Q: It’s Labor Day already, how could summer be over soon? I’m not ready! We’d love to have one last blast before the kids head back to school next week, but I haven’t planned anything yet. Is it too late to book an end-of-summer send off? ~ Thanks! BN
A: I have a confession: I’m not the mom who has a party the first day of school, you’ll usually find me crying over my coffee after my son jumps on the bus, so I totally get your desire to spend the last free days having a summer adventure with your family. Realistically, it’s a little late at this date to book anything close to affordable airfare, but I’ve got a bunch of great ideas for family fun that you can try for this long holiday weekend that are easy driving distance. Some are overnights, but many are day trips or staycation ideas, and all are things that will add a little zip to these late August days.
If you haven’t made resort reservations yet, it may be a little late, but there’s plenty of flexibility for city stays: How about a road trip to family friendly cities such as Philadelphia or Boston, both of which Georgette and I have visited recently. Or head south to Washington, D.C, where Georgette just sleuthed out all the ways to keep tweens happy in the Capitol. If you’re really feeling ambitious, and have a few days, consider driving to Pittsburgh, where Georgette uncovered a slew of family fun in the summertime.
Sunny day on the calendar? How about a day trip to the Jersey Shore to dip your toes in the water. Nearby, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove are great, my tween has been loving the fun vibe of Asbury this summer, especially the retro pinball machines at Silverball Museum right on the boardwalk.
Or consider some outdoor art in the Hudson Valley at Storm King Art Center, an expansive sculpture park.
If you want to keep exploring after Storm King, the mid-Hudson Valley is ripe with family fun. My family tried it out last fall and even our dog had a good time. There are plenty of inexpensive hotels with pools in the Hyde Park area, the Culinary Institute for delicious bites, the Roosevelt House and Estate for interactive history lessons, the Walkway Over the Hudson to take in the views and catch a breeze, and, extra bonus, TWO drive-in movie theaters The Hyde Park Drive-In Theater and the Overlook Drive-In in Poughkeepsie for old school summer evening fun. My family also is a fan of the Warwick Drive-In, just over the New Jersey border in Warwick, NY, easily doable for just an evening from the NY and Northern Jersey area, or pair it with Crystal Springs and Minerals Resort in Vernon, NJ, and let your kids take a turn on the trapeze at their Circus School, which packs up after Labor Day.
If you don’t want to roam to far, my son and Georgette’s girls love the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City for it’s hands on exhibits and massive spaces to roam around, and their IMAX theater makes it a full day outing. The new MakerSpace at the Newark Museum is another great day trip option.
Or how about a “staycation” in New York City? We love the small but packed with activities MoMath in Flatiron which has interactive math fun (bonus, it’s just around the corner from Eataly for when you get a snack attack). Add in the New York Historical Society for a full day of small museum fun. Or try a New York icon such as the Museum of Modern Art to inspire your kids to art greatness. Catch a Broadway show such as School of Rock or Matilda, or a concert at Symphony Space, indulge in the chocoholic menu at Max Brenner (one of my son’s favorite New York spots), tour around Rockefeller Center or relax in Central Park — then either head home.
Or make it a real vacation by hitting the hay in a cool NYC hotel—Train fans? Book an overnight at the Thomas & Friends suite at the New York Hilton Midtown, or simply book a room at this central hotel just around the corner from the MOMA and down the street from School of Rock for easy city access.
Safe travels! Enjoy the weekend!
Have a family travel question?
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(Photo: Jennifer Baumann)