10 Fun Family Friendly Things to do in NYC with Kids
August 30th 2020
New York City has been dubbed, “The City That Never Sleeps,” and for good reason! At any given time, there are about a million different things to see and do. While this is definitely one of the major appeals of the city, it can also be the most daunting. Especially for parents trying to plan a kid-friendly vacation, the sheer amount of things to sort through can be overwhelming.
Not only that, once you’ve separated the kid-friendly activities from the ones that aren’t, you’re still left with a massive amount of options. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Fun Family Friendly Things to do in NYC with Kids, for your convenience. Take the stress out of planning by checking out the activities below, and make this trip to The Big Apple the best one yet!
Table of Contents
- Bike Rentals and Tours
- New York Botanical Garden
- Walking Tours
- Get a Bird’s Eye View
- City Tours
- New York Public Library
- Boat Tours
1. Bike Rentals and Tours
Group enjoys scenic views of Brooklyn Bridge on a bicycle tour with Tour Central Park Management Inc.
Bicycle rentals are not just a great way to get around the city, but are actually an amazing way to sightsee and spend the day, as well! With rental locations available throughout the city, you get to decide which areas you’d like to explore. This is a great option for families with kids, as there are baby seats available for infants, double trailers for toddlers, and tag-a-long attachments for little ones (upon request). Please note that children must be at least 1 year old to ride in the baby seat, and no customer under the age of 18 can rent a bicycle without an adult present.
Take it one step further and put the pedal to the metal on a scenic and unforgettable bicycle tour through the city! Led by a local and knowledgeable tour guide, bike tours are great for travelers, especially for those unfamiliar with the area, as they will lead you safely to the top city sights, providing insightful narration along the way. Some of the top sights to see on a bike tour through NYC, depending on the tour you select, include the following:
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Battery Park
- Central Park
- Hudson River
- Herald Square
- And MORE!
A family having fun at the American Museum of Natural History, one of the top things to do in NYC with kids! Image by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr
New York City is the pinnacle of cultural and historical sites and institutions in the U.S. There are around 100 museums in the city, some of which are internationally known like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Historical Society, and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, just to name a few. While most adults can spend hours, if not days, in some of these incredible museums, the little ones may be less impressed.
Luckily, there are a ton of New York City museums created with kids in mind! One of the best things to do in NYC with kids, a trip to the museum is the perfect opportunity to let their imaginations run wild in a fun and educational way. If a trip to the museum sounds like just what the doctor ordered, check out one (or all) of these kid-friendly museums, and awaken your child’s sense of wonder:
- American Museum of Natural History: Founded in 1869, this world-class institution is the perfect museum for kids of all ages! Incredible exhibits like the Hall of Dinosaurs, Hall of Ocean Life, and the Discover Room are just a few of the many fan favorites at the American Museum of Natural History.
- Children’s Museum of the Arts: Ignite your child’s love for art at the Children’s Museum of the Arts! Similar to your standard art museum, CMA has a massive, 2,000-piece collection, but unlike your standard NYC museum, this one boasts fun and messy art studios, labs, and playrooms for the little ones to express their creativity.
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum: Created in 1899, this was the country’s first museum created specifically for children. Now, this massive museum has a permanent collection of over 30,000 items, amazing interactive exhibits, and more!
- New York Hall of Science: Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, this amazing museum has since expanded, now offering hundreds of exhibits to spark your child’s interest in science, technology, math, and more! Kids will especially love the Science Playground, Rocket Park, Design Lab, and robot displays.
3. New York Botanical Garden
Image of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden from Wikimedia
A trip to the New York Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids, with stunningly scenic gardens and landscapes as far as the eye can see! Established in 1891, the New York Botanical Garden is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and is home to the largest garden in the United States, at 250 acres. Adults will love the history and culture embedded in the roots of this amazing place, while the little ones will have a blast at the Edible Academy and Everett Children’s Adventure Garden! For more information about the gardens, including family-friendly annual events, click here: https://www.nybg.org/.
4. Walking Tours
Group visiting Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial on a guided New York walking tour
There’s no better way to see and truly understand NYC, than to get out there and explore the city streets for yourself! A walking tour guided by a local is one of the most authentic and immersive ways to experience a city. Not only do you get to see everything up close, but when guided by someone who knows the area, you can rest assured that you’re safe, and checking out the top, must-see sights, like the following:
- Atlas Monument
- Rockefeller Center
- Times Square
- Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial
- Grand Central Station
- And MORE!
Guided walking tours also take the stress out of essentially having to plan your own, and can save you time and money in the long run. As with any activity, however, it is important to review the restrictions and cancellation policy before booking, as some walking tours are geared more towards older children.
5. Get a Bird’s Eye View
Pictured above is the Empire State Building, one of the best places for incredible views of NYC
One of the absolute best things to do in NYC with kids is catching a breathtaking view of the city from above. While this may sound like an expensive outing that’s sure to break the bank, it doesn’t have to be! With hundreds of skyscrapers in the city itself, the opportunity to take in a bird’s eye view of New York City is easier than you think!
The Empire State Building, for example, is an essential part of the city’s skyline, and provides unparalleled views of NYC. Their viewing platform is located on the 86th floor, which makes it the highest open-air observatory in the city (perfect for amazing photos and selfies!). An indoor viewing area is available on the 102nd floor, as well.
The view from One World Observatory taken by Nathania Johnson via Flickr
One World Observatory offers a complete, panoramic view of the city, and is located on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center. From here, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, all 5 boroughs, and the Atlantic Ocean are visible on a sunny day! Top of the Rock is located on the rooftop of the Rockefeller Center, and provides stunning views of Central Park, downtown, and beyond, as well.
For those on a budget, there are a ton of places scattered throughout the city where you can get amazing views for a low rate, or even free! The Roosevelt Island Tramway, for example, is an aerial tramway that connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. For $2.50, you can soar over the East River and take in outstanding views of the area. Below are other amazing places to get unmatched views of NYC, for free:
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Staten Island Ferry
- Gantry Plaza State Park
- Hoboken Park
- Governor’s Island
6. City Tours
Pictured above is Times Square, one of the top sights to see on a city tour of New York
City tours are a fun and unique way to explore The Empire State, providing insight, narration, and amazing views along the way. NYC city tours come in all shapes and sizes, meaning there is something for every type of traveler! From boat tours providing unmatched views of Ellis Island and Lady Liberty herself, to self-guided tours of the astounding Grand Central Station, the options are practically endless.
7. New York Public Library
Pictured above is the gorgeous and historic New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was founded in 1895, and a trip to this gorgeous and historical site is one of the top things to do in NYC with kids for a fun, educational experience. This library has been critical in providing free books, education, information, and more, for all New Yorkers for over 100 years. NYPL is the country’s largest public library system, serving more than 17 million patrons a year, and even millions more online!
This massive library holds more than 55 million items, including priceless treasures like George Washington’s original Farewell Address. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, declared a National Historic Landmark and a New York City designated landmark in the 1960s, a trip to the New York Public Library is truly a cultural and historical experience all ages can appreciate. For more information, including information on activities and programs for kids, click here: https://www.nypl.org/.
8. Boat Tours
Ellis Island as seen from a boat tour, one of the top things to do in NYC with kids
The little ones will love a fun and refreshing boat tour, and the amazing NYC sights and sounds that come along with it! Boat tours are the best way to get unobstructed views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan skyline, and more. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because NYC boat tours are the perfect opportunity for incredible photo-ops that are sure to impress everyone back home!
Stunning view of New York’s Central Park in the Fall
With so much to see and do in NYC, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the attractions and excursions, that you forget to take a moment to enjoy the city’s nature and scenic beauty. When most people think of New York City, they think of skyscrapers and tons of buildings, businesses, housing, etc. The city, however, is home to over 1,700 parks and recreation centers!
This means that when searching for the top things to do in NYC with kids, it’s important to consider the local parks. Luscious landscapes, paved bike paths, lakes, and stunning views are just a few of the many things to expect when visiting a local park. If taking a detour to enjoy some fresh air sounds like a plan, then check out these top NYC parks for kids:
- Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Governors Island (home to the longest slide in NYC!)
- Central Park
- Domino Park
- Prospect Park
- Hudson River Park
- The High Line
- Washington Square Park
- Battery Park
- Riverside Park
- Bryant Park
Kids will love dining at Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain, which is pictured above. Image courtesy of http://www.brooklynfarmacyandsodafountain.com/
You didn’t think we’d let you go hungry, did you? One of the top things to do in NYC with kids, or anyone for that matter, is eat! New York City is a food-lover’s paradise, offering every type of dish that you could possibly imagine, and then some. That’s the great thing about the restaurant scene in NYC, is that with so many unique and delicious dining experiences, there’s something out there for even the pickiest eaters! Check out these awesome, and intriguing, NYC restaurants that will keep your kids, and your taste buds, very happy:
- Max Brenner: Chocolate lovers will be bouncing off the walls after a trip to Max Brenner! Chocolate-inspired menu items rule the roost here, with items like dessert pizza, waffle fries sprinkled with chili and cocoa powder, and more!
- Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain: This restaurant will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time! Ice cream floats, milkshakes, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are sure to appease the little ones, while the old-school diner feel of the restaurant is great for adults. Even though Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain opened in 2010, the building itself has been standing for over 100 years!
- S’MAC: Short for Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese, S’MAC specializes in, you guessed it, macaroni and cheese! Some of the delicious creations at S’MAC include Philly Cheesesteak Mac, Buffalo Chicken Mac, Cajun Mac, Cheeseburger Mac, and more.
While any of the above restaurants are sure to send you home happy, full, and with an unforgettable story, sometimes you just can’t beat a delicious meal accompanied by a breathtaking view of the city. Luckily, NYC is full of restaurants serving up hot food and views! Check out these delicious New York restaurants that are known just as much for their landscapes as they are for their entrees:
As you can see, the Big Apple is booming with incredible things to do, accommodating every age and interest. From museums that awaken your inner scientist, to stunning views of the city from above, there are a ton of things to do in NYC with kids, and kids at heart. However you decide to spend your time in New York, rest assured you’ll be coming home with lasting memories as a prized souvenir!