When wanderlust strikes, it’s lovely if you can hop on a last-minute fare for a week abroad. But if your downtime and budget are a bit more limited, there are still hundreds of day-trip and weekender options within a few hours of Manhattan. White-knuckle outdoor adventure? Leisurely wine-tasting tour? Internationally renowned art collections? We’ve found destinations to suit any agenda.
No car (or don’t want to navigate traffic yourself)? Each of these six getaways is an easy trip from Port Authority Bus Terminal, located between 40th and 42nd Streets, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
Woodstock, New York
Soaked in hippie history and contemporary arts and culture, Woodstock has transformed in recent years from its boho roots. While there are still a scattering of bead shops and dharma-friendly emporiums (Tibetan Arts and Crafts, 7 Rock City Rd., is a notable holdout), they’re making way for chic galleries, eateries, and boutiques. Shopping standouts include Shop Little House (47 Tinker St.), a cozy space crammed with “supplies for modern pioneers” (that’s everything from woodsy blankets and floor mats to hand-forged iron cutlery, and Pacama Handmade (69 Tinker St.), a makers’ co-op of handcrafted furniture, ceramics, and textiles.
Though the Woodstock festival that made the town a household name was actually held in nearby Bethel, Woodstock still prizes live music of every genre. Catch a rootsy rock or blues show at legendary Levon Helm Studios (160 Plochmann Lane) or enjoy America’s longest-running chamber music series at Maverick Concerts (120 Maverick Road).
Colony (22 Rock City Road) alternates concerts with live theater and indie film screenings.
Getting There: Trailways has six Port Authority departures daily, plus three additional weekly routes. Round trip fare is $60, and the one-way drive is about 2.5 hours.
Storm King Art Center
Just an hour north of the city, this 500-acre outdoor sculpture park boasts epic-scale pieces by 82 contemporary artists in a spectacular, yet intimate garden setting. Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall, the artist’s first permanent commission for a museum in the United States, winds down a forested hill and directly into — and through — a shallow pond, emerging on the other shore. Three of Alexander Calder’s monumental metal works invite exploration from every angle, while Nam June Paik’s Waiting for UFO is a three-part series scattered throughout the grounds, awaiting serendipitous discovery. In addition to its permanent collection of sculptures, drawings, and installations, Storm King hosts annual temporary exhibitions featuring specific artists or themes.
Open annually from April to November and on special Winter Weekends during the off-season, Storm King showcases the natural environment as much as the artworks situated within it. Each season offers a fresh opportunity to experience the interplay of sculpture and landscape. Miles of hiking trails
Getting There: Short Line Bus’ Storm King package includes transportation and entrance fee for $48/adult or $24/child. Buses run Wednesday-Sunday from April through September and on Mondays in October. A one-way trip is about 1.5 hours.
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari (NJ Transit 308 Express)
Roller coasters! Carousels! Soft-serve ice cream and fried food on a stick! It’s a classic theme park experience, and it’s all just a bus ride away. There’s a full slate of rides for thrill-seekers, including the new CYBORG Cyber Spin, a seven-story, three-axis anti-gravity experience that twists and turns in unpredictable ways. Going with kids in tow? Family-oriented rides include both classics like bumper cars and Ferris wheel and brand-new attractions like Congo Rapids, a whitewater-rafting ride with splashes guaranteed.
For budding zoologists and veterinarians, Six Flags’ animal attractions are a must-see. The Safari Off Road Adventure offers a ride through 350 acres of animal habitat — the highlight is a stop to feed the giraffes. Conservation-oriented programs educate visitors about the animals that live and work at the park.
Getting There: From April through October, NJ Transit’s 308 Express line picks up passengers at Port Authority and Newark and heads to the park for a full day of fun. There’s just one departure time per day; arrive 15-30 minutes early, especially in the summer, to guarantee a seat. Tickets for the bus only are $38/adult or $17.40/child; add a park pass for a total of $80/adult or $59/child.
Beacon, New York
Situated between Mount Beacon and the Hudson River in the southwest corner of Dutchess County, the former mill town of Beacon has reinvented itself as a hub for the arts while preserving its historic character and charm. Dia: Beacon (3 Beekman St.), once a Nabisco box factory, now houses the collection of the Dia Art Foundation. Its 300,000 square feet of expansive gallery space are perfectly suited to large-scale sculptures, paintings, and photographs by some of the most important figures in contemporary art. Fans of architectural history can explore a range of styles from early Colonial (the Madam Brett Homestead, 50 Van Nydeck Ave., dates from 1709 and is Dutchess County’s oldest surviving building) to Victorian Gothic (Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St., was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, architect of the Biltmore Estate; it now hosts art shows, theatre performances, and more). Take to the water for a kayak tour of Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle, a Scottish-style stone fortress that served as an armory during World War I.
Beacon’s downtown food and drink scene is heavy on the “drink.” Denning’s Point Distillery (10 North Chestnut St.) pours artisanal spirits at their tasting room and urban production space. 2 Way Brewing Company (18 West Main St.) crafts beers with a local touch — their signature Saison gets its flavor from a strain of yeast that thrives on native blackberries. For the avid home bartender, More Good (383 Main St.) offers nifty mixers and garnishes, flavorful bitters, and a house-made line of syrups in lip-smacking varieties like Hibiscus Rooibos, Roasted Cacao, and Cucumber Mint Earl Grey.
Getting There: Coach USA departs Port Authority for Newburgh, NY, every 90 minutes. Fares start at $19 and the trip takes less than two hours. From Newburgh, it’s a 15-minute (and $3) trip on Leprechaun Lines to the Beacon bus station.
Warwick, New York (NJ Transit 196/197/198)
Just 90 minutes from Manhattan, the Hudson River wine region is one of the oldest and best established viticultural areas in the state. With 57 wineries and tasting rooms to explore, it’s a great — and close to home — place to get to know New York’s rapidly developing wine business. Warwick, a historic village nestled in the southwest corner of Orange County, makes an ideal home base for a wine-tasting weekend.
Start your journey at Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery (114 Little York Road). Sample award-winning wines, ciders, and spirits, or pick up lunch at the Pané Café (you’re welcome to enjoy it on the lawn in picnic-friendly weather). Book a designated driver with The Little Wine Bus and enjoy a carefree tour of the area’s top wineries, plus a delicious lunch in an on-site restaurant and ample snacks throughout the day. At evening’s end, snuggle down in a cozy bed and breakfast (Ashford Cottage, 25 Oakland Avenue, is a Victorian gem in the heart of Warwick’s historic district).
Getting There: NJ Transit’s 196 and 197 lines provide regular service from Port Authority to downtown Warwick. One-way fare is $16 and the ride takes just under two hours.