The adrenaline of New York may be addictive, but after a while (for some people three months, others three hours), you’ll probably need a break. If you’d like to see another part of New York State to give the city a little context, consider one of these day trips, perfect for solo or group travel:
Take a Metro-North train from Grand Central up to Poughkeepsie ($34 off-peak round-trip, 1 hour 45 minutes) and walk from the train station to the Walkway Over the Hudson (walkway.org). This project, similar to Manhattan’s Highline, has turned a neglected railway into something fun and useful, a pedestrian and bike bridge with expansive views. After you reach the west side of the massive Hudson, where there’s a public restroom, you can walk or bike another 3.5 miles along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to Tony Williams Park. The Hudson Valley is a truly gorgeous part of the state, immortalized in the paintings of the 19th-century Hudson River School. You won’t be disappointed if you go when the fall foliage is out in October.
If Coney Island and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn don’t excite you (don’t feel bad, beach-wise they’re mediocre), get up early and head out to Montauk. This town at the far Eastern tip of Long Island was once a just fishing village, and though it now closer resembles the Hamptons, it has stunning Atlantic Ocean beaches that are worth visiting year-round (yes, they’re still beautiful when it’s cold!). The trip on the Long Island Railroad is about three hours and ten minutes ($39.50 off-peak round-trip, bring a cardigan for the A/C) and it’s totally doable in one day. This is especially if you can’t afford to spend the night in Montauk—expect Manhattan prices and two- or even three-night minimums.
Once you arrive in Montauk, take a cab to Ditch Plains beach (around $10) and settle in, or take a walk along the bluffs. Tip: the Montauk train station has no restrooms or ticketing facilities—there are restrooms on the train, and if you’re buying your return ticket on the way home, bring cash (tickets cost $6 more when you purchase them on-board the train).
The 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia up to Maine, is actually accessible from New York without a car. Take the Metro-North train from Grand Central up to the “Appalachian Trail” stop, get off at the back of the train, and start walking. This is a fantastic way to see a bit of rural upstate New York and get back to the city in time for dinner. There’s no real station at the Appalachian Trail stop, just a small platform with no restroom or ticketing facilities, but there’s a restroom on the train, and remember, tickets are more expensive when purchased on-board. Check MTA.info for Metro-North train schedules ($30.50 off-peak round-trip, Harlem Line, 1 hour 50 minutes, runs weekends and holidays only).
Do you like to escape the city at times? What else would you like to see outside of NYC?