5 Easy and Affordable Getaways From New York City
Sometimes there is nothing better than packing your bags and escaping the everyday hustle that comes along with copious amounts of concrete. I'm looking at you, New York City. As much as one might love the Big Apple, everyone needs a break every now and then. You know, a break from the endless crowds. A break from the nonstop sidewalk jostling. And especially a break from feeling like a sardine being stuffed into a subway car. Yes, after a few too many underground shoves, it's only natural to crave a little breathing room.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement, you're in luck, because one of the best parts about the concrete jungle is how centrally located it is, making it convenient — and affordable — to break free for a day or two. Whether you're yearning for some fun in the sun, for deep breaths of crisp mountain air, or to simply stroll around charming seaside villages, the outskirts of New York City has you covered.
If you're in the mood for a quick getaway, look no further than Southampton. Whether you have a car or not, I suggest hopping on the LIRR train from Penn Station, and you'll arrive in about two hours. It won't take long to realize this pocket of Long Island oozes with delight.
And while the Hamptons does have the reputation of serving as a playground for the wealthy, I found plenty of lovely activities to enjoy, despite my extratight budget.
As soon as you step off the train, chances are your eyes will become glued on the charming, doll-like houses. In fact, there are so many, you might wonder if you've crossed the threshold into a fantasy land. I mean, just look at that lovely curbside appeal. Does that white picket fence scream enchantment or what?
Now, you can't visit Southampton without stopping by Tate's Bake Shop. Trust me on this one. This adorable little cottage whips up some of the sweetest cakes, cookies, and other homemade baked goods I've ever tasted.
Some people have even claimed these chocolate chip cookies to be the best ever. A bold statement, don't you think?
But after biting into one of these treats, I'd have to agree. They're thin, crispy, and packed with gooey chocolate chips, and they have enough butter to leave the perfect amount of oil residue on your fingers. Excuse me while I go wipe my mouth from all that drool . . .
The serenity of Southampton is incredible. All the narrow streets lined with shady trees make you want to spend an entire afternoon cycling your way around the neighborhood. That's what I did, and I highly recommend it. Oh, and if you pedal slowly enough, you can even get a few glimpses of the grand mansions hiding behind the manicured hedges.
Before leaving, there is one thing you must do: hit the beach. With miles upon miles of unspoiled shoreline, your mind will instantly press the reset button. Somehow, the beaches here are pretty secluded, providing the sense that you have the entire Atlantic all to yourself.
My advice? Take advantage of the seclusion. Throw off your shoes, curl your toes in the sand, and take in as much of the salty, seaside air as your lungs can possibly hold.
At the tip of the South Fork peninsula of Long Island, you'll find another popular weekend getaway. Just as with Southampton, Montauk is super easy to access. Hop on the LIRR train from midtown Manhattan, and you'll arrive at this beachside paradise in about three hours. Of course, you can also drive.
If you're coming by train, a great way to discover this charming stretch of Long Island is by renting bikes from Montauk Bike Shop. With friendly service and tons of two-wheelers, you'll be hitting the pavement in no time.
For a unique place to grab a bite to eat, head over to Ruschmeyer's. This eatery offers up a laid-back atmosphere, eclectic decor, and a scrumptious menu, making it a tasty spot for breakfast or lunch.
Now, the beaches in Montauk aren't nearly as deserted as those in Southampton, but these shorelines still make for a memorable afternoon.
Yet if you're looking to soak up the rays without the beach lounging, check out the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Climb the 137 iron steps to the top for incredible, sweeping views. The park where the lighthouse is located also offers trails that will lead you along the ocean's coast, providing the perfect opportunity to get to know the vast wildlife up close.
And if all that exploring (or lounging — no judgment!) works up an appetite, chow down at the various food trucks peppered along the beaches' entryways.
North Fork of Long Island, NY
On the very edge of the northern part of Long Island is where you'll find the North Fork, another wonderful getaway by the water. This 30-mile peninsula overflows with seaside charm, not to mention things to do. But because there is no public transportation to this area, you will need to rent a car if you don't have your own.
The North Fork is home to a lively farming community, so expect to find lots of produce stands along the roads. From plump plums and sweet berries to juicy peaches and freshly picked strawberries, you'll be in fruit heaven. I suggest coming here with an empty stomach. There are numerous locally owned mom-and-pop restaurants cranking out delicious dishes, making this area a food-lover's dream.
Side note: There is even a food truck that serves a "grown-up" grilled cheese. As you can imagine, it is a melty indulgence, to say the least.
There are also tons of "U-Pick" opportunities woven throughout this part of Long Island. Now, I don't know about you, but when I see a "U-Pick" sign, I just have to pull over the car. I stopped at Bhavana Blueberries to pick some organic blueberries, and I can't even begin to explain how therapeutic this experience was. Just me, my tin bucket, and rows upon rows of blueberries. It was pretty much like a mini (delicious) therapy session with nature.
Speaking of nature, don't head back to Manhattan before making a detour to the lavender fields at Lavender by the Bay. As soon as you step out of your car, you can instantly smell the calming aroma. And if you become so captivated that you want some of this sweet scent to take home, well, you can do that, too! This farm sells a slew of lavender products, all locally sourced from the fields.
Once you've managed to walk away from the lavender hypnosis, get ready for another sensation. This time, a visual one. See, the North Fork is also known for its mazes of towering sunflowers.
Oh, and East Coasters, listen up. Don't think you have to fly across the country to Napa Valley for wine country. What many people don't realize is that North Fork is practically exploding with wine. From family-owned single vineyards to corporate estates, this area is home to over 50 wineries. Whether you're a lover of Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc — well, you get the idea — you'll find it here.
If you're like me, seeing this many vines of plump, juicy grapes will make you immediately think of that grape-stomping episode of I Love Lucy.
Hudson Valley, NY
If fresh mountain air is more of your jam than seaside bliss, head upstate for some killer hiking. Outdoor enthusiasts love this part of New York because there are so many diverse trails. One I highly recommend taking the time to climb is the Breakneck Ridge Loop, located near the small town of Beacon. Don't let the name scare you; this 5.9-mile hike isn't scary. However, it is quite steep, so make sure you're prepared.
To get here, simply take the Metro-North from Grand Central Station. The train will stop right in front of the trailhead, and from there you can start your climb.
Be warned: the first leg of the hike will require some rock scrambling. Remember when I said the trail was steep? Well, this is the most strenuous part of the climb.
In case a bit of rock scrambling isn't your cup of tea, that's OK. There is an option for an easier ascent, too!
Once your eyes make contact with the flags up top, you will find some of the best views in all of the Hudson Valley. This is also a great spot for a picnic, as you can't really ask for a more picturesque backdrop.
With multiple cliff overlooks and breathtaking vistas, it's no surprise this trail is so popular. If you're seeking outdoor adventure, this hike is certainly the way to go.
Once you've finished the climb and made your descent, chances are you'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere while waiting for the next train. But when you think about it, isn't that the point of your city escape?
While Long Island and upstate New York offer tons of beautiful places to escape, if you're looking for an out-of-state getaway, pack your bags and head north to Provincetown. Sandwiched between Cape Cod Bay and the glistening seashore, this tiny, bohemian town is about a five-hour drive from New York City and will have your mind at rest in no time.
Located at the northern tip of Cape Cod, "P-town" radiates the kind of laid-back, small-town vibes that so many of us yearn for in a vacation spot. Steeped in history, culture, and beauty, Provincetown is also home to unique shops and galleries, cozy cafes, and a vibrant art community.
You'll uncover quite a few hidden gems just by wandering the streets. However, one of my favorite go-to spots is POP+Dutch, a quirky corner store owned and operated by two Brooklyn expats. What makes this place so special is not that it's a pint-sized general store but rather how it doubles as a gourmet sandwich shop.
If your taste buds are in the mood for tasty sandwiches, freshly made salads, and sweet treats, come here. The owners strive to make everything they can in house, so it's the perfect spot to feed your face. You can even pick up a scrumptious "lunch box" to go and enjoy on the beach.
For a unique outdoor experience, consider hiking the Provincetown Causeway, a mile-long stone jetty used to protect the salt marshes from ocean currents. Made of large granite rocks stretching out into the edge of the harbor, this hike is one of the best ways to spend some time exploring the furthest points of Cape Cod. No matter the time of day, you will be greeted with an abundance of wildlife and natural beauty. Walk slowly, breathe in deeply, and take as long as you need to soak up the peace and quiet.