Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Summer day trips from NYC for kids and families

Load up your backpack for these day trips from NYC: Surfing, pirates, shark dives—plus some stellar waterpark rides—are all a quick train or car ride away.

  • Jenkinsons Boardwalk, Point Pleasant, NJ

  • Jenkinsons Boardwalk, Point Pleasant, NJ

  • Land of Make Believe

  • Land of Make Believe

  • Land of Make Believe

  • Land of Make Believe

  • Wild West City

  • Wild West City

  • courtesy of Michael Bagley Photography

    Jersey Shore Pirates, Windward Park Beach, NJ

  • Six Flags Great Adventure

    Six Flags Great Adventure Hurricane Harbor

Jenkinsons Boardwalk, Point Pleasant, NJ

New Jersey


Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, NJ

Travel time 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
At tropical-themed Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (1 Six Flags Blvd; 732-928-1821, sixflags.com/hurricaneharbornj. $40, children under 48" $32, children under 3 free), wee ones will want to tackle Discovery Bay, which has enough waterfalls, overflowing buckets and slides to tucker them out for a good stroller nap. Older kids can shoot down the Big Bambu or Reef Runner water slides. The whole family can catch waves in the Blue Lagoon one-million-gallon wave pool, then take a breather in the (somewhat ridiculously named) Taak It Eez Ee Creek, a 700,000-gallon lazy river with rapids and geysers. The park offers the usual food options, or you can hit the Burger King outside the Six Flags gates—you'll save bucks, and the kids will be just as happy.—Jennifer L. Smith

Jersey Shore Pirates, Brick, NJ

Travel time 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
If your kids are anything like ours, they think nothing's cooler than pirates. Indulge them with a trip on the Metedeconk River, courtesy of the Jersey Shore Pirates (Riverfront Marina, 281 Princeton Ave; 732-899-6100, jerseyshorepirates.com. $18, children under 3 $12). Once they've been dressed up, face-painted and (temporarily) tattooed, they'll climb aboard the Sea Gypsy II to read a treasure map, discover a secret message in a bottle, and man the water cannons in order to defeat Pirate Pete (okay, a Jersey Shore Pirates employee). When you're ready for some grub and grog, head north on Route 35 to Pete & Elda's in Neptune City (96 Woodland Ave/Hwy 35; 732-774-6010, peteandeldas.com), which has been serving thin-crust pizza to happy landlubbers for decades.—Nina Freeman

Sprayground at Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck, NJ

Travel time 1 hour by car.
This Monmouth County, New Jersey (209 County Rte 537 East; 732-542-1642, monmouthcountyparks.com) gem boasts the kid-friendliest portmanteau ever: a playground cooled by spraying jets. The cushiony-floored area is fully enclosed (save the single entrance), and the filtered, chlorinated water rises to, at most, ankle deep. There are multiple interactive water tables, in-ground and overhead sprinklers, and plenty of whimsical structures (a bell tower, a deep-sea diver statue) to entertain your tots. Several picnic tables stand at the ready nearby—on your way to the park, stop at Rosalia Italian Market (24 State Route 34 S, Colts Neck, NJ; 732-303-0444, rosaliaitalianmarketplace.com) to pick up sandwiches and gelato.—NF

Point Pleasant, NJ

Travel time 1 hour 20 minutes by car
You'll do a lot more than bask in the sun at this Jersey Shore beach town. Start off your day at the Jenkinson's Aquarium (300 Ocean Ave; 732-892-0600, jenkinsons.com. $10, children ages 3--12 $6, children under 3 free). Watch the seals get fed at 10am, 1 or 4pm. Afterward, head to the amusement park (300 Ocean Ave; 732-892-0600, jenkinsons.com. $25 for 60 tickets, $18 for unlimited rides Friday 5--11pm), where you'll find retro beachside favorites like bumper cars, Skee-Ball and a fun house. Or challenge the kids to a game of mini golf ($9, children under 10 $6.50) at Castaway Cove, one of three mini-golf courses on the boardwalk. End the day with a meal at the waterfront Jenkinson's Pavilion (300 Ocean Ave; 732-892-0600, jenkinsons.com). If you time your dinner right, you may catch a beautiful sunset over the ocean. Family-friendly movies will also be screened on the beach on Friday nights.

Wild West City, Netcong, NJ

Travel time 1 hour by car
Wild West City (50 Lackawanna Dr, Netcong, NJ; 973-347-8900, wildwestcity.com. $14.25, children ages 2--11 $12.75, children under 2 free) takes families back to the days of cowboys and cowgirls. Pick up some old-fashioned candy at the General Store and stroll down Main Street, a replica of Main Street in Dodge City, Kansas, circa 1880. There, kids stumble upon stagecoach robberies, search for Jesse James and encounter plenty of authentic Wild West memorabilia. Visitors can also pet zoo animals, ride a pony and attempt to pan for gold like a '49er. Our favorite souvenir: a photo of the whole clan dressed up in Western wear from the Old Time Photo Center.—Alison Lowenstein

Land of Make Believe, Hope, NJ

Travel time 1 hour 15 minutes by car.
A family-owned amusement park, the Land of Make Believe (345 Great Meadows Rd, Hope, NJ; 908-459-9000, lomb.com. $23, children ages 2--18 $25, children under 2 free) has been entertaining kids and their parents for more than five decades. Cool off at Pirate's Cove, the playland's water park. Slip and slide down Pirate's Plunge or go on a tubing adventure at Blackbeard's Action River Ride; there's also a splash park designed to look like a fort. Take a photo with Captain Ricky, the park's mascot, before heading home.—Alison Lowenstein

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