Take the Metro-North Train to Family Fun: 7 Easy Day Trips
A ride on the Metro-North can whisk your NYC family away to close-enough-to-see-in-a-day destinations minus the hassle of a car.
Sure, the city makes for a pretty stellar staycation with more family-friendly events and destinations than can be counted. We've got museums, zoos and gardens, outdoor movie screenings, boating, and so much more. Even so, it's nice to make a quick getaway with the kids to slow down a little and enjoy a respite from the city buzz.
Even better, Metro-North offers discount packages and deals for many nearby attractions in Westchester, the Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.
We've rounded up a few of our favorite stops along the three Metro-North lines with ideas for exploring nearby sights and attractions—all under an hour and a half from Midtown Manhattan. For those already living in Westchester, these little mini family day trips are made extra special with the thrill of a ride on a train.
45 minutes from Grand Central
This picturesque town is one of several along the Hudson River (collectively known as the Rivertowns). A quick jaunt on the MetroNorth is rewarded with sweeping river views and a laid-back vibe that feels light years away from the bustling city. A five-minute walk from the train lands you on the town's Main Street—home to Tarrytown Music Hall, several family-friendly restaurants, dog-friendly Coffee Labs Roasters, and whimsical toy shop A Nu Toy Store—perfect for whiling away a summer afternoon.
Spend a day learning about farming and agriculture at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Ben Hider for Stone Barns
Other family-friendly day trip destinations near the Tarrytown Metro-North station include Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, the Gothic Revival mansion and sprawling grounds of Lyndhurst, and Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Each is a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the train station. Lyndhurst and Kykuit even offer special discounts when riding the Metro-North.
Don't miss indulging in a scoop (or three!) from Moo Moo's Creamery. Photo courtesy of the shop
Cold Spring (Putnam County)
1 hour, 15 minutes from Grand Central
A historic hamlet just north of Westchester County, Cold Spring offers small-town fun close enough for day-trippers. The town's Main Street is just a three-minute walk from the train station, home of the beloved Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival—you'll definitely want to catch a performance. Along Main Street, you can also peruse antiques, shop for unique toys and games at The Gift Hut, and dine at one of the town's many kid-friendly restaurants. Head southwest on Main Street and take a right on West Street for the self-proclaimed “world's best homemade ice cream” at Moo Moo's Creamery. Enjoy that cold and creamy treat on the front porch of the shop and enjoy breathtaking, unobstructed views of the Hudson River—summertime at its finest.
Kids run free on the great lawn at Boscobel House & Gardens. Photo courtesy of the gardens
On weekends during summer months, hop the Cold Spring Trolley from the Metro-North station and make your way to Boscobel House & Gardens (at just a mile and a half from the train station, it's a quick taxi ride when the trolley is unavailable). Boscobel hosts many family-friendly events including Bring the Kids! Second Saturdays, Rhyme Time by the Hudson on select Fridays, and more. Special rates for Metro-North riders are available.
Beacon (Dutchess County)
1 hour, 30 minutes from Grand Central
Just an hour and a half from Midtown Manhattan, Beacon offers tranquility and quintessential small-town appeal. If cooling off is the first order of business, take a dip in the River Pool at Beacon or try kayaking on the Hudson River (you get a two-hour rental for the price of one, plus 10% discount at Mountain Tops Outfitters when you present your rail ticket).
Stroll the grounds at Dia:Beacon. Photo by Meagan Newhart
Take in Beacon's art scene at Dia: Beacon (within walking distance or trolley ride from the train station) and the outdoor sculpture park Storm King Art Center (10-12 minute taxi ride from the train station; shuttle service is available on weekends during summer months). Metro-North riders enjoy discount fare and admission to Dia: Beacon, and Storm King admission is included in the Metro-North ticket price.
The NYBG's Edible Academy operates year-round. Photo by Robert Benson Photography for NYBG
20 minutes from Grand Central
You don't have to leave the city limits to enjoy a day trip filled with nature, stunning landscapes, and children's activities. Hop the Harlem line to the Botanical Garden station which leaves you right across the street from the New York Botanical Garden's Mosholu entrance. Save money with the Metro-North’s New York City Getaway program and on weekends, peak fare is half off with City Ticket.
Majestic animals and kid-friendly fun abound at the world's largest urban zoo, The Bronx Zoo: Hit the Children's Zoo, the Bug Carousel, Butterfly Garden, Congo Gorilla Forest, and more. Or tackle Treetop Adventure, the new aerial ropes course and zip line at the Bronx Zoo. Score deals on general admission or total experience packages by riding the Metro-North.
Stop by the Katonah Museum of Art on a Family Day, like this Family Day celebrating Islamic traditions. Photo courtesy of the museum
1 hour from Grand Central
Looking to get beyond city limits? Head for Katonah along the Harlem line. Katonah Museum of Art is minutes from the Metro-North station and offers discounts year-round for Metro-North riders. Take in world-class art exhibitions, explore the outdoor sculpture garden, and definitely drop into The Learning Center, an exhibition and activity space designed just for kids.
Six historic buildings at John Jay Homestead feature hands-on, immersive Discovery Centers. Photo courtesy the homestead
John Jay Homestead State Historic Site—home of statesman John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States—is also in Katonah. Guided tours of John Jay's Bedford House are on offer, and the expansive 62-acre estate, with seven beautifully appointed gardens, is open and welcome for all to enjoy. Take in an outdoor summer movie, stock up on fresh produce and other goods at the on-site farmer's market, and be sure to make time to visit one of six Discovery Centers located in buildings throughout the grounds, where kids can play dress-up in early 19th century attire, and discover games and toys from the same period.
The Caramoor Center for Music and Art brings jazz to visitors of all ages. Photo by Gabe Palacio for Caramoor
Caramoor Center for Music and Art is another must-see destination in Katonah. Celebrating music and art for all ages, Caramoor invites guests to tour the historic Rosen House, explore the sprawling grounds and stunning gardens, and take in live concerts all summer long. Shuttle service is offered from the Metro-North station to Caramoor for performances Thursday–Sunday. Special packages are also available for their annual American Roots Music Festival and Jazz Festival.
A short trip from NYC, Rye Playland is more than just an amusement park-it's the beach, a pool and mini-golf! Photo by Mommy Poppins
New Haven Line
45 minutes from Grand Central
Looking for old-school amusement park fun? Look no further than Playland Park in Rye. We've written about the nostalgic adventures that await here and we just can't say enough about it. This amusement park is perfect for kids big and small (Kiddyland is designed specifically for younger kids). Playland is a short drive from the Metro-North station, and there is a dedicated local bus that takes visitors to the park, where your Metro-North ticket also gets you rides admission. As if the amusement park isn't enough fun, there's more to enjoy at Playland, including a beach, pool, ice rink, mini-golf, and a quarter-mile boardwalk captured in the 1988 film Big starring Tom Hanks.
Discover interactive exhibits at the Westchester Children's Museum. Photo by Lynda Curtis for the museum
Along the boardwalk of Playland is another gem—the Westchester Children's Museum. We were thrilled when Phase 1 of the museum opened in 2016 and it quickly became a beloved destination in Westchester. All exhibits are hands-on and fully interactive; there's also a maker space, book nook, and more to explore.
Be enchanted by the Sea Lions at the Maritime Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium
1 hour from Grand Central
Ready to touch a shark? Marvel at all forms of aquatic life, from frogs and sea turtles to seahorses, seals, and otters at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. The aquarium is within walking distance of the Metro-North station, so you'll be face to face with marine life in no time flat. Discount packages are available for Metro-North riders.
Beyond the aquarium, South Norwalk (SoNo to the locals) offers lots of visit-worthy attractions including nearby Oyster Shell Park, Stepping Stones Museum for Children, and the historic Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum.