Kids conquer the climbing wall at Rockin Jump Trampoline park in Ridge Hill, New York. Photo courtesy of the park
Kids conquer the climbing wall at Rockin Jump Trampoline park in Ridge Hill, New York. Photo courtesy of the park

Winter Day Trips: 11 Family Fun Spots Near NYC

Whether you prefer spending the winter months snuggling on the couch or frolicking in the snow, there's one thing we can all agree upon: Sometimes, you just need to get out of the city for a change of pace. So we pulled together a list of family-fun filled day trips that appeal to all sorts of interests, from budding artists to full-fledged ski bunnies. Best of all, these destinations are all two hours or less from New York City by car, and we think they're all worth the trip.

Looking for a car-free getaway? Find deals for several of these destinations with Metro-North Getaways. For more day trip ideas, visit our Day Trip and Weekend Getaway Guide. Happy trails!

Go airborne at iFLY. Photo courtesy of iFLY

Ridge Hill — Yonkers, New York
1 Ridge Hill Boulevard
30 minutes from Midtown by car
Indoor skydiving, anyone? Trampoline-jumping? How about a Legoland adventure? Ridge Hill in Yonkers is home to all three—and more! iFLY Westchester—the only one in the tri-state area—is the perfect close-to-home outing for adventurous types. Kids as young as 3 can experience "indoor skydiving" in a vertical wind tunnel. Learn basic hand signals (since the wind tunnel is too noisy for conversation), then suit up in goggles, helmets, and jumpsuits to prepare for some awesome memories. Another energy-busting adventure: Head to indoor trampoline park Rockin Jump, which offers a slew of high-flying ways to have fun from trampoline dodge ball to a slam dunk arena, and a rock climbing wall. If your little ones aren't quite ready for high-flying adventure, take refuge from icy weather at the Legoland Discovery Center. Beyond just playing with the bricks, visitors can also see Legos being made, play Kingdom Quest, build a racer and enter a competition, climb around the Lego Ninjago Adventure jungle gym, ride Merlin's Apprentice, and even build a skyscraper and test it on earthquake tables.

Weather permitting, have a quick romp in the Big Girl Playground by artist Tom Otterness (his signature style is also highlighted at Midtown West's Silver Tower's Playground and many others).

DIA: Beacon — Beacon, New York
3 Beekman Street
90 minutes from Midtown by car; accessible via Metro North to Beacon (shuttle service provided to the museum)
Housed in a sprawling former Nabisco box factory, DIA: Beacon is an art museum and exhibition space that showcases imposing, large-scale artworks from world-renowned artists like Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois. Though the space is cavernous, it's not ideal for running and the staff is known to keep a close eye on young visitors, so this outing might be better suited for older kids.

RELATED: 100 Things to Do in New York State Before Kids Grow Up

Get up close and be amazed at the sea life at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

Long Island Aquarium – Riverhead, New York
431 East Main Street
1 hour, 45 minutes from Midtown by car
Warm yourself up with thoughts of summer as you stroll through the spacious Long Island Aquarium, which houses more than 100 exhibits with sea life ranging from the mysterious cuttlefish to sand sharks, penguins, and beyond. Aside from just gawking at the diverse sea creatures—and some of their land-living cousins—there are a ton of interactive exhibits, too. You'll almost forget it's not beach-going season when you get up close with the rays in the on-site touch tank. Stay the day with these tips on what else to see in Riverhead from our Mommy Poppins Long Island team.

Mohonk is a great day trip for the whole family. Photo courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House — New Paltz, New York
1000 Mountain Rest Road
1 hour, 45 minutes from Midtown by car
High above my favorite upstate town towers a self-described "Victorian castle resort in New York," and that description's not far off. It's not only stunningly beautiful, Mohonk Mountain House offers a variety of winter activities, like skating on the outdoor rink, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing—no overnight stay required. Just grab a day pass. If you can manage, find time to sneak in a spa treatment. Equipment and activity costs vary and reservations are recommended for skating and meals.

RELATED: Sleep in a Lighthouse and More Hudson Valley Resorts

Snow tubing at Campgaw will make your kids pray for snow. Photo courtesy of Campgaw Mountain

Snow Tubing — Various Locations
2 hours from Midtown by car
As a native Floridian, inner tubes were synonymous with water—until I discovered snow tubing! The best part is that, unlike skiing and other winter sports, snow tubing requires little skill or gear, making it a great family experience. Plus, it's easy to find a spot relatively close to home for an easy day trip. Check out our snow tubing roundup for suggestions, including Campgaw Mountain (just 45 minutes by car from Midtown), and Mount Peter (an hour and a half from Midtown).

Skiing at Mountain Creek — Vernon, New Jersey
123 Route 94
1 hour, 30 minutes from Midtown by car
Mountain Creek is one of our all-time favorite local ski spots for its all-around experience. With 46 runs and the area's largest terrain park, plus on-site tubing, there's something for everyone. If you're a beginner, Mountain Creek's ski school has you covered, too. Make a weekend of it by staying at the on-site accommodations if a day on the slopes leaves you too tired for the drive back to the city.

No car? Try one of these car-free options to get to local slopes.

Two beautiful wolves nuzzle in the snow. Photo by James Stein Photography for the preserve.

Meet the Wolves — New Jersey and New York
Go on a Wolf Watch Tour at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, New Jersey, or the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York. The wolves are in a natural environment, but tour-goers get to watch them play, interact, and possibly howl from a protected, fenced in area. Four packs of wolves, along with foxes and bobcats, live at the NJ preserve. Come prepared for a short hike in both cases. Reservations are necessary. The New York location is a touch closer at 75 minutes from Midtown, and includes regular programming like a Pack Chat for Kids, Full Moon Wolf Walk, and more. But the NJ one is set in the pretty Delaware Gap region and only 90 minutes away.

Pretend it's summer at the Kalahari Resort's indoor water park. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

Kalahari Resort Indoor Water Park — Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania
250 Kalahari Boulevard
Just under 2 hours from Midtown by car
If you need a tropical getaway but can't spring for plane tickets, indoor water parks are the next best thing. And it just so happens that the country's largest indoor water park, the Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center's 220,000-square-foot, safari-themed water metropolis, is located within day trip distance of NYC. The Poconos resort will entertain everyone from toddlers to teens, since it features water slides, body boarding, family hot tubs, a lazy river, and thrilling rides. If that's not enough, there's also a 30,000-square-foot arcade and mini-golf course. Day passes are available, so no need to book a room, though we strongly recommend buying in advance to ensure availability.

The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark — Monticello, New York
555 Resorts World Drive
2 hours from Midtown by car
The brand new Kartrite Indoor Waterpark—the largest in New York state—offers a slew of attractions with the purchase of a daily Splash Pass. Leave the winter cold behind as you frolic in the always 84-degree waterpark, which includes attractions for both big kids (Nor'Easter Slide, Flowrider surf simulator) and little splashers (Kartrite Island, Later Gator Crossing). There's a family-friendly lazy river, a sauna-like indoor pool, and tons of fun to be had. Plan to eat at the on-site restaurant, as no outside food is allowed. You can make this trip an overnight, and take advantage of the water park from 9am-9pm on each day of your stay—even before you check in and after you check out!

Ski inside this winter at Big Snow America at American Dream Mall. 

American Dream Mall — East Rutherford, New Jersey
1 American Dream Way
40 minutes from Midtown by car
The long-awaited mega mall is finally open for business, bringing with it tons of family-friendly fun. Not only is there an indoor theme park and ice skating rink, you can even hit the slopes here. The newest addition is a three-floor candy store and still to come are a ton more shopping options and an indoor water park. If you don't have a car, there are a variety of public transportation options that will deliver you to the front doors.

Discover the magic of color with a day of hands-on family fun at the Crayola Experience!  Photo courtesy of the Crayola Experience

Visit a Nearby Museum — Various Locations
2 hours from Midtown by car
Yes, NYC is home to world-renowned museums of all kinds; yet, there are tons of cultural institutions in surrounding cities worth checking out. We've rounded up several science and natural history museums to explore, plus other unique destinations including The Crayola Experience, Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, and the Westchester Children's Museum.

 A version of this article was first published in December 2016; it has been updated for 2019. Jody Mercier contributed additional reporting.

Kalahari Resort
250 Kalahari Blvd
Pocono Manor, PA 18349

Ridge Hill
1 Ridge Hill Boulevard
Yonkers, NY 10710

Mohonk Mountain House
1000 Mountain Rest Road
New Paltz, NY 12561

DIA: Beacon
3 Beekman St
Beacon, NY 12508

Lakota Wolf Preserve
89 Mt Pleasant Rd
Columbia, NJ 07832

Mount Southington
396 Mt Vernon Rd
Plantsville, CT 06479

Kartrite Resort and Indoor Water Park
555 Resorts World Drive
Monticello, NY 12701

American Dream
1 American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ 07073
September Sundays
Queens County Farm Museum - 11:00 AM Pick
Beach Scavenger Hunt
Brooklyn Bridge Park - 11:00 AM Pick
African Film Festival's Family Day Celebration
Governors Island - 12:00 PM Pick
Jack and the Beanstalk
Puppetworks Inc. - 12:30 PM Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides