There is no city in the world quite like New York City, and it’s a great vacation spot for the whole family.
It’s a place that will stimulate all your senses – with stunning cityscapes and exciting culture.
To help you explore the Big Apple, we’ve put together a list of 20 things to do with kids in New York City.
- You have a lot of options when traveling to New York City. Fly into one of three international airports, or travel in by train or bus if you’re located on or near the East Coast.
- Since the most popular places to visit are all located in Manhattan, staying there is definitely the most practical choice. Check out our list of must-stay hotels below for our favorite options.
- There is so much to see and do around New York City, that you couldn’t possibly see everything in one trip. Each visit will be its own unique experience. Knowing this ahead of time will keep you from stressing out or being disappointed.
- The best time to visit New York City with kids is on a weekend. Locals tend to get out of the city on the weekends, so they are your best if you want to avoid big crowds.
- Getting around the city is easier than you may think. Avoid renting a car and instead take advantage of the city’s public transportation – subways, taxis, buses, and Uber.
- Before you head out, take some time to plan out your route. You’ll avoid frustration and you won’t miss out on anything. Utilize Google or Apple Maps on your smartphone, or you can purchase or download a detailed map of the city that includes subway routes.
- Purchase subway cards at a subway station. They can be used for city buses as well. Up to 3 kids 12 years and younger can ride free with each adult! Just remember that subways have a lot of stairs, so bring along an umbrella stroller or baby carrier.
What to Pack
- Comfortable walking shoes are a must since NYC is a city where people walk everywhere.
- Daypack to keep all the kid essentials handy while you explore the city.
- Collapsible or refillable water bottles that can be stowed in your daypack or suitcase
- A baby carrier or small, lightweight stroller for babies and toddlers
- Portable booster seat for taxi and Uber rides
- Compact umbrella since rain can happen any time of the year
- Bug spray or mosquito repellent if you’re traveling in the summer months
- New York travel guide book for more tips and sights to discover
- If you’re traveling during the Spring or Fall, think layers, including a warmer jacket for evenings. Winters can be very cold, so you’ll want to make sure to have a hat, scarf, gloves, and a thermal layer. Summers are hot and humid, so you’ll want to pack lightweight clothing.
4 Must-Stay New York City Hotels
How do you choose where to stay when there are countless options? We’re keeping it simple with a list of 4 must-stay New York City Hotels.
- The Muse Hotel – Located in the heart of the theater district, The Muse has lots of fun perks. Bunk beds, welcome gifts, complimentary bikes, and kid-sized scooters, as well as hula hoops in the gym! Parents will love the nightly wine receptions and babysitting services.
- The Algonquin Hotel – This hotel is one of the oldest in the city and it has plenty of charm and character. The kids will love meeting Hamlet, the hotel’s own cat! Well-appointed rooms have been recently renovated but still have antique touches. This is a truly special place that will make your trip even more memorable.
- Hotel Beacon – Close to some of the top family attractions, the whole family can get comfy in one and two-bedroom suites. Save time and money by grabbing groceries at nearby stores like Trader Joe’s, then prep meals in your in-room kitchen.
- NU Hotel – Stay just outside the hustle and bustle of the city and live like a local in a Brooklyn neighborhood, only a few subway stops from Manhattan. Enjoy free breakfast, bunk-bed rooms, Brooklyn-themed coloring books, and loaner bikes.
20 Things To Do with Kids in New York City
When it comes to things to do with kids in New York City, there are so many choices. We couldn’t possibly list them all, so we’ve put together a list of our favorites. Make sure to check out each location’s website for hours, pricing, and up-to-date attraction info before you visit.
- The Battery– Take a ride on the SeaGlass Carousel with its beautiful sea creatures or cool off in the Battery Fountain on a hot day. Enjoy views of the harbor or explore perennial gardens and an urban farm.
- Central Park – A giant park smack dab in the middle of the city! Explore Central Park Zoo, ride the carousel, take a carriage ride, rent a boat, ride a bike, or go ice skating in the winter months.
- American Museum of Natural History – Your kids can expand their minds and their imaginations at this family favorite museum. There are permanent as well as traveling exhibits – the dinosaurs are always a favorite!
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan – A great spot for the younger kids to learn and play, this museum is a great place to escape on a hot or rainy day.
- Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex – Practice, play, and compete in more than 25 different sports. Drop in anytime to enjoy batting cages, rock-n-’roll gymnastics, rock climbing sessions, and the toddler gym.
- New York City Fire Museum – Celebrate the history of the New York City Fire Department at this colorful museum. Explore artifacts, apparatus, and gear from as far back as 200 years ago!
- SPYSCAPE – Explore your own spy superpowers along with incredible gadgets and stories at this popular New York museum. You can learn to break codes, dodge lasers, and run surveillance.
- New York Public Library – Did you know that anyone can get a New York City Library card? Visit the Main Branch in Midtown Manhattan to browse through books, have a snack in the cafe, or take a photo in front of the lion sculptures.
- The Color Factory – This interactive art museum is a must visit. As you explore the colorful exhibits, you’ll also receive colorful treats like macarons and raspberry soda!
- Empire State Building – Take a ride to the top of this iconic 102-story skyscraper to see the city from above. Kids under 6 are free! Make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time since lines can get quite long.
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island– These attractions are part of the same park, located on two separate islands. It’s worth exploring both if you have the time. You will need to be sure to book your tickets far in advance.
- Staten Island Ferry – Take a free ride on the ferry and take in views of the city from the water, including the Lady of Liberty. Your kids will feel like they’re on an adventure!
- FAQ Schwarz – This classic kid’s toy store is a must! Make music on the giant floor piano, say “hi” to the toy soldiers, explore the tiny dollhouses, or cuddle up with giant stuffed animals.
- Top of the Rock – You can take in 360-degree views on one of three observation decks, making it the perfect spot to see the city. Afterwards, head down to explore Rockefeller Center.
- One World Observatory – The observatory is located at the top of One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. Ride the SkyPod elevator and see New York City transform over time into the city it is today.
- Bronx Zoo – This zoo is one of the largest in the world. The whole family will enjoy the wide variety of animals, treetop adventure course, carousel, 4-D theater, and camel rides. Take advantage of free admission on Wednesdays!
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The “Met” is well worth a visit. There’s something for everyone – everything from Ancient Egyptian artifacts to Modern Art. Interactive programs are offered throughout the year that focus on learning and creativity.
- New York Transit Museum – Located inside an old subway station, you’ll learn the history of the New York subway system while exploring old subway cars! Nostalgia Rides will let you experience New York history while on route to some of the city’s best attractions.
- The High Line – This elevated green space was once an overhead freight railroad. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience nature, art, water features, and amazing architecture.
- Circle Line Cruise – See more than 100 city sights from the waters off Manhattan. Choose from multiple cruise options, including holiday tours. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy some refreshments, while listening to the on-board guides.
The whole family will find something to love in New York City. Plan your trip ahead of time to make the most of your vacation. This list of 20 things to do with kids in New York City is a great place to start!
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