Road Trip: Three Easy Summer Weekend Getaways from New York City

Escape New York City for a weekend with these three quick and beautiful road trips

Summer is upon us, and New Yorkers know this comes with mixed feelings. Sunny Saturdays are great for a picnic in Central Park, but no one enjoys sweating in an unventilated subway station during the morning commute. Instead of braving the heat and humidity, or fighting crowds of people for a patch of beach at Coney Island or the Rockaways, rent a car and spend the weekend on a New York State road trip. Get out of the city to see warm sand beaches, cool majestic forests and glistening lakes, with these three itineraries designed for a quick weekend getaway.

Long Island

Just on the other side of the East River, it's easy to take the train for the day. But you need a car to really explore and appreciate the island. A weekend in the Hamptons is a classic weekend getaway option, and you don't have to have a beach house to enjoy.

Cooper's Beach Southampton TraceRouda Getty Images
TraceRouda/ Getty Images

Start your Saturday at the beach. Stroll past beautiful mansions for a romantic day at Cooper's Beach or take the whole family to Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh to explore the two-mile boardwalk and take a swim between games of softball. To make the most of the parking fees common to the area, plan to spend the day at one beach.

When the day winds down, drive to Greenport, on the north shore of Long Island. Grab dinner at Noah's, where they serve up fresh seasonal ingredients specific to Long Island (such as a mostly local raw bar). Afterwards, sip on some classic cocktails at Brix and Rye (and some pizza if you're still hungry) or stop by the Half Note for live jazz music every night. Close out the night at Sound View Greenport to fall asleep listening to the waves on the shore right outside your window.

Soundview Greenport
Courtesy of Sound View Greenport

For an adults-only weekend, spend Sunday exploring the wine country of Long Island. For a summer classic, rosé is a specialty of Jamesport Vineyards on the North Shore. If you prefer something a little more sparkly, settle into a cozy chair and enjoy the views of the vineyards at Sparkling Pointe in Southold. End the tour at Pindar Vineyards, which is an Instagram opportunity among the sunflower garden.

To include the entire family, skip the wine tour and take a ferry to Shelter Island. The kids will love mini golfing at Whale's Tale while enjoying some ice cream. For an educational exploration of the island, book a tour with Shelter Island Kayak Tours, who has partnered with The Nature Conservancy for a tour of the Coecles Harbor Marine Water Trail.

Hudson Valley

Upstate seems far and unreachable, but in reality, it only takes a couple of hours to escape the city and enjoy the great outdoors. The drive north along the Hudson River is absolutely beautiful, so make sure to set your GPS to stay as close to the river as possible.

On your way north, stop at the Walkway over the Hudson, a nearly 1.5-mile pedestrian bridge 200 feet above the Hudson River. Stop to take some panoramic pictures, and even head to Poughkeepsie for an early lunch.

Artist's Rock above Mohonk Lake lightphoto Getty Images
lightphoto/ Getty Images

Continue north to Mohonk Preserve to spend a few hours exploring the protected area. Choose from five suggested hiking trails ranging from .25 miles to 7.5 miles, for either a leisurely walk or a strenuous workout rewarded with a view from above. End by hiking right into the Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian castle with rooms overlooking the nearby lake.

After you have checked into the hotel, head over to New Paltz for the evening. Farm to table is a popular theme in town, so check out Main Course Restaurant or End Cut to enjoy the local produce of the Hudson Valley for dinner.

New Paltz is a historic city established by French Huguenots in the late 15th century, so before you leave, make sure to check out the fun and educational costumed tours of Historic Huguenot Street.

Olana Historic House Terryfic3D Getty Images
Terryfic3D/ Getty Images

On Sunday, head farther North to the quaint, riverside town of Hudson. Visit the late nineteenth century Hudson Athens Lighthouse in the middle of the Hudson River which is only accessible by ferry. Continue the historic theme at Olana State Historic Site. The historic house turned museum atop a hill overlooking the Hudson Valley was the home of Frederic Church, a well-known painter, and self-taught architect.

Finger Lakes

If a few hours north just isn't far enough from the hustle and bustle of New York, take a road trip to the Finger Lakes for picturesque nature, dark skies for stargazing and an abundance of wineries.

Watkins Glen State Park Ultima_Gaina Getty Images
Ultima_Gaina/ Getty Images

Start the weekend by visiting Watkins Glen State Park. This park in Schuyler County has 19 separate waterfalls along the stream's two-mile course. Spend two to three hours exploring the Gorge Trail, filled with cobblestone walkways, stone bridges, and magical waterfalls. You can reward yourself for burning all those calories by heading to Seneca Lake which is known for wineries and beautiful sailing. Combine the two with the Wine and Wind on the Water tour through Schooner Excursions for a two-hour boat ride featuring local wine and cheeses.

End your Saturday evening either camping in Watkins Glen or head west to Hammondsport. This small village has a population of a little over 700 people and sits at the foot of Keuka Lake. Stay at a bed and breakfast like Moonshadow Bed and Breakfast to wake up to views of the lake.

Keuka Lake jimfeng getty images
jimfeng/ Getty Images

The Finger Lakes are known for its wine country, so start Sunday at Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport to enjoy wine while soaking in the views of the surrounding vineyards and Keuka Lake. Continue the wine tour at Pleasant Valley Wine Company, where you can take a tour of the historic winery, which was founded in 1860.

If wine tasting isn't on the itinerary, book a kayaking trip with Southern Tier Kayak Tours, to tour the rivers in the area. There are three separate tours in the area depending on which river you would like to travel, and still have time to grab lunch before heading back to the city.

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