8 easy must-do weekend trips from New York City

Published by: BouncePosted
Best weekend trip ideas from New York City

Located between New England, the Jersey Shore, Upstate New York, Long Island, and the Hudson River Valley, New York City has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to destinations for weekend trips. While the activities within the Five Boroughs are seemingly endless, it’s only natural (and healthy) to want to get out of the city for a few days to unwind. While there are hundreds of potential weekend getaways from NYC along the East Coast, there are a ton that you can reach within three hours. 

But you can’t just get in your car, or hop on a train, and head to some quaint town in rural Rhode Island and expect weekend trips from NYC to run smoothly. Planning can go a long way in ensuring your weekend trip is as fun and relaxing as possible. You’ll want to determine how long you’re willing to drive. You’ll want to find luggage storage in New York City if you need to leave some bags behind. You’ll definitely want to know what to do and where to eat. 

Wherever you choose as your weekend getaway destination, it’s going to be an epic trip. But where to go? Here are the best weekend getaways from New York City: 

Plan a trip from NYC to The Berkshires for the weekend

The Berkshires, Western Massachusetts 

The perfect weekend trip for art enthusiasts has to be the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. This stretch of the country, tucked away in the corner of the state, has turned into a go-to weekend getaway for anyone wanting to get some fresh air that’s unwilling to give up culture (even for a few days). 

Distance from New York City

The main areas in the Berkshires to visit are about a three-hour drive from New York City, which is pretty reasonable for weekend getaways. 

Our activity recommendations

The Berkshires has turned into one of the most prominent contemporary art hotspots in the country. This vibrant arts scene is centered around MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), with prominent arts and music festivals held there throughout the year. 

Music fans looking for bucolic concert experiences should check out the Solid Sound Festival, which is organized by indie-rock luminaries Wilco. There is also the Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, for theater junkies. 

Best season to visit 

Summer and fall are the best times to visit the Berkshires. June through August, you’ll enjoy the fresh summer air outside of your non-air-conditioned Manhattan apartment. In the fall, you’ll enjoy some crisp autumnal beauty, especially once the leaves change.

Weekend trip from New York to Cape May

Cape May, New Jersey 

Located at the southernmost tip of the Jersey Shore, Cape May is one of the most pristine beach towns left on the Eastern seaboard and one of the many weekend getaways in New Jersey. The relatively remote location has allowed this charming town to go unnoticed, while neighboring areas along the shore have become almost overrun with visitors from NYC and Philly. 

If you want a quiet, relaxing weekend trip at the beach, especially with a family, Cape May is one of your best options for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Distance from New York City

While it might feel like you’ve entered a whole new world, the trip to Cap May is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive (160 miles) from the city.

Our activity recommendations

It’s a beach town in New Jersey, so hit the boardwalk. Cape May is your quintessential coastal town. There’s a main stretch with seafood restaurants and fun bars, and there’s always the beach. Look into fun outdoor activities like dolphin watching, or head one town over to the Green Creek Animal Farm to pet some alpacas. 

Best season to visit 

Summer is easily the best time for a weekend getaway in Cape May. You can, however, find better deals for vacation rentals after Labor Day. 

The Hamptons and Shelter Island - Long Island, New York

The most famous (and obvious) weekend trip destination from New York City is the Hamptons. This gorgeous stretch of coastline is teeming with beautiful summer homes, fun restaurants, and gorgeous water views. The Hamptons are one of the best weekend getaways for young New Yorkers looking for some nightlife to go along with your quintessential beach town experience. 

There are also other areas to explore near the Hamptons, including Shelter Island and Montauk. Fire Island is another amazing option in the area for LBTQ nightlife. North Fork is another option. One of the ways to navigate this part of Long Island is to base your search on rental availability. Because you won't want to pass up a house with an outdoor pool just because it doesn't fit into your plans.

Distance from New York City

Depending on how bad the traffic is getting out of Brooklyn and Queens, you can expect a three-hour drive to the Hamptons. 

Our activity recommendations

Pretty standard beach town activities await you in the Hamptons. There are bars and restaurants along the water, there are numerous outdoor activities, and plenty of sandy beaches to get that tan. Renting a summer house with friends or family is the best setup for long weekends. 

The nightlife in the Hamptons is also legendary and is basically an extension of the clubs in Manhattan. It gets quite rowdy on weekends during the peak season. 

Best season to visit 

To enjoy the beaches and seaside towns, summer is the best time of the year to visit the Hamptons, especially if you want to experience the epic nightlife. 

Weekend trips from NYC to Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley, Upstate New York 

If you’ve talked to enough people in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you’ve probably heard about their transformative weekend getaway in the Hudson River Valley. It’s sometimes referred to simply as “Hudson,” but it’s really referring to the numerous towns nestled alongside the Hudson River. 

It’s a popular place to rent a house for a weekend or prolonged stays, and NYC residents often try to “live like a local” during their time in Hudson. There are also a number of art galleries and historic sites that draw visitors to the area. It’s the perfect mix of urban culture and countryside charm. 

Distance from New York City

Hudson Valley and the surrounding area are incredibly close to Manhattan. The drive should take just over two hours with traffic. There is also a train line that services the towns along the Hudson River. 

Our activity recommendations

Look into the fine dining scene in Hudson Valley, as some of the best rural restaurants in the world are situated here. There are also exceptional breweries (Hudson Valley and Suarez Family are the most renowned) as well as several vineyards for wine tasting in the area. All these make for pleasant afternoon destinations for fall trips or summer trips to the area. 

There are also plenty of outdoor activities to get into, with wonderful hiking trails, kayaking along the river, and biking routes for enjoying the greenery while working up a sweat. There are also some of the best cross-country skiing trails in the northeast.

Best season to visit 

This is an all-year weekend getaway destination. During the summer, you’ll enjoy the best weather for hiking and other activities. Fall is the most beautiful, especially when the leaves change. Wintertime is also great for a weekend getting cozy in a cabin. There is also cross-country skiing this time of year. 

Weekend trips from New York City to Mystic, CT

Long Beach Island, New Jersey 

The Jersey Shore is an obvious weekend trip destination from New York City, but the region has a number of slightly out-of-the-way spots that are perfect for some peace and quiet. One such place is Long Beach Island, which sits just off the Jersey Shore’s coastline. With almost 20 miles of idyllic coastline, Long Beach Island is the perfect place to spend a few days in the ocean breeze. Fans of Shelter Island and Long Island in general will love this place.

Distance from New York City

Long Beach Island is only about a two-hour drive south on the shore from New York City. Getting out of the city before traffic hits its peak is imperative.

Our activity recommendations

Long Beach Island is perfect for a family trip. Take the kids to the Barnegat Lighthouse, known affectionately as “Old Barney.” There’s also the Viking Village, with a number of seaside fun shops and restaurants. Pinky’s Seafood Company and Mud City Crab House are the best restaurants to grab delicious seafood and a few drinks. 

Best season to visit 

It’s a beach town, so summer is obviously the best time to go. In terms of rentals and hotels, you can get some decent pre-Memorial Day and post-Labor Day deals; but the Long Beach Island experience is best from June to mid-September. 

Mystic, Connecticut 

This picturesque seaside fishing village is the perfect weekend getaway destination for families with young children. It’s as quaint as it gets, and that’s saying something considering it’s New England. It’s also small, with just over 4,000 permanent residents, so it will be easy to navigate with smaller kids. And just about every attraction is family-friendly. 

Distance from New York City

It’s almost exactly a three-hour drive to get to Mystic along the Connecticut Turnpike. 

Our activity recommendations

Mystic boasts all the standard seaside attractions you’d expect from a coastal Connecticut town. You can take a boat ride on the Argia Mystic Cruises to explore the shoreline and get some beautiful views of the town. There are also the Mystic Seaport Museum and Mystic Aquarium, which can come in handy if the weather isn’t cooperative.

Best season to visit 

The best weekend trips to Mystic are during the summer. There’s simply too much fresh ocean breeze to enjoy, and jumping in the Atlantic is only truly comfortable later in the summer.  

Newport, RI - weekend trip from Mew York

Newport, Rhode Island 

Newport is your standard coastal New England town… on steroids. Known for being the summer getaway for New York City’s elite, especially during the gilded age and roaring 20s, Newport boasts some of the most opulent (and well-preserved) mansions in the country. It’s also a charming town where normal folks can stay at a boutique hotel, eat a lobster roll, see some live music, and enjoy some outdoor recreation in the ocean air. 

Distance from New York City

It’s just over a three-hour drive to Newport from New York City. There is also a train from Grand Central Station that will get you to Newport via Providence in a few hours. 

Our activity recommendations

Outdoorsy types can hike the three-mile Newport Cliff Walk. History buffs will absolutely want to go on a tour of one of the mansions. Sporting types can visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which boasts one of the most gorgeous grass courts and grounds in the sport. 

Foodies will absolutely want to check out one of the many seafood shacks in town. Newport’s food scene is based almost entirely on the delightful lobster roll, which is sort of a “Rhode Island hot dog.” Anthony’s Seafood, Benjamin’s, Scales & Shells, and Flo’s Clam Shack are all notable purveyors of this tasty treat. Of course, all of them claim to serve the best lobster roll, but you should be the judge.

Best season to visit 

Weekend trips to Newport are most enjoyable during the summer months when you can enjoy the breeze off the ocean. For fall, Newport is also one of the best weekend getaways from NYC. 

The Poconos, Pennsylvania 

In terms of outdoor activities, this beautiful mountain range is your closest option to New York City. Many outdoors enthusiasts from New York City plan perfect weekend trips around hiking through these mountains. 

The area surrounding the mountains is massive, so you’ll have your pick of which towns you’d like to stay in. It’s best to pick a trail or activity like zip-lining and base your accommodations around that. Look into the slightly kitschy resorts for romantic weekend getaways as well. This used to be the go-to rendezvous destination for New York’s elite.

Distance from New York City

It takes about two and a half hours to reach the Pocono Mountains from NYC by car. 

Our activity recommendations

In terms of how close they are to NYC, the Poconos are a Manhatsnie mountaineer's dream. Some of the best terrain and hiking trails in the northeast are situated along these slopes. 

Best season to visit 

Summer and fall are the best times of year to enjoy all the outdoor activities the Pocono Mountains have to offer. Spring can be lovely, but the frequent rains can get in the way of hiking. 

Weekend trips from NYC

Conclusion

Sure, you’re absolutely head-over-heels in love with the Big Apple, whether you live here or have planned a perfect 3 days in New York City. But the Five Boroughs is a fast-paced and busy place, and you need a recharge. Luckily, there are so many superb destinations for weekend trips, all within a few hours of New York City. 

The best weekend getaways from NYC will have a little bit of charm, a little bit of culture, and access to nature. All of these will go a long way to helping you maintain your sanity in a place like New York City. Just remember, if you’re crunched for time, you can always do a little day trip from NYC to unwind for a few hours.

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