Photo Credit: Sarah Einhorn
Paterson Great Falls

Summer day trips are a great idea – and they don’t have to break the bank. There are free parks and nature areas, activities like mini golf, bowling and skating, which are generally low cost – or can be made that way by checking out Groupon or Living Social.

Here are some places my family have enjoyed visiting.



Echo Lake Park and Paddle Boating: Mountainside, NJ


The lake is on the small side and as long as everyone wears a life vest, children are allowed to paddle on their own. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables for those who prefer to sit and watch – some shaded ones under the roof adjacent to the café. Across the street is a playground with shaded tables and some grill stations.

When we visited on a hot July afternoon there was a sprinkler spraying into the lake – a fun bonus and a great way to cool off.

Park Drive, Mountainside, NJ 07092
(973) 510-1997
Open daily from 12-6pm and Sunday from 11am-7pm
$10 per paddle boat; holds up to four people

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 40 minutes
Lakewood: 1 hour
Monsey: 50 minutes


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The Castle Fun Center, Chester, NY


Among the great things to do here were go cart tracks – a mini figure eight one for children 5+ and over 42”, ¼ mile adult track that can be ridden in a single or double-seater, and a slick track that is highly polished and slippery (14 years+, at least 54” tall)

They also have bumper cars with a twist, batting cages, rock climbing walls, free fall rides, laser tag, arcades and exciting spinning rides.

The two mini golf courses were exceptional. We had a blast going through all the interesting stations. Some of the holes went through the famed three-story castle, a dark cave, the fire-breathing dragon and above and below all sorts of interesting objects and scenes. (Mini golf at the Castle is available from May-October weather permitting.)

Most activities are half price on Sunday mornings from 10 am to noon. The park is generally less full at that time and you can manage to do lots of activities. If you begin an activity before noon at half price (like mini golf), you can continue until you are done.

109 Brookside Ave, Chester, NY 10918

Summer Hours:
Through Labor Day
Daily from 10 am – 11 pm
Daily Skate Sessions start at 1 pm
Last Go Kart ride & Mini Golf tee time 45 minutes before closing.

Each attraction is priced differently and requires a Castle Card for payment. The Castle Card can be purchased for $1. After loading the card with credits all you have to do is swipe it by the attraction you wish to visit (including arcade games). The cost of the attraction or arcade game will be deducted from your balance as you go.

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Lakewood: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Monsey: 40 minutes

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Paterson Great Falls, Paterson, NJ


A 77 foot high waterfall in the industrial city of Paterson, NJ? You can almost imagine that you are in some remote state park for all the beauty it affords. The parking lot has picnic tables and some grass. There is an access bridge and walkway that takes you right near the falls, where you can enjoy it from up close.

Parking for Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park:
72 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07501
(973) 523-0370

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 45 minutes
Lakewood: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Monsey: 35 minutes


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Park and Ferry, Haverstraw, NY


This is a great afternoon or early evening trip whose only limitation is the ferry. The last morning ferry is at 8:45am and the first afternoon one is at last 4:57 pm. There is a Metro station right by the ferry terminal that goes to Manhattan. It’s a 20 minutes ride across the scenic Hudson River. The first return ferry leaves at 4:42 pm and continues to run continuously until 9:32 pm.

Once you arrive, you can follow the path on the right to Engel Park where there is a sprinkler area. Bring along a change of clothing and water shoes. The sprinkler section of the park closes at 6 pm, so go there first.

The park has swings, monkey bars, slides and more. You can enjoy supper on the picnic tables and then walk along the water.

30-34 Dr. Girling Drive (off 9W)
Haverstraw, NY 10927
NY Waterway Phone Number: 800-533-3779

Ferry Schedule:

One way:
Adult: $4.25
Child (Ages 6-11) $2.00
Senior (62+) $2.00
Multi-trip Fare: 10 trips: $36.75

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 55 minutes
Lakewood: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Monsey: 30 minutes

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Walkway Over the Hudson and Upper Landing Park, Poughkeepsie, NY


This bridge was used for trains going from Poughkeepsie, NY to Highland, NY and was redone as a pedestrian walkway. At 6,768 feet across and a height of 212 feet, it the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. The walkway is open year round, except in inclement weather. Biking and rollerblading are allowed, however motorized vehicles and activities are not allowed. There is a guided cellphone tour available.

A 21-story high glass elevator can be ridden from the bridge down to the Upper Landing Park.

Walkway West (Highland) Entrance
87 Haviland Road
Highland, NY 12528

Walkway East (Poughkeepsie) Entrance
61 Parker Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

$5 for parking

Hours: 7 am to sunset
Elevator Operating Hours: 9 am until 1 hour before closing time.

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Lakewood: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Monsey: 1 hour, 10 minutes

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Leisure Ride Bike Rental, Poughkeepsie, NY


This is just a few miles from the Walkway over the Hudson with a variety of options to choose from. There are regular bikes that can hold a toddler seat, Tandems, and family bikes that can hold up to five people.

The family bikes are generally ridden on the Dutchess Rail Trail, a flat picturesque paved pathway located right near the Leisure Ride store front. The family bike is too heavy for the 6 ½ mile ride to the Walkway over the Hudson.

266 Titusville Road, Poughkeepsie NY 12603
9:30am to 7:00pm
Prices vary. Starting at $9 per hour for first hour regular bike rental.

Approximate Distance from:
Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Lakewood: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Monsey: 1 hour, 10 minutes

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S. Y. Einhorn is a teacher and mother of four who lives in Monsey, NY. She does both writing and photography as a hobby. Her articles and photos of her extensive travels have been published in various magazines and newspapers.