Planning your holiday to New York? Most visitors just plan to see the top sights like Times Square, The Empire State Building and Central Park, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t make it a priority to see some of the top sights outside NYC’s centre.
Whether you decide to simply pop into Brooklyn or Queens for an afternoon, or if you’re considering a day or overnight trip, we’ve gathered together some of the best things to do outside Manhattan below.
An Afternoon in the Boroughs
Get a great view of the city: Brooklyn Bridge
Travel time: 30mins
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the big icons of New York City. Considered the pinnacle of modern engineering at the time it was built, it connects the concrete jungle of Manhattan with the luscious green space in Brooklyn Bridge Park. There are several piers with different possibilities for activities, including volleyball, ping pong, basketball and handball. Or, if you’re not the active type, simply enjoying the beautiful view from the bridge is well worth the journey, where you will be treated to panoramic views of the city that are difficult to get anywhere else.
Walk in the park: Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Travel time: 45 mins
This expanse of green in Queens is just a short distance from Manhattan. There’s plenty to see and do here. Check out the Unisphere, the symbol of the World’s Fair that was held here, relax in its recreational spaces and visit the Queens museum – the only surviving building from New York’s first World’s Fair in 1939. One of the biggest hidden secrets of Flushing Meadows is the huge lake in the middle of it. Less touristy than Central Park, you can rent paddleboats, kayaks, or even take sailing lessons! One of New York’s best areas for sport, if you time your cards right you take in a match at the US Open, grab a seat at a home game for the New York Mets or year-round – practice your triple axels at the World Ice Arena.
Have fun at the fair: Coney Island
Travel time: 1 hr
Hop on the subway and explore this famous destination in South-west Brooklyn. Long associated with amusement, rides and entertainment, Coney Island is still the perfect day trip from Manhattan. Stroll along the historic boardwalk, visit the New York Aquarium and grab a hot dog – practically a local delicacy!
Spend a Day Away from the City
Great for arts: Beacon
Travel time: 1.5hrs
What was once a neglected industrial hub is now a thriving town with an amazing arts scene. The hub of the arts here is probably Dia:Beacon, a unique 300,000sq foot museum, housing famous artworks. If spectacular views and challenging hiking trails are more your cup of tea, you would do well with a trek to the peak of Mount Beacon.
Walk along the beach: Long Island
Travel time: 1.5 hrs drive
This long stretch of sandy beaches, charming towns and seaside hamlets is really worth a visit. Jones Beach State Park is one of its top sights and a popular destination for NYC visitors seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The historic Montauk Lighthouse draws large numbers of visitors too. Venture further with a short ferry ride to Fire Island, a more alternative destination home to seaside towns, historic hamlets and stunning beaches.
Enjoy a hike: Catskill
Travel time: 2-3 hours drive/bus
Escape to nature with a visit to Catskill, home to the 260-foot Kaaterskill Falls. One of the state’s tallest waterfalls, it’s higher even than the more well-known Niagara Falls. You can go for a short hike and see some panoramic views, as well as exploring the historic town nearby.
Experience the Best of New York State
Experience the historic capital: Albany
Travel time: 3 hours drive/bus
Surprisingly enough, iconic NYC is not actually the capital city of New York State. That title goes to Albany, also one the US’ oldest cities with history dating all the way back to 1614. The city tends to fly under the radar in favour of its famous neighbour but offers plenty of sights and excitement for city break in its own right from the European inspired architecture of New York State Capitol and The Empire State Plaza to its museums and cultural highlights.
Spend some time lakeside: Watkins Glen
Travel time: 4.5/5 hours drive
This quaint lake-side town is a popular destination for visitors to the Finger Lakes. Explore the shops, boutiques and cafes of the downtown village and take a walk in stunning Watkins Glen State Park. Featuring a total of 19 waterfalls, a flowing glen and steep cliffs, a trip here is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. The village is also well known for its role in auto racing, home to one of the two races in the NASCAR series not to race on an oval speedway.
Experience natural beauty: Niagara Falls
Travel time: 6-7 hours drive
Right on the border between Canada and the US is the world-famous sight of the Niagara Falls. As well as offering the chance to experience the cascading waters in person, there’s a charming, visitor-friendly town to discover here with plenty of things to do. There are a variety of tour companies offering day trips from New York. If you don’t feel like a road trip, why not take a short flight from JFK?
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