New York City With Kids
Dazzling lights by night, soaring buildings by day, New York is excitement in a city.
Alive with culture and activity, New York can be as fun for kids as it is for adults. With carriage rides in Central Park, the huge Natural History museum and famous monuments like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, kids will want to sink their teeth into the Big Apple. Even getting around the city is fun with yellow cabs and the thrill of a subway ride. With all the big attractions, the battle on a family trip to New York is fitting it all in. Below, we’ve outlined some of our favorite kid-friendly New York attractions, but with som many to list, I’m sure we’ve left some out. So, feel free to chime in with your favorites as well. New York is divided into several boroughs, but for our purposes, we’ve broken it down by Downtown, Midtown and Central Park area.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
One not-to-miss sight in New York City with kids is a trip out to the Statue of Liberty. While this takes a good part of a day, it is definitely worth the trip to see such an adyllic landmark of the United States. Boats leave from Battery Park in downtown New York and stop at both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Best to get there early in the morning as the lines get long fast. If you plan on climbing the statue, you MUST get your tickets in the Battery Park office. They do NOT sell them on the island. Last we checked, the statue was open for climbing as far as her head. Might be hard on little legs, but the views are worth it. Ellis Island was a an unexpected sleeper attraction on our trip. Not to say it’s a sleeper, as in boring, but a sleeper as in we had no idea how much the kids would enjoy it. And they learned a ton about immigration and how the United States was built. The boys learned a lot browsing the rooms and still-life scenes and had a blast searching for our ancestors in the huge computerized data banks.
The main hub of downtown is Wall Street with its business people rushing around in suits and meeting for power lunches. One of the most poignant museums in New York, the museum next to Ground Zero hosts bits of twisted iron, scuffed fireman equipment and office items found at the site. There is a video playing and all around are pictures of victims of the tragedy. Powerful stuff…and not for all kids. But our kids were moved by the incident and wanted to explore the museum and write a note (available downstairs) saying how they felt about it. The nearby East Village has a funky vibe and stores to match. Rebellious teenagers will love it. The Tenement Museum here eloquently displays how immigrants in New York City lived. Tribeca and Soho are a bit more tame, but offer some great outdoor cafes and more mainstream shopping with stores from well-known designers.
Midtown Kid-Friendly Attractions
Midtown by far hosts the most attractions and accommodations in New York City. One of the biggest and brightest attractions here is Times Square. At night the lights will dazzle kids…especially babies who won’t know where to look. We sent out kids on a little scavenger hunt of things to find in the neon signs. It was lots of fun for all of us! Stores like the M&M store and sports-themed stores surround the square beckoning to kids. During the day, this is the place to come get discounted tickets to Broadway shows at the TKKS Office. Most Broadway theatres are within a block or two of the square. Also nearby, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Maddame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. One of the most famous buildings in Midtown is the Empire State Building, another attraction to arrive at early. We got there when it opened and waited for about 15 minutes to get on an elevator. When we came out, less than an hour later, the wait was already over an hour long. For those willing to try something new, 30 Rock’s roof top viewing platform offers views over the skyline including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. At the base of the building is Rockefeller Plaza, famous for its ice skating and Christmas Tree. Sony’s Technology Lab is another fun kid-oriented attraction here; although adults will have fun fiddling with all the new gadgets here as well. To the east of Midtown, the United Nations buildings offers interesting tours that give kids a good world outlook. If you bring nice clothes (no jeans or shorts) you can dine in the Delegate’s Dining Room and rub elbows with country representatives from around the world. To the west of Midtown, transport-entranced tots will love the Interpid Sea and Space Museum. The retired aircraft carrier houses all sorts of planes, boats, submarines and more.
Central Park Kid-Friendly Attractions
Best known for its expansive walking paths and lawns, Central Park also has many kids firendly attractions. The Central Park Zoo, made famous by the movie “Madagascar”, hosts flipping seals, waddling penguins and cool monkeys. It’s a small zoo and easy to get around in just a few hours. Taking a carriage ride around Central Park is a quintessential New York activity and not just for couples. Kids love trotting along scoping out big buildings. On the west side of the park, kids will enjoy the Natural History Museum, made famous by “Night at the Museum”. Remember, the movie was not actually filmed here and many of the exhibits are not the same, but showing this to the kids before hand (with a bit of a disclaimer) will help get them excited for the trip. There is a soaring dinosaur in the lobby and an exhibit with stuffed lions as well as still-life scenes of people in period costumes,,,just not the exact ones from the movie. On the east side of the park, art-appreciative kids will appreciate the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. And, don’t miss FAO Schwartz…a massive toy store with life-size stuffed animals and every toy you can imagine!.