From contemporary museums to hundred-year-old mansions, here are some of the most interesting destinations just beyond New York City limits.
Although there’s no shortage of interesting things to do in NYC, sometimes venturing outside of the city is a nice change of pace. Luckily, thanks to New York’s fantastic public transit, there are plenty of amazing landmarks well within reach. Here are some of the easiest MetroNorth / PATH-accessible day trips from New York, to help you enjoy the autumn foliage and get your fill of nature just a hop, skip, and jump from Manhattan.
1. Dia Beacon
Located in Beacon, a town just upriver from NYC, Dia Beacon is a well-known contemporary art museum, displaying collections from 1960 to the present. Between the fascinating building (which was originally a Nabisco factory) and the thought-provoking exhibits, Dia Beacon is well worth the hour-and-a-half trip for art lovers looking to get a breath of fresh air outside the city. A necessary stop on the contemporary art circuit, this museum offers an expansive array of thoughtfully arranged masterpieces, and an unbeatable view of the Hudson River.
2. The Rockefeller Estate - Kykuit
For history buffs and architecture lovers alike, this hundred-year-old mansion, located in the heart of New York’s Sleepy Hollow, is a must-visit. An easy ride north via the Metro-North rail, Kykuit even offers discounts to visitors who arrive via train. The estate itself has everything you could ask for — go on one of the many guided tours and experience the opulence of John D. Rockefeller’s historic home, complete with art galleries, gardens, and a fleet of antique carriages and automobiles. Be sure to arrive early in the day — tours are first-come, first-served, so the earlier you arrive, the sooner you get to enjoy the scenery.
3. Breakneck Ridge
For nature lovers, New York can be tough — although Central Park is scenic, there’s no escaping the bustling urban energy. Luckily, the Breakneck Ridge Loop can be found just a short train ride from the city. Although the hike itself is steep and occasionally strenuous, it leads to one of the most breathtaking vistas in the entirety of the Hudson Valley. Since the hike is short, you’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath and take in the panorama, enjoying spectacular views of New York’s changing foliage. Take the Metro-North Hudson line to the Cold Spring station, slip on your best hiking shoes, and walk north to the trailhead to begin your adventure.
4. Grace Farms
Just across the Connecticut border lies Grace Farms, a newly-designed space wherein visitors are encouraged to “experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith.” Formerly a horse farm, Grace Farms features an ultra modern building credited to Sanaa, a world-renowned Japanese architecture firm. But don’t be intimidated by its famous design — Grace Farms is, for all intents and purposes, a community center, meant to bring people together in admiration of the property’s peaceful beauty.
5. Liberty State Park
For travelers who prefer to stay a little closer to NYC, Liberty State Park is an easy (but equally beautiful) alternative. Located less than 2,000 feet from the Statue of Liberty, Liberty State Park is just across the New Jersey border, opposite Liberty and Ellis Islands. Featuring a 9/11 memorial aptly named “The Empty Sky,” Liberty State Park is the perfect combination of historic landmark and scenic public garden. Surrounded by water on three sides, this park is the perfect location for a quiet afternoon picnic, or the perfect launching point for an unforgettable kayak tour.