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 New Yorkers weary from a mostly cooped up 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.
Fun Farm Day Trips Near NYC
Find the perfect pumpkin at an area farm. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
1. Enjoy crisp fall air and the sweet smell of apples by visiting one of these nearby apple orchards for a day of harvest fun.
2. Eat your way through the treat of the season, apple cider doughnuts, at these Westchester farms.
4. The North Fork of Long Island is great for leaf-peeping, cider doughnuts, and (most important!) a visit to a family-friendly vineyard.
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Get lost in The Amazing Maize Maze in Queens.
5. 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 Friday, September 18.
6. Spend the day at Alstede Farms, where kids can pick apples and pumpkins, see the barnyard animals, hitch a wagon ride, or climb astride a pony on weekends, making it almost a farm-themed mini-amusement park that happens to grow great apples.
7. Snuggle up to animals at these kid-friendly petting zoos.
Autumn is the perfect season to visit Storm King Art Center. Photo by Alex Kahn/CC BY 2.0
Nature Day Trips Near NYC
8. 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.
9. Who says beach season ends on Labor Day weekend? Sandy East Coast shores are extending their seasons into September.
10. Enjoy the magnificent state parks of Long Island for some nature-themed fun.
11. Enjoy the foliage on one of these family-friendly hiking trails dotting Long Island.
12. Hit Hunter Mountain in the Catskills before the snowflakes start to fly.
13. Take a picnic and explore the grounds of Bear Mountain State Park.
14. 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.
15. Experience the best of the 'burbs by spending a day exploring New Jersey's South Mountain Reservation with its zoo, hiking trails, destination playground, and more.
16. Row, paddle, or peddle your boat at one of these New Jersey rental spots.
17. Take a scenic drive or hike through these leaf-peeping hot spots in Westchester and the Hudson Valley.
18. If leaves aren't enough eye candy, explore one of these waterfall hikes in Northern New Jersey.
19. Enjoy the natural beauty and changing colors at Palisades Interstate Park.
More Family-Friendly Day Trip Destinations Near NYC
21. 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.
22. Catch the final days of kiddie rides at Jenkinson's Pier on the Jersey Shore boardwalk.
23. Load up the family station wagon for a wild drive through Six Flags Great Adventure Safari.
24. Book your tickets now for the Hudson Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival in Lagrangeville.
25. The drive-in movie craze of summer has bled over into the fall, so plan your night out at an NYC popup or another theater nearby.
26. Hop across the river to visit one of our favorite Jersey-kid spots: The Liberty Science Center.
28. While you're there, consider stopping by the Lakota Wolf preserve for an educational tour.
29. Take in a seasonal festival. Might we suggest the Sussex County Food Truck and Music Festival, in Augusta, N.J.; the Happy Day Farm Fall Festival in Manalapan, N.J.; Village Day Fall Festival at Sands Point Preserve in Sands Point, N.Y.; or the Oktoberfest at the Riverhead, N.Y., farm Garden of Eve.
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.
Photos by Rose Gordon Sala, unless otherwise noted