It’s safe to say that New Yorkers are desperate for an escape. After months of isolating in shoebox-sized studios and cramped apartments, nothing sounds more appealing than socially distant weekend getaways near New York City.
Now that summer has officially started, it’s especially hard not to spend our days fantasizing about the far-flung destinations topping our bucket lists. But with COVID-19 still clocking record-breaking cases in some parts of the country, it’ll most likely take some time before people feel comfortable boarding a plane. But don’t fret—there’s still plenty of time to salvage your grand summer vacation plans.
Even though pandemic-related travel restrictions are still in effect across the globe, road trips are queued up to become the hottest travel trend this summer. Luckily for New Yorkers, there’s no shortage of close-to-home destinations that are well worth checking out. From quiet coastal escapes to epic outdoor excursions, New York City is conveniently situated to loads of hidden gems.
So whether you’re pining for a hassle-free day trip, an overnight change of scenery, or an extended weekend retreat, we’ve got you covered. Here, we highlight some of our favorite socially distant weekend getaways near New York City. Before planning a trip, be sure to review the CDC Travelers’ Health page for alerts and updates. Happy road tripping!
7 Socially Distant Weekend Getaways Near New York City
1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
When people think of Lancaster, pastoral images of expansive cornfields, rolling hills, and windmill-dotted horizons come to mind. There’s no denying that any road trip to this region of Pennsylvania is bound to include a handful of horse and buggy sightings. But aside from its prevalent Amish and Mennonite communities, there’s a whole lot more to discover during a weekend visit. Founded in 1729, the city of Lancaster is one of the oldest inland towns in the United States. Today, it’s an eclectic melting pot, effortlessly blending old-world charm and modern amenities. Best of all, it’s less than a three-hour drive from New York City. The downtown district boasts plenty of posh properties, like the whimsical Lancaster Arts Hotel and the Cork Factory Hotel. But for an unforgettable (and private) stay, turn to one of the city’s unique Airbnb rentals, like The Getaway, imagined by Lancaster-based Flawless Façade Designs. While in town, be sure to peruse the country’s oldest continuously operated public farmers’ market; grab a nitro cold brew from Café One Eight (which rivals any trendy Brooklyn coffeehouse); or soak in the open-air, 360-degree views from The Exchange rooftop bar and lounge.
2. Concord, New Hampshire
Capital cities often get a bad rap for being too buttoned up or just flat-out boring. But Concord, the capital of New Hampshire, is anything but dull. Located approximately four hours from Manhattan, this quintessential New England retreat is in the midst of a vibrant renaissance. Prior to COVID-19, Main Street regularly saw specialty shops and locally owned restaurants opening their doors (thanks in part to a recent $14 million renovation project). With a thriving art scene, the creative set is particularly drawn to the destination. People flock to see permanent and revolving art exhibits and attend the ever-changing calendar of events that take place year-round. Set in the heart of the state, visitors can also venture minutes beyond Downtown Concord to access extensive hiking trails, sparkling lakes, and the great outdoors. For a special treat, plan a trip in September when the trees explode in a jaw-dropping display of autumnal foliage.
3. Rock Hall, Maryland
With 18 themed, scenic byways, Maryland makes for a truly solid road trip destination. The small town of Rock Hall is part of the state’s Great Chesapeake Loop. Known as “The Pearl of the Chesapeake,” this waterfront getaway boasts 15 marinas, making it alluring to aquatic adventurers. Visitors can experience Eastern Shore heritage through sailing excursions, boat tours, and fishing charters. For landlubbers, the area is also popular with cyclists and hunters in search of deer, ducks, and geese. Stop by the Waterman’s Heritage Museum to learn how to tong for oysters and pull crab pots; relax on the soothing shores of Rock Hall’s family-friendly beach; or explore the nearby Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. For an authentic crab feast, snag an outdoor table at one of the local hot spots, like Waterman’s Crab House, a former seafood market turned award-winning restaurant that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay.
4. Washington, Connecticut
If you’re in need of a luxurious getaway after months of being cooped up inside, look no further than Washington, Connecticut. Comprising five picturesque villages, Washington is jam-packed with scenic panoramas, charming attractions, and plenty of space to breathe. Just two hours from NYC, the cozy small town is nestled at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. The destination has lured artists, musicians, and writers for decades and is a time-honored hideaway for New Yorkers looking to escape the concrete jungle. Book a stay at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, where guests can unwind with outdoor pursuits like fly-fishing, archery, tennis, croquet, guided hikes, and more. Set to debut a Fall 2020 reimagination by acclaimed designer Celerie Kemble—just in time for its 100th anniversary—the property also offers a chance to recharge with their wellness programming, including open-air massage treatments, Ayurveda consultations, nutrition consulting, reiki sessions, and guided meditation. As far as weekend getaways near New York City goes, this is one of the best.
5. Finger Lakes, New York
New York’s Finger Lakes region is famous for its serene waterfalls, riesling wineries, and idyllic summer landscapes—so it should come as no surprise that Lake Canandaigua (one of the area’s 11 lakes) translates to “the chosen spot” in Algonquin. With an emphasis on outdoor activities, the destination has tons of safe experiences to entertain weekend visitors. Enjoy a challenging trek through the region’s numerous state parks; take an open-air stroll through early 19th- and 18th-century local towns; or plan a romantic lakeside picnic. Once the sun sets, catch a screening at the drive-in movie theater in Corning’s Gaffer District. And for the ultimate socially distanced bucket-list item, arrange for a private hot air balloon excursion over the glittering lakes below. Tastemakers have likely already bookmarked the destination thanks to the upcoming August debut of The Lake House on Canandaigua (one of the county’s most anticipated hotel openings). As an alternative to a good old-fashioned road trip, the hotel will soon offer seaplane trips from the NYC area for anyone looking to arrive in style.
6. Manchester, Vermont
Looking for a rustic retreat that’ll keep you immersed in Mother Nature? The small town of Manchester is snuggly seated between the Taconic Mountain Range and the Green Mountains of Vermont. It’s the perfect place to unplug, restore, and clear your mind. Stroll along the town’s marble sidewalks while shopping locally crafted wares and savoring the farm-fresh flavors served up by quirky eateries. Whether you’re river rafting during the summer months or scheming a ski trip in the winter, there’s always something to get your heart racing in Manchester. Some other beloved attractions include the Northshire Bookstore (often called the state’s best); the Orvis Manchester Fly-Fishing School; and the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Spend the night at The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, or the Inn at Manchester.
7. Kennebunk, Maine
Reclaim your summer with a refreshing getaway to Kennebunk, Maine. This year-round vacation destination may be under the radar compared to it’s more popular neighbor, Kennebunkport, but in-the-know travelers head to Kennebunk for its uncrowded beaches and quiet appeal. The quaint coastal getaway teems with historic intrigue marked by impressive architecture and plenty of local lore. Drive past the waterfront mansions or arrange a private walking tour through town to soak in its natural beauty. Avid golfers can be found teeing off at the Webhanet Golf Club or perfecting their swing at the Hillcrest Golf driving range. For a rejuvenating jaunt, plan a stay at the recently updated White Barn Inn. A New England icon for more than 150 years, the 27-room property exudes charisma and is known for its culinary concepts. Little Barn is their newest endeavor. The casual restaurant offers poolside dining and brings local Maine farmstead and fishery staples to the table, like lobster rolls and blueberry crumbles.