30 Perfect Fall Family Day Trips from NYC

Fall Day Trips: Kid Friendly Hikes, Harvest Festivals, Halloween Fun Near New York City
There's always something new and surprising to see at Storm King. Photo by Shira Kronzon

With fall upon us, we're craving more than just a change of seasons. Sometimes, fresh scenery—even just for a day—can do wonders to reboot and re-energize weary New Yorkers who dodged tourists and sweltered in subways all summer.

Whether fall in your house means an afternoon harvesting nature's bounty at local farms, heading out for a hike, or staying close to home to explore a new-to-you corner of the city, we've got daycations sure to satisfy any mood. Read on for 30 picks sure to inspire your love of the season, and find more getaways in our Day Trip and Travel Guide.

1. Enjoy cider doughnuts, crisp fall air, and the sweet smell of apples visiting one of these nearby orchards for a day of harvest fun.

2. Don your period garb and head to Sterling Forest for the New York Renaissance Faire, playing weekends through September 30.

3. Head to Mystic, Connecticut, for a day of seafaring fun, complete with marine animals and lobster rolls.

Lego fans will be in heaven at the Legoland Discovery Center. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

4. Take your Lego lover on a journey to Westchester's Legoland Discovery Center.

5. No car? No problem! These destination-worthy museums are accessible via public transportation.

6. Breathe in some fresh air while catching a fall festival in Westchester.

7. Hit a pumpkin patch near NYC or further afield in New Jersey, or on Long Island.

8. The North Fork of Long Island is great for leaf peeping, cider doughnuts, and a visit to a family-friendly vineyard. Don't forget a stop at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and Briermere Farms for pie. You can pick up pumpkins and gourds on the way at any farm stand.

9. Drive or ride out to Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay on Long Island to learn about Theodore Roosevelt. The foliage on the grounds is fantastic.

10. Find dinosaurs just over the GW bridge at Field Station. This seasonal spot sticks around into November, but please note it closes for a couple of weeks in mid-September.

11. Enjoy a step back in time (and more farm fun) at one of New Jersey's living history farms.

RELATED: Best Fall Events for NYC Preschoolers

Get lost in The Amazing Maize Maze in Queens. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

12. You need not even clear city limits to visit the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm Museum, NYC's only corn maze. It opens for the season September 22.

13. There are still plenty of warm, sunny days for a one-of-a-kind river-rafting experience in the Catskills.

14. Spend the day at Alstede Farms where kids can pick apples and pumpkins, but also see the barnyard animals (free), climb a tower of hay, and hitch a wagon ride. There are also bounce houses, concessions, and pony rides on weekends, making it almost a farm-themed mini amusement park that happens to grow really great apples.

15. Learn some presidential history by hopping on The Roosevelt Ride, which offers a car-free way to explore FDR's history in the Hudson Valley.

The Pumpkin Planetarium at the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze. Photo by Jennifer Mitchell/courtesy of the event

16. Marvel at what they do with pumpkins at the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. If a quick trip out to Long Island is more your speed, visit the the Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns in Old Westbury. 

17. See a World War I air show, view historic aircraft and fly in a biplane at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Stay the day to explore the rest of this Hudson Valley town.

18. Explore a new-to-you park such as Fort Tryon. There's a playground right outside the entrance and stunning views of the river and the fall foliage dotting the Palisades.

19. Been there, done that? Check out our favorite under-the-radar parks within city limits, or our hall-of-fame-worthy playground picks.

RELATED: Best Fall Festivals Around NYC This September

Storm King is a bit of hike from the city, but the perfect fall day trip. Photo by Shira Kronzon

20. Visit Storm King Art Center in Orange County, New York. Enjoy the art, let the kids run around, picnic, and marvel at the changing leaves.

21. Hit Hunter Mountain in the Catskills before the snowflakes start to fly.

22. Take a picnic and go ice skating at Bear Mountain State Park.

23. Weather iffy? Head to Long Island's "museum row" to hit the Cradle of Aviation, Firefighter's Museum, and more great kid spots in Garden City.

24. Experience the best of the 'burbs by spending a day exploring New Jersey's South Mountain Reservation with its zoo, hiking trails, zip line, destination playground, and more.

25. Catch the final days of kiddie rides or even Halloween fun at Jenkinson's Pier on the Jersey Shore boardwalk.

26. Explore the Westchester Children's Museum, which is reachable by Metro North.

27. Snuggle up to animals with these kid-friendly petting zoos.

28. Take a scenic drive or hike through these leef-peeping hot spots in Westchester and Hudson Valley.

Soar over traffic and the East River to Roosevelt Island. Photo by m01229/CC BY 2.0

29. Finally ride the tram to Roosevelt Island, and run amok in the park.

30. Need more ideas? Start checking items off our 100 Things To Do with Kids in New York State Before They Grow Up list, from the best New York state parks to cool museums.

A version of this article originally published in September 2011. It has been updated for 2018.