Labor Day weekend is upon us, signaling for many summer’s last hurrah. Tons of New Yorkers will flee the city this weekend to cram in one last getaway, meaning that the surrounding go-to long weekend destinations—the Hamptons, Fire Island, Hudson, and the like—will be packed to the brim. Instead of fending off crowds to take in more of the same old, try out one of these five alternative destinations that may offer up a new experience alongside (potentially) smaller crowds.
Thinking about the Hamptons? Try the North Fork instead.
Long Island’s North Fork has long been overshadowed by the de facto summer destination of New York City’s elite, the Hamptons. Buck the trend by visiting a few of the small towns on the island’s windswept northern extension where farms and wineries abound. Between Jamesport and Greenport, there are 50 wineries including Sparkling Pointe and Croteaux Vineyards, so best grab a rental bike and get to pedaling.
Thinking about Tallman Mountain State Park? Try Cold Spring Harbor State Park instead.
Yes, Cold Spring Harbor State Park is on Long Island, but that doesn’t mean it fails to offer up some more challenging hiking and lovely vistas just like Tallman Mountain State Park. If you’re looking for isolation, this is the place. Described by Yelpers as "scary quiet" and "very peaceful," Cold Spring Harbor State Park is just 40 minutes into Long Island. The park is also just across the inlet from Sagamore Hill, the summer home of President Theodore Roosevelt where tours are offered daily.
Thinking about Phoenicia? Try New Hope, PA instead.
The low-key hippie hangout of the Hudson River Valley is chock-full of quirky destinations like its namesake flea market and diner, both of which have become a focus for New Yorkers looking for a weekend getaway. But fewer city folk set their sights on New Hope, Philadelphia’s Phoenicia equivalent. The small town is closer to New York City than Phoenicia by about an hour, and offers up similar draws for artistic and creative types. Galleries dot New Hope’s ambling streets, as do antique stores and ice cream parlors.
Thinking about Hudson? Try Athens instead.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump over the Hudson River, Athens (pronounced A-thens) is the up-and-coming alternative to its more well-known sister city. Described by Escape Brooklyn as the place you go to vacation from vacation, Athens has the relaxed vibe that now evades Hudson, with its high-end galleries and pricey antique stores. For a distinctly upstate experience, check out the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse—it bears a creepy resemblance to the Met rooftop’s "Psycho" house—that’s accessible by tours every second Saturday through October (sorry, no LDW tour here.) If the town proves too sleepy—the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is just a few miles south—Hudson is just a cab or ferry ride away.
Thinking about Seaside Heights? Try Ocean City, NJ instead.
If you’ve strolled the boardwalk at Seaside Heights more than enough times, switch it up by heading south to Ocean City, NJ. Both Seaside Heights and Ocean City are known for their family-friendly attractions and pristine beaches, but it’s Ocean City that nabbed Coastal Living Magazine’s Best Beach in America award this year. Boardwalk attractions include amusement parks and arcades, and local treats like salt water taffy and caramel corn. There’s no better way to say goodbye to summer than with one last laze on the beach.