100 Things to Do in New York State with Kids Before They Grow Up

Best Things to Do, See in NY with Kids | Children's Museums, Attractions, State Parks

We might be biased, but we think New York state has it all for families. From the gorgeous Hamptons beaches to the rugged state forests, serene lakes, and deafening Niagara Falls to the culture and arts found in New York City on up through the river towns and beyond—we feel pretty lucky.

Plus, we’re pretty good at making delicious food items from ramen burgers and bagels to ice cream, and even wine at family-friendly vineyards on Long Island and through the Finger Lakes. There are children’s museums galore. Kids have no shortage of water and theme parks, cool playgrounds, zoos, outdoor art, and nature, of course.

And yet, the thing about childhood is that it’s finite. The kids grow up, maybe move away. Sniff, sniff. We want to soak up every moment. So we put together this list of 100 of our favorite things to do around New York, from upstate and the Adirondacks to Long Island and NYC. We collected suggestions from the many Mommy Poppins contributors, past and former, to fuse it all together just for you (OK, for us, too). Whether you're planning a long-weekend getaway or a family day trip, you're sure to find some ideas here. Enjoy!

1. Traverse the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. Don’t look down if you have issues with heights!

2. See the Rockettes in action at Radio City Music Hall.

3. Ride the ferry to Governors Island; enjoy new water sprinklers, Slide Hill and a one-of-a-kind DIY adventure playground, plus iconic summer festivals like art-centric Figment NYC.

4. Camp under the stars at one of New York’s many campgrounds or glamping options.

5. Marvel at the waterfalls and Grand Canyon-like gorge in Letchworth State Park.

6. Hike or float through the jaw-dropping natural beauty that is the Ausable Chasm—possibly our favorite spot in all of NY.

7. Introduce the kids to the Bard with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which always includes a family-friendly show.

8. Walk the length of the High Line, watching the NYC traffic below and mingling with modern art.

9. Take in a family-friendly Broadway show.

10. Go sledding together in Central Park.

11. Watch the cherry blossoms bloom around the serene Japanese Pond & Garden in Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

12. Ride the ferry to Shelter Island where you can enjoy the beach, paddling, or the wildlife of the Mashomack Preserve.

RELATED: 100 Things to Do with Kids on Long Island

Fire Island is more than beaches. Follow the wooden walkways through the Sunken Forest. Photo by Joe Marcone via Flickr.

13. Tour Fire Island’s Sunken Forest.

14. See a concert at Jones Beach Theater.

15. Look up relatives on Ellis Island.

16. See the dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, and planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

17. Go kayaking on the Hudson in NYC or try canoeing the river a bit further north.

18. Experience farm life at Stone Barns Center with a tour of the ground where kids can see animals and enjoy family programming.

19. Catch a family-friendly live production at Tarrytown Music Hall.

20. Have a fancy tea date in the city. May we suggest the Plaza, Alice’s Tea Cup, or, for the little ones: American Girl. 

21. Ride the Polar Express through pretty Saratoga Springs with Santa, or try one of these other holiday trains.

22. Be awed by the planes at the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

23. Visit the rest of LI’s Museum Row, including the Firefighters Museum.

24. Afterward take a spin on the famed Nunley’s Carousel.

25.  Visit the birthplace of famed 19th century American poet, Walt Whitman.

26. Learn to ski on NY’s gentle slopes like Mount Peter, Windham, Thunder Ridge, and Belleayre.

27. Tour Long Island’s wine country; kids can play in the lush landscape while you sip and sample.

RELATED: 100 Things to Do with Kids in Westchester

Storm King might just be the perfect museum for kids. Photo by Melodie Mesiano via Flickr.

28. Walk among the outdoor modern art at Storm King without fear of knocking anything over.

29. Zip line in the Catskills at Hunter Mountain.

30. Visit one of the state’s living history museums where kids can get a taste of hard work in the form of butter churning and more.

31. When they’re tall enough, climb the Statue of Liberty to peek out the crown at the NY Harbor.

32. Camp, hike, cross-country ski, or swim at Fahnestock State Park. This one has it all.

33. Explore Rockefeller State Park Preserve's many easy wooded hiking paths, including the loop around Swan Lake. 

34. Go retro with a family movie night at the drive-in. There are several around New York, including the Warwick Drive-In Theater, the Glen Falls Drive-In, and Mountain Mist Custard in Saranac Lake.

RELATED: 30 Things to Do in Hudson Valley with Kids

Check out the iconic Macy's balloons as they're inflated the night before the big Thanksgiving parade. Photo by kowarski via Flickr.

35. Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons get inflated.

36. Get dressed up to go see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center.

37. See the baseball greats at Cooperstown.

38. Watch knights joust at the NY Renaissance Faire.

39. Listen to and see how the North Family, one of the country's largest Shaker communities, lived with a tour at the Shaker Museum.

40. Find old-fashioned fun at the Dutchess County Fair.

41. Bike, walk, or snow-shoe your way along the NY Rail Trail, connecting Westchester with upstate.

42. Visit Westchester's Teatown nature preserve for a naturalist-led nature walk.

43. Hike to Bash Bish Falls.

Take the "Wild Walk" in the Adirondacks.

44. Walk amongst the trees, bounce in a spider web, and gawk at awe-inspiring nature at the Wild Center.

45. Pick local apples on Long Island, Westchester and Hudson Valley farms, or elsewhere in NY.

46. Horseback ride at Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk—known as "the oldest working ranch in the US."

47. Marvel at the miniature choo-choos at the annual holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden.

48.  Ride Le Carrousel in Bryant Park.

49. Kick off Halloween with the epic Great Jack O'Latern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor.

50. Even preschoolers can create cool glass projects and gawk at the delicate and whimsical creations at the Corning Museum of Glass.

51. Marvel at modern art at Dia:Beacon, a gorgeous former printing plant turned museum overlooking the Hudson.

52. Gawk at or hitch a ride at the Hudson Valley balloon festival.

53. At The Strong: National Museum of Play in Rochester, which lays claim to the world's largest collection of toys, kids can really be themselves—and just play.

54. See a real-life castle at the Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington.

55. Visit Santa at his true home: Macy’s NYC.

56. Tap a native NY tree during winter maple sugaring fun.

57. Roam the stunning halls and grounds of Kykuit, Glenview and other historic mansions throughout Westchester.

58. Ride the row boats in Central Park.

59. Bike through Brooklyn Bridge Park, from Brooklyn Heights to Dumbo, stopping at the kid-centric attractions, including playgrounds, ball courts, a seasonal pool and brand-new outdoor climbing wall.

60. No need to visit the Jersey Shore. Enjoy boardwalk rides and eats on Coney Island, or one of Long Island's pretty boardwalks.

It's hard to beat the classic summertime rides at Rye Playland.

61. Or take in more old-fashioned summer fun at Rye Playland.

62. Cool off at a local water park, including the family-friendly SplashDown Beach.

63. Visit the top of the Empire State Building.

64. Hike the AT in New York. Ninety miles of the iconic Appalachian Trail run through the state.

65. Celebrate more than just the local apples at the annual Warwick Applefest—a full-scale carnival.

66. We’re not going to start any fights, but get to either a Mets or a Yankees game, glove and peanuts in hand, whether you’re a fan or not.

67. Chase away the winter blues with a weekend away at Rocking Horse Ranch and its indoor water park.

68. Watch a movie under the stars at Bryant Park.

69. Take an easy stroll along an elevated walkway to see the Adirondacks' High Falls Gorge for a spectacular waterfall view.

70. See the birthplace, homes and library of FDR.

71. Visit the Long Island Aquarium to learn about some of the state's native (and non-native) sea creatures.  

Swim or hike around Lake Minnewaska. Photo by iris vis Flickr.

72. Swim in one of two lakes in Minnewaska State Park after a hike through this Catskills gem where you can see Awosting Falls and more.

74. Feed baby animals at Benner's Farm where old-fashioned hard work is still on display at this Long Island family farm, offering camps, classes, and more family events. 

75. Glamp in the Finger Lakes with Firelight Camps where you're treated to king-size beds.

76. Build a bonfire, roast smores and watch the sun go down on the pretty beaches of Montauk. (Note: Bonfires must be built in metal container per new local regulations.)

77. Collect eggs and milk a cow during a "farm chores" event at the historic Muscoot Farm museum.

78. Savor the brief strawberry season with a visit to a local pick-your-own farm, including in Hudson Valley or Long Island.

79.  Swing from the trees (sort of) at Catamount Aerial Adventure Park.

80. Lake Placid or Lake George? You can't go wrong with a visit to either of these Adirondack lakeside regions.

81. Harvest your own Christmas tree this year.

RELATED: 100 Things to Do with Kids in NYC

Although it's not a children's museum per se, the Whitney hosts a number of family tours and activities. Photo by Filip Wolak/courtesy the museum.

82. Take a family art class at the revamped Whitney Museum of American Art in its new digs in NYC's Meatpacking District.

83. Picnic at Old Westbury Gardens.

84.  Or smell the beautiful blooms at one of LI's other botanical gardens.

85. Join a boat cruise to watch for whales, seals, and other marine life off New York's coast.

86. Play explorer with the natural caves at Howe Caverns or Stone Bridges and Caves.

87. Groove together at a music or art fest at the famed Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Woodstock.

88. Grab an inner tube for a lazy adventure through one of the state's waterways. Tubby Tubes in the Adirondacks is one option.

89. Ride Amtrak to Niagara Falls to take in some of the state’s most legendary scenary.

90. Build the afternoon away at the Legoland Discovery Center.  

91. Enjoy the stunning fall-foliage at Bear Mountain Bridge or Kingsland Point Park.

92. Or, take in those mountain views while ice skating at Bear Mountain's rink.

93. Get a day pass to hike the epic labyrinth trail near the Mohonk Mountain House.

Eat and shop your way through NYC's colorful Chinatown.

94. Grab dim sum, banh mi or more fun eats in NYC’s Chinatown.

95. See the Rockefeller tree lighting or “world’s largest menorah lighting” in Midtown Manhattan.

96. Take a walking tour of the famed Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

97. Peer into the twin 9/11 reflecting pools at the NYC memorial in downtown.

98. Puzzle your way out of a corn maze this fall.

99. Hit the beach for a day of sand castle building, wave jumping, and ice cream eating. Choose from urban NYC beaches to Long Island's many, many sandy shores.

100. Watch the Fourth of July fireworks in NYC.

All photos by Mommy Poppins except where noted.