30 Perfect Fall Family Day Trips from NYC
With fall upon us, we're craving more than just a change of seasons. Sometimes, fresh scenery—even 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 something else, we've rounded up 30 spots worthy of a day trip. Some are even accessible by public transportation. Read on for our picks sure to inspire your love of the season, and find more getaways in our Day Trip and Travel Guide.
1. Enjoy crisp fall air and the sweet smell of apples visiting one of these nearby apple 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 Sunday, October 6.
3. Eat your way through the treat of the season, apple cider doughnuts, at these Westchester farms.
4. Forget a foliage hike or drive, and instead sign up for a leaf peeping train ride through Connecticut.
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.
8. The North Fork of Long Island is great for leaf peeping, cider doughnuts, and (most important!) a visit to a family-friendly vineyard.
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.
See dinosaurs in their (almost) natural habitat at Field Station: Dinosaurs.
10. Find dinosaurs just over the GW bridge at Field Station: Dinosaurs. This seasonal spot is open weekends until October 27.
11. Enjoy a step back in time (and more farm fun) at one of New Jersey's living history farms.
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 21.
13. Enjoy the magnificent state parks of Long Island for some nature-themed fun.
14. Spend the day at Alstede Farms where kids can pick apples and pumpkins, see the barnyard animals, 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.
The Pumpkin Planetarium at the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze. Photo by Janet Bloom
16. Marvel at what they do with pumpkins at the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. If you're looking for something a bit closer to home, the Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is staging multiple installations in Old Westbury on Long Island, the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and on Governors Island.
18. Enjoy the foliage on one of these beautiful nature walks dotting Long Island.
19. Hit the Legoland Discovery Center at Ridge Hill for Brick or Treat weekends in October.
Storm King is 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.
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 at these kid-friendly petting zoos.
28. Take a scenic drive or hike through these leef-peeping hot spots in Westchester and Hudson Valley.
29. If leaves aren't enough eye candy, explore one of these waterfall hikes in Northern New Jersey.
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 2019.