Incredible Day Trips From New York (You Should Explore)

New York City has so much to offer that many visitors seldom 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 doesn’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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front view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia

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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 options

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.

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.

TIP: Keep track of all of your important travel details with a digital travel planner like this.

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 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

aerial view of a bridge in Bear Mountain State Park
If you do the Seven Lakes Scenic Drive, your day trip from NYC will be the journey itself.

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, the 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 on the outskirts of town, as well as water sports, including boating, canoeing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and waterskiing on the river.

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.

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 nature, you can choose to spend a night under the stars at one of the 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. Cool!

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

light house in the water off Long Island

Enchanting hamlets, quaint farms, seaside restaurants, and coastal views sum 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.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

front view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia

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!

Catskill Mountains

waterfall cascading over a stone ledge in the Catskills

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 proximity to New York City, the Catskills are a popular getaway year-round for locals, making it a perfect destination 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.

The bottom line

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.

More articles to help you plan your trip to New York

Looking for more help planning your NYC trip? Check out my favorite travel planning resources.

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Perfect day trips from New York

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