New York has a reputation for being pricey, but savvy parents can conquer the Empire State on affordable family vacations. From bunny hills to the Big Apple, New York State offers adventures the whole family (and your wallet) will love. Pack your bags for these affordable family vacations in New York State.
Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in New York’s Catskills is owned and operated by New York State, making it a less crowded and less expensive option than its privately-owned counterparts. Parents can start their smallest snow bunnies on 11 beginner-friendly trails, while they along with their older children can tackle Belleayre’s 27 intermediate slopes.
Family fun lives in the Catskill Mountains, where wholesome entertainment comes in an array of forms. Popular picks include pizza parties at fourth-generation Lazy Crazy Acres Farms and a trip to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, where you can make friends with more than 300 free-roaming rescued farm animals. Tip: Setting up camp at the family-oriented Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds provides access to more wallet-friendly activities, including hiking and swimming.
After checking into the affordable Mirror Lake Inn, a family-run property particularly welcoming to children, you’ll be ready to experience all that the Adirondacks have to offer. Families with small children won’t want to miss The Wild Center, a youth-oriented natural history museum featuring animal exhibits and interactive displays. After exercising their minds, little ones can work out their bodies on a beginner-level nature hike at Prospect Mountain or go swimming at Plattsburgh City Beach.
Even your born-and-raised city slickers will love Hull-O Farms, an eighth-generation working farm beloved by the Today show and some 1,000 annual visitors. Located in the northern Catskills, this family-friendly farm can host up to five families at a time in its cozy on-site cottages, the ideal base for activities such as nightly campfires, communal meals, hayrides, and tending to Hull-O Farms’ animals.
No one would blame you if you never left the resort during your visit to Rocking Horse Ranch. The all-inclusive attractions at this 500-acre Hudson Valley destination include an indoor water park, horseback riding, tubing, and much more. Best of all, the ranch boasts a trusted supervised kids program, meaning parents can feel comfortable taking a vacation from their vacation.
Family fun shouldn’t be confined to just one season, and at Cascades Indoor Waterpark, it doesn’t have to be. An excellent option for New York State day-trippers, this 41,000-square-foot (3,809-square-meter) indoor waterpark near Cortland features a 67,000-gallon wave pool, four water slides, and even an area specially designed for small children. Come winter, the year-round 84°F (28.8°C) Cascades Indoor Waterpark is the state’s most priceless low-cost getaway.
A trip to America’s famous Niagara Falls should be on every New Yorker’s bucket list. Cross the destination off yours with a visit to Niagara Falls State Park, home to all-ages attractions such as the clothes-soaking Maid of the Mist and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, the Aquarium of Niagara, and an IMAX-style film taking viewers on a plunge over the Falls.
Even New York City has an off-season when penny-pinching families can take a bite out of the Big Apple at a surprisingly low cost. Due to the colder weather, the months of January through March feature fewer tourists, which creates less expensive hotel rates. Luckily for families willing to brave the temps, New York City’s entertainment scene—including Broadway shows, iconic attractions, and excellent dining—is always hot.