Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Summer weekend trips from NYC for kids and families

So long, East River. See ya, Hudson. There's a whole wide world of water to discover within easy reach of the city through one of these weekend trips.

  • Photograph: Dorney Park

    Dorney Park

  • Photograph: Dorney Park

    Dorney Park

  • Photograph: Dorney Park

    Dorney Park

  • Photograph: Dorney Park

    Dorney Park

  • Historic Kennet Square

  • Longwood Gardens, Brandywine Valley, PA

  • Longwood Gardens, Brandywine Valley, PA

  • Skankweilers Drive-In

  • Jason Lindsey

    Sesame Place- Count's Splash Castle

Photograph: Dorney Park

Dorney Park


Hershey, PA

By car: 3 hours.
It doesn't get any sweeter than Hershey for waterpark lovers. Before your busy day, fuel up with house-made baked goods and omelets at the Hershey Pantry (801 E Chocolate Ave; 717-533-7505, hersheypantry.com). The Boardwalk at Hersheypark (100 W Hersheypark Dr; 800-437-7439, hersheypark.com. $54, children ages 3--8 $33, children under 3 free; includes theme park) features nine aquatic rides, most of them soakers. Tamer types should seek out the Intercoastal Waterway, a lazy river that gets a zero for thrill factor but still cools you off. And the diaper brigade can waddle into Sandcastle Cove, a climbable structure with mini water slides and easy-does-it water jets. Checking in at an official park hotel is a splurge, but hey—it's the land of indulgence. The sprawling Hershey Lodge (325 University Dr; 717-533-3311, hersheylodge.com. Rooms from $279 per night) offers indoor and outdoor pools, a game room and, of course, Hershey's Kisses at turndown.—Laurie Bain Wilson

Brandywine Valley, PA

Travel time 2 hours 30 minutes by car
With both an indoor and outdoor children's garden, families can easily fill an entire day at Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Sq, PA; 610-338-1000, longwoodgardens.org. $18, children ages 5--18 $8, children under 5 free). Kids can explore three tree houses, watch dancing fountains and make their way through a honeycomb maze. Afterward, stroll through the quaint town of Kennett Square—the "mushroom capital of the world"—and stop for lunch at Talula's Table (102 W State St; 610-444-8255, talulastable.com), a farm-to-table restaurant that specializes in everything from mac and cheese to pulled pork enchiladas. Stay over at Comfort Inn & Suites (1310 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, PA; 610-399-4600, comfortinn.com. Rooms from $110 per night) and the next day, tour the exquisitely decorated rooms at Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE; 800-448-3883, winterthur.org. $18, children ages 2--11 $5, children under 2 free), the childhood home of Henry Francis du Pont.—Alison Lowenstein

Lehigh Valley, PA

Travel time 1 hour 40 minutes by car
Take a spin on a Peanuts-themed ride—Sally's Swing Set, the Linus Launcher—at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom's new Planet Snoopy section (3830 Dorney Park Rd, Allentown, PA; 610-395-3724, dorneypark.com. $40--$45, children ages 3 and up shorter than 48 $25, children under 3 free). Older kids can brave a coaster or a high-speed water ride. At night, catch a double feature under the stars at Shankweiler's Drive-In (4540 Shankweiler Rd, Orefield, PA; 610-481-0800, shankweilers.com. $8, children ages 3--12 $4, children under 3 free), the country's oldest outdoor movie theater. Allentown Comfort Suites (3712 Hamilton Blvd; 610-437-9100, comfortsuites.com. Rates start at $199) offers reasonably priced accommodations—check for specials that include tickets to Dorney Park. The next day, take a guided tour of the Lost River Caverns (726 Durham St, Hellertown, PA; 610-838-8767, lostcave.com. $11, children ages 3--12 $7, children under 3 free). Kids will spot crystals, gems and minerals.—Alison Lowenstein

Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA

By car: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sesame Place (100 Sesame Rd; 866-464-3566, sesameplace.com. $56, children under 2 free) is, of course, nirvana for Elmo-loving toddlers. But the park also has plenty to offer kids who are more into iCarly than Abby Cadaby. Sure, you can do it as a day trip, but since a two-day pass costs the same as a one-day, you might as well make a weekend of it. Get there when the gates open at 10am, and head straight for the most popular water attractions: Big Bird's Rambling River, which lets you and your progeny float around the park on inner tubes, and Sky Splash, where you climb six stories to a giant rubber duckie—so high that you can sometimes see Philly from it—then descend on a family-sized rubber raft into a plunge pool. When those lines get insane, try the Count's Splash Castle— slides, water wheels, bridges and an eight-foot-tall bucket that dumps a thousand gallons of H2O on the folks underneath it. Crash at the Radisson in nearby Trevose, Pennsylvania (2400 Old Lincoln Hwy; 215-638-8300, radisson.com. Rooms from $150 per night after discount). You'll get 10 percent off if you mention you're planning a weekend with Elmo.—Marisa Cohen

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