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10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from New York City

Written by Alison Abbott

The Manhattan skyline is probably one of the most famous in the world. In a city filled with endless possibilities, surprises, and just about any activity you could possibly imagine, why would anyone want to leave? The answer lies in the many great escapes that are within easy reach of the Big Apple.

The sites of New York City draw tourists from all over the world. For both residents and vacationers, the rest of the state offers a plethora of additional activities with a wide variety of landscapes. For those looking for a change of pace from the "city that never sleeps," these weekend getaways are within easy reach and provide a distinct break from the hustle and bustle of the most populous city in the country. Amtrak as well as many major highways run through or around the city and make travel easily accessible to numerous fun and exciting spots. For ideas, see our list of top weekend getaways from New York City.

1. The Hamptons

Montauk lighthouse

Montauk lighthouse

The southern tip of Long Island has a lengthy history as a favorite vacation spot for those wanting to escape the Big Apple and get some quality beach time. The area offers countless activities in quaint villages, which make up what is known as The Hamptons. Each hamlet has its own unique personality including Montauk, Sag Harbor, Amagansett, and Sagaponack. From quiet retreats and artsy enclaves, to mini versions of a social scene of Manhattan on the Beach, the Hamptons offer something for everyone.

During the busy summer season be prepared for what can be crippling traffic that can turn the short distance into a three-hour drive. However, few will argue that it's not worth the effort. A sandy paradise is waiting to greet all who brave the transportation, and soon you'll feel like you are a thousand miles from the manic pace of New York City.

When you are here, be sure to stop by a local seafood shack like the Dock House in Sag Harbor, where you can catch sweeping views of the marina while eating some fresh, local catch, a specialty in the Hamptons. Miles of beaches invite visitors for long walks.

Less than 100 steps to the sandy shores of the Atlantic, The Ocean Resort Inn provides a welcome respite from the busy Hamptons. Appreciated amenities include bikes, beach towels, umbrellas, chairs, and passes. Take advantage of a chaise lounge by the pool for additional fun in the sun.

2. Hudson

Kaaterskill Falls near Hudson

Kaaterskill Falls near Hudson

Located on the east side of the Hudson River, Hudson, NY is about a 2.5-hour drive from the city. Visitors might be surprised to hear Hudson was a former whaling port with ties to Nantucket in the 1800s. The town is filled with 19th-century charm and gorgeous historic buildings.

Hudson is also known for its up-and-coming culinary scene, complete with notable New York chefs. Take some time to stroll the streets, which are peppered with antique stores, one-of-a-kind shops, and art galleries like Art House Hudson or the Carrie Haddad Gallery. Make sure to get in some hiking at one of the scenic trails nearby.

Just a short distance from the Amtrak station, The Wick, Hudson, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel is housed in a repurposed candle factory. Guests can rely on modern amenities while absorbing the unique character of this trendy boutique property.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Despite being one of the largest cities in this country, Philadelphia can feel like a small town in some of its older neighborhoods, like Old City or Northern Liberties. If you are a history buff, Philadelphia is a wonderful weekend getaway. Stop by the Reading Terminal Market, the oldest public market, and grab a bite to eat. Their Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels are legendary as is the ice-cream at Bassetts.

After you fuel up, visit Elfreth's Alley to see the oldest street in America or stop by and see a copy of the constitution, as well as more of our nation's history at the National Constitution Center. Art lovers should make sure to see the Magic Garden, a wonderful environment of mosaic creativity. The Philadelphia Zoo is also a must-see. No trip is complete to Philly without a bite of one of their world-famous cheesesteaks. Although there are hundreds to choose from, most tourists go for Geno's or Pat's located across the street from one another in South Philadelphia.

The easiest way to beat the traffic and get to Philadelphia is by Amtrak. They offer a high-speed Acela train, as well as the standard Northeast Corridor Line, and depending on which you take, you can make it from point to point in about an hour and a half.

Looking for a sense of place during your Philadelphia stay? The eco-friendly Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia has incorporated local décor and artwork into their centrally located property. This Art Deco gem is part of the Kimpton brand and has a wonderful on-site restaurant featuring the best of local ingredients on the menu. If the spirit moves you, take advantage of their loaner bikes to spin around this neighborhood, with a stop in one of the many green spaces for which the city is well known.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Philadelphia: Best Areas & Hotels

4. Harriman State Park, New York

Lake Sebago, Harriman State Park

Lake Sebago, Harriman State Park

For those who want to get out of the rat race of the city and appreciate the glory of mother nature, a trip to Harriman State Park is for you. Worthy of more than a day trip from New York City, the park has 200 miles of hiking trails, beaches, camping areas, lakes, and a seemingly endless array of wildlife, offering the perfect respite from busy city life. Head over to Lake Sebago, one of the largest lakes in the park, where you can enjoy swimming, boating, or camping. You can even hike the 18-mile portion of the famous Appalachian Trail that runs through Harriman.

Getting here is easy from the city; it's only a 35-mile drive. The Hampton Inn Harriman Woodbury Hotel is less than two miles from Harriman and seven miles from the park entrance. Guests can take advantage of the free shuttle to Woodbury Common outlet shopping. Free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, and complimentary breakfast are additional amenities, along with a fridge and microwave included in each kitchenette room.

5. The Catskills

Fall colors in the Catskills

Fall colors in the Catskills

A visit to the Catskills is a New Yorker's rite of passage. Located in the Appalachian Mountain range in southeastern New York, the Catskills are the perfect setting for a relaxing girlfriends' getaway, a romantic couples' weekend, or even a family trip. The best way to get here is to hop in the car for a 150-mile drive, which depending on the traffic and time of year can take you anywhere from two-and-a-half to four hours. The trip is richly rewarding, especially in fall, when the autumn leaves light up the mountain with their rich colors.

If you are looking for scenic views, head to Overlook Mountain in Woodstock or the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Kerhonkson. Here, you can hike or just relax and convene with nature. For those looking for a little more adventure, you can do the fastest and highest zipline tour at Hunter Mountain, or paddle out to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.

The Catskills are also filled with great places to eat as well. Depending on your mood, you can get everything from classic diner food like the Ambrosia Diner or enjoy fine dining with a French bistro twist at Bistro Brie and Bordeaux. There is a wide variety of properties available to fit all needs, from bed-and-breakfasts to high-end resorts. A property that combines the best of both worlds is the Villa Vosilla in Tannersville. Don't be surprised if you're reminded of the cult hit Dirty Dancing during your stay. The décor will take you back, and the activities offered in the area are staggering. Horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boats, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and a list of festivals to mention a few! This family-friendly destination celebrates four generations of ownership.

6. Beacon

View of the Hudson River from Breakneck Ridge

View of the Hudson River from Breakneck Ridge

Located on the banks of the Hudson River and close to New York City, Beacon makes a great getaway for those who don't want long lines of traffic or hours in the car. If you take the Metro North Line, you can get here in about an hour and a half.

Here, you will find your fill of Victorian-era architecture and small-town charm. Be sure to stop into one of the many cafes to grab a bite to eat and a coffee before heading down the main street and visiting the unique antique, collectible shops and art galleries.

If you just want to relax and enjoy the river views, take a stroll to the waterfront, where you can enjoy biking and walking paths and plenty of green. You can also drive to the top of Mount Beacon by taking the incline road. This hour ride will give you breathtaking views, especially in the fall. Overlooking Fishkill Creek and the Beacon Falls, the Roundhouse is a historic property reimagined into a modern hotel. Several buildings offer 41 guest rooms and an award-winning restaurant filled with tasty offerings.

7. Mohonk Mountain House-New Paltz, New York

Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House

The Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York is a destination in itself. Architecturally it looks like a Victorian castle sitting on the banks of the Mohonk Lake. The grounds and amenities make for a stay where you'll never have to leave the property. Boat rides on the lake, hiking, and the trendy "forest bathing" are all part of the experience. Doesn't everyone appreciate a walk in the woods to renew their mind? It's good enough for Henry David Thoreau, who originated the concept!

The fall is an especially beautiful time for a visit, and all visitors will find it hard to resist the many offerings from the award-winning spa menu. Several restaurants on the property offer extensive menus of delicious dishes featuring seasonal ingredients. Concerts, festivals, and cultural offerings keep the calendar busy all year long.

8. Cape May, New Jersey

Aerial view of a beach in Cape May

Aerial view of a beach in Cape May

Cape May is one of the most enchanting destinations along the Jersey Shore beaches. Dotted with Victorian houses and quaint bed and breakfasts, along with a pristine coastline, Cape May is not only a great spot for a couples' getaway, but for families as well. The beach is the main draw, as the area is known as the nation's oldest seaside resort, but if you want to beat the heat or enjoy a rainy day indoors, try one of Cape May's many attractions - like the Cape May County Park and Zoo, Fireman's Museum, or the Cape May Lighthouse, or relax in one of its many spas.

The luxury Virginia Hotel has a delightful front porch that will tempt you from the beach, which is only a short walk away. Alternatively, The Angel of the Sea is a Victorian delight complete with afternoon tea. Guests value the free amenities of bicycles, beach towels and umbrellas.

9. Hunter

Plattekill Falls in the Catskills

Plattekill Falls in the Catskills

This sleepy town actually consists of two villages - Tannersville and Hunter. The area makes a great getaway for those who love the outdoors and adventure as it's located in the Catskills. About a two-hour drive (without traffic), Hunter offers skiing, ziplining, hiking, and other outdoor activities. The fall and winter is the best time of year to visit here, as they have tons of activities and events. You can head out to enjoy the leaves and live music at Oktoberfest or go skiing at Hunter Mountain a popular ski resort that has been drawing families, who return year after year. The Kaatskill Mountain Club offers full kitchens in its rooms, which can be a great money saver for families. Steam and hot tub facilities are popular with skiers after a day on the slopes at Hunter Mountain.

10. Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow lighthouse

Sleepy Hollow lighthouse

This town received fame from its folklore tale of the headless horseman, but it stays a popular getaway from New York City because of its appeal to those interested in the supernatural and macabre. Washington Irving might have made it famous, but Tim Burton put it on the map for a whole new generation. Located in the town of Mount Pleasant, the village boasts plenty of hiking, art, and views into the past.

If you are lucky enough to get away in the fall, you can take part in spooky Oktoberfest or head out on the Haunted Hayride. All other times of the year, you can just enjoy all the rest of the ghostly things this unique village has to offer, like the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. In addition, Kykuit, the Rockefeller family's hilltop estate has beautiful gardens, outdoor sculpture, and a gallery. Getting to Sleepy Hollow is easy - you can either take the 90-minute drive from the city or jump on the light rail and arrive in about the same time. Located less than two miles away in Tarrytown, the Courtyard by Marriott Tarrytown Westchester County is a good bet for a mid-range stay. Free Wi-Fi and breakfast are enjoyed by guests, and families enjoy the indoor heated pool after a day of activities.

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