Day Trips From New York City
Manhattan is a destination on its own, while people may forget that there are places to see outside this central hub of New York. Here’s a selection of day trips from New York City, where you’ll find everything from surprisingly serene landscapes to hectic entertainment meccas.
Coney Island, New York City
- Travel time from Manhattan: 50 mins on the subway
You don’t even have to leave New York City’s boroughs to spend a day at this explosion of kitsch. Completed in 1923 and located in Brooklyn, Coney Island is famed for its amusement parks, beach front, as well as various attractions and events. There are a number of fairground rides that have been maintained in near original form since around the 1920s. Take a spin on The Cyclone, a wooden rollercoaster built in 1927, and that boasts to be one of the USA’s oldest that is still in operation. There is also the Wonder Wheel, a steel Ferris wheel that dates back to as early as 1918, and who’s illuminations make for a dazzling night-time site.
While Coney Island’s amusement parks are an impressive attraction, the beach front is a welcome area of calm. Spanning the entire length of the boardwalk and far beyond, the sandy beach is a great way to unwind from the speed and intensity of the city.
Other attractions include the MCU Park stadium, which is home to Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team and the New York Cosmos soccer club. There is also The New York Aquarium, with its 14-acre facility and 266 species. Opened in 1957, the aquarium is one of the oldest in the country.
Additionally, Coney Island is host to a number of events, with one of the most famous being The Coney Island Mermaid Parade, where participants wear marine inspired costumes, a tradition that began in 1983, celebrating the beginning of summer.
Montauk, New York
- Travel time from Manhattan: 2 hours 30 mins by car or 3 hours 15 mins by LIRR train
Part of East Hampton, the Montauk hamlet is great for surfing, taking in scenery, famous for fishing and also has 6 state parks. Priding itself as being a less pretentious destination than other areas in the Hamptons, Montauk has become a popular weekend party destination in recent years.
Main street is the centre of nightlife in the summer months, to the point that some locals are less than impressed by the level of revelry. However, if you enjoy busy bars in the evening, then it should be on your visit list. Quieter evenings can be enjoyed at venues around the lake, while situated by Fort Point Bay, is the Montauket Hotel Bar, which is renowned for its sunsets views.
Before you head to the bars in the evening, fit in some surfing on Ditch Plains Beach, or try paddleboarding along Lake Montauk. There’s also the Second House Museum, which back in the 1700s, was second house to be built in the town. The surrounding gardens are also a venue for a variety of events.
There are plenty of places to dine in Montauk, and as a hot spot for fishing, seafood features heavily on the menu. Local seafood is prepared at the casual South Edison, while more lofty venues include Muse at the End, and Coast Kitchen at Montauk Yacht Club.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
- Travel time from Manhattan: 2 hours by car or 2 hours 40 mins by ACES Train
Popularly known as the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas, Atlantic City has had its ups and downs over recent decades, while it’s still worth a visit. Like its West Coast counterpart, Atlantic City is a playground of gambling, food, amusements and shopping. However, unlike the inland dessert location of Vegas, the city is situated on a beach coastline, and is an attractive destination for sunseekers during the summer.
The most famous feature of Atlantic City’s sandy beach front is the boardwalk, and it stretches to a lengthy 5.5 miles. Dating back to 1870, the boardwalk also lays claim to being the first to be built in the USA. During your stroll, visit The Steel Pier, which is a 1000-foot-long amusement park located on the boardwalk. With entertainment for all ages, the pier has all the traditional games of a fairground as well as the fast rides that you’d also expect.
If you're looking for restaurants, clubs, bars, shops and spas, all without straying very far, then The Quarter at the Tropicana Resort has all of these to offer you. Part of the Havana themed resort, The Quarter is a non-gaming area, while there is a Casino nearby within the Tropicana.
While plans of a major expansion of Atlantic City weren’t realised, there are still plenty of casinos to choose from, with each having a notable theme. To take in just a few, head to the Marina part of the city for the Borgata Casino, which has a Tuscany theme; Resorts Casino looks back to the Roaring Twenties and is situated uptown, and then nearby, there’s the Rock n Roll themed Hard Rock Casino opening in Summer 2018.
There are also plenty of ways to spend your winnings, if you’re luck enough to come up trumps. The Tanger Outlets promises big name brands at lower prices, and has a lengthy list of stores including everything from J Crew and Brooks Brothers to Converse and Adidas.
Beacon, New York
- Travel time from Manhattan: 1 hour 30 mins by car or 1 hour 30 mins by MetroNorth train
In recent years, Beacon has transformed from a declining industrial community into an artistic, cultural centre, filled with art, restaurants, hotels and shops. There’s also the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, since the city is near the Hudson River and also has several splendid parks. The mix adds up to be everything you can ask for, from a day trip from New York City.
The aptly named Main Street should be the focus point for any visit to Beacon, as within walking distance, you can hop into trendy bars, dine at restaurants serving locally sourced produce, browse through the flea market, head to the theatre, as well as finding quaint shops, cafes and entertainment.
While Main Street can occupy your whole day, also head to Dia: Beacon, one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums. Located about a 20 min walk from Main Street, Dia: Beacon houses art from the 1960s to present, and the museum’s opening in 2003 is credited as a major stimulating force behind the regeneration of Beacon City.
Moving outside the city centre, and for those who enjoy the outdoors, Mount Beacon Park offers demanding hikes and spectacular views. The historic Bannerman Islands are also worth a visit. Only accessible by water, the Islands have regular walking tours, with the most impressive feature being the castle ruins.
Author: Adele Lindsay