12 things and places to visit in nyc with kids


Hey there, young explorers and awesome parents! Ria here, mom of two wild ones and certified New York City adventure expert. After countless subway rides, ice cream stops, and “I’m tired” piggyback carries, I’ve got the inside scoop on making the Big Apple absolutely magical for kids. So, grab your superhero cape (or princess tiara), and let’s dive into the concrete jungle!

Table of Contents

central park kids riding

Central Park: Where City Kids Go Wild

Imagine a giant playground right in the middle of skyscrapers – that’s Central Park! My kids could spend all day here:

  • Climb the huge rocks near Heckscher Playground – it’s like being mountain climbers!
  • Rent a rowboat at the Loeb Boathouse and pretend you’re pirates
  • Visit the Central Park Zoo – the penguin feeding time is hilarious
  • In winter, go sledding on Pilgrim Hill

Kid Tip: Pack a picnic and eat it by the Alice in Wonderland statue. It feels like you’re having tea with the Mad Hatter!

American Museum of Natural History: Dinosaurs, Space, and More!

Warning: Your kids might never want to leave this place. Seriously.

  • The dinosaur halls are mind-blowing – the T-Rex is as tall as a house!
  • The planetarium show will make you feel like an astronaut
  • Don’t miss the giant blue whale in the ocean hall

Parent Hack: Download the museum’s Explorer app before you go. It has cool scavenger hunts that keep kids engaged (and out of the gift shop).

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Waterfront Wonder World

This park has it all: views, fun, and the best pizza nearby.

  • Ride Jane’s Carousel, a 100-year-old merry-go-round in a glass box by the water
  • Cool off in the water play areas (bring swimsuits in summer!)
  • Challenge your parents to a game of ping pong
  • Eat pizza at Grimaldi’s – it’s a NYC rite of passage

Kid’s Choice: The giant slide at Pier 6 Playground is epic. Race you to the bottom!

high line park

The High Line: Walk in the Sky

This park is built on an old train track above the streets. How cool is that?

  • Look for art installations – some are really wacky
  • Play in the water feature near 14th Street (bring extra socks!)
  • Spot Lady Liberty in the distance

Ria’s Tip: Go early in the morning to avoid crowds, and bring binoculars for building spotting.

elllis island nyc

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: Time Travel Adventure

Yes, it involves a boat ride AND a giant statue. Win-win!

  • Climb to Lady Liberty’s crown (book way in advance)
  • Become a Junior Ranger at Ellis Island
  • Imagine what it was like for kids your age arriving in America long ago

Family Activity: Before you go, have everyone pick a family ancestor to learn about. Share their stories on the boat ride!

nyc transit museum

New York Transit Museum: Subway Time Machine

Ever wanted to drive a subway? Here’s your chance!

  • Sit in the driver’s seat of vintage subway cars
  • Learn about how the subway was built (it’s like a giant underground ant farm)
  • Play “Subway Bingo” – spot different train models

Kid Confession: I may have pretended to be a subway conductor announcing stops… for an hour.

Luna park

Coney Island: Beachy Thrills and Spills

It’s like a carnival, beach, and food paradise all in one!

  • Ride the historic Cyclone roller coaster (if you dare!)
  • Play old-school arcade games on the boardwalk
  • Watch the wacky Mermaid Parade in June

Must-Try: Nathan’s Famous hot dogs – they’ve been serving them here since 1916!

queens county farm

Queens County Farm Museum: City Slickers Turn Farmers

Did you know there’s a real working farm in New York City?

  • Pet and feed farm animals
  • Pick your own fruits and veggies (seasonal)
  • Get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze in fall

Kid-Approved: The hayrides are bumpy and hilarious – hold on tight!

New York Hall of Science

New York Hall of Science: Experiments Galore

Warning: You might accidentally learn something while having tons of fun.

  • Make giant bubbles in the outdoor science playground
  • Design and race your own paper airplane
  • Climb the giant rope spider web

Science Snack Break: The hydrogen ice cream made with liquid nitrogen is both delicious AND educational!

Broadway Shows NYC

Broadway Shows: Bright Lights, Big Dreams

Seeing a Broadway show is like stepping into another world!

  • “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” are perfect first Broadway experiences
  • Go to a matinee show if bedtimes are strict
  • TKTS booth in Times Square sometimes has discounted tickets

Backstage Pass: Some shows offer tours or workshops for kids – check their websites!

For thrill-seeking families, this high-speed boat ride around Manhattan is a blast!

  • Hold on tight as you zoom past landmarks
  • Be prepared to get wet (ponchos provided)
  • The staff’s jokes are wonderfully cheesy

Parent Note: There’s a height requirement, so check before you go.

economy candy nyc

Economy Candy: Sugar Rush Central

This old-school candy shop is a sweet tooth’s dream come true.

  • Floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with every candy imaginable
  • Find retro treats your parents loved as kids
  • Create your own mix-and-match bag

Cavity Warning: Maybe schedule a dentist appointment after your NYC trip… just kidding! (Kind of.)

Tips for Young NYC Explorers:

  1. Comfy shoes are your best friend – we walk A LOT in this city!
  2. Always have snacks and water. Hangry kids (and parents) are no fun.
  3. Learn the subway map – it’s like a real-life puzzle game.
  4. Don’t be afraid to talk to New Yorkers. Most of us are nice and love helping visitors!
  5. Keep a journal or sketchbook to remember your adventures.

Remember, kids: The best part of New York City is that there’s always something new to discover. Every time you visit, you’ll find a new favorite spot or crazy adventure. So, put on your explorer hat, grab your grown-up’s hand, and let’s hit the city streets!

Parents, I’d love to hear about your family’s NYC discoveries. Drop a comment below with your kids’ favorite Big Apple moments!

Happy exploring!

Picture of Ria Menda

Ria Menda

Ria Menda is a mother of three young children, Through her blog she shares the realities, challenges and humor of parenting in hopes of helping other mothers feel less alone.


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