6 Magical Hidden Gem Destinations Near New York City: Insider Tips from a Local

Manitoga, The Russell Wright Design House

Visitors and residents of the New York City area alike, bookmark this page and thank me later. This roundup of hidden gem getaways near NYC feature beautiful nature-themed destinations pretty much anyone and everyone looking to connect with the outdoors will love. From a secrets garden to a music venue to modern architectural sites, these awe-inspiring excursions make the perfect day trip or weekend getaway from NYC.  Also included in this article are nearby eco- and vegan-friendly hotels for an overnight trip.

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Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Katonah, NY

This incredible arts facility located one hour from NYC in Katonah, NY, offers a summer schedule of musical performances featuring accomplished musicians from a wide range of genres including opera, orchestra, and classical, jazz, roots and Broadway. The venue itself is arguably equally as special as the experience of attending an event. Spend time exploring the Italianate structures that will transport you to the Tuscan countryside, lush landscaping, manicured gardens bursting with color during the summer months, and interactive features like hammocks and a sound garden. Visitors from the city who don’t have a car can catch a complimentary shuttle from the Katonah train station. Check the Caramoor web site for more information.

Where to Stay

If visiting the Katonah area overnight, consider booking a room at the Bedford Post Inn, a local favorite hotel and restaurant owned by Richard Gere and located in the nearby celebrity-magnet town of Bedford.  You’ll find wellness activities and a vegan-friendly restaurant on site.

Book your stay at the Bedford Post Inn here.

Grace Farms, New Canaan, CT

This architectural wonder only one hour from NYC is the essence of a hidden gem. The stunning, little-known community center with an award-winning naturalistic design is located past a hidden, oak-lined road in a rural area of Western Connecticut near Pound Ridge, NY.  The sprawling site buildings made of panelled wood and floor-to-ceiling glass windows is designed for community use, including a café with workspace, library, tea tasting room and several art exhibits. Read about the magical space in more detail here. Check the Grace Farms web site and sign up for the newsletter to get more information on tours and events.

Where to Stay

If visiting the area overnight, consider booking a room at the Bedford Post Inn.

Book your stay at the Bedford Post Inn here.

Manitoga, The Russel Wright Design Center, Garrison, NY

This magical space located one hour from NYC in Garrison, NY, is truly hidden—even local residents haven’t heard of it. The property includes 75 acres of woodland gardens, steams and waterfalls surrounding an otherworldly mid-20th century home built on a limestone precipice and covered with overgrown moss. The house itself appears to be clearly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, known for his architectural masterpiece Falling Waters. The home and land was owned by ceramic artist Russel Wright, who constructed his private residence and forested oasis in sections over the course of several decades. After his passing, the property was gifted to a preservation trust, who now uses the proceeds from group tours and events to cover the cost of upkeep. Book a tour and get more information on the location and seasonal hours on the Manitoga web site.     

Where to Stay

If visiting Garrison, NY, or the Hudson Valley area overnight, consider booking a room at the Abby Inn and Spa, a grand historic hotel in nearby Peeksill. Located in the hotel is a farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant that serves locally-sourced ingredients and offers several vegan menu options.

Book your stay at the Abby Inn and Spa here.

Opus 40, Saugerties, NY

This Stonehenge of the Hudson Valley (I coined it first!) is a masterful creation of bluestone that, once again, many local residents, have never heard of. The “environmenal sculpture park” as described on the facility’s web site, was designed by visual artist and quarryman Harvey Fite. While construction began in the 1930s, it ultimately took Fife 37 years to complete his passion project. The six acres comprise hidden walkways, circular structures, cobbled stone paths, forested grounds and a small home where Fife lived and worked. Now a National Historic Sight, Opus 40 can be visited on your own, or by guided tour to get a behind-the-scenes intel on the fascinating story behind this hidden gem.

Where to Stay

If visiting Saugerties area overnight, consider booking a room at the eco-friendly Diamond Mills hotel. The mangement of this afforable hotel has been given accolades for its sustainable practicies.

Book your stay at the Diamond Mills hotel here.

Stonecrop Gardens, Cold Spring, NY

Heard of the Bronx Botanical Garden? Chump change compared to this secret garden located in the cozy town of Cold Spring approximately one and a half hours from NYC. The beauty of visiting Stonecrop Gardens is that you’ll have the place to yourself, especially if visiting on a weekday. I found myself wandering blissfully throughout the property, where I discovered a lilly pond, fern and tulip gardens and meandering paths surrounded by native botanical species. As I snapped photos, I chatted with another amatuer nature photographer who admitted that Stonecrop is her happy place that she returns to again and again. The public space has an entance fee, and is open seasonally from May through October.

Where To Stay

If staying obernight in the area, consider booking a room at the reasonably-priced Cold Spring Hotel. Check out the cafe, which offers plenty of healthy and vegan options.

Book your stay at the Cold Spring Hotel here.

Sam’s Point Caves, Ellenville, NY   

Sam’s Point Caves located in the popular Minnewaska State Park hiking area is a must-visit for adventure seekers. While many residents know about this spot, its location is a hot topic of debate on Facebook hiking groups. I visited in early summer, when conditions (clear and slightly cool) were optimal to trek up the short but steep path to the caves. The caves themselves are a wow-worthy wonder. They feature crooked walkways of stone and wood leading through a series of pitch black stone caves and narrow crevices. Thrill-seeking children and teens love this visually exciting experience.

Where To Stay

If visiting the area overnight, consider staying the vacation home listed below and exporing other sites in the area. You can go grocery shopping for dinner at Bodi4Life, an amazing nearby health food market.

Book your stay at this NYC Getaway vacation home in Blookinghurg, NY here.

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