How do you find space to breathe between NYC’s notoriously small-spaced living and a demanding professional life? Balance the stress of being in the city that never sleeps with a slower-paced weekend getaway from NYC. Whether that means a slower-moving neighboring city or spending time seaside – whatever helps you slow down. Here, we’ve selected the best weekend getaways from NYC for you to switch off and reset.
The smaller city getaway
With a small local population of 300,000 people, Pittsburgh is an ideal destination if you’re looking to still be in the thick of things on a smaller scale. Known as the Steel City for having once been the center of the American steel industry, Pittsburgh is enjoying a cultural renaissance – it’s a city to rediscover. The steel industry may be long gone, however, the city is landmarked by majestic steel bridges, like the Andy Warhol and the Rachel Carson. Local cultural and music scenes thrive in the city’s well-known spots like the August Wilson Center and the Carnegie Music Hall. Alongside cultural hidden gems like House Poem and the Rex Theatre. Plus one-of-a-kind places in the hip Lawrenceville neighborhood, known as “The Brooklyn of Pittsburgh”.
The beach getaway
The calm waters of Shelter Island are 90 miles east of Manhattan. The quieter alternative to the busy Hamptons scene, it’s known for its beaches and boats. A boater’s paradise, you can try everything from kayaking to sailing. You can even tour the island by boat to take in the island’s 8,000 acres of natural beauty and quieter harbor areas with must-see sunset views. The pristine beaches along the 20 miles of coastline on Shelter Island offer something for everyone. From activity beaches like Shell Beach to serviced beaches like Crescent Beach. Visiting a serviced beach offers lifeguards and restrooms, plus added amenities like tennis courts. With everything you need already covered, you can just turn up with your swimsuit and sunbathe. Similarly, serviced apartments, like Blueground’s furnished and serviced rentals, provide everything you need to just show up and start living. Where you can move in with just a suitcase, while furniture, decorations, and utilities are taken care of. Back in New York, you’ll find over 350 furnished apartments in the best neighborhoods of the city.
The outdoor activity getaway
The chilled-out small bay of Montauk offers beautiful white-sand beaches and some of the best surfing in the region – only 2 hours and 30 minutes from New York City by car. A Long Island surfer’s mecca, onshore there are plenty of cute outdoor spots, outdoor eateries, and rotating food trucks. Attracting a millennial crowd from sun-seekers to swimmers, it’s also a great place to hike. From the leisurely walking trail to the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse to more rural hikes to Montauk Point State Park and more.
The low-key getaway
Just a two-hour scenic drive north of New York City is the unhurried Catskills Mountains with creeks, rivers, and mountain trails. The small town of Catskill is located between the Catskills Mountains and the Hudson River. With a pastoral beauty, the charming town is filled with farm-to-table restaurants, cozy inns, and craft breweries. For a wholesome experience visit one of the region’s apple orchids for apple picking and fresh ciders. It’s also a quaint spot for shopping, from artisan-driven to vintage stores. For a truly lowkey stay, retreat into the mountains and opt to stay secluded in a luxury woodland cabin.
The self-care getaway
Just a few hours south of NYC is Saratoga Springs, a destination synonymous with spa experiences, where you actually stay in the spa. The Spas and wellness centers in Saratoga Springs focus on natural wellness, with carbonated mineral springs and baths – mineral springs have naturally occurring minerals renowned for their healing powers. A classic town with old-fashioned charm, it’s also home to a flourishing performing arts scene. So if you can drag yourself away from the aesthetic activities, check out the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and National Museum of Dance. They are both located nearby the picturesque Saratoga Spa State Park.
Day trips from NYC
If you only have a day to spare, you can still get away from NYC. Here’s where:
This small river town can be reached in 1 hour and 30 minutes from NYC on the MetroNorth. For a relaxing day trip, we recommend visiting the Stonecrop Garden in the Hudson Highlands. Highlights in the gardens include the English-style flower garden and the glass-enclosed conservatory floating pondside. It’s a place you can scavenger hunt for plants – on entry visitors are provided with a numbered plant guide from 1 to 98. Other must-sees include the Dia: Beacon modern art museum, located only minutes from the local train station. Plus a pit stop to browse the myriad of antique shops and coffee houses on Main Street.
Named for its striking resemblance to the English Cornwall, the stateside version is only a 1-hour drive from NYC. It’s a great day trip destination for exploring art outdoors. The Storm King Arts Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum with large-scale sculptures and site-specific outdoor commissions. A fun way to experience the art and landscape is by bike. The center rents bikes per hour or day. Before you drive back to the city, make sure to make time to pick up some home-grown produce. Local stores like Jones Farm sell homemade baked goods and apple cider.
Sun-seekers take note. The picturesque beaches of Fire Island are only 1 hour and 30 minutes away from NYC by LIRR and ferry. There are no cars on the island, just quaint wooden walkways. Plus, there are no subway rats here – you’re more likely to spot white-tailed deer. By night, the island is known for its colorful nightlife, including drag performances and comedy shows.
How to get the most out of your short weekend trip
Fit in two full days. When you’re only visiting for the weekend, it can feel like the trip is over before it’s begun. In order to avoid feeling panicked and rushed, it’s crucial to arrive on a Friday evening, as early as possible.
Embrace Sunday. Train your brain into embracing Sunday as the second day of your visit rather than its swan song.
Travel by local transit. It’s easy to order an Uber and get yourself delivered to one destination after another. These costs can add up. Familiarize yourself with your destination’s layout and public transportation options before arriving so you can navigate like a local.
Take the mystery out of opening hours. It’s all well and good to plan a jam-packed weekend visiting a dozen restaurants, museums stores, and attractions. But that’s only possible if those places are actually open.
Preload maps for offline use. You’ve likely grown accustomed to using GPS-enabled map apps on your smartphone. With the Google My Maps application, you can create your own custom maps with color and icon-coded waypoints. Plus add directions between destinations, as needed.