Every once in a while, even the most spectacular of cities like New York can get tiring and just seem like too much to handle. In those moments, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a local or you’re passing through – you simply want to get away from it all.
Luckily for us, there are several unbelievable day trips from NYC by train which are incredibly easy to pull off. The next 6 short getaways will be just enough for you to restore the much-needed energy we all need to keep everything up and running. So, leave the commotion and the hubbub far behind and buy yourself a ticket to any of these nearby havens.
The bustling city of Philadelphia is often unrightfully overlooked but it actually makes up for a perfect NYC getaway. This sixth most densely populated city in the US is just an hour and a half’s ride from the Big Apple and it offers some spectacular opportunities for exploration. Getting from NYC to Philly by train is easy and you can do it in two ways – by taking a direct Amtrak line from Penn Station or by taking NJ Transit and then transferring to SEPTA line.
Philly is packed with iconic landmarks, historic monuments, and lively atmosphere. When you arrive, there are several places you shouldn’t miss. To kickstart your Philly adventure in style, head to the Barnes Foundation – one of the world’s biggest collections of French impressionist paintings. After you’ve seen Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, and Picasso, feel free to visit the famous Rodin Museum – the largest collection of Rodin’s sculptures outside of Paris.
Of all the architectural delights in Philadelphia, the iconic Philadelphia City Hall is a must-see. You can even make it to the top and admire the panoramic view of the city from its observation deck. In order to explore the incredibly rich history of the city, make sure to pay a visit to some of Philadelphia’s most significant buildings in the Historic District – Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Liberty Bell, the Museum of the American Revolution, and many more culturally and historically significant institutions. Of course, so much sightseeing is sure to work up an appetite so you should definitely treat your palate by having a dinner in some of Philly’s most delectable restaurants before you head back to NYC.
2. Cold Spring
The picturesque village of Cold Spring is conveniently situated on the banks of the Hudson River and getting to this oasis of peace has never been easier. The trains to Cold Spring depart from Grand Central regularly and the ride takes just a little over an hour. This river town is ideal for relaxation and hiking, especially if you decide to visit the Breakneck Ridge – a popular hiking trail offering magnificent vistas of the Hudson Valley. The best part is that the train can take you directly to the start of the trail but keep in mind that the lines for this stop run only on weekends and holidays.
For a more leisurely stroll around Cold Spring, you should head to the Main Street where there are dozens of boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious dining options. If you’re a fan of collectibles and antiques, don’t miss the Cold Spring Antiques Center and Art & Antiques/Downtown Gallery where you can forage for unique items to your heart’s content.
Located on the easternmost end of Long Island, Montauk is an idyllic getaway from nearby New York City easily accessible by train, or by any other means of transport for that matter. Montauk is not a secret anymore – many New Yorkers flock to this charming hamlet, especially when the heat kicks in and honestly, they couldn’t be more right. Not only is Montauk a place where you can find white sandy beaches, exquisite restaurants, and great hiking trails but it’s also very easy to get to – 3 hours by train departing from the Penn Station, although you will have to change trains at Jamaica Station which will then take you to Montauk.
Everything in Montauk is within a walking distance and full of character. Camp Hero State Park is a perfect place to immerse in nature, surrounded by freshwater wetlands, dense forests, and secluded beaches which, truth be told, are not safe for swimming but are ideal to enjoy a leisurely stroll and watch a sunset. However, if you can’t resist taking a dip in the Atlantic, head for the Gin Beach – a beautiful and calm beach ideal for relaxation. Back in the urban areas of Montauk, you can savor delicious seafood specialties in some of the finest restaurants around or have a glass of locally brewed wine.
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Connecticut’s capital Hartford is located around 110 miles from New York which means it will take you a bit over 2 hours to get to it from Penn Central by train. The city is truly remarkable and easy to get to, offering an array of possibilities for exploration.
59-acre Bushnell Park is a great way to start the Hartford adventure. This charming park is home to over a hundred tree species and you can actually locate them all by following the guidelines from the brochure you can get at the League of Women Voters desk at the entrance to the Legislative Office Building on Capitol Avenue. There is a magical carousel in the park as well, made a long time ago, in 1914, ideal for a bit of time traveling.
Needless to say, all literature fans visiting Hartford should not miss Mark Twain’s house where he lived for 20 years. The house is located on Farmington Avenue and it was a place where the famous author penned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. All 25 rooms are open for visitors to explore and get closer to one of America’s most prolific writers. Lastly, you can top off your Hartford visit by going to the Connecticut Science Center where you can have a hands-on experience of some cutting edge gadgets and contraptions, such as designing and testing a heli-flyer, seeing yourself in 360 degrees, and enjoy a 3D journey across our galaxy.
At just 60 miles north of the Big Apple lies a small waterfront city of Beacon – a lovely getaway on the eastern banks of the Hudson River. Metro-north and Amtrak connect Manhattan to Beacon and the ride doesn’t take more than 80 minutes. It really comes as no surprise why so many residents of New York choose this chic and artsy city as a perfect day-trip getaway. In addition to this, Beacon is only a few minutes from Cold Spring and the connecting train lines run regularly so you might as well visit both if time permits.
Beacon has all it takes to have a break from the bustle of NYC without going too far. One of the biggest attractions in Beacon will have art lovers thrilled – of course, it’s the Dia: Beacon. This 300,000-square-foot museum of contemporary art used to be a printing factory but ever since it was transformed into a modern museum, it has been home to the works of some of the most influential artists of our era, including Louise Bourgeois and Richard Serra.
If you prefer a more active vibe to you Beacon getaway, Mount Beacon Park is the place to go and if you really want to push your stamina to the limits, try hiking the trail leading to the top of the mountain. Other than that, Beacon will have you spoilt for choice with all the other activities that make up for a perfect break from NYC, including fine restaurants, bars, and exquisite breweries, Hudson Valley Brewery being a must-visit. In case you want to experience Beacon’s quirky side, you can pay a visit to some of its abandoned buildings which defy the ravages of time and still stand as a remnant of the bygone era. The remains of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, the Old Beacon Hat Mill, and an abandoned sanatorium where Zelda Fitzgerald spent her tormented days are only some of the residues of the long-gone times in Beacon.
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6. Bear Mountain State Park
Set against a beautiful backdrop of the jagged mountains and hugged by the Hudson River, Bear Mountain State Park is a great place to escape NYC by train and it will take you mere 2 hours to do that. By taking the Hudson Line from Grand Central, you will soon reach the Peekskill station which is just a 10-minute taxi ride to the Bear Mountain.
The vast wilderness of the park is packed with woodsy trails, from those you can hike in a single breath to those that require some serious physical effort. Still, the most impressive views are those from the top of the Perkins Memorial Tower but the trail leading to it is also the most challenging. The view is spectacular as you will be able to see fours states – Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well as the entire Hudson Valley.
Apart from that, the park is home to a number of picnic groves, a large play field, a lake, fishing spots, a swimming pool, and a zoo. As such, Bear Mountain State Park is ideal for couples and families alike, with endless possibilities to enjoy the nature and biodiversity of the area.
Train day trips from New York are obviously a great way to escape the business of the Big Apple in a matter of a few hours. Not only will you have the chance to relish the peace and quietude of these easy-to-reach spots but you will also realize they can be your safety net and a place of refuge whenever you need some time to unwind and let it all go.