The winter cold has just turned, and summer break is still a few months away. But you are already itching to get out and get away, even if it’s just for a day.
Living on Long Island, we’re lucky to have so many amazing parks, attractions, and quaint seaside towns for springtime day-trip visits. We’re also lucky to be within driving or ferry distance of New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey. These areas offer even more fun and exciting experiences for the whole family.
The springtime day-trip destinations we are highlighting take anywhere from one to three hours (or more) of travel time depending on where on Long Island you live. Be sure to factor in traffic when traveling because we know what it’s like living here. Either way, relax and enjoy the scenery because adventure awaits.
For more ideas on warmer weather fun, head over to our Spring Fun Guide.
1. Let's start right here on Long Island. Take a road trip to a park or playground you haven't explored. Our guide to children's playgrounds can get you started.
2. Pack up the kids and head to a nearby nature center. Caumsett State Historic Park and Preserve in Huntington is one of our favorites. Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, meanwhile, celebrates Arbor Day April 27-28, and is not far from the community's downtown.
3. Why makes things complicated? Pick a charming community on Long Island and spend the day exploring. We have the lowdown on things to do in Port Washington, Cold Spring Harbor, Greenport, Riverhead, Sag Harbor, Sayville and more.
4. Tap into your child's historical curiosity with a road trip to one or more of these great Long Island historical sites. Return to a simpler time at Old Bethpage Village Restoration—where they play "base ball" the old-fashioned way—or visit an historic lighthouse or working farm.
5. Still don’t feel like leaving Long Island? Springtime on the East End brings wine tastings, fresh flowers for Mother’s Day, strawberries, and great museums.
6. OK, if you must leave LI, hop aboard the Port Jefferson ferry for a scenic ride to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Visit the animals at the Beardsley Zoo, learn about the circus at the Barnum Museum, and shoot for the stars at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium.
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Take a ride (or two) on the antique carousel at Mitchell Park. Photo courtesy of Greenport Village
7. Pack your bikes and head to Greenport, where you can take a ferry to Shelter Island. Water sports more of your thing? Kayak rentals are available on the island.
8. With eight playgrounds, a zoo, gardens, museums, and much more, you will not run out of things to do and see at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. You might even need to plan your next trip back.
9. Sometimes overshadowed by other Jersey Shore beach towns, Point Pleasant, New Jersey is a great springtime destination for families. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk is open for the season with rides, games, and an aquarium. Then head over to the New Jersey Museum of Transportation for all things train-related.
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Enjoy panoramic views of the Hudson Valley on the famous Walkway Over the Hudson. Photo by Fred Schaeffer for Walkway over the Hudson
10. Head upstate to catch sweeping views of the Hudson Valley on the Walkway Over the Hudson. This 1.3-mile pedestrian bridge is open year-round, but spring is a wonderful time to experience this easy hike.
11. Getting a pie at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, Connecticut is worth the drive (or ferry ride). But do take time to stroll through the campus at Yale University and stop for ice cream at Arethusa Farm Dairy.
12. Go on a New York City museum crawl. Check your local library for free family passes to the American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and others.
13. Got a kid with bricks on the brain? Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester is the place to be with its Ninjago City Adventure exhibit, building stations, movies, rides, and impressive Lego structures.
14. Coney Island welcomes visitors as early as April. Although it might not be warm enough to swim at the beach, there are plenty of attractions, including Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and the New York Aquarium.
15. Spend the day in the city and see a Broadway show. There are lots of family-friendly shows to choose from, including Aladdin, Frozen, The Lion King and The Gazillion Bubble Show.
16. Take a ride in a carriage around Central Park, or visit the Central Park Zoo. Grab some lunch and head to the park for a picnic after.
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Get up close to life-size, make-believe dinosaurs in a wooded setting at Field Station: Dinosaurs. Photo by Janet Bloom
17. Go on a dinosaur expedition to Field Station: Dinosaurs in Leonia, New Jersey. Open Memorial Day weekend through November, budding paleontologists can get hands on and up close with fossils and life-size dinosaurs in a wooded setting.
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Prepare to be awestruck by the artwork at Storm King Art Center in upstate New Windsor. Photo by Janet Bloom
18. Experience art as a family at Storm King Art Center in upstate New Windsor. Pack a picnic and take in more than 100 sculptures in this massive outdoor space.
19. The scenic ferry ride from Orient Point to New London, Connecticut is half the fun. Head up to Mystic to experience a quaint seaside town that hosts the largest maritime museum in the country.
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The Healthyville exhibit at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children is sure to delight your kids. Photo courtesy of the museum
20. Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, Connecticut is one of our favorite children’s museums. Be prepared to get wet in the energy lab, hear squeals of delight from babies and toddlers in Tot Town, let your imagination run wild in the outdoor celebration courtyard, and more. Bonus: Tour the Lockwoods-Mathews Mansion Museum next door.
21. Take the tram to Roosevelt Island in New York City for its annual cherry blossom festival in late April. Enjoy Japanese cultural performances, a community picnic, and of course, cherry blossoms.
22. While we are thinking about NYC, why not check out the transformed Governors Island, which opens for the season May 1. Enjoy Slide Hill, the Granite Scramble, a kids-only art museum, and more.
Interact with wildlife at the Bronx Zoo. Photo courtesy of WCS
23. The Bronx is perfect for animal and nature lovers. Check out the New York Botanical Garden to transport yourself out of the city. The Bronx Zoo's Wednesday admission is a pay-what-you-wish donation, making a family zoo trip more affordable.
24. Spring is a great time to visit Fire Island and its lighthouse before both get overcrowded with summer tourists. Enjoy a relaxing visit walking the boardwalk and collecting shells on the beach.
25. Thrill-seeking families should head over to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. With large coasters and kiddie rides, the whole family can get in on the fun.
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Enjoy digital art, water play, a crayon molding station and more at the Crayola Experience. Photo courtesy of the Crayola Experience
BONUS: Little artists will love the interactive exhibits at the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania. Think outside the crayon box when coming: Exhibits include digital art, water play, and a crayon molding station.