New York City is home to some of the greatest, most iconic venues, from small old school clubs to massive arenas (and everything in between). But just beyond the city limits you'll get an equally thrilling experience that's just a train ride away, at local venues in Long Island, Connecticut and upstate New York—where you can see your favorite acts often performing in more intimate spaces.
Getting an up-close and personal glimpse at a band that just played a huge stage in Manhattan is not that unusual, because the night before or after a show in the city, acts can typically be found on a smaller stage while en route to the next big city. And those shows can usually be found off the Metro-North or LIRR lines.
Below, find nine such music venues that are worth rolling up to.
Tarrytown - The Jazz Forum
This intimate venue just up the Hudson features a mix of musicians — from those who have been the toast of Manhattan’s jazz stages to Hudson Valley locals who’ve gained devoted followings. According to executive director Mark Morganelli, the audience is the same heady mix.
“We definitely get people from the city all the time – it’s a scenic ride up the Hudson,” he said.
Jam sessions on the first Sunday of every month give professionals, amateurs, and student musicians a chance to mingle and make music together, and the venue also hosts free summer concerts at striking outdoor locations like Lyndhurst Mansion and Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park, which also offers an early childhood jazz education program before the show gets started.
“It’s a very welcome and a really cherished community experience,” Morganelli said. “People get out there and meet each other.”
The Jazz Forum is located at 1 Dixon Ln, Tarrytown, NY
Metro-North to Tarrytown, 10-min walk from station.
Poughkeepsie - The Chance
Built over 100 years ago, this theater was once a 1920s Vaudeville house and one of the earliest movie theaters in the silent film era. As a music venue, rock stars that have graced its stage over the years include The Ramones, The Police, Bob Dylan, local icon Pete Seeger, David Bowie, and jazz legend Charles Mingus.
Nowadays, you’re likely to see a mix of country, bluegrass, glam metal, and hardcore punk bands across its four stages, as well as tribute acts and DJ sets.
The Chance is located at 6 Crannell St in Poughkeepsie, NY
Metro-North to Poughkeepsie, 15-minute walk from station
Port Chester - The Capitol Theatre
What started in the 1920s as a film theater showing first runs of classics like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, the Capitol Theater took a turn towards rock & roll in the 1970s, hosting Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead. Today, its owned by longtime music promoter and fan Peter Shapiro, who has made it a destination-worthy spot. He partners with the likes of Bowery Presents (owners of venues like Terminal 5, Brooklyn Steel, and Forest Hills Stadium), which means a lot of the bands coming through here are one day off from a much bigger show in Manhattan.
Upcoming concerts include Counting Crows, Steely Dan, as well as indie favorite The National. Meanwhile, the lobby bar Garcia’s (named after the Grateful Dead frontman, of course) hosts a dynamic rotation of bluegrass, blues, funk, and jazz.
The Capitol Theatre is located at 149 Westchester Ave in Port Chester, NY
Metro-North to Port Chester, 2-minute walk from station
New Haven, CT - The Statehouse
A quaint venue just steps from the prestigious Yale University, the Statehouse definitely benefits from a burst of youthful energy, thanks to the students who tend to hang out here in between cramming for exams. The lineup is as diverse as they come, with folk, anti-folk, space-rock, indie rock, hip hop electronica, global beats, and punk bands making the trip up from New York City to play.
If live music isn’t your thing, you could also drop in on storytelling open mics, or check out some puppet cabaret.
The Statehouse is located at 310 State St in New Haven, CT
Metro North to New Haven, 10-minute walk from station
Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
More of an all-around performing arts destination than just a music venue, Ridgefield Playhouse was born when local activists banded together to save an abandoned high school’s auditorium. These days, there are movie screenings, comedy acts, and plenty of music to enjoy from the bucolic setting.
Comedy heavies like Jay Leno and Judd Apatow have stopped by to perform, and beloved pop stars like Mandy Moore and Corinne Bailey Rae find a smaller, more personal stage than they might be playing in the city.
“Getting to see Chris Isaac this close up it’s like he's in your living room,” said executive director Allison Stockel. “I remember the first time I saw Joan Jett here and it was like she was spitting on me. There’s an intimacy that you don’t see anywhere else.”
The Ridgefield Playhouse is located at 80 E Ridge Rd in Ridgefield, CT
Transfer to Metro-North Danbury line to Branchville, 10-minute cab ride from station
Huntington - The Paramount
This century-old theater has already had many incarnations, but it’s currently found new life as a music venue with 1,500 seats. Although quite a bit larger than most of the venues featured here, the Paramount will still feel magical when you realize that most of its larger-than-life stars are such big names. Think Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, and Billie Joel, as well as big-name comedians and even boxing matches.
There’s also a 1920’s-style, speakeasy-themed “VIP Founder’s Room" and a recording studio.
The Paramount is located at 370 New York Ave in Hungtington, NY
LIRR to Huntington, 7-min cab ride from station
Amityville, NY - Amityville Music Hall
This snug venue stages multiple bands a night, from indie favorites to up-and-coming darlings who already call Long Island home, including some who love the venue so much they host their record release parties here.
The venue is also beloved for its DJ and karaoke nights centered around special themes and artists, including a Divas of Pop dance event where you can bust a move to the likes of Lizzo, Beyoncé, and Britney.
Its appeal is its cozy size and vibe, with a particularly laid-back friendliness among staff, and barely elevated stages that put bands on the same level as audiences.
The Amityville Music Hall is located at 198 Broadway in Amityville, NY
LIRR to Amityville, 5-minute walk from station
Amagansett - Stephen Talkhouse
Named after a local Native American who allegedly delivered mail from the eastern end of Long Island all the way to Manhattan on foot during the Civil War, this cozy clapboard house built in the 1830s has been staging intimate shows since 1987. Legends who have played here often have a laid-back, beachy feel befitting the location, including Jimmy Buffett and Greg Allman.
The local Hamptons crowd shows up for everything from local guitar bands and DJs spinning electronica to record release parties and reggae and hip hop nights.
Stephen Talkhouse is located at 161 Main St in Amagansett, NY
LIRR to Amagansett, plus a 12-minute walk from station
Wantagh - Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall
If your local music venue bills itself as a pub, you know the room is going to be snug, offering an up-close and personal experience with world-class bands you’re unlikely to get in the big city. That’s the case at Mulcahy’s, which over the years has hosted huge touring acts like Weezer and Badfish, as well as smaller local bands and tribute acts like Last Exit (a Pearl Jam tribute band) and Blinkin Park (a tribute to Linkin Park). The pub also sponsors Island Tailgate, a series of rowdy parking lot parties with beer, music, and BBQ (transportation included!) at major New York Jets and Giant games and country music concerts.
Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall is located at 3232 Railroad Ave in Wantagh, NY
LIRR to Wantagh, 1-minute walk from station
📢 Do you have a favorite venue off of the LIRR or Metro-North? Let us know and tag @MTAaway in your photos on social media.