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Best Things to do in NYC with Kids

Posted by Bea Manzano on
Kid looking through binoculars in Top of the Rock, New York

Navigating through the most populous city in the US can be quite a herculean task especially if you’re traveling with kids in the new normal. However, if you look past the honking cars, locals and tourists wearing masks while walking at a safe distance from each other, you’ll see the beauty of The Big Apple one amazing attraction at a time as NYC begins reopening

Stay with us as we take you through the nooks and crannies of New York City! We created an awesome list of some of the best things to do in New York with kids and even shared some tips for an epic adventure with them.

Just keep in mind that some of these activities may or may not be available due to COVID-19. It would be best if you check out the links we provided below before visiting. For instance, some museums are temporarily closed and have opted to digitally engage with their audience while some parks remain open but with strict regulations for the public. As you roam around the city, don't forget to wear your mask, observe social distancing, and stay updated on the city's policies and guidelines to keep everyone safe. Shall we begin?

Tips Before You Go

Lady with an extra small cube in New York

Ready to take on the concrete jungle where dreams are made of? Before knowing what to do in New York with kids, here are some tips before you go:

Tip #1 - Create a list of 10 activities to choose from.

New York City is like a whole different world in itself. With so many activities that you can do, you’ll have to research and plan way ahead of your D-Day. Well, lucky for you, we’ve got a laundry-list of activities and marvelous places you can include in your itinerary right after these tips. Researching and planning in advance can save you a lot of time, money, and headache!

Tip #2 - Book popular tours / shows in advance.

Tickets (be it airlines, attractions, shows, etc.) need to be booked early, especially if they're quite popular and might easily sell out months in advance. Reserve the dates for your trip immediately for a chance to get discounted prices.

Tip #3 - Check age requirements for all tours and tickets.

Make sure they're age appropriate for your kids. Some tours require kids to be age 6 and up. Broadway shows allow 4 years old and above. Some places like the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are best for 10 year olds and older.

Tip #4 - Organize your things with clear packing cubes

Packing your own things is already quite a daunting task, how much more for the whole pack! But there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. The secret? Packing cubes! There’s nothing like organizing your clothes and things for traveling with clear packing cubes that lets you see inside its contents. So pack smart and light with the Starter Set packing cubes, using different colors for each kid!

Mom packing with kids using Starter Set

**Thanks Jenna for this cute photo!

The Best Kid-Approved Sites & Activities in NYC

We rounded up the best places and activities in all of NYC that kids will love and adults definitely wouldn’t mind (for the most part). The finest tours, parks, museums, playgrounds, and more as we get on with this list.

1. Explore ALL NYC landmarks with a New York City Tour

The best way to enjoy NYC with your kids is to dive in headfirst with its famous landmarks, then move your way down to lesser-known yet equally fun and thrilling attractions in the city. A sightseeing tour will allow you and your kids to have a relaxed and entertaining stay in NYC as you enjoy the spectacular views and learn interesting facts about them. Get ready to snap a photo of the Lincoln Center, World Trade Center, Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and more!

Other Recommendations (from Get Your Guide)

✔️ Half-Day Pizza Tasting Bus Tour - Enjoy 4 hours of pure pizza heaven as you visit 4 of the best pizzerias in NYC and sample tourist and local-favorite fast food.

✔️ Brooklyn Food and Culture Bus Tour - Enjoy the multi-cultural diversity of Brooklyn as you sample its tasty food and walk around while learning its rich history.

✔️ Cupcake Tour of Greenwich Village - Satisfy your kids' sweet tooth cravings by taking part in a 2-hour walking tour of the finest cupcake craze in New York City! You even get to make your own cupcakes.

✔️ Helicopter Tour of NYC - Fancy a helicopter ride? Now that's touring NYC in style! Behold the beauty of Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, The Statue of Liberty, and more as you look at New York's Manhattan Island in a magnificent bird's-eye view.

2. Bike around Governor’s Island for 172 acres of pure fun!

You can make your visit to Governor's Island a whole day affair as they offer different activities such as biking, climbing, and learning all about compost! And did we mention about the longest slide in NYC? Or the delicious food trucks on the island? But nothing beats having a picnic and strolling along the park just to take in the beauty that surrounds you.

Pro Tip: Pedal without worries by storing your essentials in an Extra Small Cube so you can easily place it inside the bike’s basket or your backpack.

Biking essentials in extra small cube

Other Park Recommendations: 

✔️ Discover different playgrounds, theaters, paddleboat rentals, and zoos in the famous and iconic Central Park.

✔️ Uncover the beautiful Prospect Park situated in the heart of Brooklyn. Visit its zoo, garden, plaza, skating rinks, boathouse, historical house, carousel, lake, and the list goes on. 

✔️ Your breath will be taken away by The Brooklyn Bridge Park’s scenic view of Manhattan's skyline. Take a tour of the famous Brooklyn Bridge, Jane's Carousel, The Fulton and East River Ferries, ice cream factory, and a whole lot more!

✔️ Get to see Castle Clinton, the Sphere, the Eternal Flame, SeaGlass Carousel, Hope Garden, and so many attractions that depict the wondrous Battery Park City.

✔️ Bryant Park may be tiny compared to the likes of Central and Prospect parks, but it’s got a lot of tricks up its sleeve like ice skating, reading, riding a carousel and more!

Toddler with a small green cube

3. See massive dinosaur fossils at the American Museum of Natural History

Your kids’ imagination will definitely come alive upon seeing this world-class institution's Hall of Dinosaurs, Hall of North American Mammals, Discovery Room, rotating special exhibitions, Butterfly Conservatory, and more! Pay what you wish is available at the ticket counters on site, so no worries about expensive fees! 

On a budget? Check out some museums in New York that are always free, or sometimes free on a specific time and day.

Tyrannosaurus skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History

Other Museum Recommendations:

✔️ See the most varied aircraft collections in the US in Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

✔️ Spark your child's curiosity and marvel at the wonders only mathematics can bring at the National Museum of Mathematics.

✔️ Indulge your kids in the wonders of science, culture, art, music, and history in a fun environment at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

✔️ Dive deep into New York's mass transit history as you visit New York Transit Museum.

✔️ Prepare to be amazed and discover different exhibits, events, and workshops fit for all ages when you go to New York Hall of Science Museum.

4. Catch The Lion King on Broadway

One of Disney's classics, the Lion King is fit for all ages. Enjoy and relive the heart-wrenching story of Simba and journey with him towards his destiny of taking his rightful place on the throne. Sing along to the familiar songs and laugh along with Timon and Pumbaa as you experience Hakuna Matata right at the comfort of your seats.

Other Show Recommendations:

For Toddlers and Kids Age 4 and Up

✔️ Gazillion Bubble Show

✔️ Frozen

✔️ Aladdin

For Kids age 10 and up

✔️ Pip's Island

✔️ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


For Teens

✔️ Puffs

✔️ Six the Musical

✔️ To Kill a Mockingbird

5. Be merry as you go round Jane’s Carousel

Don't miss out on taking a ride through history in the iconic Jane's Carousel when you go to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It only costs two bucks to buckle up and ride a pony but if you know the story behind Jane’s Carousel, it actually took over 15 million dollars and 27 years to bring the 1922 roundabout to Brooklyn Bridge Park. How amazing is that?

Seaview of Jane’s carousel

Other Carousel Recommendations:

✔️ Experience the magic of the sea at SeaGlass Carousel, a magical, aquarium-themed carousel.

✔️ Let's crawl into the Bug Carousel (Bronx Zoo) where all your favorite insects gather! Choose among a praying mantis, grasshopper, and even a dung beetle as your ride.

✔️ Take a peak (and a ride!) at Central Park Carousel's colorful and fun roundabout. 

✔️ Be charmed at Bryant Park's French classical style Le Carrousel with brightly colored animals.

6. Enjoy the free Staten Island Ferry ride!

Enjoying the beauty that is New York City in a different perspective is definitely a must. And by perspective, we mean on the sea - the Staten Island ferry! Without a doubt, one of the best free things to do in NYC with kids is riding this ferry. This is definitely a fun way to show incredible sights such as the Statue of Liberty and other scenery to your kids; a bonding experience that’s one for the books.

Other Boat / Cruise Recommendations:

✔️ Hold on to your seats and see New York's skyline view like no other when you ride the Roosevelt Island and Tram.

✔️ Hop on a historic looking vessel that's built to your comfort and style at Classic Harbor Line Cruise.

7. Throw some gloves on and skate at the Rockefeller Center Rink

The cold doesn’t bother you and your kids? Great! You can enjoy a quintessential NYC winter experience at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. It's best to visit between October until early April. Dash and glide through the snow to your heart's content!

People skating at the Rockefeller Center Rink

Other Ice Skating Recommendations:

✔️ It’s truly a winter wonderland at Bryant Park's Winter Village, the only free admission ice skating rink in NYC.

✔️ Enjoy spectacular views of the New York City skyline with your kids at the iconic Wollman Rink.

✔️ If you want to skate right next to a view of the beautiful ocean, the Brookfield Place Rink is just right for you!

✔️ Visit NYC's most popular indoor ice skating rink, Chelsea Piers Sky Rink, anytime because they're open all year round!

8. Play games at Modern Pinball NYC

Enjoy the classics and share the fun with your kids at the Modern Pinball NYC Arcade, where you can play with more than 30 pinball machines and arcade games like Pac-Man & Frogger. They also have an interactive pinball exhibit where you can see what happens inside a real pinball machine. Time to show your kids how you had fun during your time without phones.

Toys organized in small and extra small packing cubes

Other Recommendations:

✔️ Enjoy the brilliance of FAO Schwarz and check out its dance-on piano, raceway, baby doll adoption, candy shop, and more!

✔️ Have your kids participate in a Build-a-bear Workshop with furry friends and accessories in unique colors and patterns.

✔️ Step inside your child's gaming dreams in Nintendo World. Find the perfect Mario souvenir for you to bring home.

9. Visit the country’s largest urban zoo at the Bronx Zoo

Take a stroll inside the country's biggest urban zoo where you can find the Congo Gorilla Forest, Tiger Mountain, Nature Trek, Treetop Adventure, Dinosaur Safari, and more! There are special holiday events that you can plan around your visit, like during Halloween and such, to make it more exciting for you and the kids.

Travel essentials stored in an extra small cube

Other Zoo / Animal Recommendations:

✔️ See a snow leopard, sea lions, grizzly bears, penguins, monkeys, and all sorts of cute, wild and amazing animals at the Central Park Zoo.

✔️ Witness the sea lion show and feeding at the Prospect Park Zoo and wander into Discovery trail where a lot of activities are waiting for you and your kid. 

✔️ Queens Zoo allows you to witness their animal trail, aviary, domestic animals, sea lion pool, and waterfowl marsh. Be sure to drop by!

✔️ Visit and be amazed at New York Aquarium’s aquatheater, conservation hall, sea cliffs, ocean wonders, PlayQuarium, Spineless, and sharks!!

10. See nature’s charm at Brooklyn Grange Farm

Explore the country's leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business. It's so awesome that it grows over 80,000 pounds of organically-cultivated produce every year! Enjoy walking around their on-site farmers market with fresh produce. It's also a great way to teach your kids about the wonders of growing their own food even in the middle of the city.

Travel essentials in a black circle pouch

Other Farm / Agriculture Recommendations:

✔️ Inspire your kids to lead a healthy lifestyle through Harlem Grown's hands-on education about urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition.

✔️ Take a tour into New York City's largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland, Queens County Farm Museum. Enjoy looking at historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles, and so much more!

✔️ Get ready to learn and experience essential life skills and agriculture in an urban setting at Randall's Island Park Alliance's Urban Farm.

✔️ Be inspired to plant edible gardens at Battery Urban Farm as you experience sustainable farming, enjoy tasting organic food, and learn how to take care of the environment.

11. Enjoy the view from Empire State Building’s 86th-floor observation deck

“Wow” is definitely an understatement when you step onto Empire State Building's 86th-floor observation deck. You can see New York in all its glory. However, since it's a blockbuster among tourists, be prepared to wait in line or come at a time when there's less crowd which is at 8:30 a.m. or during lunch and dinner hours, Monday through Wednesday. Hopefully none of you are afraid of heights!

Young woman carrying a royal blue small packing cube

Other Viewpoint Recommendations:

✔️ Savor the sunrise or sunset with your loved ones at the famous and iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

✔️ Visit Lady Liberty and be amazed by her beauty at Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

✔️ Visit 25 miniature cities from 5 different continents at Gulliver's Gate. Your kids will definitely love it!

✔️ Explore One World Observatory's view of New York City's iconic sights, dazzling waters, and beautiful skyline on an incredible elevator ride!

12. Taste all kinds of sweets at Dylan’s Candy Bar

Your kid’s eyes will definitely pop and their jaws will drop to the floor as they step into the largest candy bar in NYC. Cave into your sweet side and do a candy tour with them. Learn interesting facts about candies like how many millions of M&M’s are being made every day, or know what’s the most famous jelly bean flavor, and take home a couple of candies for you and your kids enough for the entire trip!

Pro Tip: You can use an extra small cube as a candy or snack container. You can color code for each of your kids to make it more exciting. Also, make sure your kids have eaten a decent meal before letting all this sugar into their bodies!

Kid’s snacks in a clear cube

Other Foodie Recommendations:

✔️ Treat your taste buds with decadent pastries, creamy fondue, and thick milkshakes at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant.

✔️ Experience an American restaurant with lots of games that’s good for kids and adults at Dave & Buster’s.

✔️ Dine and be amazed at the home of the world famous singing waitstaff at Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

✔️ Visit America's only sci-fi bar, comic book & free retro video game themed restaurant at Action Burger.

✔️ Experience some famous celebrities' favorite hangout and dine at the first coffee house boutique in New York, Serendipity 3.

13. See a game at the world renowned Yankee Stadium

If you’re a big sports fan, chances are your kids are, too. And guess what? NYC is a haven for you. It happens to be the headquarters of Yankee Stadium and its rich history of the 27-time World Series Champions. Experience the arena beyond the baseball field as you discover the Yankees’ heroes, milestones, and winning tradition inside their very own museum.

Yankee Stadium filled with people

Other Recommendations:

✔️ Visit the arena where rock stars, sports legends, and cultural icons have performed and played, the Madison Square Garden Tour.

✔️ You are cordially invited by the New York Mets to take a guided tour of Citi Field, where all the magic happens.

✔️ Take the family out for a swing at Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex Golf Club, and Manhattan's only year-round outdoor driving range.

Woman holding an orange medium packing cube

14. Make a pit stop at The Bank Street BookStore

To all bookworm moms out there who have passed on their love for reading to their kids, make sure to visit the Bank Street BookStore in NYC. This bookshop has kid-friendly activities including read-alouds, author events, and writing workshops. Be sure to check their website to get up-to-date information about their events and programs during your visit.

Other Book Worm Recommendations:

✔️ Participate in Books of Wonder's ever-popular Storytime. There's a new story each week for children and parents to enjoy!

✔️ Take a look at Book Culture's lovely children's room. They have a wide variety of books and education toys fit for your kids.

✔️ Spend hours reading and storytelling with your kids at Books Are Magic, where different exciting and fun events are held!

Kid's story books and essentials in packing cubes

We know our list is getting pretty lengthy, but there’s still many things left to do, places to see, and treats to try! That’s how abundant New York City is! Saw something that piqued your interest yet? Don’t worry if you don’t get to try everything.

Remember, choose 10 of these activities to have on hand and ready to go once you arrive! Make a “possible plan” for each day. Don’t do too much either! Plan to do 1-2 main attractions per day so you don’t burn out the kids. You can bookmark this post for your future reference.

What are you waiting for? More tips for traveling with kids? Well, we know a thing or two about How to Travel With Kids: Best Tips for Parents. But seriously,  New York’s waiting for you. Have a safe and fun trip!

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