Five fall day trips from New York City for families
These day trips from New York City, including visits to nearby orchards, parks and farms, are less than two hours away by car or train.
Mon Oct 15 2012
The season's crisp air and cool temperatures make it the perfect time of year to take a quick trip to a nearby family-friendly destination. We found five day trips from New York City (all within two hours of the city!) that are sure to please everyone in your crew.
Bear Mountain State Park, Stony Point, NY
Learn about local fauna by meeting them firsthand at the 40-acre Trailside Museums and Zoo ($1 donation per person); the menagerie of rescued animals includes an orphaned coyote, a fox that was hit by a car and a bald eagle struck by a bullet. The four small museums house a variety of reptiles, a geology display and a Native American exhibit. Families with strollers can admire the foliage while they circle Hessian Lake on the paved (albeit hilly) path, and those with older kids can cover a section of the Appalachian Trail. The wooden Bear Mountain Merry-Go-Round ($1 per ride) has 42 animals, so bring enough singles for a bunch of rides. Grab a burger or salad at the 1915 Restaurant on the ground floor of the recently restored Bear Mountain Inn. The park hosts Octoberfest celebrations—think German beer, food, crafts and music—on weekends through October 28 (noon–6pm). Amp up the fun by traveling via boat: Circle Line's annual Bear Mountain Day Cruise, which gives passengers three hours to explore the park, departs from Pier 83 on Saturdays and Sundays (at 8:30am) through the end of October. Enter Bear Mountain State Park on Route 9W/Route 202 just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge; $8 per car.
Travel time: 1 hour by car; 1 hour 40 minutes by bus from Port Authority; 3 hours by boat
Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Old Bethpage, NY
Meander among the 50 restored buildings scattered along the gravel road that encircles the sprawling colonial village in Nassau County (1303 Round Swamp Rd, Old Bethpage; 516-572-8400, visitnassaucounty.com/obvr. $10, children ages 5–12 $7, children under 5 free). Families learn about colonial life from staff dressed in period costumes as they visit the working blacksmith shop and hatter and check out the baseball diamond to watch a few innings of the home team play according to 1864 rules. Little ones will love the child-sized butter churn and the toy closet (stocked with a handmade hobby horse, checker set and wooden sword) in Benjamin House, built circa 1829. The one-room schoolhouse, Layton General Store and Powell Farm will pique the interest of kids and adults alike. Visit on two weekends in November (check website for dates) for the "1863 Thanksgiving" celebration, complete with historic recipes, music and storytelling. While there is no food available at the village, your crew can easily grab a grilled veggie pie about a mile away at Villa Monte Ristorante Pizzeria (728 Old Bethpage Rd, 516-752-8554).
Travel time: 50 minutes by car; 1 hour via LIRR to Bethpage Station plus taxi
This aptly named town juts into the Hudson River, so expect cool breezes, quaint shops and panoramic views. Begin with an la carte brunch at Lighthouse on the Hudson (701 Piermont Ave just north of Bay St; 845-365-1986, lighthousehudson.com), with riverfront seating and a huge array of seafood. Kids can count boats leaving the adjacent marina while adults sip mimosas. After, hike the Tallman Mountain Hudson River Overlook Trail (enter park at Route 9W and Rockland Rd in Orangetown), an easy two-mile path with spectacular views of colorful deciduous trees, protected marshland and the swirling river. When you're done, refuel at Flywheel Creamery (210 Ash St, 845-398-2433), home of the best ice cream and milk shakes in town. Autumnal flavors include deep-dish apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon. Stroll along Piermont Avenue and hit up shops like Buttercup & Friends & Buttercup's Baby (535 Piermont Ave, 845-359-1669). The boutique carries vintage toys and beautiful clothing up to size 5T. Brick-oven pizza and eggplant gnocchi at Confetti Ristorante and Vinoteca (200 Ash St; 845-365-1911, confettiofpiermont.com) provide a perfect ending to an active day.
Travel time: 40 minutes by car; one hour by bus from Port Authority
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pontico Hills, NY
A tour of this sprawling farm (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, 914-366-6200; stonebarnscenter.org) entails a lot of walking, but the picturesque landscape keeps kids searching for sheep, chickens, turkeys and pigs as they witness sustainable farming at work. Buy tickets in advance ($10–$18 each) for the guided tours or hands-on activities like egg collecting and gardening. Or grab the scavenger hunt clues and watch the kids learn about fruits and veggies as they solve the riddles on a self-guided tour. Recharge at the Blue Hill Caf (we like the tomato soup on a crisp autumn day, followed by organic chocolate-chip cookies) before browsing for kid-sized gardening gloves, play food and eco-themed board books at the store.
Travel time: 45 minutes by car; 45 minutes Metro North from Grand Central to Tarrytown plus taxi
The town of Warwick has it all—shopping, farms, wineries—yet it's only 55 miles from New York City. Start on Main Street, where restaurants and shops abound. We like the freshly squeezed OJ and fluffy omelets at G's Restaurant (32 Main St, 845-986-3354). Make sure you hit up Frazzleberries (24 Main St; 845-988-5080), a genuine country store with great home accents, Vera Bradley bags and Melissa & Doug items. Sugar Loaf (1371 Kings Hwy, Chester, NY; sugarloafnewyork.com. Most stores are closed Mon, Tue) has been home to artisans since 1749, and you can still browse the arts-and-crafts village for handmade jewelry, soaps, leather goods and pottery. Applewood Orchards (82 Four Corners Rd; 845-986-1654, applewoodorchards.com. Open through late October) is a great pick-your-own stop. In addition to apples and pumpkins for the younger set and wine for the adults, they have puppet shows, hayrides, duck ponds and a farm store. Top off the day with go-karts, laser tag and mini-golf at the Castle Fun Center (109 Brookside Ave, Chester, NY; 845-469-2116, thecastlefuncenter.com).
Travel time: 1 hours by car
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