Top New York State Family Vacations

Mohonk resort in New York
Fred Hsu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

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The Empire State is much, much more than New York City. North of the Big Apple lies a varied landscape of mountains, rolling hills, farmland, gorgeous lakes, and charming towns.

Family vacations in New York offer the kids plenty of lake recreation, hiking, sports, and scheduled activities with the backdrop of scenic rural New York. 

Places to stay in New York State include these family-friendly getaways as well as spas and elegant historic sites. 

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The Sagamore Resort: Lake George

Sagamore Hotel
Matt H. Wade/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The venerable Sagamore Resort enjoys a spectacular location on Lake George in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Sagamore offers a wide array of family-friendly amenities. There are a seasonal outdoor pool and year-round, heated indoor pool, nature trails, a playground, tennis courts, and an enormous recreation center with indoor mini golf, basketball, pool, Ping-Pong, video games.
The historic hotel was originally built in 1883 and has been restored to reflect the resort's rich heritage, complete with clapboard siding and classic Victorian architecture. The resort offers rooms in the main lodge as well as suites in the former 19th-century carriage house, the Hermitage. 

Wapanak Castle, a 2,000-square-foot six-bedroom, four-bath home located on the lake next to the Historic Hotel offers luxury accommodations for up to 12 people. 

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Whiteface Lodge: Lake Placid

Kanu dining room at Whiteface Lodge

 Lou Stejskal/Flickr

As the only all-suite resort in the Adirondacks, Whiteface Lodge offers plenty of room for families to spread out. Accommodations range in size from studios to one-bedroom suites to palatial apartment-style digs with three bedrooms that are perfect for larger families and multi-generational gatherings.

The resort is just a few blocks from Lake Placid and a short drive from the ski slopes of Whiteface Mountain. The lodge features a rustic timber design so you feel you are getting away from it all while still having resort style amenities. The resort offers a full-service spa.

Family activities include kayaking, canoeing, swimming in the indoor and outdoor pools, fishing, watching movies in the on-site theater, and more.

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Mohonk Mountain House: New Paltz

View of Monhonk from a trail across the lake
Fred Hsu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

With the pedigree of a grand hotel, Mohonk Mountain House delivers great family fun. There are 85 miles of hiking trails and rock scrambles, guided nature hikes, boating and paddle boarding on the lake, a golf course, many tennis courts, scheduled kids' and teen's programming, and an array of yoga, meditation, and fitness classes.

In the winter, the spectacular covered ice rink is a draw for the children's club and family time.

The Victorian-style castle resort is perched on the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River. This National Historic Landmark resort offers farm-to-table cuisine and an award-winning spa.

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Otesaga Resort Hotel: Cooperstown

Otesaga Resort Hotel Cooperstown
Caitee Smith/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

A member of Historic Hotels of America, the Otesaga in the Leatherstocking region is a grand lakeside resort built in 1909 and within walking distance of historic Cooperstown, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The luxury hotel offers a heated outdoor pool, fitness room, access to lake swimming, canoes, rowboats, tennis courts and the award-winning Leatherstocking Golf Course.

Otesaga Resort has hotel rooms, suites, and a large scenic suite featuring a parlor, dining table, wet bar, and a large private bath.

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Niagara Falls

View of the US side of Niagra Falls
Richie Diesterheft/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Less developed and full of tourists than on the Canadian side, Niagara Falls in New York offers gorgeous views of the falls without requiring a passport.

Explore the falls and surroundings, take a cruise, visit a state park, or shop in the quaint town of Niagara Falls, NY. Families will also enjoy Old Fort Niagra and the Aquarium of Niagra.

Places to stay range from family-friendly chain motels to the historic Red Coach Inn. 

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Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark: Queensbury

Waterslides in the Tall Timber Treehouse structure
Sébastien Champoux/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

This Adirondack-themed family resort—the first hotel with an indoor waterpark in New York state—is part of the Great Escape theme park across the street. The resort is located only 10 minutes from Lake George. Families will enjoy suites designed for groups from four to twelve, some with bunk beds. In the hotel, kids will have fun with the onsite arcade and interactive gaming system.

The Lodge is open year-round (while the theme park is seasonal.) Six Flags is located 50 miles from Albany and 210 miles from NYC.

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Rocking Horse Ranch Resort: Highland

Set on 500 acres just 90 minutes north of New York City in the Catskills, Rocking Horse Ranch offers a mind-boggling array of activities, including trail rides, mini golf, climbing wall, archery, indoor and outdoor pools, with all-inclusive pricing.

There are family-friendly suites, some with bunk beds and their largest room style, a suite featuring over 325 square feet with one queen bed, bunk beds and two full bathrooms.

Of course, there is horseback riding but the ranch complex is also home to the Big Splash Indoor Water Park (with signature 250 foot Gold Rush water flume), Cosmic Mountain Tubing, state-of-the-art snowmaking system, ski lift, beautiful gardens, and restaurant. 

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Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort: Lake Placid

Nestled in the picturesque Adirondack village of Lake Placid, the kid-friendly Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is a terrific, mid-budget choice for families. Golden Arrow is the first resort in the U.S. to receive Audubon International’s Platinum Eco Rating for Hotels. It is dog-friendly.

The indoor pool features a sauna, a steam bath, and two whirlpool tub. Enjoy time with your family on the serene shores of Mirror Lake, just moments from the famed Olympic Village and the heart of Lake Placid.

In the winter, rooms on the first floor become ski-in/ski-out lodging for the cross-country skier. Kids would love the experience of a thrilling dog sled ride. 

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09 of 11

Frost Valley YMCA Family Camp

Family camps offer families an all-inclusive and affordable vacation, with lodging and meals provided as well as many outdoor activities for one price.

The ​Frost Valley YMCA Camp is located in the Catskills and dates back to 1901. A weeklong family camp is offered during August. This annual tradition is eagerly anticipated by many area families. You can bring your own bikes, your bike helmet, flashlights, guitars, etc., and join in on the many all-camp activities.

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Winter in Lake Placid: Top Family Attractions

LakebPlacid BobsleExperience
Courtesy of Whiteface

The site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a wonderful lake-and-mountain town that offers a variety of ways to have your own Olympic experiences.

Besides skiing and skating, you can also try bobsled, skeleton, and even biathlon experiences. Families will also enjoy dog-sled and toboggan rides on frozen Mirror Lake.

In the summer, there is swimming and boating on the motor-free lake. At High Falls Gorge you can walk the bridges, hike the trails, and enjoy the beauty and excitement of the falls. 

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The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

VisitFingerLakes/Wikimedia Commons

The Finger Lakes Region is a 9,000 square mile, four-season playground, set against a backdrop of Mother Nature’s best work—from waterfalls and gorges to thick, cool woods to rolling hills to miles of spectacular shoreline on 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake.

Places to stay range from lakeside cabins to large resorts. There are the usual lake activities for families but the area also boasts attractions such as hiking to the waterfalls at Finger Lakes State Parks, the Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester, visiting the animals at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park in Syracuse or delving in to the joy of play at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester.

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