Many New York City residents rely on public transportation to get around the city day to day, making day and weekend trips a hassle. Instead of going through the trouble of renting a car and driving in the city, area residents can rely on New York and New Jersey public transit to get to a variety of lovely day trip destinations, including charming towns throughout the Hudson Valley that are home to famed historic attractions. New Jersey's shoreline is home to a plethora of tourist destinations, including lovely Asbury Park, known throughout the East Coast for its renowned bars and music venues. The outer boroughs of New York City are also home to delightful attractions that are just a subway ride away, including iconic summer destinations like Coney Island and Rockaway Beach. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
Governors Island is a charming 172-acre island within New York Harbor, located between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn within the Buttermilk Channel. The island was historically closed to the public for nearly two centuries, when it was used as an important base for the United States Army and Coast Guard. Today, it has been transformed into a beautiful public park that serves as a popular tourist destination throughout the summer and early autumn months. Visitors can explore the 22-acre Governors Island National Monument, overseen by the National Park Service, and learn about the island's military history. Guided walking tours are offered throughout the year, along with a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities, including rock climbing courses and zipline adventures. Eachyear, the island hosts amazing special events like the Governors Island Art Fair, held each weekend in September.
Wave Hill is a beautiful 28-acre estate and public horticultural garden in the Bronx's Riverdale neighborhood, overlooking the banks of the gorgeous Palisades and Hudson River. The estate was originally constructed in 1843 and served as a rental summer home for international luminaries such as Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain throughout the turn of the 20th century. In 1960, the estate was donated to the city of New York for use as a cultural center and garden facility. Today, more than 65,000 guests visit the estate each year and explore its lovely National Register of Historic Places-listed facilities. Visitors can peruse the estate's lovely landscaped gardens, which include a perennial flower garden, an aquatic and monocot garden, an alpine dry garden, and the 10-acre Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland. Inside, the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory features a tropical room and a cactus collection. Paid-ticket concerts are showcased at the estate on Sunday afternoons throughout the year.
675 W 252nd St, The Bronx, NY 10471, Phone: 718-549-3200
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Asbury Park is a charming seaside destination in New Jersey that is renowned for its rock music scene, attracting legendary acts like Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen to its hip bars and music venues. The city sits along one of the state's most popular beachfront stretches, which is home to a picturesque boardwalk filled with unique shops and lively arcade attractions. The restored 1920s-era Paramount Theatre brings in top international concerts, while famed 20th-century bar Stone Pony still draws major acts. Unique family-friendly attractions include the Silverball Museum, which is stocked with playable video and pinball games dating back as far as the 1930s. A full slate of community events is presented in the city throughout the year, including a famed Oysterfest and the world-record New Jersey Zombie Walk.
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Beacon is a burgeoning artist district in New York, located just an easy train ride from Manhattan's downtown district. The former industrial town has been revitalized into a bustling day trip location, home to a delightful one-mile Main Street lined with charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the city's downtown at their leisure or as part of Beacon Arts Second Saturday events, which highlight gallery exhibitions, live music performances, and street fair vendors. Midcentury and contemporary artwork is on display at the 30-acre Dia: Beacon gallery, housed within the city's former Nabisco factory. The city's proximity to the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands makes it a prime destination for outdoor recreation at sites such as the hiking trails of Mount Beacon or lovely Bannerman Island, part of the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve.
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City Island is a charming Bronx neighborhood located on the extreme western edge of Long Island Sound, near Eastchester and Pelham Bays. The neighborhood is a great day trip destination for New Yorkers looking to escape the city for the day, filled with quaint homes and businesses that give off a small-town vibe. Visitors can take walking excursions through the neighborhood's historic landmarks, including the 1860s-era Schofield Street House, or explore the exhibits of the City Island Nautical Museum, which offers guided walking tours on the weekends. Unique antique finds abound at Early Ruth, while quirky collectibles and nostalgia items line the shelves of 239 Play. Excellent dining options include the century-old City Island Diner, cash-only seafood joint Johnny's Reef, and the delightful Starving Artist Cafe, which showcases live jazz music performances throughout the week.
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Cold Spring is a charming Putnam County village within the picturesque Hudson Highlands, known as a popular weekend getaway for New York City residents for its excellent dining options and unique antique stores. The village's downtown district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to a plethora of 19th-century buildings, including the West Point Foundry. Visitors can make the train trek to the town in just about an hour and can explore delightful businesses like outdoor outfitters Old Souls, vintage home goods store Poor George, and natural-product-focused Cold Spring Apothecary. Just outside the city, Breakneck Ridge offers one of the Hudson Valley's best hikes, featuring incredible panoramic views at its summit. After hiking, visitors can dine at delicious restaurants like upscale French restaurant Brasserie Le Bouchon or popular pub Whistling Willies, named as the Hudson Valley's best beer bar by Hudson Valley Magazine.
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Coney Island is known around the world as one of the United States' top boardwalk entertainment destinations, located along a peninsula on Brooklyn's southern coastline in the neighborhood of the same name. The famed boardwalk rose to prominence in the mid-19th century as a resort destination and became known for its amusement attractions with the opening of the Dreamland, Luna Park, and Steeplechase Park amusement centers at the turn of the 20th century. Today, the spirit of Luna Park lives on at a new amusement park of the same name, which is home to attractions such as the brand-new Thunderbolt roller coaster, built in 2014 to honor the defunct historic coaster of the same name. The iconic 1927 Coney Island Cyclone wooden coaster still operates to this day, as does the unique Deno's Wonder Wheel eccentric Ferris wheel. Arcade games and boardwalk attractions line the neighborhood's 2.5-mile amusement stretch, which is also bordered by a large public beach. Annual special events include the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, held each summer along the beachfront.
1208 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, Phone: 718-372-5159
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Cornwall is a quaint historic town located approximately an hour outside of New York City within the beautiful Hudson Highlands district. The town dates back to New England's colonial era, originally established in 1685. Today, it is best known as the home of the Storm King Art Center, which attracts more than 200,000 annual visitors and showcases unique art exhibits. Storm King State Park stands in the shadow of beautiful Storm King Mountain, offering unparalleled panoramic views of the Hudson River and nearby Bannerman's Island and Newburgh Bay. Families can explore attractions such as the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum Outdoor Discovery Center, which features kid-friendly walking trails and a nature-themed play area. Quaint stores and restaurants line the city's Main Street district, which hosts a weekly farmer's market on Wednesday mornings. Nearby, the Shops at Jones Farm convert a 100-acre farmstead into a rustic shopping center and farm bakery, known for its amazing apple cider doughnuts and pies.
Fire Island is a lovely resort barrier island located just off the shores of Long Island, known around the world as one of the United States' top LGBT-friendly tourist destinations. The island is home to the charming community of Cherry Grove, which is believed to have been the first community in America that openly embraced gay and lesbian community members. Vibrant Ocean Beach is home to a popular swimming beach, marina, and delightful shops and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy oceanfront dining opportunities at The Sandcastle at the Ocean or sip on delicious cocktails at gay-friendly bars like Cherry's and the Ice Palace. On the island's western end, Robert Moses State Park is home to day-use picnic sites, pitch-and-putt golf courses, and the 19th-century Fire Island Lighthouse.
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Greenwood Gardens is a beautiful 28-acre landscaped garden in Millburn, New Jersey, originally constructed on the estate of the same name, which was developed in its current form by Peter Blanchard in the mid-20th century. After Blanchard's death in 2000, the estate's stunning Italianate garden was opened to the public by the Garden Conservancy as a nonprofit organization. Today, it is known for its unique architectural and artistic elements, including a lovely statue of a boy with two geese, crafted by artist Emilio Angela. The gardens' beautiful gates, created by Samuel Yellin, are laced with vines and assorted plantings. Its estate home is preserved on its grounds, which are also home to a summer house, a 1920s-era tea house, and worker cottages. Visitors can explore the gardens via standard admission or become garden members to enjoy exclusive access to special events like educational tours and concerts.
2100, 274 Old Short Hills Rd, Short Hills, NJ 07078, Phone: 973-258-4026
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New Canaan is a charming historic town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, originally incorporated in 1726 and known today for its stunning colonial-era architecture and attractions. The town's lovely downtown district hosts a plethora of annual special events, including an acclaimed Holiday Stroll which opens the doors of its businesses and restaurants for open house events. Five historic buildings are preserved by the New Canaan Historical Society, including the 1799 Rock Schoolhouse and the 1764 Hanford-Silliman House. The New Canaan Nature Center is home to an observation tower, a 350-foot cattail marsh boardwalk, and two miles of walking trails, while the Carriage Barn Arts Center, housed within a renovated 19th-century stone barn, showcases the exhibits of the nonprofit New Canaan Society for the Arts. The Glass House, constructed by architect Philip Johnson, has been designated as a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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Nyack is a lovely village in Rockland County, originally incorporated in 1872 along the banks of the Hudson River. The town, which is located just half an hour north of Manhattan, is known as the hub of Rockland County's local music scene, showcasing live music performances throughout the year at its bars and venues. Visitors can explore the exhibits of the Edward Hopper House Art Center, which showcases the works of the famed realist painter, or enjoy performances by the Rockland Symphony Orchestra at the Riverspace Arts in Nyack complex. A number of historic buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1817 John Green House, the city's oldest standing residence. Beautiful Memorial Park offers opportunities for tennis, basketball, canoeing, and kayaking and hosts numerous outdoor festivals throughout the year.
Philadelphia is Pennsylvania's largest metropolis, located just an hour south of New York City via Amtrak train. The vibrant, diverse city is known for its renowned historic attractions connected to the American Revolutionary War, including preserved Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Other iconic attractions include the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was immortalized in the feature film Rocky. Visitors can tour the Eastern State Penitentiary, peruse the stalls and food halls of the Reading Terminal Market, or take families to the Philadelphia Zoo, which is home to more than 1,300 native and exotic animals. During the summer months, Spruce Street Harbor Park transforms the city's river shoreline into an urban beach filled with giant games, hammocks, and food vendors. In the winter, the BlueCross River Rink offers waterfront ice skating opportunities.
Princeton is a lovely town in New Jersey that is best known as the home of the Ivy League university of the same name, a top school in the United States for the liberal arts and science. Visitors can explore the gorgeous university campus, which is home to architectural landmarks like the Collegiate Gothic-style University Chapel, or peruse more than 80,000 works of art on display at the renowned Princeton University Art Museum. The region's history is preserved at the 18th-century Morven Museum and Garden, which has been converted into a living history museum furnished with period-appropriate decor. The Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre Center presents regional theatrical performances, while the Princeton Garden Theatre highlights showings of foreign and classic films. Nearby, Princeton Battlefield State Park preserves the region's American Revolutionary War history.
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Red Bank is a delightful New Jersey borough in Monmouth County, located along the banks of the Navesink River. The charming town, which was incorporated in 1870, is named for its picturesque red shoreline soils. It has become a major artistic tourism destination in the New York City region over the past several decades, home to cultural attractions such as the Count Basie Theatre, which has hosted legendary performers and artists like Bob Newhart, Tracy Morgan, David Sedaris, and B.B. King. The Two River Theater, which has hosted internationally-renowned acts like Bruce Springsteen, presents regional theater productions throughout the year. Visitors can stroll through the shops and restaurants of Broad Street or enjoy opportunities for year-round recreational activities, including baoting, sailing, fishing, and ice boating. Annual special events include a spectacular July sidewalk sale, a KaBoom Fourth of July Festival, and a lavish Christmas celebration that lights up the entire downtown with holiday lights.
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Rockaway Beach is America's largest urban beach and boardwalk, stretching for more than 5.5 miles along Queens' Atlantic Ocean shoreline. The delightful beachfront is New York City's top destination for surfing, offering legal surf sites at the borough's 67/69 and 87/92 Streets. Its sandy beach stretches make for popular sites for picnics and sunbathing throughout the year, with areas provided for pick-up games of basketball, baseball, handball, and beach volleyball. The iconic Rockaway Doughboy Statue honors Queens' fallen World War I soldiers, while the Sandpiper Playground protects significant populations of migratory birds. A roller hockey rink is open at select times throughout the year, along with several children's playgrounds and concession areas.
8601 Shore Front Pkwy, Rockaway Park, NY 11694, Phone: 718-318-4000
Sleepy Hollow was the inspiration for Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," written in 1820 and known as a popular Halloween classic today. The charming Hudson Valley village, which is located adjacent to the city of Tarrytown in Mount Pleasant, is located just half an hour north of New York City and accessible via the Metro-North Hudson Line. It is considered to be one of the world's most haunted places, home to spooky attractions such as the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which serves as Irving's final burial site. Visitors can explore preserved historic attractions such as the beautiful Kykuit estate, the former home of the Rockefeller family, or the National Historic Landmark-designated Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. A plethora of special events are hosted in the village throughout the autumn months, including an annual Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, which showcases more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins each year.
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Trenton is New Jersey's beautiful capital city, located halfway between the cities of New York City and Philadelphia and easily accessible from both cities' public transit systems. Visitors can explore a plethora of historic and government attractions, including the New Jersey State Museum, which features archaeology and art collections, and the 1792 New Jersey State House, which offers guided historical tours. The Trenton City Museum is housed within the beautiful 1848 Ellarslie Mansion, showcasing artwork and artifacts related to the city's history. The beautiful Grounds for Sculpture, located on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds campus, showcase 42 acres of stunning modern sculpture and art. Other attractions include the Trenton War Memorial, honoring fallen World War I soldiers, and the Old Barracks Museum, which showcases Revolutionary War-era British barracks.
Warwick is a charming Orange County town that is comprised of three smaller villages and eight charming hamlets. The lovely New York village is best known as the home of the annual Applefest, which has been selected as one of North America's top 10 annual festivals. More than 35,000 visitors attend the festival each year, which brings food vendors, rides, games, and live music performances to the city's downtown district. The Warwick Summer Arts Festival has been held at the city's agricultural sites since 2000, while the Village Concert Series and Music in the Courtyard bring live music performances to the city's green spaces on summer evenings. Other annual special events include the Hudson Valley Jazz Festival, known as one of the New York area's top annual jazz festivals.
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Westport is a charming Connecticut town on Long Island Sound, originally incorporated in 1835. The Fairfield County town retains its classic New England charm today, known for its beautiful beachfront stretches, including the 29-acre Compo Beach, which features sand volleyball courts, a large children's playscape, a marina, and an ADA-accessible boardwalk. 234-acre Sherwood Island State Park, which is located directly on the sound, is home to Connecticut's official 9/11 Living Memorial and offers swimming beaches, surf fishing spots, interpretive programming, and a nature center. The 1930 Westport Country Playhouse, associated with actor Paul Newman in the mid-2oth century, is considered to be one of America's most respected summer theaters. Visitors can also attend award-winning concerts throughout the summer months at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts or peruse lovely contemporary art exhibits at the Westport Arts Center.
25 Best Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from NYC Without a Car
- Governors Island, Photo: dade72/stock.adobe.com
- Wave Hill, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Asbury Park, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Beacon, Photo: xmasbaby/stock.adobe.com
- City Island, Photo: Kristina/stock.adobe.com
- Cold Spring, Photo: rmbarricarte/stock.adobe.com
- Coney Island, Photo: Morenovel/stock.adobe.com
- Cornwall, Photo: Kate B Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Fire Island, Photo: Casual-T/stock.adobe.com
- Greenwood Gardens, Photo: Samantha/stock.adobe.com
- New Canaan, Photo: Studio Porto Sabbia/stock.adobe.com
- Nyack, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Philadelphia, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Princeton, Photo: Jon/stock.adobe.com
- Red Bank, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Rockaway Beach, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Sleepy Hollow, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Trenton, Photo: Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com
- Warwick, Photo: rabbitti/stock.adobe.com
- Westport, Photo: Trudy/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
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