Things to Do Just Outside of New York City

Day Trips and Nearby Activities

Let's be honest, sometimes you need to escape the city. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the towns and regions around New York City offer plenty of fun activities and destinations. And they can also be convenient to get to, so it's not a huge effort to get there, either. Whether you're going right over the river into New Jersey, or further away into Long Island or Connecticut, the train will take you to most places quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.

So, what are these gems outside of the city? We've assembled the best places to visit just outside of New York City for either a half-day or a full day trip from the city. You won't be disappointed. Also, many of these places are family-friendly and great for kids!
Long Beach
Long Beach
Long Beach on Long Island offers a large stretch of sand from the Atlantic Beach area on the western side to Point Lookout on the eastern side. You can get here from Manhattan on the LIRR, and once you do you will be greeted with relaxing waves, chairs and umbrellas for rent, a nice long boardwalk, and various restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops along the main road for when you get hungry or thirsty. You can also take surfing lessons here, or enjoy the concerts in the summer.
300 W Broadway, Long Beach, New York, 11561
Liberty Science Center
This is an interactive science museum and learning center that is found in Liberty State Park in Jersey City. It was New Jersey's first significant science museum and it also has a planetarium and a number of educational resources.
222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, New Jersey, 07305
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Hidden Finds in New York City and New York City: Things to Do Outside of Manhattan.
Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center
Formerly Atlantis Marine World, the Long Island Aquarium opened in 2000 in Riverhead. It's home to a 20,000-gallon coral reef tank, which is one of the largest all-living coral displays in North America. Visitors can also see a huge shark tank, penguins, sea lions, a boat ride, and more. There's more than 100 exhibits in total which makes for a great day for the entire family.
431 East Main Street, Riverhead, New York, 11901
The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
This unique Long Island museum combines a grand mansion, a beautiful park, and a marine and natural history museum, as well as a planetarium. In addition to shows in the planetarium, there is also a rooftop observatory viewing every Friday night.
180 Little Neck Rd, Centerport, Long Island, NY, 11721
Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium
Located on Long Island near Huntington, this aquarium's goal is to educate the public about the waters of New York in order to help the freshwater ecosystem. Surprisingly, it has the biggest collection of New York state's reptiles, fish, and amphibians. It's run by a non-profit, and admission is very affordable. You can feed the fish and browse both indoor and outdoor exhibits.
1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, 11724
Nickelodeon Universe
This huge indoor amusement park is full of roller coasters, rides, and other fun activities, and is open year-round. Located very close to the New York City in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this place is part of the American Dream complex which also has a water park and a huge aquarium, too. The rides are exciting and fun for everyone in the family from kids to adults.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, New Jersey
DreamWorks Water Park
Located at the American Dream complex in East Rutherford, this indoor water park is open year-round and claims to be the largest indoor water park in America with the country's largest indoor wave pool as well. With plenty of slides and pools for adults and kids of all ages, this is a terrific escape from the city any time of the year.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Long Island Children's Museum
The Long Island Children’s Museum has 14 hands-on exhibits that are perfect for young kids who want to play, explore, and learn. There's also a theater and several different learning studios.
11 Davis Ave, Garden City, NY, 11530
If you're looking for more information about New York City, read The Best Museums in New York City and Free Activities in Manhattan.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center
The Cradle of Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum that educates visitor's on Long Island's role in the history of aviation. The museum also has an attached planetarium, the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium, which shows educational films that cover a number of topics including pre-historic sea monsters and galactic journeys. This museum is in Garden City, Long Island.
Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, Long Island, NY, 11530
New Jersey Sea Life Aquarium
Located just over the river on the New Jersey side, this aquarium is very close to New York and Manhattan in particular. And it's worth the trip, because here you'll find a huge array of fish and aquatic species to gaze upon and learn about. They have sharks, seahorses, clownfish, stingrays, and more. The entire aquarium has a New York City theme to it, which adds to the fun. And one of the best and most popular exhibits is the tunnel that takes you under the massive tank so you can look up at the fish as they swim above you.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Jones Beach State Park
Jones Beach in Wantagh on Long Island is very popular, and can get crowded in the summer. But the popularity is warranted as the beach here is terrific, and there's also a lengthy boardwalk, changing areas and bathrooms, and other nice facilities. They also have concerts in the summer which bring in a crowd. As it's a state park, there is a small admission fee.
1 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh, New York, 11793
How much does it cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $25 to $805. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $204. A few of the best options are below.

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