New York City and the surrounding region are in many ways a huge playground for people of all ages. This area is positively brimming with activities that entertain, inspire, and energize families of all ilks. In fact, there’s so much to do that it can be really difficult to identify the best kid-friendly getaways from New York. That’s where this article comes in. Ahead are the top places to visit that are sure to please the entire family. So read on to make planning your next weekend getaway easy.

Quick Answer Guide: Family & Kid-Friendly Getaways from New York:

‌Kid-Friendly Day Trips From New York‌

‌Family Weekend Getaways From New York‌

‌Best Getaways in New York for Families‌

Kid-Friendly Day Trips From New York

Say you’re based in New York City and want to briefly escape the hustle and bustle without venturing too far. That’s what this section is all about. All of the following destinations are located close to Manhattan, meaning that there’s no need to book a place to stay. But if you would rather make a weekend of it, then we’ve also included some of the best accommodation options.

1. Coney Island

  • Perfect for:‌ Fans of outdoor activities, swimming, and amusement parks
  • Highlights of Coney Island:
    • Beaches
    • Amusement Parks
    • Aquarium

‌How to Get to Coney Island‌

As Coney Island is located at the edge of the Big Apple, it benefits from great public transit options. Both of the subway stations in the area, Coney Island — Stillwell Ave. and West 8th Street New York Aquarium — are regular stops for the D, F, N, and Q trains. A number of MTA buses, such as the B36, the B1, and the B68, all also end at Coney Island. Driving to Coney Island is also somewhat brisk for NYC standards, with the Belt Parkway passing close by the area, which is connected to the city’s 278 Interstate and has a maximum speed limit of 50 mph.

‌Things to Do in Coney Island‌

The two most obvious things to do in Coney Island are enjoy the beach and the amusements.

The three-mile-long sandy beach has plenty of room for visitors, even on the busiest days of the summertime. It also has amenities such as volleyball courts and showers to enhance the beachgoing experience.

Right off the beach are the two amusement parks, Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and a number of extra amusements that are independent of these two. Because of this, anyone who wants to experience all of the amusements that the area has to offer ought to be prepared to shell out lots of cash. Unfortunately, CityPASS doesn’t currently cover any of these amusements, but the Sightseeing Pass does allow visitors to enjoy four hours of unlimited rides at Luna Park on 30 of its top attractions. Luna Park also offers a similar pass. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park lacks an unlimited pass. Instead, visitors need to purchase credits, which can then be spent on individual rides.

A number of other attractions also line the boardwalk, including an aquarium, a sports center, an amphitheater, and playgrounds. There are also many events happening throughout the year, such as the Mermaid Parade.

‌Where to Stay in Coney Island‌

An Airbnb apartment for a maximum of three guests, just two blocks away from the beach, can be rented for just $129 per night.

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A Best Western near Coney Island offers rooms from $195 per night and includes a 24/7 fitness center!

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2. Beacon

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  • Perfect for‌: Arty families, history buffs, fans of a good deal
  • Highlights of Beacon:
    • Art museums
    • galleries
    • Music venues
    • Flea market

‌How to Get to Beacon‌

From Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, there’s the daily Hudson Line Train that runs directly to Beacon. The express version of this journey takes just one hour and 13 minutes, and the local version takes 1 and 1/2 hours.

By car, Beacon can be reached from Midtown Manhattan in just 1 1/2 hours via the Palisades Interstate Parkway North.

‌Things to Do in Beacon‌

Beacon is an arty town in the Hudson Valley, filled with galleries, music venues, and the like. The gigantic modern art museum Dia Beacon has made Beacon a must-visit for culture vultures of all sizes. So if you’re trying to raise culture vulturlings, then there are far worse destinations than Beacon.

A huge flea market runs on fair weather Sundays from April to December every year. There are a range of great bargains to be found here. For instance, I once purchased a DC board game for my nephew that was unopened yet still cost a fraction of its retail price.

There are also areas of historical interest near Beacon. For example, Bannerman Castle is located on an island in the Hudson River just four miles south of Beacon town. This castle offers plenty of family-friendly activities, such as tours, theatrical performances, live music, and outdoor movie screenings. And if you choose to stay in Beacon overnight, then you can also drive to the Catskills!

‌Where to Stay in Beacon‌

A two-bedroom apartment for a maximum of four guests can be rented on Airbnb for $178 per night. This Airbnb is also located at the Southern end of Main Street, where many incredible galleries and music venues can be found.

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A hotel such as the Beacon Hotel offers rooms for $144 per night. This hotel is right in the center of town, making it ideal for people that want to be able to access as many attractions as possible.

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3. Governors Island

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  • Perfect for‌: Active families
  • Highlights:
    • Art exhibits
    • Children's play areas
    • Historic buildings
    • A wide variety of activities

‌How to Get to Governors Island‌

A ferry runs from lower Manhattan at 10 South Street to Governors multiple times a day on a year-round basis. On weekends and on holiday Mondays, two more ferries operate from Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. The ferries are all free if you head to the island before noon on Saturdays and Sundays (yes, that includes no charge for the return, no matter what time you return.)

The NYC Ferry service also stops at Governors Island. Children under 44 inches can ride for free.

‌Things to Do in Governors Island‌

Located within the 172 acres of Governors Island is a wide range of fun activities and features, including New York City’s longest slide, a castle, a fort, a hammock grove, playgrounds, a range of art installations, bike rentals, restaurants, and much, much more.

There are always fun events happening, especially in the summertime, such as music festivals, pop-up markets, outdoor movie screenings, and even sporting events. For instance, the last time my wife and I visited, Governors Island was hosting the equestrian Longines Global Champions Tour.

‌Where to Stay in Governors Island‌

The more affordable Airbnbs are located nearest to the Red Hook Atlantic Basin stop, with an apartment accommodating a maximum of four guests being available for $197 per night. That listing also includes a private outdoor space!

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However, the ferry port near lower Manhattan does have a few comparatively affordable hotels nearby, such as The Fidi Hotel, which has rooms available for $209 per night. That hotel also has a number of outdoor terraces.

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Family Weekend Getaways From New York

Yes, day-tripping is all good fun, but sometimes you want a full-blown weekend family vacation. Luckily, accessible weekend getaways from New York for families are on all sides of the city except for the one facing the Atlantic Ocean. Here are some of the best options!

4. Cape May, New Jersey

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  • Perfect for:‌ Bird watchers, fans of historic architecture, and beachgoers
  • Highlights:
    • Beaches
    • Victorian architecture
    • Over 400 bird species

‌How to Get to Cape May‌

From Midtown Manhattan, it takes 2 1/2 hours to drive down to Cape May via the Garden State Parkway.

Additionally, OurBuses run from Midtown Manhattan to Cape May and back on a regular basis. However, as these make stops, the journey takes four hours.

‌Things to Do in Cape May‌

Cape May considers itself to be “The Nation’s Oldest Seashore Resort” which means those who live there have had plenty of time to perfect the beach break experience, which should please all beach fans, from enthusiasts of sunbathing to those who love to paddleboard. In addition to the beach, the city also boasts the second-largest concentration of Victorian homes in the USA, with only the giant city of San Francisco boasting more. And if that weren’t good enough, then the town is also one of the best places in the world for birdwatching, with over 400 species living in the area.

The city often hosts fun cultural events, such as music festivals, making it a great spot for music lovers. And what makes its Sunset Beach extra special are the Cape May Diamonds that frequently wash ashore. These are technically quartz crystals, but children will likely consider them to be just as good as the real thing. How’s that for a souvenir?

‌Where to Stay in Cape May:‌

An Airbnb loft studio suitable for up to four guests can be rented for $161 per night. That price also includes beach tags, allowing visitors to access beaches for free in the summertime.

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A hotel room at The Inn of Cape May starts at $322 per night. And that hotel is located right on the beachfront!

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5. Providence, Rhode Island

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  • Perfect for:‌ Fans of picturesque cities
  • Highlights:
    • Museums
    • Art Installations
    • Large Zoo

‌How to Get to Providence‌

By driving, the commute takes four hours from Midtown Manhattan via the I-95.

By public transit from Midtown Manhattan, the journey also takes four hours by taking the Greyhound or Peter Pan bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal.

‌Things to Do in Providence‌

As one of the best cities in New England, Providence has it all. The Roger Williams Park Zoo is located in South Providence and offers 40 acres of family fun, including a petting zoo, a vintage carousel, and even a zipline. The zoo also offers a wide range of events, such as a dinosaur exhibit, flower-arranging workshops, and fundraising feasts. The Providence Children’s Museum's exhibits include a water play environment, a time-traveling journey to Providence’s past, and an innovation lab.

The most unique event hosted at Providence is WaterFire. This art installation runs on select dates every year and features almost 100 bonfires placed alongside Downtown Providence’s three rivers combined with carefully curated music and street performances. There is no charge to enjoy this incredible cultural event!

‌Where to Stay in Providence‌

An Airbnb loft condo for four people in the heart of Providence can be rented for $101 a night. As it’s high up, this condo has amazing views of the surroundings!

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A room in a hotel like The Dean Hotel can be booked for $249 a night. This hotel stocks rare magazines from around the world!

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6. Ithaca

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  • Perfect for:‌ Hikers and people who love nature
  • Highlights:
    • Waterfalls
    • Hiking trails
    • Museums
    • Botanic garden

‌How to get to Ithaca‌

From Midtown Manhattan, it’s a four-hour-and-15-minute drive through Upstate New York, with the majority of this taking place on the NY-17 West.

Via public transit, there’s an OurBus that leaves from Washington Heights that takes three-hours-and-45-minutes.

‌What to do in Ithaca‌

In Ithaca, waterfalls are a major attraction. In fact, within 10 miles of Ithaca, there are over 150 waterfalls. So get on those hiking trails and discover them for yourself! The city has also complemented these natural features with attractions such as the Cornell Botanic Gardens, which span 175 acres of space.

These botanic gardens are also part of Ithaca’s Discovery Trail, which promises unique attractions and entertainment for ‘explorers of all ages.” These include a hands-on science museum, the Museum of the Earth, the Cayuga Nature Center the Cornell Johnson Museum of Art, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Downtown Ithaca also offers four blocks of pedestrianized stores and restaurants. And if that weren’t good enough, then the Finger Lakes are just to the north, offering canoeing and kayaking experiences among other things.

‌Where to Stay in Ithaca‌

An Airbnb two-bedroom apartment can be booked for just $91 a night. That listing also includes a backyard!

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A centrally located hotel, like The Hotel Ithaca, has rooms available from $219 per night. This hotel is just steps away from the pedestrianized Ithaca Commons.

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Best Getaways in New York for Families

If you’re not sure if you want to take one of the previously mentioned day trips or family weekend getaways from New York, then you’re in luck. The following destinations are close enough to yet far away enough from New York City to work as either a day trip or a longer getaway!

7. Riverhead, Long Island

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  • Perfect for:‌ The Hamptons on a budget, indoor and outdoor adventures
  • Highlights:
    • Beaches
    • Close to Hamptons
    • Aquarium
    • Waterpark

‌How to Get to Riverhead‌

From Midtown Manhattan, it takes 1 1/2 hours to drive to Riverhead on the I-495, if there’s light traffic.

From the Woodside Train Station in Queens, ride the 2066 Ronkonkoma Train to Ronkonkoma and then switch to the 956 Greenport Train, which goes right to Riverhead. These two trains take just under 2 hours. However, there’s also some downtime when waiting to transfer trains.

‌Things to Do in Riverhead‌

Riverhead gets a lot less attention than the nearby Hamptons to its Southwest, but there’s no denying that it’s fine as a family-friendly alternative. The town is filled with fun activities, including a number of beaches and over a dozen parks. It’s also home to some pricier attractions, such as the Long Island Aquarium, Safari Adventure, and Splish Splash Waterpark. But if you do want to visit the Hamptons, then Southampton is just a 31-minute drive away. However, the furthest part of the Hamptons, Montauk, is much further away. So unless your heart is set on Montauk, you can have a perfectly easy excursion to the Hamptons while staying in Riverhead!

Families interested in history can enjoy the Railroad Museum of Long Island and the 1822 Schoolhouse. And anyone who is longing to enter a building shaped like a giant duck is in luck, thanks to the aptly named The Big Duck landmark, which has a gift shop inside.

‌Where to Stay in Riverhead‌

An Airbnb four-guest waterfront suite can be booked for $359 per night. Hopefully, the words “waterfront suite” make it obvious just why this is a great place to stay!

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A hotel room at The Preston House and Hotel can be booked for $399 per night. This building dates back to 1905!

The Preston House and Hotel NY Book Now

8. Goshen, New York

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  • Perfect for:‌ Theme park enthusiasts and fans of small town charm
  • Highlights:
    • Legoland
    • Castle Fun Center
    • Award-winning farmer's market

‌How to Get to Goshen‌

By car from Midtown Manhattan, it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes by taking the NJ-17 North and the I-87 North.

By public transit from Midtown Manhattan, it takes just under two hours by taking the Short Line Hudson Bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal.

‌Things to Do in Goshen:‌

If there’s one clear standout attraction in Goshen it’s Legoland. Lego, as quite possibly the most beloved toy ever made, appeals to generation after generation. And Legoland is, as far as theme parks go, surprisingly affordable, as long as you book your ticket ahead of time. When you book online, tickets cost almost half as much as they do at the front gates. A general pass will get a visitor into the park to enjoy seven Lego-themed lands filled with rollercoasters and similar attractions.

Goshen itself is also a fine town boasting an award-winning farmer’s market. And just a little further south of Legoland is another amusement park, The Castle Fun Center, which is also filled with fun activities.

‌Where to Stay in Goshen‌

A two-bedroom townhouse for four guests can be rented on Airbnb for $212 per night. This listing is within walking distance of both Legoland and the town of Goshen.

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The Legoland resort has a package that allows admission to the park and a stay at its hotel for just $87 per night. This also includes a free breakfast and nightly entertainment.

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9. Sparta Township, New Jersey

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  • Perfect for:‌ Fans of watersports/parks and family resorts
  • Highlights:
    • Water parks
    • Museums

‌How to get to Sparta Township‌

By car from Midtown Manhattan, it can take just one hour to reach Sparta Township by using the I-280 West and the I-80 West.

By public transit from Midtown Manhattan, it can take just 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Sparta Township by taking the 80 Dover Bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal

‌Things to Do in Sparta Township‌

The largest attraction near Sparta Township is the Tomahawk Lake Waterpark, just three miles south of the town. This park, which has seven slides on-site, boating experiences, an 18-hole mini-golf course, table tennis, horseshoes, sand volleyball, and scooter rides. And a 23-minute drive north of Sparta is Crystal Springs Resort, which is home to a huge biosphere, which houses an indoor pool complex and also outdoor pool options.

Also surrounding Sparta are a number of interesting museums. These include the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, the Friar Mountain Model Railroad Museum, and the Franklin Mineral Museum.

‌Where to Stay in Sparta Township‌

A three-bedroom Airbnb in Sparta can be rented for $231 per night. And that listing is a genuine log cabin!

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A Holiday Inn Express room near Sparta can be booked for $151 per night. This location allows children to eat for free!

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Did you realize that there were so many kid-friendly getaways from New York City? All of these destinations are easy to reach by driving, and the majority of them are reachable through hassle-free public transit commutes. Now all that's left for you and your family to do is to get adventuring!