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When I think about places that I have traveled to and where I also want to take my son someday, New York is at the top of the list. This is a geographically diverse place with America’s largest city, impressive natural wonders, fall foliage drives, and lots of opportunities for family fun.
Whether you live in this part of the country or are looking for a unique trip with the kids, here are some of the top family getaways in New York to choose from.
Niagara Falls is one of the most impressive natural wonders in the world and a popular family vacation destination. This bucket-list destination offers boat tours for up-close viewings of the iconic waterfalls, entertainment complexes with attractions for kids, and local resorts that welcome families with children. You can fly to the Buffalo airport and drive in via Interstate 90 to reach the falls area before exploring downtown Niagara Falls, checking out the Aquarium of Niagara, and hiking a local trail to see the rapids.
The Finger Lakes region of New York is family-friendly and filled with outdoor adventures just waiting to be explored. This western New York destination is known for its waterfalls and hiking trails. Visit Letchworth State Park, Watkins Glen State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, and Shequaga Falls to introduce your kids to the beauty of New York’s wild and beautiful environment. To live the “lake life” for a while, you can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards together, and there are many small towns full of charm that are worth exploring. There are also numerous museums in the Finger Lakes region that kids will enjoy, including the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.
Cooperstown, New York is one of the most beautiful small towns in the U.S., best known for being home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s an essential place to visit for any baseball fan and a place where you can really dive into your passion for the sport with visits to Cooperstown Dreams Park, Doubleday Field, the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, and the Cooperstown Bat Company store. Aside from baseball, Cooperstown is a great destination for outdoorsy families that want to kayak or canoe on Otsego Lake or take a boat cruise down the Susquehanna River. Brewery Ommegang is in Cooperstown and is a family-friendly brewery that serves food and has a public, nine-hole disc golf course that is free to play.
There are some excellent family-friendly resorts in Lake Placid, New York, which is among the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. Some resorts to consider for your stay include the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, and the Placid Bay Hotel. This is a fun destination for families because of the toboggan chute that you can ride in the winter and ample snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities. Take the kids ice skating at Olympic Oval and hike to the High Falls Gorge to admire the stunning waterfalls.
There are lots of great accommodation options for families in Lake George, New York, including the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge with its own water park and a beach-themed hotel at Surfside on the Lake. Considered to be a gateway to the Adirondacks, the Lake George region offers theme parks, outdoor adventure centers, lazy river tubing, and farms to celebrate the fall season. In the winter, you can sign your kids up for skiing and snowboarding lessons or enjoy ice skating and ice fishing with them too.
Chautauqua is an Upstate New York family getaway destination where you can enjoy hiking trails and winter fun in Allegany State Park during all four seasons. Families enjoy visiting the Audubon Nature Center, Barcelona Lighthouse, and Bemus Point – Stowe Ferry, which transports guests across the scenic Chautauqua Lake. The freshwater lake typically has calm waters that are nice for swimming. The region is also popular for visiting farmers’ markets, fishing, hiking, and paddling.
To do a family-friendly getaway in Montauk, New York, start your planning with a hotel or vacation rental that has a swimming pool and/or beach access. Montauk is on the east end of Long Island and is a relaxing place where you can view a lighthouse, take surfing lessons, and go fishing and camping together. Spend your days on the white-sand beaches of Montauk while looking for seashells and sea glass. Learn about World War II history at Camp Hero State Park, charter a boat to fish or admire the scenery, and rent a bike to pedal around the area at a leisurely pace.
New York City is an exciting place to visit with kids because of all the iconic places to visit, such as the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, the Empire State Building, and Central Park. Older children may enjoy seeing a Broadway musical, while hop-on/hop-off bus tours provide families with young children a convenient way to see the highlights of the city. The American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum are family-friendly attractions, and experiencing the bright lights of Times Square is a must-do for any first-timers to NYC.
Kids love visiting the LEGOLAND New York Resort in the town of Goshen, which is about 60 miles northwest of New York City. This is a theme park and hotel where you can plan a day trip or stay overnight. The hotel offers a really special experience for kids because of the LEGO-themed rooms and resort-style pool. There’s a water playground at LEGOLAND with slides and plenty of room to splash around. Single-day theme park tickets and family vacation packages are available here. Otherwise, in Goshen, it is fun to see the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, horse farms, and perhaps even take a horseback riding lesson.
The Hamptons is a popular family vacation destination that includes Southampton, one of the largest hamlets in the region. This place is known for its extravagant homes and shopping, but it is also a lovely spot to enjoy some time at the beach with your family. Coopers Beach is among the best beaches here. Visit the Children’s Museum of the East End in this area with kids. There are some family-friendly spots to dine and enjoy some sweet treats too, including The Fudge Company, a family-owned business established in 1973, and Sip ‘N Soda, which has been serving delicious ice cream in the Hamptons since 1958.
For a unique New York experience, plan to visit the Thousand Islands with your family. This region is known for boat rides to historic Boldt Castle, fishing charters, and scenic boat tours. You and your kids can explore the quaint town of Gananoque, hike in Thousand Islands National Park, and bike along the multi-use pathway along the St. Lawrence River. It’s also fun to plan a paddling adventure with kids in this area, and there are guided kayaking tours available for beginners.
For a family getaway filled with outdoor recreation, look no further than the Catskills. There are top-rated family resorts in this part of New York that make vacation planning a breeze, including Baumann’s Brookside in Greenville, the Sunny Hill Resort & Golf Course in Greenville, and Christman’s Windham House in Windham. You can arrange for a farm stay in the Catskills to slow down the pace of life or take a winter vacation in the Catskills to get in some skiing. Camping is a great option here for many families, and the Skyway Camping Resort in Greenfield Park is a recommended camping spot because of its family-friendly amenities.
Another option for your New York adventures with kids is Sleepy Hollow, which is especially popular during the Halloween season. There is an extensive calendar of events filled with Halloween and fall activities to check out on the town’s website. This Hudson Valley destination is charming and historic with its legendary cemetery, the Dutch Reform Church, and Headless Horseman Bridge and Sculpture. You can also enjoy a bit of nature at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, tour historic mansions, and listen to live music performances in local parks and at the Tarrytown Music Hall.