Even the most loyal New Yorker needs to take a break from the hustle and bustle. Now that winter is in its home stretch, escaping the city is more appealing than even, with plenty of nearby escapes perfect to unwind, recharge, and explore. Here are the top five weekend getaways within reasonable driving distance of NYC.
Just a two and a half hour drive up the shoreline brings you across state lines into Connecticut. Mystic earned its name from the river that runs through it and is fitting for combining New England charm with stunning coastal beauty. Among the many historic gems in this family-friendly town is the last wood whale ship remaining in the world. Stroll through a replica of a boating village from the 19th-century, visit the whales and exotic sea creatures at the Mystic Aquarium, and then fill up on fresh seafood. Any experience there is guaranteed to be mystical.
A ride further north up the shore will reach Newport, Rhode Island, another charming coastal town for those who might crave a little more excitement. Aside from the sunny beaches, Newport offers a wide variety of gems to explore like mansions that make you feel like you’re on the Italian coast rather than the American one. For amazing scenic views, jump on a Newport Helicopter Tour or walk along the Cliff Walk at sunset. Eat a five-star meal at Chanler at Cliff Walk, a mansion-turned-hotel and restaurant, or any of the fresh seafood options right on the water. Newport is also home to two well-known music festivals that attract folk and jazz fans from near and far. Choose from a variety of charming hotels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts. For romance, solitude, or family fun, Newport has something for everyone.
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Not in the mood for the ocean? Head about three hours west into the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains to enjoy fun, adventure, and relaxation at a higher elevation. In the Poconos, visitors can find everything from valleys to vistas, spas to rugged hikes, and more. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from the many hiking and mountain biking trails, waterfalls, and stunning views. If the climate still lingers in winter, ski resorts are plentiful here. At any time of year, indoor water parks will entertain families for hours while saving a few dollars on sunblock.
Nestled in the famous Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York is Lake George, the ultimate weekend getaway destination. Its variety of gorgeous lakes and nature provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Even Georgia O’Keefe thought so, proven by her many works still there from her many visits. The 32-mile long Lake George has entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts and city dwellers alike. If you wait until summer, you can catch the Elvis Festival featuring impersonators and activities. Also attractive to visitors is the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival, featuring the region’s best mouth-watering local options.
- The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires offer the best of western Massachusetts in terms of both recreation and cultural events. When you’re not taking advantage of the lush outdoors, get centered with yoga at Kripalu, attend concerts at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and enjoy the food and shopping options of the historic town of Lenox. Stop to smell the flowers in the garden tour at The Mount, former home of Edith Wharton and inspiration for her novel The Age of Innocence.
Are you inspired yet to hit the road? Book your stays now at any of all of these conveniently located escapes in easy driving distance from New York City. Your sanity deserves it.
Want more vacation and travel tips? Check out our blog post on The Beach Escapes of New York City!
This city is filled with venues and event spaces, but there’s no hallowed hall quite like a comedy club. Whether seeing a legendary headliner or a night of up-and-comers, there are countless spots in the city where laughs reign supreme. These are our 5 favorite places to laugh it up in the city that never sleeps.
For those who don’t mind seeing their comedic idols (way) up close, this intimate Greenwich Village club might be the best attraction in the city. The smallness of the venue works to its advantage, with comic luminaries like Dave Chappelle, Todd Barry, Aziz Ansari and many more getting up close and personal with uproariously laughing crowds. With a showcase format, no set lasts longer than 20 minutes, and celebrity drop-ins happen often. When you’re at the Cellar, you never know who will stop by.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theater
The home of comedy innovation nationwide, Upright Citizens Brigade theater was founded in 1999 with a focus on the best in improv. More than a venue, UCB also hosts a full comedy school with classes taught by pros experienced in getting big laughs on TV and film. If you’re more at home in the seats than onstage, the UCB Theater features affordable high-quality shows at each of its NYC locations in the East Village and Hell’s Kitchen. Whether stand-up, sketches or full-on improvised scenes, UCB is always the place for what’s new and exciting in comedy before it hits the big or small screen.
Parked in the heart of Times Square, this is the appropriately premier landing place when the biggest names in comedy come to NYC. It’s not all boldface names, however: the club frequently hosts rising stars eager to make a name for themselves. In a city like New York, there’s no shortage of talented acts just waiting for their big break, and there’s likely no better environment to enjoy them than at this 300-seat, architecturally significant space on the Great White Way.
The Creek and the Cave
With a name that sounds decidedly dour, you might be forgiven for confusing this locale for the latest farm-to-table eatery in Long Island City. Instead, you’ll find Mexican eats described as “serviceable” and some of NY’s most scrumptious comedy fare. With multiple spaces and an expansive patio, this is the kind of place comedy lovers of all stripes can show up and find something worth laughing at. While you’re in Queens, consider Jackson Heights for dinner before you hit the Creek for a buffet of laughter.
The neighborhood that was once home to America’s original humorist happily carries on that tradition in the 21st century. At this Gramercy area club, however, the menu is almost as enticing as the humor. Home to a critically-acclaimed chef serving up high-quality food and cocktails, The Stand promises a night of great eats and belly laughs. Now that they’ve moved to their current location to accommodate larger crowds, rest assured you won’t feel stuffed in when you take your seat. That comes once you’re through with dinner.
Do you experience sleepless nights wondering about alternative names for the artichoke, the number of stars on the European Union flag, or who invented the rabies vaccination?
For New Yorkers looking for a nerdy spin on the usual night out with friends, trivia is exactly what the doctor ordered. These five locales are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fact-filled nights on the town in all five boroughs. Study (and bottoms) up!
Indian Road Cafe
This rustic eatery is certainly uniquely situated–you’ll find it all the way at the northern tip of Manhattan, on the edge of Inwood Hill Park. 218th Street is home to one of New York’s most fun and fascinating trivia nights, with an appropriately colorful MC known only as Mr. Phil. Prizes for winners include t-shirts, free drinks, gift cards and more. A haven for the truly obsessed, Indian Road hosts a robust online presence for their trivia night, with a detailed scoreboard and standings.
This Chinatown hotspot might be best known for their creative cocktails and underpriced oysters, but don’t let the chic decor fool you. Every Tuesday this is the venue for one of the city’s most challenging and off-kilter trivia nights, complete with a $100 grand prize. Show up a little early to enjoy their unique happy hour selection before the Q&A crowd gets going.
Looking for even more gaming fun with your trivia? Parkside Lounge on East Houston Street may become your home away from home. Before or after the trivia rounds, partake in any of their other forms of entertainment like a photo booth, Pac-Man and foosball, an old-school jukebox and more. Bring 3 of your brainiest buddies, but no more than that–4 person teams are the strictly followed rule here.
Videology Bar & Cinema
If movies are your thing, arrive early to test your knowledge at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Videology: their trivia night is so popular that people are often turned away at the door. It might be tough to find a more appropriate place for movie trivia, as Videology functions as both a bar and an independent cinema, playing cult favorites and obscurities from every era of film. Winners of these trivia rounds can get rounds of free drinks or even a two-hour private party in the screening room!
The Strand Smokehouse
A neighborhood with some impressive future neighbors, Astoria in Queens currently hosts one of the most unique trivia spots in any borough. When the sun goes down, this hotspot for smoked meat and bourbon fills up with an audience hungry for the greatest sustenance of all: knowledge. Winners can earn a $50 tab, a round of shots or even a free day of rock climbing.
Want even more options? The city’s got tons, so you won’t have to rush to find a favorite.. There’s no shortage of quizzical fun to be had any night of the week, and no better competition than the multitude of minds in New York City. Better start studying!
Looking for more NYC nightlife? Read our guide to the Best Free Music Spots or keep it on the hush at one of the city’s Coolest Speakeasies.
The best things in life are indeed free, and no event proves that as well as a free concert. This being the city that never sleeps, almost every night of 2019 in NYC will feature a no-cost world-class concert experience for music lovers of all stripes. After we’re done ringing in the new year, there’s no reason to press pause on having a good time out in the city. Here are 4 hot spots to find live music that won’t put any stress on your wallet.
Lost in Music Pop-Up (201 Mulberry Street)
New Yorkers are no strangers to the coolest pop-up experiences, so when Sony opened Lost in Music this past fall, the free and immersive tech and music showcase was right at home. From now until February, visitors to this spot in SoHo can check out a walkthrough audio zone that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. But come around on Fridays for the headlining event: live performances from artists like A$AP Ferg, Zara Larsson, and Lauren Jauregui, with many more still to come. The shows are simulcast live on YouTube, but as any music fan knows, you just gotta be there!
Bar Chord (1008 Cortelyou Road)
Music lovers who are a little more analog-inclined might look to Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn, where Bar Chord serves up great drinks with live music most days of the week at no extra charge. There’s a weekly Jazz Jam on Sunday nights, and a visit on any other night can find you jamming to salsa, hard rock, country and everything in between without a strobe light in sight. Right off the F train, the good times on offer make a trip to the Ditmas Park neighborhood in Brooklyn well worth it, no matter which corner of the city you’re hailing from.
Concerts At One (75 Broadway)
Visitors to Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan (right off Wall Street) are usually there to see a National Historic Landmark, one of the gems of New York City. Those who show up on a Thursday afternoon at 1 pm, however, are treated to a free classical music show inside the hallowed walls of the church. The Monday editions are held at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel, so twice a week tourists and NYC natives alike can take in a refined bit of culture, free of charge.
SummerStage (various locations)
While temperatures drop, it may seem like a long time away but this summerlong, citywide festival of free shows is always worth the wait. While the best-known venue is Central Park, there are annually around 15-18 city parks across all five boroughs that participate, putting on top-notch performances. Last year’s slate of performers included the Metropolitan Opera, old-school rappers EPMD and Big Daddy Kane, and enough jazz, classical, and world music vibrations to make fans of any genre get up and dance. 2019’s lineup will be announced in the spring, so keep your summer calendars at the ready!
Holiday celebrations are in full swing all over NYC, and there’s no better symbol of the season than Rockefeller Center’s famous tree. While it’s recognizable all across the globe, even born and bred New Yorkers may learn a thing or two from this list of fun facts.
- It’s got very humble origins
While today’s tree is a glittery example of the bigger-is-better spirit that permeates the city, the first tree in 1931 was raised under a slightly different set of circumstances. The construction workers, happy to be on the job in the midst of the Great Depression, showed their Christmas spirit by pooling money to set up a 20 foot balsam fir which they decorated with homemade garlands and ornaments. It became an official tradition two years later, and with the completion of Rockefeller Center and the resurgence of the city, it became a symbol of the again-prosperous country.
- Generosity is a rule
The spirit of giving truly lives in this Christmas tradition! Rockefeller Center pays for cutting and transportation, but every year’s tree comes as a donation from property owners who decide to let their tree light up Midtown. Not to end there, every tree since 1973 has also been recycled. Earlier years saw them mulched to be spread in NYC parks, but more recently trees have been turned into wood beams which are then used by Habitat for Humanity as they build homes for low-income Americans.
- It’s got a suitably big decoration budget
It stands to reason that this major tree requires some serious decorating. It takes a crew of 20 about 9 days to complete the process, and their working materials put even the most enthusiastic home decorator to shame. The string of lights is about 7 miles long-enough to cover the border of Central Park! Along that wire there’s 50,000 LED lights, which use less energy and make the tree even more ‘green.’ Standing atop the mighty spruce is the crowning jewel–specially redesigned by famed architect Daniel Libeskind for 2018. The Swarovski star is made up of 70 spikes with 25,000 crystals and weighs in at an incredible 900 pounds. It reportedly costs about $1.5 million.
- If it can make it here…
Moving a 70-80 foot tree is no small task, so organizers normally look to nearby New Jersey or Connecticut for ease of getting the massive spruce to Rockefeller Center. That wasn’t the case, however, in 1998. Richfield, Ohio was the home of that year’s choice fir, brought to NYC on the world’s largest transport plane. While that journey was certainly a long one, that airborne trip wasn’t the longest distance the tree has had to travel to Midtown. That honor goes to 1967’s iteration, which hailed from Petawawa Forest in Ontario, Canada. After 550 miles traveled, NYC had their perfect tree. It’s also been delivered on a barge down the Hudson River, meaning whether by air, land or sea, there’s no obstacle to getting the perfect Spruce into Rockefeller Center!
- Among the skyscrapers
The tree’s height of course varies every year, but organizers generally like to find one within a sweet spot of between 65 to 80 feet. In 1999, however, fresh off the tree’s first airplane flight in history, organizers must have felt the need to top themselves. That was accomplished with the tallest specimen NYC has seen: a whopping 100 foot high Norway Spruce from Killingworth, Connecticut. Cathy and Jim Thomson generously gave this monster over to Rockefeller Center and got to see their pride lit up for the entire city to enjoy. This year’s tree tops out at 72 feet, and will stay up for New Yorkers and tourists alike to enjoy until January 7th.