Summer in the city comes with plenty of fun things to do for families. But sometimes, you just want to get away from the big city and explore new places. A great option that won’t break the bank is a day trip by train from New York City. NYC is served by three rail systems—the Long Island Railroad, Metro North Railroad and New Jersey Transit— all of which will take you to day trip destinations that feel far away, but are still close to home. Here’s a few of our favorite places to escape the city for a day via rail this summer!

LONG ISLAND RAILROAD (LIRR)

Long Beach
It’s officially beach season and many New Yorkers can’t wait to get their toes in the sand.  With five miles of sand, a fun boardwalk scene and lots of restaurants, Long Beach is the perfect choice for a family trip to the beach. It's also just an hour from the city on the LIRR, and transportation packages include a round-trip train ticket and a beach admission voucher.  Time to catch a wave!  

Splish Splash waterpark
Want to add a little excitement to your summer cool-down plan? Make a splash and head to Splish Splash waterpark in Calverton, Long Island. Another great package offered by the MTA includes train tickets, admission to the park and an air-conditioned coach ride to the park. With twenty water slides, wave pools, a lazy river and plenty of water-themed thrill rides, there’s plenty of cool, splashy fun for kids of all ages!

Freeport's Nautical Mile
The Nautical Mile is a waterfront park, boardwalk, and marina that spans four acres. Along the main strip there is tons of top-notch restaurants offering some of LI’s best seafood many of which often have live music on weekends as well. After walking the marina to take in the waterfront vistas and admire the many beautiful boats, bring the kids to Crow’s Nest Mini Golf course for some family fun.. To round out the day, a visit to Pip’s Ice Cream Parlour is a must where you’ll find so many ice cream varieties, they’re sure to have something for the whole family. To get to Nautical Mile, take the Babylon Branch train to Freeport and hop in a taxi for a short ride.

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METRO NORTH RAILROAD (MNR)

Norwalk, CT
Just an hour north of Grand Central Station, Norwalk, CT is a cute little town practically built for kids 10 and under. Be sure to hit up the awesome Stepping Stones children’s museum for family fun at a price that can’t be beat. Then head next door to the very cool Maritime Aquarium where kids learn about marine animals that live in the Long Island. End the day with dinner at one of the quaint town’s many food offerings. 

Rye, NY 
For an old-fashioned family fun-day, take a trip to Rye Playland in Rye, NY, one of the first amusements parks in the country. With over 50 rides for all ages, some dating back to 1930 along with some newer attractions, Rye Playland offers a nice nostalgic feel along with thrills. Don’t miss the famous Dragon Coaster or the Music Express. For an extra fee, you can also gain access to their beach and pool. It’s a full day of family fun on the Long Island sound with boating, entertainment, lots of great food, and much more. 

Tarrytown, NY
Just 45 minutes up the Hudson line from Grand Central, this sleepy little town sits on the Hudson river boasts beautiful river views and a little town feel that will help you leave the bustle of the big city behind. Explore Main Street which has a wide selection of restaurants and then take a stroll along the Riverwalk next to Pierson Park. While you're in town, you may want to take a taxi to explore the beautiful  Lyndhurst Mansion, a Gothic revival mansion along the Hudson river which offers tours as well as general access to the grounds. 

NEW JERSEY TRANSIT (NJT)

Jersey City
Just a hop, skip and a jump away, dart over to nearby Jersey City for tons of family-friendly options. Don’t miss the Liberty Science Center which boasts several floors of hands-on exhibits and impressive climbing structures. You can spend the whole day here between visiting the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium or having the kids try out their best astronaut moves in the Space Station Liberty.  If you want to relax afterwards bring a picnic and enjoy Liberty State Park for tons of green space  for the kids to explore and an unparalleled view of the NYC skyline.

Red Bank, NJ
Want to check out a new place at a relaxing pace? Red Bank, NJ is quickly becoming one of the best NYC towns to day trip to, so much so that the Smithsonian Magazine even placed it on their “Coolest Towns” list. Just off the NJ Transit coast line, this quaint little town is located along the Navesink river and boasts great antiquing, art galleries, restaurants, shopping and more. Take the kids to Yestercades arcade where you can play the day away on all the arcade games from your childhood. Next, you can take your superhero-loving kid over to Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, full of comics and memorabilia.  And finally cool off at the Red Bank Armory which is now a state of the art indoor ice skating rink.

—Heather Millen

main photo: Jennifer C. via Yelp 

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