By: Stefanie DiMartino
There are always great places to visit and fun activities to do in NYC. But it can be challenging to come up with ideas that the whole family will enjoy. In this guide, I’m giving you the scoop on fun things to do that are kid and family friendly!
1) One World Observatory
Location: Downtown Manhattan | 285 Fulton Street, NY, NY 10006
Price: $35 | Kids (ages 6-12) $29
Tip: Be sure to arrive early, as it can get busy and crowded later on.
A visit to One World Observatory is a must do and a great experience. It is an exciting adventure the second you step foot into the elevators. The “SkyPod elevators climb 102 stories in 47 seconds. This astonishing ride reveals the transformation of New York City from unsettled lands to today’s remarkable forest of skyscrapers.” The Observatory offers a glimpse into US and New York history, while offering amazing views of the city. It is both a beautiful, interesting, and educational experience, making it perfect for kids!
2) Dave and Busters
Location: Times Square | 234 W 42nd Street, 3rd floor, NY, NY 10036
Price: $15+ per person
Dave and Busters has been one of my personal favorite places to go since I was a kid! The sports-bar style setting offers a great variety of food, even for the pickiest eaters, hand crafted cocktails and drinks for the adults, and fun drinks for the kids. And the best part is the game room, offering tons of fun for the entire family. Green swipe games allow you to win tickets for some great prizes and one of my favorites is the Cyclone! Dave and Busters is a fun experience for all and the perfect spot for a kid to be a kid! And if you go on a Wednesday, enjoy ½ price games!
3) Dylan’s Candy Bar
Location: 1011 3rd Avenue, NY, NY 10065
Price: FREE to enter | $65 for tour
“Dylan's Candy Bar transports its guests to a modern day version of Willy Wonka's factory the moment they enter. Its pop art installations-such as the iconic oversized lollipop tree, candy cane columns, dripping chocolate shelves, kaleidoscopic candy wallpaper and candy-embedded staircases-embody the pinnacle of “retail-tainment.” The ultra-sensory experience is enhanced with delectable smells, a candy timeline and a vast milieu of candy songs and commercials awarding customers not just a sugar high, but a sweet lasting euphoria.” – Dylan’s Candy Bar Dylan’s Candy Bar allows kids imaginations to run wild, taking in all the fun colors and whimsy, all while getting the best sugar high! A must-do experience for kids when in NYC.
4) Chelsea Piers
Location: West Side | 62 Chelsea Piers, NY, NY 10011
Price: Dependent upon activity
Chelsea Piers offers a wide array of sports, over 25, such as golf, soccer, basketball, and gymnastics. With so many activity options, Chelsea Piers offers a great opportunity for your child to stay active and partake in a sport they like, or one they’ve never tried!
5) Disney’s Frozen the Musical
Location: St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th Street, NY, NY
Tip: Catch a show during the week for lower ticket prices.
Seeing a Broadway show is a quintessential part of visiting New York City. The excitement of live theatre is an unforgettable experience. Not all shows are kid-friendly, and some might not keep your child’s interest. However, you cannot go wrong with any Disney show, especially Frozen on Broadway. Be transported into the world of Arendelle and enjoy all of the iconic songs, along with new ones. You and your kid will surely be singing, “Let it Go” for the rest of the day/night!
6) The Bronx Zoo
Location: The Bronx Zoo
Price: General Admission: $22.95 | Kids (ages 3-12) $14.95
*GA tickets are only available at the gate and “Bug Carousel, Butterfly Garden, Children's Zoo, Congo Gorilla Forest, JungleWorld, Nature Trek, Wild Asia Monorail, and Zoo Shuttle each have a $6.00 entrance fee with General Admission tickets.” Total Experience: $39.95 | Kids (ages 3-12) $29.95
Tip: To avoid peak summer crowds and lines, be sure to arrive early and try to avoid going on the weekend. Also, on Wednesdays, General Admission is free all day, so crowds can be larger than usual.
Venture out of Manhattan and head to one of the other boroughs, the Bronx, to visit the largest urban zoo in the United States. The zoo is situated over 260 acres of forest and is home to over 6,000 animals and more than 700 species. Growing up in the Bronx, the Bronx Zoo has always been a place I love to visit. For animal and nature/adventure lovers, or anyone looking for something interesting and fun to do, the Bronx Zoo is guaranteed to be an amazing experience for both kids and adults, offering an educational experience as well as many animal exhibits, rides, and experiences, including the brand new “Dinosaur Safari.”
“The zoo has created a unique window into the natural world for city dwellers in the heart of the Bronx - and serves as a springboard and hub for conservation efforts across the entire planet” – The Bronx Zoo
7) Central Park Row Boats
Location: East side of Central Park, between 74th and 75th Streets near Loeb Boathouse
Price: $35 per boat but you get $20 back once you return the boat
Tip: Cash only
Central Park is a must do when in NYC. One of the most well known activities is boating on the lake. The perfect family activity, boats hold up to 4 people and allow “a closer view of water fowl that are hard to see from the shore, including the park's famous egrets, herons, and loons. Children will also enjoy helping to row the boat.” – Central Park
The park also boasts 21 playgrounds and many kid-friendly activities such as the Tisch Children’s Zoo, Belvedere Castle’s Nature Observatory, the Central Park Carousel, and The Marionette Theatre. There are also various sports and activities, such as horse and carriage rides, horseback riding, bicycle riding, swimming at Lasker pool, and fishing at the Meer.
8) The Museum of Natural History
Location: Central Park West and 79th Street, NY, NY 10024
Price: Online: General Admission $23 | Kids (ages 2-12) $13
*Pay-what-you-wish admission is available only at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you.
The Museum of Natural History is a great experience for kids. The museum offers exciting exhibits such as “T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator, and “Unseen Oceans,” and many halls, most notable being the fossil halls. There is also an education library, as well as a Discovery room, which offers an interactive gateway to the wonders of the Museum and a hands-on, behind-the-scenes look at its science.” – Museum of Natural History
Also, the movie, “Night at the Museum” takes place there, and kids can identify rooms and elements from the movie, and let their imaginations run wild.
9) Radio City Stage Door Tour
Location: 1260 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) between W. 50th and W. 51st Streets, NY, NY 10020
Price: $30 | Kids (age 12 and under) $26
*Same-day tour tickets must be purchased at the venue
Radio City is another famous NYC landmark, one that is great to visit with kids. “Go behind the scenes of the Showplace of the Nation! Take a guided tour of Radio City Music Hall, discover art deco masterpieces, learn the history of the iconic Great Stage, and even meet a Radio City Rockette.” – Radio City
Tours are every 30 minutes and run daily from 9:30am – 5:00pm. Tours last for approximately 75 minutes.
10) Coney Island
Location: Brooklyn, NY, Surf Avenue, 11224
Price: Dependent upon activity
Coney Island offers fun for the while family. It is the perfect spot for an entire day of fun! “From roller-coasters to go-karts, to live entertainment and boardwalk games, beachfront Coney Island has it all! The birthplace of the amusement park, Coney Island is home to an Aquarium, Action-Packed rides, Restaurants, Shops, and Sideshows. Coney Island has something for everyone.” – Coney Island
11) Build-A-Bear Workshop
Location: 22 West 34th Street, NY, NY 10001
Build-A-Bear Workshop allows kids to use their imagination and create their own stuffed animal. The NYC location offers special and unique New York themed bears and accessories.
“At Build-A-Bear Workshop, kids - and kids at heart - get to make their way through our hands-on, interactive process of making their own stuffed animal! Add lots of stuffing, make a wish on a heart and personalize your friend with fun outfits and accessories.” – Build-A-Bear Workshop
12) Sea Glass Carousel
Location: Water Street and State Street, NY, NY 10004
The Sea Glass Carousel is a unique and fun NYC experience, perfect for kids and adults, because who doesn’t love a carousel? It is a beautiful structure that allows you to feel like a kid again, and get instagram worthy photos. Guaranteed smiles and laughs!
“The Battery Conservatory came up with the idea of an aquatic carousel to conjure The Battery’s history as the first home of the New York Aquarium. Inspired by the chambered nautilus, the spiraling pavilion of glass and steel brings art, architecture, and music to children of all ages. The George Tsypin Opera Factory created a mystical underwater experience. The rider sits within iridescent fish that glide through the sights and sounds of a 360° aquatic adventure.” – The Battery
13) New York Transit Museum
Location: Downtown Brooklyn, 99 Schermerhorn Street Brooklyn, NY 11201
Price: $10 | Kids (ages 2-17) $5
The New York City transportation system is unlike any other. The New York Transit Museum is kid friendly and a great experience for anyone interested in the history of NYC mass transit. It features multiple exhibits, and history and education. “The New York Transit Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of mass transportation – extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels over 100 years ago, communities that were drastically transformed, and the ever-evolving technology, design, and ridership of a system that runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the Transit Museum’s working platform level spans a full city block, and is home to a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907. Visitors can board the vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, step through a time tunnel of turnstiles, and explore changing exhibits that highlight the cultural, social and technological history – and future – of mass transit.” – New York Transit Museum
14) Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Location: Pier 86, W. 46th Street, NY, NY 10036
Price: $33 | Kids (ages 5-12) $24
“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. As you explore the Museum you will be able to examine original artifacts, view historic video footage and explore interactive exhibits.” – Intrepid Sea, Air & Space
Intrepid offers a unique learning experience combining history, science, and technology. You also get to experience different exhibits, space shuttle pavilion, and submarine – something for everyone!
15) Classic Harbor Line Cruise
Location: Pier 83, West 42nd Street, NY, NY 10036
Classic Harbor Line Cruises are one of the most beautiful ways to sea the city in peace from the water. Sit back and enjoy the luxurious view of the island from the cozy solarium or the open decks of our gorgeous, 1920s-style yachts! These spectacular glassed-in observatories on the back decks are equipped with cushioned seating around conversation-friendly tables. They are heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer, and provide stunning, panoramic views.