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Visiting NYC With Kids - 35 Things to Do

New York City is a bustling, colorful, and exciting place to visit. It has plenty to offer as a family-friendly destination. One of the main benefits of NY is the vast variety of things to do, see, and experience. If your kids like dinosaurs, or shopping sprees, or even roller coasters, then New York has options for you. Another benefit to visiting New York with kids is that the city has excellent transport links. However, NY is a busy and sometimes loud place. There are not always lifts or ramps for pushchairs, so consider this if traveling with young kids.

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01 Explore the American Museum of Natural History

The world-famous collections of the American Museum of Natural History are well worth exploring with kids. The museum has some of the most impressive dinosaur fossils on display anywhere, with interactive exhibits for kids and grown-ups. The museum is fully accessible with guided tours aimed at entertaining kids too.

Films like Night in the Museum have made the museum famous too, and family can spend a happy day wandering through the AMNH. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $19 per adult. Additional costs apply for access to the planetarium, IMAX shows, and any special exhibits.

American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

02 See The Statue Of Liberty

No visit to New York would be complete without seeing the iconic Statue of Liberty. This 310 feet (93 meters) high statue was a gift from the French and constructed from 1876 to 1886.

Today, there are several options to visit lady Liberty. You can journey by ferry to Ellis Island as the immigrants once did on first arriving in America. Here you can see the real books where new citizens signed their names on entering America. The Statue of Liberty has a lift inside to travel to the top and look out from the viewing platform. Make sure your kids have a head for heights. This attraction can be busy, and the souvenirs are pricey. Alternatively, you can see the statue on a helicopter ride if you splash out, or admire it from afar for free.

Liberty Island, New York, United States Photo by Max Ostrozhinskiy on Unsplash

03 Visit A Zoo

Central Park Zoo in New York is one of the largest the USA

New York has several zoos for kids who love animals. The Bronx and Central Park Zoo are the largest with the best facilities for families. Central Park Zoo costs $12 for adults, $7 for children between 3 and 12 years old, and younger kids go free. Admission to the Bronx zoo is more expensive at $22.95 for adults, $14.95 for 3 to 12-year olds. However, kids two years and under are free, and a visit to either zoo will easily provide a full day of entertainment for kids of all ages.

Fans of the Madagascar franchise will have a host of souvenir options at the Central Park Zoo, where the film was based. Alternatively, the Bronx zoo is more focused on conservation with pre-bookable possibilities such as for kids to ‘be a zookeeper for a day’ and find out how the keepers care for the animals.

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04 Have Fun On Rides

There are several large theme parks in or close to New York City, and several smaller fun fares too. If you want, big thrills, try Luna Park, which is better for older kids. Luna costs $52 per person with no discount for children older than three.

Try Coney Island in Brooklyn for some beach fun and rides for all ages - opening times vary seasonally so check beforehand. Or the stunningly beautiful carousel in Central Park where the whole family can pick their horse to ride. Please note that some theme parks do not allow you to bring your own food in with you, check before going at considering any extra costs.

Coney Island, United States Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

05 Watch Baseball Game

Citi Field stadium located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and home of the New York Mets

No matter your team allegiance or even if you don’t watch baseball, a visit to watch a match is great fun for kids. The fun isn't just the sport itself, but the acrobatics of the cheerleaders, the crowd entertainment like t-shirt cannons, and plentiful fast-food options. All this mean, kids will enjoy watching a game for the experience itself.

The two major league teams in NY are the Mets, and the Yankees, tickets for both vary in cost but expect to pay about $80 per adult and half that for kids. Watch the weather report carefully, both Citi Field and the Yankee Stadium are open to the elements and a few hours in pouring rain will dampen anyone’s spirits.

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06 Window Shop On 5th Avenue

Feel like Holly Golightly for a few hours and window shop on 5th Avenue. Make it clear to your kids what your budget is - or that you are strictly window shopping; 5th Avenue has costly boutiques!

While some of the more upmarket stores might not have much for very young kids, some stores specifically cater to fashion-conscious youth. Kids can try on Channel outfits, spritz themselves with perfume or cologne, and gaze at luxury apparel from around the world. Remember that 5th Avenue can be busy, and locals won’t appreciate tripping over kids. Keep a tight hold on your kid's hands.

5th Avenue, New York, United States Photo by Tobias Zils on Unsplash

07 Enjoy A Broadway Show

Times Square featured with Broadway Theaters and animated LED signs

Every star of the stage dreams of making it to Broadway. Here, the biggest, best, and most entertaining shows are on offer. Do your research in advance and consider what kind of show your kids might like. Whereas older kids might like We Will Rock You or Wicked, younger ones might prefer The Lion King.Book tickets in advance, and look for seats for the matinee performances for significant savings.

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08 Relax In A Park

Exploring New York with kids can be a busy and sometimes stressful experience. Take kids to the big, green open spaces of a park for some relaxation time.

There are several to choose from, but Central Park is ideally located in the middle of the city and has plenty of areas for kids to play in. If the weather is pleasant then bring a picnic along and make a day of it. Alternative parks that have play areas for kids are:

  • Prospect Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Inwood Hill Park
  • Gertrude Ederle Playground
  • McCarren Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park, United States Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

09 Take In The Views

View from Empire State Building

Another right of passage for many visitors to New York is taking in the view from the top platform of the Empire State Building. Kids with a head for heights will like popping their coins into the viewing telescopes to look down at the world below them.

Admission covers the cost of the elevator up to the main viewing platform. However, if your kids want to go to the heights platform, there is an additional charge. Because the top platform is smaller, there can be a queue. Bring something warm for kids to wear, even on a hot day its cold up there. You can save time if you pre-book your tickets and go at a pre-specified time.

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10 Sample Local Foods

Famous Pastrami on rye sandwich served in New York Deli

The local New York cuisine such as hot dogs, bagels, and a massive slice of cheesy pizza might be available anywhere these days, but there is something special about eating it in its spiritual home.

Anywhere where there are tourists, you will find someone ready to sell your kids something to eat. But for some of the best try these places rated highly by the locals as kid-friendly venues:

  • Hill Country Food Park
  • Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
  • Olmsted
  • Brooklyn Firefly

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11 Discover the modern marvel: The Vessel

The Vessel, an architectural masterpiece in Hudson Yards, offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and public landmark. This honeycomb-like structure provides visitors with a series of interconnected staircases, allowing them to climb and explore while soaking in panoramic views of the city. It's not just a sightseeing spot; it's an experience that combines modern design with interactive exploration.

12 Stroll above the streets: The Highline

The Highline is an innovative urban transformation, turning an old freight rail line into an elevated park. As you walk along this green oasis, you'll be treated to views of the Hudson River, art installations, and beautifully landscaped gardens. It's a serene escape from the city's hustle, offering a unique perspective of NYC's urban landscape.

Spring at the High Line in New York City sangaku / Getty Images

13 Art in a Spiral: The Guggenheim

The Guggenheim isn't just a museum; it's an architectural wonder. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, its spiral structure stands out in the city's skyline. Inside, you'll find an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts and architecture lovers alike.

14 Remembering the heroes: National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum stands as a poignant tribute to the tragic events of 9/11. Here, visitors can pay their respects at the twin reflecting pools, which mark the footprints of the Twin Towers. The museum offers a deep dive into the day's events, personal stories, and the aftermath, ensuring that the memories of those lost are never forgotten.

September 11 Memorial Matthew T. Carroll / Getty Images

15 Journey through immigrant stories: Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum offers a window into the lives of immigrant families who once called NYC home. Through guided tours of restored apartments, visitors can learn about the challenges, dreams, and resilience of these families. It's a touching and educational experience that sheds light on the city's rich cultural tapestry.

#UndocumentedNYC, Co-Hosted By Jose Antonio Vargas, Define American, The Mayor's Office Of Immigrant Affairs, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, The Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, And Hiltzik Strategies Donald Bowers / Stringer / Getty Images

16 A palette of playfulness: The Color Factory

The Color Factory is more than just an art exhibit; it's an interactive adventure of color and creativity. Located in SoHo, this vibrant space invites visitors to participate in a series of colorful installations, each designed to engage the senses and spark joy. It's a delightful experience for both kids and adults, making art accessible and fun.

17 Challenge your perception: Museum of Illusions

Step into a world where nothing is as it seems. The Museum of Illusions offers a series of exhibits that play with your senses, challenge your perceptions, and offer plenty of photo opportunities. From tilted rooms to holograms, it's a playful and educational experience that will leave you questioning reality.

The family, mother and kids, teenager boy and girl, exploring holography and optical illusions in the Museum of Science and Technology Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

18 Historic charm in Greenwich: Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park, nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village, is a hub of activity and history. With its iconic arch, play fountain, and chess plaza, it's a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. Whether you're watching street performers, enjoying a picnic, or simply soaking in the ambiance, it's a slice of NYC's vibrant culture.

Greenwich Village Houses Luke Abrahams / Getty Images

19 A Midtown oasis: Bryant Park

Bryant Park is more than just a green space in Midtown; it's a community hub. With its lush lawns, reading corners, carousels, and seasonal events, it offers something for everyone. Whether you're ice skating in the winter, attending a summer movie night, or simply enjoying a coffee, it's a delightful urban escape.

Bryant Park Bo Zaunders / Getty Images

20 Play by the water: Domino Park in Brooklyn

Domino Park, located next to the historic Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn, offers a unique blend of history and modern play. With its elevated walkway, splash pad, and playground, it's a favorite spot for families. The park also offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, making it a picturesque spot for relaxation.

Domino Park Riverfront with Green Trees and Plants during Summer with the Williamsburg Bridge in Williamsburg Brooklyn New York James Andrews / Getty Images

21 Dive into fantasy: Wonderland Dreams

Wonderland Dreams is an immersive experience inspired by the whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland. As you step into this magical realm, you'll encounter hand-painted exhibits, interactive installations, and a journey through fantasy. It's a delightful adventure that brings a classic tale to life in the heart of NYC.

22 Where tech meets art: Museum of Digital Experiences

Located in Brooklyn, the Museum of Digital Experiences is where technology and creativity converge. With 14 unique digital art installations, visitors can interact, explore, and immerse themselves in a world of digital wonder. It's a testament to the limitless possibilities of technology and art.

23 Learning through play: Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, designed with young explorers in mind, offers a plethora of exhibits and programs. From hands-on science experiments to cultural explorations, it's a space where learning comes alive. With its interactive displays and engaging activities, it's a must-visit for families in NYC.

24 A World of Animation: Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, located in East Rutherford, NJ, is a dream come true for young fans of the iconic TV network. With rides, attractions, and shows based on popular Nickelodeon characters, it's a day of fun and entertainment. Whether you're meeting SpongeBob or riding a thrilling coaster, it's an adventure for the whole family.

25 Bricks and adventures: LEGOLAND® New York Resort

LEGOLAND® New York Resort is where imagination and creativity come to life. With LEGO-themed rides, shows, and building zones, it's a paradise for LEGO enthusiasts. Located outside of NYC, it's a day trip that promises fun, learning, and plenty of brick-building adventures.

26 Sports and fun: Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers is not just a sports complex; it's a hub of activity. Whether you're ice skating, bowling, golfing, or swimming, there's something for everyone. With its state-of-the-art facilities and diverse range of activities, it's a favorite spot for families looking for active fun in the city.

chealsea piers Olga Kaya / Getty Images

27 A magical shopping experience: toy shopping at Iconic NYC Stores

Step into a world of wonder as you explore iconic toy stores like the Harry Potter store, LEGO store, and Fao Schwarz. Whether you're building your dream LEGO set, exploring the magical world of Hogwarts, or dancing on the giant piano, it's a shopping experience that transports you to a world of imagination and play.

New York City souvenir shop display Creatas / Getty Images

28 Skyline views from above: Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram offers a unique perspective of NYC. As you glide over the East River, you'll be treated to stunning skyline views and a bird's-eye view of the city's landmarks. Once on Roosevelt Island, explore its parks, monuments, and attractions, making it a perfect half-day adventure.

View from Roosevelt Island Tram - New York Michael Lee / Getty Images

29 A sweet experience: Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream is where dreams and desserts come together. Dive into a world of interactive ice cream-themed exhibits, sample sweet treats, and immerse yourself in a pastel paradise. It's a delightful experience that promises fun, photos, and plenty of ice cream.

30 Above the Clouds: NYC Observation Decks

Take your NYC experience to new heights by visiting observation decks like the Edge and One World Observatory. Offering panoramic views of the city, these platforms allow you to see NYC's iconic skyline, rivers, and landmarks from a unique vantage point. It's a breathtaking experience that showcases the city's grandeur.

Observation deck looking out over Manhattan Patrick Strattner / Getty Images

31 Nature's Playground: Children’s Adventure Garden

Located at the New York Botanical Garden, the Children’s Adventure Garden offers a blend of nature, science, and play. With its interactive exhibits, themed gardens, and educational programs, it's a space where kids can learn, explore, and connect with nature.

Boy looking at garden through a fence. ballyscanlon / Getty Images

32 Maritime Tales: South Street Seaport Museum

Dive into New York's maritime history at the South Street Seaport Museum. With its historic ships, exhibits, and interactive displays, it offers a glimpse into the city's seafaring past. Whether you're exploring a ship or learning about trade, it's a journey through time.

33 Interactive fun: Game of 1000 Boxes

Experience the thrill of NYC's live game show, Game of 1000 Boxes. Participants can win prizes, face challenges, and enjoy a unique entertainment experience. It's a blend of strategy, luck, and fun, making it a must-try for game enthusiasts.

34 A journey through time: Titanic: The Exhibition

Titanic: The Exhibition offers a deep dive into the history of the ill-fated ship. With its artifacts, interactive displays, and immersive experiences, visitors can learn about the Titanic's journey, its passengers, and its tragic end. It's a touching and educational experience that brings history to life.

Titanic Exhibit Opens In New York City John Moore / Getty Images

35 Street art genius: Banksy Art Exhibition

Explore the enigmatic world of Banksy, the mysterious street artist known for his provocative and thought-provoking works. The Banksy Art Exhibition showcases his iconic pieces, offering a glimpse into his unique style and social commentary. It's a must-visit for art lovers and those curious about contemporary art.

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