There is nothing quite like New York City, and there is a long list of must-see things to do for visitors of all ages. From Broadway shows in Times Square, to some of the world’s best art museums, to shopping, to a stroll through Central Park, the options are endless. If narrowing the list down is difficult, we’ve simplified the planning process by breaking down what to see and do in 72 hours in New York City with kids.
Best Things to Do in New York City with Kids
Day 1: Central Park, MOMA, Brooklyn, Dafni Greek Tavern
Spend the morning strolling through Central Park. Start at Columbus Circle at 59th Street and Broadway and walk through the park, encountering playgrounds, fountains and sculptures. Be sure to make time to venture into Tisch Children’s Zoo and ride the Central Park Carousel. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), located at 11 West 53rd Street, is the perfect destination for a late morning of art and culture. Get there just before they open and plan to spend as much time as the kids allow. They have ongoing exhibitions, including painting, sculpture, photography and famous pieces of modern art, that will blow your kids’ minds.
Stay for lunch in either Cafe 2 or Terrace 5 and soak in the atmosphere. After your visit, hop on the train down to 14th Street, grab the L train, and ride over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where you can spend the afternoon moseying from store to store. You’ll find vintage clothing, record stores, funky accessories, housewares and plenty of kids’ items.
When shopping fatigue strikes, head to Brooklyn Heights for a stroll on the Promenade. Made famous by cameo appearances in movies like Annie Hall and Moonstruck, it offers a view of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.
For dinner, catch the subway back to Times Square and head to Dafni Greek Tavern at 325 West 42nd Street for affordable, delicious Greek food. If your kids can keep going, catch the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises’ Harbor Lights Tour for incredible views of the city.
Day 2: The High Line, Children’s Museum of the Arts, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Mandoo Bar
After breakfast, head to the High Line, located near the Meatpacking District and Chelsea Market. It’s a park built on a section of a former elevated freight railroad spur called the West Side Line, which runs along the lower west side of Manhattan. It has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway and is ideal for an afternoon of relaxation. The newly expanded park holds nature walks, dance performances, art installations and more.
When you’re done, head to Tribeca’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, a nonprofit arts facility that brings hands-on arts programming to children throughout New York City, and spend time exploring art and getting creative. Head to one of NYC’s best restaurants for lunch: Bubby’s, where you can get homemade macaroni & cheese and meatloaf.
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TIP: Pick up a CityPASS for reduced admission to some of the city’s best attractions. It gives free entry to all of the top iconic places and also to many unique tours, as well as easy access.
Head to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for the afternoon. Ferry tickets for Lady Liberty and Ellis Island are sold by Statue Cruises, which is authorized by the National Park Service, the division that operates the landmark. You must reserve ahead of time online before arriving in New York. If you wait until the day of, you will not get a seat up top. Give yourself 3 or 4 hours for the experience of both sites.
End the day with dinner on West 32nd Street in KoreaTown at Mandoo Bar, which has the best Korean dumplings in the city.
Day 3: The Lower East Side, Empire State Building, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a Broadway Show
Start the day tasting old-time delicacies at The Pickle Guys on Essex Street on the Lower East Side. The lines are long, so be patient and use very good manners; the pickle guys will snap at you otherwise. Then head to Kossars Bialys on Grand Street, where they make homemade bialys and bagels on the premises, and make a pit stop at Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery for a taste of traditional knishes such as potato, cherry and spinach-flavored baked dough. Next head to the Museum at Eldridge Street, the first great house of worship built by Eastern European immigrants in America.
TIP: If you’ve planned ahead of time and booked tickets for the Tenement Museum, you can view the restored apartments of past residents from different time periods.
Grab lunch in Chinatown, where you’ll find the best dumplings and egg drop soup, and jump on the uptown subway to 34th Street to go to the top of the Empire State Building, an attraction all kids love. They’ll enjoy going up 86 floors and looking down on the city, but the crowds on the top can be pretty intense. Book tickets online or use the CityPASS.
At the end of the afternoon, grab a late lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Times Square, where singing waiters belt out songs while you’re munching on hamburgers, pasta and salad.
Then head to TKTS on 46th Street and Broadway for half-price Broadway show tickets — you might find tickets to a family-friendly show such as Matilda, Aladdin or Gigi. No trip to NYC can go by without a dose of Broadway!
Want Help Planning an Amazing Family Vacation to New York City?
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Best family hotels and things to do in New York City with kids on Ciao Bambino