11 things to do in New York City with kids

From street pretzels to Central Park, families venturing to take a bite out of The Big Apple will not leave hungry for activity, but they will leave tired—very, very tired.

woman showing the process of how to make chocolate

Photo: Courtesy of The Chocolate Museum/Kevin Chiu

1. Experience the Choco-Story at The Chocolate Museum

New York’s very first museum of chocolate, with star chocolatier Jacques Torres at the helm, is the city’s best answer to Willy Wonka’s ubiquitous factory (minus the violence, of course). Tour your child through 5,000 sq. feet of chocolate love, and learn how this delicious coca product journeys from “tree to bar.” Tasting, of course, is part of the adventure. Learn more about the Choco-Story New York at The Chocolate Museum.

kid pulling two other kids along in a wagon

Photo: Courtesy of Friends of the High Line/Joan Garvin

2. Walk The High Line

Once destined for annihilation, this elevated freight line is now transformed into a planted walking path which spans above over 20 blocks of the sprawling city and offers plenty of fun for kids along the way. Balance and play upon antique tracks in the rail yards with your little one and enjoy the panoramic views of the Hudson River. Or, head to the Diller Von-Furstenberg Sundeck and have coffee in a lounge chair while your child splashes in the water feature. Learn more about The High Line.

horse and carriage riding through Central Park

Photo: Courtesy of New York City Horse Carriages

3. Go for a carriage ride in Central Park

Horse carriages have been trotting their way through the lush and storied greenery of Central Park for nearly 160 years. And though at times you may find yourself wondering why you are spending top dollar only for your child to be preoccupied with what exactly the basket is collecting beneath the horse’s derriere, you will also appreciate the lulling sound of the clip clop as you pass by incredible landmarks such as Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Tavern on the Green, Central Park Zoo, The Loeb Boat House, The Central Park Carousel and the Strawberry Fields tribute to the late John Lennon. Learn more about Central Park Horse Carriage Rides.

Wollman Rink and Victorian Gardens Mid-Park at 63rd Street

Photo: Courtesy of NYC Go/Will Steacy

4. Visit the Amusement Park in Victoria Gardens

The Victoria Gardens Amusement Park, seasonally located in Central Park’s popular public skating grounds, Wollman Rink, is not as legendary or as quaint as the Central Park Carousel but is definitely a real-life mirage for a kid who feels put upon by mom’s NYC shopping—Sno-Cones, Whack-a-Mole and rides galore! Offer your kid a tour through this mini carnival and mom’s the best (again). Learn more about Victoria Gardens.

Busy Times Square with billboards for all of the shows playing on Broadway

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Grimm

5. Treat them to a show on Broadway

There are few things more suited to children than singing, dancing and a little razzle dazzle, so enjoying a couple of hours in front of the stage is time well spent. Of course, the selection of child-friendly plays is limited but the list is continually growing. Last year, Disney’s Frozen was mounted for Broadway into a light-filled, chilling spectacle, joining Aladdin, The Lion King and Wicked as a dream come true for any child to see. Learn more about what shows are on Broadway.

people walking through the buys bustle of Times Square

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Grimm

6. Take selfies in Times Square

Take a deep breath, hang onto your kids’ hands, don’t get swindled by the countless Spidermen impersonators taking your cash for photographs and make your way around the dizzying, giant- screened, people-packed universe that is Times Square. Even better, hop on a Pedicab and get off at one of the many kid-friendly spots in the area: The Disney Store, The American Girl Store, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and M&M’s World Store, to name a few. Learn more about Times Square.

boy holding a stuffed snow leopard toy looking at a real snow leopard

Photo: Courtesy of Julie Larsen

7. See the sea lions at Central Park Zoo

The enormity of Central Park is suddenly comprehensible when you get lost with your child in its animal-packed zoo. Featuring a silly and engaging sea lion show, an amazing bird sanctuary, a tropical animal zone, and a children’s area where little ones can climb, play and feed the animals, this surprising gift of wildlife in the heart of the city is a must see. Learn more about Central Park Zoo.

someone holding up a unicorn cake in front of a rainbow

Photo: Courtesy of Flour Shop/Tyler Bertram

8. Indulge at the Flour Shop

A little bit of a magic and a lot of whimsy are behind Amira Kassem’s trendy Soho bakery, Flour Shop. Grab some #instaselfies inside the modern, whitewashed space, featuring a vibrant rainbow wall that extends down to the floor, while your child dives into one of the bakery’s famous multi-coloured, confetti-filled, exploding cakes. At this spot, rainbows are mandatory. Unicorns? A very good option. Learn more about Flour Shop.

children playing at a water station

Photo: Courtesy of Children’s Museum of Manhattan

9. Visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Touch and learn on five-floors of exhibits that range from rescue missions with Dora and Diego, dance discovery, the dynamic world of water and more. The interactive exhibits cover the gamut of ages in kids, so do your research before you go—it’s a big place. And, remember, if you hear someone yell, “don’t touch!”, you’re in the wrong museum. Learn more about the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

a mother and child surrounded but a cloud of bubbles

Photo: Courtesy of Gazillion Bubble Show

10. Take in a Bubble Show

Using over 40 gallons of bubble solution per week and 50 bubble machines per show, this off-Broadway mainstay has been delighting children with its Guinness Record Breaking bubbles for over a decade. Thrilling laser light effects, bubble domes and even a child-trapping bubble tide all build to a beautiful bubbly crescendo, making moms, dads and kids squeal and giggle with glee. Learn more about Bubble Show.

spectacular view of the city skyline from the rooftop pool deck

Photo: Courtesy of The James New York – SoHo

11. Book a hotel with a pool

Going for a dip probably isn’t the first thing that pops into one’s head when dreaming of a trip to New York but it’s a guaranteed kid-pleaser—hey, everyone needs a break from all that sightseeing. The James Hotel, in the heart of the humming Soho area, offers a rooftop pool with views of the Hudson, the Brooklyn bridge and the New York Skyline. Sip on a cocktail from Jimmy, the surrounding bar, and soak in the scenery while your child unwinds (and unwinds, and unwinds) in the water. Learn more about The James Hotel.

Read more:
10 family-friendly New York City Airbnbs that are easy on the budget
Budget travel: 12 ways to save money on your next family vacation
How to travel with a potty-training toddler

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