If you have kids in tow, these family day trips and weekend getaways from NYC are fun for all ages. Water parks aren’t just for summer—balmy indoor versions bring warm-weather action in from the cold. Or glide around one of the state’s best outdoor ice-skating rinks. Syracuse’s activity-packed Destiny USA gives new meaning to hanging out at the mall.
RECOMMENDED: Winter getaways from NYC
With its 38,000-square-foot indoor play zone—and an attached 200-suite lodge—Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park (89 Six Flags Dr, Queensbury, NY; 518-824-6060, sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com; $29.99–$44.99; 3½ hours from NYC by car) offers something for every member of the family, from action-packed whitewater rafting complete with a 41-foot drop to a meandering tube ride down a lazy river.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort (2000 Rte 392, Cortland, NY; 800-955-2754, greekpeakmtnresort.com; $32–$35; 3½ hours from NYC by car) offers its own take on warming winter fun at Cascades Indoor Waterpark, which boasts three-story tube and body slides, a wave pool and a year-round temperature of 84 degrees.
Go old-school—and become a part of the American athletic tradition—when you throw on a pair of skates and make a few circles of the Olympic Speed Skating Oval (2634 Main St, Lake Placid, NY; 518-523-2445, whiteface.com; $8, children 12 and under $5, skate rental $3)—one of the country’s few remaining outdoor rinks of its kind, complete with a fire pit for warming your nippy parts.
Descend 156 feet underground—at Howe Caverns (255 Discovery Dr, Howes Cave, NY; 518-296-8900, howecaverns.com; 3 hours from NYC by car), a prehistoric cavern filled with dark corners, serpentine passageways and 6 million years of history.
There’s much more to be found than retail at the Destiny USA Mall (9090 Destiny USA Dr, Syracuse, NY; 315-466-6000, destinyusa.com, 4 hours from NYC by car). WonderWorks (315-466-7700, wonderworksdestiny.com), an indoor “amusement park for the mind,” offers thought-provoking exhibits, like an antigravity chamber and illusion gallery. For more physical thrills, hit Pole Position Raceway (315-423-7223, polepositionraceway.com/syracuse-ny), a quarter-mile indoor go-kart racetrack where speeds reach about 45 miles per hour.