New York

8 Cultural Destinations That Are Worth Leaving New York City

Riley J.B./Stocksy
Riley J.B./Stocksy
Riley J.B./Stocksy

It’s tempting to spend New York City winter weekends warmly inside a nice restaurant or building your own double-feature of Oscar contenders at your local movie theater, but sometimes you get hit with some serious cabin fever. The good news is, it’s totally curable — and all you need to do is get in a car and drive. You see, there are cultural gems in NYC’s backyard that can pull you out of even the worst seasonal slump. From one-of-a-kind concert venues to the birthplace of a renowned American artist, here are some of the coolest attractions within two hours of Manhattan.

CRAFTS PEOPLE

West Hurley, New York
Located in the tiny hamlet of West Hurley, near Woodstock, Crafts People is a massive, 6,000-square foot shop featuring a curated collection of fine crafts. Jewelry? They’ve got it. Pottery? You know it. Blown glass? You should know the answer by now. (It’s yes.) Handmade items from more than 500 craftsmen are showcased here — so you might want to set aside a whole day to peruse. While checking the website offers a good primer, the crafts can’t be bought online, and many items, like artist Robert Held’s hand-blown glass vase in peacock motif, are exclusive to the store.

Edward Hopper House
Edward Hopper House
Edward Hopper House

EDWARD HOPPER HOUSE

Nyack, New York
Every place has their hometown hero: Long Island has Billy Joel, Minneapolis has Prince, and Nyack has Edward Hopper. The famed American realist painter and printmaker was born in this Hudson River town in 1882, and Nyack is so proud of its famous son that his childhood home was turned into an art museum in 1971 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It’s here, just an hour’s drive from Manhattan, that Hopper first put oil to canvas. (He would later go on to create famous works such as “Chop Suey” and “Nighthawks.”) Aside from ongoing installations, such as “Edward Hopper’s Bedroom Reimagined,” which help you get to know the artist, check out upcoming exhibitions on painter Sean Scully and legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser.

Vilseskogen /flickr
Vilseskogen /flickr
Vilseskogen /flickr

THE STERLING HILL MINING MUSEUM

Ogdensburg, New Jersey
Just an hour west of NYC in the Jersey town of Ogdensburg is a sight unlike anything you can find in the city: the world’s largest publicly-displayed collection of naturally fluorescent rocks. This rave-in-a-cave was once a functioning zinc mine; when it closed in the 1980s, brothers Richard and Robert Hauck transformed it into a museum. Now, under ultraviolet lights, the mineral rocks glow in bright shades of blue, red, purple, etc., including on the massive “Color Wall,” a 16-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling display of 100 fluorescent minerals, some of which are nearly three-feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. For the best selfies, wear a white shirt — you’ll be glowing in the dark just like the rocks.

Mahlstedt Gallery
Mahlstedt Gallery
Mahlstedt Gallery

MAHLSTEDT GALLERY

New Rochelle, New York
Bring your checkbook and an empty backseat when you head an hour north of NYC to this 10,000-foot gallery in New Rochelle. Its mission: to make the process of buying art “easy, affordable, and accessible for all.” That’s why you’ll find sweet prints spanning genres like surrealism, pop art, sculpture, photography, and more, starting at just $49. Though the gallery only opened in 2012, it’s located in the historic 1920 J.A. Mahlstedt Coal and Lumber Company Building, so even if you don’t leave with any art, you can still feel like you soaked up some culture.

Chris Spiegel
Chris Spiegel
Chris Spiegel

THE STONE PONY

Asbury Park, New Jersey
If you’re a die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan, you’ve definitely been to the legendary Stone Pony. Even if you’re not and you haven’t, the trip to Jersey is worth it for any music aficionado. Open since 1974, this concert venue was a known launching pad for artists, including The Boss and Jon Bon Jovi (which explains why tourists stop to take selfies in front of it) — and still books big names today, including upcoming shows with Dashboard Confessional and Minus the Bear. Pro tip: Roll into town a smidge early and spend the day at the Silverball Museum, an arcade with pinball machines dating back to the 1930s.

Steve Mack – S. D. Mack Pictures Inc.
Steve Mack – S. D. Mack Pictures Inc.
Steve Mack – S. D. Mack Pictures Inc.

ULSTER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Kingston, New York
Ever wonder why your favorite bands don’t stop in NYC when they’re on tour? They might be performing 90 miles to the north, at the Ulster Performing Arts Center. Originally built in 1926, this historic 1,500-seat theater is the only unaltered, pre-World War II theater left in Kingston, so seeing a show there feels pretty special. While a two-hour drive might seem a little excessive for a concert, this month it’s the closest place to Manhattan where you can catch the Beach Boys, David Byrne, and Andrew Bird while they’re on the road. Plus, when it’s not hosting sweet musical acts, UPAC screens old fan-favorite movies like The Big Lebowski and Gremlins.

Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy

WILD BILL’S NOSTALGIA

Middletown, Connecticut
Advertised as “not just a store, [but] a way of life,” Wild Bill’s Nostalgia is a paradise for pop culture fans — or anyone who wants to reminisce about the good ol’ days. Collectible toys, old show posters, and even rare vinyl & books are available for purchase on this 45-acre lot, and trust us, you’ll spend at least an hour or two sifting through the gems. Aside from a huge assortment of bobbleheads (Betty Boop, Gumby, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even Jersey Shore‘s Snooki, included), Wild Bill’s boasts a giant fun house and the world’s largest jack-in-the-box (its head is 600 pounds). Though founder/namesake Bill Ziegler died last year, Connecticut will always have this wacky collection to remember him by.

SHUBERT THEATRE

New Haven, Connecticut
Cousin to the Great White Way location, New Haven’s Shubert Theatre opened in 1914 and has been a titan in the regional theater scene ever since. We know what you’re thinking: Why drive two hours to Connecticut when there’s a slew of productions to see in Times Square (and all over the city)? Hear us out: Some of the most respected shows and actors got their start at this Shubert; a little-known play called A Streetcar Named Desire starring oh… Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy premiered here in 1947, as did 1956’s My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison — NBD. Also, these shows are cheaper than Broadway. Orchestra tickets to the Tony-nominated Beautiful: The Carole King Musical are about $30 less per ticket than the same seat at the New York production. Missed the Steve Martin musical Bright Star during its 2016 Broadway run? No sweat, it’s playing six shows at the Shubert in April.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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