Credit: @nysmuseums on Instagram
Garden City is home to Long Island’s air and space museum, the Cradle of Aviation, named in honor of the cluster of local airfields where many historic flights occurred in the 1920s. You can easily make this dynamic museum the centerpiece of a winter weekend excursion to Garden City, only an hour outside of New York City, which has several cultural attractions and fun diversions for the whole family.
Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.
4 pm: Check into your hotel
Make the grand Garden City Hotel (pictured) your home away from home for a posh getaway to this vibrant village. Ideally located across the street from the Long Island Rail Road and a reasonable drive from JFK Airport, this 269-room hotel boasts an indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and the hype-worthy Red Salt Room by Chef David Burke. Hampton Inn and Hyatt Place also make for excellent stays.
7 pm: Grab a pizza dinner at Grimaldi's
Kick off the weekend with some freshly made, brick-oven thin crust pizza at local favorite, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, which receives high marks (4 stars) on Google. They don’t serve slices so be sure to come with a group—or a big appetite. Bonus: You probably won’t have to wait as long as you would for a table at the chain’s iconic NYC locations.
9 am: Breakfast at Thomas's Ham and Eggery
Long Island is almost as famous for its diners as it is for its beaches. Start off your day with a true diner experience at Thomas's Ham and Eggery, which has been dishing out delicious breakfasts served up in shiny silver skillets since 1946. Hearty frittatas, strawberry croissant French toast, and the fiesta omelette are just a few of the yummy options.
10 am: Learn the history of flight at the Cradle of Aviation
You don’t need to be an aerophile to enjoy the 150,000-square-foot Cradle of Aviation, which features 75 air and spacecraft, from a hot-air balloon to an actual Apollo Lunar Module. The museum has eight chronologically arranged galleries and more than 30 hands-on exhibits, a half dozen cockpits to climb into, and many short films on view. You can also immerse yourself in one of the most powerful virtual reality experiences in the world in the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium, which boasts a state-of-the-art, high-resolution digital projection and sound system. There's even an indoor carousel in an adjacent building! Two hours should be plenty of time to see the entire museum.
12 pm: Lunch at The Burger Spot
Credit: @bigfoodiefrank on Instagram
Refuel for lunch with a casual bite at The Burger Spot. In addition to fresh grass-fed 100% USDA Angus beef burgers with an array of topping combinations, they also have seafood and poultry options as well as several delicious salads.
2 pm: Visit the Long Island Children's Museum
Credit: Long Island Children's Museum
Younger kids will get a kick out of the Long Island Children’s Museum. The 40,000-square-foot museum considers itself to be a “learning laboratory” where visitors of all ages can experiment and play with hands-on exhibits such as the Bubble Room and a two-story climbing structure.
5 pm: Go shopping at Long Island's largest mall
Your next stop—Roosevelt Field—will keep the whole family happy, fed, and entertained for the rest of your evening with 270 shops, from major department stores to popular national chain stores; a Dining District with fast-casual eateries as well as sit-down restaurants; and an 8-screen AMC Loews Theater.
7 pm - Dinner at Waterzooi (Optional)
Credit: @piglovetoeat on Instagram
If you choose to save your appetite to explore more of Long Island's dining scene, then make a reservation at Waterzooi, a lively Belgian bistro specializing in mouthwatering mussel pots with an extensive menu of imported beers, some of the crispiest pomme frites around, and delectable oysters.
9 am: Breakfast at My Three Sons Bagel Cafe
Credit: @mythreesonsbagelcafe on Instagram
No visit to Long Island is complete without a bagel. Head over to My Three Sons Bagel Cafe and get yourself a BEC (that's bacon, egg, and cheese for those who don't know). Opt for the classic version on your choice of bagel (and don't forget the salt, pepper, ketchup!) or try their Truffled BEC (pictured; applewood smoked bacon, over medium eggs, melted Gouda on a toasted handrolled bagel smothered with homemade truffle butter).
10 am: Visit the Nassau County Firefighters Museum
Head over to the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center, a nearly 10,000-square-foot interactive facility where visitors can explore hands-on exhibits that feature antique and contemporary fire gear and an interactive gallery designed to teach kids about fire safety.
12 pm: Visit the Hofstra University Museum of Art
Visit the Hofstra University Museum of Art, which has a permanent collection of more than 5,000 works of art in varied media dating from the ancient to the contemporary, and includes American artists of the 18th through 21st centuries. Admission is free and kids can even complete an activity backpack and take home completed art projects!
From NYC: 45 minutes to 1 hour
From Montreal: 6 hours
From Albany: 2 hours and 45 minutes
From Boston: 3.5 hours
From Philadelphia: 2.5 hours
Travel to Garden City from New York City area's major airports available via taxi:
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Queens, NY: 20 minutes
LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Queens, NY: 30 minutes
Long Island Rail Road to Garden City