How to escape the city without getting on a plane.

By Maya Kachroo-Levine
May 06, 2020
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Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

We’re committed to traveling with the same fervor we’ve always had as soon as it’s safe to do so. That includes continuing to support our favorite hotels and local businesses. But the fact is, it will take every travel palette a different amount of time to reacclimate to the new norms. And the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to travel in whatever way you’re most comfortable. As we’re able to start exploring again, you may first consider visiting the destinations within driving distance of your front door. With that in mind, here are the best road trips from New York City, whether you have a week or weekend to spend.

1. Westerly, Rhode Island

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A quaint coastal town overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Westerly is a two-and-a-half-hour Amtrak ride, or a three-hour drive, from NYC. Visitors can post up at Ocean House, a Relais & Chateaux property. On the grounds, guests get access to a 650-foot private white-sand beach, the Mercedes Benz borrowing collection (you can drive around town in the 2020 models), OH! Spa, and complimentary cooking classes at the Center for Wine & Culinary Arts.

2. Cape May, Jersey Shore

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Cape May is one of the most idyllic towns on the Jersey Shore, from the historic Congress Hall hotel to the paved promenade along its beaches. Stop in for fried clams at the Cape May Fish Market, and grab a sunset cocktail by the fire pits at the waterfront hot spot, Rusty Nail.

3. Finger Lakes, New York

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Less than a five-hour drive from NYC, the Finger Lakes region is comprised of 11 pristine lakes, excellent wineries, great hiking through scenic gorges, and historical attractions. For a luxurious home-away-from-home escape, stay on Cayuga Lake at The Inns of Aurora. Here, you can check into the newly opened Zabriskie House and spend an afternoon with the Director of Serenity, who mixes custom organic teas and essential oil blends. Off the property, visit the nearby Heart & Hands Wine Company to taste their pinot noirs, or enjoy a peaceful day of hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.

4. Alexandria, Virginia

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Venturing to Old Town Alexandria will help you feel a world away from the bustle of NYC. Architecture enthusiasts will love Old Town’s 18th- and 19th-century facades, while the shopping-inclined traveler will enjoy patronizing the inviting local businesses. Right on the Potomac, Alexandria is one of our favorite southern U.S. cities — right up there with Savannah and Charleston, but it's only four hours from NYC by car.

5. Catskills, New York

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Cooperstown is a four-hour drive from NYC through the scenic Catskill Mountains. Stay close to Otsego Lake at The Inn at Cooperstown; built in 1874, the historic, award-winning hotel is home to 18 beautiful guest rooms. The property also has a unique bike clubhouse and cycling amenities that are available to all guests. From Cooperstown, it’s a short ride to the north end of the lake and Glimmerglass State Park, a perfect spot for out-of-town visitors to explore.

Meanwhile, the charming Catskills town of Roxbury is a quick, three-hour drive away from NYC. Stay at The Roxbury at Stratton Falls, a lovely boutique hotel that just launched seven brand-new Tower Cottages. Each cottage has bespoke decor, like the astronomy-focused Galileo’s Gate cottage with its own glass-ceiling observation deck.

6. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

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The Pocono Mountains are an easy getaway from New York City, just under two hours away. For those who want to a full nature immersion, consider a stay at Cranberry Run Campground. It’s surrounded by 65 acres of woodlands, and campers can hang out at the on-site outdoor pool or explore the nearby Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.

7. Lexington, Massachusetts

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Situated approximately 15 miles from Boston in bucolic woodlands, Lexington is the perfect destination for American history buffs. Stay at the stunning 22-room Inn at Hastings Park, a Relais & Chateaux property that's centrally located to Walden Pond, Battle Green (where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired), the Hancock-Clarke House, and the Orchard House (where “Little Women” was based). You can reach this town in under four hours from NYC.

8. Niagara Falls, New York

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It’ll take seven hours from NYC, but if you trek 400 miles north of the city, you’ll make it to Niagara Falls, New York. The trip itself is exceptionally scenic, with plenty of opportunity for hiking or picnic lunches along the way. Once you arrive at Niagara Falls State Park, you'll be overwhelmed by the rainbows, mist, and thunderous roar generated by the American, Horseshoe, and Bridal Veil Falls.

9. Newport, Rhode Island

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Only a three-hour drive from NYC, Newport is a must-visit for all East Coast road trippers. This summer, stay at The Wayfinder Hotel, opening Memorial Day weekend in the city’s North End. The hotel has 500 pieces of artwork, and their on-site restaurant, Nomi Park, serves an unreal lobster roll.

10. Haines Falls, New York

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The Catskills are so nice that they made the list twice. With majestic waterfalls, unique towns, and beautiful scenery, the region offers incredible outdoor experiences. Haines Falls, in the Great Northern Catskills, is home to the highest cascading waterfall in New York state, Kaaterskill Falls. The trail, which is open year-round, is about a mile and a half round-trip. Road trippers should also head to Round Top to see Glen Falls, which doubles as a popular swimming hole during the warmer months.

11. The Berkshires, Massachusetts

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Drive three hours from NYC, and you'll wind up in the stunning Berkshires in western Massachusetts. While visiting, grab iced coffees and paninis from Six Depot Roastery & Cafe and picnic along Berry Pond. For a quintessentially charming New England stay, check out The Old Inn on the Green.

12. North Fork, New York

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Head out to the North Fork of Long Island, which has great dining and wineries, but is still quieter than the buzzing Hampton towns on the South Fork. On your way to the North Fork from NYC, stop off at Jerry & the Mermaid for lunch. Your first winery in North Fork should be Bedell Cellars. And when you’re driving back to the city, if the season is right, take a detour to see the lavender fields at Lavender by the Bay.

13. Keene Valley, Adirondacks, New York

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The Adirondacks are worth visiting in any season. Keene is well-situated in the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, offering great downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter, and hiking in the summer (we recommend taking the Giant Mountain trail at the base of Roaring Brook Falls). For a lovely bed-and-breakfast, check out the Keene Valley Lodge.