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The 7 Best Road Trips From NYC

the best road trips from NYC

New York's prime location along the Eastern Seaboard enables its more than 8.5 million residents to escape the city and travel by car to a bevy of destinations. Some weekend trips from NYC warrant little planning, making them ideal choices for a spontaneous road trip. These seven places are six hours or less from Manhattan, perfect for a long weekend away. Get your car out of storage, gas up, and go.

1. The Finger Lakes

Approximate driving time: 5 hours

finger lakes road trip

Wine drinkers will find the drive worth it once they reach the Finger Lakes—one of the best weekend getaways in Upstate NY. Well known for its 11 finger-shaped lakes, bucolic setting, and wine trails with over 100 vineyards and tasting rooms, the Finger Lakes area is also home to Cornell University and the Women's Rights Movement. This area of New York State is no stranger to culture either. Discover more than 135 art museums, 80 galleries, and over 400 historic sites and landmarks in the region.

2. The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Approximate driving time: 3 hours

Cross the New York State line, and you’ll encounter charming towns like Lenox, Stockbridge, and Great Barrington. Equally lovely in spring, summer, winter, and fall, this slice of Western Massachusetts features gorgeous scenery, farm-to-table eateries, and antique and specialty shopping.

Visual and performing arts are essential to the culture of the Berkshires too. In the summertime, the Tanglewood Music Festival – a residency for the Boston Pops and guest artists like Audra McDonald and James Taylor – takes the stage from late June through Labor Day weekend. Meanwhile, the renowned Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival entertains at the same time. Plus, you can cruise from town to town and experience the essence and distinct beauty of the Berkshires.

3. Montreal, Quebec

Approximate driving time: 6 hours

If you travel for food and live to eat (like me), Montreal is one of the best road trips from NYC and should be high on your list of places to experience. Chefs take food and wine seriously, whipping up everything from poutine – the beloved local dish made from French fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy – to organic and vegetarian options, offal specialties, smoked meats, and French staples. Besides offering a bounty of restaurant choices, the city remains laid-back and hip, and it's only a six-hour drive from NYC.

4. Washington, D.C.

Approximate driving time: 4.5 hours

Washington dc road trip from NY

Sure, you can hop a bus to D.C. and avoid driving in that horrific traffic that the Capitol is known for. But taking a road trip from New York allows you to explore some of the city’s more dynamic neighborhoods as well as cross the river into Arlington (where the famed military cemetery is located) and Alexandria, Virginia, so you can explore historic Old Town and peruse the myriad shops on King Street. Of course, you’ll want to wander through Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, and Adams Morgan, and see top sites like the Washington Monument.

5. Lake Placid, New York

Approximate driving time: 5 hours

Home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, this Upstate New York town is ideal for adventure lovers looking for a weekend getaway from NYC. You'll have the opportunity to hike, ski, ice skate, ice fish, mountain bike, and more when you visit Lake Placid. For the not-so-adventurous, there are spa treatments, shops, cafés, bistros, and even fine dining for the most discriminating foodie. Head north on Interstate I-87 to US-9 and enjoy the scenery along the way.

6. Portland, Maine

Approximate driving time: 5.5 hours

Succulent lobster, a working waterfront, and foamy ocean waters await in Portland, Maine. You can expect a relaxed yet funky vibe in this seaside town that’s perched on a peninsula stretching to Casco Bay. This coastal city offers plenty to do, including the Old Port, myriad unique shops, not to mention activities for outdoor fanatics – think sailing, fishing, biking, whale watching, and more. If you’d rather be eating and drinking, you’ll have plenty of choices since Portland boasts a burgeoning restaurant scene as well.

7. Cape May, New Jersey

Approximate driving time: 3 hours

road trip to cape may from NY

Painted ladies, sugar sand, fudge, taffy, and the Atlantic Ocean will surround you in Cape May. This shore town at the tip of South Jersey is a great last-minute getaway from NYC. Picturesque doesn’t begin to describe this coastal community where colorful Victorian houses pepper the streetscape. Cape May is as great for families as it is for couples and quiet singles. No, you won’t find the party scene that you would in some neighboring towns, but you’ll happen upon an ideal beach escape in summer, as well as a lovely spot to recoup in the other seasons.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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