New York City is a great place to take young travelers because there are endless places to visit, sights to see, and things to do. The cultural experience can’t be beaten. Of course, there are the quintessential must-sees, such as the Statue of Liberty and FAO Schwarz toy store. As parents, we know that sometimes the entire family isn’t always up for the crowded tourist spots.
It’s a good idea to mix it up with the classic itinerary items and a few activities that are not as well known. Fortunately, there are plenty of tourist attractions and less common sites for you and the kids to experience during your stay in New York City. There are parks, museums, restaurants, and so much more that are super kid-friendly.
One tip for families planning to visit NYC is to purchase admission tickets in advance online. Many places offer discounts for pre-purchasing. For now, check out our top picks for things to do in New York with kids.
Jane’s Carousel at The Brooklyn Bridge Park
Jane’s Carousel is located in the DUMBO section of The Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park sits along the East River between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. This is a great stop for any family that wants to experience a delightful ride or two on an old-fashioned carousel. This particular carousel dates back to 1922. It was completely restored by the Walenta family and donated to the park. Parents with a keen eye for design will truly love the fact that this magical carousel is housed in a glass pavilion designed by the award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel.
A fun way to get to the park is to take a ferry or water taxi across the river from Manhattan. The carousel operates during the summer 6 days a week and in the winter from Thursday to Sunday. Doors open at 11:00 a.m. and tickets are only $2.00.
Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo
One of the only fine arts museums in the country dedicated solely to children, the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo introduces children and their families to the transformative power of the arts by providing opportunities to be creative under the guidance of actual working artists. There are tons of activities for you and the kids to do, so before you book your flights to New York City, be sure to check what’s on the schedule. The museum sponsors a variety of classes and workshops geared specifically to engage children. The museum also maintains a permanent collection of paintings and drawings by children from over 50 countries.
This interactive museum is located on Charlton Street in the heart of the artsy SoHo neighborhood of lower Manhattan. The museum is open to the general public from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
You may also enjoy: Exploring Museum Week in New York City
The American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side
The American Museum of Natural History is a New York City icon. It’s chock full of exhibitions that bring history to life, including an impressive dinosaur collection. The planetarium is a must for star-gazing. And, the life-size blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life will take the kids’ breath away. This is a big museum, so plan to spend the day wandering through all of the galleries. There are also shops and eateries to offer you some breaks and refueling.
The museum is located at 200 Central Park West at 81st Street and is easily accessible by subway or bus. Children’s admission is $13.00, and the museum hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.daily.
Pratt Sculpture Park in Brooklyn
If you are looking for a low-key way to spend an hour in the less bustling borough of Brooklyn, head to the Pratt Sculpture Park located on Pratt’s main campus. The entire area is covered by sculptures from artists around the world. You’ll see three-dimensional works of art from luminaries such as Richard Serra, Donald Lipski, and Mark di Suvero. The Pratt Sculpture Park has been referenced in major art publications as one of the best college campus art collections in the country. The kids can play and blow off steam in a great outdoor space while parents can take in the amazing art. Pratt Institute is easy to access by subway from Manhattan. The sculpture park is free to visitors.
Dim Sum at Golden Unicorn in Chinatown
For a truly classic New York experience, take the kids out for dim sum in Chinatown. They’ll definitely be fascinated by the carts of dumplings and other Chinese delicacies that the friendly wait staff roll up to your table. Each person can pick out whatever small plate they want to try. A popular restaurant is the Golden Unicorn located on Broadway at the tip of lower Manhattan, reachable by subway or bus. Dim sum is served during the day and Golden Unicorn is open 7 days a week.
Central Park Zoo on the Upper East Side
Manhattan’s Central Park Zoo is an amazing experience, especially with small children in tow. It’s one of the oldest city zoos in the country, dating back to 1861. In addition to the general animal population, there’s a Children’s Zoo that caters to the little ones. Be sure to check out the scheduled feeding times; the seal feedings are an especially popular event. You’ll see stunning tigers, polar bears, and penguins.
The zoo is located at 5th Avenue and 64th Street and is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Children’s tickets are $14.95. The Dancing Crane Café is a terrific spot to catch a quick bite to eat.
Slide Hill on Governor’s Island
Governors Island is really off the beaten path. This island park is pedestrian-only and fun to get to by ferry across the Hudson River harbor. During the ride, you’ll get a close look at the Statue of Liberty. You should also visit Slide Hill on Governor’s Island. This area is a massive manmade series of hills that offer impressive vistas of the harbor. The hills also boast four twisting metal slides that kids can’t get enough of. The park opens at 10:00 AM. Be sure to bring a picnic!
What are your favorite places to visit in NYC with the family? Tell us in the comments section below!