Where to Go for a Quick Trip Out of NYC
Your next getaway is just a train or car ride away.
Published Dec 28, 2017 10:30 AM
If you feel like you need to skip town for a couple of days but want to avoid the mental Olympics of planning your travel, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you: Just throw a few things into a bag and meet us at the car. All of these weekend getaways are easily accessible from New York by car or train, so a change of scenery doesn’t have to take you far from home. Also, we heard you’re running out of vacation days…
Read on for quick trips in and around New York.
Pause for a moment and breathe in the ocean air, whether sailing aboard the Madeleine or walking along the eastern shoreline trails of Cliff Walk. This is Newport, and you’ll be spending most of your time by the water. Castle Hill Inn is the grandest of the seaside resorts, of which Newport boasts many. But if you want to stay closer to the hustle and bustle of town, the Grace Vanderbilt and its lush rooftop terrace, or the Mill Street Inn with its sleekly furnished rooms, are both A+ options.
Brick Market Place, a sprawling outdoor shopping promenade, is great for a leisurely stroll—maybe some preppy, nautical bric-a-brac will catch your eye. Some of the best lunches in Newport are to be had outdoors: We’re big on the clam chowder at The Black Pearl or the clam cakes at Flo’s Clam Shack. The raw bar at The Mooring is a great option for dinner, and an entirely different kind of bar at Fluke—where the mixologists are truly masters of their craft—is where to go for a nightcap.
Portland is a food town: Between the farmers’ market and specialty stores like Browne Trading Company, your hands (and market bag) will be full. The birthplace of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Portland is also a literary town, and no trip would be complete without browsing the stacks at the aptly named Longfellow Books or Print. For more shopping of the home goods variety, k colette, Simply Scandinavian, and Edgecomb Potters are not to be missed.
You’ll want to drop off the day’s purchases at either The Press Hotel, a former newspaper printing facility, or the bright, sun-filled rooms of Mercury Inn—our top picks for lodging. Lunch is either at Duckfat, famous for its French fries, or the roving Highroller Lobster Co. Dinner is at Empire Chinese Kitchen or Street and Co for local seafood. Feel a little bit better about the previous day’s excesses after a yoga class at Lila Yoga in the East End. You’ll also feel ready to take on the Portland Museum of Art, which houses a stellar permanent collection that includes Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, and Louise Nevelson.
While fall in Vermont is unparalleled—crimsons, oranges, and marigolds galore—its natural beauty persists through all the seasons: We’d visit any time of year. Set up shop in Woodstock, whether at the Kedron Valley Inn, which oozes historic charm, or 506 on the River Inn for a modern farmhouse feel. Some of the best shopping is in Quechee, one town over, where you shouldn’t miss Anichini for sumptuous bed linens or the adjacent Robin Mix. Another local glassblower, Simon Pierce, has set up his shop overlooking a dam—grabbing a bite at the restaurant on the premises is worth it for the view alone.
Hike the trails along the Quechee Gorge before heading over to Strong House Spa, where the products are all natural. For a rare museum on the great outdoors with a side of local cheddar, visit Billings Farm & Museum. Nearby White River Junction, with thrift stores like Revolution and coffee shops like Tuckerbox, is reinventing itself as a small town with a thriving art and music scene. Back in Woodstock proper, Worthy Kitchen is the best way to finish off a whirlwind day—with a local craft beer in hand.
Sailing, whale watching, lobster trapping, kayaking—everything in Kennebunkport revolves around the water. The views of it from The Colony make it so that the Atlantic never seems far away. Alternately, The Kennebunkport Inn, though not waterfront, more than makes up for it with its historical interest as a former tea merchant’s mansion.
Take a trolley tour through town to get your bearings before lunch at The Clam Shack, where the fried clams and lobster rolls are worth the wait. Don’t miss Farm + Table, a red barn where all manner of kitchen wares can be had, many of which are produced in small batches. Then, it’s back to the water for a cruise aboard The Schooner Eleanor, a replica of the original 1935 vessel. You’ll want to make dinner reservations, especially if you want to snag the potting shed at Earth at Hidden Pond. But don’t forget to turn in early: Lobster fishing is a morning sport.
Rest and relaxation aren’t the first things that come to mind when someone mentions the nation’s capital these days. However, Georgetown—DC’s historic neighborhood—has a way of transporting you back to simpler times with its brick-clad charm. Hop off the train from Penn Station and drop your bags off at the Graham Georgetown or Rosewood, which overlooks the C&O Canal. Quell your appetite at Chaia, where they’ve perfected the vegetarian taco. If it’s culture you’re craving, the Hirshhorn is your ticket to contemporary art in the city, and if you’re looking to get away from the hubbub, the United States Botanic Garden, with its annual orchid exhibition, should provide a much needed reprieve.
Money burning a hole in your pocket? Curio, a concept store where the buying is superb and the designers are refreshingly unfamiliar, is a must for apparel. Hu’s Wear and Hu’s Shoes, just across the street from one another, should also be a great help for overhauling your wardrobe. If it’s your kitchen or bar that needs the makeover, Salt & Sundry has all the wares for that. Make dinner reservations at Le Diplomate, a bustling French bistro, or Barcelona Wine Bar if it’s tapas and a full-bodied Spanish red you fancy. Then, it’s a nightcap at The Rye Bar before you call it a day.
Cold Spring, NY
The Metro-North drops you right on the main drag of this cozy, riverside town. Call a cab and head over to Magazzino, where you should make an appointment to tour the newly opened shrine to Italian post-war art. The building—which looks more like a sprawling Mies van der Rohe home than a former warehouse—houses Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu’s storied collection. Take a selfie with a mirrored Pistoletto painting as a memento. Maybe one day, people will travel to see your own collection?
Daydream back over to town to brunch at Hudson Hil’s before ambling down main street to Burkelman and Cold Spring General Store, where candles, pillows, throws, and a whole range of cozy complements are to be had. Cold Spring Apothecary is where you might pick up all-natural lotions and potions to rival Aesop’s—both in quality and packaging. Gear up for a hike at Old Souls: You’ll need this stuff to climb up Breakneck Ridge, a rocky promontory overlooking the Hudson, and a beautiful last vista to behold before catching the train back home.
Greet the Philly morning at Menagerie Coffee—you’ll need all the fuel you can get in order to pack in all the culture, shopping, and eating ahead. Where art is concerned, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Barnes Foundation should keep you busy for the better part of the day. Come up for air at Rittenhouse Square, one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
Have a peek at Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest residential street, and you can cross the tourist thing off your list before you hit the shops: Fante’s Kitchen Shop in the historic Italian Market is a landmark emporium for kitchen gadgetry, and Art in the Age is where cocktail connoisseurs go to trick out their at-home bars. For a casual bite, Reading Terminal Market offers up a dizzying array of Philly Cheesesteak alone. For beer, wine, and (more) cheese, Tria is a great spot to park at before you stumble back to your hotel for the night. Whether you end up at Le Méridien or Roost Rittenhouse, you can’t go wrong.
North Adams, MA, and Williamstown, MA
All hell broke loose in 1999 when MASS MoCA and its 100,000 square feet of exhibition space landed in North Adams—which until then was a sleepy factory town in the Berkshires. Now, it’s become the site of many an art pilgrimage: The programming at the museum is outstanding, and its industrial halls are host to impossibly large-scale installations by leading contemporary artists like James Turrell and Nick Cave.
It’s not a bad idea to make The Porches Inn—with its “industrial granny chic decor” across the street—your home base. Proximity to MASS MoCA makes it so you can pause and recharge before continuing on to the next part of the massive art complex. Refuel at PUBLIC eat + drink before exhaustion sets in. If you’re feeling up to it, Mount Greylock boasts the highest point in Massachusetts—and has the views to prove it.
Nearby Williamstown is host to the Williamstown Theatre Festival every summer, where many Broadway-bound productions test the waters. More a cinephile than a theatre person? Take in an indie flick at Images Cinema before dinner at Mezze. Want more art? The Clark has a sizable collection of French Impressionists. But even if you’ve had your fill, don’t skip the building by Tadao Ando—its marble terraces overlooking a three-tiered reflecting pool are, in a word, spectacular.
Once you set foot in the charming village of Rhinebeck, you’ll forget you ever had to brave Penn Station to get there—a good nature walk is the perfect tonic to the hustle and bustle of the city. For views of the Hudson Valley below, you’ll have to climb the fire tower at Ferncliff Forest. Fear of heights? The well-manicured stroll up Burger Hill affords a panoramic view of the Catskills that’s just as good.
Back in town, you’ll marvel at the ornate Victorian houses—turrets and all. Stroll along Market and Montgomery Streets, where you’ll find dozens of shops and restaurants. Samuel’s, an old-timey candy shop, is great for a sweet, post-hike pick-me-up, and Paper Trail is the place to lose track of time poring over books and design knickknacks. We can almost guarantee you’ll want to take home a few bar stools from Sawkille, where everything is handmade to your specifications.
And there’s no shortage of restaurants in Rhinebeck: Newcomers Market St and The Amsterdam are our picks for lunch, while Le Petit Bistro, with its black leather banquettes and blocky marble counters, is perfect for dinner. Dinner and a movie? Upstate Films shows indie and art house films, and your hotel is just down the street: The Beekman Arms, which first opened its doors in 1776, is the oldest continuously running inn in America.
New Hope, PA, and Lambertville, NJ
A tale of two cities, you can shuttle over the bridge between New Hope and Lambertville by foot. Grabbing a coffee and scone at Factory Girl Bake Shop in New Hope before biking the paths that run along the river isn’t a bad way to spend the morning. The river is a focal point here, and if you’re visiting around the holidays, you’re in luck: You just might catch a reenactment of Washington crossing the Delaware.
Make like Washington and head over to the New Jersey side—Lambertville boasts the best restaurants, like Hamilton Grill’s Room on the bank, although its Mediterranean cuisine harkens to other waters. The best antiquing in Lambertville is centered on Bridge and Union Streets, and The People’s Store (the antiques mall at 28 N. Union), is always stocked with rare finds: Revolutionary War-era rifle, anyone? Drop off your spoils at your hotel, whether it’s Lambertville House or The Mansion Inn in New Hope.
New Paltz, NY
New Paltz is something of a college town, and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on the SUNY campus should be at the top of any art-minded visitor’s list. If it’s communion with nature you’re craving, the Lemon Squeeze Trail on Mohonk Mountain ultimately opens out onto a stunning view of the Hudson Valley… but not before putting you through your paces first: You’ll have to maneuver a rock labyrinth to get to it.
A well-earned breakfast awaits at Main Street Bistro. Our tip? The salmon hash. The Water Street Market—with its red antique barn—is where we go for both charming knickknacks and a lazy stroll along the Wallkill River. Drop off your pickings at your hotel—whether it’s The Inn at Kettleboro or ElmRock Inn in Stone Ridge—before dinner at The Village Tearoom, where the roast chicken gets rave reviews.
New Canaan, CT
This mid-century mecca is just a short train ride from Grand Central. In the 1940s, the Harvard Five staked out New Canaan as their playground, and built over 100 modern homes in town. The Historical Society hosts occasional tours of these homes—many of which are private residences.
Tours of Philip Johnson’s Glass House run from May to December and include the aforementioned building—which the architect used as a weekend getaway—as well as Johnson’s many other structures. Two galleries for private viewing—one for painting, the other for sculpture—boast work by artists like Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, and the “house” and its guests (many of whom are represented in the art collection) are the stuff of legend. After the tour, stroll down shop-lined Elm Street and duck into one of its many eateries for lunch—we recommend Baldanza for sandwiches—before hopping on the train back to New York City.
Just two hours outside the city, Hudson combines small town charm with city sophistication. On any given Saturday, you’ll see well-heeled weekenders surveying the wares at Warren Street’s many antique shops, though they’re a far cry from granny macramé: Stores like Neven & Neven Moderne are veritable emporiums for midcentury modern furnishings. But if you think antiquing is a thing of the past, Hawkins New York’s HAY-heavy inventory and cozy, millennial pink mohair blankets might be more in line with your taste for the new. Next, Rural Residence is a one-stop shop for French linen towels of the bath and kitchen variety.
Stop in at Olde Hudson for a sandwich and cappuccino before proceeding to September Gallery just upstairs. More cultural offerings can be found at the Basilica Hudson or Hudson Opera House, where all manner of dance and music performances take place. Finally, rest your head at Wm Farmer & Sons—the restaurant and bar room downstairs are also top-notch.
Right off the train, drop your bags off at The Liberty, a jailhouse now seeing happier days as a Starwood Hotel. Just down Charles Street is Tatte, the charming Beacon Hill bakery where you can gather your strength before heading over to ICA Boston—host to some of the most ambitious exhibitions of contemporary art in the city.
For work of an older vintage, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: They’re offering a $10 million reward for artworks that were stolen in 1990, so for now, empty gilded frames highlight the brocade wallpaper of the Venetian-inspired “palazzo.” Stock up on skincare products at Follain before heading over to Olives & Grace, where it’s all-out small batch anything, from foodstuffs to ceramics. Speaking of food, newcomer Explorateur is great for lunch, while Myers+Chang and Coppa are our picks for dinner.
The Hamptons, NY
We know… the Hamptons is hardly a novel idea for a weekend getaway from NYC, but while the East End’s obvious charms (beaches, Wölffer Estate rosé) fade with the season, its status as a mini art mecca does not. We’re big on art sleuthing “out east” in the off season. Wander the halls of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill—the building by Herzog & de Meuron and its setting alone are well worth it. Continue on to Dan Flavin’s Firehouse-cum-church-cum-Church-to-Minimalism in Bridgehampton, where his tube light sculptures shine on way past Labor Day. Walk the paint-splattered floors of Jackson Pollock’s East Hampton studio in disposable ballet flats to protect the drips.
Where shopping is concerned, Madison Street in Sag Harbor is a design destination, with stores like MONC XIII and JANGEORGe—a portmanteau of Jean and George, who run the showroom and design studio right out of their enviable home. Relieve your jealousy over a few glasses of wine at Dopo La Spiaggia in East Hampton before retiring for the night at The Maidstone Hotel or The Inn at Windmill Lane.
City of a thousand coffee shops, Providence’s Bolt and The Shop are tops, both for their ambiance and strong brews. Vibrate over to the RISD Museum, where you can take in a Cy Twombly and Yves Saint Laurent suit from 1980 under the same roof; such are the advantages of an art and design-focused museum. And don’t miss the kitchenware at Stock Culinary Goods.
Green thumbs will have a field day at cluck! farm and garden supply, while birch and north get high marks for dinner. Luckily, the latter’s new location in The Dean Hotel means you won’t have to travel far to lay your head down.
North Fork, NY
In a classic case of “it’s the journey, not the destination,” you’ll want to stop at the Restoration Hardware outlet in Riverhead—where plush, slip-covered sofas go for a (relative) steal—before continuing on to the many farmsteads and vineyards of the North Fork. Often billed as an easier-going alternative to the Hamptons, this is Yankee wine country—with over 30 vineyards in the area.
Croteaux Winery, which specializes in rosé, and Kontokosta Winery, with its modernized barn overlooking the sound, are top spots for sipping away the day into the evening. If you’re looking for a more sobering beverage, Aldo’s Coffee Co., with its vintage roasting machine up front, is the stuff of local legend. The North Fork Table & Inn is our favorite meal in Southold, and its food truck is a great alternative for a quick bite between wineries. And you’ll definitely want to bring home a souvenir, whether it’s candles and a canvas satchel from The Weathered Barn, or a vintage Moroccan rug from Lido.
Between scenic hikes at Overlook Mountain and Kaaterskill Falls, stroll along Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag. Though seemingly unchanged since the eponymous music festival in 1969, there are many chic shops tucked among the tie-dye and incense vendors: Pacama Handmade is our go-to for earthy ceramics and sleek, handcrafted wooden furniture by local designers.
Browse the apparel and accessories at D-Day—its selection of clothing and accessories for the home is always carefully considered. Stop in at Bread Alone for a baked treat: You’ll need your strength to while away the hours at The Golden Notebook, Woodstock’s local bookstore. Soak up some local color at the flea market on Saturdays—it’s the best place to pick up a crystal that “vibes with you,” or a kitschy autographed headshot of a long-forgotten Hollywood starlet. Cucina, with its wraparound porch, is our top pick for dinner. Or maybe stay in… the fire at Scribner’s Lodge can be pretty inviting.
Pop culture mavens will remember Mystic Pizza, the 1988 film that served as Julia Robert’s on-screen debut. Well, that pizzeria is real, still standing, and delicious, by the way, but Mystic has more on offer than the site of a kitschy pop pilgrimage—Red36 is the perfect waterside lunch spot.
Most things in Mystic, it turns out, revolve around the water, whether you’re taking in the views or boating to Sandy Point or Fishers Island. If the thought of that makes you dizzy, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground—wine glass in hand, naturally—at Saltwater Farm Vineyard nearby. Work up an appetite perusing the wares at Mystic Supply Co., where you can also rent a bike for ambling around the village. For dinner, it’s a toss up between Oyster Club and its sister restaurant, Grass & Bone, where the meat-heavy menu is a welcome respite from Mystic’s preferred fare: seafood. Retire for the night at Spicer Mansion or The Whaler’s Inn.
Dia:Beacon—a cardboard printing factory turned gallery—is Beacon’s crown jewel, and has single-handedly repositioned this industrial river town as an art destination. Dia’s cavernous galleries couldn’t be better suited for the display of minimalist and conceptual art, which is their bread and butter. These halls have graced many an Instagram post, and it’s not hard to see why.
You’ll want to save some material for the hike up Mount Beacon, though—it’s a steep climb, but well worth it for the sweeping views of the Hudson River below. Recover over lunch at The Kitchen Sink or Beacon Bread Company, both on Main Street. And if Dia wasn’t enough to quell your appetite for urban renewal, Roundhouse, with its restaurant overlooking a waterfall and white oak-accented guest rooms, should do the trick. Stores like Kaight and Reservoir stock both apparel and decor, and at reMADE, everything old is new again—a Beacon philosophy, it would seem.
This story was originally published on November 16, 2017. Updated with new information on December 28, 2017.
See more travel:
Our Top Holiday Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank
7 Affordable NYC Hotels That Don’t Skimp on Style
8 Picturesque Places Worth Flying to for Christmas
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