New Yorkers are fond of saying that New York City is the greatest city in the world. After all, it has some of the most famous attractions in the United States from the Statue of Liberty to the Bronx Zoo. The city is so full of amazing places to eat that you could try a different restaurant every day for five years and still not run out. Sometimes it does feel like New York is the centre of the universe but there are also some fantastic weekend getaways from NYC to enjoy.
Even though there are plenty of unusual things to do in New York, even the biggest NYC fan will want to escape the city occasionally and experience some of the charming small towns in New York State. Fortunately, there are many worthwhile destinations an hour or two outside New York by either car or train that can be visited as day trips or (better still) weekend getaways from NYC.
- Five Incredible Weekend Getaways From NYC
- 1- Tarrytown
- 2- Cold Spring
- 3- Beacon
- 4- Hyde Park
- 5- Princeton, New Jersey
Five Incredible Weekend Getaways From NYC
25 miles north of New York City, Tarrytown has excellent restaurants, terrific shopping and beautiful homes to explore.
Even if you only have two days in New York to see the sights, you could still fit in a trip to Tarrytown.
Why would you do it? Well, Tarrytown is one of the most adorable and historic villages in New York State.
It’s a fantastic place to visit any time of the year but Halloween is when Tarrytown truly comes to life.
How to Spend Your Day in Tarrytown
Most people who visit Tarrytown as a day trip from New York City begin their itinerary at the Metro North train station.
From there, you can take a taxi to Sunnyside, the home of legendary local writer Washington Irving.
Irving is most famous for writing “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” but he was also an enthusiastic world traveller who helped design his own home to look like his favourite places in Europe.
The house is so famous there’s even a replica of it in Disney World and even if you haven’t read his stories, you’ll enjoy exploring his unique home.
The only way to see the inside of Sunnyside is on a guided tour, where the docents will teach you all about Irving’s sad and fascinating life.
Tours are only available from May to November, but the best time of year to visit is Halloween.
That’s when the home will be decorated with images of Irving’s most famous creation, the Headless Horseman!
In the afternoon, take a taxi or rideshare back to the centre of Tarrytown and head to the Visitor Center at Philipsburg Manor.
From here, get a bus to take you on a tour of Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate.
Tours are extremely popular, so you’ll have to buy your ticket in advance from the Historic Hudson Valley website (like Sunnyside, Kykuit is only open from May to November).
Kykuit is a gorgeous home, but the most exciting feature is the Rockefeller art collection.
The Rockefellers were avid collectors of modern art, so in both the home and the sculpture garden you can see works that aren’t available anywhere else.
The most impressive pieces might be the giant tapestries designed by Picasso himself and automobile fans will enjoy seeing the stunning Rockefeller collection of vintage cars.
When you return to Tarrytown’s Main Street, there will be enough time to visit some of the most popular stores before they close.
Pretty Funny Vintage has some of the best antique finds in the Hudson River Valley and if you want to support local artists, head to Bella’s Boutique where you might even find one of the artists personally signing his or her work!
Where to Eat in Tarrytown
Coffee Labs Roasters on Main Street is a great place to go for lunch.
Their award-winning coffee is fair trade, sustainable, delicious and pairs perfectly with sweet and savoury baked goods.
Tarrytown is a wonderful place to visit for fans of ice cream as both Main Street Sweets and Lighthouse Ice Cream and Coffee serve homemade ice cream in many unique flavours.
If you visit Tarrytown on a Saturday morning, be sure to stop at the local Farmers Market to pick up everything from local wine to handmade chocolates.
For dinner, Sweet Grass Grill is one of the best places in town serving farm-to-table cuisine prepared with ingredients from local producers.
Vegetarians and carnivores alike will be able to find delicious food here!
How to Get to Tarrytown from New York City
Tarrytown is very easy to get to from New York City via the Hudson Line Metro-North Train at Grand Central Station.
An express train will have you in Tarrytown in 40 minutes, while the local will take about 55 minutes but if you’d rather go by car, Tarrytown is about an hour’s drive away from New York City.
Squeeze in a day trip from NYC or plan a weekend getaway from NYC for a memorable visit.
2- Cold Spring
Cold Spring is another village about 55 miles (88 km) north of New York City.
It’s famous for its amazing location on the Hudson River, wonderful hiking opportunities, and terrific shops on Main Street.
Many New Yorkers take the Metro North train up to Cold Spring to explore nature in the morning and buy some cute antiques for their apartment in the afternoon.
How to Spend Your Day in Cold Spring
When the weather is nice, the best way to experience Cold Spring is to go for a hike!
Fortunately, the Hudson Highlands State Park is just a short walk away from the Cold Spring train station.
Just face the train station with your back towards Main Street, turn right, walk for a few minutes and you’ll be in the state park!
The Hudson Highlands State Park has many kinds of trails and hikes from beginner to advanced.
The most famous is Breakneck Ridge.
It’s for advanced hikers only, but if you complete this hike, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Hudson River.
Make sure to bring proper hiking shoes, but if you forget them, you can buy shoes at Old Souls on Main Street in Cold Spring.
Breakneck Ridge is further away from the Cold Spring train station, but if you visit on weekends, there is sometimes a Metro-North train that will take you from Cold Spring directly to the Breakneck Ridge train station.
Be sure to check the schedule in advance to see if the train is running.
Beginner hikers will prefer the Little Stony Trail as it’s only about a mile long and doesn’t involve any climbing.
But it goes right past the Hudson River, so you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities.
For intermediate hikers, you can try the Bull Hill loop which is a good climb with elevated views of the Hudson River without the difficulty of Breakneck.
After the hike, spend some time shopping on Main Street in Cold Spring.
You can find amazing clothing, furniture, jewellery and assorted knickknacks.
Some of the best stores include Swing, Poor George, the Cold Spring Antiques Center, and Vintage Violet.
If you pick up furniture that you want to take back to New York City, and you don’t have a car, don’t worry!
It’s possible to take back a chair or two on the train.
The Metro-North conductors are used to people bringing antiques back into the city.
Where to Eat in Cold Spring
Hudson Hil’s is the most popular restaurant for brunch in Cold Spring.
There’s usually a wait for a table, but you can just hang out and go shopping while you’re waiting for an opening.
Their chocolate babka French toast is especially delicious.
If Hudson Hil’s is too full, try the Foundry Cafe where you’ll find great coffee and muffins, and the muffins are an energizing snack to take with you on your hike.
For a snack, once you get back from your hike, try the ice cream at Moo Moo’s Creamery in warm months or some homemade alfajores (Argentinian cookies) at Rincon Argentino when the weather is colder.
There are several terrific dinner options in Cold Spring. For seafood, head over to Riverview, which serves an amazing seafood stew.
Just be aware that they don’t take credit cards and if you’d rather have classic French food, stop at Brasserie Le Bouchon for a proper escargot and steak frites.
How to Get to Cold Spring from New York City
Cold Spring is very easy to get to from New York City.
Just take the Hudson Line Metro-North train from Grand Central Station to Cold Spring.
It’s about 90 minutes away by train and if you’d rather drive, the trip will take about the same amount of time.
Beacon, New York is famous for one major attraction, the chic contemporary art museum Dia:Beacon.
Dia:Beacon often hosts special events on weekends, so you could spend your entire day trip in the museum.
But Beacon has blossomed into an adorable city, so it’s better to spend half the day in Dia: Beacon and the rest of the day getting to know Beacon’s charms.
How to Spend Your Day in Beacon
Beacon is a little bit spread out for you to walk from the train station to Dia:Beacon to Main Street.
Fortunately, the city operates a free bus that will take you to every major destination, every day except Sunday.
Start your day in Beacon by heading from the train station to Dia:Beacon.
This giant museum will take your breath away as soon as you step inside and the reason it’s so huge is that Dia:Beacon is actually located inside a former Nabisco factory.
The factory’s large windows let in the perfect amount of light and many of the world’s most famous contemporary artists have works exhibited in Dia:Beacon.
You can see everything from Robert Ryman’s white on white paintings to Louise Bourgeois’s giant sculptures.
If you want some help interpreting the art, there are free docent tours on weekends at 12:30 and 2 pm.
When you’ve finished at the museum, head back to Beacon and explore!
The best thing to do on Beacon’s Main Street is shopping.
You can find cute soaps at Beacon Bath and Bubble, clothing at Vintage Beacon, and handmade glassware and jewellery at Hudson Beach Glass.
Hudson Beach Glass even offers glassblowing classes for an extra fee.
Don’t forget to walk down to the end of Main Street when you’re done shopping for Beacon’s loveliest surprise, the Beacon Falls waterfall.
Where to Eat in Beacon
Ella’s Bellas is a wonderful lunch spot in Beacon that serves gluten-free baked goods so delicious you won’t need to be gluten-free to love them.
Plus, they have tasty soup specials.
For a sweet treat, stop at Beacon Creamery for handmade flavours that are out of this world, especially anything chocolate.
Brother’s Trattoria is a great choice for dinner in Beacon for scrumptious Italian classics, and the staff is extremely friendly.
Don’t miss their zuppa di pesce if it’s on the menu.
How to Get to Beacon From New York City
Beacon is about a 90-minute train trip away from New York City.
Take the Hudson Line Metro-North train from Grand Central Station and you’ll be right there while driving from New York City to Beacon takes about the same amount of time.
4- Hyde Park
Hyde Park is a small town just about 90 miles north of New York City but even though it’s small, it has made major cultural contributions to both New York State and the United States in general.
Its most famous resident was former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and most of the attractions in Hyde Park are related to the Roosevelt family.
Hyde Park is also home to the Culinary Institute of America and a dream destination for foodies too!
How To Spend Your Day in Hyde Park
Most visitors to Hyde Park will arrive at the nearby Poughkeepsie train station.
From there, it’s a short trip in a taxi or rideshare to the Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park.
Travellers on a budget can take the local bus from the Poughkeepsie train station to the FDR National Historic Site.
It leaves the Poughkeepsie train station every hour on every day but Sunday.
There are so many things to do at the FDR National Historic Site that a visitor to Hyde Park could spend all day there.
First, stop at the Visitor Center to see which tours are available for that day.
The park rangers who work there will help you plan your itinerary.
Start with a ranger-led tour of FDR’s beautiful family home, Springwood.
You will hear stories about the fascinating Roosevelt family history and see where FDR and his wife Eleanor lived.
At Springwood you can learn fun facts that even most Americans don’t know about one of their most famous presidents.
Just keep in mind that although it is customary to tip tour guides in the United States, tipping park rangers is not permitted.
After the tour of Springwood, your ticket will also allow you admission to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.
FDR was the first US President to create a presidential library.
Now it is customary for every US President to create a presidential library after they leave office.
You’ll be able to see some of FDR’s most precious treasures, like his private correspondence with Prime Minister Winston Churchill or his photos of his beloved dog Fala.
During summer and fall, stay at the FDR National Historic Site and visit Top Cottage.
This cottage was designed by FDR as a place where he could relax peacefully and still stay on the family property. Tours of Top Cottage leave from the Visitor Center.
Top Cottage is famous because FDR designed it himself to be wheelchair accessible, making it one of the first homes in the United States designed by a wheelchair user for accessibility.
It’s also famous because FDR and Eleanor entertained Great Britain’s King George VI and his wife here.
You can see the photos of the Roosevelts and the Royal Family dining on a hot dog picnic at Top Cottage.
If you’d rather leave the FDR National Historic Site, head to the nearby Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site.
It’s just a five-minute drive away from the FDR site by car or rideshare.
The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady.
Tour Eleanor’s home, Val-Kill, and learn about her amazing work for women’s rights and international diplomacy.
If you’d rather learn about a different prominent American family, instead of going to the Eleanor Roosevelt site, take that drive or rideshare to the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.
It’s also only a five-minute drive away from the FDR site and you can only visit this home on a guided tour.
The Vanderbilts are one of the most prominent and wealthy families in American history.
They made their money in shipping and railroads. Probably the most famous living Vanderbilt is Anderson Cooper, the journalist and son of Gloria Vanderbilt.
On your tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion, you’ll see the family’s gorgeous furniture as well as their stunning Italian-style gardens.
Where to Eat in Hyde Park
The most convenient place to get lunch in Hyde Park is Uncle Sam’s Canteen, the casual restaurant at the FDR National Historic Site.
They serve tasty sandwiches using ingredients from local farmers and the gift shop at the FDR National Historic Site is a great place to pick up some local Oliver Kita chocolate (the Vandermint flavour is especially tasty).
Hyde Park has become a terrific destination for craft beer. Hyde Park Brewing Company is just a short walk across the street from the FDR site.
You can recognize them easily because FDR’s profile is their logo.
Their beers have names that honour famous Hudson Valley residents, like the Rough Rider ale in honour of FDR’s cousin, President Teddy Roosevelt.
No trip to Hyde Park is complete without having dinner at one of the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurants.
Many of the most famous chefs in America have gone to school here, including Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, and Susan Feniger.
The CIA is about a five-minute drive away from the FDR site.
You need to make reservations at the Culinary Institute restaurants in advance because they are so popular.
But planning ahead is worth it because the food is so delicious, and the restaurants are more affordable than similar restaurants in New York City.
You can choose from classic American cuisine at American Bounty, Italian food at Caterina de’Medici, or French cuisine at The Bocuse Restaurant.
How to Get to Hyde Park From New York City
There are several ways to get to Hyde Park from New York City.
- You can take the Metro-North Hudson Line train from Grand Central Station to the Poughkeepsie Station (this trip takes about two hours).
- Amtrak trains also run from New York City to Poughkeepsie (this trip takes about 90 minutes and leaves from Penn Station).
- Finally, you can drive directly from New York City to Hyde Park, which takes between 90 minutes and two hours.
5- Princeton, New Jersey
Even though Princeton is not in New York State, it’s still an easy day trip from New York City about 55 miles (88 km) southwest of New York City.
Princeton is most famous for its Ivy League university, but there are many other reasons to visit this charming town.
How to Spend Your Day in Princeton
Start your day in Princeton by exploring the Princeton University campus, which is a short walk away from the Princeton train station.
It’s an open campus, so you don’t need special permission to visit even if you are not a student.
One of the most impressive sights on the Princeton campus is Nassau Hall, which was the provisional capitol building of the United States from June 30 to November 4, 1783.
It’s now the administrative centre of the campus.
Don’t miss the tigers on either side of the building (the tiger is Princeton’s mascot).
The Chapel on Princeton campus is also worth a visit as it’s the third-largest collegiate chapel in the world.
Be sure to examine the stained glass inside showing famous artists and thinkers like Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson.
After that, stroll on over to the Blair Arch which is one of the prettiest places on campus.
If you’re lucky, you’ll hear one of the famous Princeton a capella groups singing here and get a free show.
When you’re done exploring campus, head over to the Princeton Art Museum home to a famous collection of 100,000 works of art.
You can find every type of art from every corner of the globe and every time period.
Some of the famous artists featured at the museum include Goya, Monet, and Rembrandt.
On top of that, admission is completely free but the museum is closed on Mondays.
Once you leave the museum, you’ll want to explore the rest of Princeton.
Tourists come from all over the world to see the house on 112 Mercer Street where Albert Einstein lived but keep in mind it’s a private residence, not a museum, so don’t knock on the door.
Then head to the Princeton Battlefield State Park, just a 15-minute walk from Albert Einstein’s house.
On January 3, 1777, one of the most important battles of the American Revolution was fought here.
George Washington and the Americans were able to defeat the British army in Washington’s first victory in the field against the British.
From sunrise to sunset, you can walk through the park, exactly where Washington and his men stood.
In the evening, don’t miss the chance to see a play at the McCarter Theatre, an award-winning performance venue and one of the best small theatres in the United States.
If you’re in Princeton in December, be sure to see their annual production of A Christmas Carol.
Where to Eat in Princeton
The best place for lunch in Princeton is Tacoria, which is near Princeton University and has the best burritos on the East Coast.
Princeton has many wonderful choices for dinner.
If you plan to see a show at the McCarter, get a pre-theatre dinner and drinks at the Dinky Bar and Grill.
This restaurant is in the former Princeton train station, and it has a very local vibe.
If you’d rather enjoy a leisurely meal without dinner, dine at the Witherspoon Grill steakhouse.
If you’d rather try food from James Beard Award-honoured chefs, stop at Mistral for a chic dinner and if farm-to-table food is your passion, make a reservation at Agricola Eatery.
How to Get to Princeton From New York City
The easiest way to get to Princeton from New York City is to take the New Jersey Transit train heading towards Trenton from Penn Station.
You’ll need to take one train from Penn Station to Princeton Junction and then transfer the quick Dinky train at Princeton Junction to go to Princeton.
The entire trip takes about 90 minutes but if you have a car, the drive from New York City to Princeton takes about 70 minutes.
More things to see:
Stella Jane is a full-time travel blogger and travel planner. Her passion is for helping busy, stressed people plan their dream trip so they can make every day count. She has travelled to 55 countries and hundreds of cities by herself, including 48 of the 50 US states. She is also a native New Yorker. You can find her at Around the World in 24 Hours.