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Ultimate Guide to Kid-Friendly Activities in NYC

Ultimate Guide to Kid-Friendly Activities in NYC

New York City, a bustling metropolis known for its iconic skyline, is more than just a global landmark. It’s a playground of endless possibilities, especially for families. With a myriad of fun things to do in NYC for kids, the city promises an unforgettable experience for your little explorers. Gazing in awe at the towering Empire State Building or embarking on a thrilling ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, NYC is a wonderland for curious young minds.

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Explore New York City

A City of Adventure for Every Young Heart

Navigating through the vibrant streets of Times Square, exploring the mysteries of the American Museum of Natural History, or enjoying a sunny day at Central Park, NYC offers a kaleidoscope of kid-friendly activities. It’s a great place and a perfect destination for families seeking adventure and learning in the United States. From the historic Ellis Island to the green expanse of Bryant Park, every corner of New York City tells a story waiting to be discovered by your family.

Your Go-To Guide for Family Fun in NYC

In this ultimate guide, we’ll take you through the best things to do in NYC for kids. This is a curated collection of experiences that my family has been able to enjoy on our various trips to New York City. 

Get ready to create memories that your family will cherish for a lifetime in the city that never sleeps.

things to do in new york city with children

Let the Adventure Begin!

So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the most fun things to do in NYC for kids. From historical landmarks to interactive museums, and from public parks to unique attractions, we’ve got you covered. Join us as we unveil the magic of New York City. It is tailor-made for the enjoyment and wonder of your little ones.

Iconic NYC Attractions for Families

Empire State Building

Begin your NYC journey with a visit to the iconic Empire State Building. This towering marvel isn’t just another tall building, it’s a symbol of New York City and a must-see for families. Take your kids up to the observation deck for breathtaking views of the city skyline. It’s a great way to give them a bird’s-eye view of the Big Apple. Then, spark conversations about this famous landmark of the United States. Now anytime you see a movie with the Empire State Building your kids can shout, “I’ve been there!”

fun things to do in nyc for kids are visiting the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

No trip to New York is complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Hop on the Staten Island Ferry for a fun and free boat ride offering splendid views of these historic sites. Kids will love the excitement of the ferry ride. You’ll appreciate the opportunity to teach them about the rich history of these national treasures. If you’re good at making advanced plans, be sure to book tickets in advance to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Those tickets are very limited and need to be booked far in advance but it’s worth the steps for the best view in New York City.

New York Public Library

Discover the grandeur of the New York Public Library’s main branch, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. This architectural marvel is not only a haven for book lovers but also offers fascinating children’s programs and exhibitions. The building’s majestic lions, Patience and Fortitude, are a hit with the kids.  This make a unique and educational stop in the heart of NYC.

fun things to do in nyc with kids

Times Square

Dive into the heart of NYC with a stroll through Times Square. This vibrant hub, with its flashing billboards and buzzing energy, is a sensory feast for kids and adults alike. Times Square is a perfect place to experience the pulse of New York City. If you’re catching a Broadway show or soaking in the atmosphere, it’s a great way to introduce your family to the excitement of urban life.

One World Observatory

Elevate your NYC adventure at One World Observatory. Located atop the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, it offers unparalleled views of New York City. The interactive exhibits and the Sky Portal, where you can walk over a live video feed of the streets below, are sure to thrill kids and adults alike, making it a breathtaking experience for the whole family.

Museums and Educational Experiences

Skyscraper Museum

Add an architectural twist to your NYC educational journey at The Skyscraper Museum. Located in Lower Manhattan, this museum is dedicated to the study of high-rise buildings and cityscapes. With models, photographs, and interactive exhibits, it’s a place where kids can learn about the science and art behind some of the world’s tallest buildings. The Skyscraper Museum combines fun with education, offering a unique perspective on NYC’s famous skyline. 

museum of ice cream in new york city

Ice Cream Museum

If you’re a calories don’t count on vacation kind of mom, then you’ll have a great time at the Ice Cream Museum. This is one of those fun places that looks amazing on social media and is so much fun for kids. Older kids will have a good time tasting wild flavors and younger children will dig sliding down the multi story slide. It’s a good idea to book first thing in the morning before it get’s too hectic. There’s a gift shop at the end with all kinds of knick knacks that are ice cream and New York related.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Set sail for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where history and technology meet. Located on an aircraft carrier, this museum offers a unique glimpse into sea, air, and space travel. Kids can marvel at fighter jets, a space shuttle, and even a submarine. It’s a hands-on learning experience that combines fun with education, making it a great thing to do in New York City.

New York Hall of Science

Continue your journey of discovery at the New York Hall of Science. This interactive science center in Queens is a playground for the mind. With over 450 exhibits, it encourages children to question, experiment, and learn through play. Exploring the principles of physics or diving into the wonders of biology, this museum makes science fun and accessible for kids of all ages.

indoor activities in nyc museum of natural history

American Museum of Natural History

Embark on an adventure through time at the natural history museum, one of the best museums in NYC for families. With its vast collection of dinosaur fossils, cosmic displays in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and interactive exhibits, it’s a place where young minds can soar. This museum isn’t just about looking but also about learning and engaging. It’s an essential stop for a fun and educational day out, making it one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids.

Parks and Outdoor Adventures

Central Park Zoo and The Great Lawn

Explore nature in the heart of the City. Discover an urban oasis at the Central Park Zoo, a perfect place for families to get up close with wildlife in the middle of NYC. From snow leopards to sea lions, the zoo offers an exciting glimpse into the animal kingdom. Just a short walk away, the Great Lawn invites you for a picnic or a casual game of catch. Central Park, a green gem in the city, is a great way to relax and also one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids.

Exploring central park zoo and the great lawn are fun things to do in nyc for kids

The High Line and Hudson River Park

Take a stroll along the High Line, an elevated park built on a historic freight rail line. It’s a unique experience that combines nature, art, and design. Enjoy the lush greenery, public art installations, and views of the city and the Hudson River. Continue to the Hudson River Park for bike rides, playgrounds, and even kayaking. These parks offer a refreshing break from the city’s hustle and bustle, making them great things to do in NYC with kids.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Enjoy the scenic playground by the river. Cross over to Brooklyn and explore Brooklyn Bridge Park, a waterfront haven with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. This park is a favorite for families, featuring playgrounds, a carousel, and ample space for outdoor activities. It’s a place where fun and scenic beauty blend seamlessly, providing a perfect backdrop for a family day out.

Battery Park

Explore the serene beauty of Battery Park, located at the southern tip of Manhattan. This park offers picturesque views of the harbor, including the Statue of Liberty. It’s a great spot for a leisurely walk, a picnic, or simply watching the boats sail by. With its spacious playgrounds and beautiful gardens, Battery Park is a tranquil retreat from the city’s hustle, a lovely addition to the list of fun things to do in NYC for kids.

Cultural and Artistic Explorations

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Immerse your family in the rich tapestry of global art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As one of the best museums in NYC, it’s a treasure trove of history and creativity. The museum’s interactive exhibits and family programs make art accessible and engaging for kids, turning a simple visit into an educational adventure. It’s more than just a museum, it’s a vibrant space for inspiring young minds, making it one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids.

museum of modern art moma new york city

Lincoln Center

Step into the world of performing arts at Lincoln Center, home to some of the most incredible music, dance, and theater performances in the city. Family-friendly shows and interactive workshops make it a great way to introduce children to the arts. Experience the joy of live performances in a setting that’s both grand and welcoming – a perfect blend of culture and fun for the whole family.

The New Victory Theater

The New Victory Theater offers a unique experience with performances specially crafted for children. From puppetry and magic shows to musicals and plays, it’s a place where theater comes alive for the younger audience. Engaging, entertaining, and educational, the New Victory Theater is a great thing to do in New York City for families looking for an enriching cultural experience.

Unique NYC Experiences

Rockefeller Center

Dive into the heart of NYC at Rockefeller Center, a landmark that offers much more than its famous towering presence. From the awe-inspiring view at Top of the Rock to the legendary ice skating rink, it’s a hub of excitement for families. During the holiday season, don’t miss the spectacular Christmas tree lighting, a magical experience that epitomizes the city’s festive spirit. Rockefeller Center is a blend of culture, fun, and iconic New York moments, making it a great thing to do in NYC for kids.

Bronx Zoo

Explore the wild side of New York at the Bronx Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the United States. It’s a place where your family can marvel at exotic animals, learn about conservation, and enjoy outdoor activities. The zoo’s interactive exhibits and special events make it a fun and educational destination for kids of all ages, firmly placing it on the list of most fun things to do in NYC for kids.

taking kids to coney island in new york city

Coney Island

Step into the vibrant world of Coney Island, a seaside amusement area known for its historic Luna Park, lively boardwalk, and sandy beaches. Ride the famous Cyclone roller coaster, enjoy classic boardwalk games, or simply relax on the beach. Coney Island is an amusement park and it’s a slice of classic New York life, offering a perfect mix of excitement and relaxation for families.

Eating Out with Kids in NYC

Serendipity 3

When it comes to dining out with kids in NYC, Serendipity 3 is a must-visit. Famous for its whimsical décor and the legendary Frozen Hot Chocolate, it’s a place that delights both young and old.

Premier Deli

If you’re near Central Park and want a classic NYC deli experience, hit up Premier Deli. You’re in for some giant sandwiches, huge salads, and delicious desserts.

Black Tap

You might realize by now that I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth. While Black Tap does have amazing burgers, what you’re really going for is the over the top milkshakes. Not only are you getting ice cream but you’re getting entire brownies, cookies, slices of cake, and more. This mega fun joint is the best way to end a whirlwind day.

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is a foodie’s paradise, offering a diverse range of cuisines in a lively, bustling atmosphere. From artisanal bakeries to international food stalls, it’s a place where the whole family can find something to enjoy. It’s more than a food market, it’s an exploration of flavors and a perfect spot for families to take a delicious break from their NYC adventures.

trying the classic pizza as fun things to do in nyc for kids

Classic NY Pizza

No visit to NYC is complete without trying the classic New York-style pizza. Family-friendly pizzerias like Joe’s and Grimaldi’s serve up slices that are not only delicious but also a slice of New York history. Sharing a pizza in one of these iconic spots is a great way to enjoy a meal together and experience a quintessential part of NYC culture.

Shopping and Entertainment

Broadway Shows for Families

Experience the enchantment of Broadway with shows that captivate children and adults alike. Family-friendly shows like The Lion King and Aladdin bring stories to life with stunning visuals and captivating music. Watching a Broadway show is a great way to introduce kids to the arts and enjoy a memorable evening in NYC. Seeing Wicked on Broadway was one of my favorite things from any trip, ever.

Madame Tussauds New York

Step into the world of celebrities at Madame Tussauds New York. This famous wax museum lets kids get up close with lifelike figures of their favorite stars. From movie icons to sports heroes, it’s a fun and unique way to engage with pop culture and one of the most entertaining things to do in NYC for kids.

best kid activities in new york city

FAO Schwarz and M&M’s World

Dive into the magical world of FAO Schwarz, a legendary toy store that’s a wonderland for children. With its giant piano and vast array of toys, it’s more than a store, it’s an experience. Nearby, M&M’s World offers a colorful and sweet adventure. These stores are for shopping and provide a fun and interactive experience, making them a hit for families looking for fun things to do in NYC for kids.

Seasonal Activities and Special Events

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Celebrate the holiday season in true New York style with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This iconic event, featuring giant balloons, floats, and performances, is a delight for kids. Also, a must-see for families visiting NYC in November. It’s more than a parade. it’s a festive celebration that brings the spirit of Thanksgiving to life, making it one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids during the holiday season.

Bryant Park Winter Village

Experience the magic of winter at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. With its free ice skating rink, holiday shops, and festive atmosphere, it’s a great way for families to enjoy the colder months in the city. If you’re gliding on the ice or sipping hot chocolate, it’s a perfect place to create winter memories in NYC.

Summer Festivals and Free Outdoor Movies

When the warmer months roll around, NYC comes alive with summer festivals. That means a free outdoor movie screenings in its public parks. From music festivals in Central Park to family-friendly films under the stars, these events are a fantastic way to enjoy the city’s vibrant culture and green spaces. They’re for fun activities and a great way to experience the city’s community spirit.

best things to do with kids in nyc

Getting Around NYC with Kids

Staten Island Ferry

Embark on a memorable ride with the Staten Island Ferry, a free and fun way to see New York City from the water. This ferry ride offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline. It goes beyond transportation, it’s a mini-cruise that offers one of the best views in the city, making it a perfect and cost-effective activity for families.

Roosevelt Island Tramway

For a unique perspective of NYC, take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. This aerial tramway provides breathtaking views of the cityscape, including landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. It’s an exciting adventure for kids and a great way to see the city from above.

Navigating the NYC Subway

The New York City subway is an efficient way to explore the city. Turn a simple subway ride into an adventure for your kids. Teach them how to read the map and spot the different lines. It’s not only a practical mode of transportation but also a fun way to immerse your family in the everyday life of New Yorkers.

taking the nyc subway with kids

Hailing a Cab

Sometimes the next destination on your itinerary is just not a very straight shot with transit. That’s a good reason to stand on the curb and hail your very own yellow taxi. The thing to remember about New York streets and traffic is that there are lots of one ways. Check your map app before randomly getting your taxi cab. Sometimes just walking to the other side of the block can save you $20 in cab fare.

Off the Beaten Path

Governors Island

Discover the hidden gem of Governors Island, a short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan. This car-free oasis offers wide-open spaces for biking, picnics, and art installations. It’s a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, perfect for a family day out. With stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan, it’s one of the most fun things to do in NYC for kids who love exploring.

Little Island

Explore Little Island, a unique public park perched on the Hudson River. With its playful landscape, performance spaces, and lush gardens, it offers a one-of-a-kind experience. This architectural marvel is a great place for families to enjoy outdoor performances or simply relax in an innovative green space, making it a must-visit for those seeking fun things to do in NYC for kids.

visit new york city with kids

Prospect Park

Venture to Brooklyn and spend a day at Prospect Park. With its zoo, boathouse, and wide meadows, it’s a perfect spot for families. It offers a chance to experience a different side of New York, away from the typical tourist spots. Prospect Park is a community hub with a plethora of activities for kids. It ranks high on the list of fun things to do in NYC for kids.

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A City of Endless Fun for Families

Creating Lasting Memories in NYC

New York City, with its blend of iconic landmarks, educational museums, lush parks, cultural treasures, unique dining experiences, and hidden gems, truly offers something for every family. Each attraction, from the heights of the Empire State Building to the peaceful retreats of Governors Island, contributes to the city’s reputation as a wonderland of fun things to do in NYC for kids.

A Journey Through the Best of New York City

This guide has taken you on a journey through the best that NYC has to offer for families. We’ve explored world-renowned museums, strolled through stunning parks, experienced the magic of Broadway, indulged in delightful culinary adventures, and uncovered lesser-known attractions. New York City is more than a destination. It’s an experience, a place where families can come together to explore, learn, and create memories.

Your Next Adventure Awaits in the Big Apple

Are you’re visiting for the first time or rediscovering the city with your kids? NYC is always ready to offer new adventures and experiences. It’s a city where history, culture, fun, and learning intersect, making it the perfect destination for families. So, pack your bags and grab your kids. Get ready to explore the most fun things to do in NYC for kids. The city awaits to fill your trip with excitement, wonder, and unforgettable moments.

FAQ: Fun Things to do in NYC for Kids

Author

  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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