ acre Mohonk Preserve! It’s perfect for hiking, cycling, and rock climbing. A visit to Mohonk Preserve is ideal for nature lovers who don’t want to venture tooooo far from NYC for their day trip.
Unlike most other hiking grounds near the city, something unique about Mohonk is that it offers horseback riding opportunities within designated roads, with a lot less foot traffic than other places!
Drive the North Fork Trail
Enchanting hamlets, quaint farms, seaside restaurants, and coastal views sums up the North Fork Trail in a nutshell.
If you’re looking for country charm, Long Island’s North Fork Trail is just the drive you’re after. Running along route 25 from Southold to Orient Point, the North Fork Trail provides a wonderful mix of seaside goodness, quaint villages, and rustic allure, all mingled with farm-to-table cuisine and uninterrupted ocean views keeping you company every mile of the way.
This 36-mile long scenic byway also has the benefit of being quite close to New York City, making it an excellent option for a day trip from the big city by car.
Distance: 96 miles
Philadelphia may be located in an entirely different state, but it’s still a great idea for a day trip from New York City thanks to being less than two hours away.
Despite their closeness, both cities are very different in ambiance, with Philadelphia still oozing a small-town aura and New York City being, well, New York City.
Spread all over Philly (not unlike cream cheese), you’ll find tons of chic art museums, art galleries, trendy restaurants, and shops.
If history is your jam (um, yes please!), you’ll fall head over heels in love with the Old City district, a one-square-mile section of downtown Philadelphia filled with important historic sites like Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed).
You can also see the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the Betsy Ross House and the Museum of the American Revolution.
You can combine your visit to Philadelphia with an excursion into Lancaster County and Amish Country with this guided day trip.
Another option would be to combine your Philadelphia day trip with a visit to Washington, DC.
Woodstock, New York
Distance: 102 miles
You’ll find Woodstock just about 2 hours from the Big Apple. This isn’t where the famous music festival was held, contrary to popular opinion (it was actually held in Bethel).
I know you may find that news disappointing, but the town of Woodstock is full of the festival’s vibe.
If you’re into clean eating and shopping with local businesses, you’ll find yourself in heaven here, with an organic dining scene like no other. And locally owned shops offer lots of one-of-a-kind goodies to bring back home!
Distance: 130 miles
Located about 130 miles north of New York City, the Catskills Mountains make up a small but incredibly stunning mountain range that brims with a vast array of natural wonders.
Waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and a whopping 98 peaks (with over 30 of them rising above 3,500 feet) are just a few of the staples that make the Catskills the incredibly sought-after region it is.
Thanks to its close proximity to New York City, the Catskills are a popular getaway year-round for locals, making it a perfect destination to visit if you love nature with city-like amenities.
A few of the adventures on offer here include skiing, hiking, camping, and rafting, but you’ll also find restaurants aplenty as well as a varied array of hotels and accommodation options.
Things to do on your day trip drive
Enjoy some good conversation
Sometimes things can get pretty boring on a long car ride. Especially if you are with people who don’t like to talk much or you don’t actually know very well.
It’s nice to have things to break up the silence.
Try having everyone in your car turn off all electronic devices and put them away (phones, iPads, etc .) for a short time.
You could ask everyone to contribute something to talk about.
If you’re stumped for things to talk about, try these road trip questions that will spark some great conversations.
Everyone could take turns asking and answering questions.
You could even make kind of a game out of it, where the person who answers the question gets to choose the next question to ask and who has to answer it.
Bring plenty of entertainment with you
Like I was saying, you’ll want things with you in the car to keep you occupied while driving…or riding along.
If you bring plenty of entertainment with you, you’ll never be without something to do to make your long drive go by faster.
And make sure all your devices are fully charged so they don’t die on you in the middle of reading or watching something you’re really enjoying.
That would be the worst!
Here are some things that work for me:
- Books are a road trip “must have.” I always make sure to have a couple of great reading options with me on a long car ride. Not if I’m doing the driving of course.
- Audio books. Audio books are perfect for road trips. With an audio book you can “read” even while you’re driving.
- Media downloads. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Take a look at what movies and shows are available for download on Netflix.
- Download a few episodes of your favorite podcasts and any new ones you’ve been wanting to try.
- If you have Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify Premium, download some of your favorite albums or maybe some new music you’ve been meaning to listen to.
Play some classic car ride games
Games are a great way to pass the time. Try some classic car ride games like…
- The License Plate Game: Look for license plates from all 50 states. Give bonus points for international license plates.
- The Alphabet Game: Look for all 26 letters of the alphabet in order using road signs, business signs, etc. BUT NOT license plates.
- Who Am I?: Think of a famous person and everyone else has to try to guess who you are by asking you questions about who you’re thinking of.
- The Movie Game: The game starts with a person naming an actor or actress. The next person has to name a movie that actor or actress is in. Then the next person has to name another actor or actress in that movie and so on. Play continues until someone is stumped or gives an incorrect response.
Want more ideas? Then check out my post all about fun things to do on a long road trip to help pass the time. My list is full of great ideas to help you keep occupied.
Final thoughts on the best day trips from NYC
From short excursions to see amazing art in natural surroundings to epic motorcoach tours to Niagara Falls, there are so many wonderful places around New York City that you should consider exploring.
Have you ever been to these locations close to New York City? Which one did you enjoy the most? Please tell me about it in the comment section below!
More articles to help you plan your trip to New York
- An ideal 4-day itinerary for NYC
- The best free things to do in New York City
- The things every first-time visit to NYC must see and do
- Amazing scenic drives in New York
- Awesome things to do in New York State
Looking for more help planning your NYC trip? Check out my favorite travel planning resources.
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