Jaunt me
August 25, 2014 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to take more weekend trips outside of NYC. I don't drive. Where should I go, and how should I get there?

I love NYC, but I hate the fact that it's so hard to leave. At times I've gone six months without setting foot outside the city limits! I'd love it if I could get the hell out of here maybe once a month, just to reset myself.

No car, can't drive. Am pretty cheap (would probably AirBnB it if possible). Love love love the outdoors, but am not a proficient camper by any means. I'm up for anything- big cities, small towns, cabin in the woods, anything I can get to and from in the space of a weekend via public transit (leaving Friday night is fine.)

I'm leaving this as open-ended as I can, in order to get a wide range of responses.

Thanks, guys!
posted by showbiz_liz to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (26 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Come down to Philadelphia! You can get here by Megabus/Bolt Bus/Amtrak or a mix of NJ Transit and SEPTA trains. You can investigate our awesome historical stuff and the fantastically odd Mutter Museum as well as the Reading Terminal Market and the Franklin Institute.

It would be fantastic to meet you if you're up to it!
posted by inturnaround at 10:24 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could take the Jitney bus or LIRR to Montauk, which is a small walkable beach town well-serviced by taxis. Bike rental also available.
posted by xo at 10:25 AM on August 25, 2014

Well, Hudson is a 2hr Amtrak ride away, you can find great restaurants, cool hotels and wonderful funky shopping all in a walkable down town.

Lenox mas has the Kripalu yoga center (more a spa these days) as well as a more rich retiree style New England charm. Reachable by bus.
posted by shothotbot at 10:27 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take the Chinatown bus to DC, then stay somewhere in union market area for budget hotels (the neighborhood and hotels are pretty crappy, but it's convenient to metro).
posted by empath at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2014

I ride a bicycle and am outside the city almost every weekend (usually Piermont or Nyack). Once you get past the outlay of the bike and various accessories, travel is very cheap. If you combine that with a MetroNorth ticket, you can go far afield as Poughkeepsie or other points north and see the countryside.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:31 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Philly is interesting, great beer spots there.

Of course there's Boston and Cambridge and environs. Lots of character and super easy to get around via public transit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:33 AM on August 25, 2014

2nding LIRR to Montauk.

Amtrak to Boston or DC. (If you book Amtrak tickets at least two weeks in advance, it won't be that expensive.)
posted by tckma at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2014

* pulls up chair and sits down *

* Seconding Philadelphia. You can indeed get there via NJ Transit and SEPTA (it does take a couple hours), but there is a shit-ton of stuff there. I've even found a youth hostel that is bang in the middle of Fairmont park, so it is close enough to all the city stuff but far enough away that it feels like a chill house in the middle of the woods. (No joke, the one time I stayed there, a bunch of us were hanging out on the front porch and three deer came strolling out of the trees and walked up the driveway, stared at everyone a couple minutes, and then just walked off the way they'd come.)

* Day trips up and down the Hudson, via Metro-North. Croton Point Park is walking distance from the Croton-Harmon Metro North station, and you can even camp there. Peekskill is supposed to be an interesting little spot to check out (I have designs on doing so myself soon). The Dia: Beacon museum is also a short walk from the Beacon train station, as is a nifty little waterfront park; you can also get a cab from the train station to the middle of town (Beacon has a decent little "small town" vibe). It's also a short cab ride from the Poughkeepsie train station to the Vanderbilt Mansion or the FDR Hyde Park house; for that I'd pick just one, though, as it's kind of a hike to walk from one to the other. (I did Vanderbilt once; that was about 15 minutes tops by cab from the Poughkeepsie station, the guided tour of the mansion took about an hour, and I could wander around the grounds when I was done.) Or you could do what I'm sort of planning to do at some point - take the train up to one spot where you can get onto the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, and follow it until you get to another town on the trail where you feel like stopping. Then either stay overnight and finish the next day, or say "screw it" and come home.

* Day trips out to Connecticut, also on Metro-North. Go to get a kick-ass pizza in New Haven and check out Yale! Go to the P.T. Barnum museum in Bridgeport! Check out the vibe in cities like Fairfield or Greenwich!

*Day trips out to Long Island on Long Island Railroad. Port Jefferson is a cute slice of New England in the middle of Long Island, and is very LIRR-accessible.

* The Adirondack Bus Line goes upstate as well, and can get you to the Shawnagunks and the Catskills and cities therein. The bus station at New Paltz is pretty close to the center of town, and it's a decent place to walk around; if you can then get a cab out to the hinterlands of the Mohonk Mountain House, all the better. (That may be a bit spendy, though - Mohonk charges $20 for a day pass just to get on the grounds, and that plus the cab plus the bus may be a bit pricey.) The bus also goes up to Woodstock; Woodstock is TINY and very walkable, and the stop is right bang in the center of town. There's a great AirBnB place that's a ten minute walk from there, but Woodstock is small enough that you could also do it as a day trip. (If you stay overnight, though - if you're REAAAAAAAALLY ambitious, try a hike up Overlook Mountain, just outside town; it's a very popular path that has some cool ruins you can explore near the top; but it's HELLA steep). Or go to Phonecia and go inner-tubing if it's summer. There's also an incredibly tiny town 3 hours away called Fleischmanns which is SERIOUSLY small-town-in-the-middle-of-the-woods, but there are a few places to stay (all within walking distance of the bus stop) and getting to a place to just take a walk is dealable, walking wise.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh, and seconding Hudson - it is an Amtrak trip as opposed to Metro-North, so it may be spendy, but the station is centrally-located enough that you could get around easily on foot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

While the weather stays nice, NJ Transit will get you down the shore, enjoy the beach! As mentioned above, the train to Philly isn't too hard. Go down to the Mütter Museum and see the terrifyingly huge colon. Also seconding EmpressCallipygos' ideas.

See also offmetro's best car-free getaways from NYC and a similar article here.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:45 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh - Sleepy Hollow is reachable on Metro North as well; you can either take an express train up to Tarrytown and cab it the rest of the way (Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are kind of all one smudge), or take a local train to a more central Sleepy Hollow location. There are cabs that can get you around, or go on foot; Sleepy Hollow would be AWESOME near Halloween.

Speaking of late summer/early fall, all the u-pick places are going to be going NUTS with apple picking and pumpkin picking and hay rides and stuff like that over the next couple months.

Oh, and check out the Metro-North and Long Island Railroad sites - they have package deals they organize to various destinations where you pay one flat fee and you get the Metro-North fare, a ticket on a shuttle to your final destination if you need one (or instructions for how to get a taxi) and admission to whatever thing you're doing. Here's the list for LIRR, with a couple of Montauk jaunts and a u-pick farm tour among them, and here's one of a couple lists for Metro-North.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Train or bus to Boston are both cheap but closer to the date, the bus is better. I like Megabus but they're all somewhat similar.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:01 AM on August 25, 2014

I have this book for just this reason! This summer I checked out Beacon, NY, about 90 minutes from Grand Central and with some really nice galleries and a nice downtown. Also seconding Boston, though a hotel can be a bit pricy, depending where you stay. Last summer I went to the Cape May area which was a bit further-- I think about a 4 hr bus ride from Port Authority, but worth it for the historical architecture and the birdwatching.
posted by matcha action at 11:10 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Asbury Park, NJ has a beach and a downtown, and is easily accessible by NJ Transit. Go to Porta for pizza (but early--it gets chaotic at night)

Take Metro North and visit the Glass House.
posted by armacy at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Atlantic City
posted by Flood at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2014

Take the Metro North to Cold Spring and hike on Breakneck Ridge...great day trip. Or, Dia Beacon is a great museum you can also reach on Metro North.
posted by three_red_balloons at 12:57 PM on August 25, 2014

Take the bus from Port Authority and come visit Ithaca! Early fall is lovely, the Farmer's market is nice, there are wineries and B&Bs, glorious hikes in gorges and along streams, great food, and even though the Commons is still a mess, there are loads of cute shops to browse.

(It's around 4.5 hours from the city - too far for a useful day trip but perfect for a long weekend.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2014

I'm the same and recently spent 2 days in New Paltz and came back really refreshed. Not a lot to do but some outdoor fall reading after the leaves change would be really nice.
posted by milarepa at 2:36 PM on August 25, 2014

Take NJ Transit to Princeton! It's a great walkable town with oodles of history, great artisanal ice cream, a good bookstore and other shopping, all close to the train station. A couple of fun coffee shops too.

There are good local trails for walking and cycling.

The train station in Princeton is less than a mile from a place to rent canoes.

The campus is lovely. There are secret, and other, gardens, and the local historical society has walking tours if that's your thing.

If the weather isn't agreeable, a short walk from the train takes you to a wonderful little art museum. It's all very compact, a nice day trip that could be stretched to a weekend of little pleasures.
posted by 6thsense at 3:19 PM on August 25, 2014

Transbridge Bus from Port Authority will take you to Lambertville NJ, just across the bridge from New Hope. In both towns, super-walkable, you'll have your pick of shops, restaurants, and music, but best of all you can walk/bicycle for miles and miles on both sides of the Delaware River, thanks to the tow paths. So gorgeous this time of year.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:10 PM on August 25, 2014

Fact is you can get to !ost any town of size by public transport. For some, the last leg might have to be by cab.

You can get to Mystic and Mystic Seaport by train.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:52 PM on August 25, 2014

Definitely come on up to New Haven. Yale is pretty, and we've got famous pizza, a surprisingly large food truck scene, and a very respectable cheese-centric restaurant around here. There are also a couple of wonderful little art museums with free admission, and the remarkably pleasant East Rock park which almost feels like nature, while still being in spitting distance of civilization.

I have no idea if there are other Mefites are around here, but give me a holler if you want me to organize a meetup. We used to kick it with the Boston-based crowd, and we miss the Mefite-love!
posted by Diagonalize at 5:02 PM on August 25, 2014

Portland ME is accessible by train too.
posted by brujita at 8:47 PM on August 25, 2014

Day trips out to Long Island on Long Island Railroad. Port Jefferson is a cute slice of New England in the middle of Long Island, and is very LIRR-accessible.

No idea if there are any other Mefites around the area, but I'm near Port Jeff if you ever happen to head out this way. Definitely a cute town for a day trip.

I also second the suggestion to go eat pizza in New Haven. That alone is worth travelling for.
posted by pemberkins at 5:59 AM on August 26, 2014

Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts! You can take Megabus to Amherst (actually Hadley, you land at a strip mall not near much) or Greyhound/Peter Pan to Amherst (for real) or Northampton, then there's some local bus service or you can rent a bike and get around Amherst/Hadley/Northampton very easily.
posted by mskyle at 6:41 AM on August 26, 2014

DC is easy to get to on trains or planes, and has *tons* of free enormous awesome museums, plus the monuments are great at night.
posted by talldean at 7:25 PM on August 27, 2014

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