The Best Places to Vacation in New York
From upstate to downtown, we've rounded up New York's best vacation destinations.
What’s that? You want to be a part of it? Make a brand new start of it? You don’t have to be ol’ Blue Eyes to understand the unique spell that a trip to New York weaves over us all – it seems like an almost magical destination, with the beating heart of the city rapidly giving way to scenic mountains and sunny beaches. If you’re planning to take on the Empire State (and we’re not talking about the building) then here are the very best places to vacation in New York – according to us at Plum Guide, anyway. And we may not sing like Sinatra, but when it comes to places to stay? We’re king of the hill.
In the words of the great Leonard Cohen, first we take Manhattan. If you’ve never been to the Big Apple before, this borough is undoubtedly one of the best places to vacation in New York. It’s the epicentre of the city, with all the sightseeing hotspots and major attractions at your fingertips. Whether you want to walk the High Line rooftop garden in Chelsea, dine out on hand-pulled noodles in Chinatown, or spend the day exploring Midtown’s museums, Manhattan really does offer something for everyone. And no, you may not be spending too much time in your accommodation, but we still think it’s worth splashing out on somewhere with a bit of atmosphere, like our achingly cool home Shoot the Moon in historic Chelsea.
If Manhattan is a classic silver-screen movie, Brooklyn is an indie festival film. This artsy borough just across the East River is NYC’s hipster capital, and those looking for something just a little bit different will find it here. Take a trip to retro funfair Coney Island, where you can wander the old boardwalk and take a spin on vintage rides; head to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, which has been serving up New York’s best pies since the 1940s; or perhaps explore the area’s contemporary art scene and pretend to know what you’re looking at. One thing you must do, however, is stay somewhere that encapsulates the best of Brooklyn’s independent spirit. Urban Retreat (discovered by our Plum home critics) has all the charm of a typical Brooklyn apartment, but also has the rarest attribute of all in New York: a garden.
Of course, there’s so much more to this state than the Big Apple. Some of the best places to vacation in New York are found outside the city itself, and the Hamptons are a great place to start your journey. It’s where the NYC elite spend their summer holidays, so don’t be surprised if you see some familiar faces from stage and screen during your trip here. (Starstruck? Us? Never. Hang on, is that Taylor Swift?) While the top thing to do in the Hamptons is undoubtedly to visit the beach and spend a day lounging around on the sand, there’s plenty for those who like a bit more activity on their holiday. Stop off at the Parrish Art Museum to explore works by artists like Pollock, Lichtenstein and de Kooning, try your hand at one of the many water sports on offer (surfing is particularly popular here), or spend the day sampling the best of the region’s wineries. Wölffer Estate Vineyard is an old favourite, and rosé fans rejoice: the quaint Croteaux is dedicated to the stuff. We’ll take a bottle to go.
The mountainous Catskill is, we’ll be honest, a little sleepier than the Hamptons, and you probably won’t bump into Taylor Swift at brunch here. But it’s nonetheless one of the most charming places to vacation in New York, and the slower pace of life here is a welcome respite from the hectic pace of the city or the stresses of everyday life. If you’re the kind of person who’d rather strap on a pair of hiking boots than some swish new Louboutins, Catskill is for you – there are plenty of beautiful hikes in this part of New York, and a day spent strolling along the banks of Catskill Creek is sure to cure what ails ya. (Unless it’s blisters.) Best of all, Catskill is an incredibly dog-friendly location, so your beloved pup can enjoy a New York vaycay as well. Owner of the year? We think so.
Craving a little culture? Head to the Hudson Valley, pronto. Not only will you find yourself in the lap of luxury, you’ll also discover some of America’s most unusual and eminent art scenes. It was here that the movement of landscape painting known as the Hudson River School was born, way back in the 1800s, and the region’s artistic prestige has only grown from there. Take a walk around the 100 sculptures scattered around hayfields and woodlands at the Storm King Art Center (and yes, they make for great Instagram snaps, if you need to coax some reluctant teens along), step into an old factory now housing contemporary artworks at the Dia: Beacon, or swan about the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site pretending to be an obscenely wealthy heiress on her fourth diamond-shopping spree of the week. Yes, it might have 54 rooms, but does it have a home cinema like Plum home Kabuki in Brick? No, we thought not. Checkmate, Vanderbilts.