Make a Day of It with These Winter Day Trips for Westchester Families
Though the weather can be frightful this time of year, there's still plenty to do in the area with kids this winter—especially if you’re looking to make a day trip out of it.
So whether it’s holiday or winter break and you’ve got some dedicated family time on the agenda, or you’re looking for a weekend day trip idea, we’ve got you covered—with everything from kid-centric New York City pop-ups to museums and aquariums that are sure to impress.
Winter Day Trips in NY
Check out Trolls: The Experience before it closes! Photo by Jody Mercier
Check out an exhibit or pop-up in NYC
Hop on Metro-North (which can be a trip all its own for train-obsessed kids!) to take advantage of all Manhattan has to offer, including some pop-ups and exhibits. Two to put on your radar: The Museum of Ice Cream, which re-opened on December 14, 2019, will make any ice cream–loving kid happy—especially with a the pool of sprinkles! And, if you’ve been meaning to see The Trolls Experience but haven’t gotten around to it yet, do it quick before it closes on January 6, 2020. Once you’ve seen them, there are tons of kid-friendly restaurants to check out.
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is always a huge hit, so plan ahead and get tickets before you go. Photo courtesy of NYBG
Visit some outer-borough favorites
While you can definitely introduce kids to classic spots like the Empire State Building and the Museum of Natural History, if you’d rather stick to the outer boroughs, there’s can’t-miss fun at The New York Botanical Garden, where you can catch the holiday train show until January 26, 2020. Or head to Citi Field to be dazzled by the Hello Panda Lantern Festival, which also runs through January 26, 2020. And you can't go wrong with a visit to the New York Aquarium to spot sharks, sea lions, penguins, and more.
Make Something at Legoland
Stay in Westchester and head to Legoland Discovery Center in Ridge Hill where kids will be in their Lego-loving glory. There’s tons of construction opportunities—including a Duplo Village for the little ones—plus rides and even a whole exhibit dedicated to Ninjago. You can also catch the last weekend of the Holiday Bricktacular, which ends on December 29, 2019. And Ridge Hill itself offers lots of additional opportunities for fun, from eating at kid-friendly spots like Elevation Burger or Lefteris Gyro to the trampolines at Rockin’ Jump Ridge Hill.
Take Preschoolers to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum
Looking for something specifically for the under-6 set? Then the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum is sure to be a hit. There’s ton to keep kids busy (and learning!), from the “Early Learning Junction” to the “Science Center,” where kids can learn all about science at interactive tables. There are also a variety of events—including free admission on the evening of the third Saturday of the month.
Go to the Palisades Mall
We promise, there’s so much more to do at this Rockland County mall than dragging your kids from store to store. Younger kids won’t be able to get enough of Billy Beez, the carousel, and even the Palisades Climb Adventure, while older kids will love the Autobahn Indoor Speedway, Color Me Mine (to create their own pottery), and Escape the Mystery Room—and the whole family can go bowling, check out a movie, or go ice skating. And once it’s time to eat, there are tons of kid-friendly options, from Chili’s to The Cheesecake Factory.
Head to the Catskills
If skiing isn’t your family’s thing, there’s still plenty to do in the Catskills in the winter—from taking a ride on the Catskill Mountain Railroad in December (The Polar Express runs through December 28), to heading down the water slides and jumping in the pools at the Kartrite Resort, to seeing the largest kaleidoscope in the world up close.
Walk Through a Hudson Valley Town
There are so many cute towns and villages in the Hudson Valley to check out—most of which are usually no more than an hour or so drive from central Westchester. Some of our favorites, where we’ve rounded up a slew of family-friendly activities, include Cold Spring (if the weather cooperates, Tots Park is adorable), Beacon (Glazed Over Donuts will win you accolades for sure), and Rhinebeck (be sure to check the schedule at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck).
Winter Day Trips in NJ, PA, and CT
Get creative at the Crayola Experience. Photo courtesy of the Crayola Experience
Get the Crayola Experience
At about two hours from central Westchester, the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, is a great option for kids: There are lots of art experiences to try, like making your own crayons into fun shapes and water coloring. Plus, there are other things to keep kids busy and creative for the day, including the “Color Playground.” We’ve got lots more details in our full write-up, too.
Hit the slopes
There are lots of local ski resorts within an hour or so drive that would make a great day trip, with many also offering snow tubing and other activities—as well as a place to warm up with hot chocolate when it’s time for a break. Here are some of our best bets, which include Mountain Creek in New Jersey and Windham Mountain in the Catskills.
Ride roller coasters, ski indoors, and more at American Dream in NJ
Head to the new American Dream in East Rutherford, NJ, about an hour from central Westchester. You can skate on the “NHL-regulation size” rink, ski or snowboard on indoor slopes at Big SNOW, or check ou the Western Hemisphere's biggest indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe.
It's always summer at the indoor water park at Kalahari Resort. Photo courtesy of the resort
Jump Into an Indoor Water Park
While there are lots of indoor water parks in the area that would make a great weekend getaway, if you’d rather stick to a day trip, a few offer one-day options, including Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, and CoCo Key Water Resort in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.
Get excited about rock climbing and science at the Liberty Science Center. Photo courtesy of LSC
Learn More at the Liberty Science Center
Science-centric kids will love all that this New Jersey science center has to offer—and at just over an hour from central Westchester, getting there is easy, too. Once there, you’ll find everything from a rock wall to a Dinosaur Train exhibit (open until January 20) to the famed Touch Tunnel. Eat at the cafe, or head into Jersey City for more food and activities.
See the Sea Animals at Mystic Aquarium
Spend the day with all sorts of marine life at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. Kids will be able to see whales, penguins, and a variety of other sea life, like eels and jellyfish—plus, they can learn about what’s happening at the Animal Rescue Clinic, catch a show in the 4-D theater, or check out the dinosaur-themed Jurassic Giants exhibit. Once you’ve had your fill of the aquarium, you can head into Mystic for more fun.
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated since.