10 Best Day Trips from NYC

Linda Bibb was born in New York and knows the area well. She is an award-winning writer who has been to nearly 60 countries.
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New York City is a bustling metropolis that offers plenty of things to do, but sometimes you just need to take a break and head out of the city. There are plenty of day trips from New York City that will please even the most demanding traveler.

If you’re looking for an epic experience, check out our list of the best NYC day trips. We’re sure you’ll find something that piques your interest.

Table of Contents

 Boston

Paul Revere statue - Boston

Boston is not only one of America’s oldest cities, but also one of the easiest to explore and walk around. It’s one of the best New England winter getaways, and is truly a year-round destination.

There are so many things to do in Boston, and there’s an activity for every type of traveler. You can go to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, fill your belly with fresh seafood at Boston’s best restaurants, catch up on history on the Freedom Trail, and relax on one of the public greens.

If you want to see Boston in one day, it’s best to book a guided tour from NYC to Boston. That way, you can relax and let someone else manage the itinerary, parking, and tiring 4-hour drive each way. You’ll be able see Boston’s highlights, from Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail and beyond, while learning all about the city. Plus, you’ll enjoy lunch at Quincy Market and have time to pick up some Boston specialties to take home.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love, is one of the oldest cities in America and was its first capital city.

This city offers many historic things to see, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created. You can visit Congress Hall and Benjamin Franklin’s tomb in Christ Church cemetery, see the house of Betsy Ross, who designed the first US flag, and wander along Elfreth’s Alley, lined with 32 Georgian houses and said to be the oldest continuously-inhabited street in the country.

Other interesting sights are Parque del Amor in the city center, and the State Penitentiary where Al Capone was once held. If you have the energy, stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and run up the stairs where Rocky was filmed.

This guided day trip will ensure you see everything while learning about Philadelphia. Or, you can buy a round-trip train ticket and do the Philadelphia double-decker hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour.

Amish Country

Carriage ride in the Amish country

There are plenty of great day trips from New York City, but one of the most underrated is a visit to Amish country. You can explore the rolling hills and farmlands, see traditional Amish crafts being made, and even sample some delicious homemade food

The expansive Amish community in Lancaster PA is home to the descendants of German immigrants who fled religious persecution in the 18th century. This is one of America’s oldest settlements, where thousands still live a centuries-old simple lifestyle

While the Amish live a traditional lifestyle that eschews most modern conveniences, they are known for their skilled craftsmanship and warm hospitality. You can enjoy a horse-and-buggy ride, shop for handmade crafts in an Amish market, and most importantly, try their authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine to round out your experience.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about the Amish way of life or just want to take in some breathtaking countryside scenery, a day trip to Amish country is sure to be memorable. 

Washington DC

United States Capitol

Washington, DC is one of the most important cities in the United States of America and can be explored on a day trip from NYC. There’s so much to see and do in America’s capital, from touring iconic buildings like the United States Capitol and the White House to visiting attractions including the Smithsonian museums and exploring vibrant neighborhoods like Georgetown and Adams Morgan.

On a full-day tour, you’ll see the iconic landmarks of the US government and have time to visit the National Air and Space Museum before visiting the Lincoln, Washington, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials. Along the way, your professional guide will help you understand more about American politics and Washington’s beautiful landmarks.

Tip: If you have limited time, book this day trip from NYC to see both Washington and Philadelphia in one day.

The Hamptons

Hampton lightouse

In less than a 2-hour drive, you can escape New York’s hustle and bustle of NYC for a while and turn to a quieter life. This popular getaway is famous in the summer for its world-class East Coast beaches and elegant mansions. Many elite CEOs and celebrities have their vacation homes on this narrow strip of land just outside NYC.

Besides the beaches and houses, shopping is the main attraction for a day trip. Take some time to check out the stores at Sag Harbor and the Tanger Outlet.

Tip: Visit on a weekday to avoid crowds and the hectic weekend traffic.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls on a sunny day

With its thundering waterfall and rushing rapids, few places in the world are as awe-inspiring as Niagara Falls. If you’ve ever wanted to see it in person, now’s your chance. It might be too far to do on your own, but you can definitely see Niagara Falls in one day if you take a guided tour.

You can leave NYC late at night and arrive early in the morning to experience the rainbows in the morning mist and the magnificent roar of the falls before the crowds arrive, or leave NYC in the morning to see the falls transition from day to night and experience a light show and fireworks. 

If you’re looking for things to do at Niagara Falls State Park, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can take a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist ship to sail up close to the falls, visit uninhabited Goat Island and Luna Island, watch historical films, go hiking on the trails, and get amazing photos from the observation decks.

Canada and the United States share this natural wonder, but no matter which side you view the falls from, the view will take your breath away. This is one experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime!

New York Boroughs

The Long Island sign

Of course, you’re familiar with Manhattan and its famous and distinct neighborhoods, like Harlem, Chinatown, Times Square, Little Italy, and Greenwich Village. But New York is a multicultural city that changes from one borough to the next.

If you really want to see New York City, a one-day tour will show you the best of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn and help you discover the many unique communities that call these boroughs home.

In the Bronx, you’ll visit Yankee Stadium, so you can take pictures and shop for souvenirs of the legendary NYC baseball team. You’ll see graffiti and street art masterpieces in the South Bronx, and hear the stories behind each of the most famous pieces, snapping photos along the way.

Next, you’ll head to Queens, New York’s largest and most multicultural borough. Visit Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, home to Mets Stadium and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. You’ll also stop by Roosevelt Avenue, to get a first-hand view of multicultural stores and restaurants and learn how immigration has contributed to the vibrant life of this neighborhood.

The last borough to visit is Brooklyn, where you’ll see the Jewish Quarters in Williamsburg, which provide a stark contrast to the more trendy areas made famous by movies and TV shows.

Tip: If you want to visit Staten Island, take the free Staten Island Ferry to get to know this lesser-known borough better. Historic Richmond Town is rich in cultural attractions and history and offers unique glimpses of American colonial life. Also, the St. George neighborhood has many arts and cultural institutions such as the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences and the National Lighthouse Museum.

New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

If you’re looking for a day trip into nature, the New York Botanical Garden is the place to go. Located in the Bronx, it spans some 250 acres and contains over 10 gardens and plant collections.

Its most famous attraction is probably the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a landmark Victorian-style glasshouse built in 1902 that houses tropical plants from around the globe. Other notable features include the Healing Gardens – designed for those dealing with cancer or other illnesses – and the Native Plant Garden, which showcase species from North America.

At the New York Botanical Garden, you can see more than just flowers and plants. You can learn about native plants and wildlife, gardening techniques, cook with fresh ingredients from the garden, and even take a trip back in time at the museums on the grounds. There are also kid-friendly activities available, so your whole family can enjoy a day at the Garden

Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe, American Dream Mall

Bring out the playful child in you at this large indoor theme park in the United States. Packed with roller coasters, spinning rides, nine-story tower rope courses, Nickelodeon Universe offers year-round fun for all generations. It is located inside the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, just a few miles from New York City.

Perfect for family entertainment, no matter what age, whether in the middle of winter or on hot summer days, everyone will surely love it. With unlimited access to all rides, any day is a good day to visit. This theme park will definitely make new unforgettable memories for the whole family. 

LEGOLAND NY

Kids driving at LEGOLAND NY

LEGOLAND NY is one of the best day trips from NYC for families. Explore all seven LEGO theme parks and see and count the 15,000 Lego models throughout the park. LEGOLAND offers both an outdoor theme park and a variety of indoor attractions for a day of endless possibilities.

What makes the fun even greater? Unlike other theme parks, LEGOLAND has rides and attractions with no height or age restrictions. It also has fun and informative staff, delicious food, and lots of great places for photo ops.

Whether you are with family, friends, or all by yourself, LEGOLAND is the place to go for a fun theme park experience.

Final thoughts

There are many more beautiful places and destinations in the New York City area that you can check out. Good planning and an organized tour are all you need to make your daily trips from NYC a truly enjoyable and successful experience.

Linda Bibb was born in New York and knows the area well. She is an award-winning writer who has been to nearly 60 countries. You can read more of her travel articles on her travel blog, As We Saw It

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