5 Unique Day Trips from Grand Central Station

New York is, famously, the City that Never Sleeps. But it’s also a city where you’ll never run out of things to do. A lifetime isn’t nearly enough to exhaust everything New York has to offer, from food to fashion to culture to nightlife.

That doesn’t mean you’ll never want to leave, though. The frantic pace of New York can wear down even the most energetic of us, and there are times when you might find yourself hankering for a slower pace of life. Also, if you’re just visiting New York, it would be a shame not to see more of this region of the United States.

Luckily, New York has some of America’s best public transportation links. The historic Grand Central Station provides a gateway to so many fascinating areas that it’s impossible to resist the temptation to explore. Just drop off your bags at a Grand Central Station luggage storage and check out some of these great day trips for yourself.

Wassaic

This small town may be the perfect antidote to the frantic pace of New York City. Wassaic is located in Dutchess County And can be reached in around two and a half hours by train from Grand Central Station, but the laid-back pace of this quiet town will make you feel like you’re a lot further from New York than that.

With a permanent population of only 210 people, you wouldn’t expect this tiny hamlet to have very much going on. However, proximity to the city combined with old-fashioned American charm has made the town something of an enclave for artists and dreamers. The Wassaic Project, a nonprofit arts center with a well-regarded residency program, stages performances and festivals throughout the year.

The main Wassaic Festival is usually held in August, so if you’re in town around that time, this is an event you don’t want to miss. But at any time of year, Wassaic exudes old-world charm and a far slower pace of life than you’ll get in New York, so it’s the ideal place to recharge your batteries, enjoy nature, and immerse yourself in the arts on a short train ride from Grand Central Station.

Poughkeepsie

The Hudson Line will take you from Grand Central Station to the city of Poughkeepsie in just over an hour and a half. Established in the 17th century, Poughkeepsie is a town of 30,000 people, so it has enough to keep you occupied while still offering a far slower pace of life than New York City.

Explore the Walkway over the Hudson, the world’s longest pedestrian footbridge, which travels for 1.2 miles over the river, allowing you to enjoy incredible views of the Hudson Valley. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College is worth checking out for art lovers, as it displays an eclectic selection of art from ancient times up to the latest in contemporary art. Alternatively, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is the perfect place for families to explore, with its interactive exhibits that will teach kids about science, art, history, the natural world, and just about every other topic there is.

Poughkeepsie is also packed with some great bars and restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely dinner before heading back to New York City. Thanks to its proximity to New York, it makes an excellent destination for an easy day trip from Grand Central Station.

New Haven

It takes less than two hours to make the journey by train from Grand Central Station to New Haven, Connecticut. Famous as the home of Yale University, one of the world’s best educational establishments, New Haven has a fantastic art gallery in the form of the Yale University Art Gallery. However, the natural environment is just as beautiful as any artwork, with attractions like Lighthouse Point Park giving sweeping views over the ocean and making it the ideal place for a walk to recharge your batteries away from the city. The Yale Peabody Museum is also a guaranteed hit with kids, as you’ll guess the minute you see the huge dinosaur statue outside.

New Haven offers a great combination of culture and the outdoors, and the city is big enough to have some excellent places to eat and drink or to stay if you want to make a longer trip. However, a day trip from Grand Central Station gives you enough time to see the highlights of this small city if your time is limited.

New Canaan

Reachable from Grand Central station in around an hour, New Canaan lets you see Connecticut’s Gold Coast and take in some small-town charm without straying far from New York City. Sights include The Glass House, the iconic and beautifully preserved home of Philip Johnson that is a major landmark in the city. Waveny Park is another historic building that hosts art exhibitions and a small gallery where the beautifully landscaped grounds accentuate the art.

The New Canaan farmers’ market is a great place to shop for local produce and other delicacies, and the high street is home to some lovely quaint boutiques where you can pick up unique fashion, gifts, and souvenirs.

Danbury

Two hours by train from Grand Central Station, you’ll find the city of Danbury, the seventh largest in Connecticut. Train enthusiasts will be delighted by a visit to the Danbury Railway Museum, which houses old locomotives from the early days of the East Coast rail network. You can also visit the upscale shopping mall at Danbury Fair to scratch your retail itch. Alternatively, if you’d rather get away from it all, Bear Mountain Reservation offers incredible hiking trails surrounded by mountains and lakes that will make you feel like you’re much further from New York than you really are.

Conclusion

Grand Central Station has long been the gateway to New York for millions of people, but it’s also a gateway to more of what New York and Connecticut have to offer. Whenever the city gets too much, hop on a train to any of these more laid-back locations, and you’ll see more of what East Coast charm is all about. Just don’t forget to leave the bags behind before you start exploring.