Top 10 Things to do when in New York with Kids
by Little Fairy Project on 23 May 2016
My husband and I visited New York, for the first time together, four years ago. Alone, no kids. It was amazing and we loved and enjoyed every moment of it.
This Easter we visited New York once again, for a week, but with one big difference. We were there with Lara and Josep, our 2 year old girl and 5 year old boy. It was, once again amazing, only this time, our entire week was about our kids and their time in New York.
I had spent weeks and weeks planning our trip, with help of numerous guides and friends' advice. And boy, what an amazing trip it was!
So, if you're planning a trip to NYC with your kids and are not sure about kids friendly places to see or museums interesting enough to visit, just go through this post and these advice about 10 places that you absolutely can’t miss when in NYC with kids. Our kids are still small, but I think that these places would be just as interesting for the bigger kids. Also, keep in mind that we visited New York during the last week of March, so weather was quite unstable. We enjoyed some warm days of fantastic sun, one rainy and very damp day and a couple of rainy and chilly mornings, which turned into sunny afternoons. So, we couldn’t really enjoy and experiment all the fantastic playgrounds and outer spaces for kids. On them, when we visit next time. So here’s my list.
#1 Top of the Rock
We visited both Empire State Building and Top of the Rock. As an architect, I am always thrilled to visit the Empire state and enjoy its amazing architecture, climb its top and enjoy its view. But if you’re visiting with kids, especially small ones, you do not want to miss climbing the Top of the Rock. First of all, the visit is more organised then the one to the Empire State Building. You get the ticket and the time of your visit. You can even get it the day before. The wait is minimal, long enough to get your picture taken and to see a couple of 5 minutes films about the Rockefeller Center. Once you’re up, there are no lines, there is no crowd. The terrace has glass walls which go all the way to the floor instead of wall-fence, so your kids can also enjoy the view and the fantastic New York architecture without you having to lift them up and carry them around in your arms. And the view is spectacular because it includes Empire State Building as well! Definitely, not to miss!
#2 American Museum of Natural History
We visited American Museum of Natural History on a rainy Monday afternoon and we did well. Even though the museum was quite packed, the kids enjoyed it to the limits. They loved the animal exhibitions and the space and planetarium shows. I cannot begin to explain to you Josep’s happiness when we stepped on the fourth floor with Dinosaurs, he was a huge fan of this part of the museum.
We decided to visit the Intrepid on a rainy and a bit chilly morning. Don’t do that. The museum, which is amazing, is placed on an Aircraft Carrier, so one part of it, with the planes and helicopters is on the deck of the ship. It is incredible, something you do not want to miss and it takes time to visit, so, if you don’t have to, don’t visit it on a rainy and cold day, because you won’t truly appreciate it.
Inside the museum there is a wonderful kids area, called the Exploreum Hall, where kids and adults can “drive” different types of helicopters and planes, “sleep” in a submarine bed, and participate in different kinds of very interesting experiments. Josep and Lara both enjoyed it and had lots of fun.
Before our trip, I had already thought of buying the tickets for some Broadway show that I thought would be of interest to Josep. But the ticket prices were super high and considering that he was 5 and that I wasn’t really sure if he would “last” through a two hour show, I didn’t get them online before our trip. It was definitely a smart thing to do. Once we were on Broadway, we could choose better a show that he liked. He chose The Lion King and we got our tickets directly at the Minskoff Theatre. The cashier advised us on the best tickets for us, considering the Josep’s height and the price was definitely more reasonable.
Our show was a matinee show, beginning at 2PM, so, even though he still had some jet lag, he was not tired. He loved the show! So much that he practically cried when it ended. It was definitely a spot on! I highly recommend it both for kids and adults! They will love it and so will you, that’s for sure!
#5 Times square
This is a place where everyone remains speechless, kids included. The big screens, all that movement, the shops, the publicity for Broadway shows is something you don’t see that often.
#6 Central park
Central park is a beautiful place, romantic, picturesque, simply wonderful. If you are visiting it with your kids, you should bare in mind one thing, South part is kids friendlier, while north part is more romantic and more for adults. We visited more or less, the entire park with our kids so I can confirm that South part is definitely more for children and they enjoy it more. So these are the things I think your little ones should definitely experience when in Central Park:
- Horse ride. We went on a carriage ride and we loved it, all four of us, especially the kids.
- Heckscher Playground. It is a very nice and interesting place where they can play and you can just relax and have a chat with New Yorkers.
- Carrousel. I have to say, a bit expensive, but definitely worth the money.
- Alice in Wonderland. Josep has just discovered the story of Alice, so you can imagine how thrilled he was to “climb” her statue.
Museum of Mathematics was one of the super stars of the week. It surprised me a lot and it was, honestly, one of the best, if not the best, museums for kids I’ve ever visited. It is incredibly creative and intelligent, adventurous and interesting, for kids of all ages and interests. Josep and Lara both enjoyed it immensely and had so much fun, each in his own way. It is a fantastic place, the staff are very sweet and kinds young people, who try to involve the visitors in all kinds of super interesting activities. It is an absolute must if you’re in NYC with kids.
#8 New York City Fire Museum
This small Downtown museum was the star of our fourth day in New York. We all enjoyed its historical artefacts and gleaming tower firetrucks. There is also a memorabilia from the New York Fire Department’s rescue efforts on September 11, 2001. Josep couldn’t possibly leave without trying on the heroic firefighters gear and helmets and he had so much fun playing dress-up.
#9 Children’s Museum of the Arts
This place is very close to the New York City Fire Museum and is also quite small, so, just like us, you might want to consider visiting both of them in one day, maybe even one morning, if you’re an early starter.
It is an amazing place, where your kids not only will have a lot of fun, but will also have the opportunity to inspire the creative spirit inside them. It is intended for kids age 10 month to 15 years and they also encourage adults to join in and participate.
Once in the museum, don’t forget to sign your little one up for the 35 minutes Clay bar session. Not only will they have a lot of fun, but they will also take home a wonderful souvenir. Simply adorable!
#10 Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
This was our alternative to the Hudson River Boat Ride for one simple reason, that I am sure most of you will understand. The weather in New York was quite windy the week we were there. Our kids get motion sick even in the car, so you can understand that we did not want to take any chances with the boat ride on rough waters. So we chose to go around the south part of ile of Manhattan and see Jersey, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge, Elice Island and the Statue of Liberty from Manhattan side. And trust me, we didn’t regret it!
Waterfront Greenway is foreshore greenway for walking and cycling which goes around island of Manhattan. The most famous and the most beautiful part is Hudson River Greenway, which runs along the West Side, from Dyckman Street in the north to Battery Park in the south, mostly through Riverside Park and Hudson River Park Westside. There are several spots where you can rent a bike and enjoy the views without feeling too tired. And your kids will love it! You can also do it online before your trip and choose exactly the type of bike and bike equipment you may need. Here’s where you can do it: Bike New York City.
New York is, without a doubt, the most fantastic city in the world, so there are thousands of places you can visit during your stay there. Nevertheless, however long your stay may be, I think you should definitely find time to see these 10 with your kids. Have a great vacation!