Get Out of Town: 7 Tours That Take You Outside of NYC
There's so much to see in the city that sometimes we forget there's life outside its boundaries too; here are seven divergent guide-led day trips to expand your horizons
Whether you need a break from the daily New York City grind — or you’ve come to see the city, inside and out — nothing beats a good trip out of town. It’s the perfect antidote for all things concrete and crowded. Thankfully, the regions surrounding NYC teem with opportunities to explore, taste and breathe in the fresh air. From beaches in the Hamptons to forests in the Hudson Valley, from wineries on Long Island to historic communities in Pennsylvania, we’ve uncovered seven top tours that make it easy for you to escape for a few hours or the entire day. The following excursions provide transportation direct from Manhattan, so all you do is show up, sit back and enjoy the ride to your getaway destination.
Hike & Brewery Tour from Discover Outdoors
What beats an invigorating hike through the beautiful Hudson Valley? Toasting your outdoor conquest with a tasty New York microbrew, of course. After a meet-up in Union Square and a quick ride north, you’ll be hiking through the upstate foliage under the tutelage of an expert guide. Discover Outdoors has been leading adventure trips since 1982 and uses only seasoned New York State Licensed Trail Guides who are certified Wilderness First Responders and Wilderness EMTs. This five-mile trek is a level 2 difficulty (out of 10), so while you’ll get your heart pumping, you won’t be panting — all the better to enjoy the rolling paths that lead to a peak for stunning naturalistic views. Bring a lunch, snacks and two liters of water in a backpack.
DETAILS: April 27, May 17, June 15, July 12, Aug. 9, Sept. 6, Oct. 5, Nov. 1, Dec. 13 8am-6pm; from $76 pp (get tickets!); in front of the Starbucks on Fourth Avenue between 14th and 15th streets
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets Bus Trip from Gray Line
If you love to shop, you may already know about the pricey scene on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue (Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co.), but if you also love a bargain, you need to follow the die-hard shopping set outside of Manhattan — specifically, about 90 minutes north of the city to Woodbury Common in Central Valley. This high-end outdoor outlet mall has more than 200 shops representing the top brands in fashion. Burberry, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger and North Face are all here with discounts of 25 to 65 percent. One of the easiest ways to get out of the city and shopping is on this Gray Line tour, which leaves from Port Authority multiple times a day, seven days a week. Included in the tour is a discount VIP coupon booklet for savings at shops and at the food court.
DETAILS: Daily 7:15am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 10am, 11:30am, 12:45am, 2:45pm, 7:15pm (Mon-Fri only); from $38 pp (get tickets!); Port Authority Bus Terminal, Gate 310
Philadelphia and Amish Country Bus Tour from CitySights NY
The City of Brotherly Love is a lot closer than you think — and it’s packed with history and plenty of things to do and see. On this day trip from CitySights, a guide will introduce you to the oldest continuously populated street in the country, Elfreth’s Alley and take you to Independence Hall, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, where you’ll see the Liberty Bell up close. You’ll even get a dose of pop culture, as the bus stops at the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum where Sylvester Stallone makes his dramatic run in Rocky. And that’s all before lunch! In the afternoon, you’ll head to Amish Country, a rural Pennsylvania community frozen in time. Not only will you learn about the area’s traditions, you will also sit down to a traditional lunch (Shoofly pie is an Amish specialty) followed by an old-fashioned buggy ride.
DETAILS: Mon, Wed, Sat 7am-8pm; from $144 pp (get tickets!); 8th Avenue, between 47th and 48th streets
The Hamptons, Sag Harbor and Shopping Day Trip from CitySights NY
This CitySights NY getaway is ideal for those who want to dip their toe into the Hamptons waters without the full “summer share” experience. The first stop on the bus tour is the charming town of Riverhead where you can enjoy a filling country breakfast (eggs, pancakes, the works) before driving by the famous Big Duck statue for a photo op. Next up are the charming seaside villages of Southampton and Sag Harbor, with historic streets, antique shops and boats bobbing in the harbor. Throughout the trip, a professional tour guide will fill you in on Hamptons’ history and lore. The 12-hour trip ends with a visit to Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead, where you can hunt for bargains at Brooks Brothers, Old Navy, Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, etc.
DETAILS: Tue 7am-7pm; from $159 pp; 8th Avenue, between 47th and 48th streets; citysights.com
Long Island Wineries Tour
You won’t need to worry about a designated driver with this CitySights day tour that hits three top-notch wineries in the heart of Long Island’s famed North Fork wine region. You’ll sip a variety of vintages, take in scenic vineyard views and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into wine-making in New York. The first stop is Paumanok Vineyards, which has a tasting room in a rustic, turn-of-the-century barn with a deck overlooking the fields. At Macari Vineyards, you’ll learn about its sustainable and natural approach to the craft while tasting the vineyard’s best. Martha Clara Vineyards, one of the oldest wineries in the area, is the last stop. There you’ll enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch with samples from its latest vintages (the 2010 Merlot was voted best merlot in New York State at the 2013 NY Wine and Food Classic). The tour ends with a stop at Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead for discount shopping.
DETAILS: Wed 7am-7pm; from $159 pp; 8th Avenue, between 47th and 48th streets; citysights.com
Wild Earth Adventures Camping Trips
If you consider yourself an outdoor nut stuck in the city, Wild Earth Adventures is your ticket to fresh air. The outfit leads camping trips and day-long hikes throughout the East Coast, ranging from rugged hikes along nearby Hook Mountain to easier treks at Chapman Falls in Connecticut or the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. Founded by wilderness expert Charles Cook, this recreational club has been running tours since 1980, and its goal is to connect humans with their natural world. Intrepid adventurers should check out the four-day camping trip over Memorial Day Weekend to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains ($550). After one of Wild Earth’s adventures, you’ll likely be more than ready for city life again.
DETAILS: Various times; from $70 pp; location depends on tour; wildearthadventures.com
Washington, D.C., Bus Tour from CitySights NY
America’s capital city is awash in history and attractions — landmark buildings, iconic memorials and world-renowned museums — and a day trip from New York brings it all into focus. This all-day bus tour from CitySights NY takes you to the most famous D.C. sights including the powerful seats of government: the Capitol Building, Senate and White House (if open to the public that day). There will be a brief visit to the National Air and Space Museum, one of the most visited attractions in the world, followed by a trip to Madame Tussauds for a look at wax celebrities including all 44 U.S. presidents. End the day with visits to the Mall, the nation’s open-air gathering place for big events and rallies, as well as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans memorials.
DETAILS: Daily 7am-7pm; from $140 pp (get tickets!); 8th Avenue, between 47th and 48th streets