New York City is convenient in the sense that it is relatively close to other experiences in the Northeast. If you somehow get bored in the city, that is. Less then three hours away, any traveler can encounter picturesque beaches, full forests, massive rivers, and even other historical and cultural hotspots that are less well-known.
If you’re looking for adventures outside the city, look no further then the list we’ve compiled below. We dare you to try em all!
Kerhonkson, NY (Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting)
The Minnewaska State Park Preserve stretches 22,275 acres on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County.
The park features the most breathtaking overlooks of the nearby Catskill Mountains. It offers adventurous activities for every season, ranging from picnicking, hiking, and mountain biking, to snowshoeing and swimming.
There are three different lakes within the preserve: Lake Minnewaska (the most popular), Lake Awosting, and Mud Pond. If you’re looking for a more secluded and larger space Lake Awosting is roughly twice as large and not as traversed by tourists.
It’s a two and a half hour scenic drive from NYC, and the results are definitely worth it.
Fire Island, NY
Fire Island is a thin barrier island that is located off the southern shore of Long Island, New York, facing the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a quaint island that is barely accessibly by car, and has protected beaches in between with seasonal resort communities. As it is so small, the beach is usually a short walk away from wherever you are on the island.
It’s a closer and less costly alternative to East Hampton. You can explore the inlet, the 19th-century Fire Island Lighthouse, the various local shops and restaurants, or head to the Robert Moses State Park for picnic spots and pitch-and-putt golf. The island is also home to some LGBTQ communities (The Pines and The Grove).
You can take the Fire Island Ferry from several different points in Long Island. If you’re coming from NYC, the LIRR stops right near all these points.
Thunder Ridge Ski Area, Patterson, NY
Thunder Ridge is located just 75 minutes from New York City, and allows many New Yorkers to ski close to home for a weekend getaway. They offer season passes for frequent patrons and classes for less experienced adventurers.
If you’re looking to explore another exciting city, Philadelphia is a 2 and a half hour ride on an Amtrak train, or a two hour drive.
The city is home to brotherly love and some of the most vital museums and landmarks of American history, in addition to being Pennsylvania’s largest and most vibrant city.
You can visit the famed Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed) and the home of Betsy Ross (the woman who made the first American flag).If you don’t feel like delving into history, try running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as done by Sylvester Stallone in the iconic film “Rocky.” Philadelphia is also home to great nightlife, and offers their own trademarked foods, namely the Philly Cheesesteak.
Cold Spring, NY
Just an hour train ride from Grand Central Terminal is the quaint village of Cold Spring, in the town of Philipstown in Putnam County, New York. The village is right in the Hudson Highlands and sits at the deepest point of the Hudson River. Many New Yorkers go to Cold Spring for a weekend getaway for many residents of New York City.
Cold Spring holds a plethora of activities. It’s right near West Point, the famed U.S. Military Academy for all of the officials within the U.S. Army. Notable alumni include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Robert Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and Douglas MacArthur.
You can get tours of the facility and also tour the nearby West Point Foundry. Established in 1818 to supply the U.S. government with artillery, this is where some of America’s first steam engines, locomotives and ironclad ships, were produced. The Foundry is now part of a popular and scenic preserve as well.
Cold Spring is also home to one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre open-air park with tram tours, bike rentals, and a cafe.
Not far off is the breathtaking island of Pollepel, now known as Bannerman Island, and Bannerman’s Castle. Once an uninhabited place, accessible only by boat, it is now a beautiful destination that offers sunset tours and theatrical performances.
The village is also home to the quaint Cold Spring Harbor Firehouse Museum.
Cape May, NJ
Take a visit to Cape May during the spring or summer months for an experience that combines scenic beach and resort living with New England charm. Cape May is at the tip of New Jersey’s Cape May Peninsula.
Apart from it’s incredibly scenic atlantic beaches, it also is known for its preserved Victorian era houses, such as the Emlen Physick Estate, now a museum. You can also visit Morey’s Piers, an old-fashioned boardwalk amusement park, the Cape May Lighthouse and museum, the popular Cape May County Park & Zoo. There are also blocks of and restaurants and shops that line the Washington Street Mall.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
Only a 40 minute train ride from the city, Sleepy Hollow is a vibrant town in Westchester County that’s most known as the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Washington Irving himself is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and is a popular spot to visit in addition to the Headless Horseman monument.
The Rockefeller family also spent a great deal of their time in Sleepy Hollow as well in their opulent hilltop estate. You can tour their estates and gardens, as well as take a hike on the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, a network of carriage roads that cross streams, fields and woodlands, all with views of the Hudson river.
Sleepy Hollow is also home to Phillipsburg Manor, a 1700’s trading center & colonial manor that still functions and is open to the public. The Manor features exhibits about the era and hands-on activities of the 18th century.
Montauk lies at the east end of the Long Island peninsula. It’s known for its beaches, like Ditch Plains, and for Montauk Point State Park, which is home to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, established in 1796 by George Washington. The Lighthouse museum displays all the historical documents signed by him in 1796. You can also visit Camp Hero State Park, once a military base, and explore the World War Two era bunkers and radar tower that are still there.
The town itself features many local shops and restaurants, filled kind locals and many vacationers from around the area.
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
Less than two hours from Manhattan, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery is located in the foothills of the Hudson Valley, between the picturesque Mount Eve and Mount Adam, in Warwick, New York. It’s is open year round, and offers regular tastings of wine and cider, brewed on the premises. It also features seasonal events like apple picking, an on-site bakery/cafe, and live music events. You’ll forget you’re in New York entirely!