Can you recommend vacations by train from NYC (not Philly, Boston, DC)?
July 18, 2021 10:44 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been out of NYC since 2019, but am not ready to fly, and I don't drive. Where can I go by train? I need to get out of this city and relax somewhere else.

My ideal is somewhere with a nice view, I don't even care of what--lake, ocean, woods, river, mountain. I don't really want to do anything, maybe sit on a balcony and read, go for some walks. Towns and small cities are ok, if they're chill. I want to be elsewhere with as little effort as possible. I'm sure there a million answers to this question, but my planning skills have atrophied and I'm stuck/overwhelmed. Anything from a long weekend to a week.
posted by Mavri to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: It might be a bit cliché, but Cold Spring, NY should fit the bill -- accessible by Metro-North from NYC (70 minutes or so from Grand Central) and the train station is basically right in town, beautiful views of the Hudson River/Hudson Highlands, town center to walk around but also more involved hikes into Hudson Highlands State Park just north of town if you want something a little more ambitious.

Something to keep in mind as you consider options -- a plus of choosing an MNR- (or LIRR-/NJT-) accessible destination from NYC, vs. Amtrak, is that it keeps your planning more flexible. Last-minute Amtrak tickets can be pricey airline-ticket-style, but MNR/LIRR/NJT commuter-rail style prices don't shift based on when you buy them.
posted by andrewesque at 10:57 AM on July 18 [12 favorites]


Ocean City, NJ
posted by aniola at 11:02 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


It'll require a transfer in Boston, probably, but somewhere along the Downeaster route? Brunswick or Freeport? Old Orchard Beach?
posted by damayanti at 12:07 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


LIRR to Montauk.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:39 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I haven't stayed there, but I've been eyeing the Inn at Castle Hill, on the Crane Estate near Ipswich, MA. It's a bit of a complicated trip from NYC via transit: Amtrak to Boston, commuter rail to Ipswich, then the weekend-only local bus out to the Estate (or I assume you could get a taxi or Uber at Ipswich), but I think it would be very pleasant. The beach is huge and there's a historic mansion to explore, as well as plenty of nature. You'd want to avoid greenhead season, though, which is presumably on right now but should be done by early August.
posted by praemunire at 1:16 PM on July 18


I don't know what your budget is but Fire Island maybe?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:34 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Niagra is cheesy as hell and may be obvious, but it's also genuinely awesome. (It's better if you can visit both sides. I don't know what things are like now when crossing the border. But, there are many nice walks and historical sites on the US side that could fill a few days.)
posted by eotvos at 2:00 PM on July 18


Best answer: Amtrak goes to Montreal. US citizens who are vaxxed can get in mid August. Great town, real nice train ride.
posted by AugustWest at 2:32 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Best answer: People take Amtrak to Rutland, VT for the ski resorts and it seems like an off-season ski resort would tick your boxes. There's thruway bus service to Killington (which I gather is a town and not just a massive ski resort), even if the resorts themselves only run buses in the winter.
posted by hoyland at 2:43 PM on July 18


Best answer: Hudson, NY is hipper and pricier than ever these days, but it is extremely compact, walkable, and interesting. If you can find a rental that's in your budget, you can have a a great vacation there. There are 5-6 trains a day.

I spent a couple night in Saratoga Springs back in 2018 and was shocked by how great it was. It's on the Adirondack line, so just one train a day, I think.
posted by minervous at 2:54 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Best answer: For a beach, Westerly, RI.

Mystic, CT has the Seaport and the Aquarium, but also a quaint Inn or two.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:57 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Providence and Newport, RI! I did this last July and it was a perfect weeklong summertime getaway: Amtrak to Providence and then ferry to Newport.
posted by lovelygirl at 4:41 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I live in a small town in Vermont. The Amtrak is coming back starting tomorrow. My town is having a little party for it. Rutland may be a better option because the train to Rutland is faster than the train to my town (Randolph) but there are a lot of adorable towns up in Vermont that have walkable downtowns that are nearby the train depot. Might want to check and see if there are AirBnBs available on a few stops.

Note: There are two trains that go from NY to VT, one terminates in Rutland and one goes on up mostly through MA and NH but then cuts across Vermont.
Note 2: Neither of these is the train to Montreal.

Suggestions for stops that I KNOW are near the train station, I'm sure there are more. Note: Montpelier stop is not right downtown, neither is Burlington, but both are pretty close. There may also be MA and NH stops that fit the bill but I know the VT ones.

On the Vermonter line
- Randolph VT (my town, many AirBnBs but no actual hotels)
- Bellows Falls VT
- White River Junction VT (many hotels, make sure you're not right off of the highway)

On the Ethan Allen Express (Much faster from NY)
- Rutland VT (has a kind of a bad rep for various reasons, some deserved and some not, but you can also get transportation to Mendon or Killington which are more universally considered nice destinations as hoyland says)
posted by jessamyn at 5:29 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The Northampton, MA train station (on the Vermonter route jessamyn mentions and also a route called the Valley Flyer which would require a change in New Haven) is close to a nice little walkable downtown. There’s a not-completely-useless bus system and I believe bike share. Lodging can be pricey though.
posted by mskyle at 5:37 PM on July 18


Best answer: Block Island is accessible by taking the Amtrak to New London, CT, and then the "Block Island Express" ferry from there. (It's a relatively easy walk from the train station to the ferry terminal in New London — less than half a mile.) Block Island has a nice walkable "downtown" and you can rent a bikes or a scooter if you want to see more of the island.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:42 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Best answer: You can take a ferry from Manhattan to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 8:37 AM on July 19


Best answer: Don't forget about buses as a way to escape NYC. Trailways bus lines go to a lot of the appealing upstate locations and plenty of hotels can help you get from the bus drop-off to their property.

I went up to Woodstock, NY, in March and stayed at Hotel Woodstock Way. I chose it because, though I was driving, I wanted a place to stay that was walkable to shops and restaurants. I also wanted a view. Woodstock Way is right off the main drag in Woodstock but, since it's a country town, the hotel property itself feels tucked into the woods. There is even a waterfall that many of the rooms overlook. It's close to everything you need in Woodstock, including even the town park where you can do a mile loop hike (beginner level) and feel like you're in the middle of the woods. Highly recommend.

(You can also take Amtrak from Penn Station to Rhinecliff station and from there get a taxi to take you over to the other side of the river--I'm seeing a quote of $85-$100 for that ride.)

Trailways also goes to New Paltz, which is a fun town. I haven't stayed in town there but it's another place to look.
posted by CiaoMela at 9:11 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Amtrak's Pennsylvanian line goes between New York City and Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh has several lovely parks and multiple rivers. And there are many smaller towns along the train line in case you want to check those out for quieter vacations.
posted by brainwane at 9:53 PM on July 19


Best answer: Charlottesville, VA.
Public transportation is pretty good, very walkable and you can see the mountains from everywhere.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 11:52 PM on July 20


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