Summer’s the time to get away from it all – to escape to a warm beach or a country you’ve never seen before. But maybe this summer, you want a staycation, or you don’t have the time to go jet-setting. Luckily, New York has access to plenty of railways and trains that are key to enjoying a day trip to one of the historic towns or beautiful nature-filled areas in the region.
Trips off the Long Island Railroad
Along the Long Island Railroad’s 700+ miles of tracks, thousands of workers commute to their 9-5 jobs in the city. But don’t think of the LIRR as just a commuter shuttle; it also gives New Yorkers access to great towns and tourist attractions. Here are a couple of stops worth visiting:
Planting Fields Arboretum
Image: Planting Fields
Planting Fields is a 409-acre nature-lover’s paradise. Once the estate of an oil heiress, and now one of the last few Gold Coast estates still standing on Long Island, Planting Fields is a monument to old Long Island. Visitors can take a guided tour of the estate or guide themselves for a wander through the hiking trails, endless greenery, and serene gardens. After a day surrounded by nature, head over to the Garden Cafe for a bite to eat.
LIRR stop: Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Branch
Travel time: 1.5 hours minutes
Price one-way: $13
Image: Facebook, Adventureland
Head over to Farmingdale, the small town known for its huge selection of top-notch dining. There’s something for everybody: The Rolling Spring Roll has locals raving about its Vietnamese pho, while the Lithology Brewing Company is a standout on the craft beer scene. For a classy, intellectual vibe, you’ll want to try out Library Cafe, which is a converted former public library turned American restaurant. For a more kid-friendly day in Farmingdale, swing by the Adventureland Theme Park which has fun rides ranging from full-on roller coasters to toddler-friendly carousels. Farmingdale is also famous for its pro-golf course Bethpage Black, which provides top-notch greens for experts and beginners alike.
LIRR stop: Farmingdale, Ronkonkoma Branch
Travel time: 1 hour
Price one-way: $13
Amtrak is best known for its coast-to-coast train rides, but when you’re looking for an easy day trip out of the city, you’ll find Amtrak also offers plenty of fun staycation options. Here are a few examples:
Hudson, New York
Image: The Spotty Dog Books & Ale
The lively town of Hudson is a hub of inventive dining and natural beauty. For book-lovers and beer-lovers, The Spotty Dog is a must-see independent bookstore/bar with state-of-the art ale and thousands of offbeat literary finds. If you’re in need of fresh air, stop by the Hawthorne Valley Farm which offers delicious treats like hazel sweet rye bread, as well as a free guided tour of the farmland. After making a day of it, treat yourself to fine dining at Fish & Game, a 19th century blacksmith’s shop converted into an artisan restaurant with delicious seafood.
Amtrak Stop: Hudson, New York
Travel Time: 2 hours
Image: Discover Lancaster, Facebook
Take a trip back in time when you visit Lancaster, home to Pennsylvania’s Dutch country. Visit the Landis Valley Museum, where you can take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon, explore exhibits about life in the 1800s, and even visit the museum’s petting zoo. For an unexpected bit of fun, visit Miller’s Organic Farm, where real-live camels are raised and milked.
Amtrak Stop: Lancaster
Travel Time: 3 hours
New Haven, Connecticut
Image: Thimble Islands
Explore this cultured college town’s natural wonders on a 45-minute sightseeing tour, with Thimble Islands Cruise. For some more waterfront fun, take a walk on Long Island Sound, which offers the sandy beaches of Bradley Point and the Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary, where you can spot dozens of rare birds. Finish off the day with a deep dive into the New Haven theater scene, and catch a show at the celebrity-studded waterfront Long Wharf Theater, whose stage has been graced by the likes of Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey.
Amtrak stop: New Haven
Travel time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Price one-way: $42
This summer you don’t have to travel to far to completely escape from New York City. Explore any of these nearby destinations – or the countless towns off either train line- for a day of adventure.