With fewer crowds, more comfortable temperatures, and a pageant of seasonal colors, fall is the perfect time to consider a day trip from Long Island with the family.
Whether your idea of an autumn getaway involves brightly-hued foliage or an adventure in the urban jungle, we've rounded up 30 fall day-trip ideas from Long Island for families. Some are close by, while others require a few hours in the car or Long Island Rail Road. Some even require a ride on a ferry. But no matter where you go or how you get there, you're sure to create some lasting memories from these fall day trips.
If you're craving an extended adventure, consider one of these nearby destinations for a weekend visit. And, of course, we've got plenty of seasonal fun ideas in our Fall Fun Guide and all-season day-trip inspiration in our Day Trips Guide for Long Island families.
2. Explore the South Shore Beaches Via Two Wheels
Is there a better time for a bike ride than the autumn? One of our favorite trails is the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway.
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Apples are ripe for the picking on the East End. Photo by Jaime Sumersille
3. Grab a Taste of Fall
Whether you're hunting for apples or pumpkins, Long Island's farms are some of the finest in New York State. And it's always a fun-filled atmosphere with hayrides, harvest festivals, and more.
4. Do Some Leaf Peeping
Get close to nature with a fall foliage hike. Here are 11 of our favorite trails through Nassau, Suffolk, and the East End.
5. Enjoy a Carousel Ride in Greenport
The carousel is a perfect excuse to visit this charming North Fork village. The Greenport Maritime Festival, held September 23-24, is the perfect weekend to visit.
6. Step Back in Time
Visit one of these Long Island historical sites that dot the landscape from Manhattan to Montauk.
7. Get a Taste of Local History
Visit the charming Village of Stony Brook and explore the Long Island Museum, the 18th-century Stony Brook Grist Mill, and the newly opened Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.
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The Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns returns to Long Island this fall. Photo courtesy of the event
8. See Pumpkins that Light up the Night
Take in a Long Island Halloween tradition by visiting the Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns at its new home at USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts in Wheatley Heights. Similarly, the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze: Long Island is at Old Bethpage Village Restoration through November 5.
9. Get a Taste of Island Life
With many of the tourists gone, hop on the ferry to Shelter Island from Greenport or North Haven and spend the day exploring this local gem. Older kids will enjoy the four-mile bike ride across the island along Route 114.
10. Explore the Barrier Beaches
Another fun ferry destination: Fire Island, where waters are often warm enough to swim in well into October. Catch a ferry from Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue, and explore this diverse ecosystem.
11. Swim with the Sharks
Or watch them from above. The fall is a great time to visit the Long Island Aquarium. Adventurous kids 12 and older can take a dive in the aquarium's 120,000-gallon shark tank.
12. Take Advantage of the Offseason
Explore the Hamptons and Montauk now that the tourists have left. The North Fork will still be crowded until the end of farm fun season at around Halloween.
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Explore Manhattan's above-ground oasis, the High Line. Photo by Timothy Schenck/courtesy of Friends of the High Line
Fall Day Trips from Long Island to New York City for Families
13. Walk Above the City Streets
Hike the High Line and take in the unique city views. The 1½-mile track passes by such tourist attractions as Chelsea Market and Little Island.
14. Enjoy an Engineering Marvel
Take in the Vessel at Hudson Yards. Make it an afternoon and treat yourself to lunch at Mercado Little Spain and dessert at Dylan's Candy Bar.
15. Go Sky High
Explore Edge, the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, if you dare. The towering structure rises 102 stories above the city streets.
16. Get Wild in the Bronx
Explore the Congo, traverse the treetop adventure, and get an early start on Halloween with Pumpkin Nights, which runs through October 29. Boo at the Zoo allows kids to trick-or-treat around the 265-acre zoo. Animals are unpredictable, so you never know what cool things you'll see when you go.
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Plan a day-cation to NYC to take in a Broadway show, like the girl-powered SIX. Photo by Jody Mercier
17. See a Broadway Show
Explore the city's world-class theaters, and check out a kid-friendly performance. While you're in the Theater District, pay a visit to the Lego or M&M stores.
18. Stroll Around an Urban Oasis
Get lost in Central Park, visit the zoo, or walk the Brooklyn Bridge and explore its namesake park.
19. Get an Up-Close Look at Lady Liberty
Hop on a ferry to Governors Island for wide-open spaces and stunning skyline views. Find the ferry schedule here.
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Catch the fall foliage on a visit to Croton Gorge in Cortlandt, New York. Photo by William Doyle via Flickr
Fall Day Trips from Long Island to Upstate New York
20. Head North
See what upstate New York and the Catskill Region have to offer as you cross off a few items from our Hudson Valley bucket list.
21. Treat Yourself
Try the kitschy roadside King Kone in Somers for a sweet treat, or visit one of these other ice cream shops in the Westchester area.
22. Hit the Road
Enjoy autumn's transformation while on a scenic drive to one of these 10 stunning spots.
23. Picnic in a Picturesque Setting
Explore the Storm King Art Center, which offers larger-than-life sculptures and beautiful fall foliage spread over a sprawling 500 acres.
24. Turn Back Time
Take a trip back to the 15th century at the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park. This celebration of the Middle Ages runs through early October.
25. Get Building
Legoland New York is just a 90-minute trip from NYC. Ride roller-coasters, Lego cars, and, of course, build Lego masterpieces before heading back home. Or just spend the night and head home in the morning.
RELATED: Pick-Your-Own and More Farm Fun on Long Island
Enjoy a drive-thru safari at Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure
Fall Day Trips from Long Island to New Jersey
26. Get Some Thrills
Load the kids in the family van for a wild drive through the Six Flags safari and then explore the main park and all of its coasters.
27. Enjoy the Outdoors
Spend the day chasing waterfalls at one of these easy, northern New Jersey hikes perfect for little legs.
28. Tackle the Indoor Waves
Get the swimsuits out and visit DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream mall. There are so many fun things to do, including Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, that you may even want to make a weekend of it.
Fall Day Trips from Long Island to Connecticut
29. Board the Port Jefferson Ferry
Head to Bridgeport on the ferry. We've rounded up the top 25 Things to Do in Bridgeport, including catching a hockey game, Beardsley Zoo, and a science museum.
30. Chug Down the Tracks
View fall foliage from aboard the classic Essex Steam Train. Steamboat tickets are available as well, and can be purchased as a combo ticket with the train ride.
A version of this post was first published in 2015. It was updated in September 2023.