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Things To Do With Kids in NYC

Here’s where to go and what to do with kids in New York City. | By Lisa Grabelle | January 26, 2022

New York City is one of the world’s greatest family playgrounds. With a little advanced planning, you can find a plethora of things to do with kids in NYC. Create lasting memories with your crew by:

  • Tick off your bucket list: Check our top tips for seeing the most of NYC’s famous landmarks with kids in tow

  • Encore for more: Cheer for the home team or give a standing ovation at a Broadway show

  • Let them lead: Give your kids the freedom to explore one-of-a-kind parks and world-famous museums

Roosevelt Island Tram car in transit over New York City
Sail over streets and bridges for the cost of a subway ride.

Check off your bucket-list activities

There are no shortage of things to do with kids in New York City, least of which is getting a bird’s eye view of the Big Apple. Zip up to the Top of the Rock, One World Observatory or the world-famous Empire State Building. Our top tip is to take everyone for a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. It’s an unforgettable four minutes of spectacular views as you whisk over the East River, 250 feet above the city. Plus, kids under 44-inches tall ride for free (when traveling with a fare-paying adult).

When looking for things to do with kids in New York city, you can find fun on the ground too. Times Square is full of neon lights, flashing signs, costumed characters and kid-friendly stores. During the day, grab a seat atop the stadium-like seating wall behind the TKTS Booth and take it all in. For your older night owls, prepare to be amazed by the Midnight Moment, the world’s largest digital art exhibition on electronic billboards every night from 11:57 p.m. until midnight.

New York City has a rich history, of course, and there are many ways to experience it. You can meet the city’s first lady, the Statue of Liberty, to best admire her grandeur up close. While you can trace America’s roots at the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum, you can glide past Lady Liberty on the free Staten Island Ferry. Alternatively, see the statue from afar on a walk (or stroller ride) across the Brooklyn Bridge, an 1883 architectural wonder (keep in mind that it’s a little over a mile walk from one end to the other, and it can get crowded).

Girl in yellow jacket jumping in Central Park, New York City
Let the little ones lead the way around Central Park.

Play in the park(s)

With all its breathtaking skyscrapers, you might be surprised to know that the city has more than 1,000 parks. Let the kids pick your path when you get to Central Park. Here you can row around the lake or pilot mini-sailboats. There’s also a zoo, a mini-amusement park, a carousel and a vast amount of fields, playgrounds or rocks to climb. For a tot-friendly adventure, you can borrow a free Discovery Kit from the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, stuffed with kid-friendly binoculars, field guides, a hand lens, colored pencils and sketch paper.

Escape to The Highline for a peaceful break from the bustling city. This unexpected urban respite is perfect for a stroller-friendly nap-time walk among greenery and colorful public art. If you’re visiting in the wintertime, bundle up with layers, hats, waterproof gloves and boots to avoid the winds of the Hudson River. Heading south, you can pick up a snack or lunch at Chelsea Market. This food hall hosts plenty of options for fresh and yummy treats.

Catch a show

The Big Apple is sports-fan heaven. Grab a hot dog or popcorn and cheer on one of New York’s star-studded home teams. If you can’t catch a game, consider touring one of the famous stadiums or sports arenas, like iconic Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center. If your spectators prefer to play their own games, take them rock climbing, bowling or ice skating at Chelsea Piers, a 28-acre waterfront sports facility.

NYC is also the theater capital of the world. Your kids will never forget their first Broadway show, and you’ll find plenty of family-friendly shows to see. Our hint? Plan ahead and book online, or start your day by stopping by the TKTS booth in Times Square. You’ll find a great selection of discount tickets.

Dad with daughter looking at art in a museum
Art, history, archaeology, ice cream? New York has museums for everything.

Museum hop through history

It’s easy to find museums that cater to your crew’s ages and fascinations. Museums can offer a much-needed break from intense heat or bitter cold, and typically provide restrooms and cafes.

You’ll inspire your mini-Picassos at fine-arts museums like the Met or the MOMA. Many offer downloadable games or complimentary activity totes full of colored pencils, sketch pads, activity sheets and even scavenger hunts.

For budding paleontologists, tots and teens alike can wander the Dinosaur Halls at the American Museum of Natural History. You won’t want to skip a selfie with the humongous whale suspended overhead in the Hall of Ocean Life or gawking at the Butterfly Conservatory in winter.

Speaking of selfies, you can dive into a pool of sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream. You’ll find a floating table of desserts, a hall of giant scoops and more at this super-pink, multi-sensory attraction. With all museums, check the websites for free admission or pay-as-you-wish hours, as well as special kid activities and workshops.

Your family is sure to fall in love with the city so nice, they named it twice. When it comes to the Big Apple, whether you choose to take a small bite with little ones in tow or take a big bite with teens, it’s so easy to bond and create fun NYC adventures.

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Lisa Grabelle has been traveling all her life…and loving it! She lives in New Jersey.

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