6 Fun Places to Visit 2 Hours from New York City

By Ryan Brace

There’s just something about the hustle and bustle of big city life that can get a little tiresome, doesn’t it? Everyone needs a break.

Whether you’re a fan of history, culture, or nature, life does exist outside of New York. Less than 2 hours from New York City, there is a wealth of hidden beauty in small towns in the Hudson Valley and on the shores of Long Island.

Here are 6 fun places to escape New York City in under 2 hours.

Bear Mountain, NY

Bear Mountain is a beautiful hiking destination in upstate New York that offers stunning views of the cityscape from atop its peaks.

It has various hiking trails on the Appalachian Trail that seem to never end. And if you’re looking for something more relaxing, the area has plenty of shops and restaurants in the village at the top of the mountain.

Beacon, NY

Beacon, NY is a quaint town located in the Hudson Valley that offers amazing food and wine, as well as an irresistible charm. There’s plenty to do in this picturesque town – from hiking and biking to weekend getaways on horseback or kayaking.

The views and architecture are breathtaking, with stately homes surrounding the town. And of course there’s no trip to Beacon incomplete without visiting some of their local wineries.

New Paltz, NY

If you’re looking for a charming exurb to call home, New Paltz is definitely worth considering. This small city located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains has a long and rich history dating back to when it was first settled by Dutch and British settlers.

More recently, New Paltz has become known for its annual Salsa Festival as well as its quaint downtown area with shops, restaurants, and galleries. However, there’s plenty to do even if you’re just in town for the day.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, don’t forget to check out nearby hiking trails or skiing slopes! Besides all this fun stuff there’s also plenty of opportunities for relaxation – from driving a bit further upstate to relax on some beautiful lakeside estates or simply spending time at one of New Paltz’ many wineries.

Hudson, NY

Hudson, New York is really about 2.5 hours on a busy weekend, but on a good day, you can make it in 2 hours from New York City.

The area home to gorgeous Victorian houses and rolling hills as well as crystal clear lakes. If you’re looking for a day trip from the city, Hudson is definitely worth exploring! There are lots of tourist attractions nearby, like the Vanderbilt Mansion. Hudson is accessible by Amtrak from Penn Station, so you don’t even have to drive up. 

Shelter Island, L.I.

Shelter Island is a short ferry ride from North Haven, Long Island. It is home to the largest salt marsh in North America, as well as various bird species and vegetation.

The island has plenty of shops, restaurants, and attractions available on-island, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the New York area.

The island has been around for over 400 years and its history can be explored at any of the many museums or historical sites that are scattered across its landscape. Whether you’re looking for peace and tranquility or want to explore some of Long Island’s best sights – Shelter Island is definitely worth visiting!

New Hope, PA

New Hope is known for its quaint, yet bustling downtown, with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy for an entire afternoon.

The town is also home to plenty of other attractions – from hiking and biking trails to the beautiful New Hope Furnace. If that’s not enough, there are also Amish villages and lakeside resorts nearby.

All of these destinations are within a two-hour drive of New York City, so you won’t have to worry about spending too much time on the road, especially with high gas prices.