25 Kid-Friendly Spring Day Trips for NYC Families
By the time spring rolls around, my family has reached its limit of winter-induced stir-craziness. Despite all our city has to offer in spring, we collectively feel desperate for a getaway from NYC.
Having this list of 25 spring-inspired day trips at our fingertips gives us something to look forward to, especially with spring break on the horizon. From hiking and farm fun to smelling the blooms and strolling amid sculpture gardens, there is something on this list for everyone.
The view from the top of the Coney Island Wonder Wheel is one of a kind. Photo via Bigstock.
Spring Day Trips in NYC
1. Experience Coney Island's thrills at Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel, stroll the boardwalk, and feast on a hot dog at Nathan's. Been there, done that? Have you tried the similarly retro-feeling Playland in Westchester? It opens for the season on Saturday, May 11.
2. Ride bikes along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail from Van Cortlandt Park to Untermeyer Gardens in Yonkers.
Explore the enchanted gardens at Wave Hill. Photo courtesy of Wave Hill
6. Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in NYC. It's three times the size of Central Park. To say it has something for everyone is an understatement. Take a stroll along the Orchard Beach Promenade and behold the beauty of spring.
Check out Snug Harbor's Big Picnic on Gazebo Lawn. Photo by Lance Reha for Snug Harbor Cultural Center
7. Explore the Chinese Scholar's Garden at Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Afterward, hit the next-door children's museum.
8. Reaching Flushing Meadows Corona Park is a day trip for many in NYC, but well worth it: There's the New York Hall of Science with its STEM fun, outdoor mini-golf, and playground. You'll also find the Queens Botanical Garden, which is hosting its annual Arbor Fest on Sunday, April 26. Fantasy Forest Park is a great, mini amusement park, and of course, there's the zoo and Queens Museum.
9. Try one of the three living history museums in the NYC area.
Tots can enjoy the oversized Duplo building pit at the Legoland Discovery Center. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
Spring Day Trips in Westchester
10. Rainy day? Head to Westchester's Legoland Discovery Center to play and create in its 2,300-square-foot interactive play area, Ninjago City. It's a great spot to spend the morning before grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants within the open-air Ridge Hill mall complex. There's also an indoor trampoline park, Rockin Jump, just a couple of doors down.
Newly shorn sheep run through the grass at the annual Sheep Shearing Festival at Stone Barns Center. Photo by Ethan Harrison for Stone Barns Center
Spring Day Trips on Long Island
15. Pack a picnic lunch and head to Caumsett State Park on a peninsula that juts out into the Long Island Sound. Your family will enjoy miles of beautiful nature paths; it's one of our favorite parks on Long Island.
16. Ride the LIRR (and then a bus) to visit Long Island's Museum Row in Garden City, where you can see everything from planes and fire trucks to carousels.
Spring Day Trips in New York State
17. Hop a bus from Penn Station to Bear Mountain State Park. A go-to destination for my family every spring, this treasure trove offers beautiful hiking, a charming Trailside Museum, and even a sweet zoo.
18. Head to Beacon, New York, to visit one of the several new exhibits opening at Dia:Beacon. Next, hit the super charming town and enjoying one of its many spring traditions like the excellent Beacon Flea Market and Hudson Valley Mac and Cheese Festival on Saturday, April 25 (tickets sell out!).
19. At Storm King Art Center, a stunning outdoor sculpture garden in the Hudson Valley, kids can walk the grounds and hills without fear of bumping into the art. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the tables for after your excursion.
20. Walk, bike, scoot, or blade across the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, which connects Dutchess and Ulster counties. Check out the children's activities in town, including the fun Mid-Hudson Children's Museum afterward.
Kids look in awe at the sculpture by Isaac Witkin, Garden State, 1997, at the Grounds for Sculpture. Photo by David Howarth for dmhphotographer
Spring Day Trips in New Jersey
21. Visit New Jersey's whimsical 42-acre Grounds For Sculpture. Our best experiences have been on its walk-in tours—call to confirm the morning of your intended visit.
22. Just on the other side of the George Washington Bridge, Palisades Interstate Park is a perfect place to head for a gorgeous guided Mother's Day hike. You'll find ample parking, stunning Hudson River views, and a snack bar.
View the glowing lantern creations at the Chinese Lantern Festival. Photo by Sichuan Tianyu for the festival
Spring Day Trips in Pennsylvania
25. Make the 1 1/2-hour drive to the super charming New Hope community in Pennsylvania. Check out Nakashima Woodworkers, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, or perhaps enjoy a stroll along the Delaware River. Note: save time for a stop at Nina's Waffle and Ice Cream.
A version of this article was first published in 2016; it has been updated.