5 one-tank road trips from New York City

Use this guide for inspiration for your next locally-based road trip from the Big Apple—without needing to stop for gas

The Big Duck. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan

Between high gas prices, limited vacation days, and chaotic air travel, taking a local road trip is more appealing than ever. These five destinations are all located within 300 miles (round-trip) of New York City, making them ideal for quick getaways. Spend less time at the pump and more time enjoying the road. 

If you’re in an electric vehicle, we’ve noted whether you can expect to find chargers along each route as well. 

1. The Poconos

Total mileage: 280 miles

The Poconos region of Eastern Pennsylvania was once known as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” thanks in part to 20th-century gas shortages and an explosion of resorts catering to East Coast couples. Although the area’s popularity has waxed and waned over the years due to changing tastes and travel trends, several towns set in the idyllic Pocono Mountains still offer plenty of activities for outdoors enthusiasts and history buffs. 

And yes, if a round bed and a bubble bath in a heart-shaped (or 7-foot-tall champagne glass) whirlpool tub is your idea of romance, you have several options. Three classic couples-only resorts are located within a short drive of New York City, and each other: Cove Haven in Lakeville, Pocono Palace in East Stroudsburg, and Paradise Stream in Mount Pocono.

Related A solo honeymoon in search of a heart-shaped tub

Don’t miss: Similar to cruise ships, the remaining old-school resorts offer enough amenities, activities, entertainment, and dining options that you don’t need to leave. But if you do, the region’s vintage vibes radiate outward in all directions: Grab breakfast at the Arlington Diner, a Stroudsburg staple since 1940, and cool off at Camelbeach Mountain, Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor waterpark. 

Learn about the area’s German agricultural history at the Quiet Valley Historical Park, take a serene stroll through the Columcille Megalith Park, a Stonehenge-esque Celtic-inspired outdoor sanctuary, and visit the Frazetta Art Museum, reopened in 2013 by the late fantasy artist’s family.

Stay: Book a two-level Champagne Tower Suite at Pocono Palace, which includes both a champagne glass tub and a heart-shaped, heated pool, or camp at the Mount Pocono Campground.

Charge: The further you get from the city, the harder it is to find chargers, but they do exist, mostly at shopping centers, car dealerships, and public libraries along Interstate 80.

2. Montauk, New York

Total mileage: 260 miles

You don’t have to be a Kennedy cousin or celebrity chef to enjoy a day trip or weekend on the South or North forks of Long Island. Those in the 99 percent will still find plenty to do beyond the mega-mansions of the “Hampton” towns of Southampton, Bridgehampton, and East Hampton. 

Montauk, the easternmost point in New York state, is as remote as you can get on Long Island; the coastal village is full of maritime history, strong surf, and protected park land. There are enough stops along the way, on or near Route 27, to occupy a weekend or beyond, but Montauk is also the last stop on the Long Island Railroad, making this a potential “no-tank” trip. 

Related Satanic panic and fowl facts at a Long Island landmark

Don’t miss: Stop and stretch your legs and learn about the region’s duck farming history in Flanders, home of the Big Duck, one of the best-surviving examples of novelty architecture. Bask in the fluorescent glow of Dan Flavin’s signature artworks at Dia Bridgehampton, snap a photo of the (privately-owned) beach house from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and grab a lobster roll for lunch at the aptly-named LUNCH Lobster Roll, a summer staple since 1965. 

Once you make it to Montauk, take in sweeping views from the Montauk Point Lighthouse and search for signs of a government conspiracy at Camp Hero State Park, a former military base that inspired plot lines in Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Related Secrecy and conspiracy theories abound at Camp Hero

Stay: Lounge beachside in luxury at the Montauk Blue Hotel, or sleep on the beach at Montauk County Park.

Charge: There are several places to charge in towns that dot the shoreline, and a Tesla Supercharger in Montauk proper.

3. Atlantic City, New Jersey

Total mileage: 280 miles

Atlantic City may be past its glory days as a gambling mecca, but the down-on-its-luck beach town isn’t dead just yet. On your journey south, you’ll pass several Jersey Shore towns worthy of a detour, but when you finally arrive at Atlantic City after 2.5 hours, it will feel as if you’ve also traveled at least a few decades back in time. 

The gaudy age of excess may have ended here last year with the implosion of Trump Plaza, but the lights continue to burn artificially bright inside of Caesars, Bally’s, Hard Rock, and a handful of other casinos and shops still open along the world’s first, and longest, wooden boardwalk.   

Related The Atlantic City Boardwalk is still hanging on by a thread

Don’t miss: Shop for affordable, kitschy souvenirs at Peanut World, stock up on salt water taffy and other sweets at Fralinger’s, and play classic carnival games at the Steel Pier Amusement Park

Take a detour inland to Arctic Avenue for the sandwiches (and photogenic neon sign) at the circa-1946 White House Subs, and drive a few miles southwest to Margate City, home of the gargantuan grandmother of novelty architecture, Lucy the Elephant. And keep track of how many Monopoly streets you pass along the way—Marven Gardens is the only property on the game board that’s not located within Atlantic City.

Stay: Embrace the city’s over-the-top surrealism (and easy beach and boardwalk access) at the campy Caesars, or pitch a tent inland at Egg Harbor’s Holly Acres Campground.

Charge: Choose a hotel or casino parking garage that offers charging stations, or charge at one of several auto body shops or gas stations in town.

4. Hartford, Connecticut

Total mileage: 250 miles

While the “Insurance Capital of the World” may not sound like an enticing tourist destination, Hartford is also home to several historic parks, arts and academic institutions, and the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the country. 

Connecticut’s capital city also has several historic homes worth touring, but the star attraction is the American High Gothic mansion (and now museum) where Mark Twain penned many of his best-known books including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Located far from the banks of the Mississippi, Hartford lays claim to a river of its own (the Connecticut) and a designation as one of the oldest cities in the U.S.

Don’t miss: Lean into Hartford’s literary legacy at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, located just a few hundred feet from Twain’s, and take a tour beneath the gilded gold dome of the Connecticut State Capitol. Visit the country’s oldest public art museum, Wadsworth Atheneum, which was founded in 1842 and contains nearly 50,000 works of art. Get your nature fix with a side of history in nearby Bushnell Park, the oldest publicly-funded park in the U.S. 

Stay: Overnight at the circa-1881 Goodwin Hotel or camp along the way at the Lake Compounce Campground in Bristol—which abuts Lake Compounce Family Theme & Water Park.

Charge: There are ample places to charge in downtown Hartford, including the State Capitol, convention center, and City Hall.

5. Beacon, New York

Total mileage: 160 miles

Most of the towns that line the Hudson River north of New York City are destinations in their own right. It’s hard to pick just one, but Beacon, near the end of the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line, is compact enough for a day trip, and packed with enough historic and contemporary attractions for longer stays. 

The formerly-industrial city began reinventing itself as a tourist destination in the early 2000s with the opening of Dia Beacon, one of the largest modern art museums in the U.S. Visit in the fall for plenty of leaf peeping opportunities, or in the summer to escape the city heat. 

Don’t miss: Before you dig into 160,000 square feet of art at Dia Beacon, fill up at the Yankee Clipper, a classic chrome diner located on Main Street. The area is also full of moderately-challenging nature hikes that offer sweeping views; in 2009, the Mount Beacon Fire Observation Tower, at the summit of South Beacon Mountain, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The 161-year-old Reformed Church of Beacon (and its crumbling cemetery) is in the process of being converted to an event space and hotel, but detour south for a tour of Bannerman’s Castle, which sits preserved in spectacular ruin on an island in the middle of the Hudson River.

Related The ruins of Bannerman’s Castle still stand in the middle of the Hudson

Stay: Overnight in town at the Beacon Bed and Breakfast or camp in Carmel at the Fahnestock State Park Campground.

Charge: There are several places to charge along Route 9 and in town, including at the Metro-North train station and Beacon DMV.