by Ellen Curham
New York is an amazing place to visit. It is the city that never sleeps and an impossible place to be bored. However, it’s worth taking a step outside of the city every once in a while to see the amazing surrounding scenery. Whether it’s to escape the concrete jungle for something more serene or to check out a neighbouring urban centre, New York City is situated in such a location that day trips couldn’t be easier.
Getting around the East Coast is a breeze and the small size of the states allow you to visit a few on day trips from the city. Here are a few of our top picks for day trips from New York.
Washington, DC isn’t the quickest day trip to make but if you’re in New York and aren’t planning to come back to the States any time soon then it’s definitely worth visiting the capital district. It’s about three-and-a-half hours if you go by car, or you could take a super-early four-to-five hour bus like Greyhound and get some shut eye on it before arriving.
Naturally, you’ll want to check out the White House, Capitol Hill and the Lincoln Memorial. Aside from these famous landmarks there are a lot of museums like the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which are all free to visit.
Bear Mountain State Park
A wonderful way to spend a day away from the city without having to travel too far. You can get to Bear Mountain State Park in under two hours by taking the Hudson line and then a short cab ride to the entrance of the park. There are also private coaches that depart the city and take you there.
Bear Mountain offers hikes at every level with the most impressive being the Perkins Memorial Tower trek where you will end with an unbelievable view of the four surrounding states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Other activities that you can do within its 5,000 acres include cross country skiing, swimming and skating.
New Haven is one of the larger cities in the state of Connecticut but compared to the city of New York, it’s a tranquil little spot. It is, of course, home to the prestigious Yale University, which is 300 years old. This is the top destination in New Haven and it boasts beautiful architecture and world-class libraries.
Aside from that, there are lots of quaint cafes for relaxing and reading and bars that fill up with students letting off steam at night. New Haven is reachable by Metro North or under two hours by car.
Also known as a ‘barrier island’, Fire Island is a long and thin piece of land facing out onto the Atlantic Ocean. This is a beautiful place to escape to, especially in the summer. You’ll find clean beaches and herds of deer walking around the Fire Island National Seashore, which is a protected area, as well as the Fire Island Lighthouse.
This is an extremely popular day-trip for New Yorkers, in particularly the LGBTQ community. It’s relaxing during the day then once it gets dark the nightclubs here and on the neighbouring islands fill up with revellers. Fire Island is car-free but it is possible to get there by train and then ferry services which depart throughout the day.
A city itself, and no less lively than New York, yet somehow less hectic, Philadelphia is one of the top places to visit in the USA right now. It has a thriving cultural scene and its food scene is growing well beyond the classic Philly cheesesteak. Besides, it’s only a couple of hours on the train and even less by car from NYC.
Philly was the first in the USA to be named a World Heritage City—unsurprising when you consider its important historical monuments like the Liberty Bell. It’s also imperative that you check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art, if not for the works hosted inside, then for the chance to run up the steps just like Rocky.
Where to stay?
The New York Budget Inn offers free Wi-Fi, secure lockers and clean, affordable rooms right in Manhattan; on the other side of Central Park you’ll find HI NYC Hostel, a stylish designer hostel with free nightly activities. Meanwhile, NY Moore Hostel offers ensuite dorms and private rooms in the perfect location for exploring Williamsburg.