Our Favorite NYC Fall Day Trips

November 14, 2021

Some of our favorite day trips from NYC include Newport, Rhode Island, and Mystic, Connecticut, but as the leaves start to change and the cool air creeps in, we find ourselves gravitating towards more traditional fall activities like pumpkin patches, apple picking and fall foliage walks.

If you’ve already had enough pumpkin spice lattes and haunted houses, you’re in luck, because there are plenty of non-Halloween-y fall day trips too. Here are some of our top NYC fall day trip picks.

Six Flags Great Adventure

When’s the last time you experienced the thrills and childlike excitement of an amusement park? A fall day trip from NYC to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey takes just 1 ½ hours by car—or you can opt for NJ Transit from Port Authority.

Check out the roller coasters, family- and kid-friendly rides and live shows, and grab a snack or visit the Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure.

Depending on when you choose to embark on your day trip, you might decide to partake in Fright Fest, their annual Halloween event. But just make sure to purchase advance tickets as Fright Fest tends to sell out.

Drive Time: 1.5 Hours

Six Flags Great Adventure
1 Six Flags Blvd.
Jackson, NJ 08527

Grounds For Sculpture

Giant outdoor sculpture where only man's left limbs and head pop out from the grass

Photo by Pel

As a New Yorker, you’re probably familiar with Storm King and Socrates Sculpture Park, but did you know New Jersey is full of unique artsy destinations including the Grounds For Sculpture? An NYC road trip to Hamilton, NJ, takes a little under two hours, and once there you can stroll through 42 landscaped acres. Part museum, part sculpture garden and part arboretum, the delightful not-for-profit destination is made up of around 300 contemporary sculptures, indoor galleries, educational programs and performances.

If you’re craving more adventure after your visit, drive an hour east to picturesque Asbury Park Boardwalk before road tripping back to Brooklyn. This time of year it’s not nearly as crowded as warmer months.

Drive Time: 1.5 Hours

Grounds For Sculpture
80 Sculptors Way
Hamilton, NJ 08619

Sleepy Hollow & Tarrytown

Okay, we said non-Halloween-y… and though Sleepy Hollow can certainly be seen as Halloween related, we include it because of the fall vibes, the literary significance and the irresistible charm. Another great thing about these cute towns is that you can visit them by car, Metro-North (Hudson line) or bus from Port Authority.

There’s so much to do here from just driving or wandering aimlessly past the many shops and cafes, to specific stops for film buffs, the farmers markets, lighthouse, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” author Washington Irving’s restored home at Sunnyside or his grave at the local cemetery.

Visit the Sleepy Hollow website for directions to specific places within the towns.

Drive Time: 1 Hour

Various Locations
Sleepy Hollow & Tarrytown, NY 

Mohonk/The Gunks

If you’re wanting to escape the concrete jungle, you can hike, run, bike and climb the world-famous Gunks cliffs, go skiing, go horseback riding, and much more, just 2 ½ hours drive away form NYC in Mohonk, home of New York’s largest nonprofit nature preserve. You can create your own adventure or picnic and relax amid more than 8,000 majestic acres of mountain ridges, forests, plains, ponds and streams.

While you’re at Mohonk, drive 20 minutes to see the iconic Mohonk Mountain House. Even if you don’t plan on staying the night, you can walk around and grab a bite to eat.

Prefer to take the train on your NYC fall day trip? Metro North and Amtrak are always an environmentally friendlier option.

Drive Time: 2.5 Hours

Mohonk Preserve
3197 Route 44 55
Gardiner, NY 12525

Paterson Great Falls

Not too far past the Hudson River, Paterson, New Jersey, was established in 1792 as our country’s first planned industrial city. It’s also home to the Great Falls of the Passaic River, which you may have seen in the The Sopranos or, more recently, the film Paterson. Whether you’re interested in following in your favorite actors’ footsteps, learning the rich history of the area or simply admiring the gently gushing waterfalls, it’s definitely worth a stop.

For a detour on your way back to NYC, take a short drive to downtown Montclair to window-shop at the many boutiques or try a new restaurant.

Drive Time: 1 Hour

Paterson Falls
72 McBride Ave
Paterson, NJ 07501

Glass House & Grace Farms River Building

White curvy modern building with glass walls and winter tree to the right

Photo by Pel

An NYC fall day trip to New Canaan, Connecticut, is ideal for the architecture enthusiasts.

For $30 you can purchase a self-guided ticket to the stunning Glass House, which gives you access to the interior spaces of the house, sculpture gallery, painting gallery, as well as the surrounding 49 acres. Designed by architect Philip Johnson as his own transparent residence, the minimalist Glass House consists of just one glass-enclosed room that acted as a kitchen, dining and sleeping area.

Head just 10 minutes away by car to visit the similarly awe-inspiring River building. A contemporary, curvy structure hugging the hilled landscape while providing a seamless connection to nature through walls of glass, the picturesque River building was dreamt up by Tokyo-based architectural firm SANAA. Stroll the grounds—inside and out (free of charge)—or take a guided tour for $25 per person.

Drive Time: 2 Hours

Glass House
199 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT 06840

Grace Farms River Building
365 Likes Wood Rd
New Canaan, CT 06840

Cape May

New Jersey may be the Garden State, but its picturesque beaches are equally impressive. Around 2 ½ hours from NYC, Cape May is a seaside resort town at the southern tip of the state where you might stay in a bed & breakfast, admire the Victorian homes, lose yourself in antique shops, climb the 199 original cast iron spiral stairs of the 1859 lighthouse, walk the brick pathways of the outdoor Washington Square Mall or hunt for Cape May diamonds along the beach.

On your drive back to NYC, a road trip to nearby Wildwood Boardwalk is always a fun stop.

Visit the Cape May website for directions to specific neighborhood locations.

Drive Time: 2.5 Hours

Various Locations
Cape May, NJ

Art Omi

With a mission to expose visitors to internationally diverse creative voices that foster tolerance and respect, raise awareness, inspire innovation and ignite change, Art Omi is a not-for-profit arts center featuring a 120-acre sculpture and architecture park and gallery, as well as artistic residency programs. Admission is free, though a $10 donation is encouraged.

Walk the sprawling grounds via self-guided or audio tour, or pre-book a docent-led tour for a deeper look at the artwork. You might also want to take a virtual tour before embarking on your fall road trip, or check out the event calendar so you can take part in a children’s workshop, art talk or bird walk.

Drive Time: 3 Hours

Art Omi
1405 County Route 22
Ghent, NY 12075

Regardless of where you take your NYC fall day trip, do keep in mind that Covid-19 may impact whether a destination is open, what the capacity is, and whether masks or vaccination is required.

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