What are some good nearby NYC travel destinations?
August 28, 2012 8:22 AM   Subscribe

New York City to where? We have multiple four-day weekends coming up and some wanderlust. What do you recommend?

My lovely boyfriend Griphus and I would like to skip town for a couple long weekends this fall. We are looking for the hivemind to give us some ideas!

Our budget is pretty small and we don’t have a car- so it’s going to have to be on public transportation. We like “limited nature”- like hiking in a park, but no camping. We love city life and have nothing against touristy things. Griphus likes anything haunted and I love anything history-related. Science is also a big-love.
We don’t want to spend more than four hours traveling each way. We were thinking DC or Philadelphia for one weekend, and maybe a smaller town nearby for another? What have been your favorite close-to-new-york getaways?
posted by Blisterlips to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Philadelphia for sure.

DC is right on that 4-hour travel cusp, but then so is Boston. Both would be good ideas. DC is mostly museum-ish, whereas Boston is more actual historical sites and such (and has a better chance of haunting).

As far as smaller town ideas, what about Beacon? I don't know that there's enough in the surrounding area to occupy four days without a car, but it's definitely one of my favorite places for escaping city life.

What about Sleepy Hollow? I don't know if there's actually any Washington Irving related stuff there, but worth looking into for sure.

Is Salem, Mass within your 4 hour travel range? Again, not super sure, but worth looking into.
posted by Sara C. at 8:29 AM on August 28, 2012

Philly gets a big thumbs up from me, and you can get there by train for WAY less than the Amtrak price on NJ Transit. There are a bunch of places you can go in NJ on the seashore; you can also take the SeaStreak to Atlantic Highlands, though I have no idea what that's like. (You can also take SeaStreak to the Vineyard!)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:48 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Public trans will make Central Pennsylvania a little more difficult, but it's still a possibility. Lancaster, Elizabethtown, and Harrisburg, PA are all reachable via Amtrak. Harrisburg is the end of that little jaunt, and it's only about three hours from Penn Station. E-town is perhaps a bit too small for your purposes, but the Amtrak stations in Lancaster and Harrisburg are pretty much right downtown. And it's only like $90 per person, round trip. Of course, you could always take the bus or other Transit to Philly and then Amtrak from there.

Could you spend a week there? Maybe, but not without a car. But a long weekend? Yeah, probably. Both have brew-pubs and stuff to do in walking distance from the train station and related public trans systems. You could even spend one night in Lancaster and then move on to Harrisburg. And if you're willing to rent a car for the day, it's a lovely area for a drive. Amish country, Hersheypark, you name it.

These are my old stomping grounds, so MeMail me if you want specific recommendations. I know of some lovely little B&Bs and out-of-the-way restaurants.
posted by valkyryn at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2012

We took a trip to Mohank in the Catskills and enjoyed it very much- the resort offers free pickup from the local bus depot, and the bus ride is short. The resort is very comfortable for those who want to lounge, but there's lots of activities for those who like "limited nature" (great phrase, that's me), too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:52 AM on August 28, 2012

If you want to rent a car for 1/3 the price of in Manhattan, it's worth checking out renting in places that are along your way. Like Avis at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne ($7 bus ride, $30/day rental) if you're going up 87 North into upstate NY, or 80 West out to PA. Or if you want to go northeast to Rhode Island or Boston or something, then I think there's a rental place close to the White Plains train station.
posted by Grither at 9:02 AM on August 28, 2012

Seconding Mohank or any of the other Catskills resorts. I was up in that neck of the woods this weekend, and perfect for what you want. The only reason I didn't mention it in my first post is that I was visiting a friend's cabin, it was all very car-dependent, and I forgot about the resorts.
posted by Sara C. at 9:04 AM on August 28, 2012

Also Providence on a weekend when they're doing WaterFire.

Ithaca is about a 4 hour Greyhound ride away, and the city buses will take you to the Cornell campus and Buttermilk Falls state park - the gorge trail is worth doing.
posted by mr vino at 9:10 AM on August 28, 2012


Renting a car is out- we don't really drive- the resorts look promising, but 1200 for two days is a little above what we can swing. Are there resorts/places in the catskills on the lower-end?
posted by Blisterlips at 9:13 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Kutsher's? Their rates seem a lot more reasonable.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2012

How about east end of long island? You can take the train out here and take a bus where you want. Heck you can get to green port from riverhead by boat. Once middle sept rolls around easter long island has all those haunted corn mazes and houses and things like that.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Probably still above what you're looking to spend but evidently Air Canada is offering a little discount for NYC✈Montreal flights until about mid-December.
posted by XMLicious at 9:23 AM on August 28, 2012

Is Salem, Mass within your 4 hour travel range? Again, not super sure, but worth looking into.

It is, just barely. Bolt Bus to Boston, commuter rail to Salem. Only downside is that coming into October, things are not exactly cheap when it comes to hotel rooms and the like. You might find some joy with AirBnB, though. One option would be to stay in Boston and come up into Salem for a day trip or two (it's what HP Lovecraft used to do).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Niagara Falls.

You can Amtrak from Penn Station to Niagara. There are tons of hotels and tourist traps around there. Ride the maid of the mist, and enjoy a weekend at the falls. It is a good time.

It is an 8 hour train ride, but you can get a sleeper car for the trip up there.
posted by Flood at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2012

We've found the book 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada to be really fun for inspiration. It includes a lot of smaller towns in the Northeast and gives full itineraries for the weekend.
posted by smackfu at 10:36 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Check out Megabus, they go to a lot of neat places from NYC.

Atlantic City
Burlington, VT
Toronto, Ont
Providence, RI
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hyannis, MA
Pittsburgh, PA

Other fun places too.

A Motel 6 and you're in business!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:40 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about New Haven? Art museums, the Peabody museum for science, Beinecke. There are some seriously great food options. There are several good bookstores. There's a cool old cemetery. For "limited nature" there is East Rock park - the walk to it from downtown takes you through some nice neighborhoods. Or there's the Farmington canal greenway, which was one of the earlier rails to trails efforts, I believe. Or you could probably figure out some Long Island Sound related activity.

This hotel is a bit cheesy in its attempts at "modern intellectual" branding, but in the end it is quite pleasant and well located.
posted by yarrow at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I went to a wedding in Hudson, NY recently and although I only spent a day and a half there it seemed like a cute place. There's a train station right downtown and it's very walkable. Lots of cute little bars and restaurants and hipster antique stores. I recall something about there being pirates once upon a time, and surely where there were pirates there must be ghosts. Lots of inns and guest houses and VRBOs.
posted by mskyle at 11:12 AM on August 28, 2012

Burlington, VT, for sure. Charming waterfront, lots of fun restaurants and bookstores and record shops, all the good things.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2012

I'm just gonna chime in here with a good word for Toronto (anytime before the end of October, that is, I wouldn't wish Toronto November on anyone). The film fest is coming up, there's tons of stuff to do, and Porter Airlines (out of Newark) often has super cheap tickets.
posted by sixswitch at 12:02 PM on August 28, 2012

Boston has the Museum of Science as well as the Aquarium, both of which are good examples in those genres, I think. Take the Chinatown bus or the Megabus, stay in a hostel or couchsurf? Those buses will also get you to Washington DC.
posted by eviemath at 4:24 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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