The Best Day Trips From New York City

Enjoy picturesque architecture everywhere you look in Cape May, New Jersey
Enjoy picturesque architecture everywhere you look in Cape May, New Jersey | © John Van Decker / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Molly Codyre
10 June 2020

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of cities like New York, but you’d be remiss to overlook the incredibly beautiful areas that lie within day-tripping distance. From clapboard-lined waterfront towns, to history-filled state capitals, time out of the Big Apple can be very well spent without traveling too far. Take a breather from hectic city life with one of these refreshing day trips.

Albany, New York

The capital of New York state, Albany, is just a 2.5-hour drive from the Big Apple. This historic city was designated as state capital in 1797 thanks to its important position on the banks of the Hudson River. These days it’s a cultural hub, and its proximity to the Adirondacks and Hudson Valley have made it a favorite with hikers and skiers. If you’re looking for more than just a day trip we recommend booking one of these impressive Albany hotels.

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ToursHudson River Sightseeing Cruise from Albany
From $30 per person
1 hour 30 minutes
4.3 (12)

Explore the mighty Hudson River, a historically important strip of water that flows for more than 500km (300mi) through the state. Hop aboard the nostalgic Dutch Apple II for a 90-minute cruise – the boat was once a ferry running between Albany and NYC, and is crafted in the popular Hudson River Dayliners style of yesteryear. Your host will talk you through the cultural and historical significance of the landmarks you pass, and point out wildlife that resides in the area. This is a great way to get another perspective on an often overlooked city.

Cape May, New Jersey

The first seaside resort in America, Cape May sits at the southernmost point of the New Jersey coast. While, yes, its stretches of golden sand beaches and myriad options for wildlife spotting are a huge drawcard, it’s arguably the town itself that makes this place so special. Its brightly painted clapboard houses with their feature turrets look made for a beachside Rapunzel, and a day here can be well spent wandering through the quaint Victorian architecture, with pit stops to feast on fresh lobster.

ToursWhale and Dolphin Watching Cruise from Cape May
From $45 per person
3 hours
4.5 (15)

Take a break from the beach and hop on this cruise to visit some of the area’s marine-dwelling residents. Cape May is popular for whale watching, and this cruise will take you around the coast to spots popular with the animals, so you’re likely to catch sight of dolphins, porpoises and a number of different whale breeds. Meanwhile, your certified naturalist guide offers live commentary about the ocean life and habitat. This is the perfect chance to learn more about these magnificent creatures and see them flourishing in their natural habitat.

Mattituck, New York

Located on Long Island, this town is technically identified as a hamlet that’s best known for its annual strawberry festival. Sleepy and seaside, Mattituck is made up of cutesy clapboard houses surrounded by bucolic countryside – the ultimate relaxing escape. If that sounds like the perfect home away from home to you, there are plenty of stylish hotels nearby.

ToursMattituck New York Guided Farm and Wine Country Bike Tour
From $117 per person
5 hours 30 minutes
5 (1)

This five-hour bike tour winds through the countryside around Mattituck, visiting beaches, farms, wineries and vineyards. The trip is fully customizable, so you can choose whether to browse jams, pies, fruits and vegetables at a local farm stand, sip award-winning wines (with special access to vineyards) or enjoy an extra-virgin olive oil and fine vinegar tasting. Whichever stops you choose, you’ll enjoy a well-fed, well-drunk and peaceful day that acts as the ultimate rural reset.

New Haven, Connecticut

Home of Ivy League Yale University, New Haven is everything you’d expect from a town best known for its higher educational institution. Yet for all its academic sheen, there’s actually a lot more to New Haven than meets the eye. Think red-brick buildings lined with climbing ivy, numerous galleries and museums and a calendar filled with lively cultural events. You’ll also find a flourishing culinary scene and plenty of open leafy spaces for scenic strolls and picnics.

Southold, New York

The quieter antidote to the bustling Hamptons and Montauk of the South Fork, Southold is a laid-back, vineyard-lined idyll on the North Fork. It’s the sort of magical area where you can be wine tasting in rolling fields at lunchtime and beachside to catch the sunset. Be wary of coming for a day trip – you’ll likely find it difficult to leave.

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