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New York City
Destinations Within New York City

New York City Trip Itineraries

Top Kid-Friendly Activities in New York City

Destination(s): New York City

Guide written by Kara Mayer Robinson, Larissa Ranzolin, Amanda Morgan, and Carol Cain of NYCityMama.com.

When visiting a city like New York, deciding what to do can be overwhelming. With almost 500 square miles of city, the Big Apple is intimidating, and it can be easy to stick to the tried and true favorite kid-friendly activities, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Children’s Museum and Zoo. Granted, those places must be experienced—but NYC offers a plethora of kid-friendly activities in addition to these usual suspects.

Note: Be sure to read the Day Notes for the kid-friendly details on recommended attractions.

Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids and is a guide to the best kid friendly hotels. read more about Top Kid-Friendly Activities in New York City

Times Square

Times Square

  • 1560 Broadway, Between 46th & 47th streets
  • tel:+1 212 768 1560 (Times Square Alliance)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10036

Located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Street, its glittering lights and neon signs make Times Square one of the most iconic sights of New York City. Formerly the property of fur trading and real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor, the square got its name in the early 1900s when the New York Times moved into a new skyscraper on 42nd Street. After new subways brought thousands of commuters to 42nd Street, the city's theaters moved up from the Bowery and lower Broadway, and the area is now the center of New York's bustling theater district.

In the decades after the Great Depression, Times Square became known as a dangerous neighborhood and a symbol of the city's decline and corruption from the 1960s to the 1990s. After a long-term development plan and a comprehensive crackdown on crime by the city government, the infamous center of pickpockets and porno theaters has been thoroughly reinvented and filled with more upscale and tourist-friendly attractions, hotels, vendors, and street performers. read more about Times Square

Central Park

Central Park

  • 14 East 60th Street
  • The Central Park Conservancy
  • tel:+1 212 310 6600
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10022

The idea for Central Park was born in 1858, which a competition was held to choose a design for what would be the first public park built in America. The winners were Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose Greensward plan proposed an entirely man-made park that would be intended only for public use, as a refuge from the relentless rhythms of New York City's already overcrowded streets. It took more than 15 years and $14 million (the equivalent of about $200 million today) to build the Park, with its 843 acres and six-mile perimeter extending from Central Park West to Fifth Avenue and from 59th Street to 110th Street. Those 843 acres include 136 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of lawns, and 7 different bodies of water totaling some 150 acres.

Starting in 1980, a public-private partnership between New York City and the Central Park Conservancy restored and preserved Central Park, and attendance has only been rising in recent years. Now, more than 25 million visitors per year stroll its 58 miles of pedestrian paths, go horseback riding on 4.5 miles of bridle paths, bike or jog on its 6.5 miles of winding roads, or simply relax on the grass or on the nearly 9,000 benches provided. The famous Tavern on the Green restaurant - the location of the finish line for the New York City Marathon - was originally a sheepfold, housing the shepherd and the flock that grazed Sheeps Meadow until 1934. In nice weather, the still lush meadow now welcomes hordes of sunbathers, picnickers, and people-watchers, all of whom enjoy lounging underneath some of the only sky in Manhattan unmarked by tall buildings. Other special features of the park include the Central Park Carousel, the Marionette Theater, the Central Park Wildlife Center, the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, the Delacorte Theater, the Great Lawn, the Central Park Zoo, the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, Wollman Rink, Lasker Rink, the Loeb Boathouse, and the North Meadow. read more about Central Park

Children's Museum of Manhattan

Children's Museum of Manhattan

  • 212 West 83rd St
  • (btwn Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
  • tel:+1 212 721 1234
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10024
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

  • Liberty Island
  • On Liberty Island in New York Harbor
  • tel:212-363-7620
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10004

This iconic copper statue was presented to the U.S. by France in 1886 as a commemoration of the U.S. centennial and a gesture of friendship between France and the U.S. Since then, it has stood at Liberty Island in New York Harbor as a welcome to all visitors, immigrants, and Americans returning from abroad. Construction of the statue, supervised by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and engineer Gustave Eiffel (mastermind of Paris's famous tower), began in France in 1875 and was completed in 1884, after which the statue was dismantled and transported across the Atlantic to be reassembled.

Lady Liberty stands approximately 151 feet tall and weighs 225 tons (450,000 pounds). Visitors used to be able to climb the 354 steps to peer at the view through the windows in her crown, but this option is no longer available. Currently, the museum and ten-story pedestal are open for visitation but are only accessible if visitors have a "Monument Access Pass" which is a reservation that visitors must make at least two days in advance of their visit and pick up before boarding the ferry. There are a maximum of 3000 passes available each day (with a total of 15,000 visitors to the island daily). read more about Statue of Liberty

Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers

  • Hudson River, Piers 59-62
  • tel:+1 212 336 6666
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10011
New Victory Theater

New Victory Theater

  • 229 West 42nd Street, 10th Floor
  • c/o The New 42nd Street
  • tel:646 223 3020
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10036
Wollman Rink

Wollman Rink

  • 62nd Street
  • Central Park
  • tel:+1 212 439 6900
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10019
Empire State Building

Empire State Building

  • 350 5th Avenue, Suite # 3210
  • between 33rd and 34th Streets
  • tel:+1 212 736 3100
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10118

This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper, located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, has been one of New York's most notable landmarks since its completion in 1931. Built as part of an intense competition to build the world's tallest building, the Empire State Building overtook its rivals - 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building - to gain the distinction, which it held for four decades, before the World Trade Center towers were completed in 1971. With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City. It was designed by Gregory Johnson and his architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon.

The building's fašade is classic, with modernistic stainless steel canopies marking the entrances on 33rd and 34th Streets and leading to corridors surrounding a core of 67 elevators. Though the Chrysler Building is undoubtedly the more attractive of New York's two Art Deco towers, the Empire State Building has earned its reputation as a top destination largely due to the popularity of its indoor and outdoor observation decks. The outdoor observatory on the 86th floor, with its sweeping 360-degree views of the city, is one of the most popular in the world, and has been visited by more than 110 million people. The second observation deck, on the 102nd floor, is completely enclosed and much smaller, and it may be closed on days with especially high traffic. In addition to the observation spaces, the building has 85 stories (2,158,000 square feet) of commercial and office space. In 1964, floodlights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night; special colors are chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, or victory by any one of New York's sports teams. read more about Empire State Building

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

  • 1 Bay Street
  • Departs from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan
  • tel:+1 718 390 5253
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10301
Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

  • 75 Ninth Ave
  • Between 15th and 16th Sts
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10011
Toys "R" Us

Toys "R" Us

  • 1514 Broadway
  • At 44th St
  • tel:800/869-7787
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10036
Central Park Zoo/Tisch Children's Zoo

Central Park Zoo/Tisch Children's Zoo

  • 830 Fifth Ave
  • (in Central Park)
  • tel:+1 212 861 6030
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10153
Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

  • 11 W. 53rd St
  • Between 5th and 6th Avenues
  • tel:+1 212 708 9400
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10103

Opened in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art was one of the first museums with a focus on modern art, and it boasts one of the world's most comprehensive collections. Its permanent collection numbers 135,000 paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, sculptures, films, and design objects, including works by Picasso, CÚzanne, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, DalÝ, O'Keeffe, Pollock, Warhol, and some of the best more contemporary artists, like Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, and Chuck Close.

MoMA reopened in 2004 following a $425 million expansion program that marked the museum's 75th anniversary. Led by the Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, the renovation nearly doubled the capacity of the original building and revamped its appearance completely, starting with the striking entrance. A 110-foot-high atrium towers over an indoor walkway, extending over 53rd Street to a new entryway on 54th Street. The new six-story David and Peggy Rockefeller Building houses the main collection and temporary exhibition galleries, while the restored and expanded sculpture garden, named for museum founder Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, boasts more than 30 masterworks of modern sculpture. The MoMA's sleek next-door restaurant, the Modern, is also worth a visit.
read more about Museum of Modern Art

Battery Park

Battery Park

  • State Street
  • Battery Place
  • tel:+1 212 344 3491
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10280
Max Brenner - Chocolate by the Bald Man

Max Brenner - Chocolate by the Bald Man

  • 841 Broadway
  • Between 13th & 14th Streets
  • tel:+1 212 388 0030 (Office)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10003
New York Marriott Marquis Times Square

New York Marriott Marquis Times Square

  • 1535 Broadway
  • tel:+1 212 398 1900 / +1 800 843 4898 (Toll Free)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10036
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • 1000 Fifth Ave
  • Fifth Ave. at 82nd St
  • tel:+1 212 535 7710
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10028-0198

Don't expect to fully take in all that this enormous museum has to offer in one visit. With the finest collection of American art in the world, a collection of more than 3,000 European paintings, an expansive array of art from ancient Egypt, and recently renovated halls of Greek, Roman, Cypriot, and Asian art, there is a reason the Metropolitan Museum is considered the foremost symbol of arts and culture in a city chock-full of arts and culture. Often referred to simply as "The Met", the museum is located on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, on the eastern edge of Central Park and at the center of the so-called "Museum Mile".

First opened in 1872, the Met has been significantly expanded over the years, and its permanent collection now contains more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. In addition to its giant holdings of American, European, Egyptian, African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art, the museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. A number of notable interiors, ranging from 1st century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met's galleries. The Met also organizes and hosts a continually changing series of special exhibitions each year. read more about Metropolitan Museum of Art

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport

  • 12 Fulton St
  • Fulton & South Streets
  • tel:+1 212 732 7678
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10038

This historic trading port, which dates back to the 1600s, is located on the edge of the Financial District, where Fulton Street meets the East River. It was restored and revitalized for tourist use in the late 1960s, and now boasts more than 120 shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as the South Street Seaport Museum, the Pier 17 Pavilion, and the New York City Police Museum. Visitors to the Seaport will also find some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan, including renovated original mercantile buildings from the early 19th century, renovated sailing ships, and the former Fulton Fish Market.

With its cobblestone streets and broad piers, South Street Seaport offers a welcome escape from the congested, skyscraper-lined streets of downtown. There are usually free outdoor performances going on - check out a number of prominent and up-and-coming acts at the outdoor stage set up in the summertime - and the cool breezes, fun people-watching, and beautiful views of the Brooklyn Bridge can all be enjoyed for free. read more about South Street Seaport

Junior's Restaurant

Junior's Restaurant

  • 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension at Dekalb Avenue
  • Extension at Dekalb Avenue
  • tel:1 718 852 5257
  • Visit website
  • New York, 11201
Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan's Candy Bar

  • 1011 Third Ave
  • At 60th St
  • tel:646/735-0078
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10155
Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3

  • 225 East 60th Street
  • (between Second and Third avenues)
  • tel:212 838 3531
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10022