Oh, hello dear reader! Fancy meeting you in a place like this! Okay, yeah. It’s really not all that much of a shock since I bet you’re here to learn all about some of the best road trips from NYC.
Am I right? Of course, I am! Because the rather unoriginal title of this article kind of gave it away. But, it’s all good. Because if you’re looking for expert tips from a 20+ year resident of NYC, then you have come to the right place, my friend.
Besides, NYC and the surrounding areas are easily some of the best places to visit in the US. So, I mean, hello? Why wouldn’t you want an epic list of the best road trips from NYC in your life?
Because when I was a kid, my family thought nothing of driving 6+ hours all the way to Vermont on a Sunday afternoon. So yeah, clearly know a thing or two about the best road trips in New York. And all of the road trips below? Well, I’ve done all of them at least once, and sometimes multiple times, like is the case with Boothbay Harbor, Lake Champlain, Washington DC, Baltimore, and so on.
Therefore you should really sit down for a spell (you also may want to procure yourself a glass, or jug, of wine since this post is hella long) as I tell you all about some of the best road trips from NYC and some of the most scenic drives in New York.
Trust me on this people, I’ve got loads and loads of insider tips that you do NOT wanna miss. This way, you can have the best, most relaxing time ever as you escape the chaos of the city and enjoy all that New York and the greater east coast have to offer.
So, buckle up cool kids. Because it’s gonna be one wild ride as I go crazy with the lame puns, the even lamer jokes, and dazzle you with my slightly juvenile wit as we experience 20 of the best road trips from NYC – some of which are so awesome that they are also considered to be some of the best road trips in New England.
You’ll also definitely want to download Audible Plus for your journey since audiobooks in general just make the journey so much more enjoyable.
PSST…This post may contain affiliate links since I am incapable of making it rain money. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Best Road Trips from NYC – Pennsylvania
1. Philadelphia, PA
One of the shortest road trips on this list of the best road trips from NYC is to Philadelphia, or Philly as the locals like to call it.
It’s also the single largest city in Pennsylvania and just one of the best weekend getaways on the East Coast. So yeah, you probably won’t know where to begin because there are, quite literally, beyond fun things to do everywhere!
However, if I had to pick one place to start, then it would be where it all began: Independence Hall on Chestnut Street, closely followed by the Philadelphia American Revolution Museum since, well, American History is super awesome (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)
Because, just in case you’re not an avid lover of the highly underrated musical 1776 like me, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the United States of America was born and where the ye olde Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and created an entirely new country (well-done chaps, well done).
So yeah, you really can’t get any more historically significant than that! Or perhaps you can.
Because just across the street lies the Liberty Bell – an iconic symbol of American freedom that thousands of selfie stick-wielding tourists flock to every single year. You know, just to have their picture taken with that immortal crack (No, not that crack! Get your head out of the gutter. Geez).
Whatever the motives are behind your visit, you for sure do not wanna miss out.
After that, you can immerse yourself in cultural awesomeness by trekking towards the Schuylkill River and visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Here you can see works by famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Marcel Duchamp.
However, do take a moment to do a little impromptu fist pump when you reach the top of the stairs outside because these are the famous steps that Sylvester Stallone ran up after his training montage in the seminal movie, Rocky. Yup, feel free to be duly impressed.
Now, If you’re feeling a bit peckish while in Philadelphia, then you of course have to grab yourself a Philly Cheesesteak! And there ain’t no place finer than Steve’s Prince of Steaks near City Hall since they show you exactly how it should be done.
No, really! They haven’t changed their recipe in well over 40 years because it’s THAT good!
And if Philly Cheesesteak just ain’t your thing, then you can mosey on over (you cowboy, you) to the Reading Terminal Market. It’s known for being America’s oldest farmers market and has dozens of vendors offering all manner of takeout and fresh goods (YUM).
If you have time, you can also visit nearby Amish country and check out some of the best things to do in Lititz, PA.
Distance from NYC: 95 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 1 hour and 40 minutes (Yes, that’s without traffic on 95)
Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer season (June to August) is the peak season for a reason. The weather is perfect (rarely gets above the mid-80s). However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then late April/early May or late September/early October is definitely your best bet.
Where to stay:
Apple Hostels of Philadelphia (budget) – Sometimes hostels are the best way to meet cool people and make new friends. Although, if you prefer your own space, Apple Hostels also has private rooms for you to enjoy (with shared bathrooms), making it a win-win really. Additionally, there’s WiFi in all the rooms and common areas, a HUGE shared kitchen, complimentary breakfast, a pool table, luggage storage, a 24-hour front desk, laundry service, and a book exchange. That’s why this is the perfect place to crash with friends after a quick road trip from New York. Especially since it’s located RIGHT in downtown Philadelphia and rooms here start at just $36 per night. Seriously, you CANNOT beat that price.
Holiday Inn Express (mid-range) – Can’t beat this price (which happens to be $135 per night) for a centrally located hotel in downtown Philadelphia. I mean, it’s within walking distance of the American Revolution Museum, African American Museum, National Constitution Center, and Independence Hall, and is nestled right along the Delaware River. All the beyond lovely rooms here come with WiFi, satellite TV, a desk, seating area, shower, hairdryer, ironing facilities, coffee maker, and complimentary toiletries.
2. Poconos, PA
There’s no better way to get away from it all then by heading up to the mountains.
And that’s why a visit to the Poconos is easily one of the best road trips from MYC. High up in the fresh air, you’ll be able to see for miles around while getting back to nature in a big way,
it’s also a great place to cleanse the body and refresh the mind since, well, the Pocono Mountains are a nature lover’s dream, with numerous state parks and forested areas throughout the region that are just waiting to be explored.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is also an excellent place to start since it is hella huge and is well over 40 miles long. It’s also brimming over with numerous mountains, forests, valleys, and walking trails that you can tackle if you wanna get all Ranger Rick up in here.
Now, for any of my mildly enthusiastic readers who want to spend some time behind the wheel but not on the highway, there are also over a hundred miles of scenic roads that wind their way through the Water Gap.
A series of picturesque byways and scenic roadways that are guaranteed to make your journey one of the best road trips from NYC.
FYI, you’ll also want to trek out to the Main Falls – a 100-foot waterfall that cascaded down into a pool surrounded by beautiful flowers, which marks the end of the Bushkill Falls.
Trust me on this, it’s next level amazing. And I should know since I’ve spent every summer in the Poconos since I was a solid nine years old.
However, if you prefer your water features slightly more controlled and indoors (and fun!), the Pocono Mountain area has several huge water parks for you to choose from, including the Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark – an excellent activity center for families.
Or, if you’d like to hike and climb around like a glorified spider monkey, then there’s Pocono TreeVentures, which features five different obstacle courses of increasing difficulty that basically wind their way through the woods.
Added bonus? Pocono TreeVentures also features not one, but two 1,000 foot long zip lines that sit right next to each other, making it super easy to race against your friends!
Now, in terms of food options, the Poconos features a diversity of cuisines that range from classic American to the adventurously intriguing. So, feel free to swing by the Mountainhome Diner near Cresco for a delicious all-day breakfast (7 days a week, open 6:00 am sharp), complete with a 1950s style ice cream shop right next door.
Or, visit The Wheel in Tamaqua to taste an unusual assortment of dishes that include Octopus Garden Salad (for all you Beatles fans out there) and the Baked Aztec Chicken Experience!
Distance from NYC: 107 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer in the Poconos is great for hiking and exploring nature – but also hot, so don’t forget your sunscreen (luckily the trees will do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to UV protection). Winters are also great for skiing and snowboarding if that’s more your cup of tea.
Where to stay:
Baymont by Wyndham Bartonsville (budget) – Spacious rooms, swimming pool, fitness center, bar, and grill… you don’t even need to leave the hotel! JK, please go explore the Poconos because they’re amazing. But when you’re finished for the day, the Baymont is a great place to relax. Rooms also start at $117 per night and come with an in-room safe, coffee making facilities, satellite TV, bathtub, fridge, desk, and hairdryer.
Woodfield Manor Resort (mid-range) – I mean, if you want to stay in a top-notch resort in the mountains, then this place will basically be pure heaven. It’s literally in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, has a swimming pool, features gorgeous wood paneling, spacious rooms with comfy beds, and oodles of charm. Fairly reasonably priced rooms here also start at $187 per night and include inviting decor, all the usual hotel amenities, and even a kitchenette and sofa! Yup, yee to the flipping haw. And I mean that in a totally non-sarcastic way.
Best Road Trip from NYC – Rhode Island
3. Narragansett, RI
Known locally as ‘gansett, this seasonal seaside town easily makes one of the best road trips from NYC. At least if you’re looking for a relaxing, quiet, weekend away from the big city.
Because after a charming drive along the too beautiful for words coast, you’re sure to fall in love with this quaint AF getaway, which also happens to look out over Nantucket Island.
Now, once you’ve made yourself comfortable on one of town’s three main beaches, you can stretch your legs out and head over to the Point Judith Lighthouse. It wistfully sits on the southernmost tip of Narrangansett and features a stunning, granite tower that is well over two hundred years old.
The building is also open for daily tours so that visitors can swing by, learn all about the history of this amazing lighthouse, and understand how it has helped keep these busy waterways safe for hundreds of years.
And If you want to get out on the water (and, I mean really, who wouldn’t?) then head on over to the nearby village of Galilee, which is home to the largest fleet of fishing and tour boats in the entire state.
Yup, literally hundreds of boats are harbored here. So, if you want to do some fishing or give whale-watching a whirl, then you’ll easily be able to charter a boat here.
Also, since you’re already immersing yourself in local ‘gansett culture, might as well stroll on over to the Matunuck Oyster Bar for a true local delicacy and for some of the freshest oysters around. Plus, if you’re a real oyster connoisseur, you can even book a tour of the Matunuck Oyster Farm and learn even more about this classic Rhode Island dish.
Distance from NYC: 168 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: Mid-April to end of June, or September through mid-October to avoid the crowds, but still soak in the sunshine.
Where to stay:
The Atlantic House (mid-range) – Right in the heart of Narragansett, the Atlantic House is the perfect place to relax after a long road trip from NYC. Especially since each room starts at $105 per night and features a large king or queen-sized bed, a flat-screen TV, WiFi, shower, bathtub, free toiletries, a hairdryer, a balcony/terrace, a fridge, coffee making facilities, a microwave, and a closet.
The Break (luxury) – Located more closely to Point Judith than Narragansett (it’s still only 7 miles away from Narragansett), I love all the nautical coloring and decor of this enchanting place. The staff is also super friendly and each room comes with a hearty continental breakfast, balcony, iPod docking station, safe, seating area, clothes dryer, and ironing facilities, toiletries, hairdryer, fridge, WiFi, and satellite TV. There is also a concierge service and shops at the hotel itself. Which is why rooms here are a little more expensive at $260 per night. But, per usual, you get what you pay for.
4. Newport, RI
Cruising along the RI-138 is one of my favorite, New York scenic drives. Not only do you get a great view out across the water as you drive along the Claiborne Pell Bridge into Newport, but you also get some amazing photo ops of all of the sailboats anchored at idyllic Newport Harbor.
There is also a wealth of beautiful architecture in Newport. so be sure to drive along Bellevue Avenue. Because once you stop by, you’re basically guaranteed to fall in love with the rows upon rows of Gilded Age mansions that you’ll discover lining the street.
Follow these gorgeous buildings all the way to Victoria Avenue, where you’ll find The Breakers – the Vanderbilt family’s 70-room “summer cottage” (read mansion) on the southeast of the island. The building has been turned into a museum, and you can download a free audio guide onto your phone so that you can learn all about the history of the area and this famous family.
If you want, you can even do a fantastic, Gilded Age Trolley tour of some of the area’s most stunning architecture and include an admission ticket to The Breakers as part of your tour.
Now, on a more musical note (Haha! Lame pun alert!), Newport is also home to the aptly named Newport Jazz Festival, which has held here every year since 1954. Trust me, this event is no joke since the likes of Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and Ray Charles have all performed here.
What, worked up an appetite after all that imaginary dancing? If so then head over to Long Wharf for some of the best lobsters in all of Newport. It’s here that you’ll find immortal seafood joints like the Newport Lobster Shack, where you can get some of the freshest and tastiest lobster in town. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even go trolling for live lobsters to take home with you (you daredevil you)!!!
Distance from NYC: 180 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours and 10 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: The ideal time to visit is between March and May, or September and November in order to avoid the rainy season.
Where to stay:
Admiral Weaver Inn (budget) – his adorbs B&B was built in 1863 and is one of my fave hotels in Newport. I mean, there’s a covered relaxation porch (I had no idea that was even a thing btw), a generous daily breakfast (whoop, whoop), and tea services every afternoon. Rooms also start at $107 per night and offer a private bathroom, fridge, cable TV, and WiFi. It’s also within walking distance of all the area’s major attractions and, most importantly, the beach.
The Carriage House Inn (mid-range) – Conveniently located between rural Rhode Island and downtown Newport, this luxurious inn offers the best of both worlds. Each giant room offers WiFi, desk, seating area, shower and bathtub, wooden floors, complimentary toiletries, and a hairdryer. Rooms also start at just $79 per night, which is a hard price to beat.
Best Road Trips from NYC – New York
5. The Catskills, NY
Believe it or not, the Catskills are home to the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains and the original Woodstock festival!
As a result, this exquisite mixture of quiet natural beauty and wild excitement courses throughout the entire region. Because while there’s a vast wilderness full of scenic hikes and trails, this area is also home to some of the most exhilarating activities that you could possibly find in all of New York.
Something that I for one totally love!
I mean, did you know that at Hunter Mountain, they have the highest and longest zipline canopy tour in the whole of North America? A zipline that will send you hurtling through the air at a solid 50 miles per hour and at a height of about six hundred feet off the ground! If you want, you can even take part in their Night Zipping activities and fly through the trees under the light of the moon!
This way, when copious amounts of fear takeover and reduce you to sucking your thumb while curled up in the fetal position, no one will actually see. HOORAY!
However, once all that adrenaline is done coursing through your veins, take some time to slow down and soak up all the sweeping views and gorgeous landscapes that surround you.
If you want, you can also head further north to Greene County, where you can marvel in awe at the Kaaterskill Falls – the highest cascading waterfall in New York State. It’s also a majestic jewel of natural beauty that has long been a place of inspiration for iconic artists like Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of Art, whose house and studio you can also explore while in the village of Catskill.
And for those who enjoy a leisurely hike with a visual surprise, I highly recommend heading over to Prattsville and trekking out to find Pratt’s Rock – a series of stone carvings showcasing the many achievements of Zaddock Pratt, an early settler to the area who decided to depict the details of his life in stone carvings. Yeah, it’s kind of like New York’s very own mini Mount Rushmore!
Now, if you get hungry, the Catskills is overflowing with delicious cafes and bakeries! Places like Peace, Love & Cupcakes, Two Old Tarts and Bite Me Bakery that will help keep you energized after any hike you undertake. Besides, the more you hike, the more you can justify eating since you’re “burning all those calories”.
Add in a serious selection of fine dining restaurants, and you’ll soon see why the Catskills is one of the best road trips from NYC!
Distance from NYC: 124 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 2 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: The Catskills are great for skiing, and are home to some of the best mountain ranges in New York. However, if you’re interested in hiking, biking, or other non-winter activities, then anytime between July to October is ideal weather-wise.
Where to stay:
The Sunview Motel (budget) – Staying in this motel puts the outdoors right at your backdoor since it’s located within the Catskill Mountains. There’s also 24-hour check-in, free WiFi in all rooms and public areas, and a shared kitchen available. Rooms here start at $171 per night and include coffee/tea making facilities, cable TV, a shower, a hairdryer, and toiletries.
The Fairlawn Inn (mid-range) – This bed and breakfast is without a doubt one of my faves. I mean, it’s set inside a gorgeous house that looks like something straight out of a Hallmark channel movie. All of the rooms here are also totally unique and inviting and make you feel at home instantly. Starting at $189 per night. they all feature super snazzy amenities like a balcony/terrace, heated wooden flooring, free WiFi, satellite TV with a DVD player, heating, and air conditioning. Some rooms even feature a nifty little seating area and fireplace! A delicious and decadent breakfast is also included – something that this food-obsessed maniac absolutely adores.
6. Saratoga Springs, NY
Why not take an upstate New York road trip to the horse racing capital of the region? Because Saratoga Springs has been a popular tourist destination for well over 200 years, with Native Americans using the natural mineral water springs here since the ye olde 1600s.
So, feel free to be like the indigenous people of yesteryear and start your visit off with a tour of these magical water sources – each of which have their own distinct mineral content and resulting taste! Oh, la, la, we fancy now!
Next, head into the city and swing by Congress Park. Here, you’ll find the beautiful Saratoga Springs History Museum, which is housed inside the former Canfield Casino from the 1870s. So yes, the exterior really is just as spectacular as the interior!
Whatever you do though, do NOT leave without taking a whirl on the park’s fabulous, 19th-century, wood-carved carousel – it’s over 120 years old and still works perfectly!
However, you are forbidden from taking one of the best road trips from NYC without enjoying one of the city’s most iconic pastime…horse racing!
Plus, even if you’re not all that into gambling, you can still visit the famous Saratoga Racecourse and take an incredible walking tour of the facility.
Along the way, you can drink in the history of this iconic race track and get an in-depth look at the stables where these magnificent animals are kept. The horses are also exercised regularly every morning and visitors are welcome to watch. So, if you can, definitely get there early (You can even be extra posh about it and get breakfast on the Porch of the Clubhouse…Pretty Woman style).
And if you’re looking for a bite to eat that is on the slightly healthier side of things, then head on over to Osteria Danny, just north of Congress Park, on Henry Street. Here you can get a delicious selection of vegan and gluten-free dishes that are sure to keep you pumped and raring to go during your wickedly wonderful road trip.
Alternatively, just around that corner on Phila Street, there are a whole host of eateries that specialize in a variety of different foods, including The Falafel Den, Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar, and the Sushi Thai Garden.
Distance from NYC: 187 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Late May to the end of September for the best weather. As with anywhere, summers are a bit busier. But if you plan on mostly being in the park, crowds are less problematic.
Where to stay:
Brentwood Hotel (mid-range) – Located in between downtown Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Spa State Park, this is a great place to relax after taking one of my favorite New York scenic drives. All rooms here also start at $130 per night and come with a private bathroom, a minibar, a balcony/terrace, WiFi, satellite TV, a shower, toiletries, air-conditioning, and heating. There is also an onsite bar and free parking (can I get a whoop, whoop?).
Adelphi Hotel (luxury) – All rooms at the Adelphi are exquisitely decorated with beautiful period furniture and feature more modern amenities like minibars and flat-screen TVs. There is also a 24-hour front desk, a rooftop bar, and seating areas throughout. Some of the rooms are also outfitted with balconies, as well as a spa bath and/or hot tub. This also MIGHT or might not be one of the most haunted hotels in New York! A slightly ghoulish fact that males this place worth the slightly high price tag of $221 per night.
7. Lake George
Beautiful lake? Check. Gorgeous mountains? Check. Huge theme park? Check! Also add in a touch of rich history, a flourish of delicious food, and an endless array of gorgeous beaches, and you have Lake George, a premier final destination for one of the best road trips from NYC.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll head straight for Lake George (the beautiful lake that the town is named for) and settle down for a pretend tan (I’m white AF and have never actually tanned a day in my life) on Million Dollar Beach.
Although, for the true, Lake George experience, you’ll need to actually get on the water itself. So, feel free to hop aboard one of the many authentic steamboat cruises that make their way across the lake and take in all of the impressive views that surround you. Feel your worries slowly drift away as you quietly relax into lake life…until the evening fireworks start that is!
What, fancy something a bit more adventurous? Well, there’s plenty of hiking to be done in the Adirondack forests that surround the region. There’s even the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, and white water rafting trips that you can arrange in nearby Warrensburg.
Heck, you can even go rail biking with Revolution Rail as you pedal your way along the tracks on an open-topped, pedal-powered cart that they fondly refer to as a railbike (as long as it’s not nicknamed the cruising coffin, I’m good). It’s fun, great exercise, and allows you to really appreciate all of the natural beauty around you.
Wait, did I mention that Lake George also has an old-school drive-in movie theater and an enormous amusement park called the Great Escape? Yup, imagine ginormous rollercoasters, miniature trains, log flumes, and an entire indoor water park at the Great Wolf Lodge.
Honestly, you could easily have one of the best road trips from NYC without ever going anywhere else.
And if you’d like to take a step back from some of these high-octane activities and exercise your brain instead, then be sure to visit one of the area’s many museums, like Fort William Henry (a former Colonial fortress that is over two hundred and fifty years old and that was used in the French and Indian War,) which detail the town’s vast and rich history.
FYI, there are also on a variety of different cuisines on offer at Lake George’s many restaurants, including bar & grill style food, Chinese food, good ol’ fashioned home cooking, and even fiery chicken wings and sandwiches that are served up at some of the area’s local breweries.
One of my personal faves though is the Log Jam. They serve up delicious American fare and have an all you can eat salad bar that this herbivore loves. Going there is also super nostalgic for me since my family and I used to come up to Lake George every summer and would always stop by the Log Jam at least once (the rustic, log cabin decor is also pretty fun too).
Distance from NYC: 212 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: May through September is the best time for an upstate New York road trip to Lake George. The weather is warmest in the summer months, but still pleasantwell into late spring/early fall. If crowds make you miserable though, avoid the summer months as the Adirondacks become packed with tourists.
Where to stay:
Super 8 By Wyndham (budget) – There is a more central Super 8, but I prefer this one because it’s more rustic and almost feels like staying in a log cabin. Continental breakfast is also included and rooms come with the basics like coffee making facilities, fridge, TV with cable & satellite channels, WiFi, and a safe. The price is also right at $59 per night.
The Inn at Erlowest (luxury) – I rarely treat myself to a luxury holiday stay. But when I do, this is basically the benchmark by which I judge how awesome the hotel really is. Yes, this hotel is a bit pricey at $280 per night. But honestly? The Inn at Erlowest is easily worth its high price tag (and more ) since the service is exceptional, the rooms are freaking HUGE (and feature separate seating areas and nooks for relaxing and reading) and the views are next-level awesome. Heck, some of the rooms even come outfitted with either a fireplace or a jacuzzi, as well as free WiFi. Sadly, no TVs though. Which makes this the perfect place to unplug and relax for a weekend away during your upstate New York road trip.
8. The Finger Lakes Region of New York
For the more adult members of this traveling community (All two of you. Hardy har har), there’s one insanely good reason to visit the Finger Lakes region of New York.
And that reason is wine, wine, and, oh yeah, wine!
Because the Finger Lakes? Yeah, this part of New York state is home to well over one hundred wineries, all of which are known for producing delicious and delightfully nuanced wines of every variety, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling/ Heck, they even have a couple of varieties that are native to, you guessed, gold old America (‘MERICA!).
And luckily for you, many of these wineries are actually open to visitors. So, while you’re on one of the best road trips from NYC, make sure you take at least one (or more!) tour of these amazing vineyards.
You know, just so that you can learn about local wine-making history and culture. I mean, it’s not like you’d actually want to taste anything. Right? LOL (of course you do).
However, just in case you’re not actually a total wine connoisseur, you can always swan dive headfirst into the region’s insanely awesome craft beer scene. Yeah, there’s basically a new craft beer brewery on every block. Just do yourself a favor and make sure you have a designated driver handy for this upstate New York road trip!
Because here at Girl with the Passport, we are all about safety first.
Now, if you’re actually able to tear yourself away from the Finger Lakes’ craft beer breweries and vineyards for a solid five minutes, you can also experience the region’s incredible diversity of handmade arts and crafts!
Because almost everything a person could possibly make gets created, bought and sold here. So, expect to find artists throughout the region producing pottery, weaving, doing woodworking, creating dresses, and even doing a bit of glassblowing (No joke, you can actually do a glassmaking workshop at the Corning Museum of Glass. A place that is next level amazing even if you don’t want to create any glass for yourself).
Trust me, you’re guaranteed to learn something new, and, who knows, you might even discover a long hidden, secret talent for crafts that you never knew you had!
And if you’re looking to get physical (cue “Let’s Get Physical” from Olivia Newton-John) then there are plenty of outdoor events on offer here year-round. If you want, you can even visit the Finger Lakes National Forest, which looks beautiful in each and every season.
FYI, unlike in NYC, farming is a huge part of life here. So, be sure to check out the Ithaca Farmer’s Market on the waterfront of the Cayuga Inlet. Because there are well over 150 vendors participating in this event every single weekend, all of whom sell a variety of delicious goods that are fresh from the farm!
Speaking of food, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to head down to the Gaffer District of Corning, located in the more southern region of the Finger Lakes. While there, you can go on the Chocolate Trail, a route that consists of over 30 different chocolate stops that all sell something sumptuous and tasty in every bite!
Distance from NYC: 256 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 4 hours and 40 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: In an ideal world, you would visit in autumn. The heat – and tourists – of summer is gone, and the fall colors provide the perfect insta-awesome backdrop for all of your photos. But, spring is nice, too, and winter can be pretty magical if you don’t mind the cold.
Where to stay:
Microtel Inn & Suites (budget) – Located less than 5 miles from Seneca Lake State Park, this is one of the best hotels to stay at during any upstate New York road trip. Every room comes with breakfast, free WiFi, a desk, fridge, coffee maker, cable TV and access to the fitness center. And did I mention? Rooms here cost a meme $67per night – a price that Ifor one think is a total steal.
Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca (mid-range) – For a quiet stay just inside of Ithaca, this hotel is ideal.It’s just a 2-minute walk from Ithaca Commons and offers guests delightful, contemporary rooms that include custom-designed beds, flat-screen TVs with premium cable channels, microwaves, minifridges, desks with ergonomic chairs, and free WiFi. Suites are also available and feature separate living areas that include pull-out sofas, and whirlpool tubs. For a reasonable $120 per night price tag, you can even get a cooked-to-order breakfast and enjoy access to an on-site fitness center, indoor pool, and whirlpool. Yup, the proverbial New York dream really does come true!
9. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is easily one of the best road trips from NYC for longer stays. That’s why I definitely recommend trying to spend at least a few days here so that you can really experience all that this stellar place has to offer.
But, like with most road trips, it isn’t just about the destination. Because without a doubt, this has to be one of the most gorgeous New York scenic drives of them all – especially if you go when the leaves are changing or the flowers are in full bloom. Along the way, you can also stop and visit other great cities like Scranton, Syracuse, or Buffalo.
Now, of course, the main thing to do in Niagara Falls is to marvel at the stunning waterfalls that the city is known for. Something that could easily be done by taking a scenic boat tour or, if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, by ziplining 67 meters above the falls themselves (a brief but once in a lifetime experience).
However, there’s a lot more to this city than these famous falls, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Niagara Falls in the winter. You can take advantage of the many hiking trails in the surrounding area or pop over to Canada and tick another country off your ever-growing bucket list – just don’t forget your passport! And while the American side can sometimes be cheaper and less crowded, the views on the Canadian side ARE infinitely better (#sorrynotsorry)!
Once you get hungry, I can’t recommend Zaika Indian Cuisine & Bar enough if you love Indian as much as I do. Trust me, this place is hardcore amazeballs and definitely makes me want to visit India ASAP. I also enjoyed La Cucina Di Mamma, a cute little Italian place that’s BIG on flavor.
But, if neither of those options suit you, there’s always Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe. And if you happen to be on the Canadian side, then stop by Antica Pizzeria for yummy, wood-fired pizzas!
Distance from NYC: 408 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 6 hours and 30 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer season (June to August) is peak season for a reason. The weather is perfect (rarely gets above the mid-80s) and the spray from the falls will feel heavenly. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then try to visit in either late April/early May or late September/early October.
Where to stay:
Cavalier Motel (Canadian side) (budget) – This hotel is centrally located, breakfast is included, and the staff is super friendly. So yeah, what more could you possibly want? Rooms also start at just $41 a night, making this place is a total steal. All rooms also come with a flat-screen TV, on-demand movies, a mini-bar, toiletries, a seating area, bathtub, heating and air-conditioning, and access to the pool. It’s also within close proximity of several sites, including the House of Frankenstein, the Sand Sculptures Exhibition, and the Rock Legends Wax Museum.
Hanover House Bed and Breakfast (American Side) (mid-range) – This charming bed and breakfast will quickly become your new favorite home away from home. Guests are invited to relax in the garden or shared lounge areas and can enjoy rooms that start at just $129 er night. Rooms here also come with WiFi, a flat-screen TV, a sofa, a clothes rack, ironing facilities and toiletries. But, my fave part? Each morning a full-English breakfast is served. Something that me and my ever hungry stomach can totally get behind.
Best Road Trips from NYC – Massachusetts
10. The Berkshires, MA
Aside from being one of the most popular holiday destinations in Massachusetts, what really makes the Berkshires one of the best road trips from NYC (for me anyway) are all of the region’s artistic connections.
For example, I think we can all agree that Moby Dick is the quintessential American novel. I mean, you may not actually like reading about the great white whale, but I know you’ve definitely heard of him.
So, any fans of Herman Melville out there will be absolutely delighted to visit the Arrowhead – a converted farmhouse near the town of Lenox where the famous author actually wrote many of his greatest works, including Moby Dick!
And If that’s still not enough culture for you (you culture vulture you), then you can always stop by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. It’s known more commonly as The Clark and is definitely one of the greatest art museums in the United States. it also boasts an enormous collection of exhibits that showcase paintings (including works by Rodin, Piero della Francesca, and Winslow Homer), silverware, fine porcelain, 18th-century furniture, and so much more.
And speaking of museums (a terrible segway I know but just go with it)), there’s also the Norman Rockwell Museum – an institution dedicated to an artist whose iconic photographs of Stockbridge, and its citizenry, were splashed all over the covers of magazines, like the Saturday Evening Post, from all across the globe.
So, step inside this fabulous institution and learn all about Rockwell’s unconventional creative process. Marvel at his pictures of some of the most important events in 20th-century American history and enjoy an audio tour where you can hear personal stories from the very models who are showcased in his artwork.
And if you think these museums are swank AF, then you’ll be delighted to know that the dining in the Berkshires is just as sophisticated. So, live the high life (pinkies up) and try a prosciutto and fig pizza at Baba Louie’s Sourdough Pizza in Great Barrington, or sip on a glass of cabernet sauvignon over pan-roasted beef tenderloin at the Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar, also in Lenox.
Distance from NYC: 152 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: There’s an argument to be made for visiting the Berkshires anytime between April and October. It depends on the kind of traveler you are. The area can get crowded in the summers, although not AS busy as some of these other road trip destinations (in my own personal experience). If you want to be outside hiking all day, the summers can be quite hot. So, it might be worth considering spring or autumn. But if you want to do a mix of museum visits and hiking, then the summer weather might be perfect for you. The fall, of course, comes with gorgeous fall foliage, while the spring sees everything in bloom. And if you’re looking for a good ski destination and don’t mind a road trip in the winter, then the Berkshires is also a top ski destination!
Where to stay:
Villager Motel (budget) – A quiet, country motel that is perfect for anyone wanting a relaxing break in the Berkshires. Every room has a desk, cable TV, A/C, heating and free WiFi. There are also vending machines available, although unfortunately no breakfast. But you can easily pop into town for a friendly and hearty meal – something that is totally affordable since rooms here start at $59 per night.
Berkshire Hills Country Inn (mid-range) – After taking one of the best road trips from NYC, enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool or relaxing by the cozy cool fireplace in the lobby! This inn also offers spacious rooms, a continental breakfast, free WiFi, and is an easy drive into Williamstown. All rooms here also start at $105 per night and include a balcony/terrace, satellite TV, heating and air-conditioning, fridge, microwave, and coffee making facilities.
11. Boston, MA
A mere 4-hour car ride away from NYC (assuming everything goes smoothly) is Boston. An iconic destination that easily makes one of the best road trips from NYC. And vice versa I might add. Because New York City is definitely one of the best weekend getaways from Boston too!
Although truth be told, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I had virtually no desire to visit until well into my 20s. And yeah, I was wrong to feel that way.
Now, while this drive CAN be done in 4 hours, I usually like taking the scenic route along the coast and driving until I reach Providence – adding about an hour onto the trip. Plus, I just love to stop in Providence for lunch since I adore vegan food hotspots like Veggie Fun and by CHLOE).
However, once you finally do make it into Boston, you cannot leave without walking the freedom trail. For one, it’s just the thing to do. But two, it’s pretty much the best way to learn about the city’s fascinating history and is easily one of the best free things to do in Boston. It also takes you past some of the city’s most important historical sites.
And FY, I’m also a huge fan of other iconic Boston attractions like the crypt under the Old North Church (so spooky!), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Boston Public Library.
I know, I know, I’m a super nerd but I’m totally okay with that.
Additionally, Boston is also home to a bunch of super cool, trendy AF neighborhoods, like my fave, Beacon Hill. But, Back Bay and North End also have a lot going on (they’re all that and a bag of chips a la the 90s).
In fact, the North End is actually home to one of the best Italian restaurants that I’ve ever eaten at, Giacomo’s (and that’s saying a lot). And although a lot of their menu items are meat or seafood-based, their pumpkin tortellini with mascarpone and sage sauce is straight-up to die for. So yeah, definitely eat that.
However, if you’re in Beacon Hill and want a break from the chaos of the city, head to Tatte Bakery & Cafe for some yummy coffee and delicious desserts. They also offer a pastry basket as part of their brunch service and, well, let’s just say that I may or may not have eaten an entire basket all by myself…
Distance from NYC: 215 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Realistically, there’s reason to visit year-round since Boston is just a cool city. However, Boston winters are cold AF, and being a big city, the summers can be overflowing with tourists. So, I recommend anytime in spring or autumn.
Where to stay:
Studio Apartments (budget) – It might seem crazy, but staying in a furnished studio apartment is your best option for a budget stay in Boston! And honestly, I love having all the comforts of home right there. I mean, a full kitchen, laundry, a couch…what more could a girl ask for? Especially since they only cost around $100 per night. There are also plenty of apartments available, like the awesome one I stayed at in Beacon Hill or this one in Brookline.
Oasis Guest House (mid-range) – For whatever reason, a lot of the hotels in Boston have shared bathrooms. Which is fine when I’m backpacking around Europe or Asia, But, I’m a lot less keen on sharing a bathroom when I’m road-tripping from NYC. That’s why I j’dore the Oasis Guest House, Yeah, all of their guest rooms start at a reasonable $104 per night and come with private bathrooms, as well as WiFi, satellite TV, alarm services and heating/air-conditioning.
12. Salem, MA
If you’re looking for a Halloween thrill, or just want to hardcore swan dive into one of the oldest historic seaports in American history, then a scenic drive to Salem, Massachusetts is the perfect weekend getaway for you!
Because this enchanting, coastal city has a wealth of activities for you to enjoy – many of which center around the area’s most famous historical event: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
Also, spoiler alert, The Salem Witch House on Summer Street is known for being one of the most haunted places in New England. So, definitely go on a guided tour of the former home of Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges of the witchcraft trials, if you feel like having your proverbial pants scared off (not encouraging hardcore nudity or anything here people). You can also do a super cool Salem Haunt and History Guided night tour which is fun and informative, without being overly scary.
Otherwise, feel free to explore the Salem Witch Museum. It sits just one street over from the Howard Street Cemetery and will educate/ entertain you with its wealth of exhibits and its theatrical presentations!
And if that’s still not enough witchy goodness for you, there’s also the Salem Witch Village and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, both of which are located on Liberty Street next to The Burying Point (the place where both accused witches and their judges were laid to rest).
However. if you’re in serious need of a breath of fresh air after all that spooky stuff, then I can highly recommend taking a walk around the Breakheart Reservation. It’s less than a 30-minute drive away from the city and is a lovely, hardwood forest that features a large number of trails for hiking, biking, and even skiing.
Along the way, you’ll also see several highly Instagram-able sections of the Saugus River, as well as a picturesque lake, incredible beaches and several fishing areas.
Now, when it comes to dining in this iconic New England town, lobster is obviously on the menu. So, definitely head down to the Lobster Shanty on Front Street for an eatery with a lively atmosphere and some delightfully delicious seafood. You’ll also find the scrumptious, Passage to India restaurant here (for Indian food, obvs.), as well as the Flying Saucer Pizza Company (For, you guessed it, pizza!), and Red’s Sandwich Shop for a good ol’ fashioned All-American breakfast.
Because no matter what you’re craving, Salem’s got you covered!
Distance from NYC: 234 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 4 hours and 10 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: SPOOKY SEASON! (aka October).It will be beyond crowded through so be prepared.
Where to stay:
The Merchant (mid-range) – There aren’t many hotels in Salem. But the ones that are here are charming AF. And this one is probs my favorite just because I always stay in the room with the amazing tub and, yeah, it’s basically pure heaven. But from what I’ve seen, all the rooms are super cute and include breakfast, WiFi, fireplace, iPod dock, bathrobes, a closet, and a hairdryer. And, of course, access to all the cool AF Salem attractions that you can handle. Plus, rooms here are pretty reasonably priced at $189 per night. And for Salem, that’s a really good price. #justsayin’
The Hotel Salem (mid-range) – Had to stay here once instead of the Merchant and it did not disappoint. Because the rooms are chic, the beds are comfy, and this place sits maybe five feet away from the Witch History Museum. So yeah, it kind of feels like going back in time when I stay here. Rooms also start at $150 per night and include WiFi, satellite TV, wake-up services, toiletries, ironing facilities, clothing racks, a shower, heating, and air conditioning. So yeah, definitely a solid option when planning to take one of the best road trips from NYC.
Best Road Trips from NYC – Virginia
13. Alexandria, VA
History is the name of the game in the gorgeous (and super Instagram-able) riverside city of Alexandria.
Founded way back when in 1749, Alexandria is still looking mighty hip and spry for a city that is well over two-hundred and fifty years old. Which is great news for potential visitors, embarking on one of the best road trips from NYC, who should beeline on over to the historic Old Town area…ASAP.
Because as you walk along the redbrick sidewalks and wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll begin to understand exactly how George Washington felt as he commandingly strolled through his much-beloved, adopted city.
Speaking of good old George, you can actually still visit his house! Yup, his digs are just over yonder at Mount Vernon – which also happens to be the single most visited historic home in the entire USA.
The estate is also conveniently located just to the south of Alexandria’s Old Town, so you can easily visit this huge mansion, and its expansive grounds and gardens, while you’re here. And if you want to make things a bit easier, you can always book an uber-snazzy, wonderfully comprehensive tour of Washington’s Mount Vernon and Alexandria’s Old Town. Who knows, you might even begin to feel just like a President!
However, If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual to do, then check out John Hollensbury’s Tiny Spite House! It’s pretty much the exact opposite of Mount Vernon since it’s small and is a spite house. So yeah, it was basically built to annoy people. And John Hollensbury basically designed it as a way to deter people from loitering in the alley right near his actual house.
Believe it or not, the building is so small that It’s officially the skinniest historic house in America. Which makes sense since the structure is only a grand total of 7 feet wide! But on the plus side, it’s super adorbs as a result (Yeah, maybe not the reaction John was going for).
Anyway, while you’re here, you can also live large (lame pun alert) and eat your face off at some of the amazing restaurants that you’ll find in good old Alexandria. I mean, you’ve got Chinese cuisine at Yunnan By Potomac Noodle House, Mexican at Chop Shop Taco (formerly an auto body repair store), seafood at Hank’s Oyster Bar, and Greek food at Taverna Cretekou.
Distance from NYC: 235 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 4 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: June through August is peak tourist season, so avoid at all costs if you can, cause it’s busy, hot, and sticky. I definitely recommend visiting in either spring or autumn instead. Specifically, April, May, September, or October when the weather is perfect.
Where to stay:
Quality Inn (budget) – LAME! A chain hotel. But, this Quality Inn is located just 5 miles outside of the city center, which makes it a quieter and more relaxing place to stay. Plus, they have an on-site pool, spacious rooms that start at $72 per night, and, oh yeah, breakfast is included (the heavens open up and sing with joy). All the rooms here also come with a mini-bar, an iron, coffee-making facilities, a safe, and a hairdryer. Some of them even have a comfy little sofa that is perfect for lounging. Aww!
Sheraton Suites Old Town (mid-range) – Nestled in Alexandria’s historic old town, this hotel is pretty much the perfect place to stay in Alexandria. I mean, you’re a stone’s throw away from the Potomac River, Fort Hunt Park, and the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Plus, some of the rooms here also give you a stunning view of the nearby river, start at just $200per night, and include WiFi, a private bathroom, a closet, a safe, a kitchenette, and satellite TV.
14. Chincoteague Island, VA
This is absolutely one of the best road trips from NYC for anyone wanting to combine a bit of American history with a love of the great outdoors.
Because as you are probably already aware, Chincoteague Island is known for its wild ponies. So, venture into Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and you’re bound to see some. If you can though, definitely try taking a guided tour through the refuge or going on a scenic cruise around the island.
Now, for all my fellow history nerds out there, make sure that you run, don’t walk, to the Museum of Chincoteague Island. Because this snazzy little institution covers basically the entire history of the island from its very first inhabitants all the way through to modern-day.
While I was here, I also loved the Captain Timothy Hill House, which is just a traditional, old AF house that oozes charm out of every floorboard. Sadly it isn’t always open since they’re short on staff, so don’t get your hopes up. But it’s still cool from the outside if you’re in the area and want to sneak a peek.
Now, as you drive down to Chincoteague Island, you’ll cut across New Jersey, go down through Delaware, and into the semi-detached portion of Maryland.
Sadly, this trip isn’t as scenic as my favorite upstate New York road trip. But, you’ll still be driving right along the ocean as you go through Delaware. So, you can always roll down your windows and catch an amazing ocean breeze.
And lastly, but most importantly, let’s talk about the glorious food scene in Chincoteague, which is basically all about the food trucks, baby! Personally, though, I’m OBSESSED with Lily’s Little Mexico, at 6700 Maddox Blvd. They serve authentic Mexican food that is out of this world. They even have a separate veggie menu, which has some veggie burritos and tostadas de quinoa that I adore. However, Sandy Pony Donuts and Build Your Own Cookie is also beloved by sugar addicts like me since they sell donuts and cookies, respectively.
Yeah, do I really need to say more? Becauae I feel like you should be running, not walking there right about now.
Distance from NYC: 279 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 5 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: The summer weather draws in the crowds and it is the ideal time to visit. But, if you visit in spring or fall, the prices tend to be cheaper and there are a lot less people. Something that KIND OF matters on an island.
Where to stay:
Waterside Inn (budget) – Beautiful waterside views (as the name implies) are paired with complimentary breakfast and friendly staff members. So yeah, what more do you need really? Well, just in case that isn’t quite enough for you, each room starts at $80 per night and comes with a balcony/terrace (to enjoy the view), a microwave, a fridge, coffee and tea making facilities, WiFI, and satellite TV.
Anchor Inn (mid-range) – This is the ideal place for you to sit on your spacious balcony, complete with a comfy seating area, and marvel at the epic views that envelope you! The rooms here, which start at a reasonable $95 per night, are also surprisingly large and come with a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a fridge, a microwave, a clothing rack, WiFi, and complimentary toiletries. Breakfast is also available for an additional fee but is totally worth it since you really don’t want to be running around the island first thing in the AM, frantically searching for grub. Yeah, that’s what I call a nightmare (and I’m referring to the whole being without food thing).
Best RoadTrips from NYC – Other Places Along the East Coast
15. Washington DC
It always amazes me that the country’s capital city is a mere 4 hours away from NYC!
Therefore, I think we can all agree this is definitely one of the best road trips from NYC, especially for history buffs or anyone interested in learning about American politics. And if it’s your first time in DC, definitely check out some of these amazing, Washington DC travel tips.
Now, surprising to exactly no one is the fact that Washington, DC is home to a TON of amazing museums. I mean, there’s the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (amazing and incredibly heartbreaking but easily one of my fave museums of all time), the National Law Enforcement Museum (it’s better than it sounds), the Smithsonian (So many museums and so little time. But you can take a fun tour of the Natural History Museum), the National Museum of the American Indian, the International Spy Museum (so much fun and so many incredible interactive exhibits), and dozens more.
I swear, I fo’ sure find a new one every single time I visit. Oh and, DUH, you obviously can’t forget about the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial, just to name a few.
Per usual, I 100% won’t lie to you. So yeah, driving along I-95 for 4 hours straight definitely isn’t the most exciting drive of your life and can also consist of bumper to bumper traffic.
But, you can always morph it into a slightly more proper road trip by stopping off at a bunch of cool places along the way, like Philadelphia or Baltimore.
Oh, and when your tummy starts a grumblin’ and you need a little DC grub, I strongly urge you (read, command you) to procure a pita wrap and some sweet potato fries from Shouk. Or, you can always savor some mind-numbingly delicious Indian food at Rasika. Yeah, I literally fell in love with their Beetroot Cashew Poriyal.
Oh, and for all my fellow sugar fiends out there, I am obsessed with Sticky Fingers Bakery, run by a local vegan baker who actually won the freaking Cupcake Wars on the Food Network! So yeah, this place is clearly legit.
Distance from NYC: 227 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 4 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: In an ideal world, visit during autumn. The heat – and tourists – of summer are gone, and the fall colors are perfect for all your insta photos. But spring is nice, too, (hello, cherry blossoms) and winter can be pretty magical if you don’t mind the cold.
Where to stay:
Found Places Capitol Hill Bed and Breakfast (budget) – If you’re willing to share bathrooms and have separate, twin beds (if you’re not traveling solo), then Found Places is a great budget option with rooms that start at a ridiculously cheap, $45 per night. However, It is pretty basic. But whatevs. DC is notoriously expensive and the beds here are comfy and the place is really clean, which is all you really need if you’re going to be out all day exploring a city as cool as Washington, DC.
Georgetown Inn West End (mid-range) – Located downtown, this hotel sits a mere mile away from the White House, and less than two miles from the Vietnam and Korean Veterans Memorials, and the Lincoln Memorial. Plus, because it’s a Hilton property, you know the standards are high. So yeah, you’ll find rooms that start at $118 per night (a total steal for the HIlton) and that include WiFi, shared areas, a fridge, coffee and tea making services, and air conditioning.
16. Cape May, NJ
Cape May is the place to go for a classic American beach vacation (so don’t forget your handy beach vacation packing list) and is the terminus for one of New York’s most scenic drives since you’ll be cruising south along the coast.
However, Cape May only gets better upon arrival since the 30 block city center is a registered National Historic Landmark that is brimming over with 600 exquisitely well-preserved, eye-catching, Victorian-era houses.
But, the beaches are the first place you should go since there is plenty of space for swimming, surfing, kayaking, fishing (if you just want to kick back), and volleyball along the shore.
And once you’ve got your tan on (and maybe even sizzled a bit like bacon), you can head out onto the water as part of Cape May Island Sunset Cruise (also be on the lookout for dolphins) or by doing a Salt Marsh Safari – an eco-cruise aboard the Skimmer that takes you through the Cape May Coastal Wetlands Wildlife Management Area. See, It’s fun AND educational!
Another one of Cape May’s more unique activities is bird-watching. Because thanks to the area’s wealth of salt marshes and coastal location along the flight path of vaious migratory birds, you can find upwards of 450 different bird species in one place. So yeah, definitely make sure to pack those binoculars!
Now, after all that avid birding, you’ll need a hearty evening meal. And because we’re right by the sea, seafood is the order of the day. So, choose between a wide selection of local delicacies like mussels, scallops, shrimp, swordfish, calamari, clam chowder, seafood pies, and more! Because Cape May really does serve up everything that a salty seafarer could possibly ask for, especially if you head to either Coastal Blue or Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille for some authentic South Jersey flavors and gorgeous seaside views.
Distance from NYC: 158 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Visit in May, June, September, or October to get the best weather and to avoid the peak crowds. And since the main reason you’re here is to visit the beach and explore the cape, you definitely don’t want to visit when it’s too cold!
Where to stay:
Stardust Motel (budget) – Just across the street from the beach and the Wildwood Boardwalk is this great budget beach hotel. All rooms start at $63 per night and include WiFi, satellite TV, a microwave, a fridge, and a coffee maker. Guests also have access to the on-site pool, although I’m not sure you actually need it with the beach and a waterpark literally right next door. There’s also free on-site parking, BBQ facilities, vending machines, and even an ATM. So yeah, feel free to do a little game show “ohing” and “ahing” at will.
Angel of the Sea Bed and Breakfast (mid-range) – Enjoy a bit of luxury just across the street from the beach! Because this ultra-snazzy, historic home was first built in 1850 and is overflowing with Victorian-era charm and decor. So much so that there’s a tea service in the afternoon and a daily wine and cheese service every evening. Yeah, you read that correctly. Your stay also starts at $159 per night and comes with a gourmet breakfast and ocean views. Each well-appointed room also features heating, A/C, a fan (so take your pick!), a private bathroom, satellite TV, toiletries, a hairdryer, a closet, and complimentary bottled water.
17. Baltimore, MD
Visiting Maryland’s most populous city (and the largest independent city in the United States) is easily one of the best road trips from NYC that you’ll find on this list. A fact that makes infinitely more sense once you realize that you’ll pass through several of this nation’s oldest states on your way here!
That’s also why, history will be the main order of the day when you visit an almost 400-year-old settlement like Baltimore. I mean, no joke, there are enough museums here to keep you busy for a solid month, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Science Centre, and the American Visionary Art Museum.
But for an educational experience that is also family orientated, try visiting the National Aquarium (I went there almost every Friday evening while I attended college in nearby Frederick Maryland. It was perfect since the aquarium is beyond epic and free to visit at that time of day). Here you can enjoy and interact with all manner of mysterious and captivating marine creatures through 4-D immersive films and a real-life stingray touch tank!
Also, slightly random, fun factoid about B-more for ya. Did you know that the poem that eventually became the Star-Spangled Banner was actually written here in Baltimore over at Fort McHenry? Yup, it’s totally true and something I kind already knew since I visited the city quite a bit while I was in college.
But, you can always learn more about the history of the site while exploring the Fort’s expensive grounds along the edge of Locust Point. Although, how this fortification ever managed to survive a 24-hour bombardment by the British navy – a fact that saved the city from occupation – I’ll never know. Even though it is all explained in great detail at the on-site museum. The craziness of it all just totally boggles my mind though.
Now, if all that higher learning has made you ravenous for food (glorious food), then you’ll be delighted to know that Yelp actually named Baltimore one of the top 10 US cities for food lovers.
So, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll have a ton of amazing eateries to choose from in this mealtime metropolis of sorts. My personal faves include Ida B’s Table for a bit of Southern soul food, the Woodberry Kitchen (located in a converted flour mill near Hampden) for delicious seasonal dishes sourced exclusively from local farmers, and Miss Shirley’s for a decadent, Southern-style, Sunday brunch.
And for a fancy night out, visit The Prime Rib, with its tuxedoed waiters, white tablecloths, and live piano music! You also cannot leave Baltimore without stopping by Blake’s Crab House and enjoying some Maryland crabs that have been expertly steamed in good, old fashioned, Old Bay seasoning.
Distance from NYC: 188 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer season is HOT and crowded, BUT it’s also when the city has the most going on in terms of events or festivals. Of course, if that’s not of interest and you just wanna check out the main sites or get away from the city for a bit, spring and autumn are a better bet.
Where to stay:
Candlewood Suites (budget) – The Candlewood Suites provide easy access to all the area’s main attractions, as well as concierge and 24 hour security, a library, and luggage storage Plus, pets are totally allowed! All of the rooms here also feature WiFi, satellite TV, a large bed, shower/bathtub, and coffee-making facilities. And at a reasonable price too since rooms here start at just $80 per night.
Hotel Indigo (mid-range) – Located downtown, right across the street from the Baltimore Basilica, this mid-range hotel definitely feels a whole lot more luxurious with its fitness center, bar, spacious bedrooms, insanely comfy beds, and panoramic views over the city. Rooms here also start at an insanely reasonable $89 per night and come with standards like WiFi, cable TV, coffee making facilities, heating, and air conditioning, as well as a desk, shower (some have bathtubs), a safe, and on-demand movies. Breakfast is also available for an additional fee, with veggie, vegan options available for wannabe cool kids like me.
18. Lake Champlain NY/VT
Once a great lake for a solid five days (true story), Lake Champlain straddles the New York and Vermont border. So, you can easily visit this breathtakingly beautiful body of water from either state.
However, I personally prefer staying in Vermont. Yeah, there’s just something about the good old, green mountain state that totally appeals to me.
And if I had to pick a home base while enjoying the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. I’d choose Burlington every single time.
Yeah, because the University of Vermont is literally right there, the city has an amazing food scene that comes complete with a wicked awesome gelato shop, among other things. Because I mean really, is there anything better than admiring stellar views of Lake Champlain while eating a ridiculously large scoop of gelato?
Oh, and FYI, the answer to that question is of course, no. And added bonus? Shy Guy Gelato actually sells a variety of different flavors every single day. So, you can stop by on the reg and always find a totally new flavor to try…purely for research purposes though. OBVI. Yeah, not gonna lie, the ice cream alone easily makes this one of the best road trips from NYC.
Hey, I see those eyes! Don’t judge me and my addiction to sugar! LOL.
And speaking of food I’m also a big fan of the Istanbul Kebab House in downtown Burlington. Delicious red lentil soup and vegetable stuffed eggplant. Yum! Oh, and for breakfast, there’s the Skinny Pancake. Not that these pancakes will ever make me skinny, but it’s a nice thought.
Aaaanyway, enough about my stomach! Because there is a ton to do in Burlington besides eat. I mean, you could stop by the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, explore the nearby Shelbourne Museum, take the ferry to Essex, NY, visit one of the area’s many local breweries (like Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity Brewery), or check out the farm animals at Shelburne Farms. Yup, so much to do and so little time.
You can also trek through the wetlands in Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, go swimming and hiking in Niquette Bay State Park, or visit the Juniper Island Light House, the oldest surviving cast-iron lighthouse in the US.
And, even though Burlington is in Vermont, the easiest way to get there is via one hella glorious upstate New York Road Trip. But if you want to go through Vermont to drag it out, that’s also a beautiful, incredibly scenic option too.
Distance from NYC: 306 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 5 hours and 35 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Lake Champlain can be a great getaway anytime between May and September. Like most places, the summer months are the busiest and the warmest, but don’t let that deter you. Autumn offers beautiful fall foliage and the weather is cooler, while spring has great weather and everything is gorgeous as the flowers start to bloom.
Where to stay:
GGT Tibet Inn (budget) – I won’t lie, I was drawn in by the name since I love Tibet with my whole heart. But, for a budget hotel in South Burlington, it’s actually a great pick. Located just next to Shelbourn Bay, the GGT Tibet Inn features a swimming pool and WiFi throughout. All rooms also start at a reasonable $80 per night and are outfitted with a fridge, microwave, shower, and cable TV. It’s also within quick walking distance of Pauline’s Café, which serves brunch. Because yeah, you know ya girl loves brunch (especially NYC brunch)!
Hotel Vermont (mid-range) – Right in the heart of Burlington, and across the street from Battery Park, Waterfront Park and the beach, this chic downtown hotel is one of my faves to crash into after a long road trip from NYC. It has amazing views, friendly staff, and an on-site restaurant that serves excellent breakfast and dinner that is made using local products. Rooms also start at $194 per night and feature a private shower, free toiletries, a hairdryer WiFi, cable TV, and a desk. A few also have a whirlpool bathtub! Yup, we gettin’ fancy up in here!
19. Montreal, Canada
One of the many amazing things about New York is that it is so close to Canada that you can actually road trip there, easily making Montreal one of the best road trips from NYC. It also happens to be one of my all time fave cities,
So yeah, if you’ve never been, seriously, what are you waiting for? I mean, Montreal is home to none other than the Basilique Notre-Dame. Or, for anyone not in the know, one of the single most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Easily putting all my fave NYC churches to shame.
Hey, don’t @ me. It honestly looks like something out of a fairy tale and I visit EVERY SINGLE TIME I’m in Montreal.
I’m also always happy to let my tourist flag fly in Montreal since I love doing everything from the Ferris Wheel to the Botanical Gardens. If you want, you can even visit the underground city of Montreal (otherwise known as a series of interconnected shops and businesses), which if nothing else is just a cool AF concept!
Plus, if you’re hoping for New York scenic drives, the drive through upstate New York and into Montreal is easily one of the best. I mean, you’ll pass uber-iconic NY destinations like Lake George while admiring the High Peaks Wilderness area that surrounds you.
And, if for some reason you don’t fancy getting there via an upstate New York road trip, then you can always add an extra hour onto the drive and go to Montreal via Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, which I think we can all agree are three beyond beautiful states!
But enough idle chit chat. Because I’m sure you want to know all about the Montreal foodie goodness – a city that is overflowing with hella tasty asian inspired cuisine (And French too. DUH)! Personally, though, my top rec is Yuan, a vegan restaurant that serves a wide array of dishes from across Asia (particularly Thailand, Japan, and China). I could literally eat their ravioli with peanut sauce all day, every single day and die a happy woman.
Distance from NYC: 372 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 6 hours
Best Time of Year to Visit: I’m gonna say not winter because I hate the cold. But really, Montreal is amazing year-round, and there are a lot of amazing winter activities you can do, like ice skating or skiing. If you don’t want a winter holiday, then I would recommend spring or fall to avoid the crowds and get the most out of the weather.
Where to stay:
Hotel Abri du Voyageur (budget) – Located near the Latin Quarter, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art is a mere 2 blocks away, for any and all of my fellow museum nerds out there! The rooms here are also surprisingly large, especially for $32 per night, and include free breakfast, as well as WiFi. Some of the rooms have shared bathrooms, so if that’s an issue, double-check and make sure you’re getting a private bathroom before you book!
Le Nouvel Hotel & Spa (mid-range) – One of the MANY reasons I love Montreal is because of how much cheaper it is than NYC. For example, I love that a mid-range hotel in Montreal starts at $80 a night and includes cable TV, a coffee maker, and ironing facilities. Yes, please! Plus, some of the rooms here even have a balcony, as well as a bathtub and/or a kitchenette too.
20. Boothbay Harbor, ME
I went here on a whim one year and it totally wound up being one of my favorite road trips from NYC. I had no expectations but fell in love with this quaint little New England town and really enjoyed my time at Acadia National Park too!
A large portion of the drive is along the coast, which makes for phenomenal views out over the Long Island Sound and into the Atlantic Ocean. If you want, can actually do the entire drive along the coast. And the downside? Well, it will add a solid 2 hours to your drive (especially since you’ll have to go through Boston). But, if you’re not worried about time and your main goal is to have fun, then I deffo recommend taking the scenic route.
Also, along the way, definitely stop by the Fort Popham State Historic Site, a former Civil War-era defense fortification, as well as Reid State Park. Both are fab and total must-sees before you get to your final destination.
Now, once you’re finally in Boothbay Harbor itself, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is 100% worth your time. Because this 250-acre seaside botanical garden is one of my fave places in Maine. I could also happily spend a whole day here since there’s a cute cafe inside with sustenance.
In addition to the botanical gardens, there’s also the Boothbay Railroad village, a place where you can relive your childhood dream of being a train conductor (just me?), or the Maine State Aquarium, which is pretty small in size. But, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for with giant lobsters that you can touch.
But really, I just love wandering around the town, walking along the coast, and soaking up the quiet, New England vibes here.
Now, because this coastal town is right by the ocean, they LOVE their seafood. So, if you enjoy seafood (and loster especially), then you can basically eat anywhere and find a delicious lobster roll or a bowl of New England clam chowdah (note the regional spelling of chowder here).
As a vegetarian though, I personally recommend the Boat House Bistro which has a pretty tasty Tandoori Tikka Tofu option (and a few others), and that I’ve been assured also has great seafood, too.
Distance from NYC: 380 miles
How Many Hours it will Take: 6 hours and 25 minutes
Best Time of Year to Visit: Hands down, summer, and autumn. Summers are a bit busier, but also warmer. But, the cooler autumn days might be preferable for some since they are accompanied by beautiful fall foliage. Of course, if you love botanical gardens as much as I do, then Spring is the best time to see the flowers.
Where to stay:
Russell House Bed and Breakfast (mid-range) – Love this B&B and the hosts. The rooms are also all uniquely decorated and come with local, complimentary toiletries, plus showers, bathrobes, hairdryers, ironing facilities, a spacious closet, a satellite TV, a fridge, air conditioning, and heating. And while the price is a bit steep at $150 per night, let’s be real here, you get what you pay for. And this place is 100% worth the price.
Harbour Towne Inn on the Waterfront (luxury) – As the name implies, this great property is right on the waterfront, which is kind of what you want in a harbor town! And to fully enjoy the location, there is a porch where you can sit and relax and take in the view. Free WiFi is also available throughout the hotel, and a complimentary breakfast is provided every morning. All rooms start at $180 per night and include cable TV and DVD player, a private shower, heating, and air conditioning.
Well, there you have it my dear faithful, lovable, and altogether wonderful reader (Laying it on thick aren’t I? LOL). Because that just about wraps up my ridiculously long, insanely comprehensive post on 20 of the best road trips from NYC!
Tell me, did your favie fave New York road trip make the list? And if not, then let me know in the comments below so that I can check it out.
Also, if you’re feeling super generous, you should totally pin this now so that you can read it again later. Come on, you know you want to!