If you live in New York City and need a change a scenery, or are visiting and want to explore the surrounding area, Amtrak is a great option for a day trip. Many Amtrak trains stop at New York Penn Station, so you can easily visit a variety of destinations from big cities to coastal towns.
To start planning your adventure, here are the best Amtrak day trips from NYC.
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Stamford, Connecticut is less than an hour away from New York City, making it an easy Amtrak day trip. There are a variety of things to do, including visiting The Beer Garden at Shippen Landing, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center (which has hiking trails, a mansion and farmhouse), Cove Island Park and the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens. If you like art, be sure to also check out the city’s many street murals.
Travel 1.5 hours along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie for beautiful water scenery. After you arrive, enjoy more river views on the Walkaway Over the Hudson (pictured above). There’s also a main street with a variety of restaurants, so you can grab a bite to eat before getting back on the train. Restaurants closest to the Amtrak station include Mahoney’s Irish Pub and River Station.
Visit museums, see historical sights and eat a cheesesteak on an Amtrak day trip to Philadelphia. Travel time is about 1.5 hours from New York City, and you’ll arrive at the 30th Street Station. You can rent a bike outside the building, or use rideshare to reach the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are also many great sightseeing tours to choose from, or take a bike ride along the Schuylkill River to view the natural scenery.
Home to Yale University, New Haven is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from New York City on Amtrak. There are many wonderful museums and art galleries to visit on campus, or check out one of the many university events open to the public. If you’re more of a nature person, don’t miss the views and hiking at East Rock Park, which overlooks the city and Long Island Sound. New Haven also has many festivals that you can plan a trip around. Be sure to try the local “apizza” on your trip.
A two-hour train ride from New York City, Hudson, New York is on the river of the same name. There are many unique shops, cafes and restaurants in walking distance of the Amtrak station, including Wm. Farmer and Sons (farm to table), Ca’Mea (Italian), Red Dot (American) and Le Perche (French). Other things to do include enjoying the river views from the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park and taking the local ferry across the river. Note that it can be difficult to find rideshare cars, so plan on walking to see the sights.
Wilmington, Delaware is a peaceful getaway with art, gardens and mansions to explore. Amtrak travel time is about two hours, and you’ll arrive next to the Wilmington Riverwalk. Take a stroll along the waterfront or use rideshare to reach the beautiful Nemours Estate (pictured above), the Delaware Art Museum and the Winterthur Museum and Garden. You can also visit the Hagley Museum, the site where the Du Pont family started their gunpowder business.
For a fun waterfront scene complete with historic ships, plan a day trip to Baltimore. After 2.5 hours on the train, request a Lyft or Uber to reach the Inner Harbor or attraction of your choice, including the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry and the B&O Railroad Museum. There are also several different boat tours for experiencing the city from the water. When you’re ready to eat, check out the great seafood restaurants for local crab and other dishes.
New York’s capital, Albany is full of history, craft beverages and urban parks. Top attractions include the1899 New York State Capitol building, New York State Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art and USS Slater. In warmer months, you can also cruise on the Hudson River, walk around the beautiful Washington Park and explore the Corning Preserve (pictured above). Plan to get an Uber or Lyft car to reach downtown Albany after arriving at the Amtrak station — travel time from New York City is about 2.5 hours.
For a historic getaway, travel to New London. This Connecticut port town was first settled in 1646, was the base of American naval operations during the Revolutionary War, and officially became a city in 1784. There are 13 historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places to explore, or head to Ocean Beach Park for sandy beaches, a swimming pool, amusement rides, arcade and more. Consider planning your trip around Sailfest, a fun summer event, and taking a ride on the Cross Sound Ferry to view lighthouses and coastal mansions.
Mystic, Connecticut is a charming seaport city that’s 2 hours and 45 minutes away from Manhattan via train. The Mystic Seaport Museum and the last surviving wooden whaling ship are top attractions, and the recreated 18th Century village is a fun place to visit. Check out the festivals and events that take place in Mystic throughout the year for more things to see and do. Note that you’ll need to use Lyft or Uber to get around after you arrive.
An adventure for kids and adults, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is almost three hours away from New York City on Amtrak. You can have a fun-filled day at Dutch Wonderland amusement park or explore historical sites including President James Buchanan’s home, Amish Village and the Amish Farm and House. The historic Central Market is also a fantastic place to buy local food (consider bringing a cooler or cooler bag with you on the train). To get around, rideshare is your best option.
A popular summer getaway, Westerly, Rhode Island is near Atlantic Ocean beaches and one of the top-rated hotels in America. After a three-hour train ride, you’ll arrive in walkable downtown Westerly where there are restaurants, trendy bars, shops and historic buildings. Request a Lyft or Uber car to reach the coast and the charming Watch Hill village, Napatree Point Conservation Area and Atlantic Beach Park, which has a historic carousel and arcade.
Explore Rhode Island’s capital with a trip to Providence. Learn about the city on a narrated boat tour, enjoy the scenery at Water Place Park, eat amazing Italian food in the Federal Hill neighborhood, or head to Roger Williams Park for a zoo, botanical garden, boat rentals and walking trails. The city is also known for having fabulous restaurants and is the location of the Rhode Island Seafood Festival.
About 3.5 hours away from New York City on Amtrak, Washington D.C. is full of museums, monuments and great restaurants. The hop-on-hop-off trolley tour is an easy way to visit major attractions or get on the red subway line at Union Station to visit the sights (use Google Maps with the transit icon to get directions). Consider a trip on Memorial Day to visit the many veteran memorials and museums or in March to see the cherry blossoms.
Get an early start to enjoy a day trip to Boston. Amtrak travel time is about four hours (for faster travel, book tickets on the Acela). You can walk to major tourist attractions from South Station, including the Boston Tea Party Ships, Boston Public Garden, Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the Freedom Trail. You’ll have a few hours to explore, so plan accordingly. Consider a sightseeing tour to view the city in a short amount of time.
Note that you can also book your tickets to the Back Bay Station for easy access to two malls and shops and restaurants on Newbury Street.
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Top photo credit: Julian Colton (Watch Hill Cove in Westerly)