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Photograph: Courtesy Sesame Place

Make memories with these epic family weekend getaways from NYC

These family weekend getaways from NYC offer fun-filled adventures for the whole crew

Written by
Lee Magill
Keith Flanagan
Danielle Valente

With all the things to do with kids in NYC, why would you ever want to leave? You can fill their days with both indoor and outdoor activities, from kid-friendly museums and attractions to amazing playgrounds and much more. Sometimes the family needs a change of scenery though. Kid-friendly day trips—whether to a nearby amusement park or perhaps a hiking trail—can do the trick, but for a more epic option, these family weekend getaways offer plenty of fun and adventure. From historic towns and fun on the beach to all-inclusive family resorts and the great outdoors, you’ll make lasting memories when you take the crew out for a full weekend away. You’ll return to the city refreshed and ready to tackle a new week.

Family weekend getaways

Cooperstown, New York

1. Cooperstown, New York

Travel time: 4hrs and 45min by car

Few sports inspire the kind of devotion baseball does, which is why the bucolic village of Cooperstown, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is on the national map. Thanks to the museum’s artifacts collection, Hall of Plaques and the interactive Sandlot section, youngsters will no doubt leave knowing more about the sport and its players than when they arrived. For a change of pace, head to the nearby Farmers’ Museum, a multifaceted paean to rural 19th-century America with a working farmstead and children’s barnyard. At some point, strike a deal with the kids: First you’re going to the Ommegang Brewery for a tour and tasting (or lunch at its café), and afterward you’ll stop by Barnyard Swing Miniature Golf for a round of summery fun.

STAY: The outdoor heated pool and fire pit make the August Lodge Cooperstown an obvious choice for families.

Mystic, Connecticut

2. Mystic, Connecticut

Travel time: 3hrs and 40min by car

Awaiting the maritime-obsessed is the tremendous Mystic Seaport, a 19-acre living history attraction where families can explore a re-created 19th-century village filled with “working” shops (an oyster house, a ship carver), an authentic whaling ship, and more. Luckily for kids, the town’s also home to the Mystic Aquarium, home to thousands of species of marine animals (including the largest outdoor beluga whale exhibit in the country). Don’t forget to check out the Mystic Bridge Historic district, where great architecture, shops, and ice cream parlors await. There's plenty of seafood options for older members of the brood, but the youngsters might prefer dinner at Mango's Wood-Fired Pizza Co.

STAY: The lovely Whaler’s Inn is situated near all the town’s attractions and offers guests a $15 daily food credit to the hotel's restaurant.

Bucks County, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Sesame Place

3. Bucks County, PA

Travel time: 2 hrs by car

Drive a mere two hours away from NYC and you'll feel like you're in another world. Located in Bucks County, New Hope boasts a quaint, country atmosphere with shops, attractions, restaurants and annual community festivals. You'll want to take in a show at Bucks County Playhouse and bring the kids to Bucks County Children's Museum, which features a digging station, a hot air balloon VR experience and a mini town square that transports little visitors to the turn of the century with a cute general store, ice cream shop and other amenities. For the little locomotive fans in your life, hop aboard the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad for a glimpse at the bucolic scenery. Don't forget to visit during the holidays, as both Easter Bunny Tours and the North Pole Express are available for families. Venture to the historic Peddler's Village for shopping and dining. Seven full-service restaurants allow families to pick and choose selections that work for them (American classics, cafe brunches and more options are available). One thing's for certain, no trip to the sweet destination is complete without an equally sweet scoop of ice cream from Nina's! If you're looking for an amusement park environment, Sesame Place is certainly the way to go. Make sure to give Elmo, Big Bird and the rest of the crew our regards.
Outdoorsy types can pitch a tent at the Colonial Woods Family Camping Resort.

Washington, D.C.

4. Washington, D.C.

Travel time: 4hrs and 20min by car

The country's capital has plenty to keep visitors entertained, whether they're curious about U.S. history, politics, exploration and so on. After catching a glimpse at all of the monuments, there are plenty of museums and attractions at visitors' disposal: the International Spy Museum, Newseum, the United States Botanic Garden, and much more (so bring comfortable walking shoes). Of course, no visit to Washington, D.C. would be complete without checking in on the characters at the National Zoo. After covering so much territory, the kids are bound to get hungry, so check out some of the city's best family-friendly restaurants, from locations at the National Mall to museum cafés, sit-down restaurants, and everything in between. Options abound at Union Market where even the pickiest of eaters can find something to satisfy their taste buds. 

STAY: The ideally-located JW Marriott Washington D.C. has an outdoor pool—perfect for the kids after a day of sightseeing.

Montauk, New York
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Montauk, New York

Travel time: 3hrs and 45min by car

Although millennials continue to flock to this Long Island destination, there are plenty of reasons for families to take notice, too. Parents and kids can keep busy with a variety of options: Climb to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse—a national landmark—stop by Puff 'N' Putt not only for a game of mini-golf, but boating and kayaking, pick up a nautical-themed souvenir at Captain Kid Toys, hit the waves during fun surfing lessons and, of course, spend time getting sand between your toes at one of the town's great beaches. Seafood options abound, naturally, and you'd be remiss not to have at least one meal at Gosman's—it's essentially an unwritten requirement. 

STAY: The cozy Ocean Resort Innsituated right on the Atlantic, is just a short walk from downtown

Hershey, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Lissandra Melo

6. Hershey, PA

Travel time: 3hrs by car

They say Hershey is the sweetest place on earth, and we're not here to argue with obvious facts. Let the kids pretend they're Willy Wonka for a few days with a short visit to this Pennsylvania family hotspot. Everyone in your brood with a sweet tooth (even the adults) will have a stellar time visiting Hershey's Chocolate World, which features tastings, tours, and even a "create your own candy bar" experience (a.k.a. every kid's dream). Make sure to stop by well before (or after) your visit to Hershey Park, home to roller coasters and a water park (Mom and Dad: If you have some down time, you'll be pleased to know that there are shopping, golfing and spa appointments waiting for you!). 

STAY: At the Hershey Lodge, kids get their own special check-in (offered seasonally), and can play a Hershey’s candy guessing game to receive a personalized lanyard and chocolatey treat—sounds like a no-brainer! 


Travel time: 4 to 5 hrs by car

Home to eleven iconic lakes, New York’s Finger Lakes region is the perfect escape for swimming, paddleboarding, chasing waterfalls, and pretty much every kid-friendly activity you can imagine. Think of the region as a destination of scenic road trips: Spread across 9,000 square miles, charming towns pop up around each lake, meaning that you can spend a whole weekend hopping from one to the next (tip: if you arrive in time for fall foliage, the drive alone will keep the little ones in awe). Head to Watkins Glen State Park, just south of Seneca Lake, where easy trails lead toward the dramatic Cavern Cascade. In the tiny town of Corning, the Corning Museum of Glass is surprisingly kid-friendly with live glass blowing demonstrations and even a Make Your Own Glass experience (fear not: it’s safe for all ages). Looking for a sweet pit-stop? Ithaca’s Purity Ice Cream is a no-brainer: it operates out of an ice cream shop that opened back in 1936, meaning you’ll get old-school scoops made with milk from upstate farms.

STAY: Set right along the shores of Seneca Lake, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel offers affordable rates with a view the kids will love. 

Narragansett, Rhode Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Narragansett, Rhode Island

Travel time: 4 hrs by car

Rhode Island's popular seaside town is a go-to for all vacationers on the east coast looking to hit the beach—or three, to be exact. Bring surfboards and boogie boards to the well-known Scarborough State Beach (note that these waves are probably more suitable for the older kids in your clan) and venture to the less intense Roger Wheeler State Beach with tiny tots who will gravitate toward the playground and the calmer waters. Salty Brine State Beach has gentler waters, too. Naturally, no beach town would be complete without a lighthouse. Although Point Judith doesn't welcome visitors inside, families are able to head to the grounds and take scenic photos off the coast. When hunger strikes, adults will opt for seafood dishes (including amazing lobster rolls) and seaside views at Coast Guard House but those craving comfort food will find something desirable at Eddie's BBQ. Regardless of what's on the menu, all suppers should conclude with a visit to the nearby ice cream shop, Brickley's.

Stay: The family-run Anchor Motel, located right across from Scarborough Beach

Annapolis, MD
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Annapolis, MD

Travel time: 4hrs by car

There’s plenty for all ages in Annapolis, where the historic downtown is gorgeous (cobblestone streets) and features a mix of traditional bed and breakfasts, shopping, and beautiful landmarks like the U.S. Naval Academy. Hit up the Naval Academy Museum and Jean-Paul Jones’ Crypt for a dose of history, then visit the Annapolis Maritime Museum to learn about aquatic life and Annapolis’ role in the oyster industry. There’s also a newly refurbished downtown dock that’s always filled with impressive boats.

STAY: The Holiday Inn Express & Suites is close to downtown and sits at a little over $100 per night. There’s also a complimentary breakfast! 

Long Beach, NY
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Long Beach, NY

Travel time: 2hrs and 10min by car

Those that spend these family weekend getaways at this “City by the Sea” won’t regret it. There are a ton of fun parades and festivals throughout the summer, plus plenty of local parks and playgrounds where kids can make the most out of the warm weather. Plus, the boardwalk is perfect for a few family photos! Be warned: The beach does have a $15 fee per person for non-pass holders. Kids will want to refuel with lunch and a rainbow-colored shake at the Diner by the Sea, and we can't blame them! 

STAY: To keep things cost-effective, the Best Western Mill River Manor will run about $140 per room—luckily, there's an outdoor pool!

Ocean City
Photograph: Vlad G /

11. Ocean City

Travel time: 4 hrs 30 min by car

This seashore town—located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight Bay— boasts white sand beaches and plenty of places to romp and play. Stroll along the boardwalk a long list of food options when your stomach starts to rumble. Pop into Ropewalk for a family-friendly seafood feast. For other kinds of fun, take a break with a ride on one of the 45 hand-carved animals on the historic Trimper’s carousel or cater to your inner thrill-seeker with a trip to Jolly Roger’s Splash Mountain Water Park.

Stay: Spend your nights at Carousel Oceanfront Hotel & Condos, which features a kiddie pool, bounce house, game room and a pirate ship jungle gym.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

12. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Travel time: 5hrs and 30min by car

If spectacular beaches, salty air, and delicious hole-in-the-wall seafood spots sound right up your alley, Cape Cod is one of those family getaways you can't miss. Its 22-mile path, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, is perfect for those who love a scenic bike ride. Running along a former railroad track, it stretches from Dennis to the town of Wellfleet. Parking areas dot the paved railbed, so you can go as far as you'd like in either direction—and you'll even hit the beach along the way if you do a little advance planning. North of the Rail Trail, between Wellfleet and Provincetown, beach options expand. Families with young children might prefer sticking by the bayside where water is warmer and there’s no undertow, but oceanside strands like Head of the Meadow or Marconi—both part of the Cape Cod National Seashore—are breathtaking. So are the whales just beyond them, who arrive from warmer climes to feed in the area’s teeming waters from April through the end of October. Whale Watch Dolphin Fleet, in Provincetown, offers great family excursions. Feast at Quicks Hole Tavern, where youngsters under 10 get to make selections from the kids' menu. 

STAY: Situated right on the Rail Trail, Midway Motel has a secluded feel and hard-to-beat rates (often below $100 per room).


13. Rocking Horse Ranch, Highland, NY

Travel time: 2 hrs 30 min by car

Get ready for an all-inclusive resort like no other. Rocking Horse Ranch pays homage to summer camp days with horseback riding, water sports and other fun outdoor activities for the whole family. Looking for performances? You’ll have it made with magic acts, ventriloquists and other fun offerings. When activities become too overwhelming (for parents), make sure to take advantage of spa treatments such as facials and massages. 

Wildwood, NJ
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

14. Wildwood, NJ

Travel time: 2 hrs 30 min by car

Phew: This Jersey Shore town is more family-friendly than MTV cameras led us to believe. Morey's Piers offers two parks for one price: Raging Waters and the Ocean Oasis Waterpark and Beach Club, a 10-minute walk or five-minute tram ride away. Those who want to remain on dry land can hit up carnival rides and other attractions at three amusement piers though combo tickets are available if your little ones can't decide. Indulge your seafood cravings at Crab & Seafood Shack, where kids 12 and under have their own menu with the typical fare: hot dogs, chicken fingers and more.

Stay: Book a room at El Coronado Resort and enjoy poolside barbecues, movies and live entertainment.

Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, NJ
Photograph courtesy Crystal Springs & Mountain Creek Resorts

15. Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, NJ

Travel time: 1 hr 30 min by car

Sure, you want the kids to have fun on vacation...but getting a little adult r&rwould be pretty sweet, too. For a getaway that will sate the offspring yet also allow you a little self-indulgence, Crystal Springs Resort should do the trick. The very kid-friendly place is 90 minutes from New York, so you'll be pulling up to the sprawling grounds in no time. Seven indoor and outdoor pools allow for splash time no matter the weather. You, meanwhile, can kick back on a lounge chair with a cocktail from the poolside bar, or take turns watching the kids while one of you sneaks away for a massage in the on-site spa or a round of golf on the adjacent course. In the evening, head to The Glenwood for burgers, wraps or pizza, then hit the Warwick Drive-In for a first-run double feature. After breakfast the next morning at Kites, the resort's restaurant, kids will no doubt want more pool time. That will leave them refreshed for a hike along the Canal Road section of the Appalachian Trail before you head back to the city.

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

16. Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Travel time: 7 hours by car

Okay, okay—this is one of those family weekend getaways that's a bit of a haul from NYC (but so worth it). Few venues compare to Omni Mount Washington Resort’s spectacular scenery. When it’s nice and warm, families can enjoy sweet activities such as horseback riding, hiking on local trails, rounds of tennis and other great offers like free scenic tours (via a ski lift!) and mountainside ATV tours. Come winter, a free shuttle will take visitors to the lauded Bretton Woods Ski Resort, just two minutes up the road. A boast-worthy bonus: Young visitors can experience the thrill of swimming outdoors amid a snow-covered landscape thanks to an outdoor pool that’s heated year-round. If the allure of Mt. Washington won’t let go, consider taking the Cog Railway up rather than driving. You’ll have an hour to enjoy the stunning views, visit a museum and have a bite to eat before heading back down.

STAY: The Omni Mount Washington Hotel is the crown jewel, but families can also choose the Lodge at Bretton Woods.

Lehigh Valley, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Dorney Park

17. Lehigh Valley, PA

Travel time: 1 hr 40 mins by car

If the family can’t choose between thrilling amusement rides and swimming pools to beat the heat, then an itinerary centered on Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom will satisfy everyone. The older set will enjoy the twisting, turning dry and wet rollercoasters while little ones enjoy Peanuts-themed rides. Come nighttime, watch movies under the stars at Shankweiler's Drive-In Theatre.

Stay: Tuck in at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites for close access to the theme park.

Amherst & Williamstown, Massachusetts

18. Amherst & Williamstown, Massachusetts

Travel time: 4hrs and 15min by car

The verdant Berkshires and neighboring Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts are appealingly sleepy, but if you’ve got a gang of culture vultures, you’ll find it’s brimming with artistic gems, too. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, which opened in 2002, mounts regular shows spotlighting the art of picture books. The contemporary art scene is alive and well too thanks to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a world-class museum in North Adams inhabiting a cluster of converted, 19th-century brick factory buildings. The stunning museum mounts eclectic shows, one of which is designed especially for kids in a gallery-studio hybrid called Kidspace; children can drop in and make art there free of charge on weekends, and every day of the summer. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to Old Sturbridge Village, New England’s answer to Virginia’s Williamsburg. The outdoor museum recreates an early 19th-century town with authentic shops like blacksmiths and bakeries, complete with costumed thespians—er, interpreters—glowing fires and baking bread. Grab a bite of some kid-friendly dishes (think mac n' cheese and chicken fingers) at Bullard Tavern Cafeteria

STAY: Friendly owners and reasonable prices win at
Maple Terrace Motel, right in Williamstown.

Baltimore, Maryland
PHOTOGRAPH: Stefan Ugljevarevic /

19. Baltimore, Maryland

Travel time: 3hrs and 40min by car

Though often bypassed by travelers on their way to D.C., the city of Baltimore has come into its own, especially given the renaissance of its Inner Harbor. Foremost, there’s the top-notch National Aquarium, a must-see for kids and adults alike. The ocean-obsessed will come closer than ever to majestic marine life such as stingrays, a giant sea turtle, and blacktip reef sharks. At the B&O Railroad Museum, about a mile due west, kids (and maybe their parents) will learn that Baltimore is where the first commercial mile of railroad track in the U.S. was laid; they’ll also get to explore it via a 20-minute ride on an actual train, the Mile One Express. Maritime lore lovers won’t want to miss the hour-long Urban Pirates Family Adventure, a swashbuckler-themed cruise in Baltimore Inner Harbor, where they can dress up like pirates, learn sea chanteys, and spray water cannons. Lexington Market offers something for everyone when lunchtime strikes, while Broadway Market is the latest smorgasbord, which recently opened in a market that dates back to 1786.

STAY: Located in the original B&O headquarters, the Monaco Baltimore has large rooms and an extremely pet-friendly policy. 

Gillette Castle, East Haddam, CT
Photograph: Shutterstock

20. Gillette Castle, East Haddam, CT

Travel time: 2 hrs 30 min by car

A mansion tour isn't at the top of most children's must-do lists, but this isn't just another rich family's house: Among other novelties, you take both an antique train and a ferry to get here. Kids used to jam-packed subway cars will love settling into their comfortable seats on the Essex Steam Trainfor an hour-long trip through the Connecticut River Valley. Disembark and, after a brief walk, hop aboard the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry. As you approach landfall, keep an eye out for the medieval-style stone structure atop a hill—that's Gillette Castle, and it's just a short hike from the shore (though keep in mind it is not stroller-friendly). Once you're there, tour guides will take your crew through two dozen wood-and-stone–clad rooms. Built in the early 20th century by the then-famous actor and Sherlock Holmes portrayer William Gillette, the mansion is like a mystery-movie tableau where ghosts and evildoers might lurk at any turn. Gillette was also a stage manager who invented many trick props, and a bit of a prankster: He devised a series of mirrors to allow him to spy on visitors, and a hidden staircase so that he could sneak up on guests—or escape from them. Before or after your ferry ride, fill up at the Trackside Cafe, a converted dining car at the steam train depot.

Stay: Relax at the outdoor pool at the former Sandpiper Inn in Old Saybrook, now an Econo Lodge Inn and Suites.


21. Lake Placid, NY

Travel time: 5 hours by car from NYC

Lake Placid is one of those family weekend getaways that provides an opportunity for visitors to catch their breath with hiking trails, rock climbing, fishing, and paddle boating. Kids will get a kick out of Big Z's Lake Placid Lanes. While you’re in the area, be sure to make a stop at High Falls Gorge for an amazing walk around four waterfalls. Afterward, share a thin and crispy pizza pie at Lisa G’s or have the kids select from their own menu.

STAY: Once the kids are tuckered out, head to your room at Cobble Mountain, where the range of cozy rooms and cabins host families of all sizes.

More fun activities for kids

  • Things to do

There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in New York City—many you'll even love doing as a family! When you're not busy cuddled up with our favorite family movies on Netflix and our list of the best kids movies (come on—it's time to head outside!), you'll love exploring the coolest family attractions and the other amazing outdoor activities this amazing city has to offer. 


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