Whether you're a local or a visitor, one of the best things to do in a city is escape for a while. And sometimes all you need is a day to recharge, which is why we've selected 20 outstanding trips that only take an hour or two from the country's major cities. Beautiful islands, stunning state parks, and charming towns await you outside the city limits, so get ready to hop in the car or catch a train to these places that offer a welcome change of scenery.
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Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow
Near: New York City
Sleepy Hollow may be familiar to fans of the short story, but there's more to this town than that. Fans of Washington Irving's work (and the TV show) should pay a visit to his home, Sunnyside, as well as Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where the Headless Horseman chased Ichabod Crane. For something less spooky, carve out time to visit the area's historic mansions, such as the Rockefeller estate, Kykuit, and Tarrytown's Lyndhurst, once owned by a railroad baron. Stop for a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a celebrated restaurant located on a working farm.
Insider Tip: Irving is famous for his iconic literary characters-including Brom Bones, Ichabod Crane, and Rip Van Winkle-but few people know he was also the U.S. Ambassador to Spain from 1842-1846.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Hudson Valley Guide
Photo Credit: Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock
Starved Rock State Park
Beat Chicago's heat with a visit to Starved Rock State Park, located about two hours southwest of the city. The park, which was once home to Native Americans, is a National Historic Landmark filled with canyons, waterfalls, and sandstone bluffs boasting views of the Illinois River. In addition, visitors can spend the day exploring 13 miles of hiking trails. Once you've worked up an appetite, stop for lunch at the Starved Rock Lodge. During the winter, it's a popular place to spot bald eagles.
Insider Tip: On the way back to Chicago, stop by two wineries near Starved Rock, August Hill and Illinois River.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide
Photo Credit: Christian Delbert/Shutterstock
History buffs, fans of literature, and outdoorsmen will all find something to love in Concord. This small town is famous for its role during the American Revolution (Paul Revere rode through Concord to warn the militia that the British were coming) and is the hometown of literary heroes. Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, and Hawthorne all lived here, and visitors can stop by Orchard House, the Alcott family home, or Wayside, where Hawthorne once lived. Head to Walden Pond to see where Thoreau spent nearly two years of his life, and spend an afternoon hiking or canoeing. Treat yourself to a farm-to-table meal at Bondir Concord.
Insider Tip: In 1849, horticulturist Ephraim Bull bred the Concord grape at his home on 491 Lexington Avenue, where the original vine is still growing.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Boston Guide
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