10 Small Towns Near NYC To Visit This Summer

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Plan a day (or weekend) trip to one of these charming destinations, all of which are just a stone's throw from New York City

BY LILIT MARCUSJESSICA WAKEMAN, AND AMY PLITT  MAY 22, 2017, 10:00AM EDT

It is a truth universally acknowledged (by New Yorkers, anyway) that summer in the city can be something of a beast, what with the ridiculous heat in subway stations, and that smell (you know what we're talking about) that permeates city streets until October. But instead of stewing in the heat, why not get out of town for a day or two? Thanks to our fair city's location—close to New England, the Jersey Shore, Long Island's beaches, and the Hudson River—there's a bevy of charming towns you can visit the next time you need a break from NYC.

These towns in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey offer a little something for everyone. But the best part is that they're all just a few hours from NYC, so it won't be hard to drop everything, pack a bag, and get outta town.


#1 Phoenicia, NY

It's only a matter of time before Phoenicia becomes as popular among NYC expats as towns like Beacon or Hudson—and if you ask some people, it's already there. (How many Phoenicia Diner t-shirts have you seen in Brooklyn lately?) But the town's location deep within the Catskill Mountains has helped it retain a laid-back feel, and there's a lot to do there: Main Street is full of charming and quirky shops (including the Mystery Spot, a vintage lover's haven), there are outdoor activities aplenty, and lodging options range from hip hotels (The Graham & Co.) to quaint B&Bs (The Phoenicia Belle). Oh, and the Phoenicia Diner is actually well worth a visit.


#2 Lambertville, NJ

The so-called “antiques capital of New Jersey” is worth a visit if you’re in the market for vintage treasures: It’s home to the People’s Store, a well-known antiques market located in a 19th-century building in the center of town. (And that’s just the best-known spot—the town is brimming with smaller stores and dealers selling vintage wares.) Lambertville is also close to New Hope, Pennsylvania, which Curbed Philly calls "a hot spot for artists and creatives"—so it's worth hitting both towns in one trip.


#3 Mystic, CT

New England maritime history is center stage in Mystic, where the Charles W. Morgan, the country's oldest surviving whaleship, is docked at the Mystic Seaport. The site of a recreated 19th-century seafaring village, the seaport shows off big ships and offers exhibitions on lighthouses, figureheads, and other maritime objects. But if you know the town, it may be for Mystic Pizza, the pizzeria made famous by the 1988 Julia Roberts flick. And no visit to the town is complete without enjoying scoops from Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream while watching boats pass under the drawbridge.


#4 Kingston, NY

Thanks to its location on the banks of the Hudson River, there's a lot of nautical history in Kingston. It's home to both the Hudson River Maritime Museum, which hosts exhibits and leads tours about the area, as well as the quaint and Instagrammable Rondout Lighthouse. But Kingston also has the sort of hip shops and restaurants that wouldn't feel out of place in, say, Brooklyn—spots like Clove & Creek, with its selection of home goods and accessories, or Brunette, a wine bar opened in 2015 by two Queens residents who fell in love with the town.


#5 Cape May, NJ

Cape May prides itself as a quaint Victorian village nestled in the southern tip of New Jersey. It also happens to also be a prime beach location with miles of beaches directly on the Atlantic Ocean (however, access is not free — guests must pay a fee at beach entrances). There's a vibrant, family-friendly downtown featuring shopping, mini-golf, an arcade, frozen custard, and a couple of fudge shops. When the sunburn starts to set in, visit the picturesque Cape May Lighthouse, the World War II Lookout Tower, or the Emlen Physick Estate, a 19th-century Victorian home complete with gardens and a tearoom. If adventure is more your speed, check out Cape May Parasailing, the Cape May Whale Watcher cruise, or even surfing lessons.


#6 Greenport, NY

If you want to check out Long Island's North Fork, Greenport is an excellent home base—and has plenty of charms of its own. The town is known for having some of the North Fork's best restaurants, including American Beech, a new American spot that does double-duty as a small, but lovely, hotel. Brix & Rye and Greenport Harbor are two excellent options for those seeking quality cocktails or craft beers, respectively. And, of course, there are beaches where you can kick back and relax. There's also a ferry that takes folks to Shelter Island, should you want to check that out on your trip.


#7 Kent, CT

Visiting the tiny town of Kent (it has fewer than 3,000 residents) is an excellent excuse to book a night or two in one of Litchfield County's many B&Bs. Visitors typically flock to Kent Falls, the scenic 250-ft waterfall found in the state park in Kent. For history lovers, the Seven Hearths Museum is a pre-Revolutionary War home that gives guests a peek into life during the colonial era and the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association is a museum dedicated to old-timey agricultural equipment. If you do visit Kent Falls, check out the nearby Kent Falls Brewing Company, located on the site of a former dairy farm.


#8 Hudson, NY

Hudson is best loved for its farm-to-table food scene and its antiques, which have interior designers from the city scrambling up the Amtrak for great deals. But don't ignore the culture scene: bar-slash-bookstore Spotty Dogmerges two of the world’s most perfect things, and Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur has converted a former cathedral, Basilica Hudson, into a concert venue and event space.


#9 Maplewood, NJ

A visit to the suburb of Maplewood is all about hiking the South Mountain Reservation to see the Hemlock Falls waterfall, a rocky trail that may be tough for novice hikers. Consider a planned hike through the South Mountain Conservancy. Along the way you might catch a glimpse of some "fairy houses" made of natural materials and built into the landscape by a local woman. Finish the day with a tour of Melovino Meadery in the neighboring village of Vauxhall to learn how mead is made—and of course, enjoy a tasting.


#10 Ridgefield, CT

Ridgefield is a thriving artistic community with institutions like The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, started from late fashion designer Larry Aldrich’s private collection. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a movie theater/performing arts center featuring acts like comedian Marc Maron and musician Loretta Lynn, while the Ridgefield Theater Barn is a playhouse located in—you guessed it—a big, red converted dairy barn. For those who aren't artistically inclined, the Keeler Tavern Museum is dedicated to the area’s Revolutionary War history. Guests can even see a cannonball fired by the British still embedded in the tavern’s wall.