Fresh Air Fun: The Best Spring Day Trips from NYC for Kids

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The weather is turning warm, spring break is coming up (public schools are off April 15-22) and getting out of the house is top priority for most families these days. Pile into a car (or maybe a train) and head out for a day trip with the kids this spring (We’re talking two hours away or less. Some destinations are free!). Escape New York to one of these great spring day trips for kids!

This article is sponsored by Little Tikes®, which offers a variety of toys that’ll turn your backyard into a springtime playground. From water and outdoor kids’ toys to playhouses, ride-on cars and so much more, children two to six years old will be entertained for hours. To learn more about Little Tikes®’ products, visit littletikes.com.

Holland Ridge Farm

Henry I via Yelp

There's a small window for this trip, as it's dictated by bloom time, but if you're a tulip-lover, it's a must. Spanning more than 300 acres, Holland Ridge Farm is the largest pick-your-own flower farm in the country. (This past fall eight million bulbs were planted.) In addition to picking dozens of varieties, the farm offers tons of other activities and diversions. Meet and feed mini goats and donkeys at the petting zoo, hop on a free hay ride, fuel up at food trucks selling food and drink on-site, and grab tons of photo ops with the blooms, a giant clog, the "water dike", and Insta-ready frames. Plus: pony rides. Opening is dependent on the tulips, but April 8 is currently the target date. (You can buy tickets prior to that. Check the website for on-sale date, TBD.)

Drive-time from NYC: 1` hour, 15 minutes

Tickets:  Tickets are $13 and must be purchased in advance, with reserved time slots. Kids two and under are free.  Flowers are $1 per stem. 

86 Rues Rd. 
Cream Ridge, NJ
Online: hollandridgefarms.com

Storm King Art Center

Jocelyn K. via Yelp

Regular hours at this 500-acre outdoor museum resume on April 6. (Tickets are on sale now. They are released in batches and must be purchased in advance.) Dedicated to highlighting the connection of art, nature and people, the center features large-scale works on a Hudson Valley landscape of rolling hills and wide-open spaces. It's a great place to visit in the fall, due to some stunning fall foliage, but it's also a wonderful place to visit to soak in the promise of spring and get some fresh air. (Also: the kids can run around til they drop and they can't break the art.) After a pause, bike rentals and the tram are back up and running for 2022. Download a map here.

Drive-time from NYC: 1 hour, 40 minutes.  

Tickets: By car: $23/1 person; $46/2 people, $65/3 people, $80/4 people Discounts for medical professionals, active military and others. 

Closed Tuesdays
1 Museum Rd. 
New Windsor, NY
845-534-3115
Online: stormking.org/

LEGOLAND New York

Mimi O'Connor

Yes, there is a hotel here (disco elevators for the win), but you can also drive up to Goshen for some brick-tastic fun for the day. LEGOLAND New York, which opens for the 2022 season on April 8, offers a mix of rides and experiences that include a tour of the LEGO factory that "shrinks" you down to Mini Figure size; a Dragon Coaster and LEGO NINJAGO, a state-of-the-art ride in which guests blast animated fireballs and lightning at a sinister gallery of villains. Don't miss "Driving School" the mini LEGO car course on which kids can get their "driver's license," located in the LEGO City section of the park. Plus lots of hands-on build opportunities, a ninja training camp, and a fun, 4D movie theater. (We saw LEGO CITY 4D: Officer in Pursuit and loved it.) MINILAND, where New York City (and many other U.S. landmarks and cityscapes) are rendered in LEGO is nothing short of mind-blowing, and you'll find more than 15,000 LEGO models, containing 30 million LEGO bricks, across the park grounds. Hot tip: Download the LEGOLAND app, which will tell you how long the wait is for rides, showtimes, and more. 

Drive time from NYC: 90 minutes

Tickets: $67.99 (in advance) and up 
LEGOLAND New York
1 LEGOLAND Blvd. 
Goshen, NY 
845-410-0290
Online: legoland.com

Long Island Aquarium

Cynthia L. via Yelp

The Long Island Aquarium is home to one of the largest all-living, closed-system coral reef displays in the Western hemisphere! You'll find all kinds of animals here, including seals, sea lions, penguins, sea otters, butterflies, insects, seahorses, jellyfish and many more! Sadly, the Touch Tank is closed due to Covid-19, but you can book an interactive experience such as a Penguin Encounter or Sea Lion Selfie for an additional fee. Advance purchase of tickets is required, and you must wear a mask indoors and outside here. Hot tip: Visit the aquarium within 7 days of your birthday and get in free! (ID and birth certificate required.) 

Drive time from NYC: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Tickets: $23/ages 3-12; $35/ages 13-61; $26/62 and up, free/kids 2 and under
431 E. Main St. 
Riverhead
631-208-9200 x426
Online: longislandaquarium.com

Untermeyer Gardens Conservancy

Tania G. vi Yelp

You can visit this NYC-area gem for free! Formerly the estate of early 20th-century lawyer and businessman (and horticulture enthusiast) Samuel J. Untermeyer, the Untermeyer Gardens Conservancy a public park in Yonkers. The 43-acre green space dramatically overlooks the Hudson River and provides amazing views of the Palisades. The gardens include several points of interest including the Temple of Love, the Walled Garden and the Vista. Some areas of the gardens fell into disrepair, and are currently being restored. 

Good to know: LEGOLAND Discovery Westchester and iFly Westchester (indoor skydiving) are both 15 minutes away.

Drive time from NYC: Less than an hour

Tickets: free, no reservation required
945 Broadway
914-613-4502
Yonkers
Online: untermyergardens.org

Howell Living History Farm

Carissa T. via Yelp

Visit to see what happened on a working farm in New Jersey from 1890 to 1910. Historical interpreters work the farm just like back in the day, planting and harvesting crops, caring for animals, building fences, and shearing sheep. They also tell visitors about farm life at the turn of the century. It's free to visit, and the best day to do so is Saturday, when the bulk of activities take place. 

Drive time from NYC: One hour, 45 minutes

Howell Living History Farm
70 Woodens Lane
Hopewell Township, NJ
609-737-3299
Online: howellfarm.org

Coney Island

Luna Park

Yes, Coney is open and ready for you! Luna Park (home to the Cyclone, which turns 95 this year), Thunderbolt and Steeplechase, as well as lots of other less hair-raising rides opened April 2. Deno's Wonder Wheel, where you'll find the 102-year-old eponymous ride and many others especially good for little ones, opens April 10. Deno's unveiled its new "family thrill" coaster The Phoenix in 2021, and Luna Park promises new attractions and environmentally-friendly pedestrian plazas. Good to know: In 2021, Luna Park offered only pay-one-price, unlimited ride wristband admission, the cost of which was a bit steep; this season you can buy individual tickets for rides. And remember: the New York Aquarium, with its new, interactive Playquarium is up the boardwalk and legendary pizzeria Totonno's is around the corner.

Drive from NYC: Depends on where you're coming from, but the D, N, F and Q trains will take you right there. 

Online: lunaparknyc.com

Online: denoswonderwheel.com

Dia: Beacon

Marietta C. via Yelp

For some large-scale art inside (also with great views) head to Dia: Beacon, the upstate outpost of the foundation dedicated to commissioning single artist projects, realizing site-specific works, and showcasing the work of a group artists from the 1960s and 70s. Similar to contemporary art center Mass MoCA in the Berkshires, you'll find spacious galleries and engaging art here. Artists whose work in on view include Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt and Charlotte Posenenske. The museum is open Friday to Monday, and you must make a reservation in advance. 

Drive time from NYC: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Tickets: $15/adults; $12/kids, free/kids under 12
Dia: Beacon
3 Beekman St. 
Beacon, NY
845-231-0811
Online: diaart.org

Jersey City

Liberty Science Center

Just across the river, Jersey City has a lot going on, and you can even get there by train. If you've never been (and even if you have) we highly recommend the Liberty Science Center, which offers tons of engaging exhibits and activities for kids big and small. Right now, you'll find a Paw Patrol exhibit, Wobbly World for little ones, a Minecraft exhibit and a live butterfly experience. (Read our complete guide to visiting Liberty Science Center here.) 

Drive time from NYC: 45 minutes; one hour by train

Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park
201-200-1000
Online: lsc.org

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