The Top Things to Do in New York With Kids
Our definitive guide on how to entertain your little ones in the Big Apple.
Heading to the Big Apple on a family holiday? Planning a New York itinerary can be overwhelming at the best of times and incorporating the little ones into your big city plans isn’t always the easiest task. Thankfully Plum Guide's fastidious home critics have made the job of choosing your accommodation a total breeze. You’ll find a plethora of fantastic homes to call your own on our site and you can be certain they’ll meet your high standards.
And now, thanks to this expertly curated list of things to do in New York with kids, your itinerary is basically sorted too. You’re welcome – and get packing.
Get into nature
Just because you’re in the big city, doesn’t mean the kids don’t deserve to spend time outside and just in case the 600 square foot garden of this Upper West Side apartment doesn’t feel like quite enough space, here are some of our favourite parks you and your kids are sure to enjoy.
Unsurprisingly the big boss of the NYC outdoor scene is Central Park. In fact this vast leafy garden is the most visited urban park in the US. Your kids won’t want to miss a spin on the carousel or checking out Belvedere Castle. In the winter months, try ice skating at the Wollman Rink. Bryant Park also has a festive seasonal ice skating rink. Grab a hot chocolate from the neighbouring cafe to warm up before spending the next hour trying not to embarrass yourself by falling flat on your face.
Other kid-friendly outdoor activities include the High Line in Chelsea, which you can walk to if you choose to stay in this family-friendly townhouse, and the New York Botanical Garden. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a superb 85 acre choice for an afternoon out. There’s a splendid view of the Manhattan Skyline where you can do your best to get everyone to pose for a nice family photo. This might prove difficult when your children find out they could be playing on the Slide Mountain playground instead or taking selfies on the restored vintage carousel. Sorry mum and dad, they’re called priorities.
Speaking of Brooklyn, this home in Brooklyn Heights is a great place to consider staying with the kids. Thank us later.
Take to the water
Nothing keeps the kids in one place like getting them on a boat. Jump on the free Staten Island Ferry – a must on any New York itinerary – for superb views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbour and 25 minutes of blissfully distracted kiddos. Once you get to Staten Island, go for an explore on foot and if you get nibbly, dig into an authentic New York style pizza from famous local spot Denino’s Pizzeria Tavern.
Teach your kids some history with minimal effort on your part - always a win if you ask us - with a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The children’s audio tour of Lady Liberty caters to kids aged six to ten and is the perfect accompaniment as they climb to the top of the statue’s crown. This will tire them out too so yet again, you're very welcome.
While this water-themed activity may not require getting on a boat, we can’t give you a list of things to do in New York with kids without suggesting the New York Aquarium.
Check out a museum
Teach your little ones that museums aren’t always boring with a trip to one of the city’s many kid-friendly museums. The Brooklyn Children’s museum is a great place to start. Founded in 1899, this award-winning institution was the first museum created specifically for children. Kids ranging from toddler to secondary school age are sure to be wowed.
The 10,000 square foot Children’s Museum of the Arts is an art space designed with your kids in mind. Any of you who reckon you've birthed a baby Picasso won’t want to miss this one. For kids who are into maritime history and boating, try the South Street Seaport Museum. There are five historic ships to explore and even a guided sail around the New York Harbour.
Other worthwhile museums that your kids won’t be screaming to leave include the American Museum of Natural History, New York City Fire Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
Pro-tip: enjoy a gallery without leaving home by staying in this art-filled Noho loft complete with a deep soaking tub.
Catch a show
plagued blessed with mini actors and actresses, why not take them to the New Victory Theatre? New York City’s premier nonprofit performing arts venue for children, the programme here aims to introduce drama, dance, music and circus performing to younger audiences. Drop off the kiddos while you go shopping or if you want to get in on the fun too, opt to take them to a Broadway matinee.
Snack like it’s your job
If there’s one thing New York does well - besides traffic - it’s food. If you have to prise the sweets out of the hands of your little ones regularly, this is definitely one of the top things to do in New York with kids. Your little ones will love the diverse and delicious flavours of the city and so will you. Some especially ideal dining spots that are a must when it comes to things to do with kids in New York include Serendipity, famous for its frozen hot chocolate; The Papaya King, home to the city’s best hot dogs and freshly squeezed fruit juices; and Ellen’s Stardust Diner where singing waitstaff will serenade you in a '50s-themed environment.
When it’s time for dessert, be sure to make a stop at Milk Bar where cereal milk flavoured ice cream and a sinfully delicious compost cookie are tasty enough that you’ll feel certain the resulting sugar high you'll have to deal with was absolutely worth it.