There”s a wealth of things to do in New York for families in particular, including one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where it”s believed the sport was invented; get up close with world-famous Niagara Falls; relax on the shores of Long Island; visit the North Pole (yes, that”s the name of a town!); and explore the Big Apple, of course. If your family enjoys the outdoors, you”ll especially love New York. There are endless opportunities to hike, bike, swim, fish, zip-line, kayak – you name it – and gorgeous photo ops to complement your adventures. Consider one of these New York family getaways for your next vacation.
Written by Amanda Geronikos
New York City
It goes without saying that New York City is a must-visit, and a place every person should see at least once in their lifetime. Catch a show on Broadway, cruise out to the Statue of Liberty, stroll through Central Park, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Times Square. Be sure to grab a slice at any of the city"s pizza joints and sip frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, too! You could fill an entire month (or more) with things to do in New York City.
New York City is especially fun around the winter holidays, with ornate store window displays, ice skating at Central Park and Bryant Park, and the world-famous Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.
If you have baseball players or fans in the family, head to Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. You can also visit Doubleday Field, where it"s believed baseball was invented. There are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, overall, such as Glimmerglass State Park and Otsego Lake, where families can swim, kayak, canoe and more.
Many people claim Niagara Falls, Canada to be the â€œbest side,â€ but we believe the side on New York is just as good, if not better! Explore the falls via Cave of the Winds, a series of bridges that bring tourists so close to the falls, they can get soaked! You can also see the falls via Maid of the Mist, an iconic experience in itself.
Other things to do in Niagara Falls, New York, include Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours (talk about an adrenaline rush) and Old Fort Niagara, which once protected the famous falls.
Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains create the perfect family vacation setting, as does the area"s wealth of vacation home rentals. Families visit to simply relax, with the most popular activities including lake swimming, canoeing, paddleboarding, and more. Many families like to hike and bike along Lake George, as well. Another reason to visit -- Lake George"s Million Dollar Beach was named one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families in 2016.
Ithaca is a hip, college town that"s equally fun for families, with funky stores and quaint cafes. Just outside of town are hiking opportunities galore at Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca Falls Natural Area and Cayuga Lake, the latter of which is another destination in itself. The grounds at Cornell University are fun to stroll, too, even if you don"t have or know students there! And don"t miss the Ithaca Farmers Market either -- the fresh, puffy pastries, alone, are worth a visit.
The longest of New York"s Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake is popular for outdoor adventures, especially in the summer â€“ prime time for swimming, fishing, hiking and boating (you can even travel by boat to some of the area"s famous wineries). The area also offers a wealth of vacation rentals, some of them right on the water, plus affordable hotels in the town of Seneca Falls.
Fun Fact: It"s believed that Bedford Falls in â€œIt"s A Wonderful Lifeâ€ was inspired by Seneca Falls, and the town even has an It"s a Wonderful Life Museum (free). While you"re in the area, also be sure to stop by the Women"s Rights National Historic Park and drive the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway for Instagram-worthy photos.
â€œThe Legend of Sleepy Hollowâ€ is the reason this town draws so many visitors in the fall, close to Halloween. Themed events include the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, with 7,000-plus illuminated pumpkins featured in fantastical displays, and Horseman"s Hollow at Phillipsburg Manor, a haunted house with a Headless Horsemen theme. Year-round, families can visit the sites from â€œThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow,â€ including the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground.
Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown are part of the Hudson River Valley, known for several historical sites. Give your kids a history lesson at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site -- the presidential couple used to vacation in this area. You can also visit the West Point Museum, or explore the area"s castles -- including Bannerman Castle. Modern-day fun includes two all-inclusive destination resorts -- Mohonk Mountain House and Rocking Horse Ranch -- plus a LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester.
Lake Placid, New York, located in the Adirondacks, became famous when it hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics. Today, people still visit to relive the sporting event at the Olympic Ski Jump Complex, Bobsled and Luge Complex, and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. Also popular is Whiteface Mountain, which touts the East Coast"s largest vertical slope. When it"s time for a break from the slopes, duck into a coffee shop or book store along Lake Placid"s Main Street.
Take your children to the town made famous by Thoroughbred racing: Saratoga Springs. You can explore the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame before heading to the Saratoga Race Track for a behind-the-scenes tour or real race. Other things to do in Saratoga Springs include Moreau Lake State Park for outdoor fun, and Saratoga Spa State Park, known for its mineral springs.
The Catskills is a popular region in New York, mainly for outdoor activities -- hiking, biking and zip-lining in the summer, and skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Popular ski resorts include Hunter, Windham (both close to each other), and Plattekill Mountain, all of which are perfect for families. Also fun for kids is Zoom Flume Water Park. While winter is the most popular time to visit, the fall foliage is incomparable.
Close to New York City, Long Island is diverse in everything -- culture, history, activities, you name it -- but many people visit to enjoy its lovely beaches. Favorites include Stony Brook, a charming beach community, and Fire Island National Seashore, known for its sweeping sand dunes. Other highlights include Gatsby-era mansions (prepare to be stunned as you drive by Oheka Castle) and Museum Row in Garden City, where you"ll find the Long Island Children"s Museum.
Yes, the North Pole is in New York (well, one of them is). And while it"s not a bona fide family vacation spot, North Pole, New York, is worth a day trip (or side trip from nearby Lake Placid) with young children, whose eyes are guaranteed to glaze over at the sight of Santa"s Workshop. The fantastical village features holiday-themed rides and amusements -- Candy Cane Express, Tannenbaum the Talking Tree and Christmas Carousel, to name a few -- plus shows and special events.
The park is open in the summer and fall (hours vary), but is especially magical in the winter, when Santa Claus pays a visit.