It’s not too late to get away this summer! (Reminder: The public school year starts on September 13, so you’ve got a little extra time. Hooray?) We’ve rounded up some of the best family getaways from NYC, good for an overnight, or a few—and some are even offering late-season savings! Pack the kids into a car and hit the road for some last gasp summer fun.
LEGOLAND Resort & Hotel
If you haven't heard, the LEGOLAND New York Resort and Hotel is open and less than two hours away!
At 150 acres, LEGOLAND New York is the brand's largest park, featuring seven LEGO-themed lands to explore. Attractions include theme park rides for little and bigger kids, the chance to create with Master builders and attend ninja training camp, tinker in the robotic LEGO center, and visit Miniland, a massive LEGOscape featuring the landmarks of 10 cities nationwide. At Disney they trade pins, here it's minifigures—bring some along, or buy them at the park!
You can go for the day ($69.99/kids; $79.99/adults) or rest your head at the on-site LEGOLAND Hotel for the ultimate brick vacation. You'll find LEGO-themed suites with a separate room for the kids here (pirate, kingdom, Ninjago, LEGO Friends, etc.), nightly entertainment for children, interactive LEGO features, a pool and more. Beginning August 6, two-day hotel packages with park entrance are available with rates starting at $98/person.
You must reserve your tickets in advance. Click here to buy tickets.
Distance from NYC: 90 minutes
LEGOLAND New York
1 LEGOLAND Blvd.
Bear Mountain State Park
It's never a bad time of year to visit Bear Mountain, but it's a lovely place to spend a weekend in the summer. One of its most popular features is its free Trailside Zoo, which houses local wild animals in the process of rehabilitation, including — you guessed it — some bears along a winding path punctuated by informative plaques. Hiking is a popular activity here, with many visitors choosing to climb to Perkins Memorial Tower for a hilltop view, but the peak is also accessible by car.
Take a dip in the community pool for $2 (don't forget a lock), and then float a boat out on peaceful Hessian Lake—where you can also fish if you have a license. (Bring your own gear.) Picnicking lakeside is common here (there are even a few grills) and don't leave without taking a spin on the carousel.
For lodging, the slightly rustic Overlook Lodge is a good choice for small families (about $130 to $250 per night), and the Stone Cottages are single-story houses good for larger groups. The Bear Mountain Inn is the deluxe choice, with rates of $170 and up per night.)
Distance from NYC: 1 hour 15 minutes
Bear Mountain State Park
Route 9W N.
A theme park made for the tiniest of vacationers, Sesame Place offers fun rides, a waterpark, and, of course, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and more walking around and ready for hugs and pictures. And now is the time to go, thanks to steep discounts the park is offering for a limited time, which include hotel packages with park admission.
Excitement here includes a Neighborhood Street Party Parade, the option to dine with Elmo & Friends (for an extra fee) and numerous shows. Plus: fireworks every Saturday and Sunday through September 5. Good to know: Sesame Place is the first theme park to be designated a Certified Autism Center, where staff receives autism-awareness training and guests can access sensory-friendly services and resources in the park.
Sesame place has partnerships with several hotels in the area, and you can book a package that includes tickets to the park, lodging, etc. Rates start at about $200/night.
For our full review of Sesame Place, click here.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour 45 minutes
100 Sesame Rd.
The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark
The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark has reopened after a long, self-imposed pandemic pause. Located in The Catskills' Monticello, Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark is now the state's largest, measuring 80,000-square-feet. In addition to 11 water attractions, from mild (lazy river) to thrill-inducing, it's topped by a transparent roof, includes a living plant wall, and is kept a pleasant 84 degrees year-round.
The resort runs activities for kids and families throughout the week, with options including scavenger hunts, game nights and trivia, movies under the stars and much more. For food, you'll find eight dining options, from grab-and-go to sit down, with many serving food made with ingredients from local suppliers. For grown-ups, Resorts World Casino is next door, and there's a spa on-site (which also offers kid's treatments). The hotel offers many options for large parties (suites, etc.) with rates starting at $175/night.
Also nearby is Holiday Mountain (10 minutes away) which has skiing and tubing in the winter and go-karts and mini-golf in the summer, and Bethel Woods, home to Woodstock Music Fest in 1969 and concert series and events today. FYI: the LEGOLAND New York Resort is about a 30-minute drive.
Distance from NYC: Two hours
The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark
555 Resort World Dr.
Lake Compounce Family Theme Park
For some good old Americana away from the mega parks, check out Lake Compounce, the country's oldest amusement park. Celebrating 175 years, this park is home to a full water park (including the new "Venus Vortex", thrill rides, kiddie rides, and Boulder Dash, considered by many to be the best wooden rollercoaster in the world. You can also take in the show Daniel Tiger's Grr-ific Day! and meet Daniel and Katerina afterwards! Tickets start at $29.99/person, and kids three and under are free. Note that Lake Compounce is open only on weekends, starting August 23.
Lodging options include camping on-site in a cabin, "Cub Hut", Deluxe Tipi, tent and RV, starting at $30 a night, with campfire, wifi and transportation to the park included.
Distance from NYC: Two hours and 15 minutes
Lake Compounce Family Theme Park
185 Enterprise Dr.
Hyde Park, NY
For history buffs and/or families with older kids, head to Dutchess County's Hyde Park, where you can tour the homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the FDR Presidential Library (the nation's first collection of its kind), and over a thousand acres of gardens and trails. (For a guide to the trails on the grounds, click here.) The museum recently reopened after a long pause for renovations and Covid-19 safety measures. Note that you must buy timed tickets in advance to visit.
In addition to the home, where FDR lived as both a child and as an adult with Eleanor, the museum features special interactives, immersive audio‐visual theaters, and rarely seen artifacts that convey the dramatic story of the Roosevelt era.
Of course Eleanor Roosevelt was a fierce champion of women's rights, civil rights and diplomacy, and her home Val-Kill is nearby; it is the only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady. Visit to tour the grounds and view the exhibit "Eleanor Roosevelt and Val-Kill: Emergence of a Political Leader."
For more history, visit the Vanderbilt Mansion, an example of Beaux-Arts architecture from renowned firm McKim, Mead & White, where you can take a self-led tour with a phone or tablet. (You must register for the tour prior to your visit.)
Other spots to check out in the area include the Hyde Park Drive-in, or Four Brother's Drive-in (a bit of a drive but worth it), the Dutchess County Fair (Aug. 24-29 this year) and roller rink Roller Magic (reopening September 19).
Distance from NYC: Two hours, 15 minutes
Escape to the Jersey Shore for some solid summer vibes on the boardwalk. Morey's Piers in Wildwood New Jersey has been welcoming vacationing families for more than 50 years, and will keep the kids busy with more than 100 rides and attractions and two beachfront water parks. Plus: you'll find a lovely, free beach here, which is not so easy in NJ.
Dog families, listen up: Two annual special events are coming up to close out the water park season: the Doggie Dash, a pair of dog-and-human runs with a beach party afterward, and Doggie Splash, when canines have free rein to paddle along the river adventure, splash in the fountain pool or fetch tennis balls in the activity pool of Raging Waters “Water Bark." You don't even have to have a dog to attend! (A portion of the Doggie Splash proceeds will benefit local dog and cat rescue Beacon Animal Rescue.) For more info on Doggie Dash & Splash, click here.
To make things easy, The Blue Palms Resort, located close by, is offering dog-friendly deals on lodging, complete with complimentary amusement pier wristbands for $155/night.
Distance from NYC: Three hours
Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks
Finger Lakes Region
A bit of a longer drive, but worth it for the kid-friendly attractions, natural beauty and activities adults will like too. For outdoor fun and a trip to the 19th century, visit the Genessee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York State's largest living history museum. (Kids are free on Thursdays in August.) We also recommend a tour of Lazy Acre Alpacas in Bloomfield, where you can learn about, and feed the friendly animals.
Rochester is home to one of the best children's museums in the country, the Strong National Museum of Play, where you'll also find the Toy Hall of Fame and the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Amusement Park Seabreeze outside of Rochester is good for lakeside summer fun, with a water park, big and little kid rides, and the Jack Rabbit, the oldest continuously operating rollercoaster in the country.
The area is known for its hiking and biking trails, a thriving craft beer, wine and spirits industry and of course, beautiful lakes such as Canandaigua and Keuka. And don't forget the "Grand Canyon of the East", Letchworth State Park is in the western part of the Finger Lakes.