We recently visited NYC with our very active toddler and we had a great time exploring the many sights and sounds in this unforgettable city. We were pleasantly surprised with the great range of activities on offer for families. So with this in mind, I thought it would only be fitting to share a list of our ten favourite things to do, whilst we were there.
Visit Central Park
Situated in the heart of New York City on approximately 840 acres, Central Park is both a green oasis away from the city skyscrapers but also a place to explore, play and learn. From the Henry Luce Nature Observatory inside Belvedere Castle, which is an exhibit designed for kids to learn about the flora and fauna in Central Park to the extraordinary 21 playgrounds located throughout the park each with their own theme – there is plenty to keep kids entertained. Other highlights include the Central Park Carousel and Boat Rides on the lake where kids can attempt to spot the many turtles. Each corner of the park is completely different, ensuring your kids will never get bored. More information on opening times and events can be found HERE.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
A hidden gem on West 83rd Street, this museum is an interactive play zone for kids of all ages. The museum consists of five brightly coloured floors filled with hundreds of activities from art, sciences and humanities to hands on learning and play. Think sand pits, aqua fun, soft play zones, slides and art and crafts and story book hour – and that is only half of it. We spent an entire morning here and could have spent the whole day. Not to be missed if you are in NYC with kids. Opening hours and tickets can be found HERE.
Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center
The views from the Top of The Rock are spectacular and the timed entry means that there are no crowds, which makes it ideal for families particularly those with strollers. Once at the top, kids have a bird’s view of Central Park, Manhattan’s midtown and downtown, the Empire State Building and New York City’s skyline over three separate viewing decks. Be sure to bring your camera as the top viewing platform is the best place for photos. Tickets and offers can be found HERE.
Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History
The AMNH hosts many exhibitions and our favourite had to be the Butterfly Conservatory. A room filled with 500 free flying butterflies that actually land on you! Ensure your little ones are careful when handling the delicate butterflies and be prepared for a magical encounter. The AMNH also has many other special exhibitions on the at the moment; we also loved the T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator and Unseen Oceans. Tickets can be booked online HERE. My tip is to sign up to become an AMNH member to avoid the queues and receive complimentary entry to up to four exhibitions including the ones above.
FAO Schwartz Toy Store
This iconic toy store has a long history, as it was first established in 1862! It is a fantastic destination for kids with plenty to do in-store, for example kids can dance on a larger than life sized piano, adopt their own doll or get pampered at the pre-teen Alex Spa. There is also the popular Build-A-Bear workshop and our favourite, a Swarovski studded car located at the 49th Street entrance. The toy store is also conveniently located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which means you, can pop in after your Top of the Rock Experience at the Rockefeller Center. More information can be found HERE.
Art Lab at MOMA
A space for children to learn and engage with art through a tactile learning environment! Kids can learn about art, create their own art and make the connection between art history through the many interactive activities on offer. There is also a reading and puzzle corner for those who would like a little quiet time, our toddler loved creating a butterfly from the themed discovery box. Just outside the Art Lab, you can find the beautiful MOMA gardens to soak in some sun and enjoy the sculpture garden. The Art Lab is free and more information can be found HERE.
Explore Hudson Yards
Newly opened Hudson Yards located in the Chelsea and Hudson Yards precinct of Manhattan is home to the architecture wonder known as The Vessel which is 46 metres high with 156 interconnecting staircases and 2500 individual steps. This is a great stop for kids who can make their way right to the top. The Vessel does thankfully have an elevator too for those with strollers. Next door you will find shops, restaurants and also an interactive art space for kids. Our toddler enjoyed testing her scooter around the test track at the Micro Kickboard Store. A must see if you are in NYC. Tickets for The Vessel should be booked in advance and more information can be found HERE.
Children’s Museum at the New York Historical Society
Make your way to the lower ground floor to find a Children’s Museum, which incorporates 350 years of New York and American history with interactive exhibits, digital games, and a history library. Our toddler enjoyed creating her own artwork and also playing with the large historical town exhibit, complete with toy trains and an array of tunnels, roads and towns. More information on the Children’s Museum can be found HERE. If you are looking for a bite to eat afterwards, there is a fantastic kid friendly restaurant on the ground floor known as Caffè Storico with a great menu and plenty of highchairs.
High Line Walk
An intertwining wild garden walk through the west side buildings of Manhattan. Interestingly, the park is built on a historic freight rail line. Children can run or walk along the pathway, through a myriad of beautiful plants and fauna whilst stopping periodically to enjoy the numerous artwork and design installations along the way. There is also a water feature at the Diller-Furstenburg Sundeck where kids can splash about and also explore the Perishing Square Beams – an area designed for children who like to run and climb. The High Line Walk is all outdoors, so best visited during good weather. More information on family events at the High Line can be found HERE.
Miniature world at Gulliver’s Gate
In the heart of Times Square you will find a small world wonderland, where kids can feel like giants. Gulliver’s Gate showcases nearly every single international landmark and building around the globe on over 50,000 square feet! On entry each kid receives a silver key, in which they use to engage with each of the displays – just turn the lock box. Part of the fun is that kids can learn about each of the 25+ cities across 5 continents while engaging with the interactive elements. A highlight for us was the plane actually taking off at the miniature airport. More information can be found HERE.
Whilst we were visiting New York City we made the most of our CityPASS which saved us close to half off standard admission prices. The CityPASS includes entry into the American Museum of Natural History (excluding the special exhibitions), Top of the Rock, MoMA and also included additional attractions which are fantastic for kids, such as The Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, 9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. More information on the CityPASS can be found HERE.
I do hope you found this guide useful and do feel free to pop down any questions below or your favourite family friendly things to do or see while in NYC.
Kerstin // Lux Mumma
*Part of the above experiences were an honest review for NYC Company, Official Marketing, Tourism & Partnership Organization.