*Originally posted August 2018, Updated in June 2019
Living in, or simply being near New York City, is an incredible gift. Whether it’s Broadway shows, going out to dinner, or simply walking around, the city has so much to offer for nearly every single person’s needs. In the summer months, the city comes alive with cheap and free things to do as well.
Even so, sometimes, you just want to get out of the city and experience something different. And you know what else is a benefit about being in or around NYC? There are so many great things to do within two hours of it. Even better, all of these can be car free getaways from NYC.
These can be day trips from NYC without a car, long weekends, or anything in between. More often than not, there is public transportation, making this as easy as can be. Here’s our rundown, let us know if you think of any more that we missed!
Day Trips from NYC without a car:
Any of these trips can be made into day trips or weekend trips if you’d prefer, however, some of these go better one way or the other. These first round are probably better as a one-off day experience.
1. Arden Point and Glenclyffe, NY
How to get to Arden Point
This is a perfect train getaway from NYC. Take the Metro North Hudson Line to Garrison Station. The ride takes between 60-75 minutes. When you get off the station, look towards the south–tip the training is running north!– and you will find markers for Arden Point. That is the start of your hike.
When leaving New York City, this train can be taken from Grand Central or the Harlem Metro North Station.
Cost: $19.25 each way per person
The Activity: Hiking Arden Point
This is a 3.8 mile loop of a hike without any steep inclines, a good hike for any skill level. Click here for a full description of the hike.
We found this one on a day when we wanted to do something different and going for a run in the city just wasn’t going to cut it. We just needed to get out of the city. A quick google led us to discover Arden Point and we realized this was a perfect way to do a daytrip from NYC without a car.
It feels almost as if you are going back in time during this trek, with lots of little brick buildings and other historical features make it picturesque. With it being such a short distance, it is perfect for a day trip.
2. Maplewood, NJ
How to Get To Maplewood
NJ Transit Morris & Essex Line from Penn Station. An express train can take as little as 40 minutes.
When leaving New York City, this train can be taken from Penn Station.
Cost: $7.75 per person each way
The Activity: Hiking South Mountain Reservation
The train station in Maplewood is right in the downtown making it one of the easiest train getaways from NYC. Maplewood is a very trendy little town. It is often described as New Jersey’s Brooklyn, with lots of young families who move from NYC and are very active in the community.
Also, added bonus, it produced Joe! This is his hometown.
Something very cool and very accessible to downtown Maplewood is the South Mountain Reservation. It is a one-mile walk–uphill–to get to the reservation but once you get there you can find trails to hike, one of which will even take you to a waterfall. These are even better in the fall with all of the leaves changing colors. We’ve used these trails in the past for a few runs, and while they were tough, it was a great way to change things up.
Where to Eat in or Around Maplewood:
Village Trattoria, 2 Inwood Pl, Maplewood, NJ
A local favorite. The buffalo chicken pizza here is often referred to as the best in the state. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, but we love the soups, salads, eggplant parm, and penne vodka.
**Mini disclaimer: Joe’s dad started the Village Trattoria and his family still own and run it. We stand by it, though! Where do you think he got his great taste from?
The Able Baker, 187 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood, NJ
A local family run bakery that is doing everything right. The town runs on their scones but we also love their banana bread (gluten-free!), brownies, cookies, and blueberry coffee cake. It’s simply the best.
Millburn Deli, 328 Millburn Ave, Millburn, NJ
If you do have a car, take the short trip one town over to get yourself any sandwich your heart desires. This is also just one stop further on NJ Transit if you’d rather stick with the train. Specializing in sloppy joe’s, this deli often has a line out the door. Get yourself a Godfather and a swiss cheese joe and you’ll go home happy.
3. New Haven, CT
How to Get To New Haven
Take the Harlem line metro north train out of Grand Central until you reach Mt. Vernon. Than, switch over to the New Haven line. Take it all the way up to the last stop.
Cost: $24-30 each way; $35.50-47 round trip.
The Activity: Eat Neopolitan Pizza
The admitted pizza snobs that we are, it’s safe to say that things were taken to the next level when we did our pizza crawl in the motherland: Naples, Italy. And while we refuse to do what some do and say things like that this Connecticut town is “pretty close”, the fact remains that they’re making some damn good pizza in New Haven. So far we’ve sampled two, though there are quite a few that make the foodie circuit.
Our first trip to a New Haven pizzeria came on a Summer night. It happened out of sheer desperation, when we had been sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike for more hours than any human begin deserves to do so. We realized we were close to the city and picked the only spot still open. Here, a love story was born.
Where to Eat Pizza in New Haven:
Modern Apizza, 874 State St, New Haven, CT
The first pizza we tried in this famous stateside town and still our personal favorite, Modern has been slinging pies since 1934. The ultra casual mid-century style decor has a nostalgic note. It reminded us of the Jersey diners we had grown up and loved, although the scent of garlic in the former was far preferable to the stale grease in the latter. We opted for a half pepperoni half plain pie and joyfully let the grease drip down our chin as we inhaled it. We recommend you do the same.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, 157 Wooster Street, New Haven, CT
Our most recent venture led us to the line at Frank Pepe, one of the OG’s when it comes to the New Haven pizza rivalry. We dutifully waited on line in the cold to get in and indulged in the recommended pizzas: a tomato, Margherita, and white clam pie. We loved the two (Marg & Tomato) but couldn’t get into the clam. To each their own, we suppose.
This is the original location built in 1925 by the current owner’s grandfather. Nowadays Frank Pepe has spots in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island serving to the masses.
4. Hoboken, NJ
How to Get To Hoboken
Take the NJ/NY Path from 6 stations in downtown Manhattan (33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th, & Christopher St. or World Trade Center) or take the 126 bus from Port Authority. This should only be a 15-minute trip.
Cost: $2.75 per person, each way
Activity: Run along the Hudson River
Hoboken is perfect if you want something different for a car free getaway from NYC. This little city is filled with many former New Yorkers who moved looking to get a little more for their money. It’s a charming little town with small buildings and is filled with nice restaurants and bars.
Our favorite thing to do here is run. When we were training for our first marathon, this was where we did most of our training so we have a special attachment to this route. Along the waterfront, you can run from Hoboken to Jersey City or Weehawken. The shorter run–staying just along the Hoboken waterfront–is also great because you get the best views of New York City (especially at night!).
Where to Eat in or Near Hoboken:
Fiore’s Deli, 2693, 414 Adams St, Hoboken, NJ
Everyone who has ever been to Hoboken has their favorite Italian Deli and this is ours. The mozzarella is legendary throughout the tri-state area. Anything you get here will be tasty but they are most famous for their hot roast beef special. Whatever the sandwich, do not forget to get hot peppers! They are garlicky and spicy in the perfect way.
Giorgio’s, 1112 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ
An adorable Italian bakery. Giorgio, the older Italian gentleman who runs the joint, makes all the cookies in house. They have some of the best sesame cookies you will ever eat. A great place to go if you need a sweet pick me up after that run!
*Note: on updating this we were super sad to learn that Giorgio passed away. However, the bakery seems to still be up and running.
La Isla, 104 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ
A Cuban restaurant? In New Jersey? Don’t judge a book by its cover, this little place has authentic Cuban food and is frequently too busy to even try to get a table. So much so that they’ve opened a second location in the city. We usually opt for the chorizo sandwich with a side of rice and plantains.
5. Palisades Interstate Park, NJ
How to Get to Palisades Interstate Park
Located right on the other side of the George Washington Bridge, there are a couple of different ways to get to the park. Before anything else, you will need to take either the A or 1 to the 175th St or 181st St subway stations.
The first option once there is to walk the pedestrian walkway across the George Washington Bridge. Walk down the stairs once you are on the other side and head towards the river to get into the park. This is the route we recommend, the views here are awesome (the bridge also makes for a great addition to a long route Manhattan run!) and it only adds on about a mile. We do have to warn you, be conscious of the traffic here. The exhaust fumes are no joke!
If you’re not up for the extra walk there is also a Route 4 jitney that leaves from the GW Bridge Bus Terminal, Gate 19 or 20, a short walk from the subway. Hop on the jitney and get off once across at the GW Bridge Plaza West stop. Again, walk towards the river to get into the park.
Cost: $0.00 if walking, jitney $1.50-$3 each way.
The Activity: Hike, Bike, or Jog along the many trails inside Palisades State Park
Trails on the NJ side of the Palisades run mostly along the bottom of the giant cliff faces, on the Hudson River, or from atop giving views of the river below. Both have stunning views of Northern Manhattan, the GWB, and the Bronx.
What to Eat Nearby:
There’s not too much in terms of businesses within walking distance once you get out here. We recommend bringing in food from NYC before leaving if possible, although this NJ one is included if you have a car.
Pick and Eat, 4179 Broadway, New York, NY
Located near the A train that you’ll need to take, this take away food spot offers surprisingly fresh and delicious juices and smoothies, sandwiches, and hot food. We usually go for one of the hearty beverages and the Asian style blackened tofu bowl.
Denaro’s, 128 Veterans Plaza, Dumont, NJ
A solid option for sandwiches, though not the best we’ve ever had. If you’re in the area and have a car, they get the job done.
Weekend Getaways from NYC by Train or Bus
These could be turned into daytrips from NYC, but we’ve found them to be fun enough to warrant a whole weekend.
6. Tarrytown, NY
How to get to Tarrytown
One way to visit Tarrytown is after the hike at Arden Point. All you have to do is take the train back towards NYC, but instead of going all the way back to the city, get off at Tarrytown.
Otherwise, you can take the same train line–Hudson Line–from NYC up to the Tarrytown station.
When leaving New York City, this train can be taken from Grand Central or the Harlem Metro North Station.
Nearby Activities: Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, Kayaking the Hudson River, or Stone Barns Agricultural Center
Tarrytown is absolutely one of our favorite little towns in New York State. It is very charming and has loads to offer for a day trip as well.
Part of the almost 30 mile long Old Croton Aqueduct Trail runs through Tarrytown. It’s a multi-use path, used by bikers, hikers, joggers, and horseback riders year round. Sample as much or as little of it as you like.
The Stone Barns Agricultural Center, also known as the grounds to the infamous Blue Hill restaurant, is a great visit in itself. The onsite farm that supplies Dan Barber’s multi-course tasting menu is set up to educate others on Agroecology and the benefits of growing that food that is beneficial to the farm, not necessarily based on what we think we want to eat. It’s fascinating and–added bonus–home to a lot of adorable farm animals.
Another option is to get on the water here. The Hudson River is a challenging and beautiful place to paddle, though we haven’t tried it out from Tarrytown. There are a few places to rent here, but we won’t recommend any as we haven’t tried them. Report back if you do and let us know how it goes!
Where to Stay
When we lived in Manhattan, we used this trip as an excuse to treat ourselves to one of the more luxurious weekend getaways from NYC and stay at the Tarrytown House. This is a castle style hotel with views of the Hudson River that we have fallen in love with through the years. Whenever we come up here, we get dinner at the onsite restaurant and relax as much as possible.
Where to Eat In or Around Tarrytown
While in Garrison, we highly suggest bringing your own snacks. The trail itself does not have anywhere to grab anything. However, after you are done, and if you take us up on going to Tarrytown, we have a few suggestions!
Cellar 49, 49 E Sunnyside Ln, Tarrytown, NY 10591
On the Tarrytown House property, it is an upscale bar with a good wine list. We usually stick to the burger and fries, a french onion soup, or another bar food option. It’s a bit pricey, but since we usually stay on site here, we love that we can drink a bottle of wine–or two if we’re being honest–and saunter back to our rooms.
Blue Hill Cafe & Grain Bar, 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, New York
You don’t need to splurge on the Blue Hill at Stone Barns dinner to enjoy part of the experience. To be clear, though, after having tried Blue Hill ourselves a few years ago, we highly recommend you do whatever you can to have dinner there if you have the opportunity. If not, the cafe on site is actually quite impressive in its own right, featuring delicious farm to table sandwiches, snacks, and salads.
**Note: there is no public transportation to get here. We took a cab when we went.
Little B’s, 49 Main St, Tarrytown, NY
A build your own burger place with delicious french fries. A good stop here if you really need some comfort after your hike.
Coffee Lab Roasters, 7 Main St, Tarrytown, NY
A damn good cup of coffee in the center of Tarrytown. They have little bites here as well if you need a little pick me up.
7. New Paltz, NY
How to Get to New Paltz
Take the Trailways Bus from Port Authority. This ride takes an hour and a half each way without traffic.
When leaving New York City, this bus can be taken from the Port Authority.
Cost: $22.75 each way per person
The Activity: Sky Top Trail, Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, & Kayaking the Wallkill River
For those with a car, the Sky Top Trail is a nice short hike with very pretty views of the famous Gunks–tall rock cliffs that bring in rock climbers from around the world.
However, if you are sticking to the bus and staying near New Paltz, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is the one for you. A 22-mile trail that lets you pick and choose how long you want to go. It is great for a long marathon training run or just for a short little hike. It is very much dog and kid friendly so feel free to bring any and all with you.
While it’s not too far off the Hudson, New Paltz has its own riverway running through it to play on. The Wallkill River flows Northeast from NJ, emptying into nearby Roundout Creek. The mild current and width make it a great spot for easy paddling. We’ve sampled both kayaking and canoeing here, both of which were fun and both of which were rented via the small business of New Paltz Kayaking.
Where to Stay:
If you want to turn this into a long weekend, Mohonk Mountain House is a beautiful (albeit very expensive) resort with an onsite restaurant that serves 3 meals a day, has a spa, and a lake they’ve set up for swimming. We’ve never splurged on it, but have heard good reviews from those who have.
Where to Eat in New Paltz:
Mexicali Blue, 87 Main St, New Paltz, NY
A great place if you are looking for something quick after your hike. Tacos, burritos, and all of the traditional Mexican fare but with a twist. We prefer the shrimp or hanger steak tacos when we visit. They specialize in their sauces, pick and choose what works best with your tacos.
A Tavola Trattoria, 46 Main St, New Paltz, NY
One of the more upscale restaurants in the area with a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. We loved the atmosphere here, it feels incredibly comfortable while also being a bit romantic.
The Village Tea Room, 10 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY
We absolutely love their tea selection and all of their baked goods. They do make dinner here but that’s not what they do best. Skip the meal and stick to a great warm beverage and tasty treat. Also, the grounds look like a fairy village with flowers draped over walkways and string lights illuminating the porch.
8. The Jersey Shore
How to get there:
Take the NJ Transit, New Jersey Coast Line train from Penn Station. These run every hour or two and take two hours.
When leaving New York City, this train can be taken from Penn station.
Cost: $16.25-17.00 each way, depending on how far down the coast you are going.
The Activity: NJ Beach Town Hop!
Beach town hop! Start off with Asbury Park, the original home of Bruce Springsteen which has stayed full of live music and is currently in the midst of lots of development. It is one of the hottest towns in New Jersey right now with loads of new restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops popping up all over the place. It is super fun to just take the train down, go to a show at The Stone Pony, and get some dinner.
Manasquan is a more traditional New Jersey beach town, a unique mix of families and the recently graduated college crowd. This can be the kind of trip if you just want to get some sun for the day, or if you want to go down and have a weekend reminiscent of Senior year. We like to do a little bit of both here, head to the beach during the day and then go to a bar/restaurant on the water to have a drink with a nice view.
Sea Girt is filled to the brim with families and incredibly massive beach houses. We often enjoy coming down here and walking the boardwalk for as far as we can. It is nice to be able to see such beautiful houses while also being directly next to the beach, but don’t expect anything “to do” around these parts. This is strictly a wander, sun soak, and chill kind of spot.
The area is also filled with gorgeous running routes, some of which are ocean front. Bring a change of clothes to sneak one in during one of your summer getaways from NYC.
Where to Stay:
The Asbury Hotel is a funky hotel with great amenities. Featuring a rooftop bar with views of the ocean, a location one block from the beach, and a fun poolside bar that hosts a DJ on weekends, the vibe here is the kind of quirky that you’ll come to love about Asbury Park.
Where to Eat Nearby:
Porta, 911 Kingsley St, Asbury Park, NJ
With a hipster vibe and wood-burning oven cranking out pizzas, this has fast become our favorite place to eat at the Jersey Shore. Nowadays, the chain has spread into Philadelphia and Jersey City.
Pascal & Sabine, 601 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ
We stumbled upon this spot to celebrate Alicia’s birthday and were surprised by how much we liked it. A French restaurant, it’s a bit fancier than the other spots. Probably best to save this for a day when you’re not rolling right off the beach.
Rooftop Bars at The Watermark (800 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ) and The Asbury Hotel (210 5th Ave, Asbury Park, NJ)
Both rooftops have a trendy scene and expensive cocktails but more than compensate for it with open ocean views. Try to skip them on weekend nights when they get way too crowded.
*Food outside of Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore can be limiting. These recommendations are mostly accessible by car.
Scone Pony, 305 Washington Ave, Spring Lake, NJ
A specialty bakery in Spring Lake. These scones are buttery and delicious. A great stop in the morning to go with your coffee.
Rook Coffee, Varied Locations, NJ Shore
A small coffee shop that was expanded an incredible amount the past few years. This company cares about their coffee and makes every cup fresh to order. We love their New Orleans Style Cold Brew on those hot summer days.
Jersey Mike’s, Varied Locations, USA
This New Jersey staple can now be found around the country but started in the NJ Shore’s very own Point Pleasant. And you know what? In spite of it’s mega-success, we still like it! The ingredients are always fresh and the staff is always friendly. Simple and tasty sandwiches. Get it before you go to the beach so you don’t miss any time in the sun!
Mossuto’s, 2029 NJ-35 #4, Wall Township, NJ
An Italian specialty market? Of course, we found this one! They have excellent prepared foods and loaves of bread. We often like getting the roasted red peppers, a wedge of cheese, and some bread to make our own sandwiches to bring to the beach.
9. Philadelphia, PA
How to Get To Philadelphia
There are a few choices for how to get to Philly from NYC without a car. The first is to take Amtrak. While this is the easier choice it is also much more expensive. If you want a cheaper choice that is still more convenient than public transit, opt for one of the many bus lines that travel this route (Megabus, Bolt, Peter Pan, Greyhound and others all run this trip).
It is possible to take public transit by doing the following: take the Northeast Corridor train from Penn Station in NYC to Trenton. There, transfer to the Septa Trenton Line Regional rail. This will take you right into 30th St Station in the center of Philadelphia. The total time for this varies but can take anywhere from 2-3 and a half hours.
Amtrak: Starting at $50 & up/one way
Public Transit: $26/one way
Buses: Starting at $15 & up/one way
The Activity: Hike the Wissahickon, Kayak the waterways, Eat your Heart out
Our newly adopted city is a wealth of downright fun things to do. Philly surprised us with a heavy outdoor and active culture balanced by a love for boozy nightlife and great food. Meaning, Philly gets us.
Hiking the Wissahickon has become a favorite weekend activity for us when we’re in town. With generally easy trails that wind through rivers and woods, it’s all located within city limits. Afterward, grab a bite to eat at one the many awesome restaurants around Wissahickon Valley Park.
The waterways also come alive in the Summer months. Both the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers have events on shore, but the Schuylkill also has moonlit and other kayak tours and boat trips on the water.
If neither of these appeal to you feel free to indulge in what Philly does best: eat and drink your wee heart out. The restaurants here have recently been getting well-deserved national recognition–we’re looking at you, Zahav–but the people of Philadelphia have known about how great the food scene is here for years. Way to catch up, America.
Where to Stay:
Philly has been a bit delayed with providing accommodations. Places like the Rittenhouse are dated but still try to charge a huge amount per night, whereas standards like the Ritz, Hilton, amd Marriott have homes here. This year, both a W Hotel and Four Seasons are scheduled to open as well. The best bet here as of now is AirBnB unless you’re okay with spending a lot without getting much in return.
Where to Eat in Philly:
We’re not going to attempt to dissect the massive Philadelphia food scene in a few paragraphs. Hit the Italian Market or South 9th. St. taco spots for a look into the South Philly food of the past and future coexisting side by side in a delicious way. The Vietnamese food on Washington Ave is the best we’ve had stateside. If you want straight up trendy chef restaurants, there’s an endless supply in town. Just come here, and eat, ASAP. That’s all.
The Italian Market, South Philly Barbacoa, Taqueria La Prima, South 9th St between Christian St & E. Passyunk Ave.
You can spend a full day eating on these couple of blocks. As a matter of fact, we hope that you do. The Italian Market is the oldest operating open-air market in the country, providing everything you’d expect with an old-school Italian-American neighborhood. Fresh pasta and ravioli spots, cheese counters, and espresso bars line the sides.
These days, the Mexican-American community has added their own delicious flare with sit-down and take out spots. The most famous of these is South Philly Barbacoa, but if you don’t feel like waiting in a line that has the potential to be hours long, seek out one of the many other fine establishments along the block. Taqueria La Prima is a new favorite of ours.
Nam Son Bakery, 1600 Carpenter St, Philadelphia, PA
Here’s the truth, we didn’t really have a great Banh Mi in Vietnam. Of all the amazing food we had there, of which there was plenty, we never got the best version of it. Here in Philly, however, we found one. Alongside the delicious sandwiches that start at whopping $5 there are also a few other menu items and homemade desserts. If you’re not into Banh Mi’s–which, shame on you–you can always hop across the street for a steaming bowl of Pho at Pho 75.
Zahav, 237 St James Pl, Philadelphia, PA
Zahav was just chosen as the best restaurant in the country in 2019’s James Beard awards. Even though it’s getting national recognition these days, Philadelphia folk have long been touting the intricate and refined menu created by Michael Solomonov. A table here is hard to get but so worth it if you manage to do so. If you can’t, take your pick from the seemingly endless options for restaurants in the city.
Useful Tips & Websites to Plan your Getaway:
- Metro North Website: Schedules, Stations, and updates on any delays or cancellations for New York and Connecticut trips
- NJ Transit Website: Schedules, Stations, and updates on any delays or cancellations for New Jersey trips
- Septa: For those Pennsylvania bound trips.
- Trains on holidays usually operate on a different schedule even on weekdays. Be sure to check the sites.
- Twitter is a great resource for train delays and the latest updates.