New York with (young) kids: 7 nice places to visit and a small guide for parents

Raluca Loteanu February 14, 2017
5 people like this post
new york with kids

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my whole disclosure here.

In November last year, I was preparing to travel to New York with my 3-year old son, so I did a lot of research to see what people can do in New York with kids. I found a lot of articles, but most of the ideas were more suitable for older kids, so we needed to select only a part of them and to adjust them to what a young child can do. This is why I decided to gather here some nice ideas of things to do with young kids in New York because I am sure that there are many other parents who can use some inspiration.

7 nice places to visit in New York with kids

I traveled alone with Bogdan, so I really needed to create a schedule that was good for him and to include on it only places which I knew he would enjoy. If I had to pick 5 places we enjoyed the most, this would be our top:

1. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Bogdan really enjoyed this museum, so I recommend you visit it if you have kids under six. The place has several floors with different themes, so the little ones don’t get bored there. The only disadvantage of the place is that they don’t have a restaurant or snack shop there, so if your kids get hungry you need to find a restaurant close to the museum. The good part is that the entrance ticket is valid all day, so you can go outside for lunch and return later. You can find more details on the CMOM official site.

2. New York Transit Museum

If your kids are fans of subway cars and buses (like mine is), they will certainly like this museum! Visitors can walk through actual vintage subway cars in a decommissioned subway station and kids can board a bus and a trolley. We spend half a day there although it’s not a very big museum because it is really engaging, especially for boys. 🙂 In weekends there are programs planned for kids and you can attend them for free, but the place is also much busier at the end of the week, so we preferred to visit it on a weekday. You can find more details on the NY Transit Museum site.

3. Central Park and Central Park Zoo

Central Park is a landmark for New York and if you are traveling with kids it’s certainly worth a visit. Besides the walk through the park, we enjoyed the visit at the Zoo. First we planned to visit the Bronx Zoo, which is the biggest zoo in America, but we discovered this small zoo and we decided to change our plan. Although the zoo is small, I think it is great for younger kids. Bogdan especially liked the Kids Zoo, a part where kids could feed some domestic animals and get close to them. You can find more details about the zoo on the Central Park site.

4. American Museum of Natural History

This is a huge museum and probably is more suitable for older kids, but we also had a very nice time there. Because the museum is so big you need to choose what you really want to see and to skip the other parts. Bogdan enjoyed the time spent in the Discovery Room, a place where little children can play and learn about a lot of the things that are included in the museum. You can find details for planning your visit on their site.

5. The Empire State Building

The building is a great experience to have in New York and the views from the 86th floor are really amazing. Kids will certainly enjoy the “ride” with the elevator and the views from above! The building is open daily from 8 am to 2 am, so you can visit it at night if you want to enjoy the city lights. For more details, you can visit the Empire State Building site.

25 Boredom Busters for Young Kids

Join our community and receive our list of 25 low or no-prep activities that young kids will enjoy! You'll also get access to our exclusive printable collection of resources for parents.

6. Top of the Rock Observation Desk

This experience is similar with the one from the Empire State Building, but we enjoyed it as much. The Observation Desk is located in the Rockefeller Center and it offers wonderful views of the city. We visited Empire State Building at night, so I decided to go to Top of the Rock Observation Desk during the day so that we could admire the city in plain daylight. The experience was amazing and it was fun for Bogdan too, so I totally recommend it. More details about this attraction can be found on the Rockefeller Center site.

7. Walks in the center of the city

This is not really a place to visit but more a recommendation. Usually, as tourists, we want to see as many attractions as we can and we sometimes forget to simply enjoy the city we visit. Children are great at reminding us to slow the pace and enjoy the atmosphere, so I did this in New York and I loved it! Every evening we went for a walk in the center of the city and admired the high buildings, the nice stores, and even the crowded places. The atmosphere in New York is really special and you can have a wonderful experience by just walking on the big boulevards. Times Square and Broadway are perfect destinations for the walks.

Other nice places

In New York, there are a lot of other museums dedicated to children, like Brooklyn Children’s MuseumChildren’s Museum of the Arts, and DiMenna Children’s Museum at the New York Historical Society) but I only focused on the ones that are appropriate for small kids.

Besides the attraction on the above list, we had also other places on our list that we haven’t got the time to visit. I add them here because I heard they are great for kids too:

Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum (for kids who like planes and ships)

The Highline Park and Walking Path (for walking and admiring the city at the same time)

The Bronx Zoo (the biggest zoo in America; it was on our list but we ended up visiting the Central Park Zoo instead)

The Staten Islad Ferry (if your kids would enjoy a cruise and seeing the Statue of Liberty)

The New York Botanical Garten (I heard that this place is wonderful, but we haven’t got the time to visit it).new york with kids

A small guide for parents

Visiting New York with kids can be overwhelming! New York is a huge city with a lot of places to visit and it can hard to be able to stick to a schedule when you have kids around.

Here are some useful tips that I think could help you plan your trip better and enjoy more the time spent in New York.

1. Museum tickets can be expensive if you plan to visit a lot of places, so it is more convenient to buy a city pass that includes more attractions at a better price. There are several options to choose from, we had the New York city pass and it was very good for us.

2. New York is a very popular tourist destinations, so famous museums have big lines at pick hours. It is better to go to a museum early in the morning when they open because this way you can buy tickets faster and enjoy at least an hour of quiet time in the museum before it gets busy. Children museums are particularly crowded on weekends, so it is better to plan your visit during the week. Another good way to skip the lines is to buy the tickets online; you can also get some discounts this way.

3. If you are from Europe (like we are), you could find it difficult to choose a restaurant that it’s suitable for your kids. If your children are no used to eat burgers and other fast food products (or if you just want to choose healthier meals), finding a good restaurant can be challenging. We ate at some Italian restaurants where food was more similar to what we were used to and we also ate at California Pizza Kitchen where we found tasty pizza and pasta.

4. If you have toddlers and even preschoolers it could be a good idea to bring a stroller with you. I haven’t brought a stroller for Bogdan (because we don’t use it at home), but I needed to rent one in New York because walking through the town was really tiring for him. To be able to keep the pace necessary for visiting all the attractions the stroller was the only option for us.

5. Waiting in lines would probably be part of every day you spend in New York, so it’s a good idea to bring some toys or activities to keep your child busy during the wait. I had some toy cars and some activity books for Bogdan and they were really useful!

6. For moving around in New York the cheapest option is the public transport, but for long distances using the bus or the subway can be really tiring for kids. Instead, we used Uber a lot and it was the best option for us. Normally the child must sit in a car seat during the ride, so it’s better to bring a booster for your kid.

 7. A lot of museum offer free programs for kids, so it’s useful to check their websites and to see what your kids could do. Some museum has special rooms dedicated to children (like the Natural History Museum), other have free classes for kids on particular days (like the Transit Museum) and you can schedule your visit in order for your child to be able to attend them.new york with kids

Category: Destinations
  • 20
  • 912

Sharing is Caring!

Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

Leave your comment

Comments (20 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Aneesha

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    It's wonderful to know that even in a place like New York City, there are several things one can do with kids! Had no idea about the kid's museums!
  • avatar image

    Christie Brown

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    These sound like places that I'd love to visit, let alone kids haha. I am a big kid at heart, though, that's probably why. :P I've always wanted to go to New York. One day *sigh* Christie's Take on Life. xx
  • avatar image

    Marissa_Travel Greece, Travel Europe

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I grew up in New York and one of my favorite places was taking a day excursion to Central Park. I have so many nice memories of walking through and visiting the zoo. Nice post.
  • avatar image

    Kathiey

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I am sure there is so much to do in NY. Thanks for the helpful suggestions!
  • avatar image

    LaNeshe

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Thank you for this! I have a two year old and I've been trying to figure out what a nice NY trip would look like with her.
  • avatar image

    Jessi

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    My husband and I have been tossing around the idea of visiting NY. This is really great info, since if we go we will be taking our kids with us.
  • avatar image

    Nausheen

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    So many helpful ideas, I hadn't even thought about traveling with kids in New York! I think I'll have to hit up the Rockefeller deck myself next time I'm in NY. Thanks for sharing!
  • avatar image

    Sincerely Miss J

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    This looks wonderful! :) Sincerely Miss J www.sincerelymissj.com
  • avatar image

    Virtuous Mama

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I love this! Never thought of how to visit New York with kids. This is great! :) Virtuous Mama www.virtuousmama.org
  • avatar image

    Lauren

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Looks like fun! Thanks for all the great information. I'm saving this for our next family trip to New York.
  • avatar image

    Tatum Skipper

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Kudos on traveling with kids! Considering I only have two dogs and I know how much of a hassle just that can be haha. Although I don't have kids yet however, some great tips! I love seeing families bring young children on trips! It educates them in a way that school can't! Bravo :)
  • avatar image

    Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    There is SO much to do and see in NYC, but I agree - museums are a great place to bring kids! And you'll never run out of them in this city!
  • avatar image

    Rashida

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    My daughter's father is from NY & I'm sure he'll be taking her there to visit at some point. These are some great ideas.
  • avatar image

    Ariane

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I loved your post. It's great to visit the big cities, but it can sometimes be boring for kids. this article is really helpfull for parents who want to visit the big apple without any drama ;-)
  • avatar image

    Bhushavali

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I'm yet to visit New York and I really hope I would in future! Your list looks interesting. I agree, many a times running after places, we tend to forget to enjoy the city as it is!!!
  • avatar image

    Shane Prather

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I don't yet have kiddos but most of these activities sound fun for all ages! Thanks for the ideas.
  • avatar image

    Oyinkan Ogunleye

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    Taking kids to the Top of the Rock is such a great idea as my mom used to take my brother and I to the top of the Twin Towers when we were kids... great memories! xoxo, http://befittingstyle.com/red-pink-jacket-valentines-day-nyfw/
  • avatar image

    Suruchi

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    I will sure need this list once i am into parenting stage. Never knew about kids museum. Your whole list looks fun. I think I can have good time with my husband at all these places as we are still into that phase of childhood.
  • avatar image

    Flavio @ Adventurous Travels

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    Traveling in a big city such as New York may be challenging for visitors, let alone children! Great tips on how to keep them happy and busy :)
  • avatar image

    Ami Bhat

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    Fantastic guide for families visiting with kids. I always look for some options for them as they are not always keen on what we have to do. This gives me a lot of choice to plan a day that includes them and us.

Leave your comment

Comments (20 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Aneesha

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    It's wonderful to know that even in a place like New York City, there are several things one can do with kids! Had no idea about the kid's museums!
  • avatar image

    Christie Brown

    February 14, 2017 Reply
    These sound like places that I'd love to visit, let alone kids haha. I am a big kid at heart, though, that's probably why. :P I've always wanted to go to New York. One day *sigh* Christie's Take on Life. xx
  • avatar image

    Marissa_Travel Greece, Travel Europe

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I grew up in New York and one of my favorite places was taking a day excursion to Central Park. I have so many nice memories of walking through and visiting the zoo. Nice post.
  • avatar image

    Kathiey

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I am sure there is so much to do in NY. Thanks for the helpful suggestions!
  • avatar image

    LaNeshe

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Thank you for this! I have a two year old and I've been trying to figure out what a nice NY trip would look like with her.
  • avatar image

    Jessi

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    My husband and I have been tossing around the idea of visiting NY. This is really great info, since if we go we will be taking our kids with us.
  • avatar image

    Nausheen

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    So many helpful ideas, I hadn't even thought about traveling with kids in New York! I think I'll have to hit up the Rockefeller deck myself next time I'm in NY. Thanks for sharing!
  • avatar image

    Sincerely Miss J

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    This looks wonderful! :) Sincerely Miss J www.sincerelymissj.com
  • avatar image

    Virtuous Mama

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    I love this! Never thought of how to visit New York with kids. This is great! :) Virtuous Mama www.virtuousmama.org
  • avatar image

    Lauren

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Looks like fun! Thanks for all the great information. I'm saving this for our next family trip to New York.
  • avatar image

    Tatum Skipper

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    Kudos on traveling with kids! Considering I only have two dogs and I know how much of a hassle just that can be haha. Although I don't have kids yet however, some great tips! I love seeing families bring young children on trips! It educates them in a way that school can't! Bravo :)
  • avatar image

    Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    There is SO much to do and see in NYC, but I agree - museums are a great place to bring kids! And you'll never run out of them in this city!
  • avatar image

    Rashida

    February 15, 2017 Reply
    My daughter's father is from NY & I'm sure he'll be taking her there to visit at some point. These are some great ideas.
  • avatar image

    Ariane

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I loved your post. It's great to visit the big cities, but it can sometimes be boring for kids. this article is really helpfull for parents who want to visit the big apple without any drama ;-)
  • avatar image

    Bhushavali

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I'm yet to visit New York and I really hope I would in future! Your list looks interesting. I agree, many a times running after places, we tend to forget to enjoy the city as it is!!!
  • avatar image

    Shane Prather

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    I don't yet have kiddos but most of these activities sound fun for all ages! Thanks for the ideas.
  • avatar image

    Oyinkan Ogunleye

    February 16, 2017 Reply
    Taking kids to the Top of the Rock is such a great idea as my mom used to take my brother and I to the top of the Twin Towers when we were kids... great memories! xoxo, http://befittingstyle.com/red-pink-jacket-valentines-day-nyfw/
  • avatar image

    Suruchi

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    I will sure need this list once i am into parenting stage. Never knew about kids museum. Your whole list looks fun. I think I can have good time with my husband at all these places as we are still into that phase of childhood.
  • avatar image

    Flavio @ Adventurous Travels

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    Traveling in a big city such as New York may be challenging for visitors, let alone children! Great tips on how to keep them happy and busy :)
  • avatar image

    Ami Bhat

    February 17, 2017 Reply
    Fantastic guide for families visiting with kids. I always look for some options for them as they are not always keen on what we have to do. This gives me a lot of choice to plan a day that includes them and us.
Get our list of 25 boredom busters for young kids!
x
x