Travel

The Best Weekend Getaways Within 5 Hours of NYC

It’s been too long since you left town.

Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park | Songquan Deng/Shutterstock
Watkins Glen State Park | Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

You’ve been dreaming about getting out of town for long enough. Between mind-numbing work days, small living quarters, and the general crippling anxiety and stress that comes with living in NYC during a pandemic, escaping for the weekend is completely essential -- especially when you can spend it drinking local wine, going on waterfall hikes, biking to seafood shacks, and roasting marshmallows like you're in a '90s summer-camp movie. To help you accomplish just that, we’ve broken down 12 perfect weekend getaways from NYC, all accessible within five hours by public transport or car.

The only thing more essential than traveling is doing so responsibly. That means social distancing, following leave no trace principles, and wearing a mask when possible. Now go peel yourself from your couch and make the most of your much-needed nature break.

Swoon Kitchen and Bar
Swoon Kitchen and Bar | Nina Gimmel

Best Food Getaway: Hudson, New York

With tons of destination eateries and boutique hotels like The Hudson Milliner and The Barlow, this riverfront city rivals any restaurant row in the five boroughs. Upon arrival, go for brunch while social distancing in the lush garden at Red Dot, then walk off that mussels mariniere and frites at all the galleries and vintage shops along Warren Street. After that, stop by café-motorcycle shop Moto Coffee Machine and bring an iced latte to explore the carriage trails and 250-acre grounds at Olana State Historic Site, a Victorian design marvel and the hilltop sanctuary of 19th century Hudson River School painter Frederic Church. 
 
You’ve got several options for dinner. Hip farm-to-table spot Swoon Kitchenbar offers fresh seafood like pan-roasted salmon and oysters on the half shell, while Wm Farmer & Sons’s curbside has a robust to-go menu with a Farmer’s Feast option for two and a creative cocktail program of reinvented classics. James Beard-award winner Zak Pelaccio’s BackBar is also worth a visit, with Asian-inspired farm-to-table plates featuring dishes like the chili crab lobster “Love Roll” and kale dumplings, plus delicious kefir-and kombucha-infused ice cream from the new pop-up Culture Cream stand, all enjoyed beneath a giant covered tent.

By public transit: Take Amtrak from Penn Station and get off at Hudson in two hours. Main Street is within walking distance of the station.
By car: Two-and-a-half hours

Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park | Jam Norasett/Shutterstock

Best Outdoor Getaway: Harriman State Park, New York

There’s plenty of great hiking to do near NYC, but Harriman State Park -- the second-largest state park in New York with over 47,000 acres and more than 200 miles of hiking trails -- has it all. There are waterfalls, expansive views from atop Long Mountain, hammock-friendly trees by the lake, and few, if any, passersby to interrupt the peace and quiet.

For accommodations, choose between a cabin at the Harriman Outdoor Center, setting up camp at the park’s rustic Sebago Cabins, or booking the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Camp Nawakwa, then hike the 4.5-mile Pine Meadow Trail that skirts an inviting lake decorated with "no swimming" signs that everyone ignores.

By public transit: Take NJ Transit's Port Jervis Line out of Penn Station to Tuxedo in two hours. The 42-seat Harriman shuttle bus transports hikers from the Tuxedo train station to the trailheads for $5, and stops at a local farmers market and deli on Saturdays.
By car: One hour, 15 minutes

catskills
Kaaterskill Falls | Cory Seamer/thrillist

Most Affordable Getaway: Catskills, New York

A popular '60s retreat (hello, Dirty Dancing), the Catskills has experienced something of a renaissance over the last few years, while still remaining in reach of budget travelers. Though it’ll cost you just $35 to get to Phoenicia on the bus from Midtown, your best bet is to rent a car so you can make the most of your time in the Catskills. There are countless hip and affordable hotels to stay in, including Graham & Co (from $275/two night minimum) in Phoenicia; Kate’s Lazy Meadow (from $289/two nights on weekends only) in Mount Tremper; Eastwind (from $518/two nights in an A-frame cabin) in Windham, Hotel Dylan (from $239/night) in Woodstock, and Getaway (two-person cabins start at $179/night) in Catskill. Once you’re there, fly-fish, roast marshmallows, and tube Esopus Creek like Swayze would want you to.

For sustenance in Phoenicia, opt for the thin-crust wood-fired pies at old-school neighborhood joint Brio’s Pizzeria or cornmeal waffles at the Phoenicia Diner -- both of which will give you all the energy you need to climb the highest peak in the Catskills (nearby Slide Mountain). In Bethel, home of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, start things off with a plate of fried chicken at The Dancing Cat Saloon, then walk next door to the Catskill Distilling Company to sip The Most Righteous Bourbon while looking out at a Storm King Art Center-inspired landscape.
 
By public transit: From Port Authority, ride the Adirondack Trailways bus for three hours to the center of Phoenicia.
By car: Two hours

Best Bike Getaway: Montauk, New York

Board a morning train with your two wheels (remember to bring that $5 lifetime bike permit) and get off at the Westhampton station. From there, pedal about 45 miles along waterfront roads, through the Hamptons and out to Ruschmeyer’s hotel in Montauk, where you'll drop your backpack, change into a bathing suit, and cruise eight minutes to the 84-year-old Duryea’s Lobster Deck to pick up a big, buttery lobster roll to eat by the lake across from the restaurant.

Next, take a dip at Ditch Plains Beach and grab a Driftwood Ale at nearby Montauk Brewing. Reward a long, calorie-burning day with an Applewood-smoked bacon and egg-topped burger and fries at 668 The Gig Shack, conveniently located around the corner.
 
By public transit: Ride the LIRR from Penn Station two hours to the Westhampton station, where you’ll start your two-wheeled trip.
By car: 2.5 hours

newport, ri
Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island | solepsizm/Shutterstock.com

Best Beach Getaway: Newport, Rhode Island

The waves in this quintessential New England maritime town are clean, the seafood’s fresh, and the beaches are uncrowded and equipped with touch-free sunscreen dispensers. After paddling out at either Easton's Beach or Sachuest Town Beach (known locally as First and Second Beach), dry off with a plate of fried clams at Flo's Clam Shack or picnic at Fort Adams State Park, visit the Tennis Hall of Fame, experience Newport’s Gilded Age along the Cliff Walk, and treat yourself to Winner Winner, home of the best fried chicken north of Bobwhite Counter.
 
Newport has a variety of accommodations year-round, whether you want to splurge at Castle Hill Inn, be charmed at the affordable 300-year-old The Clarkeston or unwind at the coastal-inspired The Wayfinder (where guests can fly a sailboat kite). Take home a bit of the Rhode Island seaside by picking up a bottle of Newport Sea Salt Co.’s hand-harvested sea salt from newly opened Le Bec Sucré, and order a pain au chocolat while you’re there. The Newport History Museum is currently closed, but its Friday and Saturday walking tours ($15/pp) depart from the Colony House and cover topics such as Newport’s African- American heritage and the Gilded Age.
 
By public transit: Take a Peter Pan bus from Port Authority or an Amtrak train from Penn Station to Providence for about three hours. Once in Providence, ride the Seastreak Ferry one hour to Newport.
By car: 3.5 hours

Best Cultural Getaway: Beacon, New York

Once an old factory town, Beacon has completely remade itself into both an art and food destination. Though it’s just an 80-minute rail ride up the Hudson River, boutique gems like the Beacon Hotel make it worthy of an overnight stay, especially since they donate 10% of all sales to organizations fighting for racial justice as well as an additional 10% to local businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.

On Main Street, fuel a day of gallery-hopping with French toast from BJ’s or a bacon, egg & cheese from Mr. V’s Deli. If you’re hiking nearby Breakneck Ridge, you’ll need to refuel with a cold brew from café-cum-gallery Bank Square Coffeehouse and a donut from Glazed Over Donuts. Between visits to the myriad galleries, quirky independent shops, and hand-blown glass studios like Niche Modern and Hudson Beach Glass, pause at the Hudson Valley Brewery for a to-go crowler (32-ounces in a can) of Capsule III or a sour farmhouse IPA brewed on-site.

Leave a few hours (and plenty of phone storage space for impromptu photo shoots) for Dia:Beacon, a 300,000 square foot former Nabisco factory that houses a collection of monumental contemporary works Like Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses, Dan Flavin’s light installations, and Sol LeWitt’s Isometric wall drawings. The museum will reopen to the public on August 7 from Friday-Monday, with online-only ticketing opening on August 3.

For dinner, opt for hotel Roundhouse Beacon's weekend BBQ pop-up on the patio, Smoke on the Water, for a pulled pork sandwich and smoked chocolate mousse with graham cracker, Italian meringue and a side of picturesque Beacon Falls. Afterward, head to Denning's Point Distillery, for a $5 al fresco tasting of three different spirits, or cool off with the citrusy Blue Moon gin and Crème Yvette cocktail on the sidewalk -- make sure to bring home a bottle of the award-winning Beacon bourbon made from New York-farmed grains.

By public transit: Take an 80-minute Metro-North ride on the Croton-Harlem line to Beacon Station. It’s a five-minute walk to Dia:Beacon and 10 minutes from the hotel and Main Street.
By car: One hour, 45 minutes

Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House

Best Family Getaway: Mohonk Mountain House, New York

Perched on a cliff in New Paltz, the grand Mohonk Mountain House is a 151-year-old, all-inclusive resort for adults and kids. Throughout the 1,325-acre property, you’ll find tennis, golf, yoga, a spa, an indoor pool, boating on the lake and 85 miles of hiking trails -- all easily accessible with a complimentary hotel ride from the nearby bus station.
 
By public transit: Ride the Greyhound bus to New Paltz station in one hour and 35 minutes or take Metro-North two hours north to Poughkeepsie.
By car: Two hours

Most Luxurious Getaway: Winvian Farm, Connecticut

As you pass through the white gates of Winvian, revel in the feeling that you've done something right in your life. The resort sprawls over 113 acres, where 18 designer cottages include a 35 foot-tall treehouse, a “secret society” temple, and a multi-level stable.

Activities include swimming in a 40-foot pool (where social distancing is required), complimentary mountain bikes to cruise around nearby Bantam Lake or visit Haight Vineyard along the CT Wine Trail, and seasonal al fresco feasts on The Restaurant's stone patio. All of the cottages are completely unique, but equally outlandish -- you can even sleep inside a fully restored 890-square-foot 1968 Sikorsky Sea King Pelican helicopter once used by the Coast Guard. The hotel can also arrange off-site diversions like horseback riding, hot-air ballooning, clay shooting, and river tubing, and the 4,000-acre private White Memorial Nature Preserve is an eight-minute drive up the road for those looking to do a relaxed hike.

By car (your best option): Two hours. The resort is also directly accessible via helicopter, if you're feeling particularly lavish.

north fork food truck
north fork food truck | Mark Jordan

Most Underrated Getaway: North Fork, New York

Kick off your weekend in the Napa Valley of the East Coast (there are at least 60 vineyards!) with a glass of stainless steel-fermented chardonnay at Sherwood House Vineyards, then move farther East to Lieb Cellars -- tucked away on Oregon Road -- for Bridge Lane rosé and bucolic views. Get an impossible burger and charred corn elote at the North Fork Food Truck and take it to Nassau Point, a beautiful spit of sand (unknown even among locals) in Cutchogue. Next, head to the Greenport Brewing outpost in Peconic for a pint and a plate of poutine from the brewery’s hyperlocal restaurant. Be sure to stock up on fresh produce at Sang Lee Farms8 Hands Farm, and Country View Farm Stand before going home. The best North Fork experience is had on a whim, be it by car, or with Dan’s Bike Rental, which will meet you at the train station with a 21-gear hybrid-style Trek bike and plenty of insider tips.

By public transit: Board the Hampton Jitney for a three-hour ride or the LIRR from Penn Station to Mattituck in two hours and 40 minutes.
By car: Two hours

hanover, nh
The Hanover Inn | Eli Burak

Best College Town Getaway: Hanover, New Hampshire

Ivy League towns don’t get better than Dartmouth's home of Hanover, New Hampshire with its stunning green backdrop, great local food scene, vibrant art collections, and old-fashioned Main Street -- where you can even start hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Check into the Hanover Inn, which overlooks the Dartmouth Green, and consider your options: grab a six-pack of Smuttynose and a sandwich from Umpleby’s and lounge in the grass; kayak on the Connecticut River with Hanover Adventure Tours; visit the Saint Gaudens National Historical Park; or simply roam the charming Downtown and regal campus. No matter how you spend the day, you're starting with “The Big Green” platter of French toast, two eggs, cob-smoked bacon, sausage, home fries, and a muffin on the patio at Lou’s (a local breakfast tradition since 1947), having dinner on the terrace at celebrated farm-to-table restaurant Pine, and grabbing a nightcap (or pregame drink if it’s that kind of night) at Murphy's on the Green.

By public transit: Dartmouth Coach departs East 42nd between Lexington and Third Avenue and drops passengers off next to the Hanover Inn in under five hours.
By car: Four hours

Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park | mandritoiu/shutterstock

Best Romantic Getaway: Finger Lakes, New York

If North Fork wine country isn’t enough of a far-flung weekend destination, consider a trip upstate. The Finger Lakes region is known for its 11 lakes, beautiful rolling farmland, quaint towns, and outdoor adventure -- but its vineyards are the main draw.
 
Drink Thirsty Owl Wine Company’s riesling along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, sip the sauvignon blanc at Fulkerson Winery, or tap into the burgeoning brewery scene -- Climbing Bines on the Seneca Lake Loop beer trail offers 10 tastings and Frisbee golf. Break up all the boozing with an outdoor activity: a visit to Watkins Glen State Park with its 19 waterfalls, a bike ride along the lakes, a Canandaigua Lady cruise, or a visit to the newly expanded Corning Museum of Glass. For lunch, settle on Red Newt Bistro’s patio with beautiful country views, gourmet grilled cheeses, and a riesling flight, then go stand up paddle boarding at newly opened The Lake House on Lake Canandaigua.
 
By public transit: Take the ShortLine bus from New York to Elmira for five hours.
By car: Four hours

hunter, ny
Scribner’s Lodge | Douglas Lyle Thompson

Best Mountain Getaway: Hunter, New York

Hunter may be primarily known as a popular ski destination, but there’s plenty to do off the slopes, like hiking to Kaaterskill Falls, mountain biking, and flying over 50 mph on the longest and highest zip line in North America. Check in to the ultra-modern Scribner’s Lodge, a 38-room former 1960s motor lodge that offers 270-degree deck views of the Catskill Mountains, an outdoor fire pit, complimentary masks, and a mountain concierge for all your adventure needs. Prospect, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, offers sharable Alpine-inspired and Hudson Valley-foraged dishes. In nearby Tannersville, get the blueberry pancakes at Maggie’s Krooked Café and Mama’s Boy Burgers’ grass-fed cheeseburger.

By public transit: Take the Adirondack Trailways bus from Port Authority to Tannersville for three hours, then a five-minute cab ride to the lodge.
By car: Two-and-a-half hours

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Lauren Matison is a freelance travel writer who can be found hiking in Harriman State Park with the Hamilton soundtrack playing in her head. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.