In my opinion, this metropolis is the granddaddy of all kid-tastic cities. Besides having bundles of tot-friendly activities and destinations, the mere experience of gallivanting through streets bustling with taxis, pedestrians and action thrills kids of all ages. As soon as you plunk your toddler in his stroller or let your tween pop in her earbuds as she walks beside you (but a few feet away, natch!), you’ll see the awe. When chomping into the Big Apple, be sure to savor these tasty delights:
Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities in New York City
Don’t be a square. (Check out Times Square)
Yes, it’s one of the world’s tackiest tourist traps, but first-timers absolutely MUST visit Times Square. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. Save this locale for nighttime when its bright lights create a magical, moonlit-like atmosphere and when the hustle and bustle is at its peak.
Duck into the New York Marriott Marquis on Broadway (at 46th Street) for a free ride up its glass elevators and a peek into one of the world’s most energetic spots. For a bite out of history, jump across to 46th Street for a slice of Junior’s famous cheesecake. Looking for a souvenir? Your kids will find plenty of ways to spend their hard-earned allowance at oodles of trinket shops that line Broadway.
Park yourself in Central Park for a few hours (or more)
Central Park has it all. Truly. Besides miles and miles of meandering paths, footbridges and grassy knolls, it’s filled with massive rocks that any kid would kill to climb. Rent a remote-controlled boat at the Conservatory Water (which happens to have been the setting for a memorable boat race in E.B. White’s Stuart Little) and follow it with a climb on the nearby Alice in Wonderland statue and, if it’s summer, story time at the Hans Christian Andersen sculpture.
Pop into an old-fashioned puppet show at the tiny Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater. Test out your birdwatching skills in The Ramble. Or simply bring a ball or a Frisbee to one of the vast grassy zones and veg out. Alternatively, you could whittle away hours at one of the dozen or so playgrounds that dot the perimeter of the park. With sandboxes, water play zones and climbing apparatus of all kinds, they’re a superb spot for burning off excess energy. Get more info and specific locations for these highlights by clicking here.
Mix culture with creativity
Manhattan kids are a breed all their own, raised on museums, theater and gourmet restaurants. Add a little culture to your kid’s persona by dabbling in the arts at one of the city’s revered museums. If you have very little ones, head to the Upper Westside for a morning at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Check out its unique hands-on exhibits and be sure to catch City Splash, an outdoor water-play zone included in your admission.
Young and old kids alike will find things to talk about at one of the city’s well-known museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, aka, MoMA or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the perfect balance of culture sans boredom, spend just an hour and follow your child’s lead.
The Great White Way is a longtime favorite destination of adults around the world. But don’t forget to bring the kids. There are a slew of shows that are just perfect for them from The Lion King (best for ages 6 and up) to Mamma Mia (ideal for tweens and teens). Get half-price tickets the day of the show at a TKTS Discount Booth in Times Square or South Street Seaport. And Broadway isn’t the only spot for theater.
There are scores of playhouses throughout the city that host a range of kid-friendly programming. Catch the latest production from The Paper Bag Players at Hunter College, bag tickets for Theatreworks USA’s family series performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre or grab seats for kid-friendly fare at Symphony Space.
Feed your chocolate fix
Not only will your sugar fiends salivate when they walk into Dylan’s Candy Bar, but you’ll probably feel like a kid in a candy shop, too. This over-the-top, modern take on the candy store takes up just a teeny, tiny spot on the corner of 3rd Avenue, but it’s stocked so full with candy of all kinds that it’s tough to stick to just a few purchases. Skip the sit-down ice cream treats and take your purchases to go though because there are plenty of better choices around the city for ordering off a menu.
For a frozen hot chocolate that was made famous in the movie Serendipity, visit Serendipity 3 on 60th Street.
For the most decadent chocolate fix, eat a meal, drink a beverage and savor a dessert at Union Square’s Max Brenner (Chocolate by the Bald Man) a restaurant with chocolate everything on the menu and a delightful décor that includes copper-filled vats of continuously melting chocolate. (Simply divine.)
Need help planning a trip to New York City? We can help!
Ciao Bambino’s Family Travel Consultants can help plan a family vacation in New York City. From accommodations to activities, we do it all (except airfare). To request assistance, go to My Trip Planner.