New York City truly is a city that has everything; you could live in NYC for ten years and still only see half of what it has to offer. Don’t sweat it, we’ve done the work for you, so grab your kids and their backpacks and check out our top eleven places to visit that children will love. Some sites are the classics you already know and love, but we’ve found some exceptional amusements you might not even know exist. Everyone will have fun here, not just the kids!
UNIQUE KID-FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS
Tannen’s Magic Store is New York’s oldest operating magic shop and has been supplying magicians with tricks and style since 1925. Having sold items to nearly every famous magician for the last 90 years, the guys in Tannen’s know the tricks of the trade. If your kids are curious about a product, they’ll happily demonstrate its uses for them.
The employees at this shop are patient, funny, and super excited about magic! Kids are encouraged to ask questions, such as: “What’s the scariest thing for a magician?” and “How often do you get to wear a cape?”. It won’t take long to look through the entire store, and is a great way to kill an hour.
Tip: Tannen's sells “Mystery Boxes.” Their contents are a mystery, with a big question mark on the box and stuffed with random tricks. Often, they're older, discounted items, or discontinued things. Tannen's promises $50 worth of magic for $25 which makes these boxes a great way for walking out with one purchase for multiple kids.
Madame Tussaud’s offers five floors of celebrity fun. Your kids can get in an Empire State of Mind while playing piano with Alicia Keys. Music lovers can join the cast of Cats, sing with the Phantom of the Opera, and score songs on a giant floor piano. They can answer the call and join The Ghostbusters to capture the famous ghost, Slimer. All kids will love the Marvel super heroes in a 4D adventure. This wax museum will delight children, and they can claim that they’ve now met their favorite celebrity!
Tip: It gets busy, so a big family would ideally need to be split up as it’s hard to keep track of kids in the crowds…and among the wax figures.
Sloomoo immerses you in a transformative world of touch, sound, scent, and sight. A mix of science and magic, the space is full of compounds from slime to kinetic sand to new innovations that entertain, soothe and surprise. Kids will find otherworldly CGI videos, kaleidoscopic glow-in-the-dark moments, a 150-foot DIY bar to design your own slime (there are 4,320,000 unique combinations), and more! Every element of the experience was created to awaken your child’s spirit with creative fun.
Tip: It is best to wear comfortable, casual clothes. You may get messy, so this is not an environment for your best threads. Shirts with sleeves that easily roll up are key.
Located in SoHo, the Museum of Ice Cream features 13 interactive art installations across 25,000 square feet over 3 floors. Besides multi-sensory installations, it boasts the biggest sprinkle pool in the world. With exhibits like these, the Museum of Ice Cream NYC is not your run-of-the-mill museum.
Each ice cream-art exhibit is pure eye candy fun. The Museum of Ice Cream aims to connect families, create moments of joy, and stimulate your child’s imagination.
Tip: You should absolutely book in advance for the Museum of Ice Cream. It is difficult to get same day tickets, especially on the weekends.
The SeaGlass Carousel is like four carousels in one! Four separate turntables spin atop the main turntable and as you ride up and down in your carriage. Kids can ride by themselves, or they can ride with an adult and there’s the option to ride in stationary fish for a gentler time.
Thirty massive fiberglass fish are internally illuminated with color-changing LED light fixtures and outfitted with integrated audio systems. Each fish is designed to recall the bioluminescence found deep in the ocean.
Tip: The schedule can vary greatly with the seasons and weather so check their website before you go for any updates in operating hours.
CLASSIC KID-FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS
Looking for Broadway shows for kids? There are plenty of family shows that will entertain even the youngest of theater lovers. Disney theatrical productions such as Aladdin or The Lion King are always family favorites. There are also multiple shows based on famous stories, like Wicked and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Tip: Check the running time of the play. While you may love a three-hour show, a young child will likely have a difficult time sitting through it.
Lady Liberty. You know her from countless books and movies, You may even want to skip checking her out as you have seen her plenty, albeit not in person. However, viewing her in person is really something to behold.
Kids with stamina will enjoy walking the staircase up to the top of the majestic statue to enjoy an incredible view with several platforms to take breaks along the climb. There are even interactive galleries at the base so smaller kids won’t be left out, and they can enjoy a fly-through of the Statue without actually climbing it.
Not only is she magnificent, but Ellis Island has a rich bounty of American history to explore. The Island’s museum presents an experience like no other with a tour that includes the first walk of immigrants through the gates to the United States. Get your kids excited about this magnificent lady with kid-friendly facts here.
Tip: Food is sold on both islands, but each has great places to enjoy a brought picnic or a snack outdoors.
Aside from the beautiful greenery, Central Park is a hotbed for fun activities for kids. There is always something going on in the park at just about any time of the day: guided nature walks, concerts, plays, puppet shows, a merry-go-round, and live art. These are just a few of the delights you will find and we’re sure you’ll discover something new when you venture through.
Additionally, the park is home to the Central Park Zoo where kids can see all their favorite animals and catch a show at the zoo’s 4D theater. You can check their website for scheduled events, but you will find many interesting things by simply walking into the park and choosing a direction. Check out some of Central Park’s kid-friendly activities here.
Tip: At the Central Park Zoo a Total Experience ticket includes the main Zoo, Tisch Children’s Zoo, and entry to the 4D Theater. For only a few dollars more than general admission to the main zoo it is definitely worth it.
The Empire State Building is one of the most popular tourist attractions, not only in New York City, but in the entire country. It provides a stunning view of the city, and comes complete with high powered public telescopes that kids will enjoy.
You can also enjoy a guided 90-minute tour that includes the building’s restored Art Deco lobby on 5th Avenue, the Celebrity Walk, and exhibits that celebrate the building’s history and heritage. For families, it’s best to visit early to beat the crowds and it is recommended to arrive as soon as possible to avoid standing in long lines that could trigger a toddler meltdown. Food and drink are allowed, so pack some snacks to keep the afternoon crankies at bay.
Any trip to NYC should include a stop at this world famous landmark. Check out facts geared towards kids about this amazing building here.
Tip: Be flexible with your itinerary so you can skip this site on an overcast day. The exhibits are interesting but the view is the main attraction.
The American Museum of Natural History is a wonderful place to visit and enjoy with young kids. There’s so much to see that you could spend the whole day here and not see it all, but with a bit of planning it will be an exciting and worthwhile adventure the whole family will be on board with. In the museum you will find exhibits featuring minerals, dinosaurs, planets, forests, mammals and butterflies. Additionally, there are many hands-on visiting exhibits that rotate through the museum which are great for engaging children and provide new experiences every trip.
Before going, research what you want to see so you’ll have time to view everything you really want and skip what you don’t. This museum is massive - there’s a full-scale sperm whale and giant squid on the 1st floor!
Tip: The AMNH does not rent strollers but they are allowed. Toddlers may enjoy the exhibits more while sitting and rolling. Bring an easy-fold umbrella stroller that will be easy to navigate through the crowds.
Just like Central Park, there is always something happening in Times Square. Not only is it an exciting glimpse into the hustle and bustle of the city, but there are also free concerts, dance workshops and more. Times Square is also home to FAO Schwarz, which is one of the largest toy stores in the world. What kid doesn’t want to visit that? Additionally, you will find just about every possible restaurant on the planet.
Tip: It is likely that you and your child may be approached on the street by costumed characters for a hug, high five, or photo. A tip is expected for any interaction so it’s best to focus up and walk past any if you aren’t interested.
These are just a handful of the many locations New York City has to offer, but you should get online with your kids and have them pick out fun things to do too. This is the city that never sleeps, but you should allot time to rest as you will spend much of your day walking to and fro rather than driving your own car. Keeping all these ideas in mind will provide for a memorable and fantastic trip for the whole family.