New York day trips for the holidays

December 5, 2017 / New York

It’s universally acknowledged that there is something magical about the holidays in New York City. That said, sometimes you just need to get out of the city. With the promise of at least a few extra days off in the coming month, now is the perfect time to get out of town for an afternoon or a long weekend.

Holiday getaways outside of New York City

1. Magic of Lights at Jones Beach

This 2.5 mile, drive-through animated light extravaganza is a well-loved holiday tradition. In addition to the spectacular display of lights and music, you’ll also find a hay maze, holiday movies, and Santa himself. Admission is per vehicle regardless of the number of occupants. A standard vehicle ticket is $20 in advance or $25 at the gate. Skip the line with a $40 Dash Pass and bring a nonperishable food donation for $3 off. Gate sales are cash only. Don’t forget your thermos of hot chocolate!

When: Nov 17 – Dec 31, Sun – Thu, dusk – 10pm; Fri – Sat, dusk – 11pm
Where: Jones Beach State Park, 1 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh, NY

2. Holiday in the Park at Six Flags

Six Flags isn’t just for summertime fun. In fact, it becomes even more magical when it opens for the holidays in November and December. In addition to all of the rides and thrills that the park offers in warmer months, you’ll enjoy tons of special holiday attractions. Little ones will love the chance to meet Dot and Drop Gingerbread, Stewie the Snowman, and of course, old St. Nick. The grown-ups can sip on seasonal brews or spiked hot cocoa as they look for holiday deals in the Merry Market Place. Stay past sundown to enjoy the full effect of the dazzling lights that adorn the park. You can ward off the winter chill by gathering around the fire pits and roasting some s’mores before you head home.

When: Select days between Nov 18 and Jan 1
Where: 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ

3. Cut your own tree at Jones Family Farms

Skip the cramped sidewalk tree stands this year. Head to the Connecticut countryside instead, and spend a day hunting for and chopping down your perfect Christmas tree. Jones Family Farms is the ideal setting for your holiday adventure. With over 200 acres of trees to explore, you’re sure to find the perfect fir, pine, or spruce. The farm cultivates six varieties of fragrant, long-lasting trees that range in height from four feet to over eleven. They’ll provide you with a handsaw, but you should come prepared with a tarp (to drag your tree to a bailing station) and bungee cords to secure it for the ride home. Dogs are welcome at the farm, so you can bring Fido if you’re looking for that perfect Christmas card photo op. All cut-your-own trees are $70 and come with a farm-designed, pewter ornament.

When: Nov 18 – Dec 24, 9am – 5:30pm (closes early on Christmas Eve)
Where: Homestead Farm, 606 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Shelton, CT

4. Lantern Lights Tour: A Christmas Ghost Story

The Lantern Lights Tour is immersive theater experience that offers a fun and unique way to get in the holiday spirit. For 37 years, the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea has put on lantern tours that transport guests to a Christmas Eve of long ago. This year’s tour is set in 1876, and taking inspiration from A Christmas Carol, features a ghostly element. The vibe, however, is decidedly family-friendly and includes a visit from Santa Claus as well as a horse and carriage ride. Performances generally sell out, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Bear in mind that the tour is outdoors, covers about a half mile, and lasts for 70 minutes.

When: Select dates between Nov 24 and Dec 23
Where: Sanger Visitors Reception Center, 47 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT

5. Ski at Windham Mountain

If you want to hit the slopes during your holiday vacation, you’re in luck. Windham Mountain in the Catskills is just 200 miles from the city. The resort features 54 trails and over 285 skiable acres, most of it covered by their newly renovated snowmaking system. Windham has recently invested $15 million in capital improvements, making it the ideal destination for New Yorkers looking to play in the snow. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the whole family can enjoy sledding, skating, and snowmobiling in the winter adventure park. When you’re ready for indoor activities, the Winwood Inn has a spa and a small movie theater.

When: Reopens Dec 2
Where: 19 Resort Drive, Windham, NY

The holidays can be stressful and overscheduled, but with all the fun and merriment to be had within an hour or two of the city, it’s well worth it to plan at least one festive outing before the year comes to a close.