The 13 Best Weekend Getaways Within 5 Hours of NYC
From excursions based solely around eating to wallet-friendly options, here are winter retreats to balm the pandemic-weary soul.
This time of year has us longing for the bright halcyon days of summer or the golden hues of fall, but winter is here, and to combat the grayish season—that’s especially colorless due to Omicron—we find ourselves craving fun outdoor activities like skiing and ice skating, or basically anything to distract us from the slushy sidewalks of NYC.
And if booking air travel through Skyscanner and heading to the airport is just too much to bear right now, consider these 13 weekend getaways—all accessible from NYC within five hours by public transport or car—to balm the pandemic-weary soul instead. Whether your focus is solely on eating or hitting the slopes within the vicinity of Hunter Mountain, there’s an escape on this list for you.
Best Historic Getaway: Lancaster, PA
Tucked in South Central Pennsylvania, Lancaster is one of the oldest, inland towns in the U.S. and with that comes a well-preserved history of not just the area but also the birth of America as a nation. From the moment you step out of its Federal-style train station, expect to be immersed in the small city’s historic beauty.
Start your getaway in the heart of downtown Lancaster by lodging at Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, which is built around a preserved section of the Underground Railroad. Go on a walking tour at the Downtown Discover Lancaster Visitors Center before stopping by the oldest running farmer’s market in the country, Lancaster Central Market, in a beautiful brick building erected in 1889 with original hardwood rafters.
For theater kids, the Fulton Theater continues to put on programming and is also a former jailhouse from colonial times which is allegedly haunted—and in addition to the Fulton Building, (if you’re from NYC, this moniker might ring several bells), is named after hometown native Robert Fulton, inventor of the first commercial steamboat to ply the Hudson. If cemetery tours are your thing, head to St. James Episcopal Church on Duke Street built in the 1700s. To delve into the local food scene, Exchange Lancaster is a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of downtown and stellar dishes (try the roast squash pizza); Luca offers a rustic menu of wood-fired Neapolitan pies and handmade pasta; Callaloo is a go-to for Trinidadian eats; the Horse Inn has pub fare and drinks; the Conway Social Club is known for signature cocktails and a satisfying dinner menu; and there’s local brewery Lancaster Brewing for its taproom and craft beer options.
By public transit: Take Amtrak three hours from New York Moynihan Hall at Penn Station in the direction of Harrisburg and hop off at Lancaster, then take a 10-minute taxi to downtown.
By Car: Three hours
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in Lancaster
Best Wellness Getaway: Washington, CT
Within a 58-acre nature sanctuary in postcard-perfect Litchfield County, the Mayflower Inn & Spa is the kind of destination where you’re able to mentally check out before you’ve even checked into your room. The five-star resort has gone through some recent big changes, from the bold visual poetry of interior designer Celerie Kemble to the debut of THE WELL experiences, which honor both Eastern and Western medicine practices. Whether you’re looking to rebalance your Qi with acupuncture and medicinal herbs, unwind with a milk, honey and lavender massage, or go forest bathing in nearby Hidden Valley Preserve, this wellness retreat knows how to reset your body’s chemistry.
Take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary car service to the charming town of Washington Depot for Marty’s Cafe, the Hickory Stick bookstore, and countless boutique shops. Later in the afternoon, following dips in the indoor or outdoor pool and a stroll in Shakespeare’s Garden, settle in for dinner in the garden room, where the space—that somehow strikes a high-drama-meets-homey sensibility—is as breathtaking as the food. Sit at a booth and order The Elder cocktail with elderflower, amontillado sherry and Mine Hill gin, which will inspire a guided Grain to Glass tour at the Mine Hill Distillery, and be sure to make an early evening reservation before popular dishes run out. Post-feast, recline around a bonfire, keeping an eye out for albino deer.
By public transit: Take Metro-North from Grand Central one-and-a-half hours to Brewster Station. Make advance hotel arrangements for the 50-min taxi to the Mayflower.
By car: Two hours
Where to stay (if not at the Mayflower Inn): Find a great Airbnb in Washington
Best Food Getaway: Hudson, New York
With tons of destination eateries and boutique hotels like the Hudson Whaler Hotel, The Hudson Milliner, The Maker, and The Wick, this riverfront city rivals any restaurant row in the five boroughs. Upon arrival, go brunch while social distancing in the lush garden at Red Dot, then walk off the gnocchi mac ’n cheese at all the galleries and vintage shops on Warren Street. After that, stop by café-motorcycle shop Moto Coffee Machine and bring a warm maple latte to explore the carriage trails and 250-acre grounds at Olana State Historic Site, a Victorian villa and the hilltop refuge of 19th century Hudson River School painter Frederic Church. On any given day, pick up a cheese board at Talbott and Arding and enjoy it on the dreamy cocktail patio at women-owned Cooper’s Daughter Spirits distillery on Olde York Farm, a 10-minute drive from town.
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 and Sons seasonal menu can be paired with a drink from their creative cocktail program of reinvented classics. For a bacchanal experience, grab a bubbly bottle of Bairrada Espumante Rosa Pét-Nat from duck farmer-vintner, Joao Pato. Want to sate your sweet tooth with something healthy while you amble down Warren Street? Indulge in Culture Cream, with scoops, sorbets, and shakes of “living ice cream” made with probiotics for a healthy gut. Ever had lacto fermented strawberry ice cream or pineapple lemon balm kombucha sorbet? The melange of fruits, herbs, and ice cream is a truly sweet experience. There is a reason Hudson is termed “Upstate’s Downtown” because it is truly a food lover’s getaway.
By public transit: Take Amtrak two hours from New York Moynihan Hall at Penn Station and get off at Hudson. Warren Street is five minutes from the station.
By car: 2.5 hours
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in Hudson
Best Outdoor Getaway: Harriman State Park, New York
There’s plenty of great hiking and camping 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 moderate 4.5-mile Pine Meadow Trail that skirts a spectacular lake with boulders made for meditating or cliff jumping. Other activities include boating, fishing, and ice skating in winter, to cover all seasons. Post hike, unwind at nearby coffee shop The Village Blend for a latte and croissant around one of the outdoor fire pits.
By public transit: Take NJ Transit two hours from Penn Station on the Port Jervis Line to Tuxedo, then a 15-minute taxi to the state park.
By car: One hour, 15 minutes
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb by Harriman State Park
Most Affordable Getaway: Catskills, New York
A popular '60s retreat (hello, Dirty Dancing), the Catskills has experienced a renaissance in recent years while still remaining in reach of budget travelers. Though it’ll cost you just around $35 to get to Phoenicia by bus from Midtown, your best bet is to rent a car to make the most of your time. There are countless hip and affordable hotels to stay in, including Graham & Co (bunkhouse lodgings from $99/night) in Phoenicia; Eastwind outdoor cabins, Scandinavian lodges (from $279/night) in Windham; Hotel Dylan (from $149/night) in Woodstock; Callicoon Hills (from $129/night) and Getaway (two-person cabins start at $199/night) in Catskill. Once there, fly-fish, roast marshmallows, and dance on a log in the woods 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, check out programming at the legendary Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, bike the O&W trail (rent bikes or snowshoes from Fortress Bikes), then head to picturesque Seminary Hill for a pint of cider paired with venison sausages and wood-fired vegetables.
Most Underrated Getaway: Silvermine, CT
With its narrow, meandering roads lined with towering oaks, antique colonials, converted barns, riverfront A-frames, and little else, the Fairfield County hamlet of Silvermine isn’t an obvious draw for weekend travelers. That’s precisely why you’ll find yourself here, at the Inn at GrayBarns, a sublime un-Brooklynized nexus at which to gather with friends or just be with yourself. Rich in history yet refreshingly modern, GrayBarns has evolved from a 17th-century artist outpost to a 19th-century textile factory, a roaring ‘20s speakeasy, and a ‘60s hotel, which once hosted Hollywood honeymooners, Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher.
Today, the adults-only property comprises a six-suite inn overlooking Guthrie Pond, a country store-cafe with three studio rooms above, called the Mercantile Apartments, and a farm-to-table restaurant, Tavern, prized by locals. While this hidden oasis is hard to leave, especially after a 60-minute deep tissue massage, take out one of the first-come, first-served Priority bikes and ask for the 1.8-mile waterfall-laden route. Slip away to a 49-acre sanctuary in neighboring New Canaan, centered around Phillip Johnson’s architectural marvel The Glass House, just a 10-minute drive from the hotel. When you get back, take in the views on your deck and pop a bottle of champagne from the complimentary mini bar, feeling remarkably revived, much like GrayBarns itself.
By public transit: Take Metro-North from Grand Central for an hour to South Norwalk, then a 10-minute taxi.
By car: One hour
Where to stay (if not at the Inn at GrayBarns): Find a great Airbnb near GrayBarns
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 Roundhouse Beacon make it worth an overnight stay—a braised short rib sandwich with views of the gushing Beacon Falls will be a highlight of the trip.
On Main Street, fuel a day of gallery-hopping with French toast from BJ’s or a bacon, egg, and cheese from Mr. V’s Deli. If you’re hiking nearby Breakneck Ridge, refuel with a cappuccino from café-cum-gallery Bank Square Coffeehouse and a Hazelnut chocolate glaze with over a dozen topping choices 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, grab a seat on the patio at the Hudson Valley Brewery for a pint of sours, IPAs, hard seltzers, and more. Do not miss Howland Cultural Center further down Main Street. Built in 1872 and on the National Register of Historic Places, its high ceilings give it a cathedral flair as it houses multimedia art shows, sculptures, and music events. Beacon is famous for its street art scene so as you amble the mile-long Main Street, look out for street art depicting social justice, food, nature, and even the odd sculpture (hint: Hudson Beach Glass usually has art on its facade). Beacon Arts hosts a citywide celebration every second Saturday of the month with galleries, artists, and other events open for all to experience.
Leave a few hours (and plenty of phone storage space) for Dia:Beacon, a 300,000-square-foot former Nabisco factory housing a collection of monumental contemporary works, like Dan Flavin’s light installations, and Sol LeWitt’s Isometric wall drawings. The museum is open with advance reservation only. Afterward, head to Denning's Point Distillery, and make sure to bring home a bottle of the award-winning Beacon bourbon made from New York-farmed grains.
By public transit: Take Metro-North from Grand Central for 80 minutes 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
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in Beacon
Best Family Getaway: Mohonk Mountain House, New York
Perched on a cliff in New Paltz, the grand Mohonk Mountain House is a 152-year-old, all-inclusive resort for adults and kids. Throughout the 1,325-acre cliff-perched 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 in New Paltz. You too can experience this landmark resort affordably with a one-night Sunday getaway (unavailable in July, August & October) to indulge in luxurious spa treatments, hike the grounds, or just cozy by a warm fire.
By public transit: Take a Greyhound bus from Port Authority for one hour and 35 minutes to New Paltz station or take the Metro-North from Grand Central two hours to Poughkeepsie.
By car: Two hours
Where to stay (if not at The Mountain House): Find a great Airbnb in New Paltz
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 croquet, seasonal al fresco feasts at The Restaurant, and complimentary mountain bikes for a crisp winter ride to cruise around nearby Bantam Lake or visit Sunset Meadow Vineyard along the CT Wine Trail. 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, bonfires & s’mores, and ax throwing—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 directly accessible via helicopter, if you're feeling particularly lavish.
Where to stay (if not at Winvian Farm): Find a great Airbnb near Winvian Farm
Best Boozy 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 (reservations recommended), then move farther East to Lieb Cellars—tucked away on Oregon Road—for Bridge Lane rosé and bucolic views off the patio. Get a Bang Bang Shrimp and Baja tacos with a side of spicy fried cauliflower at Mattitaco (closed Friday & Saturday) and take it to Nassau Point, a beautiful spit of sand (unknown even amongst locals) in Cutchogue. Pair these local wines with artisanal chocolate from Disset Chocolate, handcrafted in North Fork with delicious signature pieces and holiday themed collections in bright colors.
Next, head to the Greenport Brewing outpost in Peconic for a crisp pint of Haus Pils and a giant salty pretzel. Be sure to stock up on fresh produce at Sang Lee Farms, 8 Hands Farm, and Country View Farm Stand before heading 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: Take the Hampton Jitney for a three-hour ride or the LIRR for two hours and 40 minutes from Penn Station to Mattituck.
By car: Two hours
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in North Fork
Best College Town Getaway: Hanover, New Hampshire
Ivy League towns don’t get better than Dartmouth's home of Hanover, New Hampshire, with its gorgeous 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 Hanover Inn, overlooking the Dartmouth Green, and consider your options: grab a six-pack of Smuttynose and a sandwich from Umpleby’s; 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 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
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in Hanover
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 zipline 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 shareable Alpine-inspired and Hudson Valley-foraged dishes. In nearby Tannersville, get blueberry pancakes at Maggie’s Krooked Café and Mama’s Boy Burgers’ grass-fed cheeseburger to hold you on your Catskill adventure.
By public transit: Take the Adirondack Trailways bus for three hours from Port Authority to Tannersville, then a five-minute taxi to the lodge.
By car: 2.5 hours
Where to stay: Find a great Airbnb in Hunter
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 has tastings and seasonal offerings. Break up all the boozing with an outdoor activity: a visit to Watkins Glen State Park with its 19 waterfalls, a winter stroll or bike ride along the lakes, a Canandaigua Lady cruise, or purchase advance tickets to the expanded Corning Museum of Glass, where you can blow your own piece of glass art. For lunch, settle on Red Newt Bistro’s patio with beautiful country views, cheese plates, and a riesling flight, then cozy by the fire in the library room at The Lake House on Lake Canandaigua.