New York is understandably one of the world’s most exciting holiday destinations, thanks to its high concentration of top-tier attractions, great shopping, and wonderful restaurant scene. New York is also a must-visit destination for families as there are many fun things to see and do to entertain the kids. From spending time at Madame Tussauds to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and from visiting the Statue of Liberty to taking in a Broadway Show, there’s no end to the possibilities. To help you plan your visit, we thought it prudent to put together this guide to visiting New York with kids. Below you will find tips and advice from those who have visited and a few suggestions on New York City attractions that children will love.
Exploring New York with kids
First things first, it might be best to discuss the right way for you and your family to explore this wonderful city. If you were visiting with just adults, simply walking everywhere might be an attractive way to see what’s around but with young children tiring easily, you might want to find alternate solutions, such as public transport. On the very topic of travelling around NYC, Marcie, from the popular family travel blog, Marcie in Mommyland, spoke to us regarding her number one tip for visiting New York with kids:
“With their world-renowned museums, attractions, restaurants, and experiences, New York City is an amazing place for families! Since this is a pedestrian-friendly city, you will be amazed by how many miles you walk each day. Your kids might not be able to keep up, so my biggest tip is to use a baby carrier or stroller. And pick up a metro card! With their efficient subway and bus systems, you can easily zip around the whole city with kids.”
Marcie’s amazing tips don’t stop here, she also offered advice on fun places for you and your kids to eat: “Finally, we can't talk about NYC without talking about the delicious treats! Head to William Greenberg Desserts for their famous black & white cookies and Levain Bakery for the thickest walnut chocolate chip cookies you've ever seen!”
Depending on the time of year you are planning to visit, New York’s weather varies wildly so it’s important that you both pack and dress appropriately. In the summer months, of course, (a very popular time of year to visit) the temperatures can be scorching, often topping 30 degrees Celsius. If you are visiting during summer, shorts and t-shirts will be a must, as well as hats for the little ones (and don’t forget that sun cream!). Showers are always an option of course so a light waterproof jacket and umbrella would go down well.
If your trip to New York is likely to take place during the winter, expect very chilly weather to greet you, with the temperature often dipping below zero degrees. Therefore, you will want to pack plenty of sweatshirts, socks, and warm coats to wear. Gloves, scarfs and hats will also be required, especially to help keep the kids warm while travelling between destinations.
Remember to enjoy the finer things
Just because you have kids in toe, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the more luxurious side of NYC. Katie Lara, a luxury lifestyle, parenting, and travel blogger with a great fondness of New York, offered us her top recommendation for visiting the city with children, suggesting heading to The Plaza at Central Park, among other delights:
“Having little ones doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the finer things in life when visiting New York City. There are plenty of ways to soak in the fabulousness of Manhattan with kids in tow. If your child is a fan of The Plaza’s most famous resident, don’t miss the Eloise Suite at The Plaza. Brought to life by celebrity fashion designer Betsey Johnson, this one-of-a-kind accommodation captures the effervescent spirit of the ever-cherished Eloise, a fictional heroine who lives in the legendary Plaza Hotel. The suite is covered from top to bottom in bright pinks and whimsical prints fit for a princess.
“My other favourite thing to do is at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel. Its home to many famous murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of one of literature’s favourite darlings, Madeline. Around the holidays they have the most special Afternoon Tea experience that can't be missed. And there are also always incredible Broadway shows to take the family.”
Go on a tour
The best way to explore any city for the first time is often with a tour and this is doubly true when it comes to New York City. There’s so much to see and do, so much history on display and iconic landmarks to see, that taking a tour led by those who know the city best will be tremendously helpful. When visiting with small children, trying to navigate around while also keeping the kids in line can tricky, even if you know where you’re going, so why not take advantage of the many amazing tours available and see New York the right way. Tour guides are great at making sightseeing fun for kids and with the sheer variety of tours available – everything from film location tours to sightseeing cruises – there’s something to suit every family.
Visit the Empire State Building
If you’re thinking about a trip to NYC, you’ll be well aware of the incredible sights and landmarks available. While we could list such locations that are worth visiting all day, for the sake of brevity, the attraction of this nature that we want to suggest to you today has to be the iconic Empire State Building. Dominating the NYC city skyline, this famous building is known around the world, thanks to untold decades of paintings, photographs, films, and TV. The views from its 86th floor are simply jaw-dropping and there’s no question the kids will remember the experience for many years to come. With tickets available that help you skip the lines, climbing 1500 feet above New York has never been a more enjoyable process.
Discover the DiMenna Children’s History Museum
New-York Historical Society DiMenna Children’s History Museum, Exhibition Pavilions. New-York Historical Society / Jon Wallen
The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society presents to families a massive 350 years of American history, all through exciting interactive exhibits, digital games, and fun character-based pavilions. Created for children aged 4-14, this unique museum is the perfect avenue to explore some history as a family during your trip in a fun and engaging manner. Speaking about all the fun that can be had and what makes this New York attraction such a must, Alice Stevenson, director of the DiMenna Children's History Museum told us:
“The whole family will enjoy it! Our DiMenna Children's History Museum is designed so that kids of all ages and their grownups can immerse themselves in American history while digging into the stories of New Yorkers famous (you've heard of Alexander Hamilton?) and not so famous (meet the first Latino professional baseball player - he went to Fordham in the 19th century!) Through interactive digital games, our Barbara K. Lipman Children's History Library filled with picture books, and lots and lots of cool objects from the past, kids ages 4 to 14 will have a great time.
“Families will love our toy and train collection, our interactive digital games (my favourite is the ‘Be a Newsie!’ game), and our Barbara K. Lipman Children's History Library (a great place to take a break and grab a book). They will also love New-York Historical’s Tiffany Galleries on the 4th floor. The gallery is a showstopper and there is great history to boot. Don't miss the ‘Build your own lamp’ in the mezzanine!”
Go bowling at Bowlmor Times Square
For the parent that is looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy, why not consider an afternoon of bowling in one of New York’s most famous spots? Bowlmor Times Square isn’t your usual bowling alley and its convenient location close to so many of the wonderful sights and sounds of NYC makes it an ideal place to stop by after touring the city. If your family is fond of bowling, there’s no better place in New York to be, especially considering Bowlmor is so family friendly! Jillian Laufer, public relations manager at Bowlmor, spoke to us about what families can expect to enjoy:
“Bowlmor Times Square is New York City’s premier bowling destination that is the perfect attraction to visit with kids. Bowlmor Times Square is a 90,000 square foot venue that features fun around every corner – including seven uniquely themed bowling lounges, 48 blacklight bowling lanes, HD video walls that play anything from sporting events and music videos to classic family films, posh lane-side seating, an all-star interactive arcade, and a delicious kid-friendly menu. Bowlmor also has family-friendly features like bumpers, kid-sized bowling balls, and ramps that make bowling fun for all ages.”
Check out the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
Another attraction that is perfectly suited for families with children is the fascinating Intrepid, Sea, Air, and Space Museum. This wonderful educational attraction is based on the aircraft carrier named Intrepid and acts as a museum that showcases exhibits and promotes awareness of science, history, and service. Kids will love exploring a real-life aircraft carrier, as well as getting up close to the world’s fastest jet and spy plane; Concorde, the first space shuttle, and a Cold War-era submarine! Spending time at the Intrepid, Sea, Air, and Space Museum is a slam dunk for parents looking to treat the kids to something a little bit different from the usual museum scene. There’s no question that this historic vessel is quite unlike any other museum in all of New York. Tickets can be purchased here.
Explore National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
Image credit: National Geographic Encounter
If you and your family enjoy the ocean and the strange world of life under the sea, National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is the attraction for you – and you don’t even have to get wet! This dynamic and inventive entertainment experience truly immerses visitors by taking them on an underwater journey via cutting-edge technology. Ocean Odyssey is an interactive, walk-through experience that utilises incredibly impressive photo-realistic animation to allow visitors to encounter nature at its most stunning. Taking you on an adventure from the South Pacific to the coast of California, there’s truly nothing like it in terms of uniqueness and excitement. You can witness battling squid, beautiful coral reefs at night, and even get up-close and personal with a 50-foot humpback whale! Tickets and further information can be found here.
Tips and advice for visiting New York with kids
We hope the above advice regarding visiting the wonderful city of New York with kids has been helpful. Planning a trip to NYC is an incredibly exciting time but to make sure your dream holiday goes off without a hitch and that you’re prepared for the adventure ahead, it’s important to do a little research. Perhaps this guide will work as a jumping off point and you will go on to assemble a dense list of all the kid-friendly attractions and activities you’ll want to enjoy upon arrival. If you’re looking for some more great ideas, make sure to visit our page of NYC attractions.
Looking for more tips? Watch this video from top parenting vlogger Katie Ellison:
Image Credit: Joao Carlos Medau