Although it might be tempting to spend your family time during the winter months snuggled under a blanket or in front of a roaring fire, eventually someone’s going to get cabin fever. No worries: We’ve got just what you need to get everyone off the couch and out of the house with our list of fun, family-friendly winter day trips for Long Island families.
So pile into the car, hop on a ferry, or jump on the Long Island Rail Road because there is plenty to do and see on and off Long Island. From the excitement of New York City to the serene beauty of the North Fork to skiing and more in New England or the Hudson Valley, with our roundup of winter day trips (and some weekend getaways) your family has plenty of options for keeping busy this winter.
At Gulliver's Gate, kids will delight in the world in miniature, even a mini Rockefeller Center at Christmas. Photo courtesy of Gulliver's Gate
New York City
With so much to do in the Big Apple, your family probably will want to make more than one trip this winter. During the holiday season, a visit to see the giant Rockefeller Center tree is a must, along with ice skating in Bryant Park and a visit to Macy’s Santaland. Head to the Bronx to see the delightful holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden. There are plenty of family-friendly museums and exhibits to visit, including the Museum of the City of New York—which explores the city’s rich history—and Gulliver’s Gate in Times Square, where kids will delight in a miniature view of the world and a holiday-themed “iSpy” scavenger hunt. And don’t miss one of NYC’s newest family-friendly attractions, DreamWorks Trolls The Experience.
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Discover the wonders of marine life at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
Desperately need a Christmas tree? Take a drive out east to one of the many cut-your-own tree farms for a fun experience. Just be sure to bundle up and don’t forget your handsaw and rope. For more outdoor winter fun in the Hamptons and North Fork, head to one of several pop-up ice skating rinks. In need of some adult refreshment? Stop at one of the many kid-friendly wineries on the way home. There are also a number of state parks that welcome winter hikers and explorers. Celebrate the New Year at Montauk Point State Park with a guided seal watch walk for a peek at those adorable pinnepeds, and some winter birds. When it’s just too cold to be outdoors, spend the day at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, where you'll find exciting exhibits and activities for kids of all ages.
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Spend a cozy day indoors at Liddle Bites Play Cafe in Long Beach. Photo courtesy of Liddle Bites
Across Long Island
For outdoor fun, there are plenty of sledding and ice skating options in Nassau and Suffolk counties. If the weather is just too cold, lace up your skates and twirl around the ice at one of Long Island’s indoor rinks. Still too cold? Then head to one of these indoor play spaces throughout the Island. And if you and your family really want a break from the winter scene, why not put on your bathing suits, head to an indoor pool, and convince each other that summer is right around the corner.
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Hunter Mountain's 58 trails, perfect for young skiers, are less than three hours from Long Island. Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain
If your kids are just getting into skiing and snowboarding, a great place to hone their skills is Mount Peter, a small mountain that’s just the right size for beginners. With lessons, two lodges, and tubing, the mountain offers something for everyone. If your family is more experienced, head to Hunter Mountain. With its 58 trails, two terrain parks, tubing, and multiple bars and eateries, it definitely appeals to the entire family. Other area mountains for experienced skiers and snowboarders include Catamount Ski Area and Plattekill Mountain, while Holiday Mountain Ski & Fun Park is perfect for little ones. For a non-downhill skiing outing, head to beautiful Mohonk Mountain House, where day visitors can enjoy (for a fee) winter hiking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snow shoeing.
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Immerse yourself in 19th-century New England life at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport
Drive or take the ferry from Orient Point to New London, Connecticut, then head 10 miles east to the village of Mystic. Spend the day at Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, where there is plenty to do and see. Spend time at Mystic Aquarium, too. For lunch or dinner, head into town to try the famed Mystic Pizza.
For a longer jaunt, plan a weekend trip to Boston, a city brimming with American history, quaint neighborhoods, and plenty of family-friendly sights and activities. Start with Freedom Trail, a 2½-mile route that lets you explore the city and stop at 16 historic sites, including Boston Common—America’s oldest public park—Paul Revere House, and Old North Church. If you prefer not to drive, you can take Amtrak from New London station (a short walk from the Orient Point ferry) to Boston in less than two hours.