Spring day trips from NYC for families

There's a lot to do in 24 hours. Take a look at these spring day trips from NYC for families and let the fun begin!
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Helen89

Although there is never a dull moment in NYC, there are plenty of places beyond the Big Apple that require exploring. These spring day trips from NYC for families for families prove that you can cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time. Expose the kiddos to new places along the East Coast and find a new favorite location (besides NYC, of course). 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best family vacations

Looking for more ways to spend time with your family? Make a checklist of things to do in spring, participate in some exciting outdoor activities for kids and—for those who prefer to stay local—explore the best things to do with kids in NYC

Spring day trips from NYC for families

Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Heidi

Philadelphia, PA

Travel time: 2.5 hours by car from NYC

When warmer weather comes to the East Coast, strolling through the streets of this historically significant city is a no-brainer day trip for families. Important landmarks from America’s past are everywhere you look, and age-old architecture that remains on storefronts and apartment buildings makes it easy to picture the likes of Benjamin Franklin riding through the narrow streets in horse-drawn carriages. If the kids aren’t so inclined to learn about the Constitution or Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA; 215-243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org) is reason enough to make the trip. America’s first zoo (founded in 1859!) houses an impressive variety of animals for families to get acquainted with—plus there are plenty of interactive activities each day.

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Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Jim

Camden, NJ

Travel time: 2 hours by car from NYC

Just a short drive to the Garden State yields a plethora of kid-friendly fun that parents can get on board with, too. First is Camden’s renowned Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ; 856-365-3300, adventureaquarium.com) where kids can view tropical fish, meet new creatures in the Touch A Shark exhibit and take a peek at the newly renovated Penguin Park. Your clan won’t want to miss daily feedings for many of the aquarium residents, especially the 3,000-pound hippos, Button and Genny. Afterward, get your hands dirty, hop on fun rides and learn about nature’s many plants, flowers and critters at the nearby Camden Children’s Garden (3 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ; 856-365-8733,camdenchildrensgarden.org). You might want to continue the marine theme by hopping aboard Battleship New Jersey (62 Battleship Pl, Camden, NJ; 866-877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org).

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Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Jack Vinson

Norwalk, CT

Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes by car from NYC

Make your first stop in Norwalk the interactive Stepping Stones Museum for Children (Matthews Park, 303 West Ave; 203-899-0606,steppingstonesmuseum.org) for kids 10 and under. The Energy Lab is one of the venue's must-see science-themed offerings. Next, be sure to hit up the impressive Maritime Aquarium (10 North Water St, Norwalk, CT; 203-852-0700, maritimeaquarium.org) where kids learn about marine animals that live in the Long Island Sound, meet several varieties of real, live dragons and even touch the tops of jiggly jellyfish. Afterward, choose from a varied selection of epic IMAX films to enjoy.

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Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

New Windsor, NY

Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes by car from NYC

Families looking for a cultural getaway are free to traverse 500 grassy acres of large-scale sculptures at Storm King Arts Center, a modern art mecca located in the foothills of the Hudson Valley (1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY; 845-534-3115, stormkingartcenter.org). This year, visitors will be able to catch an exhibit on climate change (opening May 19). A tram does run around the grounds every 20 minutes.) For lunch, stop by the The Storm King Café (5-19 Ryder Rd, New Windsor, NY; stormking.org/visit/food/) which uses locally grown ingredients in its salads, soups and sandwiches.

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Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Eden

Jersey City, NJ

Travel time: 35 minutes by car from NYC

Moms and dads can keep the schlepping to a minimum by hopping across the Hudson for a hassle-free day out with their little ones. Jersey City boasts some amazing family-friendly entertainment that can be tackled while keeping the Manhattan skyline within view. Hours of awe-worthy entertainment await at the Liberty Science Center (Liberty State Park, 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ; 201-200-1000, lsc.org) where curious kids will have a blast making their way through the various exhibitions. After a morning of exploration, treat the tots to an interactive "story theater" show at The Acting Space (83 Wayne St; 201-275-2699, theactingspace.net) or, to end the day on a sweet note, pop into the Cake Boss Cake Factory (631 Grove St between 16th and 18th Aves; 201-448-8400, carlosbakery.com).

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Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Kirspel Travis (DOS)

Wilmington, DE

Travel time: 2.5 hours by car from NYC

Embrace the glory of springtime with outdoor adventures in Delaware. Start by browsing some seriously beautiful blooms on the grounds of the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (5105 Kennett Pk Rt 52,Wilmington, DE ; 302-888-4600,winterthur.org) where families can participate in kid-friendly activities. Duck into the enchanting woods, listen for frogs by the reflecting pool and play hide-and-seek along the scenic wooded paths. A tram ride gives little legs a break from walking while indoor tours and the touch-it room keeps them entertained if the weather goes south. For a dose of exercise, head out for a hike in Bellevue State Park (800 Carr Rd, Wilmington, DE; 302-761-6963, destateparks.com) and stop for catch-and-release fishing on the pond or a picnic in one of the pavilions. If you can, try to plan your trip to coincide with one of the town's many family-friendly festivals, including the Wilmington Flower Market over Mother's Day weekend or the Great Delaware Kite Festival and Dover Days (complete with Maypole dancing and a Civil War–era baseball game) held nearby.


Riverhead, NY

Travel time: 2 hours by car from NYC

When the temperature finally gets warm and the sun starts to shine, kids will start begging their parents to take them out East. Between water rides at Splish Splash (2549 Splish Splash Dr, Calverton, NY; 631-727-3600, splishsplash.com) and the chance to explore an underwater world at the Long Island Aquarium (431 E Main St, Riverhead, NY; 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com), they'll fall in love with the warm weather activities. Have a little shopper on your hands? No problem! Tanger Outlets (200 Tanger Mall Dr, Riverhead, NY; 631-369-2732, tangeroutlet.com/riverhead) offers plenty of opportunities to browse different stores.