New York Day Trips

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Poughkeepsie

80.7 miles. About 1 hour and 41 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Metro North, RT from Grand Central $29-39 (http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/fares.htm)
Bus: Short Line, RT from Port Authority Bus Terminal $35-43.90 (www.coachusa.com/shortline/)

Nestled just around 100 miles from Manhattan, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is as perfect a weekend getaway as there is.

It's a decent sized town that offers a lot to do, but still retains a cozy small town atmosphere in many places. The highlights are rowing on the Hudson River with the Hudson River Rowing Association and the vintage Hyde Park Drive-in Theater.

We saw a great show at the historic Chance Theater and had some drinks at Maloney's Pub. Our rooms at the Copper Penny Inn and Buttermilk Falls Inn (we stayed there two different times) were fantastic. Really great bed and breakfasts.

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West Nyack

28.3 miles. About 35 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: NJ Transit, RT from Penn Station to Nanuet $13-17
Metro North, RT from Grand Central to Pleasantville $16.50-22.50 (http://www.njtransit.com/)
Bus: Rockland Coaches, RT from Port Authority $17.70

Nyack is close enough to the city that you can literally jet out there for a day and be back downtown to go out in the city that night if you want.

We've made this trip a half dozen times over the years, and our favorite spot is the Prospero Winery. We also love the Jacob Burns Film Center.

The River View Bed and Breakfast is a great cozy place to get a room. We grabbed some beers and a great meal at The West Gate Lounge, and thought that Reality Bites Cafe was one of the best coffee shops we've ever been to. Also had some great pastries at the Patisserie Didier Dumas.

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Niagara Falls

414 Miles. About 7 hours and 12 minutes (from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $56.00 - $80.00 (www.amtrak.com)
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Port Authority $71.00 (www.greyhound.com)

Niagara Falls is perhaps one of the most amazing visual landmarks in the entire United States, and it's surely one of the best draws of the Eastern Seaboard.

If you're going to make one day trip out of New York City, it should be Niagara. Of course, the major draw is the actual waterfalls, which are spectacular. They are almost impossible to describe with words. The highlight of our recent stay was the room we had at the Hilton Fallsview, in which we had a room with a great view of the Falls.

Our stroll across the Rainbow Bridge over the river was also breathtaking. The Western Door and Cave of the Winds are a must-see and the Maid of the Mist boat tour is perhaps the best way to experience the Falls. In past visits I've stopped by the Ripley's Believe It or Not here, and had a room at the Park Place Bed and Breakfast.

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White Plains

29.7 miles. About 33 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Metro North, RT from Grand Central $14.50-19.50
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Port Authority $10.00

White Plains, NY, is close enough to the city that you could get away for the afternoon to maybe just visit a museum (which the town has lots of) and grab a quick bite to eat.

For a place its size, White Plains has some great food. Some of my faves are Tango Grill, The Iron Tomato and the Korova Milk Bar. You also must check out the Neuberger Museum of Art, which was a great museum, and the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens. We had a great room at Soundview Manor.

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Ithaca

224 miles. About 3 hours and 51 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: Greyhound, RT from Port Authority$50.50 - 65.00

Ithaca is a bit of a drive from the city (roughly 225 miles) especially when you're battling weekend traffic. But it's certainly worth it if you can make the trip.

There's lots and lots to do, and my favorite was our stop at the Robert H. Treman State Park, which is one of the best parks in the US. We also had a great time at the Herbert F. Johnson Art Museum and we had a great room at the Inn on Columbia. We had some wonderful meals as well, my favorite being Just a Taste – a cozy tapas joint. Aladdin's – a middle eastern restaurant – was nice as well. We had a spectacular night at the Kitchen Theater (not a restaurant), which has some stellar plays.

You absolutely have to stop by the Pixel Lounge here, if you're into dingy dive bars with lots of character.

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East Hampton

104 miles. About 3 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Long Island Rail Road, RT from Penn Station $33.50 - 46.00 (http://mta.info/lirr/pubs/TicketInfo.htm)
Bus: Hampton Jitney, RT from various locations $53.00 (http://www.hamptonjitney.com)

The Hamptons conjure up visions of the uber-wealthy; the most powerful American families wasting their summers away in massive, multi-million dollar beach houses and cruising around town in their Mercedes. But it is possible to have fun up here if you're just a regular thrifty traveler.

Getting here is a fairly easy 2.5-3 hour drive. And it's to your benefit to go during the off-season; early spring, late fall. We did some great perusing at Urban Archeology, which is a pretty expensive housewares store. Lots of cool stuff there. We spent a day at the beautiful Georgica Beach. It's not nearly as busy as the main Hamptons Beach.

We found a room at the vintage Hampton Maid Hotel. We had a great, affordable meal at the Edgewater Restaurant, and closed the night out at Gilligan's Saloon. We also had a fun, affordable, afternoon at the Putt & Putt Family Center.

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Ossining

33.6 miles. About 40 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $74.00-142.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $58.00

The small town of Ossining, NY, sits right on the banks of the Hudson River and is within an hour train ride from the city. (Watchers of AMC's Mad Men will know it's also the home of Don and Betty Draper.) The coolest place we checked out there, and perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in the area, is the John D. Rockefeller Estate. One of the coolest homes I've ever seen. We also spent a great afternoon at Croton Point Park.

We had a wonderful stay at the Alexander Hamilton House, a really cozy bed and breakfast. There's quite a few great restaurants at all kinds of different price ranges. On the cheap end, there's the Ossining Pizzeria & Restaurant. In the middle, there's Restaurant X, a pseudo fancy joint that had some great affordable dishes. For the really adventurous, there's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which may be one of the best restaurants in the state outside of NYC. The Cidade Cafe is a cozy place to spend a couple hours if you've got some spare time in the afternoon. And Lucy's Lounge is probably the best bar in Westchester County.

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Albany

153 miles. About 2 hours and 31 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $74.00-142.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $58.00

Albany, NY, is the capital of the state, and with a population of just under 100,000, it's one of the larger cities in the state outside of New York City.

There are lots of government and history related landmarks here, such as the State House hotel, a throwback of a building if there ever was one. There's also the posh Marche at 74 State. Both are great hotels. The New York State Museum is one of the best museums in New York outside of Manhattan, and the Egg is one of the most unique performance spaces in the entire country.

You must also visit Washington Park, a public park that is one of Albany's truest gems. For food, we loved Cheesecake Machismo and Cafe Capriccio.

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Syracuse

249 miles. About 3 hours and 55 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $110.00-156.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $72.00

Syracuse, NY, has a reputation as a college town, since it's home to Syracuse University, one of the largest universities in the state of New York. But at over 150,000 residents, it's got much, much more going for it than just the university.

Located roughly 250 miles northwest of Manhattan, the city boasts many unique dining and drinking establishments that most major university towns have, such as Funk n' Waffles, a music venue that also serves brunch items. Kitty Hoynes is a great, authentic Irish pub, and Shifty's is the perfect place to catch a good band and enjoy some bar food.

The Landmark Theater is one of the city's best preserved architectural landmarks (it still shows movies), and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is one of the best zoos in the state. We had wonderful stays at the large Renaissance Syracuse Hotel, and the much cozier Ophelia's Garden Inn.

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Yonkers

14.4 miles. About 18 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Metro North, RT from Grand Central $13.00-17.00

Yonkers, NY, may not be a town people think of when they think of getting away from New York City. The working class town right on the Hudson River, just beyond the Bronx, is the largest city in Westchester County and, surprisingly, has quite a few unique attractions. And most of them are just about 30 miles from Manhattan. Definitely an easy place for a day outside of the city.

We got a cheap room at the Ramada Yonkers, and had a great Middle Eastern dinner at Ya Hala restaurant. We had a tasty dinner afterward at X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, one of the newest restaurants in town. I'd say the best hidden gem we came across was the Lenoir Preserve, a little-known forest preserve right off the Hudson River.

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Buffalo

399 miles. About 6 hours and 14 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $112.00 - $160.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $142.00

Buffalo, NY, is the second most populous city in New York at just under 300,000 residents. At around 400 miles from New York City, it's a bit of a trek on the weekends. But it's a great place to spend a nice three-day weekend. Just make sure it's not in the dead of winter – the place has a reputation for heavy snowfall.

The city has lots of interesting landmarks, restaurants, and museums. My personal favorite is the Frank Lloyd Wright Rowing Boathouse, which was recently opened on the Niagara River.

I also loved the Darwin Martin House complex, another Frank Lloyd Wright creation. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has a great collection featuring Warhol, Van Gogh, and de Kooning. We did some fantastic hiking at Delaware Park. We dined at Left Bank and Shango Bistro and Wine Bar, which was a nice up-scale joint. And there were two great bed and breakfasts we tried out: Beau Fleuve and Richmond Place. We highly recommend both.

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Rochester

336 miles. About 5 hours and 15 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $110.00-156.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $128.00

While the city of Rochester, NY, itself is just around 250,000, it boasts the second largest metropolitan area outside of New York City. It's surrounded by neighboring communities, making it feel much larger than it is. It’s a destination with lots to do roughly 350 miles from Manhattan.

For starters, the bed and breakfast I got a room at, Reen's, was perhaps one of the best B&B experiences I've ever had. The owners are great people and very, very accommodating. And I had a great afternoon at the George Eastman House museum. Eastman was the founder of Kodak. The house has all kinds of film and picture reels. I caught an indie flick at The Little Theater, a vintage movie theater, and spent some time outdoors at Highland Park and Seneca Park Zoo. If you like unhealthy food every now and again, you must try the Garbage Plate at Nick Tahou Hots. It's a heap of grease, basically. I ended my last night there with a quiet cocktail at the bohemian Lux Lounge.

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North Bronx

12.3 miles. About 18 minutes
(from Times Square)

Sometimes when you live in Manhattan, you somehow forget that you're surrounded by boroughs loaded with interesting things to. We almost never get out to the Bronx, but we did a couple weeks ago and really had a great time. We stayed at a great bed and breakfast, the Le Refuge Inn. We had a wonderful meal at the Bayou, a New Orleans-themed joint. We'd been told by some friends to check out the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, which was one of the more beautiful homes I've ever seen.

We also checked out a concert at the Watercolor Cafe, which is home to a really interesting indie folk music scene. We ended our Saturday night there having quiet drinks at the Rambling House, a very authentic Irish pub.

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Smithtown

47.7 miles. About 53 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: LIRR, RT from Penn Station $21.50-30.00

Most people forget that there's a lot more to Long Island that just the Hamptons. If you stay east of the uber trendy vacation spot – which is roughly 50 miles from Manhattan – you can find some truly unique things to do that are far more affordable than anything in the Hamptons. The highlight of our trip was in Greenvale at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, where we caught a great play. We took a boat trip at the Riverhead Foundation on the coast and saw all kinds of seals and marine life playing along the shore.

We found a great room at The Golden Pineapple Bed and Breakfast, and spent a delightful afternoon at Blydenburgh Park with our dog. And being huge American Literature fans, we had to stop by the Walt Whitman Birthplace. For food and drink, we hit up Mama Lombardi's, a cozy family-style place, and the Holbrook Diner, a vintage local staple.

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Atlantic City

129 miles. About 3 hours
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $58.00-68.00
Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $35.00

Atlantic City: the Las Vegas of the East Coast. This legendary gambling town has been through a lot of changes over the last half century, but still manages to be one of the top escapes from New York for those who like hedging bets and walking on vintage boardwalks. At three hours from the city, it's a fairly easy getaway. The casino highlights, in my opinion, are Trump Plaza and Caesar's. I've had the most luck winning there and always enjoyed myself at both. They're also great places to get a room. House of Blues is one of the top places in town to catch some entertainment as well.

Tons of great touring acts play there every week. When in A.C., I also enjoy doing non-casino related things such checking out Steel Pier Amusements along the boardwalk, going on a cruise with Atlantic City Cruises Inc., and visiting the Absecon Lighthouse, one of my favorite landmarks on the Eastern Seaboard. The Atlantic City Aquarium is also a great visit. And for drinking, the Bikini Beach Bar is the hottest place in town.

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Cape May

160 miles. About 2 hours and 44 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: NJ Transit, OW from Port Authority $33.25

When people thing of New Jersey, they conjure up a lot of images, many of them negative; mostly a dull industrial landscape. But there's a reason they call it the Garden State.

Much of New Jersey, once you go south and east, is quite beautiful and surprisingly rugged. Perhaps my favorite thing we did while there was check out the Whale Watching Center, where we spotted tons of dolphins. And we also had a blast parasailing with East Coast Parasail. It was the first time I'd ever parasailed and it was a great, comfortable experience. We spent a delightful afternoon at the Turdo Vineyards & Winery. We also caught a great sunset at the Sunset Beach.

Breakfast at McGlades on the Pier is a local favorite and a must-do for any visitor. And The Mad Batter had some of the best seafood I've ever eaten. Staying at the Angel of the Sea, a bed and breakfast, makes you feel like you're in a cool Hollywood film. We really loved our stay there.

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Newark

13.5 miles. About 19 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: NJ Path, RT from World Trade Center $3.50
Bus: NJ Transit, OW from Port Authority $4.00

Newark is the biggest city in the state of New Jersey and is home to many, many unique activities, a host of which are quite sophisticated even for people living in Manhattan. For starters, there's the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Newark Museum, two destinations that rival anything in New York City.

Then there's Paradox Comics and Van Gogh’s Ear Café, two of the more eclectic places I've been to outside of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Hell's Kitchen Lounge was one of the most stylish bars I've ever been to; a very unique place. And I've had great stays at both New York Bed and Breakfast and the Robert Treat Hotel.

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Hoboken

4.5 miles. About 12 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: NJ Path, RT from World Trade Center $3.50
Bus: NJ Transit, OW from Port Authority $2.55

Hoboken, NJ. The name just sounds tough. And though this hardscrabble Jersey city has seen its tough times, the working class community – which was home to the first ever baseball game and birthplace of Frank Sinatra – has grown into a nice little day getaway from the city that can be as short as a 20 minute drive away.

Our first stop was Frank Sinatra Park, a quiet little park in town devoted to the city's most popular former resident. The park doesn't really have much Sinatra memorabilia, so we went to the From Here to Eternity: The Museum for that. The Hoboken Historical Museum had some really interesting stuff about the history of the working-class town. We grabbed a bite at Piccolos Clam Bar and caught some beers at Northern Soul, a decent little dive bar/music venue, before calling it at night at the W Hoboken, which is quite possibly the nicest structure in all of Hoboken.

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Poconos

13.5 miles. About 17 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: Martz Trailways, RT from Port Authority $50.00-70.00 (http://www.martztrailways.com)

The area around Poconos, in the heart of the Poconos Mountains, roughly 120 miles away from Manhattan, is some of the most unexpectedly beautiful terrain you'll come across in the United States. We had no idea what we were getting into when we made our way there for a weekend a while back. It was simply breathtaking. For starters, we did some awesome whitewater rafting at the Adventure Center at Whitewater Challengers.

We also hit up Big Pocono State Park, which is a must-see. The park has some of the best trails I've ever hiked. Bushkill Falls – the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania – are every bit as breathtaking as Niagara. We headed indoors and found a unique art/gift shop in The Artisan Exchange. We had great old fashioned dinners at Betty's Diner and Apple Valley Restaurant. I've stayed at two different places while here: Alvin's Log Cabins and Babbling Brook Cottages. Both were great in a roughing-it-in-the-outdoors kind of way.

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Allentown

93.4 miles. About 1 hour and 33 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: Trans-Bridge Lines, RT from Port Authority $40.00 (http://www.transbridgelines.com)

Every time I hear about the town of Allentown, I can't help but think of the Billy Joel ode to the town, which chronicled its tough times during the 60s and 70s when the steel mills starting closing, jobs were hard to come by, and many families were forced to leave the town. Well, the mills continue to close in this town of over 100,000 – which is roughly 100 miles from New York City. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is a cheaper version of Six Flags, that's also less busy. We had a great summer day there a while back. I also had to get nostalgic and kick it old school at the Skateaway Roller Rink.

Back in the day when I was growing up here, my mom and I used to catch plays at the Civic Theatre. When I'm tired of drinking and just want to do something creative, I'll spend an afternoon at Paint Some Pottery. Aci Halal has been one of my favorite restaurants in town for awhile. It's a tough place to find, but you'll love it. Allentown Brew Works is perhaps the best place in town to grab a beer. And we had a great room at Glasbern.

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Ocean City

238 miles. About 4 hours and 28 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: Greyhound, RT from Penn Station $110.00-120.00

The tiny sliver of land right on the Atlantic Ocean that makes up Ocean City, Maryland only has about 7,000 residents. But, during the summertime it feels like five times that. The place – which is roughly 230 miles from New York City – is a great ocean getaway that’s more affordable than many of its coastal counterparts. The flat land and scenic views make for some great bike ride sightseeing, so we rented some bicycles from Bill's Bikes and had a blast for a couple hours.

We also rented some jet skis at Action Watersports. The water here is great for that kind of stuff. Fish Tales is a fun family restaurant where everybody can let their hair down a bit. Trimper's Rides is a great old fashioned amusement park that has some breathtaking views of the area. K-Coast Surf Shop is a great one-stop shop for all your beach supplies – you usually realize you need much more than you planned for when you actually get to the beach. Thrashers French Fries is a boardwalk staple, serving up some really original fries. We stayed at Carousel Hotel, which had a skating rink inside. The rooms weren't the cleanest, but Ocean City isn't really known for its posh hotels. It's probably one of the cleanest places in town.

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Newport

166 miles. About 2 hours and 52 minutes
(from Times Square)

Bus: Peter Pan Bus Line, RT from Port Authority $100.00-156.00 (www.peterpanbus.com)

Newport, Rhode Island, which is roughly 179 miles northeast of New York City, is a lovely historical town that was founded in 1639 and is rich in history. It was also known for being the city of the "Summer White Houses" during Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy administrations.

The Cliff Walk was a great outdoors-y start to our trip; then we checked out The Breakers, one of the neatest mansions I've ever seen. Before dinner on our first night we did one of the Rum Runner II Excursion Tours, which took us on a booze-filled boat tour of the Newport Harbor. The Newport Art Museum houses art that's as fantastic as the vintage building that houses it. The Mooring Restaurant had some great crab cakes (a must in any New England town) and Pour Judgement Bar and Grill was a great laid-back place to grab some cheap (but good) bar food and toss back a couple of beers. We found a super posh room at the Vanderbilt Hall, and another fantastic five-star level room at the renowned Castle Hill Inn & Resort.

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Hershey

165 miles. About 2 hours and 46 minutes
(from Times Square)

Train: Amtrak, RT from Penn Station $94.00
Bus: Beiber Trailways, RT from Port Authority $68.00 (www.biebertourways.com)

Often dubbed "Chocolatetown, USA," and "The Sweetest Place on Earth," Hershey, PA, which is roughly 160 miles from New York City, is the home of The Hershey Company which makes the well-known Hershey bar and Hershey's Kisses. The H. B. Reese Candy Company (now a part of Hershey as well), manufacturer of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, also began its life here. So it's sort of like Mecca for chocolate lovers. For starters, there's Hersheypark, an amusement park dedicated to chocolate.

Then there's Hershey's Chocolate World, which is basically a free tour of a chocolate factory. There's also The Hershey Story, an educational museum displaying the history of chocolate. The Chocolate Avenue Grill does great desserts, as well as some solid American dishes. Harvest was a cozy cafe we hit to get a break from all the chocolate-loving. If you're in town during December and January, Hershey Sweet Lights is a beautiful light display. We got a wonderful bed and breakfast room at The Inn at Westwynd Farm.

Have a nice trip!