Theme & Water Parks

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31 Summer Day Trips to Take with NYC Kids

It’s summer road trip season! With school out, we’re itching to get outdoors to explore beyond NYC’s limits. Lucky for you, our Mommy Poppins reviewers know all the best spots in the tristate area, from beaches and water parks to cool nature spots and pick-your-own fruit farms.

We’ve rounded up more than two dozen of our favorites for summertime, including a few indoor options for (shudder) rainy days, or if you really just need to freeze in the a/c for a bit. All of these spots are under two hours away, because, well, who wants to day trip for longer than that with kids in the backseat?

Find more ideas in our full Day Trips and Getaways Guide, or try checking off something from our 100 Things to Do with Kids in New York State list.

New Water Slides at LI's Splish Splash Are Sure to Thrill

Get wet 'n wild at Long Island's East End waterpark, Splish Splash, this summer with the addition of two new high-speed thrill rides, Riptide Racer and Bombs Away.

Looking for more ways to soak up fun in the sun? Check out these Long Island sprinkler parks, poolswater parks, slides and beaches. As always, our Summer Fun Guide has you covered for more seasonal fun. If you're looking for added inspiration, see our list of 25 must-do activities with kids on Long Island this summer; 50 great things to do on the East End with kids; and our guide to summer day trips in and around Long Island.

On a budget? Take a gander at our list of 50 FREE things to do with kids on Long Island this summer.  

Best Water Parks for Toddlers Near NYC

When temperatures soar, there's always New York's FREE neighborhood pools or sprinklers for a quick cool down with the kids, but on particularly hot summer days, nothing beats the heat like a splashing out on a trip to a water park near NYC

Families with toddlers in tow aren't looking for big slides or big waves, though, so we've rounded up our top splash pads for the preschool set. Prepare to find toddler-sized attractions, along with perks such as nursing stations and FREE mini life jackets—and don't worry, there's plenty of big-kid fun to go around, too. So read on for details on 11 parks within two hours of New York City that cater to the littlest water explorers.

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Fun Guide for more family-friendly ideas on how to cool down in the city.

Best Amusement Parks Near NYC Reachable by Public Transportation

If you're feeling nostalgic for a summer adventure filled with cotton candy and Ferris wheel rides, it might be time for some family-friendly fun at a nearby theme park. There's no shortage of amusement parks and water parks for New York City-based thrill-seekers, but if you don't have a car, some parks can seem out of reach. Fear not, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks that are easily accessible from NYC via public transportation. Remember the sunscreen—and forget the parking (and rental) headaches.

Find more summer fun in our Theme and Water Parks Guide.

9 Must-See Dinosaur Theme Parks and Attractions for Kids

If your kid is fascinated by dinosaurs, chances are everything in your home revolves around the prehistoric creatures, including your family vacations. Your nearby natural history or kids' science museum is a great bet for a quick trip to study major fossil displays. For an even bigger thrill, families might want to check out one of the many outdoor dinosaur parks, from full amusement parks to nature walks and mini fossil digs.

We've rounded up a list of 10 great places for dinosaur lovers across the country. These dinosaur-themed attractions offer up-close encounters with lifelike creatures, thrilling rides, impressive fossils, and more fun things to do and see for kids, including dino-theater.

For more family vacation ideas—that may, or may not, involve dinosaurs—check out our United States Family Travel Guide.

Great Amusement Parks for Preschoolers and Toddlers in New Jersey

Looking for a place to take your little ones for gentle thrills and kid-friendly amusements? We've rounded up 15 NJ amusement parks that are perfect for the younger set. Some, like Storybook Land, are geared exclusively toward small children, while others, like Morey's Piers and Jenkinson's Boardwalk, offer a solid selection of kiddie rides in addition to bigger thrills. 

We've limited our list of amusement parks to those located in New Jersey—to search for more tot-friendly spots in surrounding areas, check out the Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC.

Family Getaway to Hershey, PA: Hersheypark, Chocolate World, Zoo

While there are plenty of family vacation options in our area, my family's destination of choice this year was Hershey, Pennsylvania. The town, smack dab in the center of the state, has been dubbed the Sweetest Place on Earth thanks to the region's namesake chocolate factory and iconic candy bar. 

The main attraction, Hersheypark, is the perfect short-week or long weekend getaway solution for kids who aren't ready for a long car, train, or plane trip. It’s just over three hours away from the New York City area and barely two hours from Philadelphia. (Tip: Leave before dawn and the kids will sleep through half of it).

I was hesitant that my 5- and 2-year-old boys would be too small to enjoy the trip, but Hershey offers much more than just roller coasters. There's water park fun, a zoo and gardens, chocolate galore, and plenty of great places to stay, including right on site with the treat-filled amusement park. There are even additional family sights in nearby Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Here is a breakdown of the top sights to see with kids.

9 Super Fun Water Parks, Slides, and Pools on Long Island

Slip-slidin’ away!  There are few better ways to stay cool on Long Island this summer than by heading down a slippery water slide, splashing around in a refreshing swimming pool, or getting drenched at a water park. That's why we invite you to check out our list of the hottest spots on Long Island where kids and adults can stay cool, even on the most sweltering days. Check websites for rates and hours. Town pools are usually open to nonresidents, but they might have to pay a higher entry fee.

Find more fun in our guide to Long Island theme parks and our guide to the best parks and playgrounds for Long Island families.

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