Ready to escape New York City this fall? Here are the best day trips in the tri-state area

A scenic view of the NYC skyline against the beach of the Rockaways in Queens taken from a boat.
Go beyond New York City this fall with these six day trips © Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography / Getty Images

Escaping from the hustle and bustle of New York City doesn’t have to mean a long vacation. With a full tank of gas or using the city’s public transportation, it’s easier than ever to get out of town for an unbelievable day trip this fall.

Within two hours of the city, you can find a complete change of scenery: unplug in the crisp autumnal forests, soothe your serotonin levels in the sand or get cultured in upstate museums. Here’s our pick of the best day trips from NYC.

Editor's note: During COVID-19, please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government health advice. Events may be subject to change.

Merchandise is seen outside a souvenir store on Tinker Street on August 14, 2019 in Woodstock, New York.
Get back to nature with a visit to Woodstock, New York © Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

1. Woodstock, NY 

Although the infamous concert actually took place in Bethel, NY, there is still tie-dye to be found in Woodstock, NY, a town filled with arts and nature. A ban on chain stores keeps this town feeling free-spirited. This is the perfect destination to get back to nature by taking a hike up Overlook Mountain and enjoying the picturesque views of expansive fall forests that light up with color. Also, Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag, entices with unique gift stores and cafes. 

There are a plethora of restaurant choices in the town of Woodstock, but for an extra special breakfast, you’ll want to take a 20-minute drive to the Phoenicia Diner, an elevated diner known for unbelievable pancakes and a recently released cookbook. 

How to get to Woodstock: The car is the fastest way to get to Woodstock, NY. Or from Port Authority, take a bus directly to Woodstock. It takes 2 hours by car and 2 hours and 45 minutes by bus.

Trees with fall foliage border a lake with fog
Bedford-Katonah in upstate New York makes for a peaceful getaway and excellent fall sights © Andrea Thompson / Getty Images

2. Bedford-Katonah, NY

This part of Westchester is known for its rolling green hills that transition into orange and yellow hues in the fall and quaint hamlets with sleepy downtowns. It’s perfect for recharging on a wellness-focused day trip.

Start at the Katonah Art Museum, known for showing up-and-coming and established modern artists in a small but innovative setting. Afterward, an eight-minute drive will take you to the Richard Gere-owned Bedford Post, an 8-room luxury inn that hosts daily yoga classes in the sun-drenched barn. 

The Barn, one of the two restaurants on the Bedford Post property is a casual, yet charming, wood-beamed room with a lovely porch for eating al fresco.

How to get to Bedford-Katonah: Take the Metro-North Harlem Line to Katonah Station. Take a short taxi ride to the Katonah Art Museum. The trip takes about 1 hour by train.

Two people ride bikes down a boardwalk
Asbury Park, New Jersey is transformed Jersey Shore beach town © Image Source / Getty Images

3. Asbury Park, NJ 

With a multi-million dollar renovation, the Jersey Shore beach town of Asbury Park, most synonymous with Bruce Springsteen, has transformed into a perfect NYC day trip destination with boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and unique shops – while maintaining its funky edge.

Spend time relaxing on the beach but don’t miss the Wooden Walls Project, a public art initiative started in 2015 consisting of large-scale murals. Shop the quirky beachside boardwalk boutiques and don’t forget to book tickets for a show at the legendary rock venue, Stone Pony

The restaurant credited with transforming the food scene in Asbury Park is Porta, an upscale pizza spot in a breezy and lively location close to the beach.

How to get to Asbury Park: The quickest way to get to Asbury Park is by car (takes 1 hour and 15 mins). You can also take the NJ transit train (from Penn Station to Bay Head) or the NJ Transit bus (Port Authority to Ashbury Park Transportation Center). 

Main street with small brick buildings in Beacon, New York
Get a taste of small-town life with a quick trip to Beacon © Barry Winiker / Getty Images

A hotbed of creativity in a historical blue-collar town; Beacon has art, fine dining and shopping all along the Hudson River. 

A stop at the Dia: Beacon is a must when day-tripping to Beacon. The light-filled 300,000 sq ft gallery space in a converted factory hosts conceptual large-scale art by Gerard Richter, Louise Bourgeois and Richard Serra. Also, Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre outdoor sculpture garden, is a short drive away, bringing together fine art and fresh air. 

The most charming setting to eat is Roundhouse, a farm-to-table restaurant overlooking a waterfall. Inventive favorites like Spicy Lobster Mac n’ Cheese pair nicely with a signature cocktail or a glass of wine. After your meal, stroll up the street to the trendy, new HÅKAN Chocolatier for artisanal chocolate worth the trip. 

How to get to Beacon: By car, take I-87 North to Palisades Pkwy to NY-9D. The trip takes about an hour and a half. By train, take Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station. Travel time is about 1 hour and 30 minutes by train.

A man relaxes in a wooden chair on a grassy lawn
Float the Delaware River and relax in New Hope © Blasius Erlinger / Getty Images

5. New Hope, PA

New Hope might be one of the most progressive small towns in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with a giant yearly LGBTQIA+ festival, late-night bar scene and artistic stores. 

New Hope is the perfect adventurous getaway. Rent a tube and drift down the Delaware River and let your urban stress melt away.

When it's time to eat, you won’t go wrong with Salt House, a charming gastropub located in a historical building built in 1751. Eat chowder by the fire in the tavern, steak frites in the upstairs library or oysters on the half shell  “al fresco” on the stone patio.

How to get to New Hope: From Port Authority, take a direct bus to New Hope. The trip takes about 2 hours. By car, take I-78 West and US-202 South. Travel time is 1 hour and 30 mins. 

Sunset from the Rockaways, Queens, NY
Though still in New York City, The Rockaways has a seaside town feel © Demerzel21 / Getty Images / iStockphoto

6. Rockaways, Queens

For a hip surf scene that is reachable by subway, grab your swimsuit and catch the A train to the Rockaways. Technically still in New York City (it’s in Queens), you’ll feel like you’re in a seaside town, but without the unbearable traffic.  

Before you go, reserve your umbrella and beach lounge chair through Lido Beach Butlers at Jacob Riis Beach, and arrive to find everything set up for maximum relaxation. For a unique experience in the summer, book a tent at Camp Rockaway, a seasonal “glampground” located mere steps from the ocean, where the sounds of the surf will lull you to sleep. 

The Riis Park Beach Bazaar concession stands have updated seaside fare including a weekly lobster boil at Rockaway Clam Bar. Grab a picnic table on the boardwalk, crack open a beer and groove to the live music playing most summer nights.

How to get to the Rockaways: Take the NYC ferry directly to Jacob Riis Beach or the A train to a shuttle bus. The trip takes about 45 minutes. 

Introducing New York City

You might also like:

This article was originally published in March 2019 and last updated in September 2021.

Buy the Ultimate Travel List

Lonely Planet

The second edition of Lonely Planet’s bestseller presents an all-new ranking of the greatest places to visit on Earth.

Buy the Ultimate Travel List

Related content