New York City overloads the senses better than most other US destinations.

You only need a full tank of gas or a ride on the city's public transportation if you want to get away from the noise and activity of New York. You can find a complete change of scenery within two hours of the city if you choose to. There are many day trips from NYC.

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1. Free your spirit in Woodstock, NY 

It takes two hours to travel.

Tie-dye is still found in Woodstock, NY, a town filled with independent art and the bounteous nature of the park where the 1969 music festival took place. It's a great place to get back to the outdoors by taking a hike up the mountain and seeing the red oak and fir trees.

A ban on chain stores makes this town feel free-spirited and entices travelers to visit unique gift stores and cafes. If you want to get an extra special breakfast, you should take a 20-minute drive to the Phoenicia diner, which is known for its amazing pancakes. It has its own cookbook and take- home pancake mix.

The easiest way to get to Woodstock from New York City is by car. There is a direct bus from Port Authority to Woodstock.

Two women browse for goods in a farm store with walls lined with produce
Recharge in the sleepy towns around Bedford-Katonah © mother image / Getty Images

2. Take a luxury trip to Bedford-Katonah, NY

It takes one hour to travel.

Westchester County is located in the middle of Long Island Sound and the Hudson River. There are three sleepy hamlets with quaint downtowns that lean back onto a hill.

The Katonah Art Museum is known for showing up-and-coming and established modern artists. You can take an eight-minute drive to the Richard Gere-owned BEDFORD POST, a luxury hotel that hosts yoga classes and sound baths.

One of the restaurants on the site is The Barn. The room has a nice porch for eating outside.

You can take the Metro-North Harlem Line to get to the station. You can take a taxi to the art museum. It takes about an hour to travel by train.

Two people ride bikes down a boardwalk
Hit the Jersey Shore at Asbury Park, a transformed beach town © Image Source / Getty Images

3. Hit the beach in Asbury Park, NJ 

It takes one hour and fifteen minutes to travel.

The ideal NYC day trip destination is the beach town of Asbury Park. It has a mile-long freeway of golden sand and blue water. You may not want to go back to New York if you add in a bunch of trendy restaurants and independent shops.

The Wooden Walls Project consists of large-scale murals and was started in 2015. If you have time, check who is playing at Stone Pony.

The restaurant is credited with changing the food scene in the area. It's a good idea to book before.

The fastest way to get to the park is by car, which takes an hour and fifteen minutes. The NJ transit train can take you from Penn Station to Bay Head.

Main street with small brick buildings in Beacon, New York
Soak up Beacon's creative side © Barry Winiker / Getty Images

4. Admire the artworks in Beacon, NY

It takes one hour and 30 minutes to travel.

In a historical blue-collar town, you can find art, fine dining and shopping.

It's a must to stop at the Dia if you want to go toBeacon. The light-filled 300,000 sq ft gallery space in a converted factory is home to large-scale art by Richard Serra. The 500-acre outdoor sculpture garden of Storm King Art Center is a short drive away.

Roundhouse is a farm-to-table restaurant that overlooks a waterfall. A signature cocktail or a glass of wine pairs nicely with spicy lobster mac and cheese. The HKAN Chocolatier is a great place to go after your meal.

Go to NY-9D by car from New York City. Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to the station. The travel time is about an hour and a half.

A man relaxes in a wooden chair on a grassy lawn
Relax in the small town of New Hope © Blasius Erlinger / Getty Images

5. Float down the river in New Hope, PA

It takes one hour and 30 minutes to travel.

New Hope may be one of the most progressive small towns in Pennsylvania with a large yearly LGBTIQ+ festival, late-night bar scene and artistic stores.

Salt House is a charming gastropub located in a historic building. There are many places to eat by the fire in the tavern, steak frites in the upstairs library, and oysters on the half shell on the patio.

The easiest way to get to New Hope from New York City is by bus. The trip lasts about two hours. Take I 78 West and US- 202 South. It takes one hour and 30 minutes to travel by car.

The sun sets over the sea throwing orange across the sky and the sandy beach into shadow.
Though still in New York City, the Rockaways has a seaside town feel © Demerzel21 / Getty Images / iStockphoto

6. Experience NYC's surf scene at the Rockaways, Queens

It takes 45 minutes to travel.

You can catch the A train to the Rockaways for a hip surf scene. You will feel like you are in a seaside town, but without the traffic.

You can reserve your umbrella and beach lounge chair at Lido Beach Butlers at Jacob Riis Beach. The sounds of the surf will lull you to sleep at Camp Rockaway, a seasonal "glampground" located just steps from the ocean.

At the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, there is a weekly lobster boil. Live music is played on the boardwalk most summer nights and you can get a beer and a picnic on a picnic table.

You can take the NYC ferry to Jacob Riis Beach or the A train to a bus.

The article was first published in October of last year.