Sure, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you and the kids can’t hit the road (or the rails) for an adventure or two. Next time the family is feeling a little stir crazy, consider one of our favorite NYC winter day trips with kids, featuring fairy houses, wolves, maple sugaring and more! (For more outdoor fun, try these kid-friendly winter hikes!)

Bear Mountain — Rockland County, NY 

Paul H. via Yelp

This New York State park is known for its rugged mountains and offers great hiking options during the warmer months. However, it is open year-round and there are activities during the winter months that shouldn’t be missed. Here is your chance to try ice-skating outdoors against a landscape of mountains. The rink is open on Friday and weekends, and $5 admission and rentals are available for toddlers size 8 up to adults size 13.  Don’t end the day here though. Take a brisk walk around the beautiful lake—it's fairly flat terrain, so it is a good option for all ages. Finish the trail and spend some time at the kids' outdoor playground and hop on the Bear Mountain carousel right next door. Finally, explore the self-guided nature trail at the Trailside Museum and Zoo which is open, but under construction so check the website before visiting. Accommodations are available on-site for those wanting to extend their stay. 

Drive time from NYC: 1 hour

Cost: $10 New York State car parking fees

Seven Lakes Drive
Bear Mountain, NY
Online: Bear Mountain

Stamford Museum and Nature Center — Stamford, CT

Jason P. via Yelp

This hidden gem in the center of Stamford is perfect for families with little nature explorers.  Young architects and fashionistas alike will enjoy visiting the Bendel Mansion which was formerly home to Henri Willis Bendel, of the luxury department store. Say hello to the llamas, pigs and horses that can be found at the working farm or take one of the easy wheelchair-accessible walking trails and observe the local wildlife. Look for the North American river otters who are active even in the winter months at the aptly named "Otter Pond". Adventurous kids will love to explore the nature-themed playground. Now is the perfect time to visit the Maple Sugar House at Heckscher's Farm because maple sugaring season starts in late winter. (It also happens to be the public sugaring house nearest NYC.) You will find over 300 Maple trees on-site, which are literally tapped for sugaring season. Please check their safety guidelines before visiting. 

Drive time from NYC: 1 hour
By public transport: 2 hours from Grand Central Terminal via Metro North on the New Haven Line followed by local bus

Hours: Open daily (see website for specific hours)
(Free admission before 2 p.m. on Family Fest days on selected Sundays)

Cost: $14 adults, $8 children 4-17, free for children under 3 

39 Scofieldtown Rd.
Stamford, CT (Main entrance)
Online: Stamford Museum and Nature Center

Greenburgh Nature Center — Scarsdale, NY

Bonny Rivera

Head to this nature park made with little ones in mind. Visit the Manor House to learn about and get up close with resident animals, with guidance from volunteers.  Visit sheeps, goats and chickens at the barnyard, and check out the greenhouse hydroponic system for some plant knowledge. Bird lovers will appreciate the Birds of Prey exhibit and get a chance to see some beautiful majestic eagles, hawks and owls up close. The Native American Indian Replica Village provides a chance to learn about the Eastern Woodland Indians, and The Nature Discovery’s playground is fun and inviting. Winter favorites in the landscape to keep an eye out for include the Winterberry, American Holly or the Red Twig Dogwood, known for its bright red bark. 

Drive time from NYC: 45 mins-1 hour drive
By public transport: 1 hr 15 mins by train from Grand Central Terminal via Metro North on the Harlem Line followed by bus transfer

Hours: Mon. Closed, Tues.-Sun: 10:00 a.m.-4:00p.m. (Manor House) The grounds of the Nature Center are open daily from dawn to dusk. 

Cost: $7 adults and children over 2 years old (Manor House fees only) Grounds are free

99 Dromore Rd.
Scarsdale, NY 

Online: Greenburgh Nature Center

South Mountain Fairy Trail — Millburn, NJ 

Wai Sze Zara

This charming Fairy Trail features fairy homes, all created using natural materials that can be found along this easy, half-mile trail. Thanks to Therese Objibway, founder and local artist, this magical place brings joy and wonder to many who walk through. It is wise to bring boots in case of snow and mud, particularly this time of the year. Be mindful that the parking lot is very small, so it is best to visit earlier in the day. Fairy homes are visible from the main path along the Rahway Trail (white-blazed.) Follow the trail's Facebook page to get the most updated weather conditions. 

Drive time from NYC: 50 mins

Cost: Free

197 Glen Ave.
Millburn, NJ (Google "Locust Grove Parking" 
Online: South Mountain Fairy Trail

Governors Island Winter Village — NYC

Sari Goodfriend/The Trust for Governors Island

This 172-acre island found right in New York Harbor couldn't be more ideal for a quick day trip. Winter-themed activities are happening now located in Colonels Row. While Governors Island is open year-round, the Winter Village is in operation on Fridays and weekends through February. Some activities include lawn games, fire pits, sledding (they suggest that you bring your own) and bike rentals. Interested in ice-skating? They have that, too. Pro-tip: Free admission at the rink on Fridays for walk-up only. Otherwise, it's $11 admission and $8 for skate rentals. Visit here to make advanced reservations

Ferry from NYC: Governors Island is accessible by a short ferry ride from Battery Maritime Building or from Wall Street/Pier 11 to Yankee Pier and costs $3 round trip but may be waived. Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged. 

Online: Governors Island

Bayard Cutting Arboretum — Long Island, NY

Barbara H. via Yelp

This “museum” of trees offers plenty of wide-open space that's perfect for little ones to run wild. You'll also find paved and pebbled trails in the woods to explore. Formerly owned by the Cutting family, this park is a great place to visit if you're seeking peace and solitude. If you'd like some company, Manor House tours and free grounds tours are available. See the most recent newsletter for more information. If you need a bite to eat before or after your visit, prepared foods are available on-site at the Hidden Oaks Cafe

Drive from NYC: 1.5 hours

Hours: Tues.-Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Mons and winter holidays)

Cost: Parking is free through March

440 Montauk Hgwy.
Great River, NY
Online: Bayard Cutting Arboretum

Van Saun County Park —  Paramus, NJ

Jenny K. via Yelp

Van Saun County Park in Bergen County offers a wide range of activities, even in winter. Check out the playground with different climbing and sliding equipment that's suitable for younger and older children. You can also visit some cold weather-loving animals at the nationally accredited Bergen County Zoo, where it's free admission until April 30. (It isn’t a large zoo, but at that price point, it’s just the right size for little ones.) Ice-skating is available for $10 per skater (including skate rental) through February. Trails abound for walking, hiking and biking, and if there happens to be any snow, be sure to bring your sleds! 

Drive time from NYC: 30 mins
By public transport: 1 hour 20 mins via Port Authority Express Bus followed by a short 8-minute walk to the park

216 Forest Ave.
Paramus, NJ
Online: Van Saun County Park

Lakota Wolf Preserve — Columbia, NJ (near the Delaware Water Gap)

Mary M. via Yelp

This very unique experience provides your family with the opportunity to watch and observe four different packs of wolves in a natural habitat. An educational tour is provided by the wolves' owners and caretakers. A tour must be scheduled in advanced; each tour lasts about 75 minutes.  When you visit, you can choose to take a half-mile scenic walk to the habitat, or hop on a shuttle to the observation area. You will learn how wolves live, play and interact with each other, and if you listen closely you might get to hear them howl. You will also learn about bobcat, foxes and lynx here as well. There are two tours per day, and the entire experience is outdoors so dress accordingly. Lakota Wolf Preserve is near the Delaware Water Gap and the Poconos, so it can be part of an extended weekend as well. 

Drive time from NYC: 1.5 hours

Hours: 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m tours only (PM tour will change to 4:00 p.m. starting March 14th)

Cost: $15 adults and $7 children up to 11 years old, plus tax

89 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Columbia, NJ 
Online: Lakota Wolf

—Wai Sze Zara


Be Cool: Your Guide to Winter Fun in NYC

Drive Time: Winter Road Trips for Families

Fresh Air Fun: Winter Hikes & Walks for Families Near NYC

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