Hey Ecophiles, my partner and I love taking off-beat and fun day trips from the city. But ditching the crowds and being in nature just a couple of hours away from downtown is a challenge! Which destinations would you recommend for day trips from NYC?

– Manju Miller, New York

Hi Manju,

You’re in luck – off-beat day trips are our thing! NYC is close to some charming towns, both upstate and Long Island.  If you want to get away from the crowds at the Hamptons, and are done with Hudson valley, here are some lesser-known gorgeous escapes you can try –

Long Island Sustainable Vineyards

Visit one of the members of sustainable vineyards in Long Island and enjoy the fruits of their environmentally sound and holistic practices. Sprinkled all over Long Island, these vineyards focus on conservation of ecosystem and sustaining the community. From family owned farms to historic vineyards, with their low-impact farming these establishments are quickly becoming more than just a source for charming local wine. These vineyards are a great reason to make a green day trip to Long Island.

Bedell Cellars is one of many gorgeous sustainable vineyards that are great for both solo travelers and groups. You’ll love visiting the beautiful gardens in the historic area as you taste some of the East Coast’s most carefully cultivated wines.

Long Island Bedel Cedars

Photo: Courtesy of Bedell Cedars Winery, Long Island

Storm King

Storm King is long held as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks in the lower Hudson Valley, where its pristine 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time. Storm King Art Center is located in the town of Cornwall, NY about 90 minutes from the city. It provides trams for visitors with limited mobility and young children. For the rest, if you really want to explore it best –  walk! 

Storm King

Photo: Ron Cogswell via Wikimedia Commons

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

For green travelers who love wildlife, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel, NY is the ideal getaway. Who knew that one of the nation’s most important bird sanctuaries was right outside your door? Jamaica Bay has been the home of more than 330 bird species for over two decades. Aside from bird watching, visitors can also enjoy guided cruises through the bay, walking trails, and other exhibits. You may even see a diamond terrapin turtle along the shore during a guided nature hike as well!

Jamaica Bay NY

Photo: Courtesy of NPS

Family Farm Trips

Ever wonder how what it’s like to run a sustainable farm? Believe it or not, there are many family farms not far from the city that you can tour for an inside look at how organic food is grown. The Valley Shepherd Creamery is a great option, especially for cheese connoisseurs. This old-fashioned dairy farm not only gives private tours, but also hosts cheesemaking classes for visitors interested in learning first-hand how cheese is made. If you visit in the spring, don’t forget to take a look at the new baby lambs on one of their lamb tours.

Lamb farm

Photo Courtesy of Valley Shephard

Bike on a historic trail

An easy getaway perfect for a day trip is taking a long walk or bike ride on one of the many beautiful nature trails in the area. There are few better ways to relieve stress or reconnect than spending a day in the great outdoors. The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail covers a historic aqueduct that provided water to New York City up until the mid 1960s. Today, visitors can take scenic bike ride, walks, runs through the lush park. Another scenic, historic bike ride is the Erie Canalway, which extends across the state from Buffalo all the way to Lake George. 

Mystic, CT

Mystic, CT certainly has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a long weekend away. Mystic is about a three hour train or car ride from New York City, but it’s well worth the trip. With a population of around 4,400 people, this town hold a lot of charm and history. Take a walk through the Mystic Seaport’s beautiful gardens. These gardens were  modeled as recreations of the original 19th century Burrows House garden and the Buckingham-Hall House garden. A walking tour will feel like a trip back in time! The Olde Mistick Village is another great spot close to the waterfront. 

Mystic CT

Photo: Tom Henthorn via Flickr

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Also Read: 

Life Beyond Times Square: Plan a quirky, non-touristy NYC trip

7 Secret NYC Gardens You Must Visit