Things to Do with Kids in NYC: Top 27 Fun Activities

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Wickedly green witches, and sweeping Hudson River views. Whether you’re 8 or 88, a New York City escape is always a great idea. Wondering is New York kid friendly? You better believe it!

Thanks to countless iconic landmarks, attractions, and creative activities, you’ll never run out of must-see things in NYC with kids. Follow along to discover the 27 best things to do in NYC with kids.

NYC with kids might seem like an intimidating endeavor, but with a little pre-planning, you never have to wonder how to spend a day in NYC with children.

From teenagers to toddlers, there are countless tours, museums, and sights to conquer. Spend hours exploring Central Park, from the Imagine Mosaic to the Bethesda Fountain. Or, brush up on paleontology and Blue Whales at the American Museum of Natural History.

Whether you are craving sweet treats at Dylan’s Candy Bar, or can’t wait to score a family portrait on the Brooklyn Bridge, your kids will be just begging for one more day in the Big Apple.

Ready for all of the top things to do with kids in NYC? Read on…

Manhattan skyline in Manhattan New York City, NYC, USANew York City with Kids

Before you kick off your grand New York with kids getaway you’ll need some family-friendly accommodations. Ensure your brood can recharge and relax in style with any of our New York City Hotels.

Splash around in an indoor pool, indulge in a complimentary hot breakfast or savor onsite fitness facilities and childcare. For even more kid-centric options check out our complete guide to the best NYC hotels for kids.

Fun Things to do in NYC with kids

Plane tickets have been purchased, the hotel has been booked, and now what? Don’t let the panic of planning a kid-approved Empire City getaway set in. Thanks to our comprehensive guide of kid-friendly activities, places, and attractions you’ll never have to google ‘what to do in NYC with kids.’

NYC Tours for Kids

Chelsea Market, High Line & Hudson Yards Food Tour

Want to discover NYC through your stomach? Sign up for an all-inclusive Chelsea Market, High Line, and Hudson Yards Food Tour. Tempt your tastebuds with buttery biscuits, mini doughnuts, tacos, and more on this 3-hour epicurean adventure. Suitable for all ages, this jam-packed tour will take you to foodie hot spots all over Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, and Hudson Yards.

Enjoy heaps of hilarious commentary from your comedian/actor guide, as you take in some of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. Sample up to six delicious tastings as you absorb fascinating historical facts and knowledge regarding Meatpacking’s former butcher days and the industrial origins of the High Line.

people strolling the path with pink flowers and plants on the side and buildings in the background in High Line Park, Manhattan, New York City, USA
photo credit: Gettyimages

NYC TV & Movie Tour

Hello there budding Spielbergs! Put your cinematic knowledge to the test when you reserve your family’s spot on an NYC TV & Movie Tour. Walk by the storied sets and locations of such famous flicks as When Harry met Sally, Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, and more.

Movie lovers will be in heaven as they take in the city through the lens of their favorite sitcoms and dramas. Bust out in song like the characters in Glee, or see the original locale of the iconic Soup Man from Seinfeld.

Younger movie buffs will appreciate new filming locations from blockbusters like Avengers and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Discover NYC Tour

Got a NYC bucket list a mile long? Take the headache out of tourism with a large group when you take part in a Discover NYC Tour. Choose from an open or closed top bus and relish 6 hours of fully guided sightseeing. Uncover the charm of historic neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village, Soho, Chinatown, and the Financial District.

In addition, revel in full stops at the Dakota Building, Strawberry Fields, Wall Street, and Chelsea Pier. Your tour will even go aquatic, with a Statue of Liberty boat cruise.*

*Boat cruise is a seasonal addition and will be replaced by a stop at Grand Central Terminal if unavailable.

People inside Grand Central Station - NYC, New York, USA
photo credit: Stephen H via Unplash

Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour

More than just Sheep’s Meadow and a great place to score a hot pretzel, Central Park is the most filmed public park in the world. Cinephiles of all ages will have a blast as they recognize over 30 famous filming locations from iconic shows and movies.

From the dramatic finale of the Avengers to the lighthearted chase scene in Date Night, your two-hour Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour will fly by. See where Macaulay Culkin fed the pigeons in Home Alone 2, or glimpse at the ice skating rink where sparks flew during Serendipity.

Family Attraction New York

Empire State Building

Much like the city from which she is named, the Empire State Building needs no introduction. However, it would be a shame to leave this art deco masterpiece off your Manhattan ‘to-do’ list. For over 90 years this towering 102-story edifice has enchanted visitors.

From her stunning lobby to the needle-thin antenna, every inch of this architectural masterpiece is Big Apple perfection. The Empire State Building Experience lets you and your kiddies choose from a number of unique tour options. Witness the city’s only 360-degree outdoor Observatory at sunset or sunrise, or book an Express Pass to the 86th floor.

Don’t forget to check out the completely reimagined 102nd-floor Observatory, which features a fun-filled, 10-thousand-square-foot immersive digital and tactile museum.

Close up of King Kong's hands breaking through the walls of the Empire State Building and his face on the other side of the window in NYC, New York, USA
photo credit: Empire State Building via Facebook

One World Observatory

Are you ready to ‘see forever?’ Leave your little ones breathless when you plan a full-day outing to the One World Observatory. Located on top of the One World Trade Center, tykes of all ages and interests will freak out over these unapparelled NYC views.

Kick off your journey at the Global Welcome Center which celebrates the diversity of our great nation, before hopping in the Sky Pod Elevator where you will cover 500 years of NYC evolution in under a minute.

Watch the immersive virtual time-lapse utilizing floor-to-ceiling LED technology, before entering the See Forever Theater. Lastly check out views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and the surrounding waters from the Main Observatory before witnessing one last presentation of famous faces and iconic places on the Horizon Grid.

Top of the Rock

Angling for a bird’s eye view of the Big Apple? Set your peepers on some of the best views of the city, when you travel to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Take your time admiring some of the city’s most popular sights including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty.

Head to the tippy top of 30 Rock and document 360-degree panoramas from 850 feet in the air. Breathe in the fresh air on the completely open-air deck, and be sure to spot the glittering Swarovski chandelier on the mezzanine level.

View of the city from Top of the Rock - NYC, New York, USAStatue of Liberty

Do your kiddies have their heart set on getting up close and personal with Lady Liberty? Pay your respects to the city’s most beloved copper goddess when you board a Circle Line: Liberty Midtown Cruise.

From renowned landmarks such as Ellis Island and the Chrysler building to sweeping views, and expert-level narration, you’ll savor every moment of your Circle Line Cruise. Listen up, as you won’t want to miss a minute of the Island’s historic past, or snag the perfect selfie in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Psst..want a more in-depth look at our gift from France? Cover everything there is to know about Ellis Island, Battery Park, and the Statue of Liberty when you grab a seat on the first ferry of the day to Liberty Island! Avoid the crowds, and become an expert on Lady Liberty with your Early Access Statue of Liberty Tour with Ellis Island.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Curious about how to conquer 5,000 years of art with a gaggle of kids? Put artistic appreciation in the hands of the experts, with a Met Express: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tour. Feel like true VIPs when you skip the line and head straight to the museum’s most beloved works.

From ancient Egyptian tombs and temples to self-portraits by Van Gogh, your experienced guide will illuminate the museum’s many masterpieces. Pause in front of Monet’s water lilies, or hear the tulle of Degas’s ballerinas rustle. From Rodin sculptures to abstract works by Pollack, this tour provides two hours of artistic tutelage.

front entrance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art with people walking up the stairs and taxis on the street in NYC, New York, USA
photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York via Facebook

American Museum of Natural History

Massive meteorites, a staggeringly tall Titanosaur, and an iconic 94-foot-long Blue Whale come together to make the American Museum of Natural History the largest natural history museum in the world. Spanning four city blocks, this edifice of education and discovery is bursting with over 40 exhibition halls with 32 million specimens and artifacts.

From watching paleontologists at work to admiring diamonds and sparkling jewels in the Gem and Mineral Hall, there are heaps of curiosities to uncover here. See what extinct mammals such as the Giant Sloth would have looked like, or catch insects up close in the Butterfly Pavilion. Opt for a General Admission +1 ticket and soak in the mysteries of constellations, planets, and more at the Hayden Planetarium Space Show.

Need even more Natural History Museum in your life? Surprise your kids with a special Night at the Museum Tour for some after-dark thrills.

crowd of people outside American Museum of Natural History NYCCentral Park Zoo

Wondering where the wild things roam in New York City? Inject some animal excitement into your Manhattan travels when you stop by the Central Park Zoo. For over 80 years the zoo has served as a beacon of wildlife conservation situated at the southeast corner of Central Park. Seek out the mysterious Snow Leopards, witness a live sea lion feeding, or watch ‘formally dressed’ penguins waddle through their polar habitat.

Ooh and awe over cuddly Grizzly Bears, or head south with a visit to the Tropic Zone. Feast your eyes on vibrantly hued parrots before getting hands-on with some goats, sheep, and more at the Tisch Children’s Zoo. Grab an ice cream or sandwich at the Dancing Crane Cafe, or settle in for an immersive cinematic experience at the 4D theater.

Kids Activities in NYC

See a Broadway Show

No one can resist the glittering lights, flashy costumes, and catchy songs of Broadway. From musicals to dramas, your budding thespian will never forget their first theater experience. Enjoy a midday matinee, or treat your tyke to a sensational theater district supper before watching the Genie sing and dance with Aladdin.

No matter if you are in the mood for some Hakuna Matata with the Lion King, or can’t wait to be blown away by For Good during Wicked, we have a wide variety of New York City Shows to choose from. Reunite with your favorite Hogwarts characters with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, or stay loyal to the classics with a showing of The Phantom of the Opera.

Close up photo of Elphaba from WICKED The Musical on Broadway in NYC, New York, USA
photo credit: WICKED The Musical via Facebook

Museum of Ice Cream

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! Tickle your tastebuds with a bite of something dreamy, when you swing by New York City’s sweetest spot. The Museum of Ice Cream is a joyful celebration of all things cool and creamy.

Prime your perfect smile because you’ll want to document every second of playfully pink installations, slides, and their famous sprinkle pool. Bring along a hearty appetite as you’ll want to sample ice cream offerings and toppings from around the world.

From vibrantly colored sprinkles to candies and fruit, there’s no end to the unique concoctions you can create. Participate in activities hosted by talented guides, dive into the history of ice cream, or hop on for a ride on the animal cookie carousel.

Got a hankering for even more sugar? Don’t forget to tack on special add-ons such as milkshakes, sundaes, and workshops with your museum ticket purchase.

two children sitting on a pink bench eating ice cream outside of Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain in NYC, New York, USA
photo credit: @nickisebastian and Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain via Facebook

Dylan’s Candy Bar

Keep that sugar rush flowing at Dylan’s Candy Bar! Make your mini cookie monster’s dreams come true, when you spoil them with a shopping spree at Dylan’s Candy Bar. Make a pit stop at the Hudson Yards or Times Square location and stock up on plenty of gummies, chocolates, lollipops, jawbreakers, and more.

Or really go the extra mile when you splurge on one of their specialty cones or milkshakes in the Cafe. Opt for a mouthwateringly sweet Cookie Butter shake topped with Biscoff and cookie crumbs, or tempt your little princess with a positively pink Confetti Sprinkle Cone.

Madame Tussauds New York

Lights, camera, action! Rub elbows with the rich and famous when the whole family gets one step closer to movie magic at Madame Tussauds NYC. Snuggle up to A-list celebrities such as the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and more. Shoot lasers and feel the thrill of a rollercoaster during your exhilarating immersive Coney Island Carnival Carnage 7D experience.

Or, suit up and join your fellow Avengers in saving the planet. Pretend you are a famous late-night guest and snag a seat on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, or get runway tips from top model Alessandra Ambrosio. Conclude your day of celebrity hijinks with a stop at the brand new Times Square Dylan’s Candy Bar, located on the 7th floor.

a picture of a family tinkering a machine in a laboratory
photo credit: Madame Tussauds New York via Facebook

LEGO Store

Everything is awesome at the LEGO store in NYC. Whether you get your brick on 5th avenue or Flatiron, brick builders of all ages will go bananas for the number of LEGO-themed activities and gifts here. Commemorate your Empire City adventure with a one-of-a-kind LEGO mosaic, or design your own custom Minifigure.

Make friends with other LEGO enthusiasts, or take your LEGO visions to new immersive levels with the Brick Lab. This 4D virtual experience allows you to engage in digital play, as walls and floors come to life through music, sound, and light. Once you design your masterpiece, scan it, and watch your work come alive in the LEGO Brick Lab in seconds.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Can’t get enough LEGO in your life? For an even bigger helping of bricktacular entertainment escape to the bustle of the big city for a day of LEGO loving in Westchester. LEGOLAND Discovery Center promises even more, hands-on LEGO action with 4D Cinema thrills, rids, and real-life LEGO characters.

Discover how LEGO bricks are made, come to the Royal princess’s aid on Kingdom Quest, or spot a New York City landscape made entirely out of bricks. Channel your inner speed demon when you build and test your own LEGO race vehicle at the track, or test your martial arts skills with LEGO Ninjago City Adventure. Grab tons of LEGO gifts as Big Apple souvenirs before you ride a magical chariot ride with Merlin.

Psst.. on the hunt for a full-fledged LEGO vacation? Make the most out of your time in New York State when you pay a visit to the official LEGOLAND New York Resort. Ideal for the LEGO obsessed, this brick-centered theme park features Dragon Coasters, splashtastic water rides, and live LEGO-themed shows.

an image of a building
photo credit: Legoland Discovery Center (Westchester) via Facebook

Chelsea Piers

Do your tiny ones have a bad case of the zoomies? Let the kids work off all that excess vacation energy, when you delight in the word class sports and entertainment facilities of Chelsea Piers. Whether you are traveling with teenagers or toddlers, you could easily spend hours exploring the 28 acres of this mammoth West Side sports complex.

Work on that swing with batting cages by Master Pitch, or prime yourself for the putting green at the driving range. Grapple and scramble towards the ‘summit’ at the indoor rock climbing wall, or try somersaulting into the gymnastic center’s foam pit. More miniature athletes can partake in an open play environment in the Toddler Gym, or conquer obstacles and trampolines at the Fit4Tots gym.

Hershey’s Times Square

Pre or post-Aladdin shows make some time to devour one of Times Square’s more delicious offerings. Hershey’s Times Square is the ideal sweet reprieve after a long day of sightseeing and show tunes. Slurp down a thick S’mores milkshake, design your own one-pound REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup, or commemorate your Big Apple trip with a personalized custom candy bar wrapper.

From decadent colossal cupcakes to the cutest tie-dye Hershey’s merch, and stuffed animals you’ll leave with your hands full of candy-coated fun.

Close up of a Hershey's mascot and a Reeses' Mascot shopping at Hershey's Chocolate World near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USAChildren’s Museum of Manhattan

For 50 years the Children’s Museum of Manhattan has sought to engage and educate children from around the world. Beginning as a neighborhood organization, the CMOM has grown into a respected institution that champions curiosity, growth, and play in young children.

Today the museum welcomes 350,000 visitors each year to its Upper West Side location and aims to mold young minds into active, creative, and resilient global citizens.

From art to science to politics, the museums is continuously updating their exhibits to better serve young minds. Join Diego and Dora on some wild animal adventures and learn about Latin American culture and mathematics.

Or, tap into the intricacies of NYC’s amazing water system with Dynamic H20. Play pretend president, uncover the importance of voting, or step into a playful comic book version of the Empire City. Ready for some fresh air? Riverside and Central Park are both close by and make an excellent spot for a post-museum picnic or stroll.

Free Things to Do in NYC with Kids

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Scratching your head over what to do in New York with kids that doesn’t cost a dime? Pull on those sneakers and treat the entire family to some spectacular views with a blustery walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. At the time of its completed construction in 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Today visitors from all over flock here to make the 1.3-mile journey between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Walking at a leisurely pace the trip should take you about an hour. For some even more stunning family photos, plan your meander for sunrise or sunset.

family with two daughters walking in front of brooklyn bridge

Bryant Park

A green oasis in the middle of 42nd street, Bryant Park’s nearly 10 acres boast lush gardens, seasonal displays, classes, and more. Filled with flowers, exquisite landscaping, and a rolling lawn this public park is home to a charming carousel, summer movie screenings, and even free juggling classes.

During winter months kids can bundle up and skate around the ice rink or playfully compete with Bumper Cars on Ice. During the summer kids can participate in arts and crafts or sign up for camp experiences complete with magic, puppet shows, and more.

Visit Times Square

An explosion of lights, sounds, and people, Times Square is one NYC sight you must see to believe. Revel in the cacophony of color and some of the city’s best celebrity performers when you drag your gang to Times Square.

Soak in the action of the over 300 ft tall LED screens before you divert your attention to the Naked Cowboy, the Statue of Liberty, or Iron man. After you’ve snapped your fair share of selfies, why not pop into the Disney or M&M store for some sweet window shopping?

ground street view of cars and signs along Times Square in Manhattan NYC, New York, USABelting out Defying Gravity, jumping into a giant tub of sprinkles, and sea-worthy escapes in the company of Lady Liberty. Visiting New York City with kids is the ideal excuse to tackle even more of the Big Apple’s juicy delights.

Work on your back handspring at Chelsea Piers, or make your very own Minifigure at the LEGO store. Save some cash when you try juggling at Bryant Park, or spend an unforgettable night sleeping with Elephants, Bison, and Aztec stones at the Natural History Museum.

No matter if your Manhattan getaway is two days or two weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do in NYC with kids.

Tell us, Did we Miss Any of Your Favorite Things to Do With Kids in NYC?

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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