Best Family Attractions in NYC

Best Family Attractions in NYC

New York, the place where dreams are discovered. Also the place that I’m guessing most parents avoid, what with the manic taxi honking, pedestrians walking left, right and centre, and then choice overload on places to visit. From doing my research, I’ve discovered that perhaps New York isn’t so bad for parents after all. I’m not a parent but when I have kids, I’m certainly not ruling it out. It’s where my Husband and I had our honeymoon and spent Christmas there, so we have lots of lovely memories of the city.

I’m going to be breaking down in this post, the best places to take the kids in NYC. I’ve also got some suggestions from you guys over on twitter which I’ve listed at the bottom of the post – thank you! It’s always lovely to have contributions from people who have discovered places I might not find. If you want to follow me and leave more suggestions I can keep adding to this post, tweet me @fessjarmer (my twitter link is on the top, left of this post too).

1. Hudson River Park

Hudson River ParkCredit: Teri Tynes @

I’m guessing this is not one of the places that would be at the top of your list when visiting NYC, however the Hudson River Park is amazing for kids. The park is split into different piers as it’s located at the river front. At Pier 25 you can play mini golf (see images above), so something for the parents too! Your kids can enjoy the four different play areas available, some equipped with water fountains; perfect if it’s a hot, sunny day.  There’s also a carousel, basketball courts, beach volleyball, bowling, ice skating, rock climbing, a skatepark and tennis courts. There’s definitely something for kids of all ages and it’s all (mostly) free! The perfect place to let your kids loose!


2. Top of the Rock

Top of the RockCredit: Ivan Velazco @

Your kids will love the amazing views of the New York Skyline from the Top of the Rock observation desk at the Rockfeller Centre. Another great thing is that after your visit, the Rockefeller centre itself is packed full of shops they’ll love (FDNY Firezone; Nintendo Store; Lego Store etc..) and plenty of restaurants to stuff your faces at (Harry’s Italian Pizza Parlour; Bill’s Bar and Burger; Ben & Jerry’s).
Tickers bought online save you queuing at the box office. An adult costs: $34; children 6-12: $28; seniors: $32 and children under 6 are free (another reason it’s great if you’re travelling with young kids). There are many different upgrades and passes available, so be sure to visit the website before deciding.


For info on the Rockefeller centre:

TRAVEL TIP 101 – Always buy your tickets online before leaving your home country as this saves time (and parents, I can imagine this is something you are constantly trying to do) and sometimes it’s cheaper.

3. American Girl’s Rockefeller Centre Store

American Girl StoreCredit: Michelle @

Probably every girls heaven (or boys too!) Based on the brand of doll, this place is full of everything a little girl ask for. You don’t need an American Girl doll to enjoy it. There’s a salon where the girls and their dolls can get matching hairstyles, manicures and even ear piercings! Maybe that’s a step too far… unless your girl(s) has their ears pierced already! Be sure to make your reservation online to avoid disappointment. The girls and their dolls can enjoy a bite to eat in the American Girl Cafe where they have things like afternoon tea, pancakes, burgers and chicken tenders on the menu (great for Dad too!) American Girls have just opened a new store on the Rockefeller Plaza.


4. Central Park

Central Park

You’re definitely familiar with Central Park. You probably were planning on going there. What you might not have known (I didn’t) is that the park is FULL of playgrounds. It’s like playground heaven! My favourites are: Diana Ross playground; adventure playground; East 110th St playground; East 72nd St playground; Ancient playground and Tarr Coyne Totts playground. There a playground for children of all ages: babies, toddlers and older children. There’s water fountains, climbing frames; everything that can wear a child out!


5. Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museum NYCCredit: Daniel Mennerich @

The American Natural History Museum is more than just a museum; it’s a place of discovery. It could be the place that sparks wonder in your child! The exhibitions are always changing, so check the website for these. It’s not just history but also a place for science discovery too. And if you’re child is a fan of the Night at the Museum, why not embark of the Night at the Museum tour?
General admissions costs are: Adults: $23; Child (2-13): $13 and Seniors and Students: $13.


6. Brooklyn’s Children Museum

Brooklyn Children's MuseumCredit: Dave Pinter @

Open since 1899, the Brooklyn Museum has been exciting children about learning and opening its doors to millions of family visitors. I know that taking a trip to Brooklyn might seem like something you’d rather not do but trust me, there are many cool things to do there (see below) so try not to rule it out. It’s the new Manhattan didn’t you know!
The children’s museum offers three floors of interactive exhibits and hands-on science programs for children age 6 months-10 years. Worth a visit! Admission costs: $11 for all.


7. Coney Island

Coney IslandCredit: Acidpolly @

If you’re visiting between Easter and Halloween be sure to visit this seasonal attraction – the Blackpool of NYC! Coney Island is an island of fun that I’m sure every kid will enjoy. There’s rides such as the Cyclone Rollercoaster; an aquarium and the iconic ferris wheel + much more. It really is a whirl wind of adventure and perhaps a throwback to any parent’s summer holidays spent as a child at Blackpool pleasure beach.  Check the below website for information on how to get to the island.


8. Prospect Park

Prospect Park Credit: Jana Markova @

Prospect Park in Brooklyn is another reason why you need to visit. This park is one of my favourites because it’s the perfect place to relax on a sunny day; have a picnic or a BBQ (Yes, you’re allowed to bring BBQs in certain areas). Can’t be bothered? Visit the Smorgasboard in the park; an outdoor market of 100 vendors (see image above to get your taste buds tingling!)
Not only is it the perfect place to lay down your towel but also you can play sports such as tennis; go horse riding or even visit the Prospect Park Zoo! There’s too many things to list!


9. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic GardensCredit: Shinya Susuki @

Escape the mad city rush to one of New York’s beautiful botanic gardens. There’s plenty of things for the kids to do there, from the Discovery Garden where there are activities to complete and scavenger hunts to compete with the siblings (or maybe not!) The Giant Birds Nest looks fun too!
Admission costs are: Adults $15; Seniors: $8; Students (12+): $8 and children under 12 are free (Excellent!) Everyone goes free on winter weekdays (Dec – Feb).


10. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park Credit: Shinya Suzuki @

Why not pair a visit to Brooklyn Bridge with visiting the park too? The kids will love it! The perfect place to run around and let off some steam. There are so many things to do there that aren’t always known about, such as the sandbox village: basically a massive sandbox for younger and older kids alike! I love how inventive the playground names are (wish they were named in the UK!) I mean, Slide Mountain (another epic playground) and Swing Valley. It’s making me want kids so I can go there and enjoy them too! And it’s all free!


11. The Nintendo Store

Nintendo WorldCredit: Jamal Fanaian @

Make sure you have some money put aside before letting your kids loose in this store! They’re definitely going to want some sort of merchandise! When I visited, I bought two t-shirts which were pretty cool, so there’s stuff for the adults too, if you love Nintendo as much as your kids might do. You can have a photo moment in the Mushroom Kingdom Warp Pipe (they’ll know what it is!) It’s 10,000 sq feet, so put some time aside as well! It might take all day.. but so very very worth it.


12. Bronx Zoo

Bronx ZooCredit: Ingrid Richter @

The largest metropolitan zoo has got to be visited if you’re in the neighbourhood. Not many people do go and visit the Bronx actually but if they do, this is probably where they’re heading. The kids will love the lions and bears (just don’t get too close!) as well as the 4D theatre experience and penguin feeding time. It’s definitely a full-on day out. Adults cost: $28.95; children (3-12): $20.95; Seniors: $26.95 and children 2 and under go free.


13. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Children's Museum of ManhattanCredit: Sarah Ackerman @

If you don’t fancy trekking over to Brooklyn to visit the children’s museum there (see above) then why not enjoy five floors of fun at this one in Manhattan? The hands-on learning environment will have them entertained for hours with the many many exhibits that are changing constantly (currently there’s Let’s Dance, an exhibit to encourage children to get moving). And for the adults? The Meatball Shop is nearby; perfect for a lunch pitstop.
It costs for children and adults: $14; Seniors $11 and children under 12 months are free.


14. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Sea, Air and Space MuseumCredit: Nasa HQ Photo @

If you’re kids are into anything boat/plane or space related, this the perfect place for a day trip out. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum is inspiring, educational and fun. The kids can enjoy the Exploreum Hall; 13,000 sq feet of interactive activities; a virtual flight simulator and simply standing in awe and amazement at some of the space shuttles, air craft and submarines they have there. Adults cost: $33; Seniors: $31 and children (5-12): $24.


15. New York Hall of Science

The New York Hall of ScienceCredit: The New York Hall of Science @

Any budding scientists in your family? Even if the answer is no, this place could be a great source of inspiration, with 450+ interactive displays. Kids can play together in the science playground (there are fog machines!) and enjoy family time at the 3D theatre. Adults cost: $16; Seniors, students and children 2-17: $13. Admission is free on Fridays 2-5pm and Sundays 10-11am.


16. Chelsea Piers

Chelsea PierCredit: Boss Tweed @

Located near the Hudson River, Chelsea Pier is the place to be for all sporty kids and their sporty parents! There are 25+ sports on offer, from: baseball, basketball, boxing to rock climbing, cycling and tennis. See the website below for the full list. And after a day of sport, why not take your knackered kids (and yourself!) to eat at the Piers Pizza Company. You can’t go wrong with a slice of New York pizza! For prices visit the site below.


17. Saks Store at Christmas

Saks Store ChristmasCredit: Allan Harris @

If you’re visiting over the Christmas period like I did, you won’t be able to miss the Saks Store’s annual display of lights – you’ll hear it all the way down fifth ave! It happens every so often, on timer, throughout every evening leading up Christmas. The lights play to a chosen Christmas track and it’s simply spectacular. When I saw it, it was playing to Carol of the Bells; it’s all you could hear from miles. One thing to watch out for though is the crowds; they’re immense!

18. Times Square

Times SquareCredit: Tom Roeleveld @

Times Square is amazing for all the family. Who can resist the sparkling lights and the feeling it’s daytime when it’s actually night?! There’s plenty of places to eat around Times Sq (TGI Fridays is always a good option) and also to shop: The Disney Store is a must – there’s a ferris wheel inside!!

19. Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market Credit: Alexandra Marshall @

If you’re after somewhere to eat, I’d recommend Chelsea Market, especially if you have some picky eaters in your hands. Chelsea Market is full of vendors selling a range of foods such as pizza, sushi, milkshakes, thai and doughnuts – there’s literally everything all packed under one roof that was once part of the Meatpacking industry. You’ll never go hungry at Chelsea Market. For a list of all the shops, see the website below. The High Line is nearby as well if you fancy walking across it.


20. Madame Tussauds New York

Madame TussaudsCredit: Aveira @

I know we have one in London but what child doesn’t like to visit and pose next to their favourite celebrities? And this one is located in Times Square! They might like the Hulk, Youtuber Jenna Marbles, ET, Iron Man etc.. It’s definitely worth buying your tickets online as you’ll save $6 per person and enter via the VIP lane. Tickets bought online are: adults and children: $29.


Your Suggestions!

I took to Twitter to ask you where you’d take the kids in New York, and here they are:

  • Dani from Suffering Wanderlust / @daniwanderlust – “The museum of natural history is fantastic, and there’s a play park and mini theme park in Central Park which are amazing!”
  • Sarah from In Full Flavour / @Scully1983 – “Central park zoo is really cute. Also there is an amazing Nintendo store at Rockerfella plaza where they’ve got loads of consoles set up to play on”
  • Becky from Uptown Oracle / @Uptown_Oracle – “We went to the Bronx zoo! Also I loved getting the boat to see Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty!”
  • Laura Smith from Laura Michelle Smith / @lauramsmith – “If they’re old enough to kayak, you can kayak on the Hudson for free from one of the piers (no.20something I think). Central Park Zoo, Times Square interactive TV, visit Toys R Us and M&M world.”
  • Jasmine from Life of a Simple Reader / @BooksAddictJax – “Central Park! I absolutely LOVE the overall atmosphere there.”
  • Hanna from Just Hannah Here / @justhannahhhere – “You can get a cable car to Roosevelt Island which has a park with a nice view of Manhattan and the cable car is pretty cool.”

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