To experience the best of a large and diverse state like New York in a relatively short amount of time, you need a workable and efficient travel schedule. That's the point of this chapter. Of course, these are merely suggestions, and infinite variations and combinations are possible. We suggest you concentrate on one region -- the Adirondacks or the Finger Lakes, for example -- rather than try to cover too much ground in one trip. These itineraries are designed for travel in a car -- the most convenient way to get around the state -- and some of the highlights are particular to summer (or to a lesser degree, spring or fall); winter in New York State may be ideal for skiers, but parts of the state virtually close up in the dead of winter.
Weekend Excursions from New York City
When New Yorkers tire of the "city," it only takes a couple of days in the "country," as they call it, and they're refreshed and ready to come back. Here are some popular getaways, also handy for travelers in the city on extended business.
Long Island History & Wine Tour -- On Day 1, head out of New York onto the Long Island Expressway (LIE) to exit 41 north (NY 106 north). Take 106 north to Oyster Bay and follow signs to Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt's 23-room Victorian estate -- full of animal trophies and other things masculine -- that he used as the summer White House from 1902 to 1908. It's an easy drive to Planting Fields Arboretum/Coe Hall, a grand expanse of historic buildings and greenhouses. Have lunch in tiny Locust Valley, peruse its collection of antiques shops, and then head out to the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport. Have dinner and overnight in the Centerport area. On Day 2, try hopping between some of the 50 wineries on the North Fork. Fortunately, lots of wineries are east on Route 25, which is a much nicer drive than the LIE. Out past Jamesport, you can stop at Bedell Cellars and sample its merlot; then it's just a half-mile to The Lenz Winery, which makes excellent chardonnays and merlots. End up in the town of Greenport for dinner.
Beach Party in the Hamptons -- Note that the quickest way to get here by train is the express off-peak train from Hunter's Point in Queens (near the 7 subway stop). If you're driving, take the LIE. Remember, it's best to choose your beach before you go. In Southampton, Cooper's Beach is the main public stretch of sand, beautiful but crowded and with pricey parking. Old Town Beach is less crowded but parking can be a problem. Main Beach in East Hampton is gorgeous and in view of some giant mansions. Montauk is away from the crowds, at the end of the island. Then dine among the celebrities in East Hampton and go clubbing in town. On Day 2, check out the chic shops of East Hampton, drive by the enormous estates in Southampton's Gin Lane and Coopers Neck, and then have a happy-hour home brew at the Southampton Publick House. Have dinner in Southampton, then check out some live music at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.
Catskill Mountain Region -- Ulster County, just 90 minutes by car from New York City, is not the most pastoral part of the Catskills, but it offers the greatest diversity of attractions in a relatively compact area. Cross the George Washington Bridge, then take the Palisades Parkway to I-87 north about 80 miles to New Paltz and explore the town. After lunch, outdoorsy types can hike or bike in the Mohonk Preserve or Minnewaska State Park Preserve or even rock-climb the awesome Shawangunk Mountains ("the 'Gunks"). Or take a scenic drive from New Paltz to Gardiner and up Route 44/55, just beyond the Minnewaska Preserve. Watch for a handful of nearby wineries. Stay at the legendary Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian fantasy on a cliff with activities galore, or return east toward High Falls or nearby Rosendale for dinner. Spend the night in Stone Ridge, Gardiner, along the Hudson in Milton, or even in Mount Tremper, about 35 to 40 miles northwest. On Day 2, head up I-87 to Route 28 west, toward Mount Tremper (or Rte. 213 to 28A, which is more scenic but longer). Off Route 28 is the beautiful Ashokan Reservoir. Then, Mount Tremper's Emerson Place or the town of Phoenicia (a mile west) is perfect for shopping. After lunch, head east along Route 212 (just outside of Mt. Tremper) toward Woodstock and check out the town, or explore the legendary Byrdcliffe Arts Colony. Then head east along the road (Rte. 212) to Saugerties, about 10 miles away, where you'll find a host of homegrown antiques stores. Or head across the river to Hudson (I-87N to Rte. 23E, about 20 miles), site of the best antiques shopping in upstate New York. Enjoy dinner, then head back to the city. (The drive will take 2-2 1/2 hr.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.