Few New Yorkers will admit it, but sometimes you just need to get out of the big city. While few destinations close to New York can compete with the city's lively artistic and cultural scene, several attractions in the area make for a perfect weekend getaway. If nothing else, a quick weekend in New York State, Connecticut or New Jersey will return you to the city with some new energy to face the frenetic pace of the Big Apple.
Seventy miles from New York, the city of New Haven in Connecticut combines New England scenery with a vibrant cultural scene. New Haven is the home of Yale University and cultural attractions like the Yale Art Gallery, the Yale Repertory Theater and the Peabody Natural History Museum, providing ideal ways to spend an afternoon or evening. Off-campus, the city also offers its picturesque shoreline at Lighthouse Point, historical sights like the 17th century Center Church on the public green or Grove Street Cemetery, the final resting place of luminaries like Noah Webster and Eli Whitney. The city's culinary scene also includes town favorites like the typical Italian restaurants around Wooster Square or world-class international fare in the downtown area. Visit in the autumn for the best foliage in the surrounding bluffs and avoid university events like commencement in the spring, when the city is more crowded and accommodation more expensive.
New Jersey may not have the best reputation among New Yorkers, but Cape May might just change the way you view the state. The historical city is a three- to four-hour drive from New York City. With more than 600 Victorian buildings in pristine condition, the entire town is a National Historic District -- the country's first seaside resort town. To the south you'll find the cape's beaches, including a promenade along the sand and Sunset Beach, where polished quartz crystals wash up on shore. Cape May is the perfect place to check into a Victorian bed and breakfast for a luxurious and relaxing weekend, complete with fresh seafood meals at the Lobster House on Fisherman’s Wharf.
New Paltz in Ulster County is a quick 90-minute drive from Manhattan. The historic town was founded by French Huguenots fleeing persecution in Europe and still preserves its Historic Huguenot Street, an area of the town with fine examples of colonial architecture with some French and Dutch details. New Paltz's downtown is home to countless boutiques and local businesses, many housed in handsome 19th-century buildings facing the main drag. The town is also surrounded by the scenic Shawangunk Ridge, a mecca for rock climbers from around the world and largely protected as part of the Mohonk Preserve and the Minnewaska State Park. New Paltz is a day trip for many New Yorkers, but can also be a convenient escape for a bed and breakfast weekend.
North Fork in Suffolk County on Long Island is famous for its wine. The best part of North Fork, however, is enjoying the beautiful scenery and lively culture that produce that wine. Just two hours by car from New York, North Fork is a lush, green place, packed with orchards, vineyards and colorful fruit stands. Beyond the vineyards and wine-tasting tours, you can also enjoy beaches, fishing and antique shops downtown. In the spring and summer, many of the wineries host concerts and cultural events, making for a perfect afternoon of music, wine and Long Island sunshine. Hotels and B&B options are plentiful, but book in advance in the spring and summer.