At long last, it’s springtime in New York City. It’s time to get outside and… into a stuffy museum? No, that doesn’t sound right.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of incredible destinations for art lovers just outside the city, ranging from open-air museums with acres upon acres of outdoor sculptures to unassuming industrial facilities with astounding contemporary collections. We’ve rounded up ten of the best day trips from New York City for art lovers, with many attractions just a short train ride away.
Just a short walk from the train station in Beacon is this astounding museum in a former factory, specializing in postwar and minimalist art, often in grand proportions. Monumental works by Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Smithson, and Andy Warhol are on display. It’s one of the best museums in the state, just over an hour away on the Metro North Hudson Line.
3 Beekman St., Beacon, NY. diaart.org
Storm King Art Center
In addition to its status as an Instagram hotspot, Storm King is also home to a massive, enviable collection of site-specific sculptures from art stars like Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, and Rashid Johnson. It’s also spread across 500 acres, so bring walking shoes, and don’t plan on seeing everything in one go. Storm King is most easily reached by car, but bus and train packages are also available.
1 Museum Rd., New Windsor, NY. stormking.org
This enormous artwork built out of a disused quarry is the life’s work of Harvey Fite, a one-time professor at Bard College who turned to sculpture after a visit to Mayan ruins. Now a registered historical landmark, it must be seen to be believed. Opus 40 is best reached by car, but you can also take the Amtrak Empire service to Rhinecliff and taxi the rest of the way.
356 George Sickle Rd., Saugerties, NY. opus40.org
Magazzino Italian Art
This imposing concrete building houses a unique collection of Italian modern and contemporary art, focusing especially on the Arte Povera movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. It’s also free at the door, although reservations are recommended. The facility offers a shuttle bus from the Cold Spring railway station.
2700 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY. magazzino.art
KinoSaito Art Center
Located in a converted church, this art center dedicated to the works of Japanese-American painter and designer Kikuo Saito offers galleries, a studio residency, performances, and a coffee bar. The center can be reached by bus or taxi from the Peekskill or Croton-Harmons train stations on the Metro North Hudson line.
115 7th St., Verplanck, NY. kinosaito.org
Parrish Art Museum
There’s no shortage of galleries and art centers in the Hamptons, but the Parrish Art Museum is the biggest and best. Housed in a Herzog & De Meuron building, the institution grew out of a collection of American art from the 19th century onward and now specializes in modern and contemporary art. To get there, take the Long Island Railroad to Southhampton and taxi/rideshare from the station.
279 Montauk Hwy, Water Mill, NY. parrishart.org
Dia Bridgehampton / Dan Flavin Art Institute
Dan Flavin was famed for his fluorescent light sculptures, and the artist put some of his best work in this tiny converted firehouse near his hometown in the Hamptons. Now maintained by the Dia Foundation, the institute features rotating exhibitions on the house’s first floor and a permanent display of Flavin’s art on the second. The site is a short walk from the Bridgehampton Long Island Rail Road station.
23 Corwith Ave., Bridgehampton, NY. diaart.org
Yale University Art Gallery
Yale is known for churning out world-class artists, and with their campus art museum’s massive collection—the oldest in the western hemisphere—students can draw from a wealth of inspiration. The gallery is a short walk from the New Haven station on the Metro North train line.
1111 Chapel St, New Haven, CT. artgallery.yale.edu
Norman Rockwell Museum
Even if you only know his name from a Lana Del Rey album, it’s well worth exploring Norman Rockwell’s iconic illustrations at this museum in Stockport, where he spent the latter years of his life. Learn about the artist’s life, see his best-known artworks, and tour his studio, which is accessible from May to October. The museum is best visited by car.
9 Glendale Rd, Stockbridge, MA. nrm.org
This massive museum in the Berkshires is so significant there’s an entire documentary about it. Works by James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, and Sol LeWitt are on display, and so is that mini-rollercoaster you saw on TikTok! Due to its size and distance from the city, we recommend driving over and tackling MASS MoCA as a weekend trip.
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. massmoca.org