Are you planning a trip to the Big Apple soon? Here’s a list of things to do in New York with kids from museums to parks to fun attractions. New York City can be your family’s playground no matter how long you’re visiting. This post is sponsored by NYC and Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
We recently took a family trip to New York City and had the most exciting time. As a kid, I spent a lot of summers in New York. I spent most of my time in Brooklyn visiting relatives. I would visit my family at their jobs in the city and during my free time I would go exploring around the city. When it was time to plan our next family vacation, I knew where I wanted to go. New York was at the top of my list. Tatiana had been talking about visiting forever and we were able to grab an amazing flight deal that we couldn’t pass up.
This was our kids first trip to the city and we had a full itinerary planned so that they could soak in everything the city had to offer. We wanted to make this first trip something that they would never forget.
Things to Do in New York With Kids
The possibilities of things to do in New York with kids are endless, amazing places to stay and great restaurants to enjoy. A family trip can include everything from museums and famous landmarks to public parks. New York City should absolutely be on every family’s travel bucket list. Within the boroughs of New York City, there is so much for families to see and enjoy no matter how long their stay.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is one of the most treasured tourist attractions in the city. It’s world famous and has been featured in the most movies out of any building in the world. Did you know that in 2011 the Empire State Building was the most photographed building in the world?
This was our first time visiting and going all the way to the top. Let me say that it was completely worth it. The Empire State Building is located in Midtown Manhattan. All of the views from the top are absolutely incredible. For a fee, visitors can access the 86th and 102nd floor observatories. If you’re vacationing on a budget, I highly suggest skipping the 102nd floor observatory as I feel the views from the top of the Rockefeller Center building are better.
Tip: Entrance to the Empire State Building is included as a part of the New York City CityPass. Access to the 102nd floor observatory is an additional fee that you can pay once you arrive at the building.
If your kids love animals as much as mine do, the Bronx Zoo is worth a visit. Keep in mind that the Bronx Zoo is quite a bit of a treck if you’re staying in the city. It’s about an hour away by public transportation if you’re staying in Midtown. You’ll want to dedicate an entire day to your trip to the zoo. Between traveling to and from, and spending actual time at the zoo you’ll want to have as much time as possible. Tickets cost around $40 for adults and $30 for children 3-12 years old. Kids 2 and under are admitted for free.
Tip: Entry to the zoo is free on Wednesdays. You can reserve your tickets online on Mondays starting at 5pm. Depending on the time of the year tickets go quickly.
A graffiti workshop was one of the least expected things on our list of things to do in New York with kids. However it turned out to be one of the things we enjoyed doing the most. Being able to let our creative side out and learn more about graffiti techniques was so much fun. The workshop is perfect for kids 4 and older. T had so much fun making her own creation. She really let loose with the spray paint and created something so beautiful.
The workshop is offered 7 days a week with multiple time slots available daily. Up to 10 people can participate in a workshop session. A fee of $175 covers the cost for up to 4 people. Each additional person participating would cost an additional fee of $15. A 1-hour walking tour for 4 people can be added for $80. You can find out more about the workshop here.
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History was at the very top of my family’s list of activities. We could’ve spent an entire day there. We’re even planning on going back on our next trip to New York. If you’re traveling with kids of any age, the Museum of Natural History should definitely be a stop on your itinerary. It’s an amazing learning experience.
For New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents, admission is pay as you wish. General admission for adults ranges from $23-$33 and $13-$20 for children ages 3-12. It’s worth paying for the general admission and special exhibits ticket. My kids really enjoyed the special exhibits the museum had during our visit.
Spyscape is for sure every kid’s dream attraction. If you love solving mysteries or a good spy movie, Spyscape is the perfect place to add to your list of things to do in New York with kids. There are immersive challenges that will keep your kids guessing at every turn. They’ll really enjoy the laser tunnels and codebreaking challenges waiting for them.
The Top of The Rock is located in a super busy area of Manhattan. The Rockefeller Center is home to NBC, Saturday Night Live, and a bustling shopping center. Radio City Music Hall is right next door. The surrounding area is busy and filled with things to do.
The views from the top of the Rock are absolutely breathtaking. I prefer the views here over the Empire State Building because the observatory deck is open.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
This has been on my bucket list of places to visit forever. I love historical places and I’ve always heard that this experience is one that you don’t want to miss when visiting New York City. My whole family really enjoyed spending the day here and we’ll definitely go back another time when Trevor is older. Tickets start at just $12 for kids 4-12 and $23 for adults. If you have time, I highly suggest going into the pedestal and crown if it’s open. Get more info about tickets here.
Pro Tip: The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is included as a part of the CityPass.
Intrepid Air, Sea & Space Museum
The Intrepid Air, Sea & Space Museum is a perfect attraction if you’re wanting to spend the day learning all about boats, planes and NASA. The museum has interactive experiences and simulations for the kids.
How Long to Stay in New York City
We stayed in New York City for 7 days. Even in those 7 days I felt like there wasn’t enough time to experience everything that we wanted to experience. How long you’ll stay in the city entirely depends on what you’re expecting to do, see and the ages of people traveling with you.
For us, our kids were completely worn out by day 5. We really enjoyed our trip but we definitely could have made a few adjustments to our stay to accommodate our kids more. If you have babies or traveling with toddlers, I think 3-5 days is the perfect length of time for a trip. I definitely recommend a longer trip if you’re traveling with an older crowd that can handle the walking throughout the city. A fun weekend in the city is absolutely perfect if you’re traveling as a couple or on a girls trip.
How to Get Around
Transportation in the city is always readily available. The most affordable option is always going to be public transportation. It’s probably my favorite mode of transportation as well when traveling with my family. The kids enjoy it so much and it’s a great chance to throw in a few homeschool lessons while traveling. Navigating the subway and bus routes allow kids to learn cardinal directions, different parts of the city and time.
A single ride MetroCard will cost you $3. They aren’t refillable. If you plan on using a pay-per-ride MetroCard, each ride will cost $2.75. If you plan on riding more than a few times or staying for a few days, it’s worth getting a 7-day MetroCard for $33.
Where to Eat in New York With Kids
If I’m being honest, there are way too many restaurant options in New York to choose from especially if your kids are pickier eaters like mine but that’s the glory of the city. There is always somewhere that everyone will love.
New York pizza is the one thing you always have to try when you’re in the city. After our walk on Brooklyn Bridge we were in search of a pizza place nearby and Delarocco’s was exactly the place we were looking for. It was a short walk, about 15 minutes, after getting off of the bridge. Located in Brooklyn Heights, it’s the perfect place for travelers who are looking for authentic pizza in a family owned restaurant.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. We ordered a couple of pizzas along with dessert and loved everything. I highly recommend the avocado salad, four cheese pizza, arrabbiata pizza, and the tartufo gelato.
Flipper’s is one of the most popular soufflé pancake brands. It was founded and Japan and opened a location in SOHO in 2019. The pancakes they serve are absolutely amazing. You can’t go wrong with the pancakes (soufflé or regular), chicken and waffles, and their house made lemonade.
Gregory’s Coffee quickly became one of our favorite breakfast spots for to-go breakfast. They serve some of the best coffee in the city and their breakfast sandwiches are quick and easy options for the kids. If you’re on a tight schedule it’s easy to order ahead so you can take your breakfast on the go with you.
I’m a huge fan of Italian. In fact it’s probably one of my top favorite kinds of food to eat. There’s no shortage of Italian restaurants in New York. San Marzano is located in the East Village. They’re open 7 days a week and offer both indoor and outdoor seating for guests who choose to dine in. What I love about San Marzano is the dishes are true Italian and are different than what you’ll find on a lot of menus. A huge bonus is that they offer delivery as well, depending on where you’re located in the city. We ordered from San Marzano’s on one of the rainy nights during our trip.
We ordered the wild boar ragu, braised sausage pasta, and bolognese.
Whitmas has four locations in the city, one of which is located in The Row Hotel. They’re known for their casual dining environment and juicy burgers. It’s the perfect place to eat if you’re dining out with kids. They’ve got lots of burger options, salads, cheesesteaks and chicken sandwiches. We ordered burgers and they were really good. In fact, T couldn’t stop raving about how much she wanted to go back on our next visit. She loves a good burger.
This hands down was my favorite restaurant during our entire trip. I could’ve eaten here every day if I could. The blueberry waffles had me hooked and the chicken biscuits were so big for any of us to finish on our own. Every item on the menu is affordable and perfect for if you’re trying to stay on a budget.