I love New York City just as much as the next Tri-State Area resident (I live in New Jersey), but there are times when getting away is just what I need to keep that passion going strong.

That’s why I always make sure to fill up my calendar with regional day trips that are easy and won’t break the bank. Sometimes, I even make a weekend out of these excursions from New York City, allowing for more exploration without the rush. Here are three of my absolute favorite little getaways:

The Catskills

The Catskill Mountains, about three hours from Manhattan, are one of my favorite places in the world. Spring, summer, and fall are my absolute favorite seasons there, though even winter has managed to draw me to the area.

Sometimes I go with my husband for a romantic retreat. Other times I bring the family along for the fun. We never plan on doing a lot, but always seem to find ourselves quite busy. My home away from home in the Catskills is The Emerson Resort and Spa. This cozy property has an area that is kid-friendly and another that is kid-free. Food at the restaurants by the creek are a wonderful reminder of why we made the 2-hour trip.

When we venture beyond the Emerson, we love to brunch at the Phoenicia Diner and eat BBQ at Mama’s Boy Market. We’ve enjoyed many hikes to the Katterskills Falls and guided nature excursions with the guys from Peekamouse Adventure. These experiences are nothing like the things we do at home.

Beekman Arms Inn, Rhinebeck

Rhinebeck, New York

Rhinebeck is a quaint little town about two hours from New York City by car and 1.5 hours away by train (from Pennsylvania Station). I simply adore the slower pace of this town. It’s very easy to walk around and enjoy all the mom-and-pop shops around town.

One of our favorite local eateries is the bistro-style Market Street Restaurant for pizza and focaccia. We also love breakfast and coffee at the local bakery, Bread Alone, where the lines can get long but the service is very friendly. We also always try to enjoy an evening at the movies at Upstate Films. This theater and member-supported arts organization was established in 1972 with the goal of highlighting alternative and independent films.

A romantic hotel option is the Beekman Arms Inn. This cozy spot was established in 1799, making it the oldest inn in America. We never have seen ghosts during our visits, though you can sense the history in this place. It has an in-house restaurant, as well as an old-school pub. Well trained pets are welcomed.

Governors Island

Technically this 172-acre island is part of the city, but the truth is that it doesn’t feel like New York City at all. The island is open annually from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and the beauty of it is that you don’t need to rent a car or take a long train ride to get there. The 10-minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan is the easiest way to go, and it offers spectacular views of the city skyline along the way. (In case you’re wondering, standard round-trip ferry fare is US$2 for adults and kids over the age of 12, but there is no fare for morning boats on Saturdays and Sundays.)

Viewfinder Tip: If you don’t want to rent a car for short trips from New York, check out sharing services such as Zip Car. Local train service is a good option, too.

When you arrive on the island, head for one of the public hammocks, or ride a (rented) bike around the 2.2-mile promenade. Go in the morning on a weekday and rentals for adults and children include one hour free. Go on weekends and plan to get there early to get prime seating to any one of the many public concerts.

The public space on the island is continuously expanding, so you can easily discover something new every time you go.

There aren’t any major restaurants or hotels on the island. Guests are welcome to bring their own food or purchase drinks and eats from food truck vendors. (Be warned: Most of these vendors only accept cash, so go prepared.)

However far you wish to go, however long you stay away, you will find that these little escapes can spice up a trip to New York City, and can help you rekindle a passion for the hustle and bustle that makes the Big Apple great.

What are your favorite day trip destinations?