Escape the city chaos with a trip to upstate New York. Unbeknownst to anyone who didn’t grow up in New York, both the Upstate region and Connecticut offer a combination of nature’s beauty and historical relevance. From the waterfalls of Hudson to the New England cuisine only found in the Mystic Seaport, there are plenty of cheap weekend getaways from NYC—it’s all in where you look.
Even for the most sophisticated who love city life, the constant activity of the five boroughs can make anyone wish for a miniature vacation. When the noise from the neighborhood gets to be too much, where can one take a break from the neighborhood?
The good news is that you don’t need to take a flight to Miami Beach or Hollywood to get out of that New York state of mind. There are plenty of weekend getaways from NYC that are a short drive or train ride away. No matter what you love—the majesty of nature, the history of colonial America, or a vineyard getaway—you can find it within three hours of the big city.
Here are five weekend getaways three hours (or less) from New York sure to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Five weekend trip ideas from New York
1. Hudson, New York
The heart of the Hudson Valley offers more than great nature trails along the Hudson River. This 19th Century village has become a haven outside of the city for artisan crafts, ranging from inspired restaurants to art galleries. If words like “small batch” and “crafted” have become part of your regular jargon, this might be the perfect weekend getaway.
Hudson is a roughly 2.5-hour drive from the city, or 2-hour Amtrak train ride from the city. Start your adventure with a hike at the 2-tiered Kaaterskill Falls to build your appetite before going for a skillfully crafted lunch or dinner at one of the many coffee shops or restaurants. Kitty’s Market Cafe offers American favorites all day like breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, and rotisserie chicken on the go; pick up everything for a picnic at Talbott & Arding; or enjoy French cuisine favorites at Le Perche Cafe.
After dinner, treat your food coma with a walk down Warren Street to marvel at the centuries-old buildings, and find that perfect souvenir at the many antique shops. Those into craft drinks can find a nightcap at Helsinki Hudson, Backbar, or the Hudson Brewing Company. With so much to do in walking distance, you’ll have no shortage of fun to find in Hudson.
2. New Paltz, New York
If you’ve heard of New Paltz, the first thing that might come to mind is the massive Monhonk Mountain House: The Victorian mansion and guest house along the banks of Monhonk Lake. But there’s so much more to see beyond the main attraction.
New Paltz is home to more than 8,000 acres of forestland in the Mohonk Preserve, filled with trails among the trees and along the lakes. Challenge yourself on one of the 1,000 routes on the Gunks climbing cliffs, or take a horseback ride through the 75 miles of pathways. Families can also take advantage of the field-study program, designed for kids up to sixth grade.
In the evening, take in the incredible art scene, which is turning New Paltz into an artist’s haven. The community is anchored by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, hosting both a permanent collection and rotating features from locals. But the classics aren’t the only thing you will find in the city: The DM Weil Gallery focuses on contemporary visual arts, while the spaces at the Mark Gruber Gallery are occupied solely by locals.
Despite being a small community, New Paltz features restaurants showcasing the best cuisine from around the world. Drop into the Main Street Bistro to find the best American breakfast or lunch in town, or grab a pint and a pub meal at P&G’s. A Tavola Trattoria offers authentic Italian meals with locally-sourced ingredients: Embrace adventure with the grilled octopus, or get a true taste of the area with the foraged mushroom risotto.
3. Mystic, Connecticut
Yes, Mystic is a real place, and no, it’s not next to Salem. For foodies, Mystic may be the closest thing to heaven you can get on Earth.
For seafood lovers, the S&P Oyster Restaurant and Bar is a mandatory stop after taking the 2.5-hour drive into Mystic. In addition to oysters on the half and the full raw bar sampler, guests can enjoy classic dishes infused with Spanish and South American influence, like the vegetable tamale, linguine and clams tossed with spanish chorizo, or the seafood paella. Those who have surf-and-turf on their mind will want to drop into The Mariner, featuring everything from the New England classic lobster roll and fried scallops, to fish and chips and the catch of the day.
But food shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind with this weekend getaway from NYC for families. At the heart of this sleepy town on the sea is the Mystic Seaport Museum, featuring a 19th century seafaring village, the Charles W. Morgan wooden whaling ship, and a children’s museum. Kids—and kids at heart—will also enjoy the Mystic Aquarium, a research facility featuring the largest beluga whale habitat in the U.S.
4. Sleepy Hollow, New York
Sleepy Hollow was made famous by the legend of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, adapted by everyone from Disney to Tim Burton. For those who love a good scare, this weekend getaway from NYC by train comes to life in the fall.
For two days in late October, the daring can take a ride on the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayride: a hay wagon ride through the streets of Sleepy Hollow and past the Old Dutch Church. Folklore says the road into the nearby woods was the same one Ichabod Crane took when he had his fateful encounter with the horseman…who may still be riding the forests today.
If ghosts and ghastly riders aren’t your thing, the city still has plenty to offer on the less-spooky side. Kykuit, the longtime getaway for the Rockefeller family, sits atop a hill overlooking Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Tours start at $28 per adult, featuring a look inside the 100-year-old mansion, many of its 40 rooms, and the cultivated lands around the Bosworth-designed home.
And we can’t forget about the food. Locals love the authentic Greek food found at Lefteris Gyro, and the Mediterranean influences of Bistro 12. Those who want something a little more familiar can stop into the Bridge View Tavern for a sandwich and fries, or the Sweet Grass Grill for a modern take on American classics.
5. North Fork, New York
At the end of Long Island lies the fermentation capital of southern New York: North Fork. In addition to your choice of about 60 wineries, a long list of microbreweries are nestled along the many winding roads of the community.
True wine connoisseurs will want to start their adventures at Macari Vineyards. Owned by the Macari Family, the vintners produce several varieties of both white and red wine in the Italian tradition. Tiny-bubbles enthusiasts will love Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery, as they only produce sparkling wines in the méthode champenoise tradition of bottle fermentation. But if you’re not a fermented-grape person, you’ll enjoy the tasting rooms at North Fork Brewing Company and the Eastern Front Brewing Company, founded by locals who brew flavors inspired by the location.
Of course, anywhere on the Atlantic Seaboard would be famous for its seafood. Locals recommend the recently opened Hook and Net, offering fresh catches throughout the summer and hearty seafood stews in the winter. And no trip to North Fork is complete without a stop at the Little Creek Oyster Farm and Market, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and shellfish in its tasting room, or take a dozen home on your way out to eat raw or bake at your own home.
Make space for relaxation with a weekend getaway in upstate New York
At the end of the day, it comes down to reality—and the reality is we all need a break from the skyscrapers and paying $20 rail cocktails. Even though you can find anything in New York, there’s much more to experience in just a short drive or train ride away. When you’re ready to escape that New York state of mind, make a weekend getaway in Upstate New York: Your sanity will thank you.