Credit: @roydotschneider on Instagram
Taking a winter train trip from New York City can showcase the very best of the Empire State’s picturesque scenery from inside the window of your cozy railcar. During wintertime, Metro North, Long Island Railroad, and Amtrak all have routes that chug along different parts of New York State, with station stops that can make for a day trip, an overnight stay, or a quick getaway. These rail-linked destinations can offer many fun experiences from museums to outdoors adventures to shopping and fine dining.
Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.
Hit the Slopes in Patterson (Hudson Valley)
Credit: Nick Madeo
A ski getaway from New York City is closer than you think. Just 70 miles north of Manhattan, you can spend the day hitting the slopes at Thunder Ridge Ski Area (pictured) in Patterson. Thunder Ridge has both slow and gentle slopes to help newbies feel comfortable, while those with more experience can head out on advanced trails. There are 22 trails that readily accommodate any skill level, three chairlifts, and four magic carpets. Schedule a group or private lesson with the Snowsports School, which has the highest percentage of Professional Ski Instructors of America-certified instructors in the Northeast. Book lift tickets and rentals at least up to 14 days before your arrival date. In between runs, break for a burger or deli-style sandwich at the Slope Side Cafe, or call up a taxi and head into town for some comfort food at Putnam Diner & Restaurant and mountain views and delicious noodle dishes at Thai Elephant 2. Reviews call Rocco’s Family Restaurant and Pizzeria the best in Patterson, and The Farmhouse has a great selection of burger varieties.
Getting there: Take Metro-North's Harlem Line to Patterson station, where a shuttle bus will take you to and from Thunder Ridge. The ride runs about 90 minutes with a required transfer. Now through March 11, 2023, you can get a discounted combo train and lift ticket. ($98.75 for adults, $83 for seniors; pricing for children varies by age.)
Explore Art, Science, and History at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers (Hudson Valley)
Enjoy a day out on the banks of the Hudson River at this treasure trove of local history, science, and art. The Hudson River Museum (pictured) highlights American art ranging from the 19th-century Hudson River School paintings to contemporary art installations with its permanent collection of over 18,000 pieces and special exhibits. Take a family workshop with fun art and science activities, explore the cosmos at the planetarium, and tour the Glenview Historic Home, a circa 1877 house featured on the HBO hit series, “The Gilded Age.” After working up an appetite, try the three course pre-fixe lunch menu ($33) or pre-fixe Sunday brunch ($48) at X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, an upscale eatery with the only turn of the century Victorian pier still in use on the Hudson River (30 minute walk from the museum; train and bus service also available). Just a quick walk away, get a taste of the local craft beverage scene at Yonkers Brewing Company, which also has a restaurant.
Getting there: Take a 35 minute ride on Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line from Grand Central to Glenwood Station. From there, walk one block east on Glenwood Avenue, and then turn left onto Ravine Avenue. At the end of Ravine Avenue, enter Trevor Park. Follow the path to the main entrance of the museum. Now through April 30, 2023, save up to 25% on museum admission and rail tickets. (Cost starts at $19.50, for adults, $15.50, for seniors, $16.50 for children ages 12-16; $4 for children ages 5-11, and free for those under 5.)
Looping Around Beacon’s Main Street and Dia:Beacon (Hudson Valley)
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Nestled in the Hudson Highlands, Beacon is a haven for artists with a vibrant Main Street, beautiful parks, art galleries, theater, clothing boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants that can easily be explored by foot and the Beacon Free Loop shuttle bus. Go strolling and sightseeing along Main Street, with plenty of great spots to stop along the way from Bank Square Coffeehouse to Hudson Beach Glass and Clutter Gallery. Keep the art theme going and hop on the loop to Dia:Beacon (pictured), a museum housed inside a former Nabisco box printing factory that holds an incredible art collection dating back to the 1960s. If a hike is more your speed, the loop also takes you to Mount Beacon Park, where you can climb to the summit for breathtaking views stretching to the Catskill Mountains. For something a little more leisurely, Hudson’s Long Dock Park is a local favorite for pleasing river views and picnics. Feeling hungry? Hit up Max’s on Main, Beacon’s oldest bar, for inventive American comfort food or get some tacos with a twist at Tito Santana Taqueria. Leave room for dessert to try the six-time winner of Hudson Valley’s Best Donuts, Glazed Over Donuts. Beacon makes for a great day trip, but an even better weekend getaway. Check out our guide 48 Hours in Beacon for inspiration!
Getting there: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station, with the train ride running about 90 minutes. Get around town via the Beacon Free Loop, providing free rides to and from Beacon’s train station and other stops Monday-Saturday.
Walk Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie (Hudson Valley)
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Known as “The Queen City of the Hudson,” Poughkeepsie has a college-town vibe with plenty for lovers of art, nature, history, and food to discover. Grab a cup of joe and scratch-made specialty waffles at The Poughkeepsie Grind before heading over to the star attraction, the Walkway Over the Hudson (pictured). This former railroad bridge has been transformed into the longest elevated pedestrian pathway in the world, stretching just over 200 feet with unbeatable views of the majestic Hudson River. Ten discovery zones along the walkway teach you about Poughkeepsie’s waterfront, neighborhoods, and nature sites. For younger day trippers, the Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum offers hands-on learning with exhibits that focus on art, literacy, science, health, and the local community. Art enthusiasts will delight in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, which features a sculpture garden and impressive collection of over 22,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, textiles, and glass and ceramic wares. Grab a bite at The Station Grille, which provides river views while dining on pub and steakhouse dishes, or venture into Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy, to find the beloved Rosticceria Rossi & Sons, where you can create your own panini or order hot pasta dishes to enjoy by the river or on the train. Want to stay overnight? Choose from several hotels to extend your trip.
Getting there: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal to Poughkeepsie, the last stop. It’s about a two-hour ride.
Visit Beaches and Breweries in Montauk (Long Island)
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Take a trip to “The End” to experience the serenity of winter and the best of the coast without the crowds of summer. Take a local taxi to Montauk Point State Park, home to one of the most-beloved icons of Long Island. The Montauk Point Lighthouse (pictured), commissioned by President George Washington, stands at the very tip of Long Island offering stunning oceanic vistas of where the Atlantic meets Block Island Sound. Also explore the dramatic bluffs and beaches of neighboring Camp Hero State Park, the site of a former military base at the center of a conspiracy theory that inspired the Netflix hit “Stranger Things.” Treat yourself to the freshest seafood around at the fishermen-owned Inlet Seafood Dock & Restaurant (reopening February 17), The Montauket, and Hilltop Manor Restaurant. Relax with a pint of Wave Chaser IPA at the rustic tasting room of Montauk Brewing Company, which also has an outdoor patio overlooking a pond. From boutique motels like Haven Montauk to the luxurious Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, there’s plenty of places to stay on your beach getaway. Check out our 48 Hours in Montauk blog for more ideas!
Getting there: Take the LIRR from Penn Station or Grand Central to Montauk. The ride lasts more than three hours.
Experience Waterfront Vibes and Winter Wines in Greenport (Long Island)
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Step off the train to be greeted by the soothing blue waters of the harbor and you’ll quickly see why the charming and historic village of Greenport was once named one of “America’s prettiest towns” by Forbes. Explore the eclectic shops and art galleries that line Front and Main streets, take a spin on the antique carousel or skate around the ice in Mitchell Park, and pop into the former fire station that’s now home to the popular Greenport Harbor Brewing Company for a fresh pour from the tap. Oenophiles can also embark on a tour of North Fork’s famed wineries including Sparkling Pointe (pictured), Bedell Cellars, Duck Walk, and Kontokosta with North Fork Wine Tours or New Vine Wine Tours. Dining options in Greenport suit every taste and budget. Noah’s has been a farm-to-table fixture for over a decade with seasonal and regional fare along with a daily happy hour. The speakeasy-esque Brix & Rye is noted for their classic and modern cocktails and delicious pizzas. The Frisky Oyster has a fun vibe with a menu featuring seafood dishes and Lucharitos presents Tex-Mex dishes amid their luchador theme. Extend your time in Greenport with a stay at the charming Stirling House Bed & Breakfast, The Menhaden boutique hotel, or the timeless Harborfront Inn.
Getting there: Take the LIRR from Penn Station or Grand Central to Greenport. It’s about a three-hour ride.
Enjoy Shopping, Spirits, and Sea Creatures in Riverhead (Long Island)
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With its vibrant walkable downtown, hopping brewery scene, and thrilling attractions, it’s no surprise Riverhead was just named one of the top 50 places to visit in 2023 by Forbes. The MTA and LIRR are making it even easier to explore this buzz-worthy town with a special deal (available through May 31) that includes an overnight stay for two at Hotel Indigo - East End, two round-trip train tickets, transportation to and from the hotel, plus discounts to the hotel’s Bistro 72 restaurant and coupons to the Tanger Outlets. Lift your spirits at Twin Fork Brewing Co., Long Ireland Brewing Company, Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard, and Long Island Spirits Vodka (the MTA Away Deal comes with rides to your choice of two of these drinking holes). Make additional time to visit the fin-tastic Long Island Aquarium (pictured), home to the one of the largest all-living coral reef displays in the Western Hemisphere and more than 100 exhibits. Popular dining spots include Jerry & The Mermaid, a casual waterfront eatery that’s best for seafood and steaks, Tweed’s Restaurant & Buffalo Bar, a circa-1896 tavern known for their bison burgers, fried oysters, and vintage mahogany and marble bar; and Turkuaz Grill, a homey Turkish nook.
Getting there: Take the LIRR to Riverhead from Penn Station or Grand Central. It is just over a two hour ride.
Learn New York State History in Albany (Capital-Saratoga)
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The capital city of New York is buzzing in wintertime with places to keep you entertained during the day and well into the night. Feed your mind with art and history with a tour of the New York State Capitol and visits to the New York State Museum and Albany Institute of History & Art. Lace up some skates and take a peek at The Egg as you glide around the ice at Empire “Skate” Plaza (pictured) or catch a show at the Capital Repertory Theatre, also known as The Rep. Explore the “Greenwich Village of Albany,” walking the cobblestone intersections, admiring the historic brownstones, and popping pop into cozy cafes and independent shops on Lark Street. Albany also reflects craftsmanship through brewing and distilling at Nine Pin Cider Works, Albany Pump Station at C.H. Evans Brewing Co. and Albany Distilling Company. Dining options are abundant. Iron Gate Cafe is a breakfast and lunch hotspot amid an estate-like setting and later on try the artisan pizzas, burgers, or shareable plates at Druthers Brewing Company. The Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn & Suites, and the Renaissance all have great downtown locations if you’re staying overnight. Check out our spotlight on Albany for more ideas.
Getting there: Take Amtrak from the Moynihan Train Hall to Albany-Rensselaer. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour ride.
Enjoy Art and Antiquing in Hudson (Hudson Valley)
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The “Brooklyn of Hudson Valley” is a paradise of art, architecture, and antiques. Hudson’s Warren Street (pictured) is a treasure hunter’s delight with unique finds waiting to be discovered from vintage home goods at FINCH Hudson to heirloom textiles at MINNA and mid-century furnishings at Modern on the Hudson. Much of Hudson is noted for its architectural splendor, with magnificent Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Second Empire homes lining Warren, Union, and Allen streets. FASNY Museum of Firefighting makes for a fun visit while a walk along the riverfront leads to a great view of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, standing majestically within the water. You can also take in the winter beauty amid the grounds of the Olana State Historic Site. Hudson’s dining scene is booming with Ca’Mea, a fine Italian restaurant; Wunderbar Bistro, a comfort eats spot; Backbar, serving Malaysian cuisine; Casa Latina Pupusas Y Mas, with Salvadorian and Mexican dishes; and Hudson Food Studio, a South Asian influenced eatery. For lodging, Wm. Farmer & Sons has 15 rooms and suites spread out across three historically stunning buildings while the Nest Hudson features five private suites with spacious bathrooms and a 24/7 complimentary snack kitchen. Check out 48 Hours in Hudson for more ideas!
Relax in the “Spa City” of Saratoga Springs (Capital-Saratoga)
Credit: Rachel Dymond
As its slogan says, Saratoga Springs is all about “Health, History, and Horses,” and you can experience it all even in winter. Take an invigorating walk in Congress Park, a National Historic Landmark full of classic architecture, mineral springs, and natural wooded areas, before galloping on over to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Meander about Saratoga Spa State Park, check out 007’s collection of Aston Martin’s at the new James Bond exhibit at the Saratoga Automobile Museum (pictured), and take a pampering mineral water soak at Roosevelt Baths and Spa. Find unique threads, classic candy, the perfect bottle of olive oil, and more throughout the downtown shops. Breakfast is calling at The Country Corner Café while dinner can range from the steakhouse Salt & Char to Mexican fare at Cantina, and creatively rustic New American cuisine at Seneca. Spend a night (or two!) at the Inn at Saratoga, a quaint historic gem with 42 guestrooms, or the Embassy Suites by Hilton Saratoga Springs. Find more ideas in our blog 48 Hours in Saratoga Springs!
Getting there: Take Amtrak’s Adirondacks route from Moynihan Train Hall to Saratoga Springs. It is about a four-hour train ride.
See a Natural Wonder in Niagara Falls (Greater Niagara)
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Did you know you could take the train to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders? Hop on Amtrak to take an epic nine-hour train trek across the state to see the rushing waters at Niagara Falls State Park (pictured). Stop by “The World Changed Here Pavilion” to learn how Nikola Tesla harnessed the power of the Falls before you descend into the Niagara Gorge at the Cave of the Winds. The Niagara Power Vista shows how hydroelectric power works while the Aquarium of Niagara is home to a variety of marine life. Get a history lesson from Old Fort Niagara, a former military fort that schedules reenactments, and Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, which tells the stories of freedom seekers and those who aided them. You won’t go hungry in this riverfront city. The Craft Kitchen & Bar has “Bloody Marys, Burgers, and Brunch” on Sunday afternoons, Wine on Third, is a sophistically casual wine bar with classic and innovative dishes, while pierogies await you at Gadawski's, a venerable Polish restaurant. On certain dates, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute’s Savor Restaurant opens for lunch and dinner. Most hotels are close to Niagara Falls, such as the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino and the Hyatt Place Niagara Falls, which is next door to the Hard Rock Cafe Niagara Falls USA. Check out our blog 48 Hours in Buffalo and Niagara Falls for more inspiration!
Getting there: Niagara Falls is along Amtrak’s Maple Leaf route; train times can run nine hours, or with an additional half hour, from Moynihan Train Hall.