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The Best Places to Visit Near New York City

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Looking for some awesome places to visit near New York City?

New York City has such a variety of offerings in the small area of Manhattan, it’s hard to believe that visitors and residents could possibly want to venture outside the city that never sleeps. However, there are loads of options for exploring New England that aren’t so far away from the Big Apple.

We’ve listed 15 of the very best destinations outside the city for your wandering heart. From the short drive to Greenwich Connecticut to the scenic splendor of the Catskills and even to the neighboring big city of Philadelphia, PA, you’re bound to find a suitable option for your traveling needs.

Whether you’re a resident of the big city or a tourist for the week, these getaways are sure to please. We’ve listed each destination from nearest to farthest from New York City and we touch on the biggest attractions worth seeing in each place.

Greenwich, CT

Visit Greenwich, CT
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 1 hour
  • Known for: Maritime history and as the birthplace of several members from the Tudor family
  • Best attractions: Audubon Center, Greenwich Polo Park, Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
  • Why visit: shopping, boating & leisure

As one of Connecticut’s oldest cities, Greenwich is steeped in rich history with a highly esteemed financial services industry. Visitors love the relaxing coastal accents of this very New England town and come to experience the sights, sounds and attractions on the Gold Coast beaches and waterways, as well as the downtown area.

Whether you drive or take the train, a day in Greenwich will be well worth the trip. Explore the beautiful neighborhoods and downtown pathways filled with European flair, or dine on the waterfront at one of Greenwich’s renowned coastal restaurants. Greenwich Avenue remains a favorite of frequent shoppers and nature lovers will enjoy the quiet splendor of Greenwich Point Park.

Sleepy Hollow, Mount Pleasant, NY

Visit Sleepy Hollow, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 1 hour
  • Known for: Fairytales and Paranormal history
  • Best attractions: Historic Estates and Churches
  • Why visit: hiking, art and history

The town made famous by Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is not that far away from the Big Apple. For those looking for a little spook or a simple history lesson, a quick trip to Sleepy Hollow makes a great experience. Autumn is one of the most ideal times for visiting the area, not only for the scenery, but also for the ghost tours featuring folklore of the Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow is home to gorgeous 18th century estates, including Kykuit built by the Rockefellers, known for garden sculptures and art galleries. Lyndhurst is another elaborate mansion with gilded decor that hosts public events and tours regularly. Philipsburg Manor is not quite as decorated, but the historical significance and blending of Dutch, African and Native American cultures is an interesting experience.

Beacon, NY

Visit Beacon, NY
Bannerman Castle / Cavan-Images / Shutterstock
  • Driving Distance from New York City: 1.5 hours
  • Known for: History mixed with current indie culture
  • Best attractions: Dia Beacon, Beacon Mountain, Bannerman’s Castle
  • Why visit: arts & culture

Arrive via train or car and experience the artsy, gritty and natural atmosphere on the banks of the Hudson River. Beacon is a haven for culture seekers and is a nice reprieve from the bustle of the urban jungle. From 17th century to present day, this town ranges in architecture and inspiration, appealing heavily to those searching for unique experiences.

The main street is filled with antique shops and thrift stores, local coffee spots and delicious cafes. If you’re in the mood for a more physically challenging getaway, nothing beats the trails on Beacon Mountain or Breakneck Ridge, or exploring the lush Pollepel Island – where else in the United States will you find a Scottish-inspired castle?

Philadelphia, PA

Visit Philadelphia, PA
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Known for: Revolution-era Historical significance with many museums, monuments and cultural centers
  • Best attractions: Independence National Historic Hall, Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal Market
  • Why visit: experience a different American metropolis

Philadelphia, like New York City, is a major city in the United States that people visit regularly for the historical sites, food scene, sports games and cultural experiences. When visiting New York City, a day trip to Philadelphia is well worth your while to knock two great cities out in one week. New Yorkers will also enjoy getting away for a day to indulge in a new atmosphere with different attractions.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a noteworthy stop to boost your cultural experience, along with a walk through the oldest public market, Reading Terminal. And a visit to Philly is incomplete without indulging in a giant Philly Cheesesteak. For those in it strictly for the historic aspects, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are must-sees.

New Paltz, NY

Visit New Paltz, NY
Mohonk Preserve / Photo Spirit / Shutterstock
  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2 hours
  • Known for: 17th Century Preserved Homes and Buildings with loads of historic charm
  • Best attractions: Mohonk Mountain House, Historic Huguenot Street, Mohonk Preserve
  • Why visit: ultimate relaxation

New Paltz is not quite as well-known as other destinations on this list, but we can assure you that the trip to this old city is a great option for relieving stress. Even if you don’t end up spending the night here, Mohonk Moutain House is worth a visit and tour for it’s beautiful architecture and gorgeous position overlooking Mohonk Lake. It’s suggested to visit in the fall for the changing colors and to experience the spa or go forest bathing to clear the mind.

In addition to the relaxing atmosphere, shops and cafes of Historic Huguenot Street, the district pays tribute to the original Huguenot settlers who established the area over 300 years ago. Actors dressed in period clothing take guests on a tour through stone buildings and museums spanning 10 acres for a real history lesson on America’s earliest residents.

North Fork, NY

Visit North Fork, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2 hours
  • Known for: Wineries and charming hotels
  • Best attractions: Antique Carousel, Vineyards & Breweries
  • Why visit: eating & drinking

Located on New York’s famous Long Island, North Fork is geographically opposite the popular getaways of the Hamptons and Montauk. Better suited for foodies and wine lovers, this area is full of natural flavors and local delicacies. The casual atmosphere and coastal properties make North Fork the perfect destination for a quick relaxing jaunt from the big city.

Boutique shops, vintage stores and antiques abound on Greenport’s main avenue and the scenic walk on one of the area’s beaches could be just what the doctor ordered. But the main draw to North Fork will remain the bountiful harvest of wines, beer and farm-to-table dining. If you were looking to escape the city in search of wineries and breweries with great food, this is definitely the place.

Fire Island, NY

Visit Fire Island, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2 hours
  • Known as: Long Island’s 31 mile barrier island
  • Best attractions: Fire Island Lighthouse and beaches
  • Why visit: sunbathing and beach walks

Located just south of Long Island is the barrier isle known as Fire Island. It’s one of New York’s best beach destinations for the day or for a full week. You’ll first drive or take the Long Island Railroad to the area, then ferry over to the island to enjoy the beach towns and coastline.

A unique feature of Fire Island is that the towns do not allow cars; instead, traveling on foot, by golf cart or bike makes the trip that much more relaxing. There are multiple towns on the island, with the most popular destination being Ocean Beach for tourists. The ocean views from the quaint shops and restaurants make a delightfully peaceful day away.

Atlantic City, NJ

Visit Atlantic City, NJ
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2 hours
  • Known for: Casinos and Beaches
  • Best attractions: the Boardwalk, Steel Pier, Casinos
  • Why visit: nightlife and fun in the sun

If you’re looking for Vegas on the East Coast, get your ticket to Atlantic City. The AC has loads of casinos, nightclubs and late-night attractions for tourists to enjoy along with a beautiful coastline for daytime sunbathing and boardwalk fun. Many New Yorkers get away to Atlantic City for quick trips like bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays and anniversaries.

When you go for the day, be sure to pack two outfits for daytime and nighttime activities. Atlantic City Boardwalk is great for shopping and entertainment right on the beach; you can easily shuffle from the bustling boardwalk to the sandy oceanfront. When the sun sets, a plethora of casinos, restaurants and nightlife entertainment welcome you to play.

Cape May, NJ

Visit Cape May, NJ
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2.5 hours
  • Known for: Victorian-inspired seaside architecture, beaches and shopping
  • Best attractions: Beach Avenue, Washington Street, Cape May Lighthouse
  • Why visit: relaxing beaches and shopping districts

Cape May has storied pristine beaches and beautifully classic New England coastal vibes. It’s one of the most well-preserved areas on the Jersey Shore and delights families and couples equally for a relaxing and enjoyable getaway. The coastline is dotted with Victorian bed and breakfasts, upping the overall charm of the town.

To explore the city, we suggest taking one of many historical tours to learn about America’s oldest beach resort. If shopping and dining is on your list, take a walk through downtown’s Washington Street. The beach will ultimately call your name and we suggest taking advantage of the luscious shoreline as the sun sets on the water.

The Hamptons, NY

Visit the Hamptons, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2.5 hours
  • Known for: Affluent coastal neighborhoods and upscale beach experience on Long Island
  • Best attractions: Wolffer Estate Vineyard, Parrish Art Museum, LongHouse Reserve
  • Why visit: lifeguard protected beaches, upscale dining and shopping

Many visitors don’t realize how long the famous Long Island actually is until they trek from NYC to the Hamptons. The farthest southern tip of the island is home to both Montauk and the Hamptons, equally popular but for their own unique reasons. The Hamptons, specifically, is the favorite of wealthy New Yorkers seeking reprieve from big city life.

The Hamptons is a collection of beach towns known for beautifully peaceful beaches, exquisite dining and grand lodging. Going for the day will be the cheapest way to play, but be sure to dress for the occasion if you choose to dine at a fancy restaurant or visit the vineyards. Public access to beaches like Cooper’s Beach, East Hampton Main Beach and Ponquogue Beach make a day trip to the ocean fairly easy.

Montauk, NY

Visit Montauk, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2.5 hours
  • Known for: New England coastal experience and nature trails
  • Best attractions: Montauk Point Lighthouse, State Parks
  • Why visit: beach adventures and historic tours

Just as affluent, but perhaps a tad more casual, Montauk sits farther east and gives the Hamptons a run for its money for those specifically interested in the natural habitat. Trails abound in the hamlet of Montauk, which houses five of New York’s state parks; including Montauk Point State Park, Camp Hero State Park, Hither Hills State Park, Shadmoor State Park and Montauk Downs State Park.

Each park has it’s own unique activities, with hiking and exploring being the most popular. Montauk Point State Park is home to the Montauk Point Lighthouse that is open for climbing and Montauk Downs State Park has a golf course that’s also open to the public. If you’re into beach vacations with natural experiences, Montauk is an excellent option.

Hudson, NY

Visit Hudson, NY
Olana State Historic Site / Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock
  • Driving Distance from New York City: 2.5 hours
  • Known for: Up-and-coming food and culture
  • Best attractions: Historic Sites and Museums
  • Why visit: food scene and antique shopping

Hudson has been on the move for decades, but has recently made a name for itself with it’s budding food scene. New York City chefs, entrepreneurs and investors have taken notice and frequently visit – or even make the bold steps to move their businesses here. Nestled on the Hudson River, this unassuming town is growing in popularity and is worth a look.

It’s safe to say that you’ll have a delicious meal during your visit, but you can also occupy your free time with plenty of antique shopping on Warren Street and hike the nature trails around the city. Additionally, there are plenty of historic sites like the Olana State Historic Site and artsy attractions like Carrie Haddad Gallery.

The Berkshires, MA

Hancock Shaker Village / LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock
  • Driving Distance from New York City: 3 hours
  • Known for: Mountain region with Arts & Culture
  • Best attractions: MASS Moca, Otis Ridge Ski Resort, Hancock Shaker Village
  • Why visit: laidback day trip with luxurious highlights

The Berkshires is a mountainous region in Massachusetts comprised of several small towns with loads of charm. It’s often a great destination for Big Apple residents looking for a little mountain getaway, even if only for the day. One of the reasons it’s so popular is for it’s big arts & cultural centers. The Berkshires experienced it’s own gentrification period, where many of the towns’ rundown buildings were transformed into galleries, museums and theaters.

One of the most popular with residents and tourists alike is the MASS MoCa which made an old mill into a swanky display for local and national artwork. If you’d rather escape to the woods, try hiking Beartown State Park or visit Monument Mountain Reservation.

The Catskills, NY

Visit the Catskills, NY
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  • Driving Distance from New York City: 3 hours
  • Known for: Breathtaking forest scenery and hiking
  • Best attractions: Hunter Mountain, Zoom Flume Water Park
  • Why visit: nature hikes and outdoor activity

For those in need of a breath of fresh air, the Catskills region of New York is a real stress reliever. All manner of outdoor activities and events can be enjoyed in a quick trip to the Catskills mountain area. Outdoor enthusiasts and real adventurers will get the most out of a day trip here, but travelers who prefer the view over the hike will also find plenty to enjoy.

In the winter, you can ski and snowshoe on Hunter Mountain and in the fall, try hiking, biking and ziplining through the red and golden forests. Nearby Zoom Flume Water Park is a great place for families to have fun in the summer. Wineries, boutiques and coffee shops also offer a relaxing day away for leisurely browsing and down time.

Where will you go?

Out of the many destinations marked on this list, New Yorkers and tourists are sure to find one that’s perfect for their day trip outside the city. Which place is most appealing to you? Let us know which city you choose for your vacation!

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