New York City is a sprawling, global metropolis stuffed with sights and sounds that could keep any visitor occupied for days. Of course, just because NYC is teeming with attractions doesn’t mean that you should limit your trip to the boundaries of the city. If you’re planning a trip to NYC sometime soon, don’t be afraid to try something different. Consider expanding the scope of your trip and leaving the city behind.
Though perhaps best known as a dense “concrete jungle,” NYC is geographically quite well-positioned to serve as a launching point for several varied day trips, which includes nature-oriented trips, too.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of worthwhile day trips in the region that are easily accessible from the city.
Montauk is a laid-back, beach-oriented day trip destination – especially popular among native New Yorkers – located in the Hamptons (Long Island). In Montauk, you can take part in a wide variety of recreational water activities, such as surfing, ferry trips and private cruises, inshore and offshore fishing, scuba, snorkeling, and other water sports. As far as attractions go, Montauk is particularly known for the Montauk Downs, a public golf course, and the Montauk Point Light, one of the oldest actives lighthouses in the United States.
Cape May is a beach town located on the Jersey Shore, but unlike many other Jersey Shore destinations, Cape May promises interesting historical attractions in addition to stereotypical “beach town” activities.
Though Cape May has several beaches worth a visit, consider exploring the rich heritage of the area at the Cold Spring Village (which contains a well-maintained printing press, among other important period structures), walking through the Emlen Estate, or going for a ride in a Victorian-era carriage. The Cape May lighthouse is also worth checking out, and the Fort posed nearby is likely to excite both history lovers and children.
If you’re less interested in sightseeing and more interested in relaxing with a drink-in-hand, try visiting the local wineries/breweries and making a day of it!
Atlantic City, New Jersey has long been seen as the “Vegas of the East Coast,” though it has struggled to maintain a picture-perfect, positive reputation after decades of urban deterioration. Fortunately, Atlantic City – known as ‘AC’ by Mid-Atlantic locals – has recently experienced a period of economic revitalization. The boardwalk has been renovated, casinos have been updated, and new clubs and lounges have sprung up to serve the new visitor influx. Now is, quite literally, the best time to visit Atlantic City in years.
If you’re interested in a bit of sinful indulgence, Atlantic City is a worthwhile day-trip from NYC. Before you go, however, make sure to investigate what entertainment will be playing on your trip date. Just like Vegas, Atlantic City promises a diverse selection of magic shows, concerts, stunt shows, and dance acts.
The Palisades are a unique natural landmark located just outside the city, opposite the Hudson River in New Jersey. Essentially, the Palisades are a long stretch of cliffs that rise from the edge of the Hudson river. At some segments, the cliffs reach over 500 feet in height.
So, why is it worth the trip?
The Palisades are a fascinating sight from afar, no doubt, but curious visitors can bike, run, or walk along the Palisades themselves. There are bicycle and pedestrian footpaths – and even a few picnic areas – to suit these different types of visitors. From atop the Palisades, visitors will enjoy stunning views of Manhattan Island and the Hudson River. If you’d like to see NYC from a different perspective, the Palisades may be a great choice for a day trip.
Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park is perhaps the most impressive State Park located within a day of NYC. At nearly 52,000 acres, it is the 2nd largest State Park in the entire state of New York and offers a great variety of outdoor sights, with 200 lakes, more than 200 miles of trails (ranging from casual hikes to rugged mountain trails), and old mining villages just waiting to be discovered. Hunting is also allowed, though you will need the requisite permits and it must be hunting season. Further, several miles of the famed Appalachian Trail pass through Harriman State Park, making it a must for those looking to hike the Appalachian Trail.
If you intend to go on day trips to hiking destinations like Harriman State Park, you may want to consider renting an RV. New York RV rentals allow you to camp in relative luxury. After a long day of hiking, you can sleep in the warmth (or cooled) comfort of your RV, lounge on the couch, take a shower, and use a private bathroom facility. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?
New Haven, Connecticut is not a traditional day-trip destination by most tourism standards. It has something of a reputation as a grimy city past its prime. In reality, however, New Haven is an excellent city to spend a day in if you’re getting a bit tired of the scene in NYC.
New Haven is the home of Yale University, the world-famous Ivy League institution, and exploring the Yale campus is almost certain to inspire visitors with even a fleeting interest in architecture and American history.
Still, despite the presence of Yale, the city of New Haven refuses to be defined by it or to live in its shadow. New Haven used to be home to a prominent Italian-American community rivaling that of Brooklyn and Boston. The legacy of Italian immigration has left beautiful marks on the New Haven community, and specifically, on its food scene. The city of New Haven famously holds the title for the Best Pizza in America from numerous food critic outlets. Italian-American pizzerias such as Frank Pepe Pizzeria, Modern Apizza, and others form the core of this vibrant New Haven food scene.
If you are a foodie or just a pizza lover, you owe it to yourself to make a trip out to New Haven to see whether it’s all hype, or whether the pizza truly lives up to its sterling reputation.
New York City has a lot to offer, but so does the region as a whole! If you’re visiting NYC, try to set aside some time to make a day trip out of the city. You can take a break from the hustle-and-bustle of the city, and perhaps you’ll experience something new and unexpected.