I’ve lived in New York City as a Los Angeles transplant for the last 5 years. Although I love this side of the world, I do not intend to live here forever. As I reflect on the past 2 years, and what I want the remainder of my time to look like in New York, I foresee a lot of day trips to the neighboring towns that I’ve never been to.
I’m excited to explore upstate New York, the tri-state, and research all the local food, beer, and traditions. I want the rest of my time here, however long that might be, to be one filled with East Coast joy. I want to smell the trees in the mountaintops, hike to a rainforest, snowboard down a mountain, ice skate on a frozen pond like the locals, and make habitat in new homes in the forests.
The cool thing that I’m realizing is, to achieve all this really doesn’t take that much time or gas. In all actuality, it’s a relatively short drive from New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. That’s the great part about the East Coast that I hardly find in California—everything is just moments away. If you’re in the mood for an abundance of nature, change of scenery, or a solo trip—look no further than the below 5 easy day trips. Soak it all in.
Getting to Lake Placid is easy: Start on the I-87, and head north. Soon after, you’ll get to the Adirondacks (the area surrounded by small lakes, densely forested areas, and straight through to Canada). It might be hard seeing the turn for Lake Placid, so we recommend driving in the daylight, as it’s tucked up in the mountains on the west side of the highway.
Lake Placid, a gorgeous mountain lake town, is famous for hosting the Winter Olympic games and still hosts athletes from time to time for training. The access to nature is the real reason why non-athletes flock to Lake Placid. You can skate along one of the many lakes, go for nature walks, mountain bike, zip-line, or enjoy the beautiful falls of Lake Placid.
Saratoga Springs, population 28,000, was a site in the seminal Revolutionary War battle, as well as a 19th-century health and wellness destination. People enjoy the town for its mineral springs and European-style spas. It’s also great for horseback riding and preserved historical buildings and homes.
Great Sacandaga Lake
Southwest of Lake George (next on our list), you’ll come to a 29-mile-long body of water surrounded by forests called Great Sacandaga Lake. Built in the 1930s, the lake is great for boating, swimming, and fishing. Because it is so large and wide, it often feels like you have the whole lake to yourself—a huge plus for big city NYC habitants.
The nice thing about Schroon Lake is they have activities 365 days a year. If you are looking to have a busy agenda, this is the place to be. Minutes away from Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area (where the population is 2,000 residents), you can enjoy the Seagle Festival, the oldest vocal training program in the country, over the summer.
In the summer, you can also enjoy water skiing, fishing, paddling, sailing, and tanning by the lakeshore. In the fall, you can enjoy the coziness and small town vibes, surrounded by amazingly charming Airbnbs with fire pits and fuzzy feelings. In the winter, tourists like to do cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and alpine skiing.
Coined as one of the best places in the U.S., this 31-mile-long beauty is a great destination for friends, family, and solo travelers. Unlike our other picks, this doesn’t feel super small town. Instead, the massive body of water, accompanied with the vast mountains, completely overtake you.
When it’s warm, enjoy the Million Dollar Beach on the south shore, where you will find locals and tourists enjoying a dip. Warning: It does get really crowded in June and July, but the views are so beyond worth it. At the beach, you can also rent a boat, or get a seat on one of the large boats to explore the endless bays that Lake George has to offer. The aerial sightseeing here is iconic.
For the hikers out there: Pilot Knob and Prospect Mountain are great moderate hikes, and have incredible sweeping views along the trail. If you are looking to have more of a posh time, the local and notable luxury resort, The Sagamore is insanely tranquil and has a spa, pool, and an oasis of activities.
Which of these amazing destinations are you looking forward to on your day trip? If you’re looking for more vacation ideas around NYC, we’ve got you covered. with 5 weekend trips that require less than 3 hours driving. Not in the mood to drive, here’s 8 hotels for an NYC staycation like no other.
Photos via Visit Sacadanga, Adirondack, Lake George