30 Fun Things to do in NYC with Kids | Best New York Kids Activities

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Last update: September 21st, 2023 at 12:34 pm

30 Best Things to do in NYC with Kids
Affiliate Disclosure: This Things to do in NYC with Kids post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

What to do in NYC for Kids Introduction

If you are looking for the best things to do in NYC with kids, then you have come to the right place! The post below will help you discover the absolute best in NYC family fun.

From NYC’s most famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, to some of the Big Apple’s newest attractions like the Summit One Vanderbilt Experience and the Battery’s magical SeaGlass Carousel – you are going to want to read about each and every one of these exciting things to do in NYC for kids.

Note: While many of the following NYC kids’ activities do not require pre-booking, for the most popular NYC family attractions, be sure to book tickets ahead of time (ex. weekend Broadway shows).

See also:

Please use the table of contents below to find what you need quickly. In a hurry? Jump to the list.

Saving Money in New York with Kids

Discounted Tours and Family Activities in NYC

When considering what to do with kids in NYC, you may wish to take a look at a discounted attraction pass because it can save you money on your New York City family vacation. I say can because it depends on how much time you have in New York and how busy you would like to be.

I also think it depends on the age of your child/children. When my kids were really little, we spent most of our time in New York playgrounds and parks (free). From 6 and up, however, we could cover a lot more ground and started to visit a lot more paid attractions.

Below you will find the two main attraction pass options for NYC. They are slightly different in their offerings so I suggest you look at both to see which would be the best fit for your interests and time frame.

  • The CityPass New York can save you up to 40% on 5 New York attractions. The pass always includes the Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History. The other 3 attractions can be selected from a list of options. This pass is valid for up to 9 consecutive days.
  • The New York Explorer Pass by Go City allows you to choose 2-10 attractions (out of 80) and you have up to 60 days to visit those attractions. Savings are up to 50% off regular individual ticket prices. Go City also offers an all-inclusive pass for 1 to 10 days (although that might be a bit ambitious with kids in tow).

Best Things to do in New York with Kids Video (3 min.)

Want a quick little peek at some fun things to do in NYC with kids first? Check out this little video!

30 Fun Things to do in New York City with Kids and Toddlers

Discover the best and most fun New York kids’ activities. From must-see locations to incredible experiences, there’s just so much to do.

1. Times Square

Although Times Square can be a rather overstimulating experience, it’s kind of a must-do on a NYC family trip. I can also pretty much guarantee that your child/children will fall in love with the 3-storey M&M World and Hershey’s Chocolate World stores right in the center of it all. Can you say sugar-shock?

Times Square NYC

We have typically found that the easiest way to manage Times Square is to do a quick walk through on the way to/from another event. For example, Rockefeller Center, The Broadway Theater District, and Bryant Park are all just a few blocks away.

M&M World Times Square

In the very middle of Times Square, you will find a large set of bleachers which can be the perfect place to snap a family photo with the colorful lights as a backdrop. (This also makes for a good time to take a break and rest tired feet if you have been doing a lot of walking.)

2. NYC Family Tours

If your are planning a first family trip to NYC, a tour can be a great way to get an overview of the city. Now tours can be at little tricky with kids, of course. That is…unless you find just the perfect one to keep little people engaged. Here are several highly rated NYC family tour options.

Private Central Park Carriage Ride

For more than 150 years, a horse and carriage ride has been a quintessential NYC experience. The 45 minute, 2 mile loop includes the Lake, Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green, Rumsey Playfield, and Conservatory Water. To learn more or book, see Viator.com.

Private Family Museum Tour

Leave the crowds behind with a New York family friendly museum tour. Options include The Met Museum, The American Museum of Natural History, or both! Although pricier, Context Travel does some wonderful and immersive family museum tours in NYC.

An Epic NYC Helicopter Tour

It’s pricey for sure, but if NYC is a once in a lifetime experience for you and your family, you may wish to consider a helicopter tour. Soar over the Big Apple with an exclusive sightseeing tour of the Manhattan skyline and beyond, including the Empire State Building and Central Park, plus the Statue of Liberty. For pricing and times, see Viator.com.

Skip the Line Tours

Most of the top family attractions in NYC now offer timed tickets that can be pre-booked directly on their website (not requiring you to wait for ages in a long lineup). If, however, the dates for your desired attraction are sold out, you can sometimes find tours with availably on sites such as Viator.com.

See skip-the-line tickets for many top attractions in NYC including the Statue of Liberty, Summit One Vanderbilt, the One World ObservatoryTop of the Rock, and The Empire State Building

3. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Ferries to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island (Immigration Museum) leave from Battery Park at the very south end of Manhattan. Tickets should be booked ahead of time and can be purchased online through Statue City Cruises.

Statue Cruises Boat Tours

Once on either island, visitors can explore on their own, join a Park Ranger tour or enjoy a self-guided audio tour. The audio tours come in an adult and child version, with the latter being geared towards kids 6-10 years old. In the summer months, kids can participate in the Junior Rangers Program with packets available at the information desks.

Statue of Liberty with Kids

To visit certain attractions, you need to purchase a separate tour ticket. These include The Pedestal Tour for those wanting to see inside the Statue of Liberty Monument and The Crown Tour if you want to get right up inside the crown. The Crown Tour was a huge hit with my kids (at 6 & 9 years old) despite the 10-minute climb up 393 steps.

Important Note: The Crown Tour typically sells out about 2 months in advance, and children must be 42″ tall to do the climb.

4. The Staten Island Ferry

Another great way to get a look at the Statue of Liberty is to take the free 20-minute Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Not only will you get to see Lady Liberty and Ellis Island as you ride back and forth across the Hudson River, this ferry is also one of the best places to enjoy the views of Manhattan city skyline and the busy New York harbor.

Staten Island Ferry View of the Statue of Liberty
Staten Island Ferry Views (with zoom lens)

As the Staten Island Ferry is heavily used by commuters, the best way to avoid crowds it to take the trip on weekdays between 9-11 am or in the evening from 7 pm on. For schedules and to learn more, see the Staten Island Ferry website.

5. Battery Park Playscape

Battery Park is conveniently located between the docks for the Staten Island Ferry and Statue Cruises. Be sure to spend some time here as this public park and playground is one of the best new New York City kids attractions.

Battery Spray Park NYC
Battery Park NYC

Its innovated Playscape was conceived post-storm Sandy with a design intended to withstand flooding and then recover. It has 5 granite slides, an elevated treehouse, a sand and water area, as well as a improv/puppet theater. I think it is one of the most fun things to do with kids in NYC.

The crown jewel of this playground (in my humble opinion), is the magical SeaGlass Carousel. If you are visiting New York with a toddler, my bet is this is going to be one of their favorite places!

I took this little video clip of it because a photo just doesn’t do it justice!

Learn more at thebattery.org.

6. Central Park

Central Park has always been, well, central to our NYC family trips. It was in this beautiful Manhattan green space that my son once exclaimed, “Finally!  A breath of fresh air!” after a particularly busy morning.

Belvedere Castle Central Park NYC
Belvedere Castle, Central Park

Central Park is simply a must-do with kids in New York City. Visit Belvedere Castle and the Central Park Zoo, sail model boats at the Conservatory Water, pop by the Alice in Wonderland statue, or ride the carousel.

Carousel Central Park NYC

If you are looking for things to do with toddlers in NYC, the park has many great playgrounds (21 to be exact).

My kids have always loved the Ancient Playground on the Upper East Side right beside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Heckscher Playground near the south end of the park. Both offer spray parks in the summer months.

Important note: Central Park is massive. Plan to focus on one section of it, or make multiple visits to different sections over a few days.

Learn more on the Central Park website.

Heckscher Playground Central Park NYC
Heckscher Playground

Notable Central Park Restaurants

While in the area, you may wish to visit one of several beautiful restaurants in the park. Both Tavern on the Green and The Loeb Boathouse offer kids’ menus and take reservations (the Loeb on weekdays only).

On our most recent trip, we requested a table near the lake’s edge at The Loeb. My daughter loved watching the turtles and giant fish swim around in the water right in front of her.

Central Park with Kids - The Loeb Boathouse
The Loeb Boathouse

7. New York Museums for Kids

Almost all of the major Manhattan museums offer a complimentary kids guidebook to the collections upon request. Even better, kids are free at most New York City museums. (The American Museum of Natural History is an exception.) Be sure to check the museum’s calendar of events, as many offer special tours for families.

Family Guides to The Met Museum

Cultural experiences such as museums can be a little challenging for young children. You may want to consider visiting only one small portion of a museum, rather than tackling the whole thing.

Museums in New York City for Kids
The Whitney Museum NYC

For example, on our first visit to The Metropolitan Museum in Central park, we only took the kids to the Ancient Egyptian gallery. We followed this up with a visit to the Rooftop Garden Cafe. With its sweeping views of Central Park and no formal seating required, it is not surprising that this is a favorite spot for families.

NYC Museums with Kids - The Met

If an immersive Met Museum experience for your family is really important to you, another option is to book a private tour. Context Travel offers a Private Family Metropolitan Museum Tour that gets really great reviews. Although I have not done this particular one, I have taken a private tour of the Louvre with Context and it was excellent.

The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side is very popular for those looking for New York City museums for kids. It has so many exhibits that delight families including the giant blue whale, the dinosaur exhibits, the butterfly conservatory, the Rapa Nui sculpture and more!

If possible, visit at opening on a weekday to get ahead of the crowds. Buy your tickets online ahead of time for a specific time slot (see plan your visit at the AMNH). Research you priority exhibits ahead of time. This way, you can go straight to your most important one first, and possibly enjoy a crowd-free moment!

American Museum of Natural History NYC with Kids
American Museum of Natural History

Absolutely the best thing that we have ever done in NYC with kids was to have a sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History. While it is the kind of thing that seems a little expensive at first, when you take into account the fact that you don’t have to pay for a pricey NYC hotel room, and also get the privilege of roaming the great halls without crowds, it starts to seem more economical.

Click here for full details on booking the Night at the Museum sleepover at the AMNH. It is so much fun – we highly recommend it! (At the time we went, the museum was able to provide freshly laundered sleeping bags for a fee for those guests not having them, although we brought our own). 

See also our complete post on our NYC Museum Sleepover.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

For those visiting NYC with little kids, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan can be a great option with 5 floors of interactive fun. I know on our first time in NYC with toddlers, we spent most of our short stay between Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History and this fun NYC kids museum. There is only so much you squeeze into a day with young children!

Learn more at: CMOM.org.

Note: Although we have never managed to make it to this one, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum also gets great reviews.

8. Family Photo Shoot with a NYC Photographer

It can be a little tricky to get good family photos in NYC as most people tend to have very action-packed itineraries. 

One of the best things we have ever done on one of our trips, is to take an hour out of a day for a family photo shoot with a professional photographer. (We’ve done it twice, actually). As chief family photographer, it finally allowed me to be our trip photos!

We have used the company Flytographer because we find their booking process so easy. You simply select your location, choose one of their curated photographers, pick a package, and set up a time. (Packages run $285 to $600 USD for a 30 to120 minute shoot.) 

Family Photography NYC
Photo by Bri in NYC for Flytographer

If you are interested in trying them out, please use Flytographer discount code MYSHOOT for $25 off your first booking or gift card purchase.

9. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of history, science and service as related to its home aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark. While this isn’t really my thing (I snuck off to SOHO for a few hours), my kids visited with my husband and thought it was pretty great.

NYC KIds Activities - The Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea Museum

Learn more at IntrepidMuseum.org or see recent Tripadvisor reviews.

10. The High Line

The High Line is a great place for a stroll, but keep in mind that it is still a walk, which isn’t always thrilling for kids. That said, in the summertime, the flowers are beautiful and there are birds-a-plenty.

High Line NYC with Kids
The High Line

My suggestion on how to do the High Line with kids is the following. Start your walk at 23rd St. (there is elevator access if you have a stroller) and walk south. Grab some gelato at L’arte de Gelato (roughly 15th St.) and then exit at 14th St. (also an elevator). From here, you can cross the street to Little Island Park (see below).

Note: The High Line gets really busy on weekends (where you may have to shuffle along as part of a crowd). If at all possible,visit on a weekday.

11. Little Island Park

One of NYC’s newest and most interesting public parks from a design-perspective is Little Island. Within the 2.4 acre grounds perched overtop of the Hudson River, you will find an outdoor concert venue, yummy food carts, beautiful views and gorgeous landscaped gardens. 

Little Island NYC

Although this lovely NYC green space does not have a traditional playground, it has little interactive activities scattered around, including optical illusions, spinning disc chairs, music makers, jump ropes, hula hoops and more.

Little Island Park NYC

Learn about upcoming events and the locations of all the fun interactive exhibits dotted around the gardens at LittleIsland.org.

12. Coney Island

As far as amusement parks go, Luna Park at Coney Island is as classic as it gets. It’s a little gritty, but we found that to be part of the charm. 

Coney Island with Kids NYC
Luna Park at Coney Island

Grab a hot dog at Nathan’s, stroll along the boardwalk and work up the courage to ride the historic Cyclone wooden roller coaster (which has been terrifying riders since 1927).

Learn more at LunaParkNYC.com or read recent reviews on Tripadvisor.

Note: This iconic amusement park is a 45 minute subway ride outside of Manhattan. You can expect this to take up at least half your day, and maybe even a full day.

13. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

From presidents, to royalty, to Marvel super heroes, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is a fun way to get up close to your favorite star…but without those nervous butterflies. With a convenient location near Times Square, it is an easy activity add-on when you are in the area.

Learn more at MadameTussauds.com or see recent reviews on Tripadvisor.

14. Take the Subway

My son cannot get enough of riding the subway. After several visits to the city, quite frankly, he knows the rails better than I do. In fact, both of my children are very engaged with the process of figuring out which station to get off at, where to change trains, etc. Never do we hear “Are we there yet?”, which is a blessing in itself.

Riding the New York City Subway with Kids

Riding the subway can often be one of the best ways (fastest) to get places, with major stops at museums, ferry terminals and more. It can also be one of the cheapest ways to get around the city as a family. A single ride costs $2.90, and up to 3 children 44″ and under can ride along for free with a paying adult.

15. Bryant Park

If you find yourself around Midtown with younger children who need some space to run around, then Bryant Park can be a good idea. The park has a carousel, a giant lawn area, an Art Cart and often hosts special events for kids including popular children’s entertainers.

Bryant Park Carousel
Bryant Park Carousel

From late October to mid-March, that lawn space becomes a free ice arena and the park is transformed into a beautiful winter village.

Learn more on the Bryant Park website (you can also check out their webcam).

16. Governors Island

Less than a 10 minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan is the reimagined 172 acre Governors Island. It is a beautiful retreat from the busy New York city streets, car-free and full of lush foliage.

The island has some great playgrounds for kids as well as a unique hill full of slides. You can walk around the island (bring a stroller for wee ones) or rent bikes from Blazing Saddles.

Govenors Island NYC with Kids

The island is the perfect place for a picnic, but there is also a restaurant and numerous food carts. Fun events run all summer long, so I encourage you to check out Governors Islands Events ahead of time.

One other great thing about Governors Island is that in an expensive city, this activity can be very budget-friendly. In fact, on weekend mornings before noon, all visitors get to ride the ferry for free! Learn more at govisland.com.

17. Ride The Beast

The adrenaline-inducing Beast speedboat is not only super exhilarating, but it also gives you a great view of the Statue of Liberty from the water (the boat makes photo stops). This exciting ride is only 30 minutes long leaving you plenty of time for other family-friendly NYC activities.

The dock is located very close to the Intrepid Museum, which could make for a good pairing. Please note, children must be 40″ tall to ride the Beast. See ticket options for The Beast here.

The Beast New York
Image Credit: The Beast NYC

18. See a Yankees Game

On a sunny summer evening, grab the subway to the Bronx and catch a Yankees game. In comparison to many New York activities, this one can be quite inexpensive. We paid $19/ticket and the kids even received bobbleheads. For more information see the Yankees website.

Be sure to also check their website for special events. They often have fun things going on for kids at the stadium before games.

Note: In no way does the picture below represent the excitement of watching a baseball game. (We took the red-eye to New York and hit the game the following evening.)

Yankees Baseball Game NYC
Yankees Stadium NYC

It is often said that one of the best things about New York City is New Yorkers. This was certainly something we experienced at the game – meeting this lady sitting behind us. Predeceased by her husband, she still kept his seat (filling it with some friends).

Yankees Game New York

19. FAO Schwarz

The FAO Schwarz toy store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza is a ton of fun for kids. We first visited this iconic toy company’s store at their 5th Avenue location (now gone) when my daughter was just a toddler. That experience is the only thing she remembers from her first trip to NYC.

Even as a tween on our most recent trip, she described the store as “a little bit magical” and agreed that it is well worth a visit at any age.

FAO Schwarz Toy Store NYC
FAO Schwarz Rockefeller Plaza

Also nearby the FAO Schwarz store at Rockefeller Center, you will find a fun Lego Store and a Nintendo Store, as well as some other nice shopping along Fifth Ave for mom and dad (if you can manage to sneak that in).

20. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Stroll (or ride bikes) over the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge. You can make a whole afternoon of it, in fact.

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge with Kids
The Brooklyn Bridge Walk

Grab an ice cream cone from Van Leeuwan’s (white house under the bridge), ride Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, or enjoy a picnic at Main Street Park and Playground (fantastic views of Manhattan). 

Brooklyn Carousel

Note: The bridge is 1.1 miles (1.8km) in length. If this walk is a bit ambitious, this area is still a fun little adventure and is easily reached by NYC Ferries and the subway.

21. NYC From Above

You really have quite a selection of options for a spectacular view of New York City from above. Go old school with the classics by ascending to the top of the Empire State Building (1250 feet) or Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock (850 feet).

View from Summit One Vanderbilt

At the south end of Manhattan, you can get an entirely different perspective from the One World Observatory (1268 feet) at the One World Trade Center.

World Trade Center One World Observatory NYC
One World Observatory

Not to be outdone, to experience the highest open air deck in the Western Hemisphere, you will need to visit The Edge at Hudson Yards development on New York’s west side (1131 feet).

The newest addition to New York City sky high observatories is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. (It is the 4th tallest building in NYC at 1401 feet.) With three levels of immersive space, this place is the it place for Instagram and TikTok creators. 

 Kusama Cloud Room Summit One
Kusama Cloud Room Summit One

Want to truly get a bird’s eye view? See New York City from up in the sky while on a private NYC helicopter tour.

22. Grand Central Station

If you happen to be visiting the Summit One Vanderbilt, you should absolutely take a walk through Grand Central Station, as it is right next door.

This historical Beaux-Arts structure with its celestial ceilings is a visual feast, captivating young minds with its grandeur. It is also a great way to teach kids about the history of transportation and the vital role this terminal played in American train travel.

Grand Central Station with Kids

In additional to incredible architecture, Grand Central offers a lot of great restaurant options and can be a lovely place to enjoy a quick bite.

Be sure to also check The Grand Central events page before your visit. (I was once gifted some beautiful Christmas ornaments from their very special Holiday Fair.)

23. Ice Cream and Sweet Treats

Have a little sweet tooth in the family? Dylan’s Candy Bar is quite fun and has two locations in NYC – one in the The Shops at Hudson Yards and a mini store in Soho.

Dylan's Candy Store NYC
Dylan’s Candy Bar

If you are near Times Square, check out M&M World and the Hershey’s store. You may pay a premium, but my kids can’t resist the allure of that wall of candy-coated goodness.

M&M World Times Square

For real candy aficionados, Economy Candy on the Lower East Side is a must because of their amazing candy assortment.

Economy Candy Store NYC
Economy Candy

Serendipity 3 on the Upper East Side is famous for their frozen hot chocolate (takes reservations). Black Tap Craft Burgers (2 NYC locations) makes some incredible milkshakes (see below). They do not take reservations but will text you when your table is ready.

Black Tap NYC
Black Tap

Have a little baker in the family? Fans of Chef’s Table might enjoy a visit to one of Milk Bar’s many Manhattan locations. They sometimes offer cookie and cake making classes (kids must be accompanied by an adult.) Check their website for upcoming dates.

24. NYC Kids Broadway Shows

Looking for the best New York broadway show for kids? The following productions can be enjoyed by the whole family: The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked, Back to the Future and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Most shows offer a weekend (and sometimes weekday) matinee option.

Broadway Shows for Kids NYC

It should be noted that most family-friendly Broadway shows still require that a child be at least 5 years old to attend a performance. The exception is The Lion King – welcoming kids 3 years and up.

If you are visiting New York with a younger child and would like to see a performance, take a look at what is on at the New Victory Theater (all ages welcome).

Discounted Broadway Tickets

You may have heard about the TKTS booths in New York City that offer discounts of 20-50% off same day performances that still have seats available. While the Times Square booth has notoriously long lineups, you may have shorter wait times at the new Lincoln Center booth.

You can also download the TKTS app which will give you real time updates on shows with tickets available. (Tickets must still be purchased in person.) Plan to visit the booth early in the day so that you will have the best selection. You are allowed to buy up to 6 tickets per show.

Back to the Future Broadway Show

As an example of what can be be on offer, as I am updating this post (Sept. 2023), I am seeing same-day tickets for Back to the Future (40% off) and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (40% off).

Note: If you become a TDF member ($42/annual) you can purchase discounted advance tickets online (rather than having to wait in line at one of the booths).

25. The Bronx Zoo

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a day trip to the Bronx Zoo. This sprawling green space makes for a delightful stroll while admiring the enormous collection of creatures from around the globe (It is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States.)

Tip: While in the area, enjoy some great Italian fare on nearby Arthur Ave (the real Little Italy), take in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium or visit the NY Botanical Garden.

The Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo

26. The New York Botanical Garden

Visiting the New York Botanical Garden is a great activity to combine with the Bronx Zoo as it is located right next door.

The garden’s Children’s Adventure Garden is tailored specifically for young explorers, offering hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, and seasonal programs that make learning about nature an exciting adventure.

Be sure to look at the special section for families on their website as well as their upcoming events. Their holiday train exhibit in Nov.-Dec., for example, is an extremely treasured event for kids.

Learn more on the NYBG website.

27. Kids Afternoon Tea in NYC

We like to try something new every time we visit New York with kids. Our most recent trip happened coincide with Mother’s Day and my daughter’s birthday so we decided on a special afternoon tea service.

Afternoon Tea for Kids NYC
Afternoon Tea at The Pembroke Room

After poring over reviews, we decided on the Pembroke Room at The Lowell Hotel on the Upper East Side. It was simply splendid, although I will say that it was rather on the formal side. (They do offer a children’s tea menu.)

If you would like to do an afternoon tea with younger kids, here are some other popular options:

28. Roosevelt Island

Want to keep your kids on the move? How about a tram ride to Roosevelt Island?

This picturesque island (home to 11,000 residents), is nestled in the East River and offers a unique blend of urban charm and tranquility. To get there, you can take the scenic Roosevelt Island Tramway from Manhattan (2nd Ave and 59th St.), which is a thrilling experience for kids in itself.

Once on the island, you can explore Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a serene space with manicured lawns and breathtaking views of the city skyline, where children can run around and play. And don’t forget to take a ride on the free Roosevelt Island Red Bus, a convenient way to get around the island while giving kids a novel public transportation experience. The island is also serviced by the subway if you want a quicker return trip.

Note: If I had to choose between the two, I would visit Governors Island over Roosevelt Island as I think the former is more fun for kids. That said, if you have done multiple trips to NYC and are looking for something new, I think the tram ride would be fun.

29. Ice Skating

If you are visiting NYC with kids in the winter, there is a good chance you might want to have that magical experience of ice skating at Rockefeller Center. And you should, but I want to share a couple of things with you first.

  1. The ice arena is much smaller than you might imagine.
  2. The ice arena is busier than you might imagine.
  3. The ice arena is probably more expensive than you might imagine.

That said, if it is a must-do family activity for you in NYC, I’m sure you are going to have a great time!

Rockefeller Skating Rink is open from early-Nov. to mid- Mar. Tickets can be booked in advance once the website is updated for the fall season (typically in early October). The prices range from $11 – $73 depending on the skater’s age and the date booked. Skate rentals are an additional $15.

Learn more on the Rockefeller Ice Rink website.

Now, if it is the actual activity of ice skating that is most important, and the venue is secondary, may I also recommend:

  1. The Bryant Park Winter Village – Open late Oct – Mar, free admission, book time slot online.
  2. The Wollman Rink in Central Park – Open late Oct – Mar, skating is $10-$35 depending on age and date, book time slot online.

30. Harry Potter Store

The Harry Potter store in New York City is a magical haven for fans of J.K. Rowling’s beloved wizarding world. It spans three enchanting floors filled with a vast array of Wizarding World merchandise and immersive experiences.

Harry Potter Store NYC
Image credit: @harrypotterny

Visitors can explore themed rooms inspired by the series, including the Wand Shop, where they can choose their own wand, and the House of MinaLima, showcasing the graphic artistry behind the films. From interactive photo opportunities to a Butterbeer bar and a wide range of collectibles, the Harry Potter store offers a truly enchanting experience for fans of all ages.

Learn more at the Harry Potter Store NY website.

31. The Color Factory

The Color Factory, for me, falls into the category of the many new attractions that seem to have been designed specifically with social media content in mind. Despite this (and the high cost of entry), this whimsical and interactive art installation, bursting with bright colors is sure to delight.

Color Factory NYC
Image Credit: @colorfactoryco

Kids can explore rooms filled with giant balloons, jump into a pool of colorful balls, and create their own unique artwork. There are tasty treats to sample, like rainbow ice cream, and plenty of opportunities for fun photos to remember the day.

It is worth noting that it is slightly less expensive to visit on a weekday than on a weekend. There are no discounts for kids, except for those 2 and under (free). For more on the Color Factory, click here.

NYC With Kids Map

I always find it easier if all my favorite place in NYC for kids are plotted on a Google map. I hope this can help you too! Just click on the map or the link in the caption to access it.

Getting Around NYC with Kids

Uber and Lyft offer two great ways to get around NYC with kids because they are often cheaper than a cab and more convenient than the subway. Both companies offer vehicles with car seat service which is helpful if you are visiting New York with a toddler or preschool-aged child. As a user, you are charged an extra $10 per ride and the service includes 1 car seat.

When this service is available, it will show up in the app (scroll down until you see it – see image below) and I would check prior to your trip to see if your child will fit in the seat.

Uber Car Seat Policy (Sept. 2023)

Uber Car Seat provides one forward-facing car seat for a child who is at least 2 years old, 22 pounds, and 31 inches tall. A child is too big at 48 pounds or 52 inches.

Does Uber have car seats in New York City?

There are times with Uber and Lyft when their cars are in short supply triggering “surge pricing”, in which case a cab can be cheaper. For example, on our return trip to JFK airport, our cab was a fixed price of $65 (before tip), but Uber would have been $86.

In rush hour, you may be able to get places faster with the subway. We also find that the subway is more economical for heading way out of town (The Bronx, Coney Island etc.) As an added bonus, I have always found that my kids love the excitement and the challenge of navigating the New York subway system.

Note: Kids 44″ in height and smaller ride the subway for free (up to 3 with each paying adult).

Riding the New York Subway with Kids

Finding Family Hotels in NYC

If you have not stayed in a New York City hotel room before, you might be shocked by how tiny and expensive they can be. It can also be a little challenging to find rooms that can accommodate a family.

I recommend booking as far out as possible to secure the best rate. Sites such as Booking.com usually have a flexible cancellation option (without prepayment required). Personally, I like to reserve a room at a family-friendly New York hotel as soon as I have my flights booked and then cancel/change it if I find a better rate later on.

While I have two other posts on this topic (Best Family Suites in NYC and Best Hotels in NYC for Families), I typically use the following criteria when choosing a family friendly New York hotel.


I like to be near either New York’s Central Park (because it is just so great with kids), or Midtown which is close to many popular attractions. Do be careful with your search criteria as general searches of the city can sometime include Brooklyn and Williamsburg (both great areas – but not on the island of Manhattan).


Generally, I look for a room that is more than 300 ft² (28m²). While you are not likely to spend a ton of time in your room on a family trip to NYC, you still don’t need to be tripping over each other.


For what it is worth when it comes to the best NYC hotels for families, I am a big fan of the Sonesta properties because of their relative value and large rooms (4 hotels in NYC). I also like Kimpton Hotels (3 properties in NYC) for their Kimpton Kids program extras.

As far as using sites such as Airbnb to find a vacation rental in Manhattan, please be aware that short term rentals of less than 30 days are prohibited in this city making the chance of finding a good family vacation rental in NYC difficult.

That said, there are companies like Sonder.com that buy up whole buildings and convert them to short-term rentals. They offer some great family suite options in NYC if you don’t need all the extra services of a hotel.


Further Reading

8 Responses

  1. Nelson Nigel
    | Reply

    Hello Tara, this is a very good review of tourist destinations. If you do not mind, I would like to recommend our organization, Kidmoto, for child airport transportation with installed child car seats. We provide up to 4 car seats in 1 vehicle if needed. Your article shows images of small children but tourists still need to get from the airport to the city, and vice versa, conveniently and safely with their small children. Check us out, we will work with you.


  2. Jonathan
    | Reply

    Great tips. We take our kids about once a year and they love it. We have stayed at Affinia properties several times because of the suite layout. We’ve also stayed at the Conrad in Battery Park. It’s a former Embassy Suites, but really spruced up yet reasonably price by New York standards. That area has some nice open spaces for the kids to stretch their legs in, but subway stops are a little hike.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hello Jonathan,
      What a great suggestion. Thank you for the tip. I just read the bio on your blog. What a journey you have been on ! Wishing you continued good health and beautiful family travels. Tara

  3. NYC SEO
    | Reply

    Haha. Tara, I feel like this should be titled “Things to Do in NYC with Your Girlfriend.” We did a lot of these activities, and if she ever finds this website, she’ll never believe me. I guarantee she would credit you for all the ideas!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Ha! That’s funny. Well, to be honest, my whole M.O. with kids has been to do things that we can all enjoy ! 🙂

  4. Allison Williams
    | Reply

    Thank you for these great tips! I cannot wait to take my kids this spring!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      I hope you have a wonderful trip Allison. Spring is such a lovely time to visit NYC !

  5. Clare Brown
    | Reply

    I absolutely love this. We went to NYC from England 2 years ago and I have just written all about it over on my blog. We were only there for 32 hours and we certainly made the most of it 🙂

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