Not many New Yorkers have the ability to hop in the car on a spur-of-the-moment road trip, so in planning a quick getaway outside the city, you’ll want to make sure it’s worth the trouble. Quaint drive-ins, rival hamburger stands, unique regional flourishes of a favorite dish — our food nerd’s day trips are journeys, investigations and escapes all in one.
The cluster of wineries in North Fork is the real draw here, but cute towns on the Long Island Sound like Greenport make the sometimes so-so wine completely bearable. Try Love Lane Kitchen for breakfast, Orient by the Sea for a seafood lunch, and North Fork Table & Inn for dinner. Check out this guide to the wineries, but be sure to include Shinn Estate Vineyards, Wölffer Estate Vineyard, and Old Field Vineyards in your wine-tasting itinerary. Get there: Approx. 2-hour drive (from Manhattan)
If you don’t make reservations for Blue Hill far in advance, plan to grab some snacks and coffee or a light lunch at Blue Hill Café. The Stone Barns Center is worth a visit alone — check out the events calendar to find out what educational program they are hosting, whether a cooking class or food writing workshop. While you’re in the vicinity, stop by the lush Rockefeller Park Preserve to enjoy the greenery before heading back to the concrete jungle. Get there: Approx.1-hour drive
Apple picking at Masker Orchards is a seasonal classic. You’ll definitely want to bring home a few bushels. Look for hot cider and doughnuts to warm up after a few hours in the apple orchards. Get there: Approx. 1-hour, 25-minute drive
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not some washed-up hippie town. In fact Woodstock has a thriving art community with, yes, some hippies, but a handful of interesting galleries. After a stroll down Tinker Street, have an early dinner at Bear Café — ask for a table with a view of the river. The Woodstock Guide has updated listings of art galleries and other activities. Get there: Approx. 2-hour, 10-minute drive
Between Escoffier, American Bounty and Caterina de’ Medici, it’s tough deciding which Culinary Institute of America restaurant to go to. Make lunch or dinner reservations online but leave some time to wander around the stately grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion and then go on a guided tour of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home, the Presidential Library and Museum. Get there: Approx. 2-hour drive
Fire Island is one of the New York City’s summertime gems. Head to Ocean Beach for the sun and surf but take plenty of sunbathing breaks to cool off with ice cream cones at the town’s three competing parlors: Scoops, Beaches and Cream, and Ice Castle. Get there: Approx. 1-hour drive plus ferry ride. Easily accessible by LIRR and ferry.
New Haven has a rightful claim as the dauphin of the pizza kingdom, and to help you navigate it, we put together a whole New Haven pizza primer for you. If you have room, head to Louis’ Lunch for a burger of historic proportions, cooked to order just like it was when Louis made the very first “hamburger sandwich” in 1900. Get there: Approx. 2-hour drive
There are two camps of lobster rolls: the cold Maine roll and the hot Connecticut one. All along the southeastern coast, old-school lobster shacks and “drive-ins” compete to bring you New England’s finest. It’s up to you to decide the best lobstah roll — FoodieFatale.com has a Top 5, but the ones that seem to be in the spotlight are Abbott’s Lobster, Westbrook Lobster, Lenny and Joe’s, and Johnny Ad’s. Get there: Approx. 3-hour drive
Fairfield & Stratford
Connecticut has another regional take on an American favorite — the hot dog. They deep fry the dog before grilling it, and the word is that the technique really makes it snap when you bite into it. Three stands in particular are worthy of a road-trip: Rawley’s Drive-In, Super Duper Weenie and Danny’s Drive-In. Get there: Approx. 1-hour, 20-minute drive
Connecticut Wine Trail
With wineries scattered across the northern portion of the state, this trip might require some serious drive time. To get a taste of the surprisingly large Connecticut Wine Trail, start around Danbury and drive north towards Torrington then to New Hartford. Get there: Approx. 1 and 1/2 hour drive to Danbury
Call them subs or heros, Atlantic City serves a mean sandwich. Start off at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino which houses a Sack O’ Subs, and save some of your poker winnings for sandwiches at the famed White House Sub Shop, which the Village Voice recently visited. Get there: Approx. 2-hour, 10-minute drive
Jersey City & Hackensack
A lot of people are confused by the Jersey City vs. Hackensack burger rivalry, so you may have to go clear up the matter for yourself. Is it White Mana or White Manna that wins the burger heavyweight title? If the name is any indication, these burgers are heaven-sent. Get there: Approx. 15-minute drive. Easily accessible via PATH train.
There’s more to this city than the airport. In fact the Ironbound neighborhood was once known for its thriving Portuguese and Spanish-Galician communities. Bakeries and restaurants along Ferry Street in “Little Portugal” still display their European heritage. Get your fill of Iberian seafood and more at Casa Vasca on Elm Street and Iberia Peninsula on Ferry. Get there: Approx. 25-minute drive. Easily accessible via NJ Transit.