All Articles 9 idyllic weekend getaways from New York City

9 idyllic weekend getaways from New York City

Whether you're craving beach days, antique stores, or buzzy restaurants, there's a weekend escape for you.

Erika Owen
Reade Tilley
By Erika Owen and Reade TilleyJun 12, 2024 10 minutes read
Aerial view of morning sunshine at Montauk Lighthouse
Montauk Lighthouse
Image: Michael Ver Sprill/Getty Images

New York City may have it all but to fully appreciate all of its bits and bobs, you have to get away once in a while. Any seasoned New Yorker has their favorite escape and chances are they won’t tell you every single stop on their itinerary—since the Metro North train line is so well-connected, you have to keep a few things secret so you won’t (always) run into your neighbors on your weekend away. Consider this an insider guide to the trips every city slicker dreams about during the week.

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Woodstock, NY

2 hours from NYC by car

Guest room at Hotel Dylan, in Woodstock, New York
Hotel Dylan
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Woodstock is a city with deep, musical roots. Home to the original music fest of the same name, there are more music venues than you can fit into a single long-weekend visit—but the city is so much more than its past.

Getting here: The trip is an easy drive up I-87 N. Along the way, make a pit stop in Kingston for lunch (Masa Midtown for comforting Turkish dishes or Restaurant Kinsley for fried chicken and next-level burgers) and a bit of antiquing.

On your to-do list: Time your trip around a show at the historic Bearsville Theater, which was once owned by Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. Everyone from the Rolling Stones to Meatloaf recorded here in the ‘60s and ‘70s. For something a bit quieter, head to Byrdcliffe, a creative colony where you can wander around its 300 bucolic acres and see artists-in-residence at work. For eats, plan a night at Nirvana, an Indian restaurant that has quickly become a hit in the city’s buzzing food scene. And don’t miss a breakfast at the Bread Alone Bakery—the toasts are served on the bakery's famed sourdough.

Pro tip: Hotels book fast during peak visit times (summer and fall), so plan accordingly. If you hope to catch fall foliage, it’s best to nail down your accommodations months in advance.

Where to stay: A night (or two) at the Woodstock Way Hotel is not completely unlike snoozing in a treehouse. This sustainably built hotel overlooks a waterfall and has all the ingredients for chillaxing: cabins, open and airy suites, fire pits, plus in-room massages. Alternatively, Hotel Dylan is a motel-style property with an Instagrammable hippie-chic look.

Madison, CT

2 hours from NYC by car or 2.5 by train

Rocky shoreline with sailboat in the background, in Madison, Connecticut
Image: Olga U/Getty Images

A charming coastal town with serious Stars Hollow vibes? Sold. Set exactly halfway between New York City and Boston on the Connecticut shoreline, Madison is located just off I-95, but worlds away from the busy highway.

Getting here: Driving will get you there the quickest—you’ll cruise along I-95 N for a vast majority of the ride. If you opt for the train, hop on the New Haven Metro North line at Grand Central before transferring to an eastbound Shore Line East train at New Haven–Union Station.

On your to-do list: You won’t find streets lined with chain stores here. There’s a vibrant creative community, from the indie Madison Art Cinema and the witchy Tea & Tarot to the hyper-specific Audubon Shop and RJ Julia Booksellers. For a history lesson, visit the Deacon John Grave House—it serves as a peek into multiple generations of U.S history through the eyes of farmers, weavers, innkeepers, soldiers, and more.

Pro tip: The Shoreline Greenway Trail is a 25-mile stretch that was made for slow and steady summer bike rides. (Stop by Overlook Bicycles downtown to rent a bike.)

Where to stay: If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, The Homestead delivers. This 12-room bed-and-breakfast was designed like a rom-com set (seriously). It’s also dog-friendly, offering free beach passes and bikes for exploring. If a great meal is at the top of your list, book a room at the Scranton Seahorse Inn. Pastry chef Michael Hafford runs this B&B, so you know the breakfast will be amazing.

Katonah, NY

1.5 hours from NYC by car or one hour by train

White baby goat at farm in New York
Image: brandtbolding/Getty Images

You’re really going for one attraction when you visit Katonah: Muscoot Farm, which houses about a hundred animals from dairy and pygmy goats to horses and cows. Expect to be petting all the animals.

Getting here: Catching a Harlem-bound Metro North train from Grand Central is going to get you there the quickest (an hour). If you’re driving, expect a scenic 1.5-hour drive along I-87 N and Saw Mill River Parkway.

On your to-do list: Once you’re done at the farm, head to downtown Katonah to stop by The Katonah Reading Room, a bookstore and cafe that serves as a popular gathering spot for locals. Across the reservoir, the Katonah Museum of Art is beautiful inside and out, thanks to a collection that spans contemporary art and futurism and a building design by modernist architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Plan your visit around a jazz, opera, and symphony performance at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

Pro tip: If you arrive at Muscoot early, ask about pitching in for the morning farm chores.

Where to stay: While there are no hotels right near the farm, you won’t have to travel far to find a bit of luxury. The Bedford Post Inn—an eight-room, 18th-century country inn—is about an 11-minute drive from Katonah. (Fun fact: Richard Gere is a co-owner.) Families will settle right in at Hotel MTK, which was formerly a 1960s Holiday Inn. It’s just a 10-minute drive away in Mount Kisco.

Beacon, NY

1.5 hours from NYC by car or train

Shops along the main street in Beach, New York
Image: Wirestock/Getty Images

There are plenty of towns to choose from if your weekend getaway plans don’t involve driving, but Beacon offers enough shopping, eating, and playing to fill an entire weekend itinerary (and then some). Located nearly 70 miles north of the city along the Hudson River, it shines in every season.

Getting here: It’s easy to hop on a Hudson-bound Metro North train from Grand Central. Those with cars will spend most of the trip on the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

On your to-do list: Start your day with a classic breakfast at the Yankee Clipper Diner, a retro spot that often has a line out the door. When it comes to shopping, design-forward home goods at Little King, organic skincare at Witch Hazel, and pre-owned records at Hudson Valley Vinyl are must-visits. Spend an afternoon taking in the permanent collection and rotating exhibits at Dia Beacon, which focuses on large-scale art installations. For dinner, head to Quinn’s for Japanese comfort food in a space that feels like a Midwestern bar. End the night with some old-school gaming at the Happy Valley Arcade Bar.

Pro tip: Many shops close mid-week before welcoming crowds of visitors on the weekends. Make sure and check opening hours before planning your trip.

Where to stay: Book a room at the Roundhouse—it’s nestled next to a waterfall at the end of Main Street. The minimalist rooms are breezy and full of amenities: free breakfast, flatscreen TVs, a coffee maker, air conditioning, and dedicated workspaces. The on-site restaurant serves up classics like steak frites and cacio e pepe and an impressive cocktail menu.

Philadelphia

2 hours by car or 1.5 hours by train or bus

Park overlooking Philadelphia skyline
Image: Photo by Mike Kline/Getty Images

If you want a change of scenery without a serious change of pace, Philadelphia has a rich history and culture, modern restaurants and entertainment, and plenty of shopping and bars—just like New York, except not New York.

Getting here: There’s an Amtrak route between NYC and Philly, making the trip easy work. You can also take a Greyhound bus if you’re working with a smaller budget. Drivers will spend most of the trip on I-95 S, but plan ahead for weekend and rush hour traffic.

On your to-do list: Weekend visitors should stop by Macy’s at noon on Saturday and catch the beautiful 1904 Wanamaker Organ—the world’s largest pipe organ at roughly seven stories tall—in action. Make a stop at The Rosenbach museum and see a re-creation of poet Marianne Moore’s NYC living room (along with letters from George Washington and a handwritten manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses). Tick the “cheesesteak” box at Pat’s King of Steaks (still run by the family of the man said to have invented the cheesesteak) or try a twist at Chef Hiroyuki Tanaka’s Zama restaurant, which, along with beautifully crafted sushi, offers cheesesteak-inspired maki.

Pro tip: Many of the city’s restaurants are BYOB, including A Mano (Italian), Pietramala (upscale vegan), and Elwood (Pennsylvania Dutch country cuisine). Check with the restaurant ahead of time to confirm if you’ll need to tote your own sips—and then pick up a bottle of natural wine at Bloomsday Cafe or seek out Philly-based Yards Brewing ales at markets and Whole Foods around the city.

Where to stay: Book a room at Lokal Hotel—there are two great locations, in Fishtown and Old City. The open and airy interiors are dotted with rooms named for local icons like Ben and Betsy (as in Franklin and Ross). The Guild House Hotel in Center City is another option; it was once home to the New Century Guild, a landmark group that was founded in 1882 to support working women.

Hudson, NY

2 hours from NYC by car or train

Swimming pool at The Maker, in Hudson, New York
The Maker
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

A wave of city expats settled in Hudson in the early 2000s and went to work refining the town’s indie spirit, revitalizing its historic downtown, and earning it the nickname “Brooklyn in the Hudson Valley.” Twenty years later, Hudson has its own character and an unfairly dense network of incredible restaurants, watering holes, and accommodations.

Getting here: Amtrak offers a route directly to Hudson from Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station. If you are taking on the drive, you’ll spend most of it on the Taconic State Parkway.

On your to-do list: Hudson’s character really shines in places like Backbar, a Southeast Asian spot tucked into an antique store, and Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, an ultra-kitschy spot serving pan-Latin comfort food like aguachile and chorizo laab. When it comes to shopping, a simple walk down Warren Street to fill an entire afternoon (Red Chair on Warren, The Quiet Botanist, and Finch are a great place to start). Carve out some time for hiking at Minnewaska State Park Preserve, which is an hour south of Hudson and well-worth the drive if you rented a car.

Pro tip: Come fall, this part of the Hudson Valley comes alive with apple picking (and apple cider doughnuts, and pumpkin hunting). Make an afternoon of orchard-hopping, with a hay ride or two thrown in for good measure.

Where to stay: The Maker Hotel, from the founders of Fresh Beauty, is a good home base, as is The Howard (the latter is next to the lovely Ca’Mea Italian restaurant).

Cape May, NJ

2.5 hours from NYC by car

Victorian homes along the beach, in Cape May, New Jersey
Image: sparhawk4242/Getty Images

Family friendly meets pure Americana vibes in this summer hot spot south of NYC. But don’t let Cape May’s casual first impression sway you—there are plenty of sophisticated restaurants, chic boutiques, and next-level spa treatments when you dig a layer deeper.

Getting here: You can take a series of buses, but the trip will take you five hours. Your best bet is to drive and the route will keep you trucking along the Garden State Parkway for most of the journey.

On your to-do list: Don’t miss the Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey, which celebrates the abolitionist history of Cape May, which was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. The beaches may be the main draw, but make sure to check out the Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May Arcade, Cape May Point Science Center, and catch a show at the East Lynne Theater Company when you need a family-friendly break from the sun.

Pro tip: Get to know the city a bit better by taking a Cape May Trolley Tour early on in your trip. The tour only lasts 45 minutes and you’ll leave with recs for your stay, as well as a strong collection of trivia-level Cape May knowledge.

Where to stay: Congress Hall is the place for history buffs. Before it opened in 1816, Americans didn’t really go to the seashore on vacation but it got so popular that the property was nicknamed the “Summer White House,” hosting five U.S. presidents. Alternatively, The Chalfonte Hotel is two blocks from the beach and is known around town (and beyond) for the fried chicken and biscuits at its restaurant, the Magnolia Room.

Rhinebeck, NY

2 hours from NYC by car or 1 hour and 40 minutes by train

Dining room at Willow Restaurant, Rhinebeck, New York
Willow Restaurant
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Small art galleries, 19th-century mansions, charming antique stores, and quaint inns abound: this is Hudson Valley touristing as it has been for ages. Once sleepy, there are plenty of trendy hotels and restaurants lining Rhinebeck's streets—but don’t worry, the city has maintained its charm.

Getting here: The Taconic State Parkway will get you most of the way from New York City. For those without wheels, grab a seat on the 243 Rensselaer Amtrak train and settle in for the ride.

On your to-do list: Apartment-dwellers from NYC can visit Staatsburgh, an opulent 65-room Beaux Arts mansion, to consider the size of their own dwellings and then weep their way to Willow, chef Charlie Palmer’s restaurant at the Mirabeau Inn & Spa.

Pro tip: Rhinebeck has a steady calendar of festivals and events (think: NY State Sheep and Wool Festival and the Rhinebeck Crafts Festival) come warm weather. Plan your trip around one of them to mingle with locals.

Where to stay: Book a room (and grab a drink) at the Beekman Arms, a hotel and tavern that’s been a go-to spot for ales and opinions since the American Revolution.

Montauk, NY

2.5 hours from NYC by car or 3 hours by train

Swimming pool with view of beach and ocean at Marram, Montauk, New York
Marram
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Visitors to Montauk, the easternmost point of the state, can expect gentle surf breaks, quaint cafés, and a laid-back lifestyle that’s just the tonic for stressed-out urbanites.

Getting here: The Long Island Railroad will drop you off in Montauk. Drivers will clock a majority of their miles on I-495 E.

On your to-do list: You can visit the Montauk Lighthouse (commissioned by George Washington himself), poke around the local boutiques, or hike in the local Camp Hero State Park, but there’s nothing wrong with just walking on the beach.

Pro tip: Montauk is far from a summer-only destination. During the winter, hotel rates go down and the beaches empty out. You may not be stretching out on the sand in your swimsuit, but the cooler temps add a moody filter to all of the sights. If you do go this route, keep in mind that some restaurants are seasonal.

Where to stay: Splurge on a room at Gurney's Star Island Resort & Marina or trendy Marram—or settle into a cozy vacation rental. Just know, summer and fall accommodations often book up months in advance.

Erika Owen
Erika Owen is a Brooklyn-based writer and self-described Iceland enthusiast. She is also the author of The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life, Lawbreaking Ladies: 50 Tales of Daring, Defiant, and Dangerous Women from History, and Fodor's Essential Iceland.
Reade Tilley
Reade Tilley is a writer and media professional who can be found at rft4.com, among other places.