8 best weekend getaways from NYC’s hustle

After a full year spent cooped up, spring is finally here to give us a reprieve from a very long winter.

While some of us are lucky enough to have a backyard for pandemic-friendly outdoor activities, many New Yorkers need to escape the city to really rid themselves of cabin fever. While the pandemic is far from over, there are still ways to enjoy this year’s spring break in a COVID safe way — be that in a private rental home by the sea or a staycation in a sanitized hotel not too far from home.

Whether you crave the great outdoors and want to spend your time off in a tiny home or just want Manhattan views from a room you don’t share with your kids (or have to clean yourself!) we have a list of both vacations and staycations just a stone’s throw from NYC, or a bit farther if you’d prefer.

Venture somewhere new for a weekend getaway

Head to the Catskills in a private Getaway House

Two men in chairs out in the woods looking at a tiny house
True O’Neill

No one understands the need to just getaway into nature than Getaway.

Like the name implies, Getaway specializes in relaxation in beautiful locations, two of which are in driving distance from NYC in the picturesque Catskills. Getaway Eastern Catskills, located in Catskill, NY is just a 2.5 hour drive from the city, and Getaway Western Catskills, located in Roscoe, NY is even less at around two hours. Rates start at $149 per night and can accommodate either one to two people in one queen bed or up to four people in the cabin with two queen-sized bunks.

“By disconnecting and spending time in nature, guests leave a weekend at Getaway feeling rested, recharged and refreshed,” said Jon Staff, Founder and CEO of Getaway. “Now more than ever in the current environment of always being ‘on,’ there’s a need to unplug and spend uninterrupted time in nature.”

The service offers “private and secluded cabins, contact-free check-in and check-out, no communal spaces, and accessibility by car,” Staff said.

A bed with a view of trees and nature in a wood house

Speaking to the “contact-free” aspect, Getaway understands the urge to travel and has made all the necessary COVID accommodations including a deep cleaning of all cabins, staff in full PPE at all times, private fire pits for each cabin and 50 to 150 feet of space between each cabin as well.

Enjoy a private vacation rental on the east coast with TurnKey

A cabin house by the water with grass and trees

Picture this: a private home you don’t need to clean, the sounds of the water as opposed to honking horns and lush greenery with no concrete jungle in sight.

Private vacation rental company TurnKey has a plethora of places within driving distance from New York City, including two properties in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and one in Bar Harbor, Maine, Ocean City, Maryland and Bethany Beach, Delaware.

“These quick trips help break up the daily routine, provide a change of scenery, offer new things to see and do and give a feeling of freedom,” said T.J. Clark, co-founder and president of TurnKey Vacation Rentals. “As travel decisions have been affected by COVID, private vacation home rentals have become a preferred option for travelers.”

Keeping COVID safety at the forefront of their operations, TurnKey homes are professionally cleaned between each use and has 24/7 guest support. For outside of New York travel, be sure to read the rental description outlining what forms and other precautions may be necessary to leave and re-enter the state, including completing a travel form, producing a negative test or quarantining upon return.

A wooden dock by the water and other homes across

This year, the company made enhancements to their “patented GuestWorks cleaning system and verification technology, including confirmation and photo-verification of the use of COVID-19 fighting products,” continued Clark in the statement. “Not to mention our custom digital lock technology, for a 100% contactless check-in and checkout experience. These locks are also time-coded to ensure no one else can enter the property while guests are present.”

If you choose the 4-ish hour trip to Cape Cod, rentals start at $165 to $200 per night, Bar Harbor starts at $125 and takes about eight hours by car, Ocean City starts at $230 and takes about four hours and Bethany Beach is the shortest journey at around three hours and 45 minutes and starts at $475 per night for a stunning four bedroom and 3.5 bath.

See Niagara Falls on a one-day tour

A view of Niagara Falls

If the last time you saw the Falls was on a school trip, it’s time to go back and see them in a whole new light.

For those wanting an escape from city life but only have one day to do so, a tour from Viator is the way to maximize your precious time. While there are many options on the platform to choose from, the one-day tour is a great way to see Niagara and surrounding waterfalls and caves while remaining COVID safe.

The full day starts with a pick-up in New York City and soon enough you’ll be at the Falls for a day exploring the Niagara Falls State Park as well as a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat cruise — the full tour package.

“Long tour but the price is unbeatable for a day tour from New York. We were able to sleep comfortably in the bus on our way to Niagara and we used the wifi and admired the beautiful landscape on the way back,” reads a five-star review of the tour.

An aerial shot of Niagara Falls

For COVID safety, check-in is paperless and done right on your phone. On the tour, face masks are required for travelers and the guides, hand sanitizer is readily available, social distancing is enforced and all gear, equipment and transportation are sanitized between use.

For longer adventures up to the Falls, check out other Viator offerings listed on the site, from two-day weekend trips to shorter trips that start outside of NYC.

Beacon, New York is calling you to stay in style with VRBO

The inside of a well-decorated living room

Beacon, New York makes the list for must-visit places that are close enough to NYC for a pleasant drive but far enough away that there won’t be light pollution or a honking taxi within earshot. Beacon is known for its contemporary art, but also boasts thrift shops for the fashion lovers and great food and views of the Hudson River.

No matter where you want to check out in the town, there’s an accommodation perfect for you and your posse. VRBO has a huge collection of rental homes in the area, ranging from modern homes to farmhouses to lakeside cabins and everything in between.

Our recommendation? Check out this private lake house that comes fully equipped with kayaks, sleeps up to six people, has a backyard deck with a propane grill and seating to watch the sunset.

Two women sitting in chairs facing the sunset over a lake

“My two young adult children (one who has special needs) and my toddler wanted to get away from the city for a much needed break from our apartment. Pictures and words do not fully encompass the majestic beauty of this property,” reads a recent five-star review from March. “My kids and I enjoyed watching the sunrise and sunsets. The house is very well kept, very clean, and modern. We ordered a few groceries and take out. I like how stores are not that far. Check in and check out process was very easy.”

Other options include staying in a castle by the sea for just $328 per night that sleeps up to 12 people in case you have a large immediate family or happen to be a royal. For a less expensive stay, check out the pet and family-friendly house near the water for only $149.

Regardless of where you stay, be sure to read the details on how VRBO properties are abiding by COVID regulations, including sanitation policies between guests, maximum number of people allowed at the property and their cancelation policies.

Or stay near NYC for a great “staycation”

Stay local (and get fit) and The Williamsburg Hotel

A hotel room with a bed and a deck
The Williamsburg Hotel

The hotel’s tagline is “the better side of the river,” and with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline day and night, it all makes sense.

The Williamsburg Hotel has a perfect suite for you when you need to escape the madness of Manhattan for a staycation over a weekend or during the work week to get some time away from the kids or other work-from-home housemates. In a collaboration with Liteboxer, snag a two-room suite all to yourself where you can work, workout and relax without ever leaving your room.

A woman using an electronic boxing machine on her rooftop

The room and amenities are already a perk themselves, with plush pillows and robes, a beautiful teal-tiled bathroom with a rainfall shower head and views of the city from your balcony. But what sets this staycation apart is the Liteboxer machine in your office space. The machine comes fully sanitized and with a pair of boxing gloves and pre-loaded workouts on the attached tablet. Like a boxing version of Dance Dance Revolution, simply punch the target when the light reaches the center and enjoy pop hits as you hit your target and workout goals for the day.

To ensure COVID safety, not only is the suite fully sanitized between guests, but masks are required in all areas of the hotel outside your own room, including in the lobby, bar and restaurant when not seated (and there are also plastic barriers between booths at the main-floor restaurant.)

Explore NYC like it’s your first time with an outdoor tour

Boats go by the Manhattan skyline

Being a tourist in your own city is more fun that you’d think. You know the area well enough to not get lost, but chances are there are parts of NYC that you’ve never seen before, and never like this.

The NYC tours at Viator span a full-range of activities and interests, many of which are outdoor and adapted for COVID. When searching for tours, make sure to look out for the little hand washing icon in the bottom right of each activity, indicating that the staff and tour will be taking additional safety measures such as limiting party size, mandating masks, enforcing distancing and more.

For some ideas, check out the top 10 tours in NYC, which you can filter to just outdoor for added safety. Starting at $30, take a speedboat tour of the city from the water, enjoying amazing skylines and the sea, as well as a comical captain who will keep spirits high on the high seas.

A green speed boat and the Statue of Liberty in the background

If boats aren’t your thing, how about bikes? Another top tour is the electric bike tour of Central Park and Hudson River Waterfront Greenway, from $97 for the four-hour tour. The bikes are thoroughly sanitized between each use and masks are required when cycling though crowded areas. Also included is a bottled water, a helmet, a fully-charged e-bike and an enthusiastic guide you point out all the hidden gems springtime in NYC has to uncover.

Check in to The Beekman Hotel for a Manhattan stay you won’t forget

A terrace outside a hotel room

For a to-die-for location, try Fi-Di for your next staycation escape.

The Beekman is a five-star hotel with all the fixings, including COVID-safe regulations that make your stay not only fit for a king but will put your mind at ease when it comes to cleanliness. All sanitation information is listed right on the Expedia page for the hotel, outlining social distancing policies like contactless payment and room service and cleaning practices like mask mandates and disinfection of all rooms and amenities.

Should you want to work off some stress and some calories, too, the gym is open to guests via a reservation system to ensure no more than five people are inside at a time. The reservations can be made using a link received at check-in, and dining reservations can also be made for dinner in the restaurant from five to 11 p.m.

A suite in a hotel with green walls and purple furniture

Take you pick of rooms as well, from a list including singles, doubles and even suites with fire places and seating areas.

If you do choose to leave your room, remember to grab your mask and then hit the streets to check out the surrounding area. Wall Street is just a nine minute walk away, and so is the One World Trade Center and the South Side Seaport.

Head to a private cottage by the water not too far in Queens

A view of a light-filled house from the second floor

Your new NYC home away from home may be closer than you think, with a cottage that looks and feels remote but is still in the city.

The Cottage by the Water home is an Airbnb property with three bedrooms and 1.5 baths all for you and you only. The cottage is so lovely that it has even been featured on House Beautiful as a perfect NYC getaway that’s only 40 minutes from Manhattan. The interior is decorated impeccably by the husband and wife design team, perfect for a staycation photoshoot with your guests.

Inside the home, all kitchen and bath essentials are provided for you, so you can save your suitcase for swimsuits and flip flops for the deck out back where you may see ducks and the occasional swans if lucky.

A wooden deck and a view of water with houses on the other side

“This is a beautiful place and well worth the visit. We enjoyed the cozy interior, and the view of ducks and swans from the porch,” reads a review from Ava from February 2021. “It is very clean and comfortable. Also Jonathan had nice touches, and treats that my kids really enjoyed and made out stay extra special. Highly recommended!”

Speaking of clean, this property takes COVID seriously and has the Enhanced Clean promise of the Airbnb site, meaning that they abide by the service’s five-step enhanced cleaning process. In addition, check-in is contactless with a self-serve lockbox to take and leave the key when your stay comes to a end. The cottage sleeps five comfortably, and starts at $230 per night.