New York is fascinating, but if you really want to complete your trip, the best way is to do a day trip and discover the incredible surroundings of the city. There are several excursions to choose from, and I have ranked them all to make it extra easy for you.
1. The best tours from New York
Although it's hard to decide on one, each excursion from New York fits a different type of trip:
2. Niagara Falls day trip from New York City
If you would like to visit Niagara Falls (and this is something you have to do at least once in your life), my personal recommendation is to do the Niagara Falls two-day tour (with accommodation included). The trip takes you to Watkins Glen State Park to see its beautiful waterfalls, and then to Niagara Falls to see them at sunrise, sunset, and night.
The nicest thing about visiting Niagara Falls from New York on an organized tour is that you won't have to worry about how to get there, which can be quite an odyssey. Once at the Falls, you'll be sure not to miss anything with your professional English-speaking guide.
This tour will take you by bus to Niagara Falls, touring several waterfalls on the way: you will pass through the impressive Watkins Glen State Park, and visit She Qua Ga Falls, a famous waterfall in the town of Montour Falls.
You will arrive at Niagara Falls before sunset and tour Goat Island and Luna Island on the U.S. side as the sun sets over the falls. In the evening, you can watch the Falls light-up, and enjoy the sunrise over the Falls on the next day. As part of the experience, you will take the famous Maid of the Mist tour.
On the way back to New York, you'll stop at the premium outlet store at Crossings. If you were thinking of shopping for top American brands to bring home as souvenirs, this is the perfect place to do it.
Why I like it
What I especially like about this tour is that it is quite complete, and allows you to see Niagara Falls at three different times of the day. Most people who visit this amazing place tend to do it for a few hours and leave since it takes so long to get there and back, and in my opinion, it's worth taking it slow and enjoying a bit more.
Why do I recommend it
If you are going to be in New York for more than a week and you love nature, this is the perfect day trip for you. In any case, there is also the possibility to visit the Falls with a round trip on the same day. Find all the different options in this article on Niagara Falls Day Trips from New York.
3. Washington day trip from New York City
The best way to visit Washington from New York City in one day, discover the main points of interest of the city, and learn the history of each monument with the explanation in English of a professional guide, is with this organized tour.
Why I like it
In addition to its good value for money, I recommend this activity because it includes a very complete tour of Washington that shows you most of the city's main landmarks.
You will see the White House, the U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and Washington's many memorials to war veterans and presidents. This tour is a full-day tour (12-15 hours) with round-trip transportation in an air-conditioned bus with WiFi.
It takes about 4 hours to get to Washington from New York City, and your group will consist of about 50 people maximum. All entrance fees are included on this tour, and you will have free time at lunchtime (lunch is not included in the activity) to explore at your own leisure and eat wherever you choose.
Why do I recommend it
It is the perfect activity if you've always wanted to see the White House up close or you're going to be in New York in spring, as it coincides with Washington's Cherry Blossom Festival. If you are considering Washington as a day trip destination, you will find more details in my practical guide on Washington Day Trips from New York.
Between 12 and 15 hours.
4. Boston day trip from New York City
Considering the vast distances that separate major U.S. cities, Boston is quite close to New York and you're sure to love the day trip to Boston from NYC. You will visit a city that has played a major role in modern American history and discover a very different atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of New York.
On this full-day tour, you will see Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Copley Square, and Trinity Church, and take a full tour of the Freedom Trail seeing all of the city's landmarks, famous in America's political history.
If you love American history and don't want to stray too far from New York, you should definitely choose this experience.
Between 11 and 13 hours.
5. Philadelphia day trip from New York City
In addition to the historical interest of the city, what makes this day trip to Philadelphia from New York a great choice is that it is an easy and fairly short trip. You will get to climb the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Rocky, try the famous Philly Steak sandwich, and learn about the Amish way of life.
Many tours to Philadelphia are often combined with a visit to Washington, but in my opinion, the U.S. capital is worth a separate visit to fully explore it. Also, a day trip just to Philadelphia can be combined with a visit to an Amish community to discover how this community exists without the advances of technology, something you definitely don't get to see every day.
Why I recommend it
This is the trip for you if you want to visit the city of Rocky and discover a typically American city with interesting particularities.
Between 11 and 13 hours.
6. New York City Outlet day trip
Woodbury Common is an outdoor outlet: it resembles a little town, only every house is a store. And there are hundreds of stores, scattered along its avenues, boulevards, and squares. It's about an hour or so from New York City, and the easiest way to get there is by bus.
To go to Woodbury Common from New York, it is best to book this tour, which will save you from having to arrange a round trip and will also give you some discounts to spend the day shopping.
In addition to the 50% and 70% discounts you will find in the New York outlet, with this tour you will also receive a card with additional discounts to use in many luxury brands such as Prada, Saint Laurent, Burberry, Armani, Balenciaga, Dior ... and so on up to 220 stores in total, spread between restaurants and cafes as if it were a shopping mall.
On the excursion to Woodbury Common, you will get to the outlet by bus and return to New York by the same means of transport at the end of your visit.
Go to Woodbury Common if you love premium clothing brands and will be in New York for several days.
Between 5 and 8 hours.
Something that will help you choose a tour from New York is how long you will be in the city: only pick a longer day trip if you are going to be in New York City for more than a week.
7. Tips for a day trip from New York City
- Regardless of which day trip from New York you take, my recommendation is to bring your camera, a rain jacket, your passport, loose change and a spare pair of socks. The weather in Washington, Boston or Philadelphia is very similar to New York, but in Niagara Falls it is a bit more extreme in summer and winter.
- If you are visiting Washington, people there are a bit more formal when it comes to clothing, so you will one-hundred-percent look like a tourist if you wear shorts and flip-flops. If you don't want to look too out of place, you may want to avoid that kind of outfit.
- Remember to wear comfortable shoes because even though you will be driving between the different points of interest in the cities, you will have to walk a bit and after a few hours you will be grateful not to have sore feet.
- Keep in mind that some of the tours do not include food, so if you are on a tight budget take some food in your backpack from New York or plan in advance where to eat in the place you are visiting.
8. Other interesting activities in New York City
If you think it is best to keep to the Big Apple and explore the many things it has to discover, you will not be wrong: New York City is endless and there is always somewhere to go, new or old. And that is why you should take a guided tour of the city, which will allow you to go over the most relevant areas without leaving anything unexplored. Here is a couple articles I wrote about my favorite experiences: New York Contrasts Tour and Gospel Mass and Harlem Tours.