10 Best Day Trips from NYC

Linda Bibb was born in New York and knows the area well. She is an award-winning writer who has been to nearly 60 countries.
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Why take a day trip from New York City

Taking a day trip from NYC is one of the most overlooked activities when visiting the city. The Big Apple is packed with things to do, but day trips are an incredible way to see other states and cities on the same trip. Sure, if you’re only in town for a short time, you’ll want to take in all the best views and museums the city has to offer, but getting outside NYC is a great idea for longer stays.

There are plenty of day trips from New York City to suit all kinds of travelers, from nature lovers to thrill seekers. The rolling hills of Amish Country, the United States’ capital, and theme parks that will delight kids and parents alike are all within reach of New York. 

Sounds like too much planning? You don’t have a car? The best thing about choosing a day trip is all the logistics and transport are taken care of — just book your spot and show up at the meeting point.

Wondering where to go? Let this guide to the best NYC day trips inspire you.

Table of Contents

Historic cities to see on a day trip from New York City

Boston, Massachusetts

Paul Revere statue - Boston

Price: From $130
Time required: 15 hours
Best time to visit: All year round
Why you should take a day trip: History, seafood, art, and baseball are all highlights of a day trip to Boston

Boston is one of America’s oldest cities and super easy to walk around and explore. One of the best New England winter getaways, it’s truly a year-round destination — the perfect day trip whenever you visit New York.

There are so many things to do in Boston, and there’s an activity for every traveler. Catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, eat fresh seafood at Boston’s best restaurants and buzzing markets, follow the Freedom Trail to learn the city’s history, and relax on one of the beautiful public greens.

If you want to see Boston in one day, it’s best to book a guided tour from NYC to Boston. That way, you can relax and let someone else manage the itinerary, parking, and tiring 4-hour drive each way. You’ll see Boston’s highlights, from Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail and beyond, while learning all about the city. Plus, you’ll enjoy lunch at Quincy Market and have time to pick up some Boston souvenirs.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Price: From $139
Time required: 13 hours
Best time to visit: Spring and fall
Why you should take a day trip: Climb the “Rocky” steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art, walk along America’s oldest street, and visit the country’s largest Amish community

Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love, was the United States’ first capital city. Filled with history, it is close enough to New York City to visit on a day trip and be back in time for dinner.

Among the many historic things to see are Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created. You can visit Congress Hall and Benjamin Franklin’s tomb in Christ Church cemetery, see the house of Betsy Ross, who designed the first US flag, and wander along Elfreth’s Alley — the oldest continuously inhabited street in the US.

Other interesting sights are Parque del Amor in the city center and the State Penitentiary where Al Capone was once held. If you have the energy, stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and run up the stairs where the famous scene in “Rocky” was filmed.

This guided day trip from New York will ensure you see all the important parts and return to NYC knowing all there is to know about Philadelphia. Want to DIY your day trip? Buy a round-trip train ticket from Penn Station (around 1.5 hours each way) and take a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour when you arrive. 

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Washington, DC

United States Capitol

Price: From $109
Time required: 14 hours
Best time to visit: All year round
Why you should take a day trip: To see the famous White House, plus world-class museums, botanical gardens, and vibrant neighborhoods

New Yorkers might argue this, but Washington, DC, is the most important city in the United States. America’s capital is an awesome day trip from NYC and a compact yet landmark-packed city to explore. Take a full-day tour from New York and in a few hours find yourself at the heart of US politics. 

You won’t be stuck for things to see and do in DC. Start with the White House, of course, and the United States Capitol. Among the government buildings, you’ll have your pick of no less than 17 Smithsonian museums, the National Garden, and the Lincoln and Washington memorials. At lunchtime, spend some time in one of DC’s vibrant neighborhoods like Georgetown or Adams Morgan.

Choose a day trip that takes care of everything, including transport and an expertly guided tour of DC, to learn all about the city and its role in the US. Or if you want to really pack it in, book this day trip from NYC to see both Washington and Philadelphia on the same day.

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Other beautiful places outside NYC to visit on a day trip

The Hamptons, New York

Hampton lightouse

Price: From $80
Time required: 12 hours
Best time to visit: May to September
Why you should take a day trip: To experience summer like a New Yorker, dine on great seafood, go wine tasting, and relax on stunning beaches

The Hamptons, on the eastern side of New York’s Long Island, is less than a 2-hour drive from Manhattan. The string of towns on the Atlantic coast is beloved by New Yorkers who arrive from the city in droves on summer weekends. Take a day trip to escape New York’s hustle, either by car or on the Hampton Jitney, a bus connecting NYC to the Hamptons. 

This popular getaway is famous in the summer for its world-class East Coast beaches and elegant mansions belonging to the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ina Garten, and Beyoncé. While the Hamptons attract a famously elite crowd of celebrities and CEOs, there are plenty of things to do for everyone who visits. 

Aside from the beaches, shopping and eating is the main attraction for a day trip. Take advantage of the Hamptons’ proximity to the Atlantic Ocean by eating as much seafood as you can — take locals’ recommendations or check out iconic Hamptons favorites like Nick & Toni’s and Clam Bar. Check out the stores at the Tanger Outlet and the chic boutiques along the main streets in Sag Harbour, East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk.

Tip: Plan your day trip for a weekday or the shoulder season (May and September) to avoid crowds and the hectic summer weekend traffic.

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Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls on a sunny day

Price: From $219
Time required: 22 hours
Best time to visit: Summer
Why you should take a day trip: A truly spectacular natural sight, it is unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere in New York

It might take the full 24 hours, but it’s definitely possible to see Niagara Falls on a day trip from NYC. This thundering waterfall on the Niagara River, which forms part of the border between the US and Canada, is truly awe-inspiring — another world from Manhattan. If you’ve ever wanted to see it in person, your NY trip is your chance. It’s too far to do on your own in a day, as driving through the night is required, so take a guided tour.

You can leave NYC late at night and arrive at Niagara Falls early in the morning to experience the rainbows in the morning mist and the magnificent roar of the falls before the crowds arrive, or leave NYC in the morning to see the falls transition from day to night and experience a light show and fireworks. 

Visit in the summer months when you can take a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist ship to sail up close to the falls. You can also visit the uninhabited Goat Island and Luna Island, go hiking on the trails, and get amazing photos from the observation decks in Niagara Falls State Park.

Amish Country, Pennsylvania

Carriage ride in the Amish country

Price: From $139
Time required: 14 hours
Best time to visit: Spring and fall
Why you should take a day trip: A truly spectacular natural sight, it is unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere in New York

One of the most underrated day trips from NY is a visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, or Amish Country. You can explore the rolling hills and farmlands, see traditional Amish crafts being made, and even sample some delicious homemade food. 

The Amish community in Lancaster descends from German immigrants who fled religious persecution in the 18th century. This is one of America’s oldest settlements, where thousands still live a centuries-old lifestyle, eschewing most modern conveniences.

You can enjoy a horse-and-buggy ride, shop for souvenirs handmade by talented craftspeople, try authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, and experience the warm hospitality of the Amish community. Combined with some breathtaking countryside, a day trip to Amish country is sure to be memorable. 

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Day trips to take within New York City

New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

Price: From $35
Time required: 2-4 hours
Best time to visit: Spring to fall, but there’s still lots to see in winter
Why you should take a day trip: It feels like an oasis, where you’ll see flora from around the world, right in the heart of the Bronx

For a day trip that takes you deep into nature without even leaving the city, the New York Botanical Garden is the place to go. Located in the Bronx, it spans some 250 acres and contains over 10 gardens and plant collections.

Its most famous attraction is probably the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a landmark Victorian-style glasshouse built in 1902 that houses tropical plants from around the globe. Other notable features include the Healing Gardens — designed for those dealing with cancer and other illnesses — and the Native Plant Garden, which showcase species from North America.

At the New York Botanical Garden, you can see more than just flowers and plants. You can learn about native plants and wildlife, gardening techniques, cook with fresh ingredients from the garden, and even take a trip back in time at the museums on the grounds. It’s easy to spend the entire day exploring. 

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New York City’s five boroughs

The Long Island sign

Price: From $45
Time required: 7-11 hours
Best time to visit: All year round
Why you should take a day trip: To see all of the diverse city’s five distinct boroughs

It can take a whole trip, or many trips, just to see the highlights of Manhattan, so many travelers miss out on the rest of NYC. If you really want to see New York City, then you have to spend a day visiting its four other boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. From Manhattan, a one-day tour will show you the best of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, and help you discover the many unique communities that call these boroughs home. There are many fun things to do on Staten Island too, and the short ferry ride there from Manhattan is both scenic and free. 

On a guided tour, you’ll visit Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, home to the legendary NYC baseball team, and drive through Queens, New York’s largest and most multicultural borough. In Brooklyn, you’ll see the hip neighborhoods and Jewish communities in Williamsburg. In Staten Island, Historic Richmond Town is rich in cultural attractions and history and offers unique glimpses of American colonial life, plus there are a few unusual museums like the National Lighthouse Museum.

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Family-friendly day trips to take when visiting NYC

LEGOLAND NY

Kids driving at LEGOLAND NY

Price: From $139
Time required: 6 hours
Best time to visit: April to December (closed January to March)
Why you should take a day trip: The world’s largest LEGOLAND with seven theme parks in one

LEGOLAND NY is one of the best day trips from NYC for families. Explore all seven LEGO theme parks and see and count the 15,000 Lego models throughout the park. LEGOLAND offers both an outdoor theme park and a variety of indoor attractions for a day of endless possibilities.

What makes the fun even greater? Unlike other theme parks, LEGOLAND has rides and attractions with no height or age restrictions. It also has fun and informative staff, delicious food, and lots of great places for photo ops.

Whether with family, friends, or all by yourself, LEGOLAND is the place to go for a fun theme park experience. Visiting midweek avoids some of the crowds. 

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Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe, American Dream Mall

Price: From $59
Time required: 6 hours
Best time to visit: April to December (closed January to March)
Why you should take a day trip: The largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, with amazing NYC views from the tallest rides

Bring the kids or bring out the child in you at this huge indoor theme park — the largest in the US. Packed with roller coasters, spinning rides, a nine-story tower rope course, Nickelodeon Universe offers year-round fun for all generations. Entry gives you unlimited access to all rides. 

It’s located inside the American Dream complex in New Jersey’s Meadowlands Sports Complex, just a few miles from New York City. There is much more to see and do besides Nickelodeon Universe, too — the complex is home to a water park, indoor ski slope, SEA LIFE aquarium, and the second largest mall in the US. A day trip here is especially great for rainy days and extra hot days when spending time indoors is welcome. 

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Linda Bibb was born in New York and knows the area well. She is an award-winning writer who has been to nearly 60 countries. You can read more of her travel articles on her travel blog, As We Saw It