• Franny the Traveler

9 Easy New York State Daycations to Escape NYC

Updated: Sep 23


Looking for a way to slow down? 

Need a change of scenery? 

Want to explore hidden gems in New York State? 


If you answered yes for any of these, then this is the post for you! Although NYC makes up 2/3 of the population of NYS, the rest of the state has a lot to offer as well. You do not have to go far away from NYC to enjoy larger spaces, fresher spaces, and quieter spaces. Every place on this list is within 2-3 hours away from NYC.


In this post, you will find:

  • Complete list of daycations you can take to escape NYC

  • How to get there from NYC

  • Insider Tips before you visit

  • Pandemic policies in place at each location


DISCLAIMER: Before going to any place, please research the current rules and hours as things may have changed since the pandemic. I visited many of these places before the pandemic. However, I put a note related to the pandemic for each place as things constantly change on a week to week basis.


Check out 9 Easy New York State Daycations to Escape NYC


Daycation #1: Oyster Bay 


Oyster Bay is a small town located in the easternmost part of Nassau County, Long Island with only 6,700 inhabitants!  It is the only town in Nassau County to extend from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island. If you are looking for history and tasty seafood, this is the place for you!  


How to get to Oyster Bay: 

  • BY TRAIN + TAXI: When I went, I took the LIRR from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn to Jamaica Station where you transfer to the LIRR train in order to get to Oyster Bay (the last stop on this route). You can also grab the LIRR from NY Penn Station and transfer at Mineola. This takes about 1.5 hours.

  • BY CAR: It is an hour by car with no traffic from Midtown Manhattan. 


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Visit Sagamore Hill National Historic Site: This is the residence and summer White House of President Theodore Roosevelt. There is a museum at the site to learn about his life

  • Eat Oysters and other seafood at Canterbury’s Oyster House: In addition to the fresh seafood, you will find an extensive picture gallery proudly exhibiting historic memorabilia honoring the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt and the town of Oyster Bay. There is a collection of paintings by “America’s Artist”; Mort Kunstler.

  • Wander the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Sanctuary: This is the first national Audubon sanctuary.



Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Make sure to visit Theodore Roosevelt’s Gravesite at Oyster Bay Cove as it is further away from the national historic site 

  • Reserve a tour of the summer White House ahead of time as they usually sell out quickly. 

  • Bring your Passport to Your National Parks along with you so you can get it stamped! 

  • You can use Uber to get around, but you will wait at least 15 minutes for a car to arrive. 


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Sagamore Hill is increasing access to the park in a phased approach. Park grounds, the beach area, and all paths are open. Public restrooms are open at 50% capacity from 9 AM-5 PM. All buildings remain closed. The Theodore Roosevelt Home and Old Orchard Museum are closed until further notice. Oyster Bay is a town so you can still visit parks as well as beaches and be able to find places to dine. 

Daycation #2: Bear Mountain



Bear Mountain is one of the most well-known peaks of New York's Hudson Highlands. Nearby is Bear Mountain Bridge and Bear Mountain State Park. The park has many activities such as picnic areas, lake and river fishing access along with hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails. 


How to get to Bear Mountain: 

  • BY BOAT: I took the scenic way when I went -- a Bear Mountain Cruise from Midtown Manhattan. It takes about 2.5-3 hours sailing up the Hudson River to get to Bear Mountain State Park. 

  • BY CAR: It is an hour by car with no traffic from Midtown Manhattan. 


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Listen to the live German Oom-pah & Polka bands playing on the cruise

  • Wander Bear Mountain State Park -- stay below the hill! 

Please note: There is a steep hill leading from the dock at Bear Mountain to the main park area. Please be aware that this hill may be difficult for some people to climb, including those with difficulty walking or in wheelchairs.



Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Cost: Each ticket costs $49 plus a $7.25 service fee.

  • Arrive super early as although the board may start at 8:30 AM, people are on line earlier. Otherwise, you may not find a seat as the cruise appeared to be overbooked. The same applies  for when you board the boat again

  • Wear a heavy jacket and scarf. Since this cruise runs from late September to mid-November, the weather is cooler. It feels even colder from a cruise, especially if you want to step out on the deck to take photos. 


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Because of the pandemic, you will not be able to book a cruise to get to Bear Mountain. However, you can still visit by car. Keep in mind that parking is reduced by 50%. Therefore,  plan to drive early in order to arrive before noon, which is usually when many state parks reach capacity. The following is currently closed:  Bear Mountain Pool, Perkins Memorial Drive,  Merry-Go-Round, Bear Mountain Inn Restaurant & Cafe,  Bear Mountain Inn Spa. Seven Lakes Drive Remains Open

Daycation #3: Bannerman Castle



Bannerman Castle is located on a tiny 6.5-acre island in the Hudson River called Pollepel Island  (also called Bannerman Island) near Beacon, NY. This island has a unique history as it served as a military surplus warehouse. Indian tribes thought it was haunted. I won’t spoil the whole history of the island, so you can learn about it when you take the walking tour ;-). The island became abandoned for years before it was reopened to the public. In 1982, the island was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.


How to get to Bannerman Castle: 

  • BY TRAIN + FERRY: When I came here, I took the Metro-North train from Grand Central Terminal to Beacon. From here, at the dock, a short walk from the station, we took a ferry to this Island. Alternatives are taking a ferry from Newburgh Ferry landing OR kayaking, canoeing, or small motorboating from Cornwall, Cold Spring, and/or Beacon.

  • BY CAR + FERRY: You can also drive to Beacon to then catch the ferry. It is about 1.5 hours with no traffic. 



Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Take a guided walking tour of Bannerman Island: there are several options of tours based on interest and where your point of origin is. I found this helpful as you get to learn the history AND take a scenic walk

  • Attend for a specific event: The island hosts special events such as movie nights and theatrical events. 


Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Cost: Adult: $37.50; Child (11yrs and under): $32.50. This includes the cost of the ferry to the island. If you are arriving in your own boat, a ticket is $40. 

  • Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle tours are only open from May to October. We went during the last of October, which was the last tour of the year.

  • The Bannerman Castle tour takes you around the castle and through the grounds. The castle itself is in ruins, so there is not an entrance per se. 

  • There is a 72-step climb to the castle, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: There are some tours available for booking at the moment.. You can book a ticket to arrive in your own boat ($40 per ticket) or book one of their walking tours from Beacon (either the Guided Bannerman Island Walking Tour from Beacon or the Self-Guided Walking Tour with Live Music (Beacon, NY). Currently, there are no tours from Newburgh, NY.

Daycation #4: Hudson Valley Wineries -- Benmarl Winery



With 35 wineries, the Hudson River Region makes 10% of New York State’s wine. No wonder why it is considered one of NYS’s wine countries! Benmarl Winery is one of the most notable as they claim to be America’s Oldest Vineyard. Located on a 37-acre vineyard in Marlborough, they produce two dry wines, an Estate Red and Estate White. They also produce several specialty wines and a sparkling Verdelet and Seyval Blanc blend. 


How to get to the Hudson Valley Wineries: 

  • BY CAR: The best way is to drive. Since I do not drive, a friend of mine drove. From 9W in Marlborough, take Western Avenue west, turning left on Highland Avenue. Watch for the Benmarl sign in about a half-mile. It is about 1.5 hours without traffic. 


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Attend their Sangria Festival:  I decided to visit this winery because of their Sangria Festival. You are handed a punch card so you can sample a certain number of sangria flavors. You have the option to buy more (by the glass or by the pitcher). Besides Sangria tastings, there is also live music with flamenco dancers and food for sale. 

  • Visit during a special event: They host other events such as a Valentine’s Day Wine and Cheese/Chocolate Tasting and Grape Stomping events.  

  • Make sure to walk around the vineyard in order to experience the lovely views. Nothing is prettier than a vineyard in the hills overlooking the beautiful Hudson Valley!


Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Cost: Regular tastings are $15 for a six (6) wine tasting. However, their special events usually start off at $25. 

  • Benmarl Winery sells Wood-Fired Pizza on certain days of the week. Make sure to find out if they have it the day you visit. What is better than pizza & wine!?

  • If you are a super wine lover, make sure to purchase the Hudson Valley Wine Passport online. This is a special piece of paper that grants you admission to all of the 15 wineries on the Shawangunk Wine Trail, one time for each place. As a special added bonus, anyone visiting all 15 wineries will receive 25% off the price of the next year’s Passport, as the Shawangunk Wine Trail's way of thanking you for your support.



PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Purchasing the passport is on pause for 2020 because of the pandemic. However, if you have it already, you will have until 2021 to use it. You will need to get your passport stamped at each winery. Please research the specific winery you want to visit ahead of time as some are open to wine tasting while others are closed. For example, Benmarl Winery is now open for outdoor wine tasting with an advanced reservation. You will be able to enjoy a flight or a glass of wine at one of their outdoor tables. With your reservation, you will have a dedicated table for 75 minutes and a server to help you choose a flight of wines or a wine by the glass. The tasting flight costs $15 and includes your choice of four wines. They will have food available à la carte 7 days a week (since in NYS you can’t serve alcohol without serving food). On weekends, they will have their Wood-Fired Pizza Oven.

Daycation #5: Fishkills Farms



Fishkill Farms is a 270-acre apple orchard and vegetable farm located in East Fishkill, New York. Part of the Morgenthau family for over 100 years, they grow different vegetables and fruit year-round that you can purchase at their store or pick your own. For example, they start with peas and strawberries in the spring and end with apples and pumpkins in the Fall. 


How to get to Fishkills Farms: 

  • BY CAR: The farms are about an hour and a half north of New York City, and 20 minutes south of Poughkeepsie by car. I took a small group tour bus from Manhattan. The farm is located just off of I-84 in the town of East Fishkill, New York. 

  • BY TRAIN + TAXI: Their website explains that there is a public transportation alternative: “The closest train station to our farm is the Beacon Train Station. You can get there by taking the Metro-North Hudson Line. From Beacon, we are located about 15 minutes away by car. Local cab companies, Uber and Lyft service our area and are commonly used to reach the farm.”


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Take a hayride! This is a great way to see different parts of the farm. Since the farm is huge, it is helpful that they take you to different areas that you may want to pick from. 

  • Buy lunch here! They have grilled food such as corn, hot dogs, burgers, and jerk chicken. There is also delicious ice cream :-). 


Insider Tips before you visit:

  • The admissions price does not include bags of apples to take home. HOWEVER,  you are able to eat any apple while there. I tried such a variety of apples. It was all super fresh and delicious :-). 

  • Take time to explore beyond picking fruit. For example, when I went, there was live music happening. 

  • The price difference between a small bag and a large bag of apples is very small. If you're able to carry the apples, go for the large bag! 


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Fishkill Farms has made a lot of changes so that people can visit safely during the pandemic, which is covered in their detailed FAQS. Socially distant picking is available by reservation only. For the 2020 season, they are not charging admission. However, they encourage adding $5 per person over the age of 12 on to your Pick-Your-Own (PYO) reservations to support the farm. You can reserve up to a week ahead of time through the pick-your-own page of their website. They do not take reservations over the phone or by email. You have 60 minutes to pick and enjoy the farm from the time that you arrive on the farm. 

Daycation #6: FDR Presidential Library



The FDR Presidential Library and Museum and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (operated by the National Park Service) is on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, four miles north of Poughkeepsie, New York, midway between New York City and Albany. The FDR Presidential Library & Museum is the first presidential library, dedicated on June 30, 1941. During his second term in office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt surveyed the vast quantities of papers and other materials he and his staff had accumulated. He established the library as a means to preserve the evidence of the Presidency for future generations.  Since then, there have been a total of 13 libraries, with The George W. Bush Presidential Center becoming the thirteenth on May 1, 2013.


How to get to FDR Presidential Library:

  • BY CAR: The Roosevelt Library is approximately 2 hours from New York City, 1 1/2 hours from Albany, 2 hours from Hartford, CT, and 2 hours from Scranton, PA with no traffic. 

  • BY TRAIN + TAXI/BUS: Their website explains that you can take the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal to Poughkeepsie on the Hudson Line. Taxi service is available to the Library from the Poughkeepsie station. You can also grab the  Dutchess County Transit bus explained below.

  • BY BUS: Their website explains that you can take the Dutchess County Transit from the Poughkeepsie train station, Monday - Saturday (Sundays and holidays excluded). The bus departs on an hourly basis from Poughkeepsie station at 6 minutes after the hour from 8:06 AM to 7:06 PM. It arrives hourly at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home at 39 minutes after the hour from 8:39 AM to 6:39 PM. The bus departs from the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center at 40 minutes after the hour starting from 8:40 AM to 6:40 PM. The bus arrives at the Poughkeepsie train station at 6 minutes after the hour starting at 9:06 AM.


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Take the 1-hour Springwood home tour! You will learn a lot about FDR and his family that way and get an inside look into this home. Tours leave from the Visitor’s Center and include stops at the Home Garden, Rose Garden, Burial Site, and Springwood home. 

  • Take time to thoroughly explore the presidential library and rose garden, where FDR and his wife Eleanor are buried. These are both not near the entrance but are worth checking out.

  • Check out Hyde Park Brewing Company, which is across the street from the property. We were on a bus tour with limited time. However, I would definitely check this out if I came back on my own. The brewery has at least six house-made beers on tap at any time. I hear their menu is extensive with tons of burgers, salads, sandwiches, and pizza choices, along with many vegetarian and entree options. Note: The restaurant is closed for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays.



Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Cost: A $20.00 joint admission ticket includes both the Home tour, which is guided by a park ranger, and the Library tour, which is self-guided. Library and Museum tickets are valid for 2 consecutive days.

  • Make sure to secure your ticket for the home tour when you first arrive as those tickets run out very quickly, especially in the summer months. Advanced reservations can be made through recreation.gov. Reservations must be made at least one day in advance.

  • If you are walking with someone with limited mobility, there is an option to take a shuttle to the different stops on the tour. The shuttle will drive the route and make stops for you to get off so you can listen to the guide. The shuttle is also helpful because there is no place to sit on the tour. Therefore, this provides a space to sit. 

  • Make sure to purchase (or bring along) your Passport to Presidential Libraries ($5 at any of the 13 libraries) AND  Passport to Your National Parks to get it stamped. That is because The Franklin D.  Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site,  are located on the same property in Hyde Park, New York. 


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: The museum is closed until further notice. However, in the meantime, you can enjoy a virtual tour, where you can explore permanent exhibits at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum from your desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device. You can also explore various online exhibits including previous temporary exhibitions once on display at the Roosevelt Library.

Daycation #7: Tarrytown

 


Tarrytown is a small, hilly 5.7 square mile village in the town of Greenburgh in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is located just 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan in New York City, with about 11,000 residents. Tarrytown is rich in Revolutionary War history and culture but also popular because of its river views, its historic houses, and its many activities.


How to get to Tarrytown: 

  • BY TRAIN + TAXI: Tarrytown is one of the easiest places to get to by train. You can grab the MetroNorth train from Grand Central Terminal and get off at the Tarrytown stop. This takes about 45 minutes. I have been to Tarrytown several times, less for leisure but either for a conference or a wedding. This post is reminding me that I need to make a visit for leisure purposes! 

  • BY CAR: With no traffic from Manhattan, driving also takes about 45 minutes.


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Explore Main Street: Here, you will find lots of cute restaurants and stores. I enjoyed some tasty french toast at Sweet Grass Grill the last time I was there and homemade ice cream from Main Street Sweets

  • Attractions I have yet to visit but high on my list: Lyndhurst Mansion, Kykuit (Rockefeller mansion with an art gallery), Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Rockefeller State Park, Tarrytown Lakes Park, Hudson RiverWalk Park, Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse



Insider Tips before you visit:

  • Tarrytown is pretty every season! I have been there both in the summer and winter. In the winter, I enjoyed the coziness feeling of Tarrytown, although be warned, it will be cold and snowy.

  • I highly recommend making reservations ahead of time for restaurants you want to check out as they can be crowded.

  • Make reservations ahead of time for some of the main attractions such as Lyndhurst Mansion and Washington Irving’s Sunnyside


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Tarrytown has many outdoor activities, as you see listed in the list of places I want to check out. This makes it a perfect spot to check out. However, check to see which places are open. For example, Kykuit is closed for 2020 while Lyndhurst Mansion is open for tours.  Many restaurants are operating at a lower capacity, but are desperate for business. Therefore, it is worth checking them out and supporting them too. For example, Sweet Grass Grill has updated their menu and is taking advance reservations for dining since they have very limited seating and lost 75% of their revenue. I highly recommend making reservations due to limited seating.

Daycation #8: Nassau County, Long Island


From NYC, Nassau County is the easiest and quickest part of Long Island to get to. I separated Long Island into several parts (Nassau County, North Fork, Oyster Bay) because each part is so different and offers a lot to do. Nassau County specifically occupies a portion of Long Island immediately east of the New York City borough of Queens. It is divided into two cities and three towns. It is the most densely populated and second-most populous county in New York state outside of New York City, especially because it is heavily connected by highway and train to NYC. 


How to get to Nassau County, LIRR: 

  • BY TRAIN: Typically when I visit my friends in Freeport, I take the LIRR from Atlantic terminal and transfer to Jamaica for a train heading to Freeport.

  • BY CAR: With no traffic, it takes almost an hour from Midtown, Manhattan to Freeport, Long Island. 

  • BY BUS:  There are MTA buses that you can take from Jamaica Station that will take you into the closest parts of Long Island. For example, the N4 takes you to Freeport. 


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Freeport Nautical Mile:  Nautical Mile is a picturesque waterfront main street running along the Woodcleft Canal. There are lots of restaurants and bars to check out. As a result, it is the go-to spot, especially on summer nights. 

  • The Beach: Jones Beach is one of the most popular beaches to go, both for Long Islanders and NYC folks looking for a better beach. Robert Moses State Beach is further out in Suffolk County, but fairly and also worth checking out! 



Insider Tips before you visit:

  • In the summertime, Long Island is VERY busy with both Long Islanders and those from NYC looking to escape the city. 

  • Because of the crowds, you may want to head out to the beaches early to secure a spot and parking. 


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: With the beaches, keep in mind that parking is at 50% capacity. Therefore, you want to get there early so you are not forced to turn back around. Many restaurants in the Nautical Mile are now reopened both for outdoor dining and indoor dining at 50% capacity.

Daycation #9: North Fork, Long Island



The North Fork is a 30-mile-long peninsula in the northeast part of Suffolk County, New York, U.S., almost parallel with an even longer peninsula known as the South Fork, both on the East End of Long Island. The name comes from the fact that at Riverhead, Long Island, the peninsulas split into two like a fork (look at the map for the split!). I had no idea of this until this recent trip! The North Fork is currently home to 40 wineries and 3,000 acres of planted vineyards. So, if you love to do wine tasting and roam the vineyards, this is the place to visit! There are also many multi-generational family farms from apple orchards to potato farms to berry farms and flower fields in addition to vineyards. That means apple picking, berry picking, and flower festivals galore! 


How to get to North Fork, Long Island: 

  • By Car: This is your best option, especially considering how far things are from each other. The North Fork is accessible via roadways, most notably the New York State Route 25 (also known as Main Road). You can also take the County Road (also called Middle Road) or Sound Avenue. 

  • By Train: The Long Island Rail Road provides limited service when traveling to North Fork, Long Island, as you can only to get to Greenport on the Ronkonkoma line. From there, you would then need a car or taxi to take you to the vineyards and farms in the area.

  • By Ferry: At the easternmost point, there is a Cross Sound Ferry that runs daily to and from New London, Connecticut. There are also ferries that connect the North Fork to Plum Island and Shelter Island. 

  • By Bus: You can take the Hampton Jitney, which you can book ahead of time. They have different pick-up time options from NYC which take you to a variety of stops both in North Fork and South Fork, LI. 


Must Do’s When You Visit: 

  • Check out the Vineyards: The North Fork is currently home to 40 wineries and 3,000 acres of planted vineyards, so there is a lot to choose from!  You can spend a day hopping to different vineyards as they are concentrated in one area. I checked out Pindar Vineyards when I visited. 

  • Visit a family farm: At the family farms, you can either buy fresh produce or pick your own. I highly recommend checking out Harbes Family Farm where you will get tasty fresh food, homemade dessert, live music, and wine tasting all in one place! 

  • Frolic a flower field: Whether you want to see a field of tulips, lavender, or sunflowers, North Fork offers it all!  I recently experienced a sunflower field for the first time and it brought me so much joy. I hope to return to check out the tulips and lavender fields next year. 

  • Future attractions I would love to check out:  Lavender by the Bay, Montauk, Fire Island, Shelter Island, Greenport, take a ferry to Connecticut 


Insider Tips before you visit:


PANDEMIC NOTE as of August 29, 2020: Everything I listed is pandemic friendly, especially since I visited North Fork during a pandemic. The spots that I mentioned did not require advance reservations. However, when I was doing research, many places do. Therefore, I highly recommend double-checking before making a trip. 


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Which NYS Daycation are you interested to take next? Comment below!

About Me

Part-time traveler and full-time nationally award-winning educator. My passion for travel led me to start my travel blog so I could share the stories of my adventures and tips I have learned along the way as I conquer at least two new countries and two new states a year to reach 50 states & 50 countries by age 50.

 

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