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BEST Things to Do in New York With Kids

by California Digital News

Best Activities, Attractions, Tours

Things to do in New York with Kids include tours, activities, attractions, landmarks and lots of free kid friendly things to do in NYC. Choose from the classics, like Central Park and Rockefeller Center, landmarks like Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, our newest and coolest like Summit One Vanderbilt and Edge, fun experiences such as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum or sleeping at the Museum of Natural History and so much more.

Make sure to also check our Visiting New York with Kids guide covering Broadway and Off Broadway shows, riding the subway, annual kids events, discounts, best hotels for kids, kids vacation itineraries and much more.

Favorite Kid’s Things to do in NYC

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

We loved the Intrepid! We learned a ton about different old and new war planes and ships and got to take a lot of cool pictures with all of them. The museum itself is on the the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. Then it went on to serve in the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum

More Info: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and NYC One Day Boys Itinerary

Four blocks away, you’ll want to check out a Circle Line or Beast Speedboat ride cruise.

Circle Line Cruises

Kids LOVE taking a boat cruise around NY Harbor, where you can get up close views of the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and more. In warmer months, you’ll definitely want to take the 30 minute Beast Speedboat Ride and all year round, you can choose from several other Circle Line Cruise options.

More Info: Best Kids NYC Boat Cruises

Circle Line Cruises

Museum of Natural History

Many New Yorkers think this is the best of all our Museums and it offers dozens of exhbits, shows and tours for every kid and adult. Dinosaurs, planets and astronomy, the Planetarium and Space Center, animals, mammals, spiders, birds, costumes, history of humans and so much more. The brand new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation creates more than 30 connections among 10 of the Museum’s buildings to improve visitor circulation on campus and adds 230,000 square feet to the already huge museum. Some of the areas and exhibits include Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core, Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium (separate ticket required), Invisible Worlds Immersive Experience and much more. A visit to the Natural History Museum is a must-do in NYC!

More Info: Museum of Natural History

AMNH Gilder Center at Dusk

The American Museum of Natural History is a must-visit for families with kids of all ages. With over 45 permanent exhibition halls, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Kids will love the dinosaur fossils, the giant blue whale model, and the interactive exhibits in the Discovery Room. The museum also offers special programs and events for families, including sleepovers and guided tours. Don’t miss out on this educational and entertaining experience in the heart of New York City.

Madame Tussaud Wax Museum

Get your selfie on at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, one of the most popular things to do in Times Square. When you’re done snapping photos with over 225 shockingly lifelike wax figures of the biggest stars and icons in entertainment, sports and history, make sure to play some games and have a drink at Dave and Busters, located in the same building.

More Info: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud Wax Museum

Go HIGH or Go Home

Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Edge or the new SUMMIT? Which is best and, if we have to choose, which should we visit? There is no easy answer, but here are some facts to help guide your choice.

Edge NYC Observation Deck

  • Empire State Building – (86 and 102 floors) Best for patient movie and history buffs who need to check it off their bucket list. Recently redone indoor 102nd Floor Observatory
  • Top of the Rock – (67-70 floors) Best for sweeping 360° vista views, including of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Shorter lines and cheaper than the ESB.
  • One World Observatory – (100-102 floors) Best for homage to the Twin Towers. Modern and high tech, with phenomenal views
  • Edge – (100-101 floors) Highest outdoor observation deck, glass bottom floor, deck extends 80 feet away from building (photo)
  • Summit One Vanderbilt – (91-93 floors) Opens Oct 2021, all glass elevator, indoor and outdoor decks and glass terraces off the side of the building

Statue of Liberty

Luckily, there are dozens of ways to see the Statue of Liberty. You can just stand on the southernmost tip of Manhattan and look at her all you want. You can take the free Staten Island Ferry, about 1.5 hours total and get a fairly close view from the water. Another option is a boat cruise to Liberty Island to walk around. And the ultimate visit, of course, would include going into the Statue of Liberty Museum and/or climbing to Lady Liberty’s crown.

Learn all the details about visiting Lady Liberty: Statue of Liberty and Staten Island Ferry

Statue of Liberty

The Bronx Zoo

The world-famous Bronx Zoo boasts more than 6,000 animals, from aardvarks to zebras, across 265 acres. General admission allows you access to many of the exhibits, but the Total Experience Ticket is recommended to see rides, attractions and special exhibits. On Wednesdays, the Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish and all proceeds support their animal care work.

More Info:Visiting the Bronx Zoo

Visiting the Bronx Zoo

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Central Park Zoo

Open 365 days per year, the Central Park Zoo is fantastic place to see leopards, polar bears swimming, pandas, lions, penguins, harbor seals, monkeys and bears. Check out the Petting Zoo, 4-D movies, snack at the Leaping Frog Café, rain forest with tropical birds and so much more right in the heart of NYC.

Central Park Zoo NYC

Tickets start at Adult $20 and Child $10, Senior $9. Included with New York Pass and a choice on the Explorer Pass.

64th Street & 5th Avenue

The Central Park Zoo is a great place to take kids for a fun and educational experience. Located in the heart of Central Park, the zoo is home to a variety of animals including penguins, sea lions, snow leopards, and more. Kids can also participate in interactive exhibits and educational programs to learn about animal conservation and the importance of protecting wildlife. Don’t forget to stop by the Tisch Children’s Zoo, where kids can pet and feed friendly farm animals like goats and sheep.

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Luna Park on Coney Island Open Daily

Luna Park on Coney Island is usually opened weekends in the Spring, then every day during Summer. Admission to Luna Park is free, with ride prices starting at $3. Thrill-seekers can scream on rides like the Atlantic Aviator and the Thunderbolt, while younger guests and those seeking a milder thrill can enjoy family-friendly options like Tony’s Express and Leti’s Treasure.

Cyclone Roller Coaster, Coney Island

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is a great place to take your kids for a fun and educational experience. With interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, kids can learn about science, art, and culture in a fun and engaging way. The museum also offers workshops and classes for kids of all ages, so be sure to check out their schedule before you go. Don’t miss the chance to spark your child’s curiosity and creativity at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Using Discount Passes with Kids

Using a NY Discount Pass can save your family tons of money in NYC, while also helping you budget. The following basics are included or offered as a choice on all the major passes: Empire State Building, Intrepid Museum, Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty Cruise, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise and Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour combo packages.

Below are a few highlights of the non-standard kid and family-friendly attractions and tours included in the NY Sightseeing Passes.

New York Explorer Pass – Choose Your Attractions

  • The Beast and The Shark Speedboat Tours
  • Madame Tussauds All Access
  • Ripleys Believe it or Not!
  • Bike Tours – Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge
  • Luna Park @ Coney Island
  • Bus Tour Packages

New York CityPASS – The basics covered

The New York Pass Included Free and Discounted:

  • Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
  • Bus Tour Packages
  • Bowlmor Lanes Times Square – One free bowling game and shoe rental
  • Dave & Buster’s $10 coupon
  • 9/11 Museum
  • Bike Tours – Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum
  • Jewish Children’s Museum
  • Luna Park @ Coney Island
  • New York Hall of Science

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Free Things to Do in New York with Kids

We’ll start with the basics, which you probably already know. Some of our most popular attractions are favorites of both kids and adults.

Visit Rockefeller Center

Visit Rockefeller Center with Kids

Rockefeller Center is a lovely place to walk around, see the waterfall, flags, Prometheus statue, and in cooler months, ice skating. Browse through the Lego Store, Nintendo World, FDNY store and more. After your free exploration, take it up a notch by heading to the 70th Floor of the Top of the Rock. Add more free things to do in the neighborhood by visiting nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral, American Girl Place and the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. More info at insider guides to:

Central Park

Visit Central Park with Kids

You can bike, blade, boat, walk, climb, run and ride your way through Central Park. The carousel is up during the summer and the same spot offers ice skating in the winter. The Central Park Zoo is always a hit and you can easily exit the Park to visit either the Museum of Natural History (west side) or The Met (east side)

Get your free Central Park map and learn about taking a leisurely Central Park Bike Tour.

Walk the Highline

Walk the Highline with Kids

When my friend, Kimberly, visited with her two girls, she said, “The Highline was a Highlight! We LOVE THE HIGHLINE.” New York City’s newest public park, in the Meatpacking District, along the water, is an elevated walkway, above street level, made from converted railroad tracks. The benches are hooked up to the original train tracks and move sideways along the tracks. Kim’s girls climbed and jumped around on the benches and loved pressing their faces against the glass in the amphitheater overlooking 9th Avenue. “We couldn’t pull them away from here.”

Get your free Meatpacking District map and read more of Kim’s NYC vacation with young girls.

Visit Times Square

Visit Times Square with Kids

Almost all visitors love Times Square. You can browse or shop through dozens of stores: Disney, Forever 21, Sephora, M&M’s World, Hershey’s Chocolate World, Toys R Us, Yankee Clubhouse store and dozens of others. Kids can take photos with all kinds of characters, from superheros to Sesame Street to Disney Princesses. And if just walking around for free isn’t enough, you’ll want to check out Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Bowlmor Lanes, all kids’ favorites.

Get your free Times Square map.

Take the Roosevelt Island Tram

Roosevelt Island Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram is a great way to see NYC’s beautiful skyline on the return trip and it’s a little bit like an amusement park ride, especially with kids. The 4 minute ride, which offers spectacular views to its passengers, has been praised in the New York Times as “the most exciting view in New York City!” It’s free with your Metrocard, and just the cost of a subway ride. Board at 59th St & 2nd Ave. Read More: Roosevelt Island Tram

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A Night at the Museum

Just a few times per year, the Museum of Natural History lets you sleep over!!!! And yes, it’s just like the movie! Evening and morning snacks, cots to sleep on, a flashlight fossil fact-finding mission, live animals, private museum tours and more.

A Night at the Museum

Sleep Over at the Museum of Natural History

This is an authentic NYC experience you and the kids can’t miss! Ages 6 – 13, + an accompanying guardian. Read More: Museum Sleepovers NYC

Indoor Things to do in New York City with Kids

Clearly, I haven’t nearly been able to cover all the fun things to do in NYC with kids. Until I do, please check a few of my favorite local business just for kids in NYC. All run by local natives, and people I’ve known 30+ years, who have and love kids!

Karma Kids Yoga

Things to do in New York City with Kids

Karma Kids Yoga, founded and managed by my awesome friend, Shari Vilchez-Blatt with loads of help from her precious daughter, Layla Moon. No one in NYC does Kids yoga better than Karma Kids! Classes include Super Hero Yoga (above), Storytime Yoga, Pajama Glow-in-the-Dark Yoga and tons more! Shari is THE kids yoga guru in the US, and travels all over the world teaching other yogis how to teach kids.

Read More: Karma Kids Yoga NYC

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New York With Kids

New York With Kids

Top New York City Attractions for Kids

One of the best parts of NYC is that what is fun for kids is usually just as much fun for adults.

Things to Do in New York With Kids

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