Making Memories One Day Trip at a Time

Sandra Mardenfeld, author of New York Day Trips by Theme, shares with us three amazing destinations that are ideal for for families who want take a day trip and forge memories that last. Learning and discovering can be fun, so hop into the car and explore New York State. 

Boldt Castle
You’ll need to take a boat to visit Heart Island, where Boldt Castle
is located; many tour operators travel there, and docking is available for private boats. Besides the main building—where you’ll find a gift shop and a movie theater on the second floor (see the documentary, which tells the sad love story of hotel magnate George Boldt and his wife, Louise; the air-conditioning is also a respite from summer heat)—there are several gardens and buildings, a fountain, and more. The restored ground floor features beautiful rooms and a grand hallway and staircase, but don’t overlook the mazelike basement and its empty swimming pool, along with walls of graffiti left by vandals when the site was once abandoned. There’s a café near the docks and picnic areas throughout the grounds. Open May–October. 

Day trip

Vanderbilt Mansion
Take a 45- to 60-minute guided tour—beware, summer weekends, holidays, and October can sell out—of a 54-room Beaux-Arts–style mansion that still has many of its original furnishings and is a wonderful example of a Gilded Age country house. You’ll learn about its architecture as well as the history of its owners—Frederick, grandson of shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, and his wife, Louise. Roam the 211-acre grounds, which include an Italian Garden (where you can geocache; see, expansive lawns, and sweeping views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. If you have time, walk to Bard’s Rock, which juts out over the Hudson. The Vanderbilt family donated the property, also known as Hyde Park, to the National Park Service in 1940 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested the idea to Frederick’s heir. 

day trip

George Eastman House
Step into the world of George Eastman, camera and film innovator. His colonial revival mansion—which he lived in until his death in 1932—features more than 200,000 original furnishings and artifacts, including photographs and films (the facility has more than 28,000 titles from Thomas Edison’s first Kinetoscope efforts to current times). 

day trip

Wander around on your own, or take a tour. For kids, there’s the Discovery Room, where they can use light-sensitive paper to create images—no camera necessary. You’ll also find five restored garden areas designed according to estate photos, along with original architectural drawings and correspondence descriptions. Screenings of classic films are offered at the 500-seat Dryden Theatre, one of the few venues left with a projection booth that can show 35-millimeter nitrate prints. Events and educational opportunities are offered, too, including talks, workshops, and live music. 

Discover New York state’s unique attractions, one day trip at the time, with Sandra Mardenfeld’s book New York York Day Trips by Theme. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter now!

Liliane Opsomer

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