The Best Day Trips from New York City
While you could spend weeks discovering everything there is to see and do in New York City, the cultural capital of the USA also has excellent transport connections, making day trips a breeze.
As the city that never sleeps, New York City has enough to keep visitors busy morning, day and night. And while the noise of the city’s streets and the speed of life in New York City are part of its irresistible draw, it can also become a hectic place to live. So when you tire of New York City, where do you go? Take a tip from Plum Guide and embark on some of the best day trips from New York City to explore the cultural attractions, beautiful green spaces, historic villages and white-sand beaches of New York State, many of which lie among The Hamptons and Hudson Valley.
Cooper’s Beach, Southampton
Home to the holiday houses of rich and famous New Yorkers, the Hamptons – which are named after East Hampton and Southampton – are within easy day-tripping distance of New York City. In the latter, you’ll find Cooper’s Beach, which is frequently hailed as one of the ten best beaches in the US, and is a must-visit while you’re in New York State. Rent an umbrella to shade from the Hamptons’ famous sun as you lie on the white sand under a clear-blue sky. After playing in the surf, wander through sand dunes peppered with American beachgrass, spotting sprawling, historic homes that overlook the shore.
East Hampton is recognised by its grey windmill, Hook Windmill, which was in use for over one hundred years. It’s still in fantastic condition, and well worth a visit. But that’s not the only reason to travel to East Hampton. The picturesque stretch of sand along East Hampton Main Beach is a wonderful place to sunbathe or swim, with lifeguards on hand. There’s also the LongHouse Reserve, where you can explore sixteen acres of pretty gardens and a fascinating sculpture garden. Finally, the 607-acre Cedar Point County Park, which follows the line of the sea, has the best views of Gardiners Bay.
Bear Mountain State Park, Hudson Valley
Following the Hudson River, the Hudson Valley includes the New York State capital, Albany. But the main reason to visit the area is to explore its natural attractions. There’s the verdant, nature-filled Adirondack Mountains, the streams and lakes of Harriman State Park, and the mineral springs of Saratoga Spa State Park. All of these make excellent day trips from New York City, but for the best views and hiking in the region, go to Bear Mountain State Park. Here, you can hike along the oldest section of the Appalachian Trail, clambering along 1,000 stone steps to take in incredible views of undulating, tree-covered peaks and alpine lakes.
Long Beach, Sag Harbor
A former whaling town, the village of Sag Harbor is home to a tight-knit community and traditional timber-framed homes. Going for a wander round town, you’ll discover a number of vintage stores, the most interesting of which is arguably Ruby Beets, which was once a silent cinema. But the real draw here is Long Beach, also known as Foster Memorial Beach, which lies along Noyack Bay. This thin stretch of sand is surrounded by calm waters, making it an ideal spot to bring children.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard, The Hamptons
Walking between the long lines of perfectly manicured green vines at Wölffer Estate Vineyard, while learning about the estate’s sustainable wine, makes one of the best day trips from New York City. The estate dates back to 1988, and guests can join a guided tour, which ends with a tasting experience. You can also relax with a glass of wine on the patio overlooking the vineyard, or indulge in a cheese platter paired with the estate’s best tipples in the traditional winery, with its wooden-beamed ceiling, rustic chandeliers and leather sofas.
Storm King Art Center
Taking its name from the mountain that towers above it, the Storm King Art Center is a fascinating and unusual art museum – and one of the best day trips from New York City for culture vultures. The outdoor gallery boasts what is thought to be the largest collection of open-air sculptures in the US, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Hudson Highlands and nearby mountain peaks. There’s a huge range of artistic styles to contemplate as you wander through the grounds, with Maya Lin’s seemingly natural waves of hillside and Alexander Calder’s towering abstract masterpieces some of the most interesting.
The Catskills, Hudson Valley
Head to the foothills of the Catskills Mountains to find an alpine region crammed with wildlife, and incredible scenery at every turn, including Overlook Mountain, Kaaterskill Falls and Cohoes Falls. Throughout summer, hike through wildflower-filled meadows and wind along alpine trails, only stopping to take in the view. In winter, when the area is blanketed in snow, go skiing or snowboarding at one of the mountains’ seven dedicated resorts. As if that weren’t enough, there is also a wealth of cultural attractions, including the Olana State Historic Site, a Victorian-era mansion that was home to the artist Frederic Edwin Church, and the Thomas Cole Natural Historic Site.
Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk
Ditch Plains Beach – a seemingly endless, curved bay of white sand backed by cliffs – is said to have the best waves on the east end of Long Island. Come here to swim, surf and boogie board in the sun, and don’t miss the famous Ditch Witch food truck for a post-surf snack. Luckily, there’s also plenty to do in nearby Montauk itself. Towering over the easternmost point of Long Island, the Montauk Point Lighthouse stands as a proud reminder of New York’s maritime past. Its dedicated museum is a great place to spend some time, as you can learn about the lighthouse’s history and even peruse documents signed by George Washington.