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 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! (P.S.: Still need a spring break camp solution? Click here!)

Storm King Art Center

This 500-acre outdoor museum has been operating on a weekends-only schedule this winter, but regular hours resume on April 7. (Tickets are released in batches and must be purchased in advance. Spring ticketing goes on sale March 17.) 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 the fall, due to some stunning fall foliage, but it's also a great spot 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.) Be prepared to walk: the bike rental and trams are not operating. Download a map here.

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

Tickets: By car: $20/1 person; $40/2 people, $48/3 people and up. Discounts for medical professionals, active military and others. 

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

Long Island Aquarium

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

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. It reopened for visitors seven days a week in early March. 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. You must wear a mask while visiting.

Good to know: LEGOLAND Discovery Westchester opened March 26 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

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

Dia: Beacon

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; tickets for April have not yet been released. 

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

photo: Liberty Science Center

Jersey City

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. Current special exhibits include one dedicated to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, another to the Rubik's Cube, and Wild About Animals debuts March 27. (Read our complete guide to visiting Liberty Science Center here.) You can spend the whole day here, but if you want to explore JC a bit, stop by Milk Sugar Love for ice cream treats with a cult following, Hazel Baby for cute kid & baby goods and Word bookstore's Jersey location for culture and cool gifts. 

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

—Mimi O’Connor

feature image: Brad M. via Yelp 

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