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  • Last Updated On
  • November 3, 2023

35 Best Things to Do in NYC with Kids: Fun, Family-Friendly Attractions!

Janik Godoy

You might hear that New York City is a fantastic destination for families with kids of all ages.

It has famous monuments, intriguing museums, and thrilling outdoor activities that can keep your entire family delighted. 

As a parent and professional travel writer, I’ve been to this city and studied it extensively.

My kids love this city and consider it one of their favorites. 

Not just that, but New Yorker friends and Hollywood reports all agree that New York is among the most fantastic cities on earth.

And to help you find your way around, I’ve gathered some of the best things to do in NYC with kids.

Below is a list of my favorite kid-friendly places and things to do in New York City.

These activities will make the most unforgettable memories for the whole family, whether you’re a local or a tourist.

Fun Things To Do In NYC With Kids Compared 

There are endless opportunities to explore and experience the city’s vibrant culture, history, and diversity. Here’s a roundup of our top picks:

Editor’s Choice

statue of liberty and ellis island

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Speaking of iconic views, this is obviously one you cannot skip.

  • Age Compatibility: Preschoolers
  • Educational Value: 5/5
  • Fun Factor: 4.5/5
  • Accessibility: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5

#2nd Best Choice

american museum of natural history

American Museum of Natural History

This is one with scavenger hunts and the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs.

  • Age Compatibility: Toddlers
  • Fun Factor: 5/5
  • Accessibility: 4.5/5
  • Affordability: 4.5/5

#3rd Best Choice

the lion king on broadway

The Lion King On Broadway

Enjoy a visual feast at the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “The Lion King.”

  • Educational Value: 4/5

Here are fun activities in NYC with kids.

1. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Editor’s Choice)

Ellis Island Jersey City, NJ (212) 561-4588 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • Interactive exhibits
  • Most iconic landmarks in the United States
  • Might not be enjoyable during rainy days

The immigration museum in Ellis Island is one of the top places for kids in NYC for both entertainment and educational purposes.

It gives them an insight into what it was like to immigrate to the land of opportunities.

When you’re at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, get the kids an audio tour.

They can also climb up to the crown if they are taller than four feet.

There’s also a relatively new museum in here which hosts interactive exhibits.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

Related: Best Family Hotels in New York City

2. American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West & 79th St New York, NY 10024 (212) 769-5100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Educational Value
  • Research opportunities
  • It can get very crowded

That’s got to get the attention of your tots.

Collect the Kids’ Guide and get ready for a fun-filled day.

Head to the Discovery Room where kids from 5-12 years get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific research and check out specimens and rare artifacts.

Also, don’t skip the Hayden Planetarium. It’s one of the best in all of America.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Giraffe by Library Hotel Collection

Related: Best Restaurants in NYC

3. The Lion King On Broadway

200 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036 (866) 870-2717 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Memorable broadway experience
  • Valuable lesson about family
  • Can be expensive

Enjoy a visual feast at the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “The Lion King.” 

The great animal puppets and well-known tunes like “Hakuna Matata” will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.

Moreover, you will even adore that the Academy Award-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is also featured in the show.

These songs can send shivers down your spine. 

Get ready to be captivated by a flawless combination of animation, staging, and costumes. 

If you don’t have your tickets, you should arrive at least 30 minutes early. 

Important reminder, there is a strict ban on all forms of recording media.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: W Hoboken

Related: Best Things to Do in NYC

4. Official NYC Horse Carriage Rides in Central Park

official nyc horse carriage rides in central park

7th Ave & Central Park S New York, NY 10019 (516) 606-6212 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

A carriage ride around Central Park can add an extra dose of romance and wonder to your trip to New York. 

This family-owned business treats you with respect, sincerity, and professionalism, leaving you with fantastic memories.

Prepare to pose at Cherry Hill and Strawberry Fields and see the Wollman Rink, Central Park Carousel, and Pond.

Their riders can also give you a little information about its rich history. 

You can also feed the horse and stay warm with provided blankets in the winter.

So take your kids, even the young at heart, and enjoy the city’s best Central Park horse carriage ride.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Marmara Park Avenue

5. Children’s Museum of the Arts

Children’s Museum Of The Arts

103 Charlton St New York, NY 10014 (212) 274-0986 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is great fun for kids because it is designed to please them.

It is spread over 10,000 square feet and has a ton of activities like art workshops to keep them engaged.

They can also check out the thousands of paintings and drawings created by other kids and maybe even get inspired.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Plaza

Related: Free Things to Do in NYC

6. New York City Fire Museum

New York City Fire Museum

278 Spring Street New York, NY 10013 (212) 691-1303 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you’re in New York with kids, the fire museum is one of those amusing things you must experience with them.

It is set in a historic Beaux Arts building in Soho from the 1900s.

It has vintage fire equipment which makes the experience partly an exploration of an art installation and partly a drill on fire safety.

You also get to learn about the history of New York City firefighters.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Quin Central Park by Hilton Club

Related: Fun Things to Do in NYC at Night

7. Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex

Chelsea Piers Sports And Entertainment Complex

62 Chelsea Piers New York, NY 10011 (212) 336-6666 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

For a day full of family fun, this is a great choice.

This sports complex is situated on 28 acres on three piers of the Hudson river.

Among other things, it has an 80,000 square foot field house, a driving range and a bowling alley.

If you want to take it easy, there’s a pool too.

If you want to skate around, there’s an ice-skating rink.

And that’s available 365 days of the year.

And for those of you who want to cool down, there’s a lovely pool.

Right behind the Chelsea Piers is an outpost spread over 52,000 square feet.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Mandarin Oriental New York

8. National Museum of Mathematics

National Museum Of Mathematics

11 E 26th St New York, NY 10010 (212) 542-0566 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you find Math to be scary or nerdy, this will give you a new perspective.

This is one of those underrated places that has a great variety of kids stuff, waiting to be explored.

It has a lot of exhibits demonstrating the value of math, science and technology in our everyday lives.

There’s also little wonders like square-wheeled tricycles and a range of quizzes and puzzles that will blow your mind.

There’s also the option of painting on a digital canvas.

So if you’re not math-y but artsy, you will still enjoy this museum.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: JW Marriott Essex House New York

9. Empire State Building

Empire State Building

20 W 34th St New York, NY 10001 (212) 736-3100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

We couldn’t skip this one and neither should you.

It sounds a bit of an obvious choice but it really is among the fun things to do in NYC with kids.

The observatory on the 102 nd floor, for example, is an iconic piece of art in itself.

You get to go over 1,200 feet above New York and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

The whole family can get a good look at the Manhattan skyline without having to go there.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Inn At Fox Hollow Hotel

10. New York Public Library

New York Public Library

476 5th Ave New York, NY 10018 (917) 275-6975 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

You meet the iconic marble lions Patience and Fortitude (yes, those are their names) right at the entrance of the New York Public Library.

The building itself is a visual treat for adults who appreciate building designs.

Head to the Rose Main Reading Room in the iconic fifth Avenue building to get a glimpse of that.

For kids, there is a separate section where they can meet Winnie the Pooh and lose themselves in the selection of books.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Kimpton Muse Hotel

Related: Best Beaches in NYC

11. Bryant Park

Bryant Park

New York, NY 10018, United States (212) 768-4242 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is one of the places to go with family during the winter.

There’s an ice skating rink which opens at 8 in the morning, every day and stays open till 10 in the night.

It gets even better for kids because they get to skate ahead of time if you block a spot for them.

Then you’ll have lots of time to get a hot cup of cocoa which is the icing on the cake for this experience.

12. The New Victory Theater

The New Victory Theater

209 W 42nd St New York, NY 10036 (646) 223-3010 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is a place of performing arts dedicated to entertaining kids.

And it’s not for profit so you’ll be doing something good while having a great time.

It’s like an introductory class in theatre, dance and music for people of all ages.

The New Victory Theaters also has a touch of circuses, which is one of the best kids’ attractions in any city.

You can also catch an autism-friendly show which comes with alerts before loud noises or low lighting.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Bryant Park Hotel

13. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum

Pier 86, W 46th St New York, NY 10036 (877) 957-7447 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you’re an aviation enthusiast, you’re in luck.

This museum in Hell’s Kitchen is a testament to American history in sea, air and space, as the name suggests.

Speaking of which, it is also home to the iconic aircraft Intrepid.

This museum is more than just interesting.

It’s actually educational for the little ones and mom and dad.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Whitby Hotel

Also See: Things to Do in Times Square, NY with Kids Fun Things to Do in Brooklyn with Kids

14. SPYSCAPE

Spyscape

928 8th Ave New York, NY 10019 (212) 549-1941 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If your kids loved the 2001 blockbuster Spy Kids then you have to bring them here.

It opened in 2018 in midtown and has a bunch of kid-friendly activities that will keep them busy for hours.

There are spy-themed puzzles, dodging of lasers and other Mission Impossible-style activities.

When they’re done they might even tell you if they’re an agent handler, an intelligent analyst or the next James Bond (or Ethan Hunt since it’s Mission Impossible).

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Conrad New York Midtown

15. Roosevelt Island and Tram

Roosevelt Island And Tram

Roosevelt Island New York, NY 10044 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is one of those vintage modes of transport you don’t see everywhere.

It runs over the East River towards Roosevelt Island, which is just two miles long.

Once you get there, you can explore Southpoint Park next to the river or head towards the North Point Lighthouse.

There’s also the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park designed by Louis Kahn which gives a great view of Manhattan.

16. Central Park

Central Park

1802 65th St Transverse New York, NY 10065 (212) 439-6900 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

We cannot discuss where to take children in New York City without talking about Central Park.

Designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, it is the most-visited urban park in the entire country.

Central Park has some amazing pockets of fun like the historic carousel near the Dairy.

You can enjoy the ride or take a ton of pictures here.

There’s also the Belvedere Castle which was recently renovated and is a big hit with the kids.

Related: Things to Do Near NYC

17. DiMenna Children’s History Museum

Dimenna Children’s History Museum

170 Central Park West New York, NY 10024 (212) 873-3400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Another must-visit museum in the city, this is inside the New-York Historical Society .

It’s a smaller place meant to entertain young people. It has a rich narrative of the history of the city.

They can learn about icons like Alexander Hamilton and meet re-enactors too.

It’s a great place to understand the different milestones in the evolution of NYC.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York

Also See: Queens Attractions for Kids Kid Friendly Things to Do in Buffalo

18. Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

4 Whitehall St New York, NY 10004 (212) 639-9675 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is one of the top mentions in every tourist hotspot listicle on New York City.

And there’s a reason for it.

The ferry gives you a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York Harbor.

It’s a 25-minute ride on one side and is one of the fun things for kids to do in the city.

And on your way back, you should also check out the St. George neighborhood for some more picturesque frames.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Crosby Street Hotel

19. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Children’s Museum Of Manhattan

212 W 83rd St New York, NY 10024 (212) 721-1223 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you feel like exploring something indoors, here are another five floors of fun called the Children’s Museum of Manhattan to the rescue.

Here you will find interactive exhibits that allow children to dance and perform but also snag in a quick story and other low-key activities.

It’s right next to Central Park so you always have the option of heading out if it turns out to be a pleasant day.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: 1 Hotel Central Park

20. Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum Of Art Storytelling

898 St Nicholas Ave New York, NY 10032 (212) 335-0004 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If your kids are fans of art and stories, this one in Harlem will make their day.

It is spread over 17,000 square feet on two floors of an affordable housing project.

It was designed by British architect David Adjaye and is meant to entertain and educate kids of ages 3-8.

Throughout the year, you can find storytelling series and art exhibitions here.

There are many workshops and you can enroll them in an education curriculum if inspiration strikes.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Homewood Suites by Hilton Edgewater-NYC Area

21. New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

2900 Southern Blvd Bronx, NY 10458 (718) 817-8700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The New York Botanical Garden is filled with exhibitions that will knock your boots off.

The Everett Children’s Adventure has boulders and mazes that keep the young ones occupied which you take some time to check out the lily pads.

And in winter, there’s an annual Holiday Train Show which is guaranteed to entertain the whole family.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Residence Inn by Marriott The Bronx at Metro Center Atrium

22. Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35th Av Queens, NY 11106 (718) 777-6800 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

This is another museum that the kids will love.

Once you’re here, you must check out Behind The Screen which showcases hundreds of artifacts from movies.

Cue Chewbacca mask for the Star Warriors.

There are also interactive exhibits where children can try and make stop-motion animations on their own.

They can also create sound effects and flipbooks.

Also, don’t miss the permanent Jim Henson exhibit which has the original puppets from his contributions.

Fun fact: The long-time PBS special, Sesame Street was filmed near here at the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Also See: Things for Kids to Do in The Adirondacks Things to Do in Albany for Kids

23. Queens Museum

Queens Museum

New York City Building Corona, NY 11368 (718) 592-9700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If your kid cannot get enough of Legos then this place will make them giddy with joy.

For starters, there is a scaled model of the five boroughs of NYC called The Panorama of the City of New York.

It was made in 1964 for the World’s Fair that year and has been updated over time.

The whole family can also attend workshops that will awaken the artist in all of you.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Elmhurst Hotel

24. New York Hall Of Science

New York Hall Of Science

47-01 111th St Corona, NY 11368 (718) 699-0005 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The New York Hall of Science is a temple for those who love the STEM subjects.

This is another piece of beauty from the World’s Fair of 1964.

The Science Playground is for pre-schoolers.

The Sports Challenge is where physics and math come together to enhance the experience of sports like basketball.

There’s also an indoor playground with water features for those hot summer days. All of this is just a sneak peek.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: SpringHill Suites by Marriott New York LaGuardia Airport

25. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

334 Furman St Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 222-9939 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Spread over 85 acres of pure joy, this is a place for adults and children.

The Manhattan skyline is just one of the views to check out.

It is located over 1.3 miles along the East River and is divided into sections.

There are six refurbished piers here with playgrounds.

The experience is incomplete without a tour of Slide Mountain, the vintage carousel at Empire Fulton Ferry and roller skating at Pier 2.

26. New York Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum

Boerum Pl & Schermerhorn St Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 694-1600 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Whether you’re near the Grand Central Terminal (satellite location) or in Brooklyn, you can catch a glimpse of the New York Transit Museum for a touch of history.

This is a decommissioned subway station which has interactive exhibits to teach children about the history of subways.

You can learn about fare collection and construction of a subway.

You can also get close to vintage subway cars and buses while you’re here.

Also See: NYC on a Budget Kids Activities: Rochester Things to Do in Syracuse with Kids

27. LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn

Lefrak Center At Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn

171 East Dr Brooklyn, NY 11225 (718) 462-0010 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

From winter ice skating or summer roller skating, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a great destination for a fun day with the family.

It is on 75,000 square feet of property and has recreational activities lined up throughout the year.

There’s a splash pad with over 40 sprinklers for the hotter days.

You can bring your own skates or rent out a pair.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hilton Brooklyn New York

28. Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

145 Brooklyn Ave Brooklyn, NY 11213 (718) 735-4400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

We promise this is the last of the museums in New York City.

But there’s so much history to cover. This one is the first museum created exclusively for tots and middle schoolers.

It was founded in 1899 and has won some awards too.

At World Brooklyn, you will find pint-sized shops that allow kids to play-act shopkeepers and builders.

At Neighborhood Nature, you will find diorama habitats and a greenhouse.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Indigo – Williamsburg – Brooklyn

29. New York Aquarium

New York Aquarium

602 Surf Ave Brooklyn, NY 11224 (718) 265-3474 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Coney Island is a synonym of fun.

And while you’re there, you must check out the New York Aquarium which is open throughout the year.

You can learn about a variety of underwater creatures.

A new exhibit called “Ocean Wonder: Sharks” spread over 57,000 square feet, located on the boardwalk, is the one to steal the thunder most recently.

Here, you’ll find marine animals and some saw-toothed predators.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Best Western Brooklyn-Coney Island Inn

30. Governors Island

Governors Island

Governors Island, NY 11231 (212) 440-2200 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The last one on the list of must-do activities in New York City is another island.

It used to be a military base of buildings and lawns.

When you’re here, you feel like a part of New England was imported into NYC.

It’s 800 yards from Manhattan and you can get here through the ferry.

It’s like a park with winding paths and playgrounds.

Here, you’ll find some of the city’s best food trucks and that’s a New York experience to savor.

Sit back and enjoy the cool ocean breeze in a ‘New York minute’.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Boro Hotel

31. Time Out Market New York

Time Out Market New York

55 Water St Brooklyn, NY 11201 (917) 810-4855 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you’re in the Brooklyn area and scratching your head wondering about “things to do with kids near me”, Time Out Market is always a hit.

With a curated selection of eateries like Jacob’s Pickles and Fornino, it offers something for everyone.

Kids will go nuts for the inventive ice cream flavors at Sugar Hill Creamery and the crispy fried chicken from Jacob’s Pickles.

Parents, you’re not left out—enjoy gourmet options and perhaps a glass of wine.

The open layout means kids can roam a bit, and everyone can enjoy the views.

The stunning views of the East River and iconic Brooklyn Bridge add a scenic touch to your meal.

Seasonal events and food stalls keep the experience fresh for each visit.

32. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Ave New York, NY 10028 (212) 535-7710 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Remember that book where kids lived in a museum?

At The Met, that fantasy feels possible.

The Met is a treasure trove of art and history that captivates kids and adults alike.

From Egyptian temples to Frank Lloyd Wright houses, it’s like stepping into a storybook.

The museum offers free Family Guides to make exhibits engaging for young minds.

Storytime at the Nolan Library adds an educational twist.

And don’t forget the family entrance—no lines and stroller-friendly.

If you’re searching for educational NYC kids activities, you can’t go wrong with this museum.

33. Rose Center for Earth and Space

Rose Center for Earth and Space

81st Street between Central Park W and Columbus Ave New York, NY 10024 (212) 769-5100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you’re on the hunt for indoor kids activities, NYC, New York, won’t bore you out.

Here at Rose Center for Earth and Space, kids can explore the universe without leaving Manhattan.

The 87-foot Hayden Sphere is the centerpiece, offering a visual feast for families.

The space show “Worlds Beyond Earth” is also a must-see, and the exhibits offer bite-sized facts about our cosmic neighborhood.

It’s educational but feels like an adventure, a win-win for both parents and kids.

34. Symphony Space

Symphony Space

Upper Level, 2537 Broadway New York, NY 10025 (212) 864-5400 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you’re searching for exciting things to do with kids, NYC has this popular gem for you to explore.

Located at the 95th and Broadway, Symphony Space is a vibrant mix of music, dance, and literature that keeps kids entertained and engaged.

From circus acts to beatboxing, this place is a sensory feast.

The Thalia Kids Book Club adds a literary angle, letting young readers interact with their favorite authors.

With a wide range of programs, it’s easily one of the top fun things to do in NYC for kids.

35. Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

1000 Richmond Ter Staten Island, NY 10301 (718) 425-3504 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Your search for the best kid friendly things to do in NYC is over.

Snug Harbor in Staten Island is an interactive playground for families in the Big Apple.

With hands-on exhibits and the magical Connie Gretz Secret Garden, it’s a day well spent.

Kids can get crafty, sing, dance, and explore exhibits.

The Connie Gretz Secret Garden is a maze of fun inspired by a classic novel.

And if you visit during the Winter Lantern Festival, expect an eight-acre wonderland of dazzling, culturally rich displays.

The interactive exhibits and garden maze offer varied activities for different age groups.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Harbor House Bed and Breakfast

Activity Guide 

Comparing attractions: which one is right for you.

Choosing a suitable family activity will depend on several factors, including your family’s interests, budget, and time constraints.

Alright, let’s do a side-by-side comparison of these extraordinary attractions. 

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of freedom and is a must-see for history buffs. 

But if your kiddos are more into dinosaurs and space, the American Museum of Natural History will be their wonderland. 

On the other hand, The Lion King On Broadway offers a magical blend of theater and music.

And, if you want to feel the charm of NYC at a slower pace, the Horse Carriage Ride in Central Park might just be the ticket. 

Each has its unique appeal, so it’s all about finding your family’s vibe. 

How I Picked The Activities

I’m intentional about everything I do with my kids, so I nurture them by including them in fun and educational activities.

As I have also been a travel blogger, my goal is to provide you with the best attractions.

This article considers age applicability, educational value, fun factor, accessibility, and affordability. 

I also base this upon other parents’ reviews and suggestions on trusted travel websites for families. 

Our Rating Method 

I rate these activities based on the following criteria: 

  • Age Compatibility: I use this criterion to assess the ideal age range for each attraction. Is this activity suitable for toddlers, preschoolers, or young children? Will teenagers and tweens enjoy this attraction? I ask myself these questions whenever I assess age compatibility. 
  • Educational Value: This is used to evaluate the educational benefits that the activity offers. Does the activity provide learning opportunities to children? Does it teach them lessons in science and history? I ask myself these important questions when rating the activity’s educational value. 
  • Fun Factor: This measures the level of excitement, engagement, and enjoyment that the activity offers. Is it engaging and enjoyable for kids? Will it create memorable and positive experiences for families? These questions are important whenever I rate the activity’s fun factor. 
  • Accessibility: This measures how accessible the activity is for families. Is it wheelchair accessible? Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Does it have ample parking space? I consider these factors when evaluating the accessibility of every activity. 
  • Affordability: This assesses the value of money provided by the activity. Are the admission fees reasonable? Does it offer deals or discounts for families? I use these questions to evaluate the affordability of every attraction.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is nyc a child friendly city.

Yes, New York City is a child-friendly city with numerous parks, museums, and family-friendly attractions. But the crowded environment requires extra vigilance when navigating with children.

What Is The Best Area For Family Trips In New York City?

The most popular areas for family trips in New York City include Central Park, as well as the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, with various family-oriented amenities.

Best Things to Do in NYC with Kids: Reddit User Recommendations

What are the best things to do for a family with a 4-year-old visiting NYC? by u/signal in AskNYC

best things to do in nyc with kids travel photo

From the hustle and bustle of the streets to the breathtaking views of its parks, this world-famous city offers some of the most enjoyable activities for your family.

My spouse and kids had such a good time throughout the trip that I almost ran out of space on my camera.

My kids got thrilled at the American Museum of Natural History, seeing the scavenger hunts and the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs.

We followed that up by taking in the tear-jerking The Lion King on Broadway. 

We also had a lovely carriage ride through Central Park as we further explored the city.

Our driver was great and told us interesting things about the park as we went. 

He also stopped to let us take pictures and feed the horse. 

But one of the best things to do in NYC with kids, which I highly recommend, is the must-visit Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

The kids and I learned a ton from our guide, who was also incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

35 Best Things to Do in NYC with Kids: Fun, Family-Friendly Attractions!

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The 24 Best Things To Do in New York City With Kids [2023]

Chris Hassan's image

Chris Hassan

Social Media & Brand Manager

Countries Visited: 21 U.S. States Visited: 24

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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

Countries Visited: 44 U.S. States Visited: 28

The 24 Best Things To Do in New York City With Kids [2023]

1. Visit the Empire State Building

2. head up to the one world observatory, 3. go ice skating at rockefeller center, 4. grab a slice of pizza, 5. ride the staten island ferry, 6. visit the statue of liberty and ellis island, 7. walk through times square, 8. spot celebs at madame tussauds, 9. climb the vessel, 10. walk on the edge, 11. visit the american museum of natural history, 12. explore the children’s museum of the arts, 13. indulge at the museum of ice cream, 14. discover the national museum of mathematics, 15. board the intrepid sea, air & space museum, 16. play at the children’s zoo at the bronx zoo, 17. get some exercise at the chelsea piers sports and entertainment complex, 18. check out madison square garden, 19. visit yankee stadium, 20. bryant park, 21. brooklyn bridge park, 22. central park, 23. little island, 24. the high line, final thoughts.

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

One of the most famous and most visited cities in the world is New York City. New York, also known affectionately as “The Big Apple,” is the most populous city in the U.S., a major business and financial hub, and a favorite tourist destination for travelers from around the world.

Famous for everything from pizza and bagels to Times Square and the iconic Statue of Liberty, even if you’ve never been to New York City, you’re probably already quite familiar with many of its claims to fame.

With direct flights from almost anywhere in the U.S. (and even the rest of the world), getting to NYC is relatively easy. When flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) , LaGuardia Airport (LGA) , or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) , you’re just a short drive (depending on traffic) or subway ride away from Manhattan.

Whether you’re planning on catching a show on Broadway, eating dinner in Little Italy, visiting the Empire State Building, or are in town to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, you will soon realize there is so much more to do than any guide could list for you.

This quick list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a good starting point to help start getting the travel planning juices flowing! With small kids in tow, the most important thing is to be flexible, and the suggestions below should be entertaining and affordable enough to keep the entire family happy.

Let’s jump in and check out some fun things to do with small children in New York City!

The Best Activities in New York City With Kids

Empire State Building New York City by Charles Parker from Pexels

Located on the famed Fifth Avenue, one of the most iconic buildings in the world and a focal point of the Manhattan skyline is the Empire State Building .

The 102-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan welcomes about 4 million visitors per year to its observation decks on its 86th and 102nd floors.

Visitors can shoot up to the top floors and take in some self-guided audio tours along the way. With exhibitions highlighting the construction history, the building’s appearances in media, and even King Kong’s hands coming through the wall , there is plenty to see and do before even reaching the top.

As long as your little ones aren’t too afraid of heights, this will be a fun tour and a great way to see NYC from above.

One World Observatory Freedom Tower New York Sky Portal

The One World Observatory , also known as the Freedom Tower, sits on the site of the World Trade Center that was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

This massive tower in Lower Manhattan is the tallest building in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere . The impressive building is home to some of the fastest elevators in the world (which the kids will love) and there is enough technology to keep everyone in awe.

One of the coolest features is a 14-foot wide glass disc made of HD screens that projects a video of the streets 100 stories below using real-time footage. So you will get the thrill of walking on a skywalk, without actually having to actually walk on one!

Rockefeller Center Ice Rink Christmas Tree New York City

One of the most traditional things you can do in the winter in NYC is to go ice skating at The Rink at Rockefeller Center .

Open during the fall and winter months , locals and tourists alike can’t pass up the charming opportunity to do a bit of ice skating in the big city. With the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in the background and lights decorating all around, you will be creating lasting family memories at this world-famous spot.

Of course, you aren’t expected to carry around your own skates through the streets of New York (although you can if you want), so you can rent them on-site for a small fee.

Patsy Pizzeria New York

Visiting New York City and not having a slice of pizza is like going to the beach but refusing to touch the sand — it’s a must-do.

With over 1,000 pizza joints in NYC alone, you will probably have an option for a slice on almost every corner. With everything from $1 slices to gourmet pies, your options are almost unlimited, and a good portion of those are pretty darn tasty.

And if there is 1 thing that almost all kids love, it’s pizza!

Staten Island Ferry and Statue of Liberty

New York can get expensive, quickly. So when something fun and free shows up on multiple “must-do” lists, you should definitely consider it.

The Staten Island Ferry is a free (yes, free!) ferry ride through New York Harbor which will bring you to and from Staten Island via Manhattan. The 25-minute boat ride (each way) will take you past the Statue of Liberty and provide incredible views of the New York skyline.

Your little one will be sure to love a quick boat ride and parents will be able to enjoy the discounted tour as well.

Statue of Liberty New York Image Credit National Parks Service

The Statue of Liberty , also known as Lady Liberty, was a gift from the people of France back in 1886 as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.

The Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum are 2 important national monuments that are educational and valuable for kids and adults to see in person. There are audio tours available for kids from 6 to 10 years old and kids over 4 feet tall can even climb to the top of the statue’s crown — which is a really unique experience when you think about it.

Visitors coming from Manhattan can hop on a ferry that leaves from Battery Park. While admission is free, you will need to pay about $25 for the boat ride; children ages 4 to 12 are half-price.

Hot Tip: Traveling with kids can be less expensive when you have the right mix of cards in your wallet. Check out our guide to the best credit cards for maximizing family travel !

New York Times Square Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura from Pexels

When you think of New York City, one of the most common images that comes to mind is Times Square .

This major commercial intersection is famous for its massive digital billboards, advertisements, flagship retail stores, and the New Year’s Eve ball drop . With over 50 million visitors each year, it’s one of the world’s busiest tourist attractions — and it’s free!

Just be sure to hold your kids close, because it gets busy — almost 400,000 pedestrians make their way through these streets every day and it can get a bit chaotic!

Hot Tip: Yes, you can use points and miles to book a weekend trip to New York City !

Madame Tussauds New York Ghostbusters

Located conveniently in Times Square, “The World’s Greatest Wax Museum” is a fun and family-friendly option when visiting New York City.

Madame Tussauds has 5 floors of celebrity fun, a 4D Marvel movie, a 7D carnival game, and even a glass dome that sticks out into Times Square to offer awesome views of the activity below!

Whether you want a selfie with your favorite Kardashian or to be a guest on “The Tonight Show,” a stop at Madame Tussauds is a must.

View of the Public Square and Gardens Timothy Schenck 1

One of the newest additions to New Yorks’s ever-changing attractions list is The Vessel at Hudson Yards.

This is a new development area and is home to The Vessel, a 16-story honeycomb-like structure with over 150 flights of stairs and 80 landings for visitors to climb and explore. The stunning copper and mirror-like finish will make for an impressive Instagram post.

Needless to say, the design is eye-catching and your kids will surely love the unique climb.

Note: The Vessel is currently closed. Access to the ground-level base is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with no reservation required.

Edge New York

There is a lot of competition when it comes to offering the best view in New York City, and there’s a new player in the game that is conveniently located next to The Vessel.

Edge at Hudson Yards is the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere and offers 360-degree views of the city to make you feel like you are floating in the sky .

Standing 100 stories up on a glass floor is exciting and will be a memorable experience for everyone in the family!

Hot Tip: If you are traveling to New York City on a budget, don’t miss the best cheap hotels in Manhattan .

The Best Museums in New York City With Kids

American Museum of Natural History

Did someone say “the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs?” No? Ok, well if you or your kids want to check out some incredible dinos, you can’t miss the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park West.

With some of the most complete and impressive collections and displays , kids and adults will be blown away by this incredible museum. Kids can explore the Discovery Room where they can get hands-on with interactive experiences and get a unique behind-the-scenes look at the scientific research that goes into these exhibits.

Combine that with one of the best planetariums in the country and a kid’s guide to break it all down in terms your little ones will understand and appreciate, and a visit to the American Museum of Natural History is a must-do on your trip to New York City.

Childrens Museum of the Arts SoHo New York

As much as we want to show kids the incredible museums that we love, it is hard to compare them to a dedicated children’s museum. That is why you should consider a trip to the Children’s Museum of the Arts in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

The mission of the museum is to “unite children and artists to create and share ambitious works of art with their communities and their world” — what’s not to like about that?

There are over 10,000 square feet of kid-focused activities, hands-on workshops, and gorgeous artwork created by talented kids!

Museum of Ice Cream New York City

If you are having a hard time trying to convince your kids to go to a museum, try the Museum of Ice Cream ! Yes, you read that correctly — there is a museum dedicated to ice cream.

This is not your typical museum — think of it as more of a giant Instagram photoshoot revolving around all things ice cream and dessert.

The kids will be happy (and on a sugar high) thanks to all of the treats that are included throughout the museum, and mom and dad will be happy because the little ones may actually want to pose for some pictures thanks to all of the cool exhibits.

Tickets can be hard to come by, so if you are interested, start planning now before they all get “scooped” up!

Museum of Math squared tricycle

On the surface, the National Museum of Mathematics may not sound that fun for small children (especially after hearing about the Museum of Ice Cream!), but this museum is anything but boring.

The dynamic museum is full of fun, hands-on exhibits that highlight how math plays a role in our everyday lives. Everything from rollercoasters to basketballs to a square-wheeled tricycle is explained in a way that will only spark more curiosity from your little one (and probably you, too).

Located right near Madison Square Park, this under-the-radar museum should make it on your list.

Hot Tip: Are you ready to travel to NYC? Here are the best New York City hotels to book with points for max value .

F 21A Kfir at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York

We couldn’t talk about museums in New York without mentioning the AvGeek paradise that is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum .

This museum is an actual aircraft carrier docked at Pier 86 and loaded with fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, and even a space shuttle!

You can easily spend at least a few hours here exploring this massive floating museum and all of the aircraft on it. A fan favorite for kids and adults.

Be sure to check out our guide to the best museums in New York for further ideas.

Bronx Zoo Toucan

One of the largest zoos in the U.S., the Bronx Zoo has over 265 acres of land and habitats right along the Bronx River. Easily accessible via public transportation or car, this zoo is a great way to spend a day — or more — since it is so big.

With everything from gorillas from the Congo to a stunning tiger exhibit, there is so much to see and be in awe of that you will forget you are in the middle of a massive city.

For the smaller guests, there is a Children’s Zoo inside the Bronx Zoo where kids can get up close and even pet some of the resident goats, sheep, and donkeys.

Hot Tip: Admission to the Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays , you just need to book your ticket online . 

The Best Sports in New York City With Kids

Chelsea Piers New York City sports arena

If walking around Manhattan isn’t enough to burn all of your kid’s energy, consider stopping by the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex .

Located (literally) on the Hudson River, this 28-acre sports complex has a little bit of everything, including a swimming pool, bowling alley, a year-round ice skating rink , a driving range, a fitness club, and even recreation classes for kids.

Whether the kids want to jump in the pool or mom and dad want to visit the driving range, the backdrop is like no other.

Madison Square Garden New York Rangers Hockey game via Seth Hoffman via Unsplash

One of the most famous and visited arenas in the world is New York’s Madison Square Garden . Also known as “MSG” or “The Garden,” Madison Square Garden is located in Midtown Manhattan right on top of Pennsylvania Station.

Opened in 1968, it is the oldest arena for both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association. The Garden is home to the New York Rangers (NHL) and New York Knicks (NBA) , as well as a popular spot for major concerts, shows, and other events.

With something almost always going on, if you want to check out this iconic arena, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

Yankees Stadium crowd

Baseball fans either love ’em or hate ’em — the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees play in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium .

This 47,000+ seat stadium opened in 2009, replacing the original Yankee Stadium, which was next door. With easy public transportation and relatively cheap tickets available during the regular season (summer months), spending a night watching the “Bronx Bombers” could be an exciting option for the whole family.

Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, the atmosphere is a lot of fun.

The Best Parks in New York City With Kids

Bank of American Winter Village at Bryant Park New York City

New York may seem like a concrete jungle from afar, but the city is full of unique and beautiful parks. One of the smaller, yet very popular parks is Bryant Park . This public park is almost 10 acres and is located between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd.

This charming little park is open year-round and is lush and green during summer and then converts to the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park . With a skating rink, plenty of kiosks, and shops around the park, bringing the family here as a pit stop during your day will be welcomed by all.

With a picnic and a seat in the grass during the summer or a skate and a hot chocolate in the winter, no matter when you visit, you are sure to have a great time.

Swing Valley at Pier 6 Brooklyn Bridge Park New York Image Credit Alexa Hoyer via Brooklyn Bridge Park.org

One of the more fun and famous walks in New York is crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Once you arrive, you will be right in the middle of Brooklyn Bridge Park , which is 85 acres of recreation and entertainment.

Separated into unique sections, there are multiple piers that are full of playgrounds, a vintage carousel , and stunning views of Manhattan. Thanks to some delicious food and beverage options throughout the park, you can easily spend a long afternoon here enjoying the amenities like a local.

Central Park New York City by David Vives via Unsplash

Probably one of, if not the most famous park in the world is Central Park in New York City.

Located between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan (you can’t miss it on a map), Central Park is a massive 843-acre park that welcomes over 42 million visitors per year.

There are so many activities available that we had to create a separate guide just for things to do in Central Park . Some of the park highlights that the kids will enjoy include picnics, playgrounds, horse and carriage tours, and the famous carousel.

But with seasonal events like boat rentals, carnivals, ice skating, and a zoo , you may find something even better for your family.

Even without a plan, just strolling through the park is refreshing after navigating your way through the city.

Little Island Pier 54 Hudson River New York

The newest addition to the New York City park scene is Little Island . Opened in May 2021, this “floating” park sits on the old pillars of Pier 54 in the Hudson River in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhoods of Manhattan.

The 2.4-acre park has multiple lawns, paths, and plants that create a stunning garden with an incredible view of Manhattan. Little Island offers activities and workshops for families and kids of all ages, which is a great perk for the little ones.

Admission is free and reservations are no longer required.

The High Line New York City

Aside from Central Park, one of the most popular outdoor destinations in NYC is The High Line . Completed in 2009, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated greenway and park created from a repurposed former railroad spur that was destined for demolition.

Located on the west side of Manhattan, near the popular Chelsea Market, this icon of contemporary landscaping and architecture is an excellent way to see New York from a different angle and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.

Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of walking through a garden suspended in the air and it is a great way to get between destinations in the city without dealing with traffic or the subway.

Girl looking out InterContinental IHG Hotel Window in Times Square New York

For travelers, visiting New York City is bucket list material. Hey, it’s “a city so nice, they named it twice!”

Although the Big Apple may not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to traveling with kids, the city is so diverse that there is more than you could ever fit in during a week-long trip.

No matter if you want to spend your time museum-hopping, relaxing in the parks outdoors, or visiting some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, New York will be able to accommodate you and your small child to make sure that you have a memorable vacation.

It would be a much longer article if we covered all of the options for small kids in NYC, but if we missed something obvious, let us know in the comments or join our private Facebook Group, Level UP Travel !

Besides that, safe travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is there to do with kids outside in nyc.

There is so much to see and do in New York City with kids. You can take them to Central Park for a picnic, a zoo to learn about animals, the High Line for a unique view of the city, and so much more!

Is New York a good vacation spot with small children?

Yes! New York City is an excellent option for a family vacation thanks to the plethora of options of things to do. From museums to parks and playgrounds, everyone will enjoy their trip.

What is the best museum in NYC for kids?

There are so many museums to choose from. From the American Museum of Natural History to the Museum of Ice Cream, you and your kids will have a blast learning and exploring the city.

What are some fun activities for kids in New York City?

Grab your kids and head into the city because we put together a great list of activities they will love. From eating pizza and ice cream to visiting the zoo and museums, your next family vacation to NYC will be a lot of fun!

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About Chris Hassan

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a passion for making content catered toward family travelers.

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Well Traveled Kids

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids

Traveling to New York City with a 5-year-old doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love about the city, like shopping, theatre, and dining. It just means your options are going to be slightly—altered.

My husband and I took our 5-year-old son Harry to the Big Apple this summer, and he loved every minute of it. We did, too. (For more tips on successful sightseeing with a 5 year old in New York, check out Part 1  of this series that includes great NYC spots to visit with kids like One World Observatory.

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Probably the most important step you can take in planning a trip to New York City with kids is to alter your expectations. Here’s how—and a few more tips and tricks for your trip. We spent 5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old and have lots of advice to share. Read on to see what we recommend for a fun family adventure in NYC with kids:

Family Adventures in New York City Kids!

You’ll still get to do plenty of shopping; it’ll just be for toys and candy. New York offers great options for the younger shopper.

There’s a Lego Store and NBC Experience shop in Rockefeller Center and a mega Disney Store right in Times Square, where Harry picked up a Minnie Mouse dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. It’s a different kind of shopping than I was used to in New York, but definitely still fun.

Checking out the food scene can still be a big part of your experience in New York City, but you’ll probably go to different restaurants than you would as a couple. Harry loved trying legendary NYC cheesecake, pizza and bagels. We went to the famous Shake Shack as well as Junior’s for the most fabulous cheesecake . John’s Pizza offers classic New York-style pizza in the theater district, but our favorite place to eat was Ellen’s Startdust Diner , where the singing wait staff serenades you through the dining experience.

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Finding a nice, comfortable hotel in New York is key. You’re not going to spend a lot of time there if your busy sightseeing, but you’ll want to make the most of it when you do. I tell my friends to make sure to get a hotel room near where you want to sightsee. We were big fans of the Westin Times Square . We used our Starwood SPG points and booked a fantastic suite, which was really large and comfortable. Harry had a pull-out bed in a separate divided part of the room, where he could go zone out with his own TV in between long sight-seeing days. Everything about it was convenient for families—with the lights of Time Square, the subway, and convenient stores all right there. I also appreciated that the suites were large and newer compared to most of the old New York hotels.

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Below are  more key tips & tricks for traveling to New York with kids 5 or younger:

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Bring a stroller.

Even though your kid probably doesn’t use a stroller anymore for everyday life, bring an umbrella stroller. You walk everywhere in New York. You could walk a mile just getting around the subway. The stroller will come in handy—trust me. It’s also helpful when you’re walking through extra crowded areas. Put your little one in the stroller and push ahead. The kid can look around without getting separated from you.

Plan your day loosely.

Seeing the city of New York through the wonder of a young kid’s eyes—you don’t know where it’s going to take you or what your kid will want to do. Make only a couple of plans each day, and just see where you end up.

Put the Uber app on your phone.

Living in Chicago, we’re used to using Uber, but the car service has been the best thing to happen to Manhattan. In the past, New York taxi drivers were a mean bunch, but we’ve had really pleasant experiences using Uber. Drivers offered us everything from cold water to advice about things to do and see.

If you have never used Uber before, you can use code 515ba or   use this link for $5 off your first ride!

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Bring an ID tag for you kiddo.

Pin it in their pocket or pin it to their clothing in case you get separated. Make sure they know where it is, and have a plan if you get separated. Every morning before we left our suite, we reviewed our plan with Harry: to find a mommy or a police officer, and show them their tag so they can find us.

Give your kid a camera of their own or let them take photos with your phone.

There are so many people, places, and things to photograph in the city. Harry loved taking pictures of the buildings and the larger-than-life animals at the toy store.

Beware of characters.

I’m not talking about people on the street. I mean the myriad Mickeys, Minnies, Statues of Liberty, and Sponge Bobs who stand outside of the toy stores or in Times Square just waiting to take a picture with your family—and then charge you for it. When we first got to Toys R Us, an Olaf jumped in for a photo with Harry, who definitely wanted a picture with one of his favorite characters. But then Mickey came over…and Sponge Bob…and the Statue of Liberty. And after we took the photo, they each demanded $5. It can be intense, so be ready.

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

Dress for the city.

Carry a small, cross-body purse with essentials or a backpack with extra clothes, but nothing of value. New York City is huge, and you’re going to be paying attention to your kid, less so your surroundings. Travel light, and make sure you’re safe. We never felt unsafe, but I always like to be prepared for anything.

When we flew back to Chicago five days after arriving in New York, we were all sad to leave. There were a lot of things on our to-see lists that we just didn’t get to. And two months later, Harry is still talking about all that we did. Who would have guessed we’d have so much fun in New York City with a 5-year-old?!

5 Days in New York City with a 5-Year-Old—Shopping, Dining & Exploring NYC with kids | stuff to do in NYC with kids | Fun in NYC with little kids

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New York City with Kids

Sarah is a Chicago-based luxury travel influencer, Virtuoso luxury travel advisor, luxury family travel writer, an Oprah Daily Ambassador, and the founder of WellTraveledKids.com. Sarah’s best travel companion is her sweet 12-year-old son, Harry. Her favorite getaways include a luxe hotel stay, quality family playtime, champagne & chocolate-covered strawberries.

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activities for 5 year olds nyc

Sounds like a great trip! That is sad about FAO Schwartz though. Ellen’s Stardust Diner sounds pretty cool, my kids would probably dig it! Oh and I totally hear you on the character thing! They have them in Las Vegas too…so annoying.

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The 29 best things to do in New York City with kids

The top spots for families in the Big Apple

Whether it’s because of honking taxis or the sheer size of the most populous city in the U.S., navigating New York City with kids can be a daunting task. But look beyond the hustle and bustle of the streets and you’ll find a laundry list of family-friendly activities.

Most people know that Central Park is packed with playgrounds and that kiddos love the (free!) Staten Island Ferry. Dive a little deeper and you’ll discover countless other children’s museums, a theater with performances just for kids, and recreational facilities that let children ice skate, climb, and swim.

We’ve scoured the city to find the best activities for families, whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor. Here are 30 different options in all five boroughs that will help your kids fall in love with the city in a New York minute.

Traveling to other cities with your kiddos? Don’t miss Curbed’s maps of the best family activities in Washington, D.C. , Boston , Detroit , Atlanta , Chicago , Miami , Los Angeles , Seattle , San Francisco , New Orleans , Austin , and Philadelphia .

Staten Island Ferry

Sure, you’ll find the Staten Island Ferry on almost every New York City tourist guide, but there’s a reason. This free ferry provides great views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York Harbor, and the 25-minute, one-way trip is just long enough to hold your child’s attention. Once across, check out the St. George neighborhood or head back on another ferry for more great views.

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A bright orange ferry boat is traveling in a body of water. Behind it are assorted skyscrapers and buildings.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

It may seem cliche, but a visit to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is something every child should do at least once. Ask for the children’s audio tour (created for ages six to ten) in the lobby of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, and then kids four feet or taller can climb to the top of the statue’s crown. Don’t miss the free Statue of Liberty Museum, which opened in 2019 and has interactive exhibits about Lady Liberty. In the Immigration Museum, head to Ellis Kid for an interactive exhibit that helps little ones imagine what it was like to immigrate to the U.S.

An aerial view of the Statue of Liberty which is a large monument of a woman dressed in robes raising her hand carrying a torch above her head.

One World Observatory

While the Empire State Building is always a good choice to check out the city view, we like the experience at One World Observatory. Kids get a kick out of riding some of the fastest elevators in the world and love knowing they are on top of the tallest building in the country. Don’t miss the 100th floor for HD videos of New York and the Sky Portal, where high-tech screens give you a bird’s eye view of the street 1,776 feet below.

Large skyscrapers including One World Trade Center. In the foreground there is a row of trees.

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Colorful fireworks over the New York City skyline at night.

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in NYC: Where to watch

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks in NYC: where to watch

South Street Seaport Museum

Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage to the South Street Seaport Museum, but the reopened venue is a good stop for kiddos interested in ships, boating, and maritime history . Highlights include exploring five historic ships, learning to use a letterpress, and sailing around the New York Harbor in an excursion vessel.

A post shared by South Street Seaport Museum (@seaportmuseum) on Jun 30, 2017 at 9:45am PDT

Children's Museum of the Arts

The world is full of stunning art museums , but most aren’t designed for little ones. Check out the 10,000-square-foot Children’s Museum of the Arts for kid-centered activities, plenty of hands-on art workshops, and 2,000 brightly colored paintings and drawings, most of them created by kids.

A post shared by Children's Museum of the Arts (@cmainnyc) on May 15, 2017 at 9:48am PDT

New York City Fire Museum

Set in a historic 1904 Beaux Arts firehouse in Soho, the New York City Fire Museum is a paradise for kids obsessed with firetrucks. You’ll see vintage fire equipment, art, and learn about fire safety and the history of firefighters in New York.

A post shared by @ha1iah on May 30, 2017 at 1:38pm PDT

Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex

This 28-acre sports complex on three Hudson River piers includes an 80,000-square-foot field house, a pool, a driving range, bowling alley, and an indoor ice-skating rink that’s available year round. And get ready for more: The company behind Chelsea Piers recently opened a 52,000-square-foot Brooklyn outpost.

A post shared by Chelsea Piers NYC (@chelseapiersnyc) on Jun 19, 2017 at 12:20pm PDT

National Museum of Mathematics

Think math is boring? Let the National Museum of Mathematics change your mind. This under-the-radar museum features a ton of hands-on exhibits showing how science, technology, engineering, and math inform every element of our lives. Kids can ride square-wheeled tricycles (really!), paint on a digital canvas, and stump their parents with an array of puzzles and quizzes.

Children sit on the floor in front of a wall full of metallic silver elements that are moving.

Empire State Building

Take adventurous kiddos to the new 102nd-floor observatory at the Art Deco icon, which whisks visitors more than 1,200 feet above the city. The panoramic views are spectacular (and a great way to introduce little ones to the buildings of Manhattan), and after you’ve taken it all in, you can explore exhibits that detail the skyscraper’s history and place in pop culture.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

New York Public Library

Design-minded adults will love the New York Public Library’s gorgeous Rose Main Reading Room in its iconic Fifth Avenue building, but kids can also have a great time here. Say hello to the marble lions (named Patience and Fortitude) on the way in, and then head to the children’s center to check out the original Winnie the Pooh and plenty of books perfect for story time.

A post shared by William Mususu (@wmususu) on Aug 13, 2017 at 1:19pm PDT

Bryant Park

Bryant Park comes alive in winter with the arrival of the ice skating rink, which is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. To make the experience more fun for kids, reserve a spot to skate ahead of time, and use the time beforehand to grab a warming cup of cocoa.

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The New Victory Theater

As New York City’s premier nonprofit performing arts venue devoted to kids, the New Victory Theater aims to introduce theater, dance, circus, and music to audiences of all ages. The venue welcomes all patrons to performances, and it also hosts autism-friendly showings with warnings for loud noises and dimmed lights. Check out the calendar over here .

A post shared by New Victory Theater (@newvictorytheater) on Mar 29, 2017 at 10:51am PDT

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Aviation fans, this one’s for you. Located in Hell’s Kitchen, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum documents the history of American aviation in an educational and interesting way. You’ll see giant fighter jets, submarines, a space shuttle, and the iconic aircraft carrier Intrepid . Ever-changing rotating exhibits also impress.

An aerial view of people walking next to airplanes that are on display outside. There is a city skyline in the distance.

Those with Spy Kids aspirations will love Spyscape, which opened in Midtown in 2018 . The immersive experience lets kids test their mettle in a variety of espionage-themed activities, including solving puzzles and dodging through lasers, a la Mission Impossible. At the end, your child will find out what kind of spy they are—intelligence analyst, agent handler, and more.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Roosevelt Island and Tram

Take the famed Roosevelt Island Tramway over the East River to the two-mile long Roosevelt Island. Stay for a while to explore Southpoint Park, the pleasant paths next to the river, or the late-1800s era North Point Lighthouse. Don’t miss the Louis Kahn-designed Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park , which has top-notch views of Manhattan.

A red tram is suspended over a body of water. The words Roosevelt Island are written on the side of the tram car. In the distance are large city buildings.

Central Park

No child-friendly attraction list would be complete without the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Central Park , the most-visited urban park in the United States. Head over here for a map of the park’s hidden gems , and make sure to see the historic carousel, which is close to the Dairy. It’s a hit with kids of all ages and a great photo opportunity. Belvedere Castle, which recently reopened after a big renovation, is another fun one for kids.

A historic merry-go-round that has red trim.

DiMenna Children’s History Museum

Nestled within the New-York Historical Society is this smaller institution devoted to kiddos, with exhibits designed to help youngsters understand the history of NYC. They’ll learn about major historical figures (like Alexander Hamilton) and important points in the evolution of the city; they can also meet re-enactors who help bring those moments to life.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by New-York Historical Society (@nyhistory) on Apr 27, 2018 at 4:50pm PDT

American Museum of Natural History

Pick up the Kids Guide to the American Museum of Natural History and get ready for a museum-wide scavenger hunt through the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs, an impressive array of towering totem poles, and much more. Don’t miss the Discovery Room , where children ages five to 12 can get a behind-the-scenes look at artifacts, specimens, and scientific research; and the Hayden Planetarium, one of the best planetariums in the country.

A post shared by Manny Carabel (@mtcphotography) on May 22, 2018 at 5:15pm PDT

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Children's Museum of Manhattan

There’s lots to do at this children’s museum located near Central Park, so it’s a good bet if you need an indoor activity. Interactive exhibits like “Let’s Dance!” get kids moving and performing, and there’s also story time and more low-key options for the toddler crowd.

A post shared by Children's Museum of Manhatan (@cmomnyc) on Jul 6, 2017 at 11:49am PDT

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling

This 17,000-square-foot children’s museum in Harlem is located on the first two floors of an affordable housing project designed by British architect David Adjaye . With a focus on children ages three to eight, the museum offers year-round art exhibitions, storytelling series, art-making workshops, and an early childhood arts education curriculum.

A post shared by sugarhillmuseum (@sugarhillmuseum) on Mar 22, 2017 at 10:18am PDT

New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden is an oasis in the city, known for its top-notch exhibitions. But it’s also a great place for children any time of the year. Check out the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden where kids can climb boulders, run through a maze, and examine lily pads. In the winter, the garden’s annual Holiday Train Show is a must-see attraction.

A post shared by The New York Botanical Garden (@nybg) on Jul 7, 2017 at 11:55am PDT

Museum of the Moving Image

Not far from Kaufman Astoria Studios, the home of Sesame Street, sits the Museum of the Moving Image, a stopover for kids of any age. The main attraction is “ Behind the Screen ,” an exhibition that showcases 1,400 artifacts (like a real Chewbacca mask from Star Wars) and interactive exhibits that let kids make their own stop-motion animations, sound effects, and flipbooks. Another hit is the permanent Jim Henson exhibit that displays original puppets and behind the scenes footage from his pop-culture contributions.

A post shared by Museum of the Moving Image (@movingimagenyc) on Sep 11, 2016 at 7:30am PDT

Queens Museum

Budding building nerds will get a kick of out The Panorama of the City of New York, a scale model of the five boroughs that was constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair and has been updated sporadically since then. The museum also hosts regular family-focused workshops that let kids channel their inner artist.

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New York Hall Of Science

Hands-on exhibits bring science, technology, engineering, and math to life at the New York Hall of Science, another holdover from the 1964 World’s Fair. Don’t miss the Science Playground , the preschool area for little ones, and the Sports Challenge exhibit that shows how physics and mathematics are involved in everyday sports like basketball. If it’s hot out, hit the outdoor playground that’s full of water features and science-oriented, wet fun. The New York Hall of Science also boasts one of the most beautiful interiors in the city: the Great Hall .

A post shared by New York Hall of Science (@nysci) on Aug 16, 2017 at 9:06am PDT

activities for 5 year olds nyc

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Brooklyn Bridge Park

Traveling 1.3 miles along the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park contains 85 acres of enjoyment for the whole family with a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline to boot. The park is broken down into sections and includes six refurbished piers full of different playgrounds and amenities. Must-dos include the Slide Mountain playground at Pier 6 , the restored vintage carousel at Empire Fulton Ferry , and roller skating at Pier 2 .

A carousel which has ornamental horses is next to a waterfront. In the distance is a bridge and a city skyline with buildings.

New York Transit Museum

Head to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn—there’s also a small satellite location in Grand Central Terminal —to explore a decommissioned subway station full of interactive exhibits. Kids can learn about the history of fare collection, see how subways are built , and even get up close and personal with vintage subway cars and buses.

A post shared by Kimberly Mommy & Me Blogger (@daysofkimberly) on Aug 16, 2017 at 8:37am PDT

LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn

This 75,000-square-foot, year-round recreational facility includes winter ice skating, summer roller skating, and a warm-weather splash pad with 41 different sprinklers. Kids and adults can bring their own skates or rent them on site. It’s one of many things to do in Prospect Park , which has plenty of playgrounds, a zoo, and an under-the-radar carousel .

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Peter Nasonov (@peternasonov) on Nov 13, 2018 at 7:44am PST

Brooklyn Children's Museum

As the first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899, the award-winning Brooklyn Children’s Museum offers plenty of hands-on fun for toddlers to middle schoolers. Check out World Brooklyn, where pint-sized shops let kids take on the roles of shopkeepers and builders, or head to the Neighborhood Nature exhibit to examine diorama habitats and a greenhouse.

A post shared by Brooklyn Children's Museum (@bcmkids) on Jul 23, 2017 at 4:05am PDT

New York Aquarium

The New York Aquarium is a year-round destination in Coney Island that helps kids learn about all of the creatures that live in (and under) the sea. Last year, its major new exhibit,  “Ocean Wonder: Sharks!,”  debuted in a swanky 57,500-square-foot pavilion situated right on the boardwalk. It houses marine animals, including some of the exhibit’s titular saw-toothed predators.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

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activities for 5 year olds nyc

The best things to do in New York City with kids

Check out these attractions, museums, playgrounds and more things to do in New York with kids

Shaye Weaver

NYC is not just for grownups! There are so many things to do in New York with kids that are fun for the whole family. Locals know that kids in NYC have access to a dizzying array of playgrounds and visitors will find that the city has tons of kid-friendly attractions and museums . Kids can play to their heart's content while getting fresh air with a range of outdoor activities , or keep it indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Kids can have a grand old time at real-deal NYC pizza joints and fun, kid-friendly restaurants . Baseball games, ice cream shops, kid-friendly Broadway shows , Coney Island, story time… the list is endless. While you probably won’t exhaust this list any time soon, there are tons of options for kids in the greater NY region too, like family-friendly hiking trails and biking trails , and kid-approved day trips and weekend getaways . With all the things to do with kids in NYC across the five boroughs, they’ll be worn out and so will you — and you definitely deserve a stop at one of NYC’s kid-friendly bars .

An email you’ll actually love

Best things to do in New York with kids

American Museum of Natural History

1.  American Museum of Natural History

  • Science and technology
  • Upper West Side
  • price 2 of 4

Dinosaurs, whales and elephants, oh my! The Upper West Side institution isn’t just beloved in NYC, it’s a global  attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. And for good reason: From learning about species in the Hall of Biodiversity, to walking under the giant whale in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, museum-goers could marvel at the displays all day long and still not see everything in this palace-like complex. If the kiddies (or even if you and your spouse) want to tuck in under the giant whale, have a look at the venue’s sleepover offerings. Yep, The Night at the Museum movie can be your reality...well, sort of!

Governors Island

2.  Governors Island

  • Parks and gardens
  • Governors Island

For a NYC experience like no other, head to this former military base of brick buildings and leafy lawns: It feels like a New England college was transported to an island in New York Harbor. Hop on a ferry (the island is just 800 yards from Manhattan!) and you'll be transported to a park-like setting with winding paths and play zones and some very good food trucks. It’s a paradise for kids, a place where they can run around and get all their sillies out. This seasonal venue reopens every spring, and it comes alive in the heat of the summer, when cooling ocean breezes make a visit to Governors Island a very good idea.

Classic NY Pizza

3.  Classic NY Pizza

We all agree that pizza is an essential part of the diet of every New Yorker. Where you will find the best pizza in town is up for discussion—although we have an opinion on the matter. From classics like di Fara to new-style places like Paulie Gee’s, NYC pizza places keep us coming back hungry for more. Get the kids in on the discussion and try them all!

Central Park

4.  Central Park

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Central Park
  • Recommended

Central Park's unique history, accessibility and design make it New York City's most famous park, and one of the most celebrated greenspaces in the history of the world. It was the first public park built in the United States, sees about 25 million visitors per year and contains 36 bridges and arches and around 50 monuments, sculptures, fountains and a castle! Perhaps most important to families, the park contains 21 playgrounds, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, charming paddleboat rentals and, of course, the Central Park Zoo.

Ride through Central Park on a bike.

Ice Cream

5.  Ice Cream

Check out our list of the best ice cream shops in NYC for kids! No matter what you and the crew are craving, these destinations are nothing short of fabulous. From cones and cups to the more avant garde, these can't-miss venues serve up sweets for days.

New Victory Theater

6.  New Victory Theater

  • Midtown West

The moment the curtain rises in this gorgeous jewel-box of a theater, kids sense that something truly amazing is about to happen— the New Vic brings Broadway-quality productions of thought-provoking theater to a young crowd. These family-friendly productions are from all over the world, with fantastic stories that feature everything from breathtaking new plays to re-imagined classics and gigantic puppets to breakdancing daredevils. Performances are designed with specific age groups in mind—pre-schoolers, grade-schoolers, tweens and teens—and activities such as pre-show crafts, professional workshops and other themed programming adds to the audience’s enjoyment and understanding of the show. Parents will love the venue’s family-centric ethos—affordable ticket prices, Autism-aware performances, stroller parking, free lockers and plentiful booster seats—these thoughtful touches remove the drama out of taking kids to the theater.

Grand Central Terminal

7.  Grand Central Terminal

  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Midtown East

Though 750,000 visitors pass through its doors daily, Grand Central Station’s celestial ceiling in the main terminal has the power to practically stop time. But despite its beautiful, dark green hue and portrayal of the traditional zodiac, there’s just one problem: It’s technically inaccurate. Shortly after its installation in 1913, a visitor noticed certain astronomical inconsistencies, for instance, the placement of Orion. Kids, however—unless they’ve just finished a particularly intensive constellation unit in school—will be awed nonetheless.

Time Out Market New York

8.  Time Out Market New York

We've packed all our favorite restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market in DUMBO and they're sure to be your favorites too. Kids and adults will love fried chicken from Jacob’s Pickles, pizza from Fornino, inventive ice cream flavors from Sugar Hill Creamery and more amazing eateries—all hand-picked by us. Even better? You can enjoy views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

9.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Art and design
  • price 3 of 4

In the classic kids book “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” a resourceful sister and brother live in the Met, spending the days in the galleries and the nights in the recreated bedrooms of a chateau. Wander through the museum and you can see why that fantasy still resonates: You can walk from an Egyptian temple into a Frank Lloyd Wright house to the armor of Henry VIII, and have only explored one corner of one floor of this vast building. Advice for families: Use the family entrance to the left of the grand stairs on the plaza level (stroller-friendly! no lines!); ask for the free Family Guides that make the museum come alive for young minds; and check out the storytime events at the Nolan Library. 

NYC Ferry

10.  NYC Ferry

The best view in New York is from the middle of the East River: There's nothing quite like sitting on the upper deck of an NYC Ferry as it cruises under the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Officially a part of the city's transportation system, a ride on the ferry is cheap and children under 44 inches tall are free. More ferry routes are added every year—a Coney Island service is scheduled to open later in 2022. It's always more fun to get where you're going when you're on a boat.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

11.  Rose Center for Earth and Space

The American Museum of Natural History isn’t just home to an amazing collection of fossils, sea creature and artifact displays—it’s also where you’ll find the Rose Center for Earth and Space, a glass enclosure that houses the stunning 87-foot-diameter Hayden Sphere. Families can explore the 13-billion–year history of the universe, pick up cool facts about planets, stars and galaxies and watch “ Worlds Beyond Earth ,” a space show introduced in 2020. 

Just Kidding at Symphony Space

12.  Just Kidding at Symphony Space

  • Music venues
  • price 1 of 4

Symphony Space’s weekend family program is a kid-friendly celebration of the arts with a lineup of music, literary, dance and theatrical events that will have your little ones grooving, singing and rolling in the aisles. Youngsters experience everything from circus acts and rock bands, to puppetry and beatboxing, and during the Thalia Kids Book club, young readers take part in creative writing exercises and engage in dynamic Q&As with their favorite authors. You have a weekend home on the corner of 95th and Broadway.

New York Aquarium

13.  New York Aquarium

  • Zoo and aquariums

You’ll have a whale of a time at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s home to marine life. Located off the Coney Island Boardwalk, the aquarium is where you’ll find plenty of fish, starfish and the mammals and birds that live among them. Otters, seals and penguins take in the sun from the stony cliffs before cooling off or searching for food under the water while sea lions show off amazing behaviors in the aquatheater for special shows. Visitors looking for an experience with more teeth should definitely check out the sharks.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

14.  Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Brooklyn Heights

Stretching 1.3 miles along the East River, this beautiful revamped waterfront is proof that this city is serious about its leisure. Pier 2 is tricked out with recreation facilities for basketball, handball, bocce, shuffleboard and roller-skating. Post up at Pier 3 with a blanket and book, or take a peaceful stroll minus traffic noise thanks to Sound Attenuating Hill. Kids will want to head straight for Pier 6 to explore a playground featuring wonderfully landscaped play spaces, including the Water Lab—a stone-strewn area with water underfoot to splash in—plus, New York's largest sandbox.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

15.  Snug Harbor Cultural Center

  • Staten Island

A visit to Snug Harbor keeps families busy thanks to the scenic cultural center and interactive Staten Island Children's Museum. Wander through hands-on exhibits, engage in song and dance and get in on craft projects. Remember to see the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, where kids can wander through the maze-like shrubbery inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel. Make a point of visiting when the Winter Lantern Festival transforms the grounds into an eight-acre wonderland of dazzling displays with an Asian flair: Think pandas, dragons and florals.

Strand Book Store

16.  Strand Book Store

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • East Village

Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. It also hosts a wide variety of lively readings by fiction writers, graphic novelists, biographers and political analysts. The bookshop also hosts weekly staff-run storytimes, readings by popular children's writers and "visits" from book characters.

Kid-Friendly Arcades in NYC

17.  Kid-Friendly Arcades in NYC

  • Things to do

Handheld, schmandheld: Kids love to go to arcades and play the real deal. Step through the door of a place Dave & Buster’s or Chinatown Fair and the eyes of your little one will light up like the pinball machines at Modern Pinball. Remember: Don't hog the games—you should give the kids a turn.

18.  Brooklyn Bridge

The mile-long stroll from end to end of the Brooklyn Bridge offers spectacular views of downtown Manhattan, including the Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island and of course, the iconic double arches that have come to signify NYC’s hippest borough. While you’ll be jostled by the thousands of other tourists crossing the East River (a total bummer), but the views can't be beat. If you’re coming from Manhattan, reward tired legs with a scoop of something sweet at Ample Hills Creamery, conveniently located at the base of the bridge in DUMBO. If you worked up an appetite, make sure to stop by the forthcoming Time Out Market New York on Water Street, which is a taste of the city’s best chefs under one roof.

Take a walking tour of DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge.

NYCFC at Yankee Stadium

19.  NYCFC at Yankee Stadium

Do they sometimes play baseball in Yankee Stadium? Supporters of NYCFC know that this might not be the best venue for soccer, but it's a fantastic scene when you bring the kids: The family-friendly crowd is filled with little David Villas, and you can get great seats at prices that are significantly lower than what you find at other pro sporting events. To top it off, NYCFC plays beautiful soccer, and is a legit contender for the title. As for that other MLS team in the area, we hear they're the best in all of Harrison, NJ.

Roosevelt Island Tramway

20.  Roosevelt Island Tramway

  • Public spaces
  • Roosevelt Island

Consider this an amusement park ride run by the MTA: The red tramway cars make for most unique commute in the city. Hop aboard at the 59th St and Second Ave station and check out the Queensboro Bridge as you are carried high above the water. Wander over to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park , then head back for the return trip—and more jaw-dropping views.

Children's Museum of the Arts

21.  Children's Museum of the Arts

  • West Village

Most of the amazing original sculptures, paintings and multimedia creations at the Children’s Museum of the Arts are made fresh everyday by the artists...which are actually the visitors. Little ones from across the city and around the world convene at this kid’s museum to let their imaginations and creativity run free as they take part in the daily workshops and studio activities.

Wave Hill

22.  Wave Hill

Yes, 28 acres of gorgeous greenery does exist in the Bronx—and we’re not talking about the New York Botanical Garden or the Bronx Zoo. This 19th-century estate is home to a historic mansion and public woodlands perfect for getting lost in—or better yet, being led through on a nature walk. Be sure to check the event schedule before visiting: Chances are there’s an art project or family festival going on. If you manage to wake the kids up early enough on Saturdays, admission is free before noon.

New York Hall of Science

23.  New York Hall of Science

At this way-cool Queens museum, kids can get hands-on with hundreds of interactive exhibits and activities that bring science, technology, engineering and math to life. Built for the 1964 World's Fair, NYSCI is home to a revolving lineup of displays about light, 3-D printing, outer space and robots, plus the Design Lab, where kids can tackle activities at five stations: Backstage, Sandbox, Studio, Maker Space and Treehouse. Kids can also climb on a rope web and play mini golf at the massive Science Playground and Rocket Park. Trust us, this place is worth the trek.

The Children's Library at the Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch

24.  The Children's Library at the Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch

  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • Prospect Heights

The Children's Library at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is one of the best anywhere, full stop. Housed in a striking 1941 Art Deco building designed to look like an open book, the library is Brooklyn's largest: About one million people visit it each year. The plaza overlooking Grand Army Plaza, is a buzzing summer gathering place for Brooklynites. Among the library's strongest suits is its first-floor Youth Wing, with designated spaces for toddlers, grade-schoolers, tweens and teens to read, work on homework and use game-equipped computers. Plus, a new state-of-the-art performance space puts on more than a hundred events per month, many of which are aimed squarely at kids.

Lincoln Center

25.  Lincoln Center

Josie Robertson Plaza is the pulsing heart of Lincoln Center, the cultural campus located on the Upper West Side. Kids love the playful fountain, which rises and falls to a syncopated rythm—it seems like its dancing. Lincoln Center is also where you'll find Lincoln Center Kids , the New York Philharmonic's Young People's Concerts and the Metropolitan Opera's family-friendly performance of the Magic Flute —Jazz at Lincoln Center and the home of the V ery Young People's Concerts are close by. So much to do, so much to see, so much to experience.

One World Observatory

26.  One World Observatory

One World Observatory at World Trade Center lets visitors experience panoramic views of NYC from atop the tallest building in the United States. Kids will love arriving at their destination Jetsons-style via Sky Pod elevators (some of the fastest in the world) which lead to a two-minute video presentation of gorgeous city images on the 102nd floor. Check out City Pulse on the 100th floor, showing HD videos featuring notable NYC landmarks and neighborhoods, then daredevil kids (and parents) can brave the Sky Portal, where a 14-foot wide circular disc provides a view of real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below.

Broadway Shows for Kids

27.  Broadway Shows for Kids

Seeing a Broadway show is the birthright of every little New Yorker. Just watch their faces when the lights go down and the curtains go up: Even fidgety children will be fully immersed in the make-believe happening onstage! There are shows to suit all tastes—be sure to check out what’s on offer at the TKTS booths and online at TheaterMania.com. You may get lucky and score a discount!

Smorgasburg

28.  Smorgasburg

NYC foodies revel in the selections that abound from Brooklyn’s hippest culinary experience. Make sure your stomach is empty, then make your way to Williamsburg Saturdays and Sundays in the Winter, and to Williamsburg, Prospect Park and the World Trade Center in Summer for a plethora of options that will appeal to all palates in your brood. The vendors change every season, but rest assured: You and yours will find the food you LOVE.

Whitney Museum of American Art

29.  Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Meatpacking District

Art-loving parents and their babies (even fussy ones) can enjoy before-hours tours of the Whitney’s exhibitions, led by Whitney Teaching Fellows and Ph.D. candidates. On Saturdays and Sundays, kids can even use inspiration from the galleries to make a masterpiece during Open Studio For Families.

Queens County Farm Museum

30.  Queens County Farm Museum

  • Special interest

Goats, sheep and ponies—oh my! Families don’t have to travel far from the city to get a tranquil agrarian experience. At the Queens County Farm Museum, the the oldest continually farmed site in the state, barnyard animals are available for feeding, petting and your “oohs” and “ahs,” too. Explore the full 47-acres on a tractor-pulled hay ride, or stick to the gardens. Come harvest season there’s a special corn maze and activities such as pumpkin picking and a haunted house.

High Line

31.  High Line

Consider this park NYC’s best example of recycling on a mega scale. Built atop an abandoned train track, the High Line offers more than 20 blocks worth of car- and bike-free strolling. Besides plenty of seating and a killer view of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, there are fun opportunities for little ones such as monthly family festivals, partnerships with schools and camps as well as teen programs.

Experience the High Line, see Chelsea, and explore the Meatpacking District on a walking tour. 

32.  Walking Tours

While convincing your children to use their feet and quit their whining about wanting to take a taxi might be a challenge, they’ll happily keep pace with the crown on a special tour about their interests. Broadway babies (and bigger fans) will love the Broadway Up Close tour of the Theater District, where guides not only share stories about the iconic stages and their actors, but also can get into the nitty gritty on the real (non musical) life of one particular founding father with a trip downtown for the “Hamiltour.” For those local history buffs, learn about New York during the Revolutionary War, or the very localized history of your neighborhood like Chelsea or the Lower East Side, check out a walk with the extremely well-informed guides at Big Onion Tours .

Museum of Modern Art

33.  Museum of Modern Art

When the Museum of Modern Art reopened in 2019 it expanded its kid-friendly activities . If you have little ones, head to the Heyman Family Art Lab, a cheerful art studio that overlooks the garden. The lab has books, toys and a small play area in addition to activity stations stocked with amazing art making. Older kids ages 10 and up will want to go to the new Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab on the second floor—this studio is geared for children, teens and adults, with more sophisticated projects. Free family-friendly tours turn the museum into a playland of shapes, colors and ideas. Art should always be this amazing, and this much fun!

Get tickets to New York City museums.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

34.  Brooklyn Children’s Museum

  • Crown Heights

Look for the big yellow roof to find this Crown Heights favorite, which when it opened in 1899 was one of the first museums in the country geared specifically to kids. It doubles as an ode to the borough, however, with permanent exhibits like “World Brooklyn,” a pint-sized cityscape where little ones can shop at fake Mexican bakeries and international bodegas, or “Neighborhood Nature,” which explore the critters and plants found in everyday Brooklyn backyards. Plus, every day, there’s a slew of drop-in workshops that’ll keep them entertained.

Washington Square Park Fountain

35.  Washington Square Park Fountain

  • Greenwich Village

You can’t beat the bustling Washington Square Park when it comes to people watching: Some kind of performance is practically guaranteed on weekends. It’s not rare to see musician Colin Huggins wheeling his baby-grand piano right in the square to play classical tunes beneath the majestic arch (a mini replica of the Arc de Triomphe). Dress the little ones in their swimmies—it will be difficult to keep them out of the water zone in the playground on hot days!

Ice Skating

36.  Ice Skating

It's time to lace up for the best ice skating NYC has to offer. Classic options such as Rockefeller Center are just as thrilling as newcomers like the rink at Industry City. After gaining the necessary stamina with a cup of the best hot chocolate in NYC, it's time to hit the ice with your crew!

Book the best NYC attractions.

Museum of Illusions

37.  Museum of Illusions

As the saying goes, "You have to see it to believe it." The now-permanent Museum of Illusions offers 70+ exhibits in science, tech, mathematics and other fields that will have patrons doing a double take. This sensory-driven experience allows visitors to take a look at unusual works, try their hand at games and puzzles and get to the bottom of the opitical illusions.

The Statue of Liberty

38.  The Statue of Liberty

  • Monuments and memorials
  • Liberty Island

Lady Liberty has been watching over New York Harbor for more than a century, and she’s never looked better. It doesn't matter if you’re a local or just visiting, this icon of America is a must-visit attraction. The recently-renovated Statue of Liberty Museum includes an immersive theater that provides a glimpse into Lady Liberty's history and ideals, an engagement gallery where visitors can get a behind-the-scenes of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s creative process the inspirational gallery that provides an up-close-and-personal look at the monument’s original torch.

New York Transit Museum

39.  New York Transit Museum

  • Boerum Hill

Some things never change: The sun rises in the east, the Kicks will lose and kids love subways and trains. You will feed that interest with a trip to the New York Transitanist Museum, which is located in an authentic 1930s subway station under the streets of Downtown Brooklyn. The museum uses pictures, models and vintage cars (which you can hop aboard!) to tell the fascinating story about New York’s iconic underground tunnels.

Madame Tussauds New York

40.  Madame Tussauds New York

  • Sightseeing
  • price 4 of 4

Want to rub elbows with your favorite celebs? There’s no need to head to Hollywood—just visit Madame Tussauds for a taste of Tinseltown in the heart of Midtown. The Times Square museum is in a league of its own, housing wax figures of our beloved stars and starlets: Jimmy Fallon, Princess Meghan Markle, Oprah and so many more. It’ll be hard to keep up, and chances are you might get a bit starstruck along the way. Make sure your phone battery is fully charged, as you’ll want to snap start-studded selfies throughout your visit.

Empire State Building

41.  Empire State Building

When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931 it was the tallest in the world. Other towering buildings have been sent since, but the Empire State is still first in our hearts. Take your time enjoying the scene from the 86th floor, then head to the newly renovated observation on the 102nd floor, where kids will take in a breathtaking view—and feel like they’re floating above the city. 

New York Botanical Garden Edible Academy

42.  New York Botanical Garden Edible Academy

People have a common misconception that NYC is lacking greenspace. Clearly, these people have not made a visit to the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden. The renovated greenspace has one goal: Get kids in the dirt. Thanks to classrooms, lecture spaces, gardens and other facilities, the Edible Academy immerses little New Yorkers in all-things botany, nutrition and nature. Head to the Bronx to explore the classes, camps and cool event offerings.

Children's Gardens

43.  Children's Gardens

Whether your toddlers loves getting their hands dirty with a gardening class or your book-loving big kids want to see a classic setting come to life in Snug Harbor’s maze-like Connie Gretz Secret Garden (which was inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel), New York has a children’s garden for your family. Young McDonald’s can sing E-I-E-I-O at urban farming co-operative South Brooklyn Children’s Garden, where they’ll frolic among the strawberry patch and herb box or they can enjoy a leisurely afternoon by the koi pond and under the natural shade at Jefferson Market Garden. Should you find your way to the New York Botanical Garden’s 250-acres, kids will find activities perfect for them including green-thumb workshops.

Rock Climbing Walls for Kids

44.  Rock Climbing Walls for Kids

  • Sports and fitness

NYC is definitely a concrete jungle, but don’t be fooled—there are plenty of ways to keep active, even if backyards are few and far between. You can take on new heights without venturing to the top floor of a skyscraper. Rock climbing spots throughout the five boroughs, such as Brooklyn Boulders, offer a chance for participants of all ages to master their moves while making their way to the top. Classes and party options are available at most venues, so take a gander and see what suits your little adventurer’s needs.

45.  The GIANT Room

  • Classes and workshops

If you're searching for ways to keep your creative kiddos engaged, take a trip to Chelsea. This is an innovation space for tiny New Yorkers with big dreams. The hub is geared toward visitors ages 3–12 who are curious about STEM studies and art classes for kids. Arguably one of the main draws to the space is the "Blank Canvas," where participants help piece together a new monthly exhibit for The GIANT Room's gallery. Exciting workshops, including "Storytelling, Animation and Character Design" and "Design and Fabrication," are also available.

Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure

46.  Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure

The animals who inhabit the Bronx Zoo have no problem climbing on rocks and finding the tallest tree branch to call their own, so you should be able to experience the grounds from new vantage points, too. Thanks to the Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure, visitors (ages 7 and up) are treated to a whole new perspective thanks to a zip-lining and a rope adventure course. After a walk through the exhibits, get your adrenaline pumping with something adventurous, and if you walk away feeling inspired, make sure to book your child’s next birthday party at the course!

Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center

47.  Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center

Barclays is home to many a fantastic thing, but one thing you MUST do there is catch a Brooklyn Nets home game. Even if you grab a seat in the nosebleeds, big screens give you access to all you’ll want to see. The kiddos will love the halftime shows with giveaways, energetic performances by the kids-only dance team (Brooklyn Nets Kids) and traditional sports arena fair available throughout Barclays—though we prefer walking across the street to Shake Shack. Your mini-mes will also be glad to know there’s a Brooklyn Nets gear shop not far from their seats in the stadium so they can walk away repping their favorite team.

Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

48.  Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

Imported to the U.S. from Sweden in 1876, this venue is the coziest in all of NYC. Employing handmade marionettes and beautiful sets, the resident company mounts citified versions of well-known stories.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

49.  Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

  • Washington Heights

This children's museum celebrates imagination through art, storytelling and education. Kids can explore different exhibits like "The Pollen Catchers' Color Mixing Machine" a site-specific mural inspired by fables and folktales and "People, Places, and Things: Selections from The Studio Museum," a collection of art from the 1930s to 1980s that features portraits and landscapes from a group of artists who depicted everyday life in U.S. communities including Harlem. The museum hosts a variety of events for kids from story hours to art workshops.

Katz’s Delicatessen

50.  Katz’s Delicatessen

  • Lower East Side

With origins as far back as 1888, Katz’ Deli is certainly worth a visit. It’s been family-run for over 100 years, offering huge servings of delicious corned beef, pastrami and brisket (among others) all cooked to perfection. Kids will love the hot pastrami sandwich, matzo ball soup, knishes and mouth-watering New York cheesecake. The cool décor is also worth checking out—there are pictures, hand-written signs and other artifacts from famous guests. We’d suggest visiting in off-peak hours to minimize the wait. Pro tip: Parents, hold onto your family’s meal tickets! You won’t be able to leave without giving them to the cashier (and will face a hefty fine if you lose them).

The Little Red Lighthouse

51.  The Little Red Lighthouse

Built in 1880, this teeny structure is a beloved nod to the city’s history. The lighthouse served as the inspiration for Hildegard H. Swift's 1942 children's book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge , plus it plays host to an annual festival in late September.

Nitehawk Cinema

52.  Nitehawk Cinema

  • Movie theaters
  • Independent

Now that Nitehawk Cinema has two Brooklyn locations, you have no excuse for not checking out the All Ages family-friendly programming—it allows junior film buffs to take their movie excursion to the next level. The kid-centric offerings at the Park Slope location—made even more perfect by Prospect Park across the street—are can't miss treats.

Hudson River Park, Pier 25

53.  Hudson River Park, Pier 25

  • Playgrounds

Believe it or not, hours of waterfront fun can be found right in Tribeca! At Hudson River Park, athletic kiddos can tackle a massive playground and get their toes in the sand and play on regulation-size beach volleyball courts. If volleyball isn’t your game, take to the 18-hole mini golf course, complete with a pond, streams, footbridges, waterfalls, sand traps and even a cave. Young Masters-in-training will also love the Play Area outfitted with a sandbox, swings and water features.

NYC Audubon

54.  NYC Audubon

We’re all familiar with the bouncy brown sparrows, speckled European starlings and the smattering (or should we say, splattering) of pigeons that live on every block. But look—and listen—a little closer, and you could meet some more unknown city dwellers such as glorious red Northern Cardinals, shimmering Blue Jays and orange-chested American Robins. Nature-nurturing organization New York City Audubon protects the birds, wildlife and their natural habitats in our area. The venue’s fun workshops and school programs teach children how to identify their feathered friends and care for the environment, too.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

55.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral

  • Religious buildings and sites

This legendary house of worship counts Presidents, movie stars and business moguls among past and present attendees. While its intricate marble towers are a marvel of Gothic Revival architecture, St. Pat’s interior—including the Louis Tiffany–designed altar and spectacular rose window—is tremendous as both a feat of master craftsmanship and a source of spiritual inspiration.

Indoor Playgrounds

56.  Indoor Playgrounds

Rain, rain, go away—and if it doesn’t, then head to one the indoor playgrounds that will allow your little ones to get some healthy physical activity while sheltered from the elements. Check out our list of the most awesome indoor playgrounds across the five boroughs and you won’t have to put the adventure on hold because of the forecast. These venues have jungle gyms, slides, bounce houses and other exciting features. 

SPYSCAPE

57.  SPYSCAPE

Thinking of a career in espionage? Test your skills at Spyscape in NYC, the interactive Times Square exhibit that lets visitors uncover the truth with lie detectors, put their flexibility to work in a room full of laser beams and learn about spies like Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code. See you there...or will we?

Ballet at Lincoln Center

58.  Ballet at Lincoln Center

  • Off Broadway

During the winter season, the New York City Ballet presents the crème de la crème of NYC holiday performances: company co-founder George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker . But the NYCB’s calendar is teeming with reasons why you and your child should book a ticket any time of the year. Check out this season’s lineup to see what you and your crew will enjoy!

The Cloisters

59.  The Cloisters

If you’ve never visited The Cloisters, now’s the time: It’s a must-see for the little ones. Devoted to the architecture of medieval Europe (and home to the ever-magical “Unicorn Tapestries”), this branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is full of incredible medieval artifacts and indoor-outdoor gardens. Pack a picnic lunch and set up camp on one of the grassy areas on your way to The Cloisters (food inside can get a bit pricey), then enter the museum to check out jewelry, sculptures, paintings, metalwork and furniture. After, go for a walk overlooking the Hudson or hit the Fort Tryon Park playground with swings, playhouses and a splash pad with spray fountains as you meander back to the subway.

LeFrak Roller Rink

60.  LeFrak Roller Rink

  • Prospect Park

Prospect Park’s all-in-one recreation center effortlessly transitions from an icy wonderland in winter to a summer-fun hot spot for Brooklyn families, whether it’s biking along the park’s shaded paths or gliding on the 16,000-square-foot roller rink. Rent equipment on-site and move at your own pace with the kids, or improve their skills in a roller-skating or roller-hockey class. Pack a swimsuit, because you won’t be able to duck out without dashing through the 20 water jets of the LeFrak Center’s awesome Splash Pad feature (for those who are under 12).

Kayaking at Brooklyn Bridge Park

61.  Kayaking at Brooklyn Bridge Park

One of the great joys of summer in the city is boating on the East River with the Manhattan skyline as your backdrop. Every year, from May until August, Brooklyn Bridge Park offers free (free!) kayaking—just head to the boathouse between Piers 1 and 2 for a 20-minute session of paddling bliss. All the equipment is provided, there are single and double kayaks—some doubles have room for a small child to sit in the middle—lifejackets are mandatory and you should know you’ll probably get a little wet, so wear swim clothes or something that dries quickly.

Staten Island Ferry

62.  Staten Island Ferry

Imagine a boat cruise around the New York harbor with views of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline—now try to think of one that’s free! While many Staten Islanders use the boat simply as a way to get to work, this hour-long trip is also one of the best totally free things to do with kids in NYC. Even better? The frequent schedule makes the need for careful planning unnecessary. Depart from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan or the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. 

Family Brunch

63.  Family Brunch

Brunch, also known as lunch with eggs, is a part of the New York weekend ritual that can be super fun for kids—that is, if you know where to look! Our list curates the best family-friendly options in town. Whether your hungry munchkins are craving a heaping plate of syrup-drenched pancakes, a pick-your-own-ingredients omelet or a soul-warming plate of chicken and waffles, this city has it all.

The best escape rooms for kids in NYC

64.  The best escape rooms for kids in NYC

These fantastic escape rooms for kids offer themed challenges that no kid—even your teens—can resist! New York's biggest new family entertainment trend lets you strategize an escape from a thief's house, help a spaceship make its way home and even pretend to be Indiana Jones right here in the city. While some escape rooms are better suited for an older crowd, these picks are perfect for visitors of most ages. Read on for our recommendations!

FAO Schwarz

65.  FAO Schwarz

  • Shopping & Style

We've been crossing days off our calendars, waiting for the moment when FAO Schwarz promises we'll "return to wonder." Well NYC, wonder no more!  The beloved toy store opened the doors to its new permanent home at 30 Rock, and the endless stacks of empty red shopping bags aren't going to fill themselves. Although there are a great deal of shelves to peruse, which are chock full of stuffed animals, Hatchimals, Barbies, STEAM toys and anything else you can imagine, the store boasts plenty of fun (and even free) interactive activities. Children can enjoy magic acts, science experiments, toy race cars, spa treatments and loads of other fun.

Family friendly restaurants

66.  Family friendly restaurants

If you think dining out in NYC can't be a treat for the whole family, think again. There's a bevy of restaurants throughout the city where kids are given just as much consideration as adults, and where you won't get the side-eye from childless diners out on the town. There are theme restaurants like Alice's Tea Cup and the Hard Rock Cafe, where you can dine among Lewis Carroll characters and artifacts from the gods of rock-and-roll. Then there are dessert-forward restaurants like Serendipity 3 where sweet treats like frozen hot chocolates are the stars of the show. And then finally there are those perennial family-friendly favorites, where the atmosphere is casual and the food appeals to all ages.

DiMenna Children's History Museum

67.  DiMenna Children's History Museum

Before they’re old enough to appreciate the New-York Historical Society, bring budding history buffs to the DiMenna Children's History Museum . The venue caters to the 8-to 13-year-old set by featuring exhibits on children throughout the city’s history, from an18th century Dutch merchant’s daughter to Alexander Hamilton, as well as the newsies who worked the streets in the 20th century.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

68.  Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

  • Military and maritime
  • Hell's Kitchen

While the highlight of most museums is what’s inside, simply climbing aboard this former aircraft carrier, which fought in World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War, and survived five kamikaze attacks is one of the most exciting parts about visiting. No trip is complete without stepping inside the Bell 47 helicopter, navigating the interacting submarine, or steering the wings of an airplane in the Exploreum hall, but don’t miss the Space Shuttle Pavilion, either, which houses the giant NASA orbiter Enterprise.

Yankee Stadium

69.  Yankee Stadium

Instill a sense of team loyalty in your little sluggers by heading to Citi Field or Yankee Stadium for a family ballgame. Don caps and jerseys for your team of choice and get to the stadium early—both teams often hand out free swag (think trademarked gear like water bottles, bobbleheads, T-shirts, etc) to prompt fans. Cheer on the players, munch on popcorn and hotdogs and get in on fun, kid-friendly activities in the park

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

70.  New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal of the NYPL’s century-old main branch and have become the institution’s mascots—and a prime spot for a family photo. Once inside, check out the children’s room, where kids big and small will get a kick out of the Pooh area, wallpapered with renderings of the Hundred Acre Wood. Inside, you’ll find a glass case containing Christopher Robin Milne’s vintage stuffed animals, the inspiration behind his dad’s Winnie the Pooh books. It’s also right next to Bryant Park, so be sure to explore the fun free offerings (such as the art cart and free games) during the summertime.

Rockefeller Plaza

71.  Rockefeller Plaza

As your brood strolls up Fifth Ave with the shopping bags in hand, make sure to drop by this iconic locale. In the wintertime, this spot draws major crowds who want to take a spin around the beautiful skating rink or ogle at the largest Christmas tree in the world. The handmade ornaments and other trimmings on the massive spruce make a great backdrop for a family photo, but not to worry if you can’t make it over the holiday season. On balmy days, the plaza is still a fun sightseeing stop, plus a farmers market and nearby shops like the LEGO Store provide plenty of opportunities to browse.

American Girl Place

72.  American Girl Place

  • Toys and games

The American Girl Place at Rockefeller Center is a little girl's dream. The 40,000-foot shop spans two levels and offers some amazing features that include a salon for dolls— and kids. There’s a studio that allows kids to personalize a doll with their own designs (your American girl can make her own American Gir!), and a hospital where dolls can get a little surgery and physical therapy. Be sure to visit the American Girl Cafe, where your little one and her little-er pal can sit down for a full tea service, or simply grab a delicious snack.

Attend a free class or story time

73.  Attend a free class or story time

It’s no secret that life in NYC doesn’t come cheap. Despite hefty costs that are often associated with Gotham, there are plenty of freebies to enjoy...if you know where to look. Explore your local libraries, parks and attractions for free classes and events. Story time at Books Are Magic is free over the weekends, and Saturday games at Brookfield Place are cost-free. Dollar signs can seem daunting, but we assure you that there’s some relief!

Bronx Zoo

74.  Bronx Zoo

When little ones ask to go to the zoo, there’s no doubt they mean the Bronx Zoo, NYC’s best and biggest. Bustling with more than 4,000 creatures, the go-to attraction is home to lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), the World of Reptiles (including the famous cobra who went missing a few years back), adorable snow leopards of the Himalayan highlands, an outdoor baboon reserve, the sea lion pool and an exhibit dedicated entirely to lemurs and other animals of Madagascar. While every kid will have their own favorite part, no trip is complete without a ride on the Wild Asia monorail.

Harry Potter Flagship Store

75.  Harry Potter Flagship Store

NYC's Harry Potter flagship store is the first of its kind in the world! Explore three floors of all-things witchcraft and wizardry with interactive experiences and photo ops. Your little Harry Potter fan will be in heaven.

Coney Island

76.  Coney Island

Hipsters have rediscovered the Coney Island scene, but kids never stopped loving the amusement parks, the corn dogs, the New York Aquarium. Luna Park is a summertime go-to, as is Deno’s and the famed Wonder Wheel. (A word to the wise: Get the amusement park thrills out of the way before lunch at Nathan’s.) You can always check out the sideshows, or catch a minor-league ball game down at MCU Park—and never want to pay Big League prices for tickets again. In steamier months you’ll want to hit the beach and play in the surf. No wonder Coney Island is still famous for warm-weather fun. 

See four New York boroughs and Coney Island on a bus tour.

Central Park, Victorian Gardens

77.  Central Park, Victorian Gardens

  • Arcades and amusements

It’s hard for kids to choose whether they’d rather go ice-skating or visit an amusement park, but luckily, this multi-use space changes with the seasons. From October through spring, it acts as Trump Rink, an outdoor skating arena with public hours and drop-in private lessons, but when the ice melts, it turns into Victorian Gardens, a delightfully old-fashioned amusement park. Expect nostalgic rides like the classic round swing, bumper boats, and a train track, plus carnival games parents will remember, like Whac-A-Mole.

Kid-Friendly Bars

78.  Kid-Friendly Bars

Just because you have kids in tow doesn't mean you can't enjoy a frosty beverage. Spectacular NYC venues like Greenwood Park allow kids during certain hours so parents can mingle and enjoy some time away from the playground/apartment—same with Habana Outpost, which both serves alcohol and frequently offers movie nights and free crafting hours for families.

Bookstores

79.  Bookstores

Literature abounds in NYC, and kids can get in on the action. The city’s quaint and charming independent bookstores offer plenty for little wordsmiths and bibliophiles to love. Not only are they able to peruse shelves of their favorite authors, but these spots also offer story times, events, book clubs and subscription boxes. Be warned, Mom and Dad: The kids might stay up well past their bedtime once they find a new read.

Off-Broadway Shows for Kids

80.  Off-Broadway Shows for Kids

Although the Great White Way has some sensational theater productions, Off-Broadway shows are not to be overlooked. Kids will delight in the whimsical experience of The Gazillion Bubble Show , for example. Explore all the shows available for kids and book your tickets ASAP!

Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

81.  Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

Don’t be intimidated by all the surfboards: This expansive Queens beach, which emcompasses more than 170 acres of sand, is always full of families looking to get away from the hot concrete jungle. If your little beach bums are between the ages of 5 and 15, they’re welcome to take part in lessons, week-long surf camps, or simply rent a stand-up paddle board or boogie board. Don’t bother packing a picnic because the food options here are too good to miss, like the bangin’ burgers at Ripper’s.

Kids’ Cooking Classes

82.  Kids’ Cooking Classes

Children of all ages can learn new recipes, master different meals and feel comfortable handling kitchen equipment. Essentially, you're going to have a Top Chef in the making, so get ready to hand over the dinner reins to your brood. From the offering at Freshmade NYC to Taste Buds Kitchen, Gotham's cooking classes for kids are the best of the best. Buy a few aprons and let the youngsters do the rest.

Shake Shack

83.  Shake Shack

You can’t beat the original location of this fast food favorite, which, as New York’s answer to L.A.’s In-N-Out, offers kid-friendly portions at reasonable prices. No burger is complete without a side of crinkle-cut fries and a concrete (that’s a frozen custard milkshake blended with mix-ins like cookie dough or peanut butter sauce). Be sure you’ve blocked out a big chunk of time, as it’s the most popular location in Madison Square Park and summer wait times have been known to exceed an hour.

Bryant Park

84.  Bryant Park

Situated behind the New York Public Library is Bryant Park, a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular Monday night outdoor movies. The park hosts weekly kid-friendly programming such as storytime in the Reading Room and game socials in the 40th Street Plaza. Little ones with an interest in the circus can learn to juggle at juggling lessons held on weekdays in the Lawn or the 42nd Street Plaza. Families can take a spin on the Le Carrousel which features 14 different carousel animals to ride on. In the winter the park transforms into a wonderland where you can find an ice skating rink and pop-up shops for the holidays.

Rooftop Restaurants

85.  Rooftop Restaurants

New York’s rooftop dining scene has exploded in recent years, with plenty of family-friendly options that will bring a smile to the face of your kids—and that will let you relax and get in on the fun. Just head Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook, or the William Vale in Williamsburg for burgers and dip cones at Mister Dips, or Alma in Carroll Gardens. (We’re seeing a Brooklyn-shaped pattern here.) As the Drifters once put it, “ When I come home feeling tired and beat, I go up where the air is fresh and sweet—up on the roof.” 

Ancient Playground

86.  Ancient Playground

Handily located directly adjacent to the playground’s inspiration, the Egyptian Wing of Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park’s Ancient Playground lets kids work off post-museum energy with stone pyramids, tunnels, treehouse-like wooden forts, tire swings, a sundial, nine slides and a sandbox anchored by a mini obelisk. As the park’s most recently renovated playgrounds, there are also cool features like a kid-activated waterfall that runs across two bridges and cascades into an open area.

Free Outdoor Movies

87.  Free Outdoor Movies

When summer arrives, swap the theater for a picnic blanket. Parks across the five boroughs—and even attractions like the Intrepid—offer outdoor screenings of classics: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Goonies and so much more. You can even catch new Disney films like Moana at your neighborhood greenspace. While we’re never one to say no to hitting the theaters, isn’t a movie so much more enjoyable when projected on a screen underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, amid the lower Manhattan skyline?

Children's Museum of Manhattan

88.  Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s  two permanent exhibits activate different aspects of kids’ imaginations: First, there’s “EatSleepPlay,” where kids can crawl through a digestive system, help pump a giant heart, and burn energy by ducking lasers and balancing on a beam, all in the name of helping them build healthy habits. The other, “PlayWorks,” lets little siblings (ages four and under) interact with a talking dragon, climb on fire trucks and MTA busses and crawl through sandy and soft structures.

Chelsea Waterside Playground

89.  Chelsea Waterside Playground

The newly renovated Chelsea Waterside Play Area pays homage to a resident of the Hudson River Park Estuary: the pipefish! He's on display in all his glory as the playground's main attraction—a multi-colored slide designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. The upgrades also include a newly constructed water features, a fun sand area plus a new shaded region where parents can catch a breather. All ages.

Carousels

90.  Carousels

When it comes to out-there carousels, NYC’s certainly takes the cake, both in sheer quantity and in elaborateness. There’s the Bronx Zoo’s Bug Carousel, which trades in the traditional horses for enormous insects, the Central Park Carousel, one of the country’s largest, and Le Carrousel in Bryant Park, which, as its name suggests, is a nod to the park’s Francophone style with blaring cabaret tunes. But the best of the bunch might be Jane’s Carousel, the renovated 1922 structure that boasts 48 hand-carved horses—and since it’s protected inside a giant glass enclosure in Brooklyn Bridge Park, it spins year-round.

Serendipity 3

91.  Serendipity 3

The oxymoronic name for this Upper East Side dessert lover’s paradise may confuse grammar-patrolling parents, but to kids, it makes perfect sense: Made of whole milk, crushed ice, whipped cream, and a secret blend of no less than 14 different kinds of chocolate, the Frrozen Hot Chocolate is best enjoyed with a sibling through dueling straws. And for a creamy, decadent twist, there’s also a version that comes with peanut butter.

Randalls Island Park

92.  Randalls Island Park

  • Randall's Island

Nestled in the strip of the East River bordered by Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens, this island park is an active family’s paradise: There’s a complex for football, soccer, baseball and other field sports, not to mention trails for walking and cycling. Green thumbs can also stop by the Urban Farm, where on summer weekends kids can meet chickens and learn about growing fruits and veggies. When little legs get tired, simply sit back and enjoy the view of the Manhattan skyline.

New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show

93.  New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show

A 20-plus year tradition at the New York Botanical Garden, the Holiday Train Show is every curious kid’s dream. They’ll be eye level with over 150 iconic NYC buildings recreated with bark, leaves and other natural materials, seeing G-scale choo choo trains weave around the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center and even cross the Brooklyn Bridge on a quarter-mile of track in the conservatory. While you’re there, visit the Garden’s other indoor exhibits or walk through portions of the 250-acre grounds.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

94.  Radio City Christmas Spectacular

New York is world-famous for its over-the-top dedication to the holidays each December, and few places in Gotham better sum up the city’s love for the season than this annual show. Since 1933, the Rockettes have been bringing cheer to audiences’ faces with each in-unison high kick in their fabulous, sparkling costumes. The massive set pieces and new technology mix with classic elements like the dancing Santas and wooden soldiers to create an experience nostalgic grandparents and first-time viewers will equally enjoy. Afterward, make sure to grab a picture around back at Rockefeller Center’s gigantic holiday tree. This is a quintessential addition to your list of things to do during the holidays.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

95.  Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is more than just your average street fair—and you definitely aren’t just limited to watching it on TV. Get there early and line up along 6th Ave to see classic balloons like Snoopy or newer additions like Hello Kitty, the Pillsbury Doughboy, SpongeBob and Paddington Bear. There’s also a balloon inflation area on the Upper West Side the evening before festivities begin—usually outside the American Museum of Natural History—if you aren’t interested in battling the crowds on Thanksgiving. It’s one of the best things to do with kids in NYC as the holiday season gets underway.

101 things to do with kids in NYC

101 things to do with kids in NYC: How many have you done?

101 things to do with kids in NYC: How many have you done?

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Go through our checklist to find out how much ground your family has covered in NYC!

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15 Best Things to Do With Kids in New York City

By Sunshine Flint

15 Fun Things to Do With Kids in NYC

To crib from Walt Whitman, that famous Brooklynite, New York contains multitudes — and there’s a kid-friendly city hiding right here in the concrete jungle. Just walking the streets, whether it's Broadway or Bleecker, East 9th or West 79th, invokes a sense of discovery that makes it an exciting place for everyone, at every age. A family trip can include famous landmarks and museums, but also range across the city to new playgrounds and public parks along the waterfront and surprising green spaces that will delight visitors. Car-free areas in some of the city's busiest parts mean more street life and more child-friendly walking, and of course, New York has some of the country’s best pizza , burgers, bagels, and ice cream — a substantial part of most kids’ dream diet. Here, the best things to do in New York with kids.

Luna Park

Luna Park Arrow

A bit of a trek for those staying in midtown Manhattan, New York City's very own amusement park is a 45 minute train ride to the end of the line. But a day trip to Coney Island is a blast, especially in summer; grab a Nathan’s hot dog on Surf Avenue or fried clams on the boardwalk before getting your thrills on the rides. Older kids will make a beeline for the Cyclone, the historic wooden roller coaster that has been scaring the bejeezus out of children for more than 90 years. Smaller kids will love the carousel, the swings on Lynn's Trapeze, and the Wild River log flume.

Eloise in The Palm Court

Eloise in The Palm Court Arrow

Afternoon tea under the greenery and domed glass ceiling of The Plaza's elegant Palm Court will likely impress your mini Eloise (12 and under only) into better behavior. Everything here is about the precocious children's book character; even the pink-rimmed teacups and teapot are decorated with her image. The tea tower is the highlight, with classic finger sandwiches like English cucumber, with PB&J to please smaller palates. Sweets include caramel cupcakes, passionfruit s'mores, and a puff of pink cotton candy.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island Arrow

Crowds board the ferries that sail from Castle Clinton in Manhattan’s Battery Park to Liberty and Ellis Islands, which together make up the Statue of Liberty National Monument in Upper New York Bay. The iconic lady, lifting her lamp beside the golden door, is the best introduction one could have to the island where many Americans’ immigrant ancestors arrived. The massive red-brick building opened in 1900 and 12 million immigrants passed through its halls before the island closed in 1954. Today, there are nearly 100 million people descended from those immigrants, and a visit really brings their story to life.

New York Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum Arrow

The New York Transit Museum, a small museum near Brooklyn's Borough Hall, is in a former subway station; to enter you have to descend from the sidewalk, just as you would if you were on your daily commute. It's the perfect spot to spend an hour with kids, who will love running in and out of the cars of a vintage subway train, clambering up into the driver’s seat of a city bus, or pushing their way through a turnstile. The place covers more than a century of New York mass transit history, which will even bring native New Yorkers back to a time when the subway was a more beloved part of life in the city than it is today. Stock up on souvenirs for the NYC-obsessed. From vintage transit token necklaces to Metrocard mugs and baseball caps with your favorite train line embroidered on them, there's something for everyone. If you want a souvenir but can't make it out to Brooklyn, they also have a shop location in Grand Central Terminal .

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Gulliver's Gate

Gulliver's Gate Arrow

Children love miniatures, from dollhouse furniture to train sets to Legoland. And that's what Gulliver’s Gate in Times Square in each of its 50,000 square feet. It will capture younger visitors imaginations—and yours—from the start with its Lilliputian cityscapes in marvelous, painstaking detail, from the intricately painted ceiling of Grand Central Station to the 0.8-inch high models of real visitors. The streets are filled with tiny figures mid-action and cars that move, but it’s the surprises that are super-fun to spot, including Spiderman about to leap from the Brooklyn Bridge. Down at the gift shop you can even get miniatures of you and your family.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Arrow

The Statue of Liberty is a familiar figure to kids from an early age, so getting to see the real thing up close will thrill even the tweens and teens in your life. Climbing up to the crown of Lady Liberty is an adventure for the whole family, but you do have to be at least 48 inches tall (and the park rangers check) to ascend the 146 steps of the narrow spiral staircase from the pedestal. Be sure to book tickets at least three or four months in advance though, because they do sell out. If that climb isn't in your future, the 16-foot high original torch with its amber glass panes is now on display in the new Statue of Liberty Museum that opened in 2019. Besides the torch, the museum has floor to ceiling views of the Stature herself and the rest of Liberty Island and the accessible roof deck has panoramic views across the harbor and of the city skyline.

FAO Schwarz

FAO Schwarz Arrow

After nearly 80 years on Fifth Avenue, the famous toy store closed in 2015, but was brought back to life just a few years later in Rockefeller Center. Kids flocked to the flagship to gaze up at the 28-foot tall clock tower and marvel at the toy soldiers in their bright uniforms; in the '80s and '90s, little ones came in droves to dance on the giant piano, just as Tom Hanks did in that famous scene in "Big." Well the piano is back, as is all the rest

Domino Park

Domino Park Arrow

Domino Park is a five-acre oasis on the edge of the always-hip neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hipsters flock to it on weekends for fish tacos and great views; local families head straight to the playground. Those who love the feel of Williamsburg will love this as a vibrant addition to the scene. The park is only a quarter-mile long, making it easy to navigate—all the major features are easy to spot from the entrance.

Museum of Natural History New York City interior Elephants

American Museum of Natural History Arrow

The museum has 150 years of history and scientific discovery to draw upon and wows kids every day with its terrific 3D experiences, tech-driven exhibits, and of course, its towering T-Rex skeleton and massive blue whale model (longer than a school bus!) hanging in the Hall of Ocean Life. For a hands-on experience, visit The Discovery Room (for ages 5-12) to put a dinosaur skeleton together, pull out drawers of specimens, and use a digital seismograph to track earthquakes. Of course, the most memorable experience of all for the entire family is spending the night here. Book “A Night at the Museum” sleepover (check the museum website for dates from May to October) and you can explore the exhibits and halls after hours before bedding down on a cot under the blue whale. Remember to bring a sleeping bag and a flashlight!

Empire State Building

Empire State Building Arrow

The Empire State Building may be the most recognizable building in the United States. The 102-story skyscraper was the tallest building in the world for 40 years and even though it's been surpassed by dozens of projects on three continents, it remains a New York icon. With more than 4 million visitors a year, there are always long lines to buy tickets, so it’s best to purchase in advance online or go for a VIP Express pass. Even though it's double the price, you'll get to skip all the lines.

Jane's Carousel

Jane's Carousel Arrow

There can’t be many other carousels with better views than Jane's, which sits between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge in Empire-Fulton Ferry Park. Every revolution gives you thrilling snapshots of lower Manhattan, the bridges spanning the river, and the old brick DUMBO warehouses. Built in 1922, the 48-horse wooden carousel is an example of a successful private-public partnership; collectors Jane and David Walentas bought and restored the carousel, donated it to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and commissioned architect Jean Nouvel to build a square plexiglass box to house it.

New York City Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo Arrow

The little animals in your family will love spending the day at the largest urban zoo in the country. At 265 acres, it’s best to choose the attractions the family will want to see and plan accordingly — you can even rent single or double strollers for when short legs tire out. Plan on getting there when it opens or check the zoo website for special pre-opening programs such as breakfast with penguins or big cats. Speaking of food, everyone can feed the mini Nubian goats, donkeys, and sheep at the Children’s Zoo farmyard. Note that the only way to see some of the most popular animals—the Asian elephants, rhinos, and red pandas—is on the Wild Asia Monorail, a 20-minute ride (open seasonally). And for something to tire out older kids, there's an aerial ropes course and a 400-foot zip line over the Bronx River.

Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3 Arrow

Serendipity 3, an Upper East Side restaurant-cum-soda fountain with marble-topped tables and Tiffany-style lamps, hasn’t changed all that much since it opened in 1954. You'll find everything from meatloaf to hamburgers, but it's the desserts that made the place famous. Share an elaborate, oversized sundae, a banana split, or the famed frozen hot chocolate or mochaccino. It's the perfect way to give the kiddos a Willy Wonka–style treat in summer after a few hours of sightseeing.

Governors Island New York

Governors Island Arrow

Head for The Hills! That's actually the name of the new 30-acre park on this public island in New York Bay. With scrambles up to 70 feet high—built to protect the island from rising sea levels and climate change—there’s plenty to occupy little adventurers. They won’t be able to resist Slide Hill’s four chutes, including the longest slide in the city at 57 feet. But the island is a playground for the whole family. After hopping off the ferry, rent bikes to see the island on two wheels, tour the 200-year-old Castle Williams or give them the freedom to follow their imagination at The Yard, a 50,000 sq.-foot adventure playground stocked with bits of lumber, old wheels, and random parts. There's also an outpost of Manhattan’s Children Museum of the Arts that lets kids make art in a hands-on, outdoor workshop and new family-friendly cultural events going on every week.

Intrepid Sea Air  Space Museum

Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum Arrow

The Intrepid is a floating museum: a WWII aircraft carrier with a storied naval career home to some of the most famous air and spacecraft in the world, plus exciting experiences and exhibits that will thrill your young history and aviation buffs. The Intrepid served in WWII, Vietnam and throughout the Cold War era; after it was decommissioned, it was installed at Pier 86 on the Hudson River. For four months after 9/11, the vessel served as the FBI’s field office. Today it's a National Historic Landmark.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad

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Global Munchkins

Travel + Global Inspired Lifestyle

November 7, 2023

20 Incredible Things to do in New York with Kids [+ Where to Eat & Stay]

Read on to plan your trip to New York with kids today using our Ultimate Guide to New York with Kids. #travelwithkids #traveltips #newyork #newyorktravel #travel #familybonding

Despite our kids being avid travelers, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about traveling to New York with little ones. Luckily, I quickly realized this is one of my favorite cities and we have returned numerous times!

There is an endless amount of things to do in New York with kids, amazing places to stay, and incredible food. New York City should be on every family’s bucket list! Read on to plan your trip to New York with kids today using our Ultimate Guide to New York with Kids.

Here are the 18 B est Things to do in New York with kids

*Quick Tip – Grab the New York City Pass – It will provide you with savings on most of the activities listed below!

traveling to new york with kids

1. The Ride NYC

We have been on our fair share of bus tours throughout the years. HOWEVER… This is NOT your typical bus tour! In fact, it’s rather the opposite. I will adamantly proclaim that this is THE BEST BUS TOUR EVER!!!

The_Ride_NYC - One the Best things to do in New York with Kids

Picture a tricked-out bus complete with hydraulics, stadium seating, and a ton of gorgeous flat-screen TVs.

With a host that is funny enough to rival the likes of the best late-night television talk show hosts and then pour in some crazy surprise guests.

I’m talking about dancing, singing, laughter, and tears of joy. This is one tour you absolutely CANNOT miss! It was not only the best tour we took in New York… and the BEST BUS TOUR we have EVER taken!!!

Check Pricing Here!

2. central park.

nyc with kids - Central Park

No visit to NYC is complete without a trip to America’s first public park. Central Park is one of the most famous and beloved urban parks in the world.   Central Park is massive.

Inside you can find a zoo, a conservatory garden, a castle, and a boathouse. There are amazing playgrounds and plenty of room for the kids to run wild. It’s also the perfect place to escape the chaos of people, honking taxis, and cars that cover the city day and night.

Playground_in_Central_Park

As wonderful as this park is I think it would be best visited by families during the day. It is completely enormous and was meant for people to literally get lost in it. So… it may not be the best place to be after dark. Find more info on Central Park here .

3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to the 9/11 memorials or the museum. The attacks occurred before they were born and even though we have talked to them about it (and they cover it a bit at school), I knew they would have lots of questions.

things to do in New York with kids

The kids could feel the mood and they grew somber. As expected the questions came pouring out. Thankfully the 9/11 museum was right there. What better way to give the kids the answers they needed than by visiting the exhibits?

The kids were able to view the television footage and stand before one of the fire trucks that were mangled and melted on that horrible day. It really helped them understand why all the adults around them were upset. They learned a lot that day and handled it incredibly well.

Olivia our 2-year-old was obviously too young but our four older munchkins range from 8-13 years old and I would totally recommend the museum for that age group.

The 9/11 Museum is part of the CityPass. Get more information on their discount services here .

You can get more information by visiting the museum website here , or if you are so inclined you can also make a donation here .

4. empire state building.

The Empire State Building is world-famous! In fact, Cornell researchers analyzed millions of Flickr photos and concluded that the Empire State Building was the most photographed building in the world back in 2011!

The Empire State Building is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan. Their 86th and 102nd-floor observatories are open to visitors (for a fee)  enabling anyone to score incredible 360° views of New York City and beyond. 

Empire_State_Building - best things to do in new york with kids

I enjoyed snapping some amazing skyline views of the city and the kids enjoyed taking an elevator up to the 86th floor and looking out. They were able to spot the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and more!

nyc_skyline_hotel_beacon_view

We visited late in the afternoon and we didn’t have to queue for long. We were able to get our tickets, get up the elevator, and take pictures all within about an hour.

My only complaint is that $26 per kid adds up quickly especially when you have a big family. It might be hard to justify as the kids liked the building but not nearly as much as I did.

Tip-  The Empire State Building is also part of the CityPass !

5. Rockefeller Center

An incredibly fun family-friendly thing to do in New York with kids is to visit Rockefeller Center. This iconic area of Manhattan is home to many NBC hit shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, and Jimmy Fallon.

Not to mention the awesome Radio City Music Hall, the rink at Rockefeller, the Channel Gardens, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and tons of dining and shopping too!

We enjoyed taking in the sights and strolling around the shops. We walked through the Lego store and were mesmerized by the Lego version of New York City – it’s spectacular!

The kids also loved taking turns having their photo taken in the famous red chair from the hit show The Voice at the NBC Studio Store.

The area around Rockefeller is bustling and lively. There are plenty of great shops + places to sit down and eat, grab a coffee, or enjoy a sweet treat. It makes a great stop in the evening as the lights make this area feel somewhat magical!!!

We have visited during the winter and enjoyed the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center as well. It’s an absolute must for the colder months!

6. Legoland New York

Discounted Legoland Tickets

Legoland New York just opened up and is just an hour outside the heart of the city. We have loved Legoland for years and it is an absolute blast for the kids, especially ages 3-9. There are rides, incredible Lego sculptures, and an entire city built out of Legos.

For Discounted Tickets to Legoland check out ARES Travel, they have the best discount ticket offers.

7. Big Bus Hop-On/ Hop-Off Tours

I have mentioned before how much we enjoy Hop-On/ Hop-Off Bus Tours. As per our usual routine the first full day we had in New York we hopped on a Big Bus. The tour took us all around the main sights.

We were able to get a peek at 5 th Avenue, the Flat Iron District, The Empire State Building, and more. We rode the bus until we got to the 9/11 Memorial where we hopped off and visited the memorial and the museum (as I mentioned above).

Happy_Family_on_Big_Bus_Tour_New_York

What I love about the Hop On/ Hop Off Bus Tours:

  • It is relaxing.
  • It helps us better understand the area and where things are located.
  • It gives us a chance to learn some fun facts about the area, its history + interesting stories about each of the main tourist sites from the live guide on board.

For more information & about Big Bus Tours & Prices check out their website here.

8. statue of liberty.

Statue_Of_Liberty - iconic things to do in new york with kids

A “MUST DO” for first-timers in New York no doubt is getting to see the Statue of Liberty. Now there are many expensive tours offering to take you to see our Lady Liberty. But, you can save a ton of money by skipping the expensive tours and instead of hopping on the FREE Staten Island Ferry.

This was excellent advice as the ferry runs 24 hours a day and drives right past Lady Liberty on its route to Staten Island. You simply take the subway to Bowling Green or South Ferry then hop on the ferry for a free ride across New York Harbor.

Staten_Island_Ferry

The ferry is massive so there are no long lines or tight spaces. We pushed the stroller right on the boat and Olivia was able to walk around the inside area the whole time. There are views from the inside spaces via large windows or you can opt to walk on the decks for a close-up.

Learn more about the Staten Island Ferry here .

9. madame tussaud’s.

Can you believe we have never been to the famous wax museum? It’s kind of funny because we run into Madame Tussaud’s on many of our travels but it has never made its way into our itinerary until we visited New York.

The kids had a blast taking pictures next to their favorite Hollywood stars (well… their replicas that is) they went back in time and onto movie sets like Wizard of Oz and ET, compared their heights to the likes of Lebron James and more.

ET_Madame_Tussaud

The kid’s favorite thing about Madame Tussaud’s though was the Marvel area. The figures in that section were by far the kid’s favorites. They especially loved the enormous Hulk! After taking photos with their favorites we entered the 4D theater where we enjoyed an awesome Marvel show- with a few added thrills I might add 😉

Hulk_Madame_Tussauds

We spent way more time in the wax museum than I would have ever expected to and for that reason, I would definitely urge you to put this one on your list!

For more information about Madame Tussaud’s check out their website here .

10. american natural history museum.

Want to meet Rexy and Dum Dum from Night at the Museum?? I bet your kids do! This is why the American Museum of Natural History is a super fun place to take the kids. Not to mention the obvious fact that this museum is also educational.

Family_at_American_Natural_History_Museum

Plan several hours and pack snacks because this is one gigantic museum. Besides chasing down every display from the movie “Night at the Museum” the munchkins also enjoyed the space show- Dark Universe and the Dinosaurs Among Us exhibit.

After you finish up at the museum I recommend grabbing some street food and heading over to relax in Central Park across the street. There is a playground at the entrance of the park on the far left side of the museum. It is gated and has plenty of things for the kids to climb on as well as plenty of benches for parents to rest their tired bodies on. Perfect combo!

Tip-  The American Natural History Museum is part of the CityPass. Get more information on their discount services here .

Learn more about the Natural History Museum here .

11. times square.

Of course, Times Square has to be on the list of things to do in New York with kids. What used to be a place where no one would dream of taking a child, Times Square is now quite the mecca for kids and their wild imaginations.

Times_Square

Here they will love checking out the giant M&M store where they can taste tons of varieties of M&M’s, and find out what M&M personality they are with the “Color Mood Analyzer”- ha! And, take a photo with the candy-coated Statue of Liberty.

Times_Square_M&M_Store

Other fun stops include the Hershey’s Chocolate World store and the insanely huge Disney Store on 45th Street. The whole family will enjoy strolling around, enjoying the lights, and grabbing a bite to eat too!

Find more about visiting Times Square with Kids from NYC Go here .

12. catch a show on broadway.

Things to do in New York with Kids - Frozen

Ella and I were lucky enough to see Matilda when we were in New York and it was absolutely amazing!!! The cast had tons of talented child actors that completely blew me away. Ella loved getting dolled up and sitting in the old theater. This was a highlight for sure and we would love to come back for more.

We also did an Adventures by Disney adventure in New York and saw Frozen. It is incredible. I recommend everyone check it out. Check Prices Here!

Tip- If you are looking for last-minute tickets. TKTS has discounted theater tickets and they are the only discounted tickets I would recommend purchasing. Their booths offer same-day evening appearances or next-day matinee show times.

13. Watch a Game at Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden - Things to do in NYC with Kids

If you have sports fans Madison Square Garden is a must-do in NYC with kids. The boys went with their dad to a Knicks game at the Madison Square Gardens (also home of the New York Rangers) .

They came back saying everyone should have the chance to see a game in that arena. Known as the “World’s Most Famous Arena” located in the heart of New York City this place makes you feel alive!!!

Grab tickets over at Tickpick . It’s my husband’s go-to site for tickets cause they don’t charge any service fees. Also, if there is no sports check out a Madison Square Garden Tour. I heard it’s amazing but make sure to buy tickets in advance from the box office. 

14. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge! [FREE]

Free things to do in New York with Kids

New York’s most recognizable structure that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn is a great thing to do with the kids in New York. The bridge has a walking and cycling path along with the road for the cars.

The Bridge is open 24 hours a day, I highly recommend going right before sunset for some spectacular pictures. At the end of the walk grab enjoy Brooklyn Bridge Park and grab a bite of pizza at Grimaldi’s , it’s delicious. 

15. Walk the Highline in Chelsea [FREE]

Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York? The Highline is a pretty amazing place to do so. It’s an elevated pedestrian walkway that spans about 20 blocks and is lined with trees.

I would recommend going on a weekday as the weekend tends to get pretty crowded. Check game schedules and concert showing information here .

16. The Museum of Ice Cream

While experiencing New York with kids you will definitely want to check out the Museum of Ice Cream. The Museum of Ice Cream is a 3-level playground experience where you can learn about… you already guessed it… ICE CREAM!

If your kids love ice cream as much as mine does, you will NEED to add this to your list of activities while visiting New York with kids.

17. The Color Factory

Another amazing experience to add to your list while visiting New York with kids is the Color Factory! Located in Soho, this interactive museum invites you to experience the “joy of color” through its interactive installations, immersive rooms, and curated moments inspired by the City of New York!

18. Visit the New York Aquarium

The New York Aquarium is a popular attraction located in Coney Island, Brooklyn. It is the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States and is home to over 350 species of aquatic animals, including sea lions, penguins, sharks, and many more.

The aquarium covers 14 acres and has several indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is a great place to bring the family during your vacation!

19. Visit The Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals representing 650 species from around the world. It is a popular destination for families, offering a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

This is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit, especially if you’re on a longer vacation in NYC.

Where to Eat in New York with Kids:

Kids can obviously be picky eaters. Luckily there are some amazing places in NYC with kids to grab some delicious bites. Whether you are looking for something quick, something fancy or something sweet, this city has it all.

Shake Shack

I rarely eat beef so hamburgers are clearly not my thing. However, Shake Shack blew me away. Their burger was cooked to perfection, their fries were delicious and their black and white shake was irresistible.

new york itinerary

I recommend you go to their original location in Madison Square Park where you can order from the window and enjoy eating your delicious meal in the open air of the park.

We may or may not have force-fed episodes of Seinfeld (#FunniestShowEVER) to our kids before our trip to New York. So, you can bet they were excited when we showed up at the inspiration for the Soup Nazi episode, “The Original Soupman”.

The trip was mostly based on being funny… however, the soups ended up being absolutely AMAZING!!!

  N O • S O U P • F O R • Y O U . . . We trained them well… And honestly the soup was delicious!! Owen claimed he agrees with Jerry- the soup trumps the girl ??? . . . #Seinfeld #SoupNatzi #thisisnewyork #NYC #travelgram #instatravel A photo posted by Mama Munchkin ✈ Travel Writer (@global_munchkins) on Mar 31, 2016 at 6:11pm PDT

Fun Fact- We heard that the cast of Seinfeld once visited “The Original Soupman” after the Soup Nazi episodes had become so popular. But, the man who the Soup Nazi was inspired by came out and yelled at Jerry Seinfeld for ruining his business (even though he gained incredible fame from it?) and kicked Seinfeld out of his store. Not sure if that is really true… but I sure hope it is. Hilarious!

This Indian version of Chipotle quickly became a favorite of ours while we were in New York. We couldn’t get enough of their Chicken Tikka and homemade naan bread. The quality of this food is on par with any nice Indian restaurant I have been to + the prices can’t be beaten!

Doughnut Plant

Family_happy_at_Doughnut_Plant

I spent about 6 months and took several classes to learn how to make amazing doughnuts so I am pretty particular when it comes to eating them. I was most pleasantly surprised when we stopped in at the Doughnut Plant and devoured some of their amazing doughnuts.

They do an amazing job offering up freshly baked artisan doughnuts that taste as good as they look. They are open all day so they make a perfect breakfast or dessert!

Pizza (from just about anywhere!)

There is a heap of different places where you can taste amazing pizza in New York. I love stopping by the $1.00 slice places as it is such a classic New York Experience. The kids absolutely loved the experience.

New_York_Pizza

Our favorites include:

  • Di Fara Pizza (named America’s BEST Pizza Joint by TimeOut.com) where the dough is made fresh several times per day
  • Joe’s, a Greenwich Village institution
  • The pizza restaurant inside Eataly for a traditional pie
  • And the obvious choice- Grimaldi’s (pictured above )

How to Get to New York with Kids

Traveling to New York with kids is simple as they are a major tourist destination (over 26 million expected to visit this year) so flights are frequent. In fact, there are more than a hundred air carriers servicing the New York area from all over the country and the world, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, and United.

The two main airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA). They are both located in Queens but I personally like JFK better. JFK tends to have more flights as they serve more airline carriers but I would fly into whichever has a better deal if it were me.

If you land and are feeling a little jet-lagged, our friends over at Mini Travellers have some great tips on Things to do with Jet Lag in New York!

You can also take a train to New York (we rode Amtrak actually from Washington DC and it was great! You can read Ella’s story on the Amtrak blog here ) . Here are a few of the train services that travel to New York: Amtrak,   NJ Transit , Long Island Rail Road , and Metro-North Railroad .

If you are driving into New York you can google directions. Just be aware that parking is very difficult within the city. It is best to use a site like BestParking.com to compare rates and locate places to park.

Transportation around NYC

Once you arrive you will find that getting around NYC is pretty easy.

New York has a great subway, metro, and bus system that can get you almost anywhere you want to go. We found this to be convenient and cost-effective means of getting where we needed to go.

Uber, LYFT, and Taxis are all available and easy to track down when you need to get from point A to point B and don’t want to deal with the metro.

Depending on where you are staying many hotels are within walking distance to the major sites as well. I love strolling with the kids, anyways. It burns their energy and we discover all sorts of fun things along the way. However, I have found that walks are best early in the day before the kids are tired. It is no fun to be dragging your kid along whining the whole time.

Where to Stay in New York with kids

New York has a plethora of lodging options and some amazing options for families. Everything from luxury hotels to AirBnB’s and budget chains. You will have no problem finding a room that is for sure! However, many options are rather small. Not to mention the larger chains tend to treat you like you are just a number rather than a guest.

On my Adventures By Disney New York adventure, we stayed near Times Square, but it is also fun to be close to Central Park.

If you are like me and prefer a smaller, more intimate place to call home while you are away then you absolutely MUST check out Hotel Beacon in the Upper West Side.

where to stay in new york with kids - hotel_beacon_nyc

The Hotel Beacon NYC is one of those hotels that I will never stray from. It is definitely one of the best places to stay in New York with kids. It fits on my list of great family hotels alongside Grand Wailea in Maui , Terranea in California , and The Hotel Nicholas in Prague . Just one of those gems of a hotel that is doing everything right!

Hotel Beacon is located next to the famous Beacon Theater, just a short walk to the American Natural History Museum, Central Park & more!

Their suites are spacious and gorgeously decorated. Plus, they come with a fully equipped kitchen! Pair that with the fact that Fairways Market and Trader Joe’s are nearby and you will see why this place is hard to beat!

Read my full review of our stay and take a peek into our room here . Or check current rates at NYC hotels on Tripadvisor.

Map of things to do in New York with Kids

Have you visited New York? What were your favorite places to go or things to do?? Let me know in the comments below.

Pin for later- The Best Things To Do in New York with Kids

kid-friendly things to do in nyc today

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Frequently Asked Questions about visiting New York with Kids!

Is New York kid-friendly?

Yes!. There are a ton of things to do in New York City with the kids. It is not as hard to get around the city as you might think. You can take the subway or snag an Uber.

How do I get around the city with kids?

The most inexpensive way is with the Subway. They do get fairly crowded and if you have a stroller it is a pain to take a stroller up and down the stairs of the subway. I recommend taking an uber or taxi if you have little ones.

What to do with a 10 year old in New York City

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Reader Interactions

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April 23, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Maybe New York isn’t such a scary place after all, really would love to visit some of these places.

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April 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Great list. I really liked Top of the Rock at Rockfeller Center. It felt less crowded than the Empire and same great views. I don’t have kids but I think Ellis Island is a great place to visit to learn about American roots and how the country was built by immigrants. Lastly, High Line Park is awesome. Okay, I’m rambling, but I love NYC as well! New York is so amazing, just about everything you do is fun!

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April 23, 2016 at 7:53 pm

I’ve heard great things about the Rock… we just couldn’t fit it in our schedule this time around. I guess that means we need to go again 😉 We also missed the High Line Park bc a storm came in and it was way to cold for our California bred kids to handle. So, we had to find indoor things. Again… more reasons to go back again 😉

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April 23, 2016 at 5:25 pm

This is a perfect guide for my upcoming trip to NYC with my niece. Definitely going to give the Beacon Hotel a look.

April 23, 2016 at 7:51 pm

I really, truly loved the Beacon and would highly recommend it. NYC is always so fun but I am sure it will be extra special with your niece in tow 🙂

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April 24, 2016 at 1:55 am

I visited New York years ago and I loved it. It’s not somewhere I even thought of with the kids but reading this made me realise exactly how much is there for them. The 9/11 site must have been awful.

April 24, 2016 at 9:02 am

Yes, 9/11 was rough but overall NYC was a great place for families. And, I think the kids learned several valuable lessons from the memorial so win/win!

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April 24, 2016 at 4:25 am

I would love to visit New York one day. The bus tours looks amazing, I haven’t seen anything like that before. Looks like a proper show. Also, I would love to go to Central Park and just find all those spots that you see in movies.

April 24, 2016 at 1:02 pm

OMG… the shows were a riot. Whenever you get the chance to go you MUST take a tour on The Ride 🙂

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April 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

New York City has so much to offer kids! Everytime we visit there is always something new to explore. We always make time for Central Park though. It is so huge as you mention that every time we go it is like we are experiencing it for the first time.

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April 24, 2016 at 11:04 am

New York is somewhere I would absolutely love to visit one day – there just seems like so much to do and see. x

April 24, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Couldn’t agree more… nyc has enough diversity it is a match for all 🙂

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April 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Many thanks! A very rich program has turned out 🙂 Thanks again for all the details! Keep it up:)

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April 25, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Wow, looks like you had an amazing trip! We don’t live far from NYC, but don’t make it there very often. You’ve given me some ideas of new places to visit when we go!

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April 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm

My gosh, i’d LOVE to back to NY. i went when i was about 16 but never considered it with children. Great list!

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April 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm

This is a great post with lots of great advice. I will definitely refer back to this in the future 🙂

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April 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

This is an incredibly helpful and thorough guide to visiting NYC! I would love to visit with my kids, we will but when they are older and able to appreciate the attractions you have featured here. I was visiting NYC over 9/11, it was an absolutely horrendous experience. I returned a few years ago to visit the 9/11 memorial which I found very emotional. I would definitely agree re; your tip for taking the Staten Island ferry and I also loved walking across Brooklyn Bridge, it was one of the highlights of my second visit. Thanks for linking up to #CityTripping

April 27, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Oh my gosh… I can’t believe you were there. What a tragic event to live through. Glad you are safe and sound and yes you most definitly will have to return with your kids. New York is an amazing city!

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April 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

Wow! What an excellent, comprehensive list! I’m impressed at how much you did and how much fun you clearly had in New York as a family. I have yet to visit New York with my daughter but, thanks to you, I know exactly what we need to do when we eventually DO go! The 9/11 memorial and museum wasn’t finished the last time I was in the city. It’s an incredibly important part of New York and world history and I’m glad the museum has been done well and in a way younger children can understand more about it too. I can imagine it was a very emotional experience. Thank you so much for linking to #citytripping

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May 2, 2016 at 1:48 am

What an awesome guide! I would love to bring my boys to NYC.. Just not so sure how I would survive the long plane ride from Singapore with them. #CityTripping

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May 3, 2016 at 11:45 am

My family and I will be visiting New York next year and we are beyond excited about it. One thing that we are worried about though is taking my nieces and nephews to such a big city and keeping an eye on them. This article has some great points on this that I think can help us know where to stay and how to enjoy New York with them.

May 4, 2016 at 3:56 pm

I was worried about that too Jorge. However, once there it actually didn’t feel too bad. They have very large sidewalks and there are a ton of pedestrians so cars are cautious. I just made sure to talk to the kids before we left about holding hands and prepped them about Times Square Characters and homeless people. Kids are pretty good if they are educated prior to going I feel. Have a wonderful trip!!!

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June 9, 2016 at 2:09 am

I have not ever been to NYC….can you believe it?!

I tend to stay west coast {traveling from Vancouver, Canada to CA is my most traveled to destination} but it’s on my must see places this year! Bookmarked and shared your wonderful post. Alice

June 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

I live in Cali and I really want to get up to Vancouver. You’ll have to let me know some must see’s up there. I’m so glad you liked my New York post. It was an amazing city to visit. Something for everyone. You will love it!

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August 24, 2016 at 1:06 am

I’m in New York with my three children as we speak and your guide has been extremely helpful. At ages 4,8 and 10 New York is amazing for the kids and we’re having the trip of a lifetime!

August 25, 2016 at 8:17 am

I am SO happy to hear that. Have a great trip!!!

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September 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Do you think the city pass was worth it? Do you still have to queue in line at the sights? also we have a 2 year old who gets free admission at many of these sights. would you suggest we get one for her?

September 26, 2016 at 9:52 am

Christina we did get a lot of use out of the City Pass but I did not purchase it for my then 2 year old as she received free entry and I never paid for her. Actually, we didn’t purchase one for the 3 younger ones and only had to pay a discounted admission at a few locations. The other HUGE benefit is there was always a shorter queue (often no wait) for people with CityPass- that alone makes it worthwhile. And, even when we did have to purchase extra tickets they allowed us to still enter through the CityPass queue. Definitly worth the money in my point of view. Have a fabulous trip!!

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January 27, 2017 at 6:34 am

Did you do The Ride or The Tour powered by the ride? I didn’t realize they were different until I went to their website.

January 27, 2017 at 7:59 am

We did The Ride. It was fantastic I highly recommend it. Very cool and totally unique.

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May 7, 2017 at 4:25 pm

This post has been SO HELPFUL! Thank you so much for putting this together! my family of 7 is planning our first trip to the big city in June, and this post is coming with us lol! Everything you mentioned sounds amazing, and its so helpful to know you were able to get through this trip with as many kiddos and I have, and come out smiling!

May 8, 2017 at 8:58 am

Yay!! I am SO happy to hear this. You are going to have a BLAST in NYC. We absolutely LOVED it there. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

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August 8, 2018 at 9:44 am

We’re taking our 2 year old to NYC and was wondering what type of transportation you used from the airport to your hotel since a car seat is needed for cars?

August 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

We used an uber. You can request an uber with a car seat or what we did is brought this super portable car seat that can fit in a backpack. Mifold. Here is the link. https://amzn.to/2OnfxYf

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September 11, 2018 at 9:48 am

How many days were you in New York? Id like to take the family, Im thinking we can only go (afford) a long weekend type trip. Would we be able to do much in 3 or 4 days?

September 11, 2018 at 6:25 pm

We were there for 5 days. You can get a ton done in 3 to 4 days. Most things in the city are pretty close, so you will be surprised how many things you can accomplish in just a few days.

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April 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

Thank you so much for the info! We are from rural Texas and NYC seems like a crazy planet far far away! We appreciate you breaking it down and easing us into this new adventure!

April 15, 2019 at 10:17 am

I’m glad I could help. Feel free to ask me any questions you have. You’ll have a great time.

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August 7, 2019 at 11:40 am

This is great info – question… do I see correctly that your daughter brought a scooter with her? Was that a good choice to get around, help with long walks? Any issues getting into the metro or other places with the scooter? Thanks

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September 4, 2019 at 9:07 pm

Hi, wondering if you found Big Bus hop on hop off to be a long wait before a bus arrived that could fit your entire family on at a time? We have 6 kids and it would be a bummer if we got off of a bus, but couldn’t easily get back on because a lack of enough seating each time. Thanks for all of the advice!

September 5, 2019 at 8:50 am

The Big Buses are all over the place, so I would not worry about long waits. We had some drivers who were great and super funny and informative, and we also had one driver who well to put it lightly, my kids fell asleep.

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November 17, 2019 at 5:10 am

The Staten Island Ferry is a ferry service run by the Transportation Department of New York City. The main path of the ferry runs 5.2 miles across New York Harbor between Manhattan and Staten Island’s New York City boroughs, with ferry ships making the trip in about 25 minutes.

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February 10, 2020 at 11:24 am

Thanks for the thorough guide and tips! Headed to NY soon!

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March 11, 2020 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for this great list! We just booked New York for May and I’m starting my list of “To Dos” with our three kids!! My husband booked us an Air Bn’B in Brooklyn, do you think that will be too much of a trek for all the days we want to go into Manhattan?

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April 15, 2020 at 3:49 am

This is one of the best articles I have seen in a long time! Thank you for sharing~

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July 8, 2020 at 4:46 am

Great post, we always travelled with our kids from the start and have so many wonderful memories those trips!

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October 12, 2020 at 3:25 am

Great read, very detailed and to the point! But I wonder though what the added thrills at the wax museum were 🙂 Cheers, Elna

December 15, 2020 at 11:43 am

Absolutely stunning! Thank you on a detailed impressive guide!

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March 1, 2022 at 10:09 am

Thanks for the guide and tips. We are heading there at Easter, so busy planning our itinerary and working out all the best places to go.

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March 10, 2022 at 12:16 pm

Ha, I’m saving this list. Thank you so much. I’m a native new Yorker. But this will be my first time traveling with all my babies all this saved me a lot of woes. Thank you so much.

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May 28, 2022 at 3:18 am

Such an amazing list, So detailed as well, I reckon I can save a whole week for NYC now. Thank you for sharing.

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November 7, 2022 at 6:47 am

Nice post! I’ ve been in New York with my kids twice, we all love the city, but there are some of your suggestions that we never tried. Already booking a third time!!

April 8, 2023 at 7:23 pm

I loved your blog thank you so much for sharing.

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activities for 5 year olds nyc

30 Best Family Attractions And Things To Do In NYC With Kids Right Now

Whether you're a tourist or a local, we put together a list of some family-friendly things to do with kids in NYC!

Corey Fuller

In a city as bustling as NYC, it seems like there’s always a million things going on all the time! From Broadway shows to art exhibitions to concerts , there’s no doubt why we’re the “city that never sleeps.” But what about things to do in NYC with kids? There are so many family attractions to do in the city, it was hard to narrow them down into a list! Nonetheless, whether you’re visiting NYC and need some kid-friendly ideas , or you’ve lived here all your life and want to spend a fun day with your children, we’ve got some options of things to do with kids in NYC!

1. Discover the “The Secret World of Elephants” at the American Museum of Natural History

Exhibition visitors will encounter a full-scale model of one of the most iconic extinct elephant relatives—a woolly mammoth, depicted in the process of shedding its winter coat.

There really is so much educational fun to be had at museums , and the American Museum of Natural History is one of the best for kids. Alongside their normal collection of pre-historic dinosaurs, science programs, and more, their current “Secret World of Elephants” exhibit is a smash-hit.

Kids can get up close and personal with these trunked creatures and learn the ins and out of their lives…from how their bodies work to the environment they live in. Learn more about The Secret Life of Elephants here .

🐘 Buy your tickets to the American Museum of Natural History here!

Where: 200 Central Park West

2. Become a Troll at CAMP

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Is your kid a fan of the Trolls movies?! If so, you have to bring them to this magical trolls experience happening in collaboration with retailer and experience maker CAMP. At this immersive experience, children are able to play and explore in Bergen Town, Vacay Island, Pop Village, and beyond! Plus, they can ride a living bus thingy called Rhonda, witness a Trollpop concert, and treat themselves at Mr. Dinkle’s Sparkle Spa. Learn more about Trolls x CAMP here !

3. Go ice skating at Bryant Park

People Ice Skating in Bryant Park, New York, NY, USA on the Seasonal Ice Rink Next to the Holiday Market on December 6, 2019

Ice skating in NYC is one of our favorite winter time activities , and it’s the perfect way to keep the little ones busy! Let them glide around one of the city’s most iconic rinks and finish it off with a hot chocolate afterwards! Plus the best part…it’s free if you bring your own skates! Learn more here .

4. Get slimy at Sloomoo Institute

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Sloomoo Institute is NYC’s immersive slime experience that intersects design and sensory play…making it the perfect place to bring your children! The 12,000 square foot space in SoHo is home to hand-crafted, artisanal slime of all textures and scents that is begging to be played with. You can let the whole family’s senses go wild on this one-of-a-kind slime adventure! Learn more here .

Where: 475 Broadway

5. Spend a day with a furry friend at an NYC zoo

Kid feeding macaw parrot in tropical zoo. Child playing with big rainforest bird. Kids and pets. Children play and feed wild animals in safari park in sunny summer day. Little girl watching parrots.

Although it’s on the colder side here in NYC, you can still check out one of the world’s most iconic zoos during the winter. Spend hours on end with your children while you check out all the wildlife there is to offer, from sea lions to Andean bears. Check out all of NYC’s zoos here !

🦍 Buy tickets to the world famous Bronx Zoo here!

🐘 Buy tickets to the Central Park Zoo here!

6. Stroll through Central Park

Little girl feeds a squirrel in Central park, New York, America

Central Park is one of the most popularly explored urban parks, so we can’t talk about things to do with kids in NYC without mentioning our gem of a park. Of course you can bring them here for a picnic, game of catch, or whatever you fancy, but they also have kid-friendly attractions scattered throughout, like a carousel near the Dairy, as well as the miniature Belvedere Castle! Go now to check out the cherry blossoms too!

🌳 Central Park

7. Explore the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Young kid at Brooklyn Children's Museum

Believe it or not, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum was founded as the world’s very first children’s museum back in 1899! With a mission to “create experiences that ignite curiosity, celebrate identity and cultivate joyful learning” among children and middle schoolers, there are so many exhibits, programs, movies, and events always going on here! Take a look at exhibits like World Brooklyn , where children can play in kid-sized shops based on local Brooklyn businesses, or even Neighborhood Nature , which explores life sciences, the natural world, and live animals! Learn more and plan your visit here .

🧒 145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn

8. Play at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Kids at Children's Museum of Manhattan

Welcoming over 350,000 visitors a year, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is an Upper West Side hub for children to “grow and develop into their best selves.” There’s tons of exhibitions to check out, including a Nickelodeon sponsored Adventures With Dora and Diego activation, as well as a PlayWorks™ space that allows kids to build their physical, social, math, art, science, literacy and problem-solving abilities! Check out what’s happening at CMOM and plan your visit here .

🛝 212 W 83rd St

9. Sail to the Statue of Liberty

best things to do in nyc

Whether you’re a tourist or a local, visiting Lady Liberty is never a bad idea with your kid. Not only is it a fun thing to do with your kid, but it’s a memory that will last a lifetime! Take the ferry, snap pictures, and get up close and personal with one of NYC’s most famous landmarks! Plus, there’s audio tours for kids, a museum, and they can even climb up to the crown if they’re above four feet tall.

🗽 Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island

10. Dive into an NYC aquarium

Bristol, UK, Great Britain, counties of Gloucestershire Bristol Aquarium 2nd of June 2021. A Curious boy is watching a giant Grouper in Bristol Aquarium.

Similar to zoos, NYC’s aquariums are a great way to spend a day with children, and you can even do it if the weather doesn’t cooperate! Peek into different marine life featuring penguins, sharks, and exotic fish at the various aquariums around the city. Many, like the New York Aquarium offer sea lion shows, while others offer unique fish breeds and touch tanks. Check out the full list here .

🐡 Buy tickets to the New York Aquarium here!

11. Ride rollercoasters at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park at American Dream Mall in New Jersey

No matter the age of your kids, you’re sure to find something fun to do at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park. It’s a little outside of NYC in East Rutherford, NJ but it’s definitely worth the trip! They have rides that may homage to famous characters like Timmy Turner and Spongebob, so you know it’ll be a good time. Plus, the American Dream Mall where the park is located also has tons of other kid-friendly attractions, like a mirror maze, ice rink and more!

🎢 Read more about Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park here.

🪞 Buy tickets to American Dream’s Mirror Maze here!

⛸️ Buy tickets to American Dream’s The Rink here!

📍 1 American Dream Wy, East Rutherford, NJ

12. Go building at LEGOLAND® New York Resort

Entrance to Legoland

This LEGO takeover is also a little outside of New York City, but it’s a great day trip to make with your children! There is quite literally so much to do here, it can even be overwhelming! You and your kids can ride rides and attractions, do meet and greets with LEGO characters, watch LEGO movies, shop, eat, and so much more! Check out everything that’s going on at LEGOLAND® here .

🧱 1 Legoland Blvd, Goshen, NY

13. Seek thrill at Coney Island

roller coaster Soarin Eagle in Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City

Although it’s a little tougher in the colder months, there’s so much fun to be had at Coney Island! It’s one of our favorite things to do in NYC with kids because it’s packed full of amusement park rides, games, food, and fun! Take your kids to try to win a stuffed animal, or enjoy the many attractions (like the famous Wonder Wheel) the parks have to offer! Or how about a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball games? Not to mention it’s right on the beach! So many ways to have family-friendly fun!

🎡 Coney Island

14. Get active at Chelsea Piers

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If your child is into sports (or you want them to be into sports), you have to check out Chelsea Piers. Their 100,000+ square foot territory on the west side of the city is a kids’ dream and a great way to keep them in tip-top shape! This place has everything thing a child could imagine, from an ice rink to a swimming pool to rock climbing to even bowling at Bowlero! Seriously, there’s just about everything you can think of. Check out everything that’s happening here .

🤸 62 Chelsea Piers

15. Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park

People walking on Brooklyn Bridge

Take your kids walking over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to get some fresh air and some picturesque NYC skyline views! Don’t forget to check out Slide Mountain, the vintage carousel at Empire Fulton Ferry or the chance to go roller skating at Pier 2. Or maybe one of their plentiful playgrounds will pass the time? Maybe even a summer movie in the park? Whatever strikes your interest, this is always a great visit with kids.

🌉 334 Furman St, Brooklyn

16-18. Go toy shopping at iconic NYC toy stores

Lego dragon at Lego Store NYC

Are you and your kids ready to shop until you drop? While there’s so many place to go shopping in NYC , we suggest stopping by some of the big kid-friendly stores you can only find in select places, like New York. We’re talking the mystical Harry Potter store, the LEGO store, and the iconic Fao Schwarz store in Rockefeller Plaza. Let your kids pick out something memorable and take a souvenir home from NYC.

17. Get spacial at INTER_

activities for 5 year olds nyc

INTER_ is currently one of our favorite immersive experiences in NYC , and it’s perfect for kids to have an interactive day of fun! Not only can you step through and be part of the colorful installations, you can now check out their wINTERverse exhibition happening through January 16! There’s immersive winter wonderlands, enchanting photo ops, a DIY beaded snowflake experience and more! Learn more here .

Where: 415 Broadway

18. Embark on a soaring journey over NYC

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Take your child on an NYC experience like never before at RiseNY, a 3 part immersive experience in Times Square including a film, museum, and soaring 4D ride! This spot is great for kids because you do things like taking a ride on a model of the first ever NY subway, view one-of-a-kind items curated by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and ride an exhilarating 4D ride over the NYC skyline! Learn more about it and book your spot here .

Where: 160 W 45th St

19. Ride the Roosevelt Island Tram

Roosevelt Island Tram

Are you looking for a low effort way to grab some skyline views with your children? Entrust in the Roosevelt Island Tram that offers gorgeous views and a fun ride to and from the island for the little ones. You can pick it up on the Upper East Side on E 59th and 2nd Ave every 7-15 minutes. Once you get to the island, you can explore Southpoint Park next to the river, North Point Lighthouse, and the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.

🚠 E 59th St & 2nd Ave

20. Take them to a kid-friendly restaurant in NYC

Two little kid boys having breakfast at a restaurant

If all else fails, try taking them to one of these kid-friendly restaurants! They have special menus, sweet treats, and so much more that will satisfy them. We’re talking everything from wacky milkshakes to frozen hot chocolates! Check out our list of best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC here !

21. Grab views at NYC Observation Decks

Outdoor sky deck at Edge NYC

What better way to make a memory then grabbing a 360 degree view of our favorite city with your kids? Climb to one some of the highest heights with your kids to experience something like never before. Of course you have the Edge, One World Observatory, the Empire State Building, and so many more. Usually these experiences offer discounted children tickets as well! Check out all of the great observatories here .

22. Smell the flowers at Children’s Adventure Garden

activities for 5 year olds nyc

As the Holiday Train Show at NYBG winds down, take your kids to check that out alongside the Children’s Adventure Garden! This place allows children to invent their own plants in “Plant Part Paradise ” as well as dash through “ Beth’s Maze, ” plus many more activities! This is the perfect springtime way for kids to explore the wonders of science and nature! Learn more about the Children’s Adventure Garden here .

🌼 Buy tickets to the New York Botanical Garden here!

23. Catch an NYCFC game at Yankee Stadium

New York, NY - November 21, 2021: Smiling young fans of NYCFC seen during first round game of MLS Cup versus Atlanta United on Yankee stadium

Take ’em out to a sports game! Turn your children into the biggest NYCFC games, where they’ll be kicking the ball around Yankee Stadium all season long! You can get discounted tickets for youth and who knows…you may even spot Lionel Messi if his Inter Miami team comes to town!

⚾ E 161st St & River Avenue

24. Learn about history at South Street Seaport Museum

Children exploring the South Street Seaport Museum NYC

New York’s rich history as a world port for global trading, goods, labor, and cultures is fully on display at the South Street Seaport Museum. Have your children explore the often unspoken historical side of the city through different exhibits that discuss topics like different ocean liners and even a maritime-themed discovery room featuring a live hermit crab. Check out what’s on here !

🚢 12 Fulton St

25. Let them loose on an NYC playground

activities for 5 year olds nyc

NYC’s finest jungle gyms are calling your kid’s name! From slides to swings, there are so many lovely playgrounds around NYC that your child can spend hours frolicking on. In the summertime, some of these playgrounds even have splash ponds and features too to cool off! Check out the best playgrounds in NYC here !

26. Explore the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral by candlelight

Catacombs by Candlelight Tour

Take your child on a creepy yet enthralling walking tour of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral! By candlelight, you and your kids can discover the hidden areas of the church that are off-limits to regular visitors. Learn about the church’s significance in New York history, uncover the final resting places of famous New Yorkers, and so much more!

🕯️ Buy your tickets to the Catacombs by Candlelight Tour here!

27. Get competitive at Game of 1000 Boxes

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Experience NYC’s first and only live game show experience with Game of 1000 Boxes! You and your kids can immerse yourself in an hour of fun and exciting party games that test collective wits, gut instincts, and button-finger agility!

🎮 Buy your tickets to Game of 1000 Boxes here!

28. Channel your inner spy at SPYSCAPE

People at SPYSCAPE NYC

This puzzling espionoge museum will have your kid unlocking their inner spy! They’ll test their skills by uncovering hidden talents, cracking codes, and conducting top-secret operations in different SPYGAMES challenges. It’s the perfect adventure!

🕵️ Buy your tickets to SPYSCAPE here!

29. Play for hours at Flying Apple

activities for 5 year olds nyc

This indoor play center is perfect for kids age 1-10! Full of ball pits, slides, and you name it…it’s a great spot for kids to play and parents to hang out. Plus, kids can also have birthday parties, events, field trips and more. Learn more about Flying Apple here !

Where: 912 Broadway, Brooklyn

Programs See all programs

Supplemental nutrition assistance program, community food connection, summer meals.

Discover tips, tools, and support for this age

Brain Building

Your child’s experience in kindergarten and the time they spend with you can prepare them for lots of learning ahead! At this stage, your child may be toilet trained, have a basic grasp of math and reading, enjoy singing and dancing, and speak clearly. 

Learn more about your five-year-old’s development , explore schools options , and find free activities for kids and families below.

The Early Childhood Family Toolkit

The Early Childhood Family Toolkit is a growing collection of our favorite resources for families with young kids. Discover learn-at-home tips and activities, health support, and more—all chosen by the NYC Department of Education.

Learn through life's everyday moments

See what your child is learning

Skills children develop as they play, learn, speak, act, and move are called milestones. Learn about milestones to help you understand your child's development and act early if you have concerns.

Around 5 years old, many children:

  • Want to make friends happy and be like them
  • Are more likely to agree with rules
  • Like to sing, dance, and act
  • Are aware of gender
  • Show more independence
  • Tell what's real and what's make-believe
  • Are sometimes tough and sometimes cooperative

Communication

  • Speak very clearly
  • Tell a simple story using full sentences
  • Use the future tense, for example, "Grandma will be here"
  • Can say name and address
  • Can count 10 or more things
  • Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
  • Can print some letters or numbers
  • Can copy a triangle and other simple shapes
  • Know about things used every day, like money and food

Physical Development

  • Stand on one foot for 10 seconds
  • Can hop and may be able to skip
  • Can somersault, flipping all the way around forwards or backwards
  • Use a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
  • Use the toilet on their own
  • Swing and climb
  • Have 5 ounces of grains daily (such as 1 cup of breakfast cereal plus 1 large tortilla)
  • Have 1 ½ cups of vegetables daily (such as 3 medium carrots)
  • Have 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (such as 1 medium or large apple OR 1 to 1½ cups 100% fruit juice)
  • Have 4 ounces of meat and beans daily (such as 1 small chicken breast plus 1 egg)
  • Have 2 ½ cups of milk daily
  • Have 1 hour of adult-led physical activity
  • Have 1 hour of free play
  • Are not inactive for more than 1 hour at a time, unless sleeping
  • Sleep about 10–13 hours per day
  • Stay on schedule with shots

Act early by talking to a doctor, teacher, or social worker if your child:

  • Doesn't show a wide range of emotions
  • Shows extreme behavior, such as unusual fear, aggressiveness, shyness, or sadness
  • Is easily distracted, having trouble focusing on an activity for more than 5 minutes
  • Doesn't respond to people or responds without thought or care
  • Can't tell what's real and what's make-believe
  • Can't give first and last name
  • Doesn't talk about daily activities or experiences
  • Doesn't draw pictures
  • Can't brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help

Find the support your family needs to thrive

School Food

NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Free school breakfast and lunch

NYC students can enjoy free breakfast and lunch every school day.

School-Based Health Centers (SBHC)

NYC Department of Education (DOE); NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

Free health care in schools

Students can get free health care in their school.

Gifted & Talented Program (G&T)

NYC Department of Education

Gifted programs

G&T programs offer specialized classes for exceptional students.

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The best things to do in nyc with kids.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

What to do with kids in NYC! If you’re looking for the best things to do in NYC with kids, look no further! After visiting this city 20+ times, I’ve compiled my favorites here for you! 

activities for 5 year olds nyc

New York City! The most visited city in the USA, home to Broadway, Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and so many famous landmarks. There’s a lot to tackle in the city and it can feel a bit daunting being in NYC with kids.

Besides the fact that NYC is the most populous city in the United States, and was its first capital, containing centuries of fascinating history from millions of immigrants, there are countless reasons to visit New York City with your family.

From food to fun, to culture and crazy, New York City is a wonderland for the senses and children will love taking it all in! And even though it’s a massive metropolitan city full of businesses and tourists, it’s actually quite a kid-friendly city with so many fun and educational opportunities.

But there are some basics you’ll need to know if you’re planning a visit to New York with kids.

  • One Week NYC Kids Itinerary

If you’re looking for a detailed, step-by-step itinerary that includes recommendations on tours, attractions, restaurants, hidden gems, and iconic places in the city, this 7-day New York City Kids itinerary is perfect for an open-and-go guide.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

  • Thinking about visiting NYC with kids at Christmas? Read this!

Check out this video of our amazing weekend with Marriott in NYC!

Here's a Short Cut

Where to Go in New York City

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The answer to this will depend largely on where you’re coming from.

Most visitors to NYC will be flying in. New York City is serviced by three major international airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. You can almost always find great deals to New York. If you’re new to deal finding and want to learn how to find cheap flights anywhere, be sure to read my comprehensive guide to flying for cheap or free, which you can find here.

You can access the city from each of these airports in about an hour via public transportation.

If you live on the East Coast and within train distance to New York City (Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, etc) then taking the Amtrak into the city is probably the easiest way to arrive. The trains take you into the heart of the city center at Penn Station. We chose to take the train from our home in Washington DC.

You can also drive into New York City, but beware parking is expensive and scarce, and traffic entering Manhattan can be brutal. It may be worth considering parking in New Jersey and taking the train in.

There are buses into NYC that leave from several major cities for as low as $25! This is a really cheap option and the buses are pretty comfortable. It takes around a little longer than if you drove yourself but might be more relaxing than driving in the traffic and you also don’t have to worry about parking. Megabus usually has the best options and prices. You can see their routes and prices here.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

When most people talk about visiting “New York City”, they usually mean Manhattan , an island surrounded by the East, Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Manhattan, locally referred to as “the city” is the financial and historical center of New York City and the most densely populated borough, containing the majority of the major landmarks such as Time Square, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Broadway and of course the Statue of Liberty.

The most popular places to visit in New York will all be in Manhattan. So iff you’re visiting New York City to see the major sites, staying in Manhattan will be the most practical choice. Just to make matters a little more confusing, there are about 60 districts or neighborhoods inside the island of Manhattan! Don’t worry, thanks to the Big Apple’s fantastic public transportation system, you will be able to see everything within a quick and easy subway journey!

There are about a million places to stay in New York City, but you’ll want to be sure to choose the best spot for you and your family. We love staying near Times Square as it’s very central between uptown, downtown, and midtown. You’re just a quick New York subway ride away from all the amazing things to do in Manhattan.

Here is what our family thinks are the best places to stay in New York City:

  • The SoHotel: The Oldest hotel in NYC. It’s housed some pretty famous people you may have heard of like General George Washington all the way to The Spice Girls. This hotel is located farther south in Manhattan, in (surprise) SoHo, so I usually like to split our trips in half and spend half the time in The SoHotel and the other half at…
  • The Algonquin Hotel : Read more below

activities for 5 year olds nyc

The Algonquin Hotel has beautiful rooms that have been fully renovated, but I love how they left some of the beautiful antique touches alone. The dark wood lobby feels like walking into a hotel straight out of the Great Gatsby! Be sure to check out the old Mail Chutes in the hallways and the iron rail staircases throughout the building. It’s absolutely beautiful

activities for 5 year olds nyc

New York City is a place that could take several lifetimes to explore. No matter the length of your stay, try not to stress out about seeing it all, because it will never happen! I have been to NYC maybe 20 times in my life, and every time I go it’s like a completely different city! I’ve done the same things very few times.

NYC is a great place for a weekend trip. Many locals like to leave the city for the weekend making it a good time to go. We were there for the weekend on our last trip and on Sunday the city felt nearly empty, which is like a miracle in the summer! Due to the ease and affordability of getting to New York, It’s a place you an visit over and over again.

A weekend trip is also a good idea if you’re going to NYC with kids. If you’re not from one, big cities can be really overwhelming for kids and after a few days they may just be “done.”

You can learn more about a weekend trip with Marriott to NYC here .

activities for 5 year olds nyc

  • Buy or download a really good map, including subway routes.
  • Learn how to hail a taxi from a local: If the roof light is on, wave your hand out in the street with huge up and down gestures! If you’re unsure, just watch the locals or ask them to hail one for you. Tell your driver where to go either by landmark or cross streets.
  • Buy subway cards at a station. 3 children under 12 years old ride free with each adult. You can also use these on the bus system.
  • Figure out your route ahead of time. There’s nothing more stressful than standing in the middle of a busy New York City sidewalk staring at your map and trying to figure out what you’re doing!
  • Apple Maps and Google Maps both do a great job of giving you the best route and including step by step
  • Public transportation is a must do in NYC, so don’t be afraid of it!
  • Kids 12 and under ride the New York Subway for free
  • Talk about public transportation safety with your kids
  • Carve out time to spend in nature each day
  • Have the kids memorize your phone number, write it somewhere on their bodies, get a phone number bracelet made, use phone number tattoos, or use a kids GPS tracking watch .
  • Decide on food beforehand and make reservations if possible.
  • Subways often have lots of stairs and limited access to elevators. Avoid using strollers if possible or bring a small stroller or baby carrier.

This interactive map will help you navigate the amazing things to do in New York City with kids. Feel free to save this map and use it during your trip.

If you know what you want to do in New York City, it’s definitely worth it to buy the Go City Pass for New York . This pass allows you to select how many attractions you want to purchase on the card and offers up to a 40% discount . The pass also offers free audio guides at certain museums and discounts at certain gift shops.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

You have 60 days from your first attraction visit to use the card, so you’re not pigeonholed into doing all the things in 2 days like some passes. After reading over this guide, make a list of the things you know you want to do, and purchase enough attractions for that. It will make sense when you are purchasing the pass.

What to do in New York with kids you ask? With so many things to do in Manhattan alone, it can be hard to narrow down what to do in NYC. Don’t try to do it all. Even if you’re there for 2 weeks, you’ll never see it all! It’s best to pick a few things that appeal to you and take it easy. Especially if you’re visiting NYC with kids. The city can be very overstimulating, so try to pace yourself, at least for their sake. These are a few of my favorite things to do in NYC. What to do with kids in NYC:

How do you see the most densely populated and one of the oldest cities in the US on your own without a little help? Hire a local guide to help you navigate the city for a day and learn some amazing facts and practical advice. There are plenty of great tours in NYC, but these are some ones that we like:

Painting in Central Park

9/11 Tour with First Responder

NYC Food History Tour

NYC Photo Tour

Top 30 Sites in NYC

Walking History Tour of NYC

Cycling Tour of Central Park

Kayak the Statue of Liberty

NYC Street Art Tour

Hop On Hop Off Bus

Catch the Best Views of NYC

You can’t visit New York City without getting a little higher and seeing this stunning city from the sky! It really helps you visualize just how big it really is! There are many ways to catch a bird’s eye view, but these are some of the best.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Rockefeller Center is also a really fun building to visit as so many great shows are filmed there. Lines can get long so I highly recommend purchasing skip the line ticket which you can find here.

If you’re in New York City at Christmas you can also go Ice Skating here! 

This 102-story skyscraper has been a New York City landmark since it’s completion in 1931 when it became the world’s tallest building and remained so for 40 years. It’s well worth riding up to the top and taking in the view of the city! It’s one of the most classic places to go in New York. You should definitely book your tickets in advance. You can do that here.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

The Vessel is a new amazing structure that will blow your mind and make you a little dizzy. It’s totally free, but you need to get tickets in advance as it is timed and books out quickly. The views are amazing and it’s one of the coolest things to see in NYC!

On RiseNY , you can embark on a journey through the pop culture evolution of New York, starting with an immersive film, continuing through 7 museum-style galleries, and ending with a soaring bird’s-eye view of the city. This is a really fun and interactive way for kids to learn about New York City.

In the heart of the city, what was once an overhead freight railroad has been transformed into an elevated green space. Look for special activities just for children.

Visit the Best Museums for Kids NYC

There are a surprising amount of kid friendly museums in NYC! Museums can be a good option on days when you have inclement weather and need to be indoors. These are some of our favorite museums for kids in NYC:

activities for 5 year olds nyc

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan or CMOM is a fantastic place for children, especially younger ones, to learn and play. It’s one of the most fun things to do in New York with kids and a great option for a rainy day, the CMOM is open every day of the week at reasonable prices.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Inside an old subway station, the New York Transit Museum tells the inspiring story of the New York Subway system from start to finish. Kids will love touring old subway cars!

This iconic building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright houses some of the most famous impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern art in the world. Kids will love the cylindrical ramp that you can walk up to the ceiling!

If you want to try something really interesting, you can book a tour with an actual first responder from 9/11 and hear first account stories of what it was like.

This museum requires a tour and is only for children 8 years and older, but is worth a visit for the history lesson in store. This five-story brick tenement building was home to an estimated 7,000 people, from over 20 nations, between 1863 and 1935 and is a testament to the fact that our nation and New York City, in particular, was built on immigration and the working class. Buy tickets online in advance for a timed tour. There are several tour types to choose from. You must book your tickets to the Tenement Museum in advance as the tours do sell out quickly. You can book your tickets here.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

The Color Factory is an amazing new art “museum” that mixes the use of color, art, fun, and sugar into several hours you’ll never forget. This innovative experience was first started in San Francisco and just opened to NYC a few months ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we ended up playing here for 3 hours! You walk through each colorful interactive exhibit, experiencing immersive art all while being served colorful treats along the way. And at the end you’re greeted by a giant blue sea of balls where you can unleash your inner child and your kids can play to their hearts’ content!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If you’re looking for things to do in Manhattan on a rainy, snowy, or too hot day, this is also a great option, as it’s all indoors with heating and AC.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

This is a fun little museum where you can learn about the way your brain works and ways to trick it! It’s a great place for some silly photo ops. My kids loved it. It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but packs a punch. If you go Tuesday or Wednesday from 6-10:00 pm you can see Magician Dennis Kim perform Close Up Magic. Book Tickets Here.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

You can visit the zoo, play at the playground, ride the carousel, have fun at Victoria Park, rent a boat, check out the turtles in the pond, relax in sheep meadow, visit Strawberry Fields where you can see the “Imagine” mosaic and tribute to John Lennon, ice skate in the winter, climb to Belvedere Castle, ride a bike, hop on a Pedi-cab, take a carriage ride, eat a popsicle, or just sit and people watch!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

I always try to incorporate at least an hour or two into each day when we visit NYC with kids. It’s amazing how much a little bit of nature can help to reset overstimulated kids!

My kids love trying out all the playgrounds, renting bikes in Central Park, or visiting the Central Park Zoo.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If you’re ready for another greenspace break, head to Washington Square Park. This is one of the most iconic parks in New York City. If you’re visiting during the summer, let the kids run through the Play Fountain, or you can pick up a game in the chess plaza. This is always a hub of activity.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Bryant Park is a great place to take your kids and is central to most attractions in Manhattan. The park has a lot of activities for kids to enjoy, like a playground, a carousel, and a water fountain. There’s also a variety of food options, so you can grab a bite to eat while you’re there. Bryant Park is also a great place to people watch and take in the sights and sounds of the city. In the winter Bryant Park offers free outdoor movies and in the winter there’s a great ice skating rink and Christmas market. If you’re looking for things to do in NYC with kids, Bryant Park should definitely be on your list!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Little Island is a gorgeous new public park, located in Hudson River Park on a manmade island, where visitors can experience nature and art in a unique urban oasis. The park features a lush, seasonal, landscape with rolling hills, winding pathways, and great views. You can even see the Statue of Liberty on a clear day. You can also find activities for kids including music, dance, theater, poetry, comedy and arts workshops.

If you’ve got kids who love toys, a visit to FAO Schwartz is a must! It’s one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids and adults! This massive toy store will entertain them for hours. Be sure to say hi to the toy soldiers out front and play the big floor piano from the movie BIG! I also love the tiny dollhouse display!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, head over to Brooklyn Bridge Park where the kids can run freely and you can all ride Jane’s Carousel, a vintage carousel that was purchased for this park. It’s a beautiful piece of art that is also fun!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

The second largest library in the US, second only to the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, or NYPL, is a beautiful respite from the heat or cold of New York City. Here, you can browse the 53 million items contained in its walls, stop by Amy’s Bread Cafe for a snack and see the original stuffed animals that inspired A.A. Milne’s Whinnie the Pooh.

Also, anyone can get a New York Public Library card! So why not!?

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Even though the kids will probably be exhausted by the time the sun goes down, New York City at night is something everyone should see once. It’s not called the city that never sleeps for no reason!

Times Square is a great choice if you’re looking for the best things to do in NYC at night. It’s one of those places that you just have to see to believe! At the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue lies a stretch of the city brightly lit with ads, the largest of the named the “jumbotron.”

Note: It can be a bit of a sensory overload if you have sensitive children. Also beware of the “naked cowboy” and other nudity in the square!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Next door, Ellis Island was the gateway to the United States for more than 12 million immigrants and the busiest immigration inspection station for 60 years. You can take a boat from Manhattan and tour the Museum of Immigration.

I highly recommend booking this in advance. As early as you possibly can, especially if you’re planning to visit NYC during the summer or other peak times as it does sell out quickly. You can book tickets to the Statue of Liberty here.

If you want to visit both the statue of Liberty AND Ellis Island, which I definitely think you should do if you have the time, then you need to book your tickets here.

If you have at least 4 hours, I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You and the kids will get so much more out of it with a guide explaining the history and stories behind these famous islands. You can book a guided tour of both islands for a great price here.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Whatever you choose to do, don’t skip the Statue of Liberty. It’ a must see in NYC!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

  • The Lion King
  • Dear Evan Hansen (teens)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • MJ the Musical
  • The Play that Goes Wrong
  • Gazillion Bubble Show

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If you’re into ice cream and you like interactive and photogenic spaces, the Museum of Ice Cream is a really fun one! It’s similar to The Color Factory but is more ice cream themed. There are four ice cream stations where you can get a choice of vegan or regular ice creams. They are all tasty, but nothing to write home about. What you really come for is the fun though. My kids particularly liked the fun room with swings and a ping pong table. There’s also a swimming pool filled with giant sprinkles that you can “swim” in. 

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If your kids love all things SLIME, then they will love the Sloomoo Institute . It’s all about slime and sensory activities. You can try out different slimes, walk through a slime pit, and even create your very own custom slime to take home as a souvenir. And of course, they have tons of slimes to choose from in the gift shop. Pro tip: use the bathroom downstairs to check out the slime kitchen where they make all the slimes! 

If you’ve got any potterheads in the family, definitely stop by Harry Potter New York  . If you’re seeing The Cursed Child, you can go before the play and grab some swag! It will likely be cheaper than buying show shirts. This store houses the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products in the world. 

What to Eat in New York City

New York City is a melting pot not only of people but also of food.  There are approximately 200 languages spoken in New York, and you can sample regional cuisine from around the world such as France, Italy, Cuba, Korea, Africa, Lebanon, Iran, and India. There are also countless trendy restaurants and cafes on nearly every corner for you to explore. Here are some kid-friendly restaurants in NYC:

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Kids can sit up at the counter and watch soda jerks whip up delicious old fashioned sodas!

Ok so this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but it still should not be missed. Inspired by Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dylan’s Candy Bar is the largest unique candy store in the world. Stocked with 7,000 candies from around the world, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser for kids and grown-ups!

Pizza is a staple in New York City. There are so many disputes about who makes the best slice, so I’ll let you decide for yourself, but I prefer Grimaldi’s just across the Brooklyn Bridge. Be prepared to wait in line, but I promise it’s worth it.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

We now seem to have Shake Shacks all over the country, but it’s a fun place if you’re craving a burger and some delish frozen custard. I’m a California girl, so I’ll always be loyal to my In-n-Out. I’ll just leave that here for now and let you decide.

Holy Cow! If you want amazing burgers and OVER the top milkshakes, head to Black Tap and get the crazy shake!

If you want to try a variety of amazing food go to Smorgasburg. It’s a pop-up food market that happens all over New York City. You can usually find it in Brooklyn on the weekends. This is a great option if you have a big group with different tastes. There’s sure to be something for everyone!

Chelsea Market is another great place to go for a variety of food. It’s also a great place to shop. I got my favorite necklace and my glasses there years ago actually! I’m wearing both as I type! I love No. 1 Taco shop and the cute gelato stand. Gelato for life!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Phew! As you can see, New York City has something for everyone, and the whole family will love taking it all in! Be sure you have a few things you really want to see planned in advance, but leave time to just wander the streets of this amazing city. That’s part of the charm! If you need any help planning your trip to New York City with kids, please get in touch! You can find me on Facebook , Instagram , or Email .

I’d love it if you pinned this article to share it with others and save it for later!

activities for 5 year olds nyc

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Looking for ways to save money on travel? Check out my  resource page  for the companies I use for traveling! I share everything I use to save me time and money.

activities for 5 year olds nyc

Wanderlust Crew

4 thoughts on “ the best things to do in nyc with kids ”.

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Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for the post! I’m a starting blogger and planning a trip with a kid to NYC. You gave me a lot of recommendations that I didn’t found elsewhere ❤️❤️❤️?

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Going to visit new york next monday with my friends so i was looking for the best things to do there thanks for recommendations will definitely do all these things there.

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Thanks Scarlett. Have an amazing time!

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Unique and helpful list! Thank you!

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Your Brooklyn Guide

30 Best Things to do in NYC With Kids (Family-Friendly NYC Guide)

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From iconic attractions to one-of-a-kind experiences, there are countless things to do in NYC with kids of all ages! I’ve done it all, first as a transplant and a nanny on the Upper East Side, all the way to today as a Brooklyn-based mom. As a mom in New York City, I am always looking for the best kid-friendly activities in NYC, which is why I curated this guide.

After 12 years in New York City, playing tourist is still one of my favorite things to do! As a Brooklyner, I also love exploring NYC and finding things to do that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Now, with my 2-year-old, it’s exciting to see the city all over again through her eyes, so I’m always looking for creative NYC activities.

Whether you’re visiting NYC with kids for the first time or just looking for something special to do across the 5 boroughs, I’ve got you covered. Below you can read about a variety of things to do in NYC with kids, both indoors and out, both educational and indulgent. And don’t miss checking out our New York City with kids itinerary too for those who want a little extra help planning their family trip.

Fun Family Things to Do in NYC

New york public library.

the-original-winnie-the-pooh-and-friends-at-New-York-Public-Library-in-NYC

Our favorite rainy-day activity is visiting a branch of the New York City Public Library. It’s truly one of the best things to do in NYC with kids, with every single location offering a unique experience!

The gorgeous Stephen A. Schwarzman Public Library Building on 42nd Street has a beautiful kids’ area with the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals! Queens Central Library has a modular children’s wing is called the Discovery Center and cool interactive exhibits all throughout!

Most NYC public libraries have great weekly programs geared towards different ages for free throughout the week. Just make sure to check the times of each location before heading out. Especially in the last few years, some branches have limited hours on different days.

New York Transit Museum

one-of-the-vintage-trains-in-the-new-york-transit-museum-in-downtown-brooklyn

You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate the  New York Transit Museum , but it’s definitely my favorite place to take little ones who are obsessed with trains. This cool little museum is actually inside an old subway station in downtown Brooklyn!

It’s fascinating to learn about the long history of the New York City subway system and this is without a doubt one of the best museums in NYC . There are cool model trains, old subway signs, and admission tokens. You’ll get to walk through old subway cars and transit buses from every era.

the-kids-area-inside-the-New-York-Transit-Museum-in-Brooklyn

They also have a kids section where they can climb inside fun busses and trains and play.

The New York Transit Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. You’re encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, they also have a QR code outside you can scan and purchase on your phone. And if you need an accessible entrance, you’ll need to contact the museum before you go so they can make arrangements.

Go Ice Skating

ice skating at industry city in brooklyn

For a timeless winter activity and a fan-favorite outdoor activity in NYC , go ice skating at one of the best skating rinks in NYC . From November through February, you can find outdoor rinks across the 5 boroughs. And there are even more indoor rinks open year-round!

Skate inside a winter wonderland at Wollman Rink in Central Park or visit Runway Rink at TWA Hotel for a fabulous time! SkyRink in Chelsea Piers is a great indoor spot. And if you want to go  ice skating in Brooklyn , the new Lefrak Center on the east side of Prospect Park has two beautiful outdoor rinks.

One of the best kid-friendly rinks in NYC can also be found at Industry City in Sunset Park , Brooklyn. There’s an adorable small rink with skate aids, fun hot chocolate stand, and other family-friendly activities including dining options and more available at Industry City.

Different locations have different amenities including live music, food vendors, lockers, skate aids, and shoe rentals. You can warm up with a hot chocolate or a cocktail under the heaters, or book a skating lesson.

Museum of Natural History

Inside-the-Museum-of-Natural-History-in-NYC

One of my all-time places to visit in NYC with kids is the  Museum of Natural History . I suggest taking an entire day and eating at one of the top-notch restaurants in the neighborhood before you go. Inside, there are 5 floors and you’ll need energy!

See the famous blue whale inside the Hall of Ocean Life. The Hall of Biodiversity is absolutely beautiful, and it’s fun to see the massive dinosaur skeletons in the fossil halls. And if your kids are interested in space and planets, the Rose Center for Earth and Space is a must (you can start out with this exhibit at the north entrance).

While the museum has a suggested donation, you can visit for free. However, you still have to book timed reservations in advance.

Coney Island

kiddie rides at Denos Wonder Wheel Park at Coney Island

New York City has some top-notch beaches, but we keep going back to Coney Island in the southeastern part of Brooklyn. That’s because of the classic  Luna Park  with its famous Wonder Wheel and the Coney Island boardwalk. But that’s just the beginning!

Coney Island is wonderful for swimming in the summer with over two miles of soft, sandy beaches. There are always lifeguards, outdoor showers to rinse off, and even a few playgrounds for the little ones.

I recommend enjoying all the incredible things to do at Coney Island during the day as night is a different scene and less kid-friendly feeling. Out of the water, there are fun museums and art galleries, Nathan’s Famous hotdogs, pizzerias, gift shops, and more.

Also, don’t miss the New York Aquarium here either! There are all kinds of educational exhibits plus you can get up close to sea creatures! The best part has to be the shark tank tunnel you can walk through, which is one of the most fun places for kids in NYC to take a photo!

Brooklyn-Bowl-in-Williamsburg-brooklyn-bowling-alley

Another one of the best things to do in NYC with kids of all ages is bowling. You can enjoy some healthy competition at about a dozen different bowling alleys across the city. I’m talking everything from the gritty, no-frills lanes playing 80’s classics to flashy sports lounges/bowling centers with neon lights and arcade rooms.

In Manhattan, there’s  Bowlmor  and  Frames , where you can order a drink and enjoy fresh twists on the classic fried foods you typically find in a bowling alley. Or if you want that classic, family-friendly bowling experience, go to  Melody Lanes in Sunset Park or Family Bowl hours at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, which takes place from 11 AM to 5 PM on the weekends where they have a more family-friendly atmosphere and play kids movies on the tvs.

Just keep in mind that lanes that double as a lounge, like Bowlero, become 21+ on Fridays and Saturdays and Brooklyn Bowl does after 5 PM on the weekends.

New Victory Theater

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A great way to expose your kids to performance art without spending an arm and a leg is to visit the  New Victory Theater . This New York City treasure is an affordable children’s program housed inside a beautiful historic theater in Midtown Manhattan.

All the shows at New Victory Theater are geared towards children with fun performance art shows from all over the world. There are interactive activities before and after the show, and cast members spend time talking to guests, too!

Plus, they thoughtfully offer different run times and include regular intermissions. So, if you have younger children, this is one of the most fun places for kids in NYC as  they can still come and stay engaged.

Visit a Zoo

Monkeys in the Central Park Zoo in NYC

Living in the concrete jungle, I’m always looking for opportunities to expose my daughter to the natural world. NYC has excellent zoos all across the city that are involved in animal conservation, starting with the famous  Bronx Zoo . This one is gigantic, so plan on eating there and spending at least half a day.

If you have younger kids, you might want to go to one of the smaller zoos instead, like the  Staten Island Zoo . I love the petting zoo and nature paths at the  Prospect Park Zoo , but make sure you book your ticket well in advance.

The  Central Park Zoo  is stunning and a must-visit for any visitor to NYC! Both the Bronx and Staten Island locations have free admissions on Wednesdays, but tickets are limited. And children under 2 are free to all locations.

Queens County Farm Museum

Visiting the  Queens County Farm Museum  is one of the coolest things to do in NYC with kids any time of the year. Did you even know there was a working farm inside the city limits? It’s a historic site that’s been a continuously active farm since 1697!

Queens Farm is free to visit every day from 10 AM to 5 PM. Come drop off compost, buy fresh eggs, or visit the farm store. Come feed hay to the sheep and goats or visit the teaching gardens. The free hayrides are a great way to see the farm. And you can attend wonderful events and educational programs (for a fee) throughout every season.

And in the fall they have one of the best pumpkin patches in NYC !

South Street Seaport

Pier 17 in Seaport Waterfront District in NYC with Brooklyn Bridge View

On a different note, a very NYC way to spend time with kids is to visit the South Street Seaport. The entire historic district is unlike anywhere else in the city with cobblestone streets, 19th-century storefronts, and historic wooden ships on the pier.

You’ll find street performers, luxury and boutique shops, and museums, all in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a popular place for seasonal events, including an ice rink in the winter.

There’s the Titanic Memorial Park outside the South Street Seaport Museum. And I love the new Imagination Park. Grab some food from one of the restaurants nearby, sit in the shade, and watch the kids play.

Also, don’t miss the fun places for kids in NYC to take photos with the installations like the Smiley Face and Heart sculptures with a backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge!

Take the Staten Island Ferry

staten-island-ferry-passing-statue-of-liberty-view-from-red-hook-brooklyn

Don’t underestimate the excitement of riding the  State Island Ferry with kids! It’s a great way to spend 50 minutes and see NYC for free. From the start, it’s fun to see the massive Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan.

Once you’re on the iconic orange ferry, it’s all about the views. Sit inside or stand on the deck and check out the Manhattan skyline and enjoy some of the best views of the Statue of Liberty . When it docks in St. George, hang out for 15 minutes and wait for it to head back.

The ferry runs 24/7, every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on the weekend. I don’t suggest going during rush hour between 6 and 9 AM and 3 and 7 PM. And if you go between September and May, it can get cold on the water, so bring layers for everyone!

Go to a New York City Playground

going fast down the slide at Governors Island in NYC

This past summer, I made it my mission for us to visit as many NYC playgrounds for toddlers as I could get to. It barely made a dent on my list! If you’re looking for fun places for kids in NYC, just head to one of the amazing playgrounds.

Chelsea Waterside Playground in Hudson River Park has the coolest structures. Main Street Playground in Brooklyn Bridge Park is MASSIVE and fun for all ages. Toy Park on Amity Street Cobble Hill, Brooklyn is an adorable playground for littles filled with donated toys. And I haven’t been yet but Slide Hill on Governor’s Island sounds like fun for older kids and adults, too!

Socrates Sculpture Park

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The  Socrates Sculpture Park  is in Astoria, Queens, along the East River. Formerly a landfill, today it’s a lush park that centers around a fun collection of curated art installations! Take the kids to walk the nature trails, relax on grassy lawns, and pose for pictures in front of the cool sculptures.

It’s a bit of a walk if you’re not driving or taking the bus, but it’s a nice way to enjoy some time outdoors. There’s a visitor’s center and a sculpture studio that hosts summer art programs for local kids. Also, you can find a field guide of current exhibits on their website.

Visit a Farmers’ Market

union-square-greenmarket-in-NYC

One thing NYC does very well is create green spaces. Farmers’ markets in the city are natural community spaces and also very kid-friendly places. Besides produce vendors from all over the Hudson Valley and Long Island, it’s a great place to find baked goods, jarred goods, fresh meat and dairy, and arts and crafts.

I love going to the Union Square Greenmarket, which is open 4 days a week. But you can  find a different farmers market  every day of the week in NYC! There are markets of every shape and size. It’s a lot of fun on a Saturday morning to grab some fresh bread and artisan cheese and listen to live music while you watch people shop.

Attend a Street Fair or Cultural Event

The Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy Manhattan NYC

If you’re looking for affordable things to do in NYC with kids, consider one of the many street fairs occurring every month. They might be celebrating a specific culture or the larger local community as a whole.

In February, I recommend going to Chinatown for the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival. In September head to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. And especially in the summer, the hard part is narrowing down all the many choices!

Across Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, community fairs mean entire blocks are sectioned off for pedestrians. They’ll line the sidewalks with vendors, games, and entertainment. There are usually hands-on activities for the kids, too.

Central Park

people strolling through Central Park during fall with fall leaves in NYC

Seeing Central Park is at the top of the list for everyone visiting the city because it’s one of the best things to do in NYC , for locals and visitors, and there are a variety of things to do with kids. Of course, my favorite thing is the 21 different playgrounds that span the entire length of the park! But there are all kinds of activities just for families.

Go for a hike through The Ramble or The North Woods. And April through October you can rent rowboats on The Lake or rent remote-controlled sailboats at Conservatory Water (like Stuart Little!).

And a visit to the  Charles A. Dana Discovery Center  near the Harlem Meer offers endless educational fun for kids all year. They have Discovery Kits you can borrow with things like maps of the park and child-sized binoculars!

Bryant Park

le-carousel-in-Bryant-Park-in-NYC

Next to the New York Public Library Main Branch, Bryant Park is a grassy 4-acre park with a lot going on. On a warm day, it’s nice to sit at one of the outdoor tables on the 6th Avenue side and play a game of chess, dominoes, or another tabletop game. Or go for a ride on Le Carrousel. On the weekends there are free magic shows next to the carousel, too!

During the holidays you can go ice skating or shop at the Winter Village. In the summer there are free movies on the green. And from April through September, come visit the  Bryant Park Reading Room . They host outdoor story times for kids 2 to 8, or you can just come read a book in the park.

See a Free Show

Dallas-Black-Dance-Theater-performance-at-Summer-Stage-at-Herbert-Von-King-Park-in-Bed-Stuy-Brooklyn

With a little digging, you can find a long list of free things to do in NYC with kids. For kids who are a little older, one of my favorite things taking them to one of the many summer shows across the 5 boroughs.

Parks in every borough participate in the  Movies under the Stars  program (including Bryant Park). Or you can reserve free tickets to the  Central Park Shakespeare in the Park  performances. And  Summerstage  famously started their free concert series in Central Park’s Rumsey Field. 

Today, parks across the 5 boroughs participate in the Summerstage program. Some of the shows are even meant just for kids! This is another free show but you need to reserve tickets in advance for anyone 4 and up.

Visit a Local Food Hall

Inside Chelsea Market in NYC

Checking out food halls has recently become the biggest trend, but NYCers have understood the appeal for a long time. Rain or shine, it’s a fun way to enjoy a meal with your littles while making sure everyone finds something they like to eat!

Chelsea Market  is a fabulous mishmash of boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, dessert spots, and supply stores inside a historic factory. There’s also  The Hugh , a new food hall offering a chic Midtown setting and free children’s events on the weekend).

Dekalb Market Hall in the basement of the City Point has a laid-back feel and fun places to try something new. And Mercado Little Spain  is a beautiful food court in Hudson Yards. It’s full of Spanish food choices including restaurants and stalls.

Eat at a Themed Restaurant

Ellens-Stardust-Diner-in-NYC

When you’re stumped on what to do in NYC with kids, you can’t go wrong with food. For more places to eat, go with one of the most famous NYC restaurants. From gaudy to elegantly themed restaurants, you have plenty of options that will please kids of all ages.

No place is cooler than  Ellen’s Stardust Diner , the 50s-themed diner with singing waiters who moonlight as stage actors, not to mention there are tons of cool old-school diners in NYC that are great to take the kids to! Or take your little sir or madam to Alice’s Tea Cup  for tea, sandwiches, and scones in a book-themed setting.

Max Brenner  even smells like chocolate, but it’s not over the top. Even the hardest-to-impress teen will love coming to this hip chocolate-themed restaurant. Or go all out at a desert heaven like  Serendipity 3 . It’s cliché, but their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is a must!

Times Square

Times-Square-during-the-day-in-NYC

I visit Times Square maybe once a year and I’m satisfied, but we always end up going back to this classic New York destination! If you’re okay with heavy crowds and flashing lights, it can be a lot of fun! And believe it or not, there are actually alot of fun things to do in Times Square !

Visit the mega stores, enjoy the rush, and watch people interacting with the characters on the street. The kids will love checking out places like the Disney Store or Hershey’s Chocolate World. And I suggest grabbing some dollar pizza, sitting on the steps in Times Square, and enjoying the neon signs as the crowds walk by.

Grand Central

Grand Central Terminal in NYC

The historic  Grand Central Terminal  is an exciting place to visit, no matter your age. There’s stunning architecture, interesting attractions, and intense energy from all the people coming and going.

It’s one of my favorite places to take kids obsessed with trains! Sneak a peak at the trains in the station or visit the Transit Museum shop. There’s also a sprawling food court in the basement and a beautiful market upstairs. Or go from mid-November through Mid-December to shop the vendors at the Holiday Fair.

Empire State Building

binoculars-on-the-top-of-the-empire-state-building-to-look-at-the-view

Visiting the Empire State Building is one of the top things to do in NYC with kids and everyone should go at least once! Make core memories when you visit one of the tallest NYC skyscraper with a museum and observation deck.

You’ll ride an elevator to the 80th floor where you can walk through fun, interactive exhibits about the history and construction of the Empire State Building. Then ride up to the 86th-floor open-air observation deck with viewfinders and 360-degree views.

If you’re not afraid of heights, there’s the 102nd-floor deck for an interesting look at the island of Manhattan from above. Make sure to visit the gift shop on the 86th floor. Also, kids under 6 are free to visit the Empire State Building.

Children’s Museum of Arts

Childrens Museum of Arts one of the best things to do with kids in NYC

There’s nothing better than an institution that takes children’s play seriously. That’s what it feels like at the  Children’s Museum of Arts . You’ll walk through art exhibits across every genre. And most of it can be touched and interacted with by kids!

Plus, there’s a huge emphasis on the way kids learn, through playing and creating. As you walk around, there are different stations where you can make clay sculptures, paint, draw, 3D art from found objects, and even a neat stop-motion animation studio.

Visit the sound lab, sign up for a music class, or move your body on a fun modular spinning chair. For littles, there’s not much else besides a play area with foam shapes you can build with. I’d say this museum is best for ages 5 to 12.

The Color Factory

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The Color Factory  is an immersive exhibition around colors and everything to do with them. This is a great way to spend an hour with a tween or teen who has a thing for selfies! You walk one way through different rooms. Each room is a different color and theme, with selfie stations along the way!

You get free digital copies of all your photos with your admission. Learn about color in nature, in history, and in culture. There are fun treats along the way, like gelato and macaroons. The silent disco room is one of my favorites, but kids especially love the massive ball pit and the confetti room.

National Museum of Mathematics

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For more fun educational things to do in NYC with kids, I recommend a visit to the  National Museum of Mathematics . It’s another small museum that you can get through in about an hour, but it’s totally worth a visit! It’s all geared towards 4th- to 8th-grade math.

Explore 2 floors of hands-on activities that connect math to other areas of study, like science and art. Solve puzzles by only making left turns or using musical rhythms or create a unique 3D printed form that you create while learning about symmetry.

It can get really busy on the weekend, but the museum is open 7 days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM. And make sure to visit the gift shop which has some really nice math- and puzzle-themed products.

Go to a Children’s Museum

exterior-of-Brooklyn-Childrens-Museum-in-Crown-Heights-Brooklyn

There are 3 different children’s museums in NYC and they all offer a great time indoors for multiple ages. They all include a variety of play spaces around themes like different cultures, local flora and fauna, and service workers.

The  Children’s Museum of Manhattan  is the largest and most impressive with different floors that focus on different ages. I love that they have larger themes that are introduced in kid-friendly ways. Dora the Explore teaches kids about Latin American cultures and a superhero pigeon guides you through New York City.

The  Brooklyn Children’s Museum is my favorite, but it’s a very different feel. It’s low-key and has hardly changed in 10 years! I love this one for younger kids because everything is very simple with lots of pretend play areas, and it’s just a great example of all the great things to do in Brooklyn with kids too!

And I haven’t been to the  Staten Island Children’s Museum , but I’ve heard wonderful things. It’s absolutely beautiful with both indoor and outdoor spaces, sculptures, and elaborate exhibits. There’s tons of light, as well as just great play areas where kids can move their bodies.

The Cloisters

unicorn tapestries at the Met Cloisters in Washington Heights NYC

For a change of pace, take a day and visit the  Met Cloisters . As you come into Fort Tryon Park, it feels like you’re leaving the hustle of the city behind and going to a magical castle! The story behind the reconstructed medieval halls is fascinating, and each of them features different exhibits from around the same time period.

Make sure to take any unicorn-loving children to the unicorn tapestry room! I took my toddler recently and it was nice to walk through the gardens and the different exhibits with her.

The Cloisters actually offer a variety of accessible children’s programs at different times throughout the year with themes around the current exhibits. There’s also a café if you get hungry. And everyone under 12 years is free at the Cloisters.

An egyptian woman statue inside the Met in New York

Another space I love taking kids to that isn’t specifically made for kids is the  Metropolitan Museum of Art . The MET is a great way to introduce kids to art from different cultures and eras. It’s interesting to see their reactions to things, and it’s nice when you can find something you both can enjoy. There are 4 floors of galleries with everything from ancient to modern art.

The MET always makes for a long walk, so when I go with kids, I usually take time to visit one of the 4 cafes inside. There’s also a restaurant and a bar lounge inside. Before or after, you can take your littles to the Ancient Playground right next door. And while the MET has a suggested fee for admissions, kids under 12 are always free.

See Macy’s Windows Display During the Holidays

activities for 5 year olds nyc

If you’re in NYC with kids during the holidays, a must-see is the famous holiday window displays. Macy’s is the most iconic (and the original), but you could also check out other Midtown stores for more holiday window displays in NYC , like Bloomingdales and Bergdorf’s.

These days each of the stores try to outdoor each other with light shows and music. Macy’s continues their yearly holiday window displays as they have since 1874! Kids love the Macy’s windows with the animated characters, Christmas themes, and beautiful images.

If you make a plan to see the windows (especially when they go up right before Thanksgiving), I recommend reading “Balloons Over Broadway” with your kids. This children’s book by Melissa Sweet is a true story about the man who invented the balloons in the Thanksgiving Day Parade! But he started out being hired to create window displays and you’ll learn a lot about them.

And check out more of the fun things to do in NYC at Christmas that are family-friendly too like the Dyker Heights Christmas lights in Brooklyn !

About the Guest Author

Elizabeth Ramos – I moved to Brooklyn from my hometown in Texas in 2010 when I was dating my husband. It was a major transition going from the South to NYC, but I quickly learned to love it! There’s really no other place like it. I’ve spent a decade in the Bensonhurst and South Brooklyn area during my career as a writer, artist, and preschool teacher. Today, I work from home as a content writer in the areas of beauty, lifestyle, education, parenting, and travel so I can stay home with my 1-year-old daughter. When I’m not writing, you’ll probably find my little family exploring fun things to do around Brooklyn!

Enjoyed this guide for the best things to do in NYC with kids and a family-friendly NYC guide? Bookmark for later or let us know your favorite fun places for kids in NYC!

family-friendly-things-to-do-in-nyc.

I currently live in Brooklyn and there’s really no other place like it. I’ve spent a decade in the Bensonhurst and South Brooklyn area during my career as a writer, artist, and preschool teacher. Today, I work from home as a content writer in the areas of beauty, lifestyle, education, parenting, and travel so I can stay home with my toddler daughter. When I’m not writing, you’ll probably find my little family exploring fun things to do around Brooklyn!

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 100+ Things To Do in Brooklyn 

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activities for 5 year olds nyc

  • Activities for Kids

16 Ways to Keep Toddlers Happy (& Entertained) in NYC

activities for 5 year olds nyc

From playgrounds to museums, discover the best spots for toddlers in NYC

From sensory-filled experiences and interactive museums to sprawling parks, amusement parks and everything in between, New York City has so many engaging options for parents looking to entertain their little ones, making it the perfect destination for families with toddlers who are ready for some adventure!

If your child has just started walking and is between the ages of 12 to 36 months, they are commonly referred to as toddlers. And thankfully, NYC is home to many places where toddlers can have fun, learn, and explore. With their brains rapidly developing, toddlers are making connections and learning every day they need the stimulation so here’s the best of what NYC has to offer toddlers for entertainment and learning, throughout the year.

1. The Best Museums for Toddlers

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Children’s Museum of Manhattan

At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, you and your children can spend nearly a full day exploring its many exhibits. The museum boasts a Dora and Diego exhibit, where children can play and use their imagination at the Superpowered Metropolis. Additionally, the museum has an area called PlayWorks, which provides a drop-in Art Lab to help children develop skills in math, art, science, and reading in preparation for school. The museum also offers a variety of Early Childhood classes, such as Preschool Prep, specifically designed for children between the ages of two and three. Note: Timed-entry ticket reservations required.

212 W. 83d St. Upper West Side Online :  cmom.org

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

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New York Transit Museum

If your children are fascinated by subway and bus lines, make sure to stop by the New York Transit Museum to help them release their energy. Children can climb aboard various subway cars from different eras and act as a bus driver on a replica city bus while enjoying a fun-filled experience going through turnstiles. Additionally, the museum has different exhibits, and there is a designated seating area where visitors can take a break and enjoy a snack. Note: All visitors are encouraged to book online in advance.

99 Schermerhorn St. Downtown Brooklyn Online :  nytransitmuseum.org

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Snugly situated in the charming Snug Harbor, the Staten Island Children’s Museum is definitely worth visiting, boasting plenty of green space surrounding the premises, as well as a plethora of fascinating exhibits and activities to discover within its walls, including a section devoted to enormous board games, a firehouse-themed play area called Ladder 11, a showcase of live bugs, an exhibit called “House About It” that showcases the inner workings of a house, and “Great Explorations,” an immersive exhibit with diverse environments to explore such as a rainforest, an ocean, and a tundra. During the warmer months, make sure not to miss the “Sea of Boats” outdoor area with soft, nautically-themed play structures, and water features. (Please note that the museum is closed during most holiday weekends. Advanced reservations are encouraged.)

1000 Richmond Terr. Staten Island Online :  sichildrensmuseum.org

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Liberty Science Center

We are huge advocates of the Liberty Science Center located in Jersey City, especially since many of its exhibits cater to the youngest children. Let children aged 0-5 explore, balance, experience movement, and cause-and-effect at the Wobbly World. Additionally, there is a section called Dino Dig dedicated to future paleontologist enthusiasts, and a traveling exhibit usually available for preschoolers. Don’t miss the current exhibit: Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails

222 Jersey City Blvd. Liberty State Park Online :  lsc.org

2. The Best Stroller Tours (AKA Museum Visits with Toddlers)

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Occasionally, it’s the parents who crave museum visits. Fortunately, the Guggenheim , and the Brooklyn Museum of Art are examples of shining stroller tours. Please note: this is also an excellent choice for a mother’s group outing. (While many museums allow strollers, it’s best to verify with the museum before visiting.)

We also adore the outdoor stroller hikes in and around NYC. If you’re a Park Slope Parents member, they provide stroller tours of Greenwood Cemetery (especially lovely during springtime) a few times per year.

3. The Best Theater around Town for Toddlers

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There is an abundance of theatrical performances available in NYC, with many specifically designed for toddlers.

Numerous show options are available throughout the city, such as the New Victory Theater (“BaoBab” as shown in here), BAM Kids , Carnegie Kids at Carnegie Hall, and Symphony Space’s Just Kidding series, which features performances for children. Alternatively, families can head to Puppetworks in Park Slope, Brooklyn, one of NYC’s oldest puppet theaters, which showcases shows every weekend.

Indulge your child’s imagination at CAMP’s exclusive sensory experience suitable for children of all ages. There is no admission fee for CAMP; you only pay for the projects you undertake. Children can paint in the Splatter Room, create slime, paint pottery, tie-dye, and much more. Besides its Columbus Circle location, you can also visit their stores at Hudson Yards, 5th Avenue, and City Point in Brooklyn—each CAMP provides a distinct experience.

Various Locations Online :  camp.com

4. The Best Play Spaces for Toddlers in NYC, Brooklyn & Queens

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Whether it’s raining, snowing, or sunny, it’s never an issue! Visit one of our preferred play spaces (like the featured Play Lab), most of which have designated areas for young children. These are  our favorite playspaces in NYC . And these are our favorite kid-approved place space a place in Brooklyn . And the best play spaces to visit in Queens.

5. Experience Free Live Music, Dance & More

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Lincoln Center’s free series in the David Rubenstein Atrium, with performances scheduled. Check out the complete lineup here !

6. Visit an NYC Bookstore

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Bookstores in NYC often make a concerted effort to ensure that families and children feel at ease. Discover our favorite independent bookstores for children in NYC .

7. Toddler-Friendly Classes Worth Your Time & Money

Whether you sign up for them or drop in on them, NYC provides various opportunities for singing, dancing, making a mess, and more with your child. Here are some of our favorite toddler-based classes around NYC . Drop in on a class in Brooklyn  at these favorite, kid-approved spots . Or hit up a favorite toddler class in Queens here .

8. Visit Your Local Library

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Remember your nearby library! Despite the abundance of storytimes available, NYC libraries organize numerous events for young children, such as music classes, live concerts, yoga, arts and crafts, and much more. (And most are free!) Explore the kids programs at New York Public Library here, Queens activities for children here , and Brooklyn Public Library programming here .

9. A Visit to FAO Schwarz Is Always a Good Idea

The NYC toy store is a great addition at Rockefeller Center, offering something for children of all ages. Get the opportunity to become a Barbie fashion stylist. Upstairs, the iconic piano from “Big” awaits and is worth a visit, along with a wide variety of adorable Steiff stuffies. The store also has a baby doll adoption center, a Build-Your-Own_RC section, an Elmo Monster factor, numerous puzzles, and more. Read about the grand opening in our article.

10. The Best Outdoors Play Spaces for Toddlers in New York

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11. Where to Find Animal Encounters in New York

Encountering a large, furry creature (safely) is a unique experience for young children. NYC offers various locations where you can interact with animals and perhaps even feed them. Bookmark our complete list on where to find NYC’s best petting zoos and animal encounters .

12. Pick Your Own Produce

Throughout the year, there are numerous opportunities for young children to pick fruits and vegetables (with your assistance, of course), providing fun experiences and excellent photo opportunities. For cherries,  head here . For berries,  this is where to go . Fresh flowers  can be plucked here . These are our  favorite spots for apple-picking . Where should you pick a pumpkin?  Try these patches near NYC .

13. Ride a Carousel

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New York City has a plethora of merry-go-rounds, each boasting its unique style and personality. (A fish carousel? Check. A French carousel? You bet. A bug carousel? Absolutely!) These are our favorites! (Which are also great for birthday parties.)

14. Visit an Amusement Park

Amusement parks? We have those too and here are our top picks of amusement parks that can be found in NYC.

15. The Best Playgrounds for Toddlers around New York

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New York City continuously offers fantastic outdoor play areas. Some of our favorites for toddlers, thanks to smaller structures, fun design features, and sometimes shade include Brooklyn Bridge  Park’s Pier 1 playground  (and the giant  “Sandbox Village”  on Pier 6), Manhattan’s  Safari “Hippo” Playground , and  Evelyn’s Playground in Union Square , and the accessible  Playground for All Children in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. And even more awesome playground options can be found in Brooklyn .

16. The Best Beaches for Toddlers

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On a hot day, why go to a sandbox when you can go to an actual beach? These are our  NYC area favorite beaches that you can get to by train , and  these are great ones a little farther afield if you’re looking to make a trip out of it. Headed to the Hamptons this summer?  Here’s more ideas for fun while you’re there!

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20 Fun Things to do in NYC with Toddlers (2023)

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activities for 5 year olds nyc

New York is perfect for exploring with little adventurers and there are lots of fun things to do in NYC with toddlers.  With its towering skyscrapers, neon lights, green spaces and chaotic streets, the city is sure to capture the imagination of young and old alike. We’ve visited New York with J many times and love our family time in the city where dreams are made of! This is our guide to the 15 best things to do in NYC with toddlers. Enjoy!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

Table of Contents

20 Best Things to do in NYC with Toddlers

From strolling the bright lights of Times square to picnics in Central Park and carousel rides in Bryant Park there are endless things to do in NYC with toddlers.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

1 | Central Park

Central Park, the largest green space in Manhattan, is a toddler dream and little adventurers will be spoiled for choice in deciding what to do next. Our favorites include clambering over the Alice in Wonderland tea party statue, attending summer storytelling sessions by the Conservatory Water, taking to the water on rowboats at the Loeb Boathouse and riding the vintage horses on the Central Park Carousel.

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip : check out our guide on the best things to do in Central Park with kids   for more Central Park inspiration!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

Where to stay in New York with Toddlers

WE have a number of recommended hotels that are great for families. Our apartment-style hotel picks are:

  • Residence Inn New York Manhattan Central Park:  our choice as the best place to stay with a family in New York. We’ve stayed here numerous times and with extended stay suites with fully equipped kitchenettes, washer/dryer and huge living space it’s perfect for families –  check prices now!
  • Q&A Residential Hotel:  spacious full-sized apartments in an Art deco building in the Financial District –  check prices now!
  • Radio City Apartments:  comfortable and affordable rooms with kitchenettes close to Radio City and Times Square –  check prices now!

If you prefer hotel room style accommodation, we love these hotels from previous New York visits:

  • EVEN Hotel New York Times Square South:  spacious rooms in the heart of the Garment District close to lots of Midtown sightseeing and shopping –  check prices now!
  • Hotel Giraffe by Library Hotel Collection:  close to Union Square and Chelsea with a rooftop garden for relaxing afternoons. Perfect for exploring downtown –  check prices now!

Click here for the best NYC hotel prices

2 | The Highline

A stroll on the High Line is one of our favourite things to do in New York with toddlers and it is the perfect escape from the hectic pace of the Manhattan streets below. Originally a train line, the High Line is an elevated public park and walkway meandering up the West side of Manhattan.

Some of the best views of the New York skyline can be seen from along the walkway: our favourite view of the Empire State Building is from the High Line as it peeks out above the downtown rooftops. 

It’s the perfect spot to indulge in some people watching, indulge in coffee and ice cream and admire the quirky street art and sculptures along the route. Toddlers will also love the industrial themed playgrounds on the Highline route.

The Highline wraps around one of the latest additions to New York’s landmarks, the Vessel, a 16 story gold honeycomb structure.

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip: The Highline runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenue and there are points of entry along the route. There are elevators at Gansevoort Street, 14th Street, 16th Street and 30th Street as well as a ramp at 34th Street. The Highline is open from 7am to 10pm every day and entry is free.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

3 | Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry travels between downtown Manhattan and Staten Island and is one of the best things to do in NYC with toddlers. The 25 minute ferry ride offers incredible views of Lower Manhattan, the downtown Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Best of all, it’s free to ride the ferry and the 25 minute journey is just the right amount of time to hold a toddler’s attention!

For the best views of the Statue of Liberty make sure to stand on the right side of the deck when travelling to Staten Island and on the left side when travelling back to Manhattan.

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip: passengers have to disembark the Staten Island Ferry even if they want to make a return journey immediately. Try to avoid travelling at peak times and weekend to avoid having to queue to board the ferry.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

4 | The NYC Playgrounds

There’s an abundance of amazing playgrounds in New York so we’ve tried to narrow down some of our favorites!

  • Designed by child development experts, T eardrop Park in Battery Park City is one of the best toddler playgrounds in NYC. It’s an amazing spot to burn off some energy and the highlights of the park include a giant slide, water jets and a sand pit.
  • The Imagination Playground in the Financial District is another great option and the loose blocks and tools mean children can create their own fun among the sand and water features.
  • Central Park has 21 playgrounds dotted at various locations throughout the park with the Billy Johnson playground at 67th and 5th and the Tarr-Coyne Tots Playground on the West Side at 68th Street both excellent options for younger kids.
  • The Chelsea Waterside Park  has an amazing pipe fish themed slide together with fun water features and sand pits.

5 | One World Observatory

For incredible views of Manhattan ride the elevator to the 102nd floor of One World Trade Centre to experience the One World Observatory. The views are endless and it’s fun to spot the NYC classics including the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller, the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River.

All 5 boroughs are visible from the One World Observatory and it is incredible to stand in what feels like the clouds and take it all in. From the elevator ride, to the interactive displays and the endless views, One World Observatory is entertaining for all ages.

Y ou can buy tickets to the One World Observatory in advance which also allow you to skip the line so you don’t have to wait!  Buy your tickets now – check prices now!

Book your One World Trade tickets

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip: tickets for kids under 5 are free of charge at the One World Observatory. Under 5s are still required to hold a ticket so make sure to reserve the free Under 5 ticket when you are booking your own. Strollers must be foldable and visitors with a stroller are requested to collapse at busy points on the visit e.g. in the elevators. It might be easier to leave the stroller at home/in your hotel if you have the option. We recommend visiting at quieter times to avoid the worst of the queues for entry, security, elevators etc.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

6 | Top of the Rock

A city with a skyline as beautiful as New York’s is best viewed from a height. The Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller has incredible views of midtown and Central Park. The 67th floor viewing platform is surrounded by glass panels and the views from the top are simply breathtaking both north to Central Park and south along the Manhattan skyline.

Open every day of the year, you can purchase your tickets in advance to secure your visit – check prices now!

Buy your Top of the Rock tickets here

things to do in NYC with toddlers

7 | Coney Island

Colourful, vibrant and fun, Coney Island is a Brooklyn gem with its beach, boardwalk, arcades, aquarium and amusement parks. Toddlers will love playing on the sandy beach, dipping their toes in the Atlantic Ocean and exploring the beach playgrounds.

Other highlights include the legendary Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the kitsch souvenir shops and the Dona Zita Mexican stall on Bowery where we ate the best tacos we’ve had in NYC! The carnival atmosphere is contagious and there is a feeling of days gone by.

An afternoon at Coney Island feels like taking a beach holiday from Manhattan and is definitely a highlight of things to do in New York with toddlers.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

8 | Roosevelt Island Tram

The 4-minute tram ride departs from 59th and 2nd in Manhattan and offers beautiful views of Manhattan and the East River together. The novelty of a cable car ride will seal the deal for toddlers and it only cost $4 for a round trip!

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip: if you want to spend some time exploring Roosevelt Island the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market is lovely to wander through and the collection of neighborhood food trucks are mouth watering. The colorful Manhattan Park Pool Club is a summer highlight of Roosevelt Island and day passes are available.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

9 | Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is the perfect grown-up hang-out for toddlers! The park is a hive of activity and is usually teeming with artists, musicians, sunbathers, performers, chess players and cute dogs!

The dancing fountain is an added bonus in one of the most vibrant spots in the city. We watched the adorable NYC dogs on their afternoon walks, enjoyed some classical singing, listened to Colin Huggins on his grand piano and giggled at getting soaked in the spray from the fountain!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

10 | Brooklyn Bridge

Walking or cycling across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is one of our favorite things to do in New York with toddlers. The iconic bridge links Brooklyn and Manhattan and the views are incredible as you make your way towards Manhattan. With runners, walkers, commuters and cyclists all sharing the bridge it’s a hive of activity and noise. For night owl toddlers, sunset is the perfect time to cross just when the lights of the city begin to twinkle as darkness falls.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

11 | Bryant Park

Surrounded by giant skyscrapers, Bryant Park is the perfect contrast of city and park life. The park is usually action packed with intense chess games, open air movies, exercise boot camps and even juggling classes! The park is also home to Le Carousel, Bryant Park’s resident carousel which revolves to French classical music!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

12 | Times Square

Synonymous with New York City, Times Square’s captivating mix of neon lights, giant billboards and chaotic crowds will mesmerize toddlers in NYC. Our favourite vantage point is high above the crowds in one of the many restaurants and bars with a bird’s eye view of Times Square.

  Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip :  We love the view from the R Lounge in the Renaissance Hotel with its incredible views of the bright lights and yellow cabs the city is so famous for! It’s the perfect spot for a cocktail and toddler date!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

13 | The NYC Museums

One of the largest natural history museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History is an amazing place to discover ocean life and dinosaurs. There’s also the Children’s Museum of the Arts, an art museum designed especially for children,

Another gem if your toddler still enjoys stroller time: the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum all offer stroller tours led by museum experts. We joined one at the Guggenheim and loved how interactive, baby friendly and relaxed the tour was while the adults enjoyed the knowledge shared by the museum educator leading the tour.

14 | Grand Central Terminal

Over 750,000 passengers pass through Grand Central every day. Instantly recognizable from the many movie scenes it has featured in, the stunning architecture makes Grand Central an iconic New York landmark. As well as the crowds, the trains and the architecture, our two highlights are the fantastic zodiac mural on the ceiling of the main concourse and the station’s Whispering Gallery.

For some NYC magic, stand in diagonally opposite corners of the concourse and whisper into the wall: whatever you say will travel across the hallway to your companion!

Apparently it’s due to the sound waves clinging to the walls and travelling across the concourse.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

15 | Ride the Subway

If your toddler is similar to ours then all forms of transportation will bring wide eyed awe and excitement and luckily NYC is a mecca for experiencing a variety of transport options!

The subway is the fastest and most fun way to get around the city and, with the never-ending music, dancing and interesting characters to be found in both the stations and on the trains, there is never dull moment on the NYC subway.

16 | Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is crammed full of delicious eateries and unique stores and is a great place to while away a rainy afternoon with toddlers in NYC. Our favorite spot is Posman Books, an independent boutique bookstore with a great children’s corner, indulging in ice creams at L’Arte del Gelato and browsing through the stalls at Artists and Fleas, a marketplace with over 100 vendors selling an awesome mix of vintage and quirky wares.

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip :  the Chelsea Market building was originally a major factory of the National Biscuit Company and it was here that the Oreo cookie was born!

things to do in NYC with toddlers

17 | City Strolls

If your toddler is still happy to sit back and relax in a stroller, the ever-changing city streets are perfect for exploring. From green spaces to bright lights to music, art and crowds there is rarely a dull moment on the sidewalks of New York City and we find ourselves frequently stumbling across hidden gems. We’ve walked countless miles in the city that never sleeps!

Best things to do in NYC with toddlers tip :  the New York sidewalks are stroller friendly. Our favorite walks include exploring the street art in Soho and the Lower East Side, the river views and open space alongside the West Side Highway, Central Park and the High Line.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

18 | Dumbo and Jane’s Carousel

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, or DUMBO for short, is another great spot for a toddler-friendly visit to New York.

The first stop is on Water and Washington Street Washington Street aligns perfectly to give a beautiful view of the Washington Bridge with the Manhattan skyline in the background and the Empire State Building framed perfectly by the legs of the bridge. 

The nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park is perfect for a picnic and the beautiful restored Jane’s Carousel is another treat. We also love grabbing some ice creams at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and watching the boats passing by.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

19 | Gulliver’s Gate

Located close to Times Square, Gulliver’s Gate is an interactive museum of miniatures featuring over 300 scenes from 25 countries and 5 continents together with the world’s largest miniature airport! Toddlers will especially love burning off steam in the ball pit and watching all the action as planes arrive and depart from the miniature airport.

20 | Battery Park

Best known as the departure point for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferry, Battery Park is also home to the awesome SeaGlass Carousel. Riders sit in giant fish illuminated in neon lights on this aquarium themed carousel, one of our favorite among the NYC carousels! Battery Park also boasts breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn.

things to do in NYC with toddlers

For more on NYC family travel

Check out our other great articles on NYC family travel:

  • things to do in Central Park with kids
  • things to do in NYC with a baby
  • guide to NYC with a baby

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New York City with Kids – The Best Things to Do

SD › NYC › NYC with Kids Updated: July 19, 2022

  • Where to Stay in NYC
  • Best Hotels in NYC
  • Best Hotels for Families in NYC
  • Best Hotels with Pools in NYC

NYC Family Tours

NYC Tour Tips Tip #1: Do a tour! They’re an easy and convenient way to see the city. Guides are great at making it fun and interesting for kids (and adults). Believe me, you won’t regret doing a tour. Tip #2: Book early! Tours are super popular and sell out months in advance. When you see something you like, reserve your dates. Tip #3: Check age requirements for all tours and tickets. For some tours you need to be age 6 or more. Broadway shows are typically age 4 or more. And the 9/11 museum is probably best for those 10 or older. The Best NYC Tours for Kids Get Your Guide – Great site for finding tours and getting large discounts. Best Food Tours in NYC – Doing a food tour is an awesome way to explore the city for families and first time visitors. New York City Explorer Pass The pass allows free access to the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, The MET, the Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Top of the Rock Observatory, and many more top attractions. It’s a great deal for families. Half-Day Pizza Tasting Bus Tour History meets pizza. The tour takes 4.5 hours and visits the best pizzerias in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Very kid-friendly. Brooklyn Food and Culture Bus Tour Great NYC food tour for families. Lots of fun. Cupcake Tour of Greenwich Village 2 hours of cupcakes and gelato from 6 different shops. An easy going tour through this historic neighborhood. To say this tour gets 5 stars from kids would be an understatement. Helicopter Tour of NYC Incredible views and an unbelievable experience. Expensive (but worth it). Disney on Broadway Behind the Magic Experience It doesn’t get much better than this: try on original costumes (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, and more), see backstage and in the prop room at the New Amsterdam Theatre, get the history on some of Disney’s biggest hits. Both kids and adults love this tour. New York City Bus Tour Great if you don’t have a lot of time. See the top sites from Harlem through the Upper West Side, Mid-town, and down to the Financial District and Battery Park. Skip The Line (highly recommended): Empire State Building • One World Observatory • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island • 9/11 Museum • Museum of Natural History • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum • 30 Rockefeller Plaza • The Met Museum of Art

The 48 Best Things To Do in New York with Kids

The best things to do with kids in New York City.

1. The Empire State Building

A visit the Empire State Building with its dazzling city views from the 86th floor is a great New York experience, but it can be a hassle without careful planning. You’ll have two potential lines to cope with—buying tickets and waiting for the elevator. Skip the long ticket lines and order tickets online (recommended) and eliminate both the ticket and elevator lines. (If you don’t, minimize the elevator wait by coming at the least crowded hours, first thing in the morning or late in the day). Tips: Dusk is an ideal time to see the city and watch the lights twinkle on, a magical sight. Make the most of your time by using the rest room on the second floor before you ascend. Everyone must go through a security check so speed things up by being prepared—no liquids, no tripods. There is no check room, so don’t bring anything you cannot carry comfortably. If you must visit at busy times, bring something to entertain the kids while you wait as lines can be long (unless, of course, you bought the express tickets). Open every day, 365 days a year rain or shine. 8am to 2am.

2. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

Allow several hours as there’s a lot to see—exploring the historic (and enormous) aircraft carrier itself, nearly 30 vintage planes on the flight deck, a guided missile submarine, and the space shuttle Enterprise. The Exploreum on the hangar level is full of interactive fun for kids like climbing into a helicopter and steering the wings of a plane. Save time, skip lines, and buy tickets online in advance . But be forewarned: many enticing exhibits, guided tours, and the space shuttle pavilion require extra fees. However, there is plenty to do without the extras. The Intrepid is best suited to older children who can appreciate the history. There is lots of walking, much of it outdoors, so sunscreen and hats are advisable. The best way to get here is the #50 crosstown bus headed west, which brings you right to the door. Spring/Summer Hours: (April 1 – October 31) Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm. Saturday, Sunday & Holidays 10:00am – 6:00pm. Fall/Winter Hours: (November 1 – March 31) Daily (including Holidays) 10:00 am – 5:00pm.

3. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

If you’re traveling with young children, visit this nirvana designed for ages six and under. Age-specific exhibits include Playworks for the youngest visitors and Adventures with Dora and Diego for ages 2 to 6. Changing exhibits show how children live in other lands. City Splash water play is a favorite in warm weather and offers the chance to sail a boat, paint with water, and play with sand. The museum provides waterproof smocks but it may be wise to bring a change of clothes in case of splashes. Stop at the information desk for the daily schedule of special workshops and performances, all included with admission. No food or drink is available in the museum but hand stamps at admission allows you to come and go all day. Grab a sandwich at Café 82 at Broadway & 82nd, then head to nearby Riverside Park for a picnic and playgrounds. Subway: 1 train to 79th Street. M104 Broadway bus to 82nd Street. Tuesday to Friday: 10am – 5pm. Saturday: 10am – 7pm. Sunday: 10am – 5pm.

4. Natural History Museum

This great museum covers two square blocks and can’t be covered in one day, so start by looking at the floor plan and deciding on the exhibits that best match your own family’s interests. The dinosaurs are the biggest draw but don’t forget the giant blue whale, the African elephants, the animal dioramas, or the fabulous gems and minerals with treasures like the 56-carat Star of India sapphire. Check out the Discovery Room where kids can hunt for animals in a replica African baobab tree or examine specimens such as minerals or skulls. The museum adjoins the Rose Center for Earth and Space with exhibits and spectacular shows at the Hayden Planetarium. Nature films on the huge IMAX screen are another draw. When you want a lunch break, look down. Spoon and fork displays in the floor point the way to the nearest restaurants. The museum shops have wonderful selections of educational toys as well as inexpensive treats for the kids. Book tickets online to skip the long lines. For a real adventure, check the schedule for the next Night at the Museum sleepover for families, with comfortable accommodations and featuring a midnight fossil hunt, films, and other diversions. Subway: C train to 81st Street (take 79th Street exit), M79 bus to Central Park West. Open daily from 10am – 5:45pm.

5. Brooklyn Bridge (Pedestrian & Bike Promenade)

Get the camera ready for this walkway high above the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn with endless panoramas of the skyscrapers of Wall Street and lower Manhattan along the way. Biking is fun but walking allows for easier stops The walkway is 1.3 miles long and can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your pace. You’ll get the best views if you start on the Brooklyn side with the city ahead. Stay left (the side closest to the Statue of Liberty) for great souvenir photos of your gang with the skyline as an unforgettable background. The closest subway stops in Brooklyn are York Street on the F line or High Street on the A and C lines – all stops are several blocks from the bridge so be sure the kids are up for a good walk. In Manhattan, the 4, 5, and 6 trains stop at nearby City Hall. Bring water along if the day is warm and try not to choose a breezy day as it’s always windier on the bridge than you expect. Open 24 hours. Free.

6. Central Park

New York’s “back yard” is full of family fun from a carousel and a marionette theater to a zoo that is the perfect size for children. An amazing variety has been packed into this compact zoo, from a tropical rainforest to a sea lion pool to a polar world of penguins. At the separate children’s zoo, little ones can feed sheep and goats and other furry friends. Be sure to see the Delacorte clock just outside the zoo on the hour or half-hour when a parade of whimsical bronze animal musician sculptures plays popular tunes. In winter you can rent ice skates for a whirl on the Wollman Rink and in summer the site becomes the Victorian Garden with slides and rides. Take a walk through the Ramble to discover deep woods and waterfalls in the middle of the city. Every Saturday at 11am from June through September storytelling for ages 6 and up takes place at the Hans Christian Andersen statue near 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. On weekends, cars are banned and park roads turn into miles of scenic, traffic-free bike paths. Bike rentals for the park are available from 9am to 7pm at 56 West 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Open daily during daylight hours.

7. The Highline Park and Walking Path

An abandoned overhead freight railway has been transformed into a remarkable elevated park running roughly from 15th to 34th streets on the city’s far west side. A great stroll, it offers river and city views from a lofty perspective and features lush landscaping that reflects the wild plants that grew up along the neglected railbeds. Along the way are art installations, videos, a place to take off your shoes and wade in an inch-high pool, or to sit back, relax and take it all in. Kids especially enjoy the Pershing Square Beams, specially designed for climbing. Family Festivals with special events are scheduled on many Saturdays; printed family guides can be downloaded on the website . Food and treats are available at several places along the way. A visit can mean a 30 minute walk or can fill several hours. Subway: A, C trains to 14th Street; M14 crosstown bus to 10th Avenue. Open 7am to 11 pm June to September, to 10 pm spring and fall, to 7pm December to March.

8. New York Transit Museum

Housed in a 1936 decommissioned subway station, this museum tells the amazing story of New York’s subways, beginning with how tunnels were dug underground from 1904 to 1927 for the opening of the system. Exhibits continue to follow the construction of the enormous 842 miles of track to the present. Visitors can walk through actual vintage subway cars and see the many kinds of tokens used to enter the subway before the advent of the Metrocard. Another popular interactive exhibit, On the Streets, traces the development of trolley and bus transportation in the city and invites kids to board a 12-seat bus and child-size trolley. Plan to come on weekends when free programs for young visitors are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm. The free Grand Central Terminal branch is small but worth a stop for changing exhibits and model train displays. Tuesday – Friday 10am to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

9. New York Hall of Science

Children at this excellent museum are so busy having fun they hardly realize that they are learning. Science, space, sound, light, physics, astronomy, technology, and math are some of the areas explored through 450 hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, films and workshops. Enticing exhibits include Realm of the Atom, The Search for Life Beyond the Earth, Seeing the Light, Hall of Mirrors and Sound Sensations: The Inside Story of Audio. Favorites include the “Build-It” hall downstairs, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Sports Challenge where kids can test their reflexes with activities like jumping, arm wrestling, and wheel chair racing. Preschool Place and an outdoor Science Playground entertain the youngest visitors, and there is a miniature golf course outside. Tips: Avoid New York school holidays when the museum is most crowded and be aware that admission is free on Fridays from 2 to 5pm and Sundays from 10 to 11am. Don’t miss a look at the Great Hall, originally constructed to wow crowds at the 1964 Worlds Fair, with undulating walls that rise 100 feet with no corners or straight segments. April 1 – August 31: Monday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm. Saturday & Sunday 10am – 6pm. September 1 – March 31: Tuesday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm. Saturday & Sunday 10am – 6pm.

10. Dylan’s Candy Bar

Think Candyland come to life, with a giant lollipop tree in the center, candy patterns on the walls and embedded in the stairs. Dylan’s Candy Bar claims to house over 7,000 confections making it one of the largest selections of candies anywhere and enough sweet stuff to satisfy the wildest cravings. Pick up a bag and take your pick from the dozens of bins (you pay by the weight) or choose from the endless array of chocolates and other boxed treats. Pillows, pajamas, and personalized mugs are among dozens of candy-theme souvenirs. Fudge-makers are at work downstairs and upstairs the gigantic sundaes come with three scoops and three toppings. Perfectly Peanut Butter is among several unique choices. While the kids indulge in ice cream parents can relax with a pink cotton candy martini. Sunday: 11am – 9pm. Monday to Thursday: 10am – 9pm. Friday & Saturday: 10am – 11pm.

11. Staten Island Ferry

This 25 minute, five-mile sail is one of the world’s best free rides with unbeatable views of New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan. At the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan, a 75-foot-high entry hall greets riders with panoramic views of the downtown Manhattan skyline. On fine days a rooftop viewing deck with benches is an excellent place to go while waiting for the next boat. The closest subway station is South Ferry, served by the 1 and 9 lines. The ferry is basic transportation to Manhattan for residents of Staten Island so avoid morning and evening rush hours when commuters crowd the terminal. This is one city attraction that is quieter on weekends. Departs every half hour.

12. Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899, this museum remains an innovator. Recently doubled in size, the Collections Central area now has room to show off some of the enormous permanent collection of nearly 30,000 objects, from minerals and fossils to a complete skeleton of an Asian elephant to musical instruments, masks and dolls. In Neighborhood Nature kids can get a fish-eye view by crawling in a tunnel inside the pond aquarium, and dig, play and harvest pretend plants in the garden. New World Brooklyn, a world of kid-sized shops, highlights diversity with stores where you can build a lantern for Chinese New Years, make pretend dough at a Mexican Bakery, and create cloth patterns, construct slat chairs or have a go at drumming in a West African emporium. Whether kids choose to be shoppers or play cashier, the International Grocery is a chance to see products from around the world, The only drawback to this terrific museum is the trek to get there. The subway ride from Manhattan takes nearly one hour and any route requires a six or seven block walk from the station. If you have the time and energy, however, it is a worthwhile trip. Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm.

13. Bronx Zoo

Allow a whole day for the largest city zoo in America and home to some 4000 animals. Many of the residents are found in open natural settings. Among many highlights are Tiger Mountain and the Congo Gorilla Forest where glass walls put you close-up to these wondrous animals. The African Plains populated with zebras, giraffes, and lions and the Madagascar exhibit with its acrobatic lemurs are can’t miss sights. At the children’s zoo little ones can climb into a birds nest and feed tame animals. Camel rides and the bug carousel are fun diversions. You can cut down the walking in this enormous zoo with rides by tram or monorail. Special times to arrive are feeding times for lions at 11am and 3pm and for penguins at 3:30pm. A daily calendar lists other special events. Order tickets online to save standing in line and try to schedule this outing on less crowded weekdays. March 23 to November 3: Monday-Friday 10am – 5pm. Weekends & Holidays 10am – 5:30pm. November 4 to April 4: Daily 10am – 4:30pm.

14. Museum of the Moving Image

A former movie and TV studio houses a unique treat, a museum devoted to the development of moving pictures from flip books to the digital age. Parents often are as intrigued as the kids at the chance to see exhibits that tell of the development of film and television cameras, projectors, television sets, video games, and sound recording equipment. Visitors can play vintage arcade and console games and have a variety of interactive experiences like recording a sequence of still photos that can be printed to make a flipbook or creating stop-motion animation that can be saved and emailed to friends. You can dub your voice over dialogue from a film or add sound effects and music. A simulated TV control room is the chance to watch the director call for varying shots to cover a baseball game. Clips from some of the earliest films are displayed and modern films are shown at the museum’s theater. The newest major permanent exhibit features Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. More than 300 exhibits include storyboards, film and TV clips, costumes and 47 puppets, including favorites like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Elmo. Kids can even have a try at being a puppeteer. The subway ride from Manhattan is about half an hour. Not recommended for toddlers but highly recommended for older children. Wednesday to Thursday: 10:30am – 5pm. Friday: 10:30am – 8pm. Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 am – 7pm.

15. Metropolitan Museum of Art

With exhibits from every period from ancient to contemporary, the country’s largest museum includes galleries with special appeal for families such as the chance to see mummies and explore an Egyptian temple, see life size knights of old in their arms and armor, and marvel at fascinating masks from Africa and Asia. You can plan your visit by downloading a family map and children’s guides or pick up these free materials at the desk when you arrive The guides have titles like Kings, Wings, Mysterious Mummies or Creature Features that help make the museum more fun for kids. Family audio guides are also available. This world-famous museum is often packed with visitors but you can avoid crowds by going during Friday or Saturday evening hours. Buying tickets in advance also helps. Children under 12 are admitted free. M1,2,3, 4 bus to 82nd Street. Sunday to Thursday: 10am – 5:30pm. Friday and Saturday: 10am – 9pm.

16. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Teens, who can be hard to please, usually love this museum. Why? Because they can take endless photos for their Facebook pages with the lifelike wax figures of everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Barack Obama. The themed sections feature superheroes like The Hulk and Spider Man, sports stars including Carmelo Anthony and Derek Jeter, politicians from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton, TV stars like John Hamm, movie idols past and present from Marilyn Monroe to George Clooney. Smaller fry will enjoy seeing Sponge Bob and ET. The Marvel Comics Super Heroes 4D film boasts some great special effects. Buying advance tickets online saves up to 25% off the admission price and this is often a Groupon offering, as well. Late May to early September and holiday periods: 9am – 10pm daily. Rest of year, Sunday to Thursday: 10am – 8pm. Friday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm.

17. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

The city views from the boat ride and from Liberty Island are spectacular and standing close-up to the Statue of Liberty is a guaranteed thrill for everyone. For kids who are old enough the climb up the torch is an adventure to cherish. The same boats that go to Liberty Island continue to Ellis Island, a visit recommended for children old enough to appreciate the chance to walk in the footsteps of the millions who came to America from other lands. But be forewarned: Even advance tickets for the Statue of Liberty sell out months in advance, especially tours that include access to the Liberty torch (the highest point you can climb to inside the Statue of Liberty). If you don’t order tickets ahead, arrive very first thing in the morning or be prepared for long ticket lines and waits that can be hours for the timed departures. Boats leave regularly from 8:30am – 5pm. Last boat back departs at 6:45pm.

18. DiMenna Children’s Museum at the New York Historical Society

Children ages 8 to 13 are invited to become history detectives learning about early life in New York through a series of engaging exhibits. Turn a dial to see photos of a street as it was 100 years ago and as it looks today, put your face into a cut-out of George Washington and imagine your own inauguration speech, practice making a cross-stitch like early New Yorkers who had to sew their own clothes, meet the young newsboys who went on strike against the city’s biggest dailies—and won! The library areas is a place to rest, play interactive games, see early children’s books and find current books about the city. The museum offers programs to entertain tykes while older siblings explore. Storytime for ages 4 to 6 is at 11:30 am on Sunday and Songs and Stories for Little New-Yorkers age 3 to 5 takes place on Tuesday and Friday at 3:30 pm. Pay what you wish every Friday 6-8 pm. Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday: 10am – 6pm. Friday: 10am – 8pm. Sunday 11am – 5pm.

19. Children’s Museum of the Arts

This little gem is a hands-on museum inviting families to explore art through intriguing exhibits and the chance to actually experiment with art materials, clay, sound and animation. The Fine Arts Studio is open for everyone to paint, draw, or sculpt a take-home art work and the Clay Bar lets novice sculptors go to work. Check for hours when the Media Lab and Sound Booth are open, places where you can learn how to animate a short film or record a song. Children under five have their own WEE Arts studio and the Ball Pond lets everyone work off excess energy before you leave. Some smocks are available but its best to come dressed in clothes that can take a bit of paint or glue. Be sure to sign up as soon as you arrive for a 35-minute session in the popular Clay Bar and for the day’s special workshop. Pay what you wish on Thursdays from 4 to 6pm. Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 5pm. Monday and Wednesday: 12pm – 5pm. Thursday and Friday: 12pm – 6pm. Closed Tuesday.

20. Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant

Temptations abound in this nirvana for chocoholics, a mouth-watering reward for good boys and girls. How about a Chocolate Chunks Pizza made with melted chocolate and topping choices of hazelnuts, bananas, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows? Or maybe a Cookieshake, white chocolate ganache blended with Oreo cookies and ice? The menu of hot chocolates is amazing along with the O.M.G Chocolate Chunk Cookies, served with whipped cream, berries and melted chocolate. There’s a food menu as well, and the super crunchy mac and cheese gets kudos. But it’s chocolate that makes this worth the trip. Be sure to make a reservation as the dining room is often packed. It can get noisy, crowded, and a little chaotic at peak meal times and on weekends. Monday to Thursday: Sunday: 9am – 12am. Friday and Saturday: 9am – 2am.

21. Chelsea Piers

Children who dutifully trudge through sightseeing deserve a reward. At Chelsea Piers, once defunct piers on the Hudson River have been transformed into a 27-acre riverfront sports complex that can be a welcome break. Activities include a bowling alley and indoor ice skating in winter and a summer skate park. The Field House, which serves many leagues and classes, offers a selection of Drop-In Programs for its facilities between scheduled sessions. These include batting cages, soccer fields, basketball courts, a gymnastics area, and a rock wall. Children age 4 and under have their own indoor play area. Call to find out what is available on the day you want to visit. The 23RD Street crosstown bus headed west brings you right to the entry. Hours vary with seasons: phone 212-336-6100 to check.

22. The New Victory Theater

New York’s first major theater devoted entirely to family entertainment offers troupes from around the world presenting a changing array of plays, circus acts, dancing, puppets, and surprises. Arrive an hour early for Arts Express, pre-performance hands-on activities inspired by what is on stage. “Try This” in the lower lobbies gives the chance to engage with props and design elements from the current show. Some performances have “talk-backs” where the audience has the chance to ask questions of the performers. Many workshops are scheduled with the artists teaching performance skills from puppetry to circus arts to hip hop. These are mostly for ages seven and up though there are a few for ages four to seven. Check the web site for upcoming performances and programs – each listing indicates the recommended ages.
TIP: New York City for Families If you’re in NYC with children then the New York City Explorer Pass is a great deal. The pass allows free access to the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, The MET, the Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Top of the Rock Observatory, and many more top attractions. It’s a great way to save money.

23. Lower East Side Tenement Museum

A restored actual tenement building gives a rare chance to experience what brave immigrant newcomers actually faced in their confusing new world from 1863 to 1935. Most of these immigrants came from Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe. The recently restored addition at 103 Orchard, the building housing the museum shop, brings the story up to the 1970s, adding the stories of Holocaust survivors and Chinese and Puerto Rican arrivals. Among the many tours offered, families will most enjoy interactive sessions where costumed interpreters represent past residents, from countries Though many tours are recommended for age eight and up, the museum says youngsters as young as five can appreciate the Victoria Confino tour, visiting the apartment of a Greek Sephardic family and meeting 14-year-old “Victoria” who lived in this tenement in 1916. Visitors can also play-act, taking the role of new arrivals and asking questions about life on the Lower East Side. Children are allowed to handle the household objects. Tours are popular and may sell out, so reserve ahead on line or by phone to avoid waits and disappointment All tours meet at the Visitor Center at 103 Orchard Street. The Center has an excellent selection of New York City souvenirs. Walking tours of the neighborhood are available, as well. For help selecting the activities best suited for your family, phone 877-975-3786 Subways: B,D to Grand Street, F to Delancey Street, J/M/X to Essex Street. M15 bus to Grand and Allen streets. 10am to 6:30pm daily, Thursday to 8:30pm

24. Brooklyn Bridge Park

This still-growing 84 acre park covering 1.3 miles between the Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods has transformed Brooklyn’s East River waterfront. A former industrial space and decaying piers have become a world of gardens, promenades and bike paths with spectacular views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the New York skyline. The park has activities galore. Pier 2 offers courts for basketball, handball, bocce, shuffleboard and hopscotch, as well as a roller skating rink. Pier 4 is a sandy beach with a boat launch. Pier 6 has a volleyball court. Pier 3 is reserved for quiet walks and reading. Several playgrounds are located around the park and an old fashioned carousel awaits near the Dumbo entrance. The pleasantest and most direct way from Manhattan is by boat. Ferries run from 39th Street and the East River, Water Taxis from 39th Street on the river. By subway, choices include the A or C train to High Street, F train to York Street, 2 or 3 to Clark Street, 4 or 5 to Borough Hall. All these stops require a 10-15 minute walk to reach the park. Piers open 6am to 11pm, playgrounds open dawn to dusk.

25. The Cloisters and Ft. Tryon Park

There’s a fairy tale quality to this medieval castle high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. The late John D. Rockefeller, Jr donated the land and the building, which holds his incomparable collection of medieval art. To make this art more fun for children. make a game of searching for the heroes, saints and fanciful figures like unicorns to be found in the tapestries, paintings and glowing stained glass windows. On many Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. free family workshops for ages 4 to 12 cover topics such as Robes and Regalia, pointing out what heroes wore from monks’ robes to knights’ armor, or Looking at Shapes, showing how medieval artists used familiar forms like circles, squares, and triangles. Check for workshop dates. Fort Tryon Park surrounding The Cloisters is a treat, with soaring views along its promenades and terraces, plus playgrounds and eight miles of paths, many of them meandering through woodland. To reach the Cloisters, take the A train to 190th Street, a 30-minute ride from midtown, then a ten minute walk through the park or one stop north on the M4 bus. The M4 runs all the way from midtown, about an hour’s ride. Daily 10am to 5:15pm March through October, rest of year to 4:45pm.

26. Coney Island & the New York Aquarium

Come for the sea breezes along the 2 ½-mile boardwalk, the surf, the rides, the arcades, the legendary hot dogs at the original Nathan’s, and a visit to the growing New York Aquarium. A great family day is guaranteed! The Luna Park amusement center boasts classic rides like the 1918 Wonder Wheel and the 1927 Cyclone roller coaster along with plenty of state of the art scream new machines and gentle thrills for little ones including a carousel. It would be worth the trip just for the New York Aquarium and its spectacular newest exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks. Enter through a clear 40-foot tunnel with creatures from the Great Barrier Reef swimming right beside you on both sides and overhead as well. The exhibit offers 18 kinds of sharks along with rays, skates, sea turtles—some 115 fascinating species in all. There’s a daily sea lion show in the Aquatheater as well. Baseball fans can add a game at the friendly, affordable MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets farm team. And there are fireworks every Friday night in summer. Subway: F, D, Q or N to Stillwell Avenue, about 45 minutes from midtown. Aquarium entry: Late May to early September, Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday Sunday, 10am-5:30pm; rest of year, last entry at 3:30pm.

27. Paley Center for Media

Almost every TV show ever filmed can be viewed at this center which boasts an archive of more than 150,000 TV shows, radio broadcasts and commercials. Visitors have their own TV consoles and ear phones and can call up favorites past and present, from I Love Lucy to early Sesame Street. , This is an entertaining nostalgia trip for all ages, and a favorite for teens old enough to remember the old shows. Curators have compiled intriguing Top Ten lists of classics including The Beatles, Seinfeld, Nickelodeon, the Olympics. Super Bowl ads and Halloween specials. Themed screenings take place.in the downstairs theater and personal appearances are often featured. Recently the cast of Veep and Anthony Bourdain have appeared. Wednesday-Sunday 12pm to-6pm.

28. New York City Fire Museum

This spectacular collection of historic fire engines and equipment from the late 18th century to the present tells the story of firefighting from the days of bucket brigades to hand pumps, horse drawn steam engines to high-tech fire boats. The accessories are fun to see, as well; who knew that some firemen once wore top hats to work? The enormous, shiny fire wagons of old will wow all ages and everyone can enjoy the fun of posing for souvenir snaps in firemen’s coats and hats, available in sizes from toddlers to grownups. Prepare for plenty of temptations in the gift shop. A moving memorial gallery to the firefighters lost at the World Trade Center in 2001 is tactfully set apart so that families can decide whether they wish to visit. Occasional special events for children include coloring contests, Easter egg hunts and a kids’ Halloween party. Check the web site for schedules. The museum is housed in a 1904 triple bay firehouse with its sliding doors, brass sliding pole and winding staircase intact. To round out the day, the Children’s Museum of the Arts is just a few blocks away. Open daily 10am to 5pm.

29. Battery Park City

For a peaceful afternoon and a look at a different side of New York, head for this newest waterfront neighborhood, begun in the 1960s partially on landfill created from the building of the original World Trade Center, and mostly completed by 2011. The 92-acre complex, now home to some 10,000 residents, offers miles of beautifully landscaped, art-studded paths for strolling or biking with peerless State of Liberty views as well as parks and playgrounds with many activities for children. The two residential sections are centered by Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center) an office complex with many shops and dining places and a big, tranquil outdoor terrace overlooking a marina of sleek yachts and sailboats. Rockefeller Park at the north end of the area, has basketball and handball courts, swings and a Parkhouse with ping pong and billiards tables, a play kitchen and toys, games and play equipment free to borrow from May through October. The waterside walkways continue to Battery Park and beyond. .1/2/3 or A/C to Chambers Street. Walk west along Chambers and cross the West Side Highway into BPC.

30. Chinatown

Noisy, crowded, and utterly fascinating, Chinatown makes for a colorful stroll and tasty dining. Start on Canal Street where food stands are stacked with mysterious vegetables and dried foods, and all manner of seafood shimmering on beds of ice. Turn onto Mott Street, the main artery, for a sampling of lures like chopstick shops, bakeries beckoning with cookies and soft buns filled with roasted pork or beef, and souvenir stands selling slippers, back scratchers, dolls, toys, and bamboo plants, which the Chinese consider good luck. Buy a mini-stalk to take a little luck back home. Stop into the Eastern States Buddhist Temple at #64 to see offerings piled high on altars and over 100 golden Buddha gleaming in the candlelight. Turn left to Bayard Street for the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory’s unique homemade flavors. Stay on Bayard to Columbus Park for a playground and the chance to see residents practicing Tai Chi. Then return to Mott and choose among the many restaurants for a final Chinese treat. One caveat: the crowds and commotion may not be ideal for young children and there is little room for strollers. Take the 6, N or R trains to Canal Street.

31. Nintendo World

Paradise for fans of Wii or Nintendo games, this store offers the chance to try out all the newest games and find a host of unique souvenirs, including hard-to-find plush characters. The second floor is a mini-museum displaying every console and character ever created, a great nostalgia trip for older kids (and many parents). The “ambassadors” around the floor all are enthusiasts who seem to enjoy showing visitors around and teaching how to use various devices. Fans line up outside for product introduction days and to see life-size costumed favorite characters like Mario or Pikachu when they appear for photo ops. Check the web site for dates. It’s all free, but guaranteed you won’t leave without a purchase. Monday-Thursday, 9am to 8pm; Friday, Saturday 9am to 9pm; Sunday 11am-7pm.

32. Best Bowling Alleys for Kids

When the weather is too hot, too cold, or too rainy, New York’s bowling alleys are great escapes for family fun. Many of these swank, state-of-the-art facilities become singles hangouts after dark, when age restrictions are the rule, but all welcome families during the day. Frames Bowling Lounge (550 Ninth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, 212-268-6909) in the Port Authority Bus Terminal offers family packages Monday through Saturday before 5pm, and all day Sundays. They include two hours of bowling, shoe rentals, arcade games, a pizza-chicken bites platter and drinks. Bowlmor Times Square (22 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, 212-680-0012) features 50 lanes in seven NYC-themed lounges, from Chinatown to Central Park. Advance reservations are suggested.at this popular midtown spot. The Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers (Pier 60, 23rd St and West Side Highway, 212-835-2695) is smaller and less crowded and offers an arcade, a small laser tag arena and an aerial ropes course for children 48 inches and up. Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge (624–660 West 42nd Street, 646-829-0170) adds billiard tables to the fun and a nice food selections like burgers of the month, tacos, and wings. Rates are lower Monday to Wednesday.

33. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)

The world’s largest collection of modern art and sculpture is housed in a striking contemporary glass building with soaring sightlines that families will enjoy as they escalate from floor to floor. The chance to see iconic paintings such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Salvador Dali’s melting watch in The Persistence of Memory and Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians certainly merits a visit. The problem for families is the size of this museum, which can seem overwhelming. A wise approach is pre-visit research to decide which of the many galleries will most appeal and to locate the don’t-miss paintings. (You can also buy tickets in advance .) Art activity cards and gallery games to make the most of the visit can be picked up at the museum or downloaded in advance. MOMA also offers many Saturday and Sunday morning family tours and hands-on art programs divided by age, for 4-year-olds, ages 5 to 10 and tweens ages 11 to 14. Most programs meet at the Cullman Education and Research Building, 4 West 54th Street, with registration beginning online ten days in advance. Check schedules on-line and time your visit for these free events if possible. The lovely sculpture garden outside is a nice break if kids grow weary. Daily 10:30am to 5:30pm, Friday to 8pm Free admission ages 10 and under, free for all Friday 4pm-8pm.

34. Guggenheim Museum

It’s hard to imagine a museum more intriguing to children than this Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece where the “galleries” are a spiraling ramp with art on one side and amazing views from floor to domed ceiling on the other. The Guggenheim’s permanent collection, especially known for its Kandinsky paintings, is not always on view but temporary exhibits are usually intriguing and there is always a trove of masters like Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, and Monet on display in the Thannhauser Collection galleries off the main ramp. If schedules allow, plan to visit on the second Sunday each month when family tours are held at 10:30am and hands on workshops take place at 1pm. You can buy tickets in advance or there’s pay what you wish Saturday 5:45pm-7:45pm. Friday-Wednesday 10am to 5:45pm, Saturday to 7:45pm. Closed Thursday.

35. Sports Arena Tours

Sports fans will find action year round in New York at arenas that are as exciting as their teams. Some are iconic, like Yankee Stadium , home to baseball’s winningest team, and Madison Square Garden Tour , where the basketball Knicks and Liberty and hockey Ranger teams play. There are exceptional newer venues, as well including the glistening Barclays Arena (tours unavailable, at present), host to Nets basketball and Islanders hockey, and retro Citi Field where the Mets play baseball and the food stands get rave reviews. It is exciting to be part of the cheering crowd, but these arenas are fun to see even when the teams are not in action and all offer behind-the-scenes guided tours. Each tour is unique, but you can expect to go on the field or the court, visit locker rooms and dugouts, see the exclusive VIP boxes, and tour the teams’ halls of fame. Tour times vary with seasons and schedules. Check web sites for current schedules.

36. New York City Ballet

The New York City Ballet, one of the world’s great companies, dances at Lincoln Center in fall, winter and spring with many programs that are ideal for families. During the holiday season, George Balanchine’s beautiful, whimsical Nutcracker is a traditional treat for generations of New York families. Classics like Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia with its dolls come to life and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and its dancing donkey are great introductions to this art. The ballet also has special performances introducing children to ballet and many inexpensive 45-minute workshops on weekends for children ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 where participants actually learn steps from professional dancers. Workshops are usually held before family-friendly matinees and are great introductions to the performance. The season is usually mid-September through October, late November through December, mid-January through February and mid-April through May.

37. South Street Seaport

Working shops and classic ships help tell the story of the days when this area was a bustling port, its piers crowded with ships from around the world, bringing trade that helped build a thriving New York and the growing United States. Start at the museum for interpretive displays and the ongoing exhibition, Millions:Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners. Then head for the “street of ships, Pier 16 at John Street where several vintage vessels are docked. Two may be toured, the 1907 lighthouse ship Ambrose, and the 1886 Wavertree, the cargo ship that is the flagship of the fleet, fresh from a 13-million-dollar restoration. From May through October, visitors can actually go for a sail on the Pioneer, an 1885 four-masted schooner, and help hoist the sails. The Bowne Printshop at 207-211 Water Street, is the chance to see demonstrations of early letterpress printing and examples of 19th century crafts such as woodcarving. The rest of the Seaport area is a collection of shops, and restaurants with wonderful water views. Much of the action is at recently renovated pier 17, which features musical entertainment on the rooftop. There’s also a very upscale multi-screen cinema serving food and drinks to movie goers. Take subways 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, or Z to Fulton Street walk east towards the river for about 10 minutes. The M15 bus stops right at the Seaport on Fulton Street. Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 7pm; Bowne Printshop open daily 11am to 7pm.

38. Governors Island National Monument

An inexpensive 10-minute ferry ride brings you to this former U.S. military base, an important part of the system of early forts designed to guard New York City. When the base closed in 2006, some 22 acres of the 172-acre site because a National Monument offering wide open spaces, gardens, bike and walking paths with city views and an interesting slice of history. National Park Service Rangers-lead tours that include Castle Williams, the first American circular fortification ever built, and the star-shaped Fort Jay, which has served over time as fort, music school, and prison for Confederate prisoners. Weekends bring special events from art shows to concerts. The rest of the island is in the midst of development that by 2017 will include The Hills, a 10-acre park where man-made mounds from 25 to 70 feet high will offer climbers peerless perspectives. There will be a shortcut to the top for children, and one mound called Slide Hill will have four slides down, sure to be a kids’ favorite. Bike rentals and food are available on the island. Open Memorial Day to end of September. Ferries leave Marine Maritime Terminal in lower Manhattan 10am to 4pm weekdays to 5:30 p.m. weekends and holidays.

39. Gulliver’s Gate

The wonders of five continents, all in miniature, await at this unusual attraction near Times Square. From the Great Wall of China to the Swiss Alps, the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids, there are some 967 buildings and myriad moving cars, trains, and planes in a model-train scale display that covers 50,000 square feet. Destinations include Russia, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, New England, and New York. It took 16 model makers over a year just to create the lavish New York City replicas. Kids especially like the Gulliver’s Gate Key, given to visitors to activate moving parts throughout the exhibit. Look carefully to find whimsical details like a couple kissing, New York firefighters rescuing a cat in a tree or a group of tourists with a rope vainly trying to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For a fee, you can scan yourself to create a 3-D model to be placed in the display. Go online to book and look for discount offers to save on the rather steep admission fee. Open Daily 10am-8pm.

40. Bryant Park

This popular green oasis right behind the New York Public Library between 5th and 6th avenues is fun for families year round. Activities include a putting green, ping pong, petanque, a stocked reading room, an art cart with supplies, and table games like chess and backgammon. Younger visitors will find arts and crafts sessions, story time, and rides on Le Carousel. Lessons might be offered in juggling, fencing, yoga or Tai chi, and there is frequent musical entertainment. In winter there’s ice skating, with a holiday bazaar in November and December. Only the carousel and skate rentals have a fee. This is also a fine spot if all you want to do is find a quiet corner to relax, have a sandwich, and/or find a pleasant clean restroom in the heart of the city. Hours: 7am-12am; most activities, 11am-8pm.

41. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey

This unexpected new attraction amid Broadway’s theater marquees is a spectacular introduction to ocean life. Using the latest animated technology and National Geographic’s superb photography, it is a simulated underwater journey from Australia to the Pacific Coast that seems to immerse you, allowing amazing close-up views of ocean life without ever getting wet. Among the highlights are a kelp forest maze, the chance to experience ocean life at night, and a spectacular finale showing sharks, sea lion, dolphins, and all manner of sea life at home in the sea. (The Humboldt squid attack is not for the faint-hearted!) The visit ends in Exploration Hall, with simulated interviews with the photographers in diving gear who captured these scenes, as well as holograms, learning games, and lessons on the importance of conservation. This is a unique experience for older children but with one caveat: the whole encounter only takes about an hour and the tickets are expensive. Be sure to check the internet for any available discounts. Sunday-Thursday 10am to 9pm, Friday, Saturday, 9am to 10pm.

42. Choco Story New York

This introduction to chocolate (with tastings!) will please anyone with a sweet tooth. The self-guided visit is housed in a building adjoining the spacious shop of Jacque Torres, one of New York’s leading chocolatiers. It includes a film showing the commercial process from tree to treat followed by two live demonstrations. The first, showing the traditional Mayan way of making cocoa by hand, gives the chance to see close-up the big pods that must be split to get at the chocolate beans, and how they were dried, ground into a powder, and boiled with water to make a beverage. The taste is not as sweet as the cocoa we know but a little added sugar goes a long way. The tour highlight is the making of bon bons. Guests see how chocolate blocks are blended with butter and sugar and heated to just the right temperature to be poured into trays of small molds and cooled to make a scrumptious shell. The shells are filled with the melted confection and chilled once again. Finished candies are on hand and unlimited tastes are allowed! All of this takes only 30 to 45 minutes, but those who plan ahead can add classes; Cookie Decorating for 3 to 7 year olds, and Make Your Own Mediants for older children. For little ones who can’t sit through demonstrations, there is a play area with a sand pit and a play kitchen. Check the web site for class and demo schedules. Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

43. Best NYC Book Stores for Kids

Even as bookstores continue to dwindle, New York still boasts several really great children’s book stores, good for whiling away a peaceful hour or two and for a special selection of books to take home. Books of Wonder (18 West 18th Street, 212-989-3270) celebrated its 35th birthday in 2015 as a delightful source of new children’s literature as well as rare collectible children’s books and a selection of book-oriented art and posters. The store features story hours for young readers every Saturday and Sunday morning and many author events where older children can meet their favorite writers. The well-stocked Book Culture (114th Street and Broadway, 646-402-3000) has three locations in the Columbia University neighborhood and another more convenient store on Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street, (450 Columbus Avenue, 212-595-1962). Story hours are scheduled here every Tuesday and Saturday at 11am. The Broadway store devotes the entire downstairs to a Children’s Reading Room, open from 10am to 8pm daily and an ideal spot for a rainy afternoon.

44. Best Skating Rinks for Kids

Skating amidst the skyscrapers is a big city winter pleasure in New York, where many scenic outdoor ice skating rinks beckon. The Rink at Rockefeller Center is famed, so much so that online advance reservations are strongly advised. The numbers are kept at 150 to avoid crowding and there is often a waiting line (212-332-7655). Not far away at Bryant Park’s Winter Village , skating is free (though you’ll have to pay for rental skates and helmets (212-768-4242). Central Park has two fine public rinks: The Wollman Rink (212-439-6900) near the 59th Street and Fifth Avenue entrance is popular and you might consider splurging for a VIP reservation package to avoid waits. The Lasker Rink between 106th and 108th streets is less convenient so less crowded (917-492-3856). Downtown, the Rink at Brookfield Place (the former World Financial Center, 212-417-2445) is even bigger than the Rockefeller Center space and another option awaits at Fulton and Front Streets in front of South Street Seaport (212-732-825). If you don’t want to brave the cold (or the summer heat), you can skate indoors year-round at the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers (212-336-6100). Most rinks open mid-October to mid-November, close early to late March. Check individual listings for dates and hours.

45. Queens County Farm Museum

For a taste of country in the city, take a trip to Floral Park and the 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum. a 300-year living history of farming. The restored Adriance Farmhouse was built as a three-room Dutch farmhouse in 1772. The surrounding 7-acre historic area shows the changes from a colonial homestead to a truck farm that served a growing city in the early twentieth century. The historic outbuildings, orchards, fields of crops, vineyard, and an herb garden bring history to life and the kids will love seeing the cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and hens at home in the barnyards. Farmhouse tours and hayrides are offered every weekend and a host of special events like sheep shearing and a corn maize keep things lively. In mid-September visitors can take in the Queens County Fair, an old-fashioned event with corn husking and pie-eating contests, pig races, hayrides, livestock competitions and midway rides. The easiest way to get there is by car, about a 35 minute drive from midtown. The Long Island Railroad is another option. The ride from Penn station to Floral Park takes 37-minutes, and cabs waiting at the Floral Park station will take you to the site for around $10. Open daily 10am to 5pm.

46. Liberty Science Center

An excursion across the river to Jersey City leads to this big imaginative, interactive museum that will engage kids of all age. Dual-level exhibits like Skyscraper let everyone learns what it takes to design tall buildings. Then older kids can walk a high steel girder (wearing safety vests) and enter a wind tunnel, while little ones build with blocks and stack them using a magnetic mini-crane. Other popular exhibits include the da Vinci surgical robot trying the kind of simulators used by surgeons, the Lightning Show, the Touch Tunnel, and the Infinity Climber, a suspended enclosed multi story play space for climbing and crawling through paths suspended high overhead. Several exhibits are designed for younger visitors. The museum is located in Liberty State Park, with playgrounds and picnic areas and rentals of bikes and Segways to enjoy paths with Hudson River and New York skyline views. Statue of Liberty ferries can be boarded here, as well. Get here by car or take the Liberty Landing Ferry from Brookfield Place to the park, where a 20-minute walk leads to the museum. Or take Path trains to Exchange Place and transfer to the Bergen-Hudson light rail. Tuesday to Friday 9am-4pm, Saturday, Sunday 9am-5pm.

47. Modern Pinball NYC

There’s a ton of fun packed inside this small store-front dedicated to the era when games meant going to the nearest pinball game arcade. A ticket gives unlimited play for one, two, or three hours on some two dozen classic machines that line the walls. The choices range from Shreck, Asteroids, and Star Wars and to Slugfest Baseball and Game of Thrones. All come with flashing lights and sound effects; Beatlemania even features songs and photos of the Fab Four in their heyday. It’s a nostalgia trip for some but for kids and teens used to video games, it’s an introduction to a time when you had to get more actively involved in games, and they love it. Step stools are provided for smaller players. Also billed as a museum, Modern Pinball has an educational component: a transparent machine with all its pulleys, gears, motors and magnets visible – pull the control knob and watch what makes the game go. School field trips have visited for a lesson in science, math, and mechanics. If you fall in love with one of the machines, they’ll be happy to sell it to you. Subway: 6,N,R to 28th Street. M102, 103 bus to 26th Street. Daily 11am-midnight.

48. FAO Schwarz

It was good news for families when this ultimate toy store came back to life with new headquarters in Rockefeller Plaza behind the skating rink. It is filled with an almost overwhelming selection of toys both familiar and unique and a stuffed animal menagerie like no other. Parents should likely be prepared to be wheedled into at least one purchase, but there are many changing amusements that are free, like watching magic tricks, filling a shopping cart with play food, learning how to make a boomerang work, building a railroad track, steering a car, seeing science experiments, and playing a tune on the store’s famous walk-on piano. For those willing to invest, youngsters can design their own racing car; choosing their own color, shape, and tire type. Kids can have hair streaked or nails painted. If you buy a baby doll, that can visit the store “pediatrician.” There’s a branch of Build-A-Bear Workshop in the store and the whole rear space is a candy emporium. The store is absolutely packed on weekends, especially in the afternoon, so it’s best to try visiting on quieter weekdays or mornings. Subway: D,F to 50th Street. Bus: M5 to 50th Street. Monday-Tuesday 10am-8pm, Wednesday-Thursday 10am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-7pm.

The Best Playgrounds in New York City

Pier 25 , Hudson River Park Union Square Park . Lots of fun, new, and interesting equipment. Central Park has 21 different playgrounds. The Ancient Playground, Billy Johnson Playground, Diana Ross Playground, and Tarr Family Playground are the among the favorites. Madison Square Park . There’s a Shake Shack (burgers, fries, shakes) in the middle of the park. Silver Towers Playground is the closest playground to Times Square.
Best Hotels in New York City Best Hotels for Families in New York City Best Budget Hotels in New York City Best Choice Hotels in New York City Best Hotels with Pools in New York City JFK Airport Hotels Newark Airport Hotels Where to Stay in New York City Best Things to Do in New York City Best Tours in New York City Best Food Tours in New York City Best Time to Visit New York City Where to Go in New England

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Mommy Poppins

Fun Free Activities for Kids in January 2024: 29 Free Things To Do in NYC

I f your bank account needs a rest, fear not: We've found 29 things to do in January to keep New York City families busy all month long.

Though most of the big holiday attractions in NYC are packing up the tinsel this month, January celebrations like the Three Kings Day Parade  in East Harlem and the  Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March  are just getting started. Plus, many NYC parks offer outdoor nature programs like a hike after dark in Prospect Park and Astronomy fun in Queens. Plus, Battery Park City's KindieRock series kicks off with a performance by Key Wilde.

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Mulchfest takes over city parks for the first weekend in January. Get rid of your Christmas tree and do good for the environment in the process. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks Department

Best Free Things To Do in NYC: Monday, January 1-Sunday, January 7, 2024

47th annual three kings parade.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Line up with live camels, colorful puppets, parrandas, music, and dancing on this magical day! This year’s theme, Spoken Word: The Power of Oral Tradition, celebrates the importance and significance of unwritten stories, fables, and traditions. read more

Free Book Friday

Visit the Van Nest Library and receive a free book...to keep! Kids and teens are invited to browse through an assortment of special books and give the books a new home.  read more

Three Kings Day

Saturday, January 6, 2024

New York’s only Latino children’s theater celebrates one of the most important Latin American holidays for children, El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos/Three Kings Day.  read more

Greencycle Post-Holiday Swap

Town Square's popular Greencycle Swap is back, just in time for you to quietly give away those "unexpected" holiday gifts and get a fresh start with your closets. read more

Tree Drop-Off and Mulchfest

Through Saturday, January 6, 2024

After you're finished with it, bring your tree to Mulchfest at Brooklyn Bridge Plaza and save it from going to waste. read more

Mulchfest in Prospect Park

Saturday & Sunday, January 6 & 7, 2024

Bring your holiday tree to Prospect Park, where it will go through a chipper to transform into environmentally friendly mulch at both the 3rd Street and Park Circle Entrances. Plus, you can take some home for your yard or garden. read more

MulchFest 2024

Through Sunday, January 7, 2024

Bring your holiday tree to Mulchfest to be recycled into mulch to nourish plantings in the parks all year long! You can watch your tree devolve and evolve in person! read more

Family Program - Landscapes

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Lehman College Art Gallery invites visitors to tour the exhibition, Framing the Female Gaze: Women Artists and the New Historicism , and create a landscape based on the work of Vera Iliatova in Lehman's dedicated Gallery Studio. read more

Best Free Things To Do in NYC: Monday, January 8-Sunday, January 14, 2024

Drag story hour.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Join BCM for a storytelling session that focuses on the uniqueness of all kids and families. Drag Story Hour NYC programs celebrate gender diversity and all forms of difference to build empathy and give kids the confidence to express themselves however they feel comfortable. read more

Family Fridays: Hyperbolic Play

Friday, January 12, 2024

Explore the world of hyperbolic geometry with shadows, clay cubes, soap films, and more — you’ll even get to build and take home your own negatively-curved sculpture, and learn how to play tic-tac-toe on it! read more

Landmarks Old and New

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Take a tour of the Skyscraper Museum's exhibition SKY MARKS | LANDMARKS during its final days and learn about the landmarking process and how landmarks change and adapt over time. Then, kids work to make appropriate changes to a building designed by the Skyscraper Museum’s educator—changes that must be approved by the museum's landscape committee. read more

Create Your Own Folk and Fairytale Characters

Head to the Sheepshead Bay Library for a creative program where kids learn how to design and construct their own folk and fairytale characters.   read more

Ice Age Hike

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Take a trip back in time with the Urban Park Rangers and hike through Cunningham Park discussing the lay of the land in prehistoric times. Rangers describe the Pleistocene megafauna of New York. read more

Join Manhattan Country School for its 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March. Photo courtesy of the school

Best Free Things To Do in NYC: Monday, January 15-Sunday, January 21, 2024

35th annual martin luther king jr. commemorative march.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Manhattan Country School eighth graders honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by taking to the streets of Manhattan to speak out about what they consider to be the most pressing civil rights issues of their time. read more

Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Prospect Park

Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with nature education programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the first urban Audubon Center in the nation. read more

Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

BAM hosts its FREE annual Brooklyn tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., and everyone is invited! The celebration brings together artists and civic leaders to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King.  read more

MLK National Day of Service

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day each year, all Americans are encouraged to step up to make communities more equitable and take action to create the Beloved Community of Dr. King’s dream. Examples include cleaning up a public space, mentoring a young person, or helping those who are food insecure. read more

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

On select days throughout the year, all national parks are open to the public with no admission fee. read more

Family Movies at Gerritsen: Turning Red (PG)

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Snuggle in for a library screening of Turning Red : A 13-year-old girl named Mei Lee is torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the changes of adolescence. And as if the challenges were not enough, whenever she gets overly excited, she transforms into a giant red panda.   read more

Prospect Park After Dark Hike

The Urban Park Rangers lead families on a hike after sundown around Prospect Park Lake. Explore and experience the sights and sounds of Prospect Park at night.  read more

Hibernation Hike and Games

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Learn how animals such as birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and others survive the cold and the snow on an educational wildlife viewing adventure, followed by games and activities.   read more

Nature's Workshop: Foraged Crafts

Forage the forest responsibly to gather sticks, twigs, weeds, and other materials to create useful crafts inspired by nature. read more

Best Free Things To Do in NYC: Monday, January 22-Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Kindie rock.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Shake all those wiggles out at Battery Park City's weekly kid concerts. Attendance is first come, first served, so arrive early for one of the two sessions. read more

Winter Tree ID

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Hike through Pelham Bay Park in search of different tree species and learn some ways to identify these trees during the changing season.   read more

Gather Around the Campfire

Families are invited to gather by the campfire to enjoy an afternoon of storytelling and fireside activities in Arthur S. Somers Park. read more

Astronomy: The Winter Sky

Urban Park Rangers serve as your guides to the solar system, discussing the science, history, and folklore of the universe. Winter is a prime season for stargazing, as cold air clears the night sky of clouds and creates ideal conditions for seeing the stars, planets, and other celestial highlights. read more

Keepsake: Greece

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine hosts a Family Workshop highlighting Greece. Create a keepsake to take home, and enjoy live performances and traditional dance with the Greek American Folklore Society. read more

Sensory Perception Hike

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Engage your sense of touch, smell, sight, and hearing as you explore the natural world during this hike in Kissena Corridor Park. read more

Anime Movie Night: Wolf Children (PG)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Van Cortlandt Library hosts an anime movie night, with free snacks and coloring sheets provided for all attendees. read more

Fun Free Activities for Kids in January 2024: 29 Free Things To Do in NYC

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    Things To Do with NYC Preschoolers at Museums and Play Spaces 1. Children's Museum of Manhattan Little imaginations love exploring all four floors of the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Don't miss the backyard with its Dynamic H20 exhibit, which features a 22-foot-long, interactive water table and lots of hands-on water fun.

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    Inside you can find a zoo, a conservatory garden, a castle, and a boathouse. There are amazing playgrounds and plenty of room for the kids to run wild. It's also the perfect place to escape the chaos of people, honking taxis, and cars that cover the city day and night.

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    Go ice skating at Bryant Park Source / Shutterstock Ice skating in NYC is one of our favorite winter time activities, and it's the perfect way to keep the little ones busy! Let them glide around one of the city's most iconic rinks and finish it off with a hot chocolate afterwards! Plus the best part…it's free if you bring your own skates!

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    For a timeless winter activity and a fan-favorite outdoor activity in NYC, go ice skating at one of the best skating rinks in NYC. From November through February, you can find outdoor rinks across the 5 boroughs. And there are even more indoor rinks open year-round!

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    1. The Best Museums for Toddlers View this post on Instagram A post shared by Children's Museum of Manhattan (@cmomnyc) Children's Museum of Manhattan At the Children's Museum of Manhattan, you and your children can spend nearly a full day exploring its many exhibits.

  17. 20 Fun Things to do in NYC with Toddlers (2023)

    2 | The Highline A stroll on the High Line is one of our favourite things to do in New York with toddlers and it is the perfect escape from the hectic pace of the Manhattan streets below. Originally a train line, the High Line is an elevated public park and walkway meandering up the West side of Manhattan.

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    New York City for Kids - The best tours, museums, and attractions for families. ... MOMA also offers many Saturday and Sunday morning family tours and hands-on art programs divided by age, for 4-year-olds, ages 5 to 10 and tweens ages 11 to 14. ... This popular green oasis right behind the New York Public Library between 5th and 6th avenues is ...

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    Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum | Details Feb. 10, 10 to 11:30 am Show your sweetheart that you care with a charming, unique, and handmade Victorian-style Valentine's Day card! Learn about the history of valentines and the printed "scraps" used to make them in the 19th century while you craft your own original card. A fun workshop for the whole family!

  21. 17 Things To Do in NYC with Tweens

    6. Go Old-School: Pinball, Arcade Games, and Slot Cars. While NYC seems to be overrun with 21-and-over barcades, there are a few old-school video game havens that are great for families with tweens. Skip Times Square's touristy Dave & Buster's and head down to Chinatown Fair.

  22. Fun Free Activities for Kids in January 2024: 29 Free Things To Do in NYC

    Join Manhattan Country School for its 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March. Photo courtesy of the school. Best Free Things To Do in NYC: Monday, January 15-Sunday, January 21, 2024

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