Traveling with your kids is stressful enough. But the thought of traveling with your kids to New York City sounds like a complete nightmare to many. The adult-oriented attractions coupled with a serious food and drinking culture make New York City seem like a big playground for adults. It is. But New York City has much to offer those not yet old enough to enjoy a dinner at a fine restaurant, critically acclaimed play, or conceptual art exhibition. Here’s a list of the best things to do with your kids when visiting.
- The American Museum of Natural History
Remember how much you loved seeing dinosaur bones as a kid? You can bet your little ones will love seeing these prehistoric giants too. The American Museum of Natural History boasts a world-class collection made up of dinosaur skeletons, bird species, reptile species, meteorites, and gems. Young visitors are left in total awe of the 94-foot-long, 21,000-pound model of a blue whale that suspends from the ceiling in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
- The New York Transit Museum
Source: Inside Business NYC
The history, engineering, and design behind New York City’s subway system make it a fascination subject for people of all ages. Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in downtown Brooklyn, the New York Transit Museum offers visitors the chance to board vintage subway and elevated cars and sit at the wheel of a city bus. Plan your trip on the weekends to join in on the children’s workshops, which are free with paid Museum admission.
- The Bronx Zoo
The largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, the Bronx Zoo lets visitors see more than 600 species of animals from around the world. There’s snow leopards from the Himalayan Highlands, lemurs from Madagascar, and Caribbean flamingos. Camel rides, penguin and sea lion feedings, a bug carousel, and the Wild Asia Monorail are just some of the fun things your little ones can do here.
- The Brooklyn Bridge Park
Source: Brooklyn Waterfront History
Take the family to Brooklyn Bridge Park for a nice afternoon outdoors. Head to Pier 6 where the kids can burn off energy at any one of the 5 playgrounds. You’ll be able to take a relaxing stroll with amazing views of the New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. Grab lunch at Fornino’s Pizza or bring your own spread and enjoy a family picnic on the lawn.
- The Seaglass Carousel at Battery Park
Source: NY Mag
The Seaglass is not your average horse-spinning carousel. This dazzling aquarium-inspired spectacle brings together thirty different fish inside a nautilus-shaped shell. The fish’s brilliant glow echoes the bioluminescence of marine life creating an experience that is best described as a magical undersea voyage. The Seaglass is open from 10 am to 10 pm. Go after dusk when the carousel’s enchanted light is in full effect.
- Statue of Liberty
Source: Statue Cruises
If we are being completely honest, your kids are not going to find many of New York City’s historic sites all that interesting. There are some exceptions though like the Statue of Liberty. Take a ferry to Liberty Island where tours of the grounds are offered for children 6-10 years old. Strongly consider reserving tickets for crown access (restricted to children under 4) because chances are, your kids will want to go up there.
- Family and Kids Programs at the Guggenheim Museum
Plan visiting the Guggenheim Museum on Sunday to take advantage of the family programs, which are designed for kids to make meaningful connections with works of art and artistic expression. From 1 to 4 pm, Just Drop In! (ages 3 and up) invites families to participate in creative and interactive activities in the family-friendly galleries. The Open Studios Program (ages 5-14, 1-4 pm) gives kids the chance to make art inspired by themes observed in the works currently on view. The programs are free with admission. Head to the Family Activity Kiosk when you arrive for more information.
- The Egyptian Art Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: Travel Channel
The prospect of seeing mummies is exciting no matter how old you are. In the Egyptian art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, your kids can explore the displays of royal temples and tombs, statues, and shiny jewelry made of gold and precious stones. It’s a fun learning experience for the whole family. And don’t be surprised if you leave with a budding archeologist on your hands.
- Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and Grab a Slice
Source: Grimaldi's Coney Island
Spend an afternoon walking over the Brooklyn Bridge (depart from the Manhattan side) to Dumbo. Nestled right under the Brooklyn Bridge is the famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. Renowned for its coal-brick oven cooking, Grimaldi’s pizza is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists alike. Finish the meal with a scoop at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory located nearby. It’s not often when your food interests match perfectly with those of your 4-year old.
- See a Kid-Friendly Broadway Show
There are plenty of Broadway shows guaranteed to capture the imagination and hearts of a younger audience. Favorites include The Lion King, Matilda, Aladdin, Wicked, and School of Rock. Running time averages at about 2.5 hours with intermission. Depending on your schedule and kids’ ages, you might want to consider a matinee over the 8pm showing.
New York City is full of fun and exciting things to do with kids. An added perk is that you’ll enjoy many of these activities just as much as they do.