You wish to discover New York with your family and more importantly, your children? New York is a huge city where there is a lot to see, but it's not always easy to organise all the activities when you travel with your family.
Don't worry though! Between the parks, the museums, the shops and the countless attractions, New York is a destination that will delight the whole family and children of all ages. In this little guide, I will let you discover which New York activities will please both young and old. Let's go!
NEW YORK: MUST-DO ACTIVITIES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Before looking more specifically at the visits and attractions that children can enjoy according to their age, let's start with the sure things. These places are a must-see during a stay in New York, whatever your age or that of your children!
Times Square, is the centre of the world, no less! This square in the heart of Manhattan is probably the liveliest place in New York. Kids will have seen it on TV or in some movies, and even the little ones will be amazed by all the lights and signs.
In Times Square and the surrounding streets, you may run into Disney characters or costumed superheroes who will be happy to take a picture with you, and you can also visit some incredible shops, like the famous M&M’s shop with its 3 floors full of treats.
Here's another must-see place in New York where your kids won't get bored. Central Park is the perfect place for a walk, bike, rollerblade or even horse, horse-drawn carriage or boat ride. If you are travelling to New York in winter, you can even try ice skating on the park’s ice rink. And weather permitting, why not enjoy a picnic on the park's lawns?
Bike rental is usually available for children as young as 5 years old. This will allow them to exercise in the park and you don't have to worry about moving cars. If they are older, you can even leave the park and explore the surrounding area. You will be able to travel a greater distance and therefore to see more things 🙂 Follow this link for more information!
Why not do both? Go exploring after having visited Central Park to your heart’s content!
And if there's one thing to see on a trip to New York, it's the incredible view offered by one of the city's most beautiful observatories. The Top of the Rock, which is located on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center, is in my opinion the place from which you can enjoy the most incredible view of Manhattan. I guarantee that the view will leave absolutely no one indifferent – not even the children!
The view from the Empire State Building is also breathtaking, and these two experiences complement each other quite well. For example, you can go to the Top of the Rock during the day to see Central Park, then go to the Empire State Building observatory at night, to see the Manhattan skyline when the skyscrapers are all lit up.
I would recommend getting your tickets as soon as possible to make sure you will be able to access the observatory on the day of your choice. Children would find it difficult to understand that the observatory’s maximum capacity has been reached, or that they have to go through an endless waiting time in the queue before they can go up... In addition, if you buy your ticket for the Empire State Building in advance, you will benefit from a “no-queue” ticket. You won't have to keep the kids entertained in the queue! 😉
To book your tickets for the Empire State Building, you can follow this link.
THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
New York is home to several world-famous museums, and all of them are interesting for children to explore. But it must be said that while some museums, such as the MoMa, are a marvel, not all children will be captivated by the collections on display.
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), on the other hand, will captivate children and adults alike. It is actually the museum in the famous movie ‘Night at the Museum’! Its many rooms, such as the dinosaur room, the reptile and amphibian room and the mammal room, where the animals are presented in large dioramas that reproduce their natural environment, will fascinate even children aged 3 or 4.
This museum is very large, and a visit of 3 hours or more will surely be too long for the little ones. I recommend that you consult a map and prepare your visit in advance, so as to select the most interesting rooms you wish to visit.
Just south of Brooklyn, on Coney Island, lies one of New York's most famous amusement parks: Luna Park. Right next to one of the city's most popular beaches, Luna Park will appeal to both thrill-seeking teenagers and young children. Carousels, Ferris wheels, roller coasters... in total, there are more than 40 attractions at Coney Island.
During the summer, you can take advantage of your visit to go to the beach for a little tanning session or to cool off in the water.
There are Luna Parks in many countries, but it goes without saying that the one on Coney Island is the most legendary! So this might be a good time to introduce your kids to this place. I doubt they'll be reluctant if you tell them you're going there 🙂 As for the adults, not only can they have fun in the park, but they can also discover Coney Island at the same time. It's a great place for everyone!
ATTRACTIONS FOR CHILDREN
After these must-see attractions for the whole family, let's take a look at some of the activities that children aged 2 to 12 will enjoy.
The Children’s Museum
There are actually three Children's Museums in New York. One in Upper East Manhattan, one on Staten Island, and one in Brooklyn. When visiting museums with your children, it is not rare that they become impatient or ask to leave. But don't worry – I can guarantee you that here it will be the opposite!
Play areas, music, interactive discoveries... Many fun and educational activities await children from 2 to 10 years old in these museums.
THE LEGO Store
Be careful, if you take your children to the LEGO Store, you risk two things: firstly, you might have a hard time getting your children to accept that it is time to leave. Worse, you may find yourself becoming a child again, and not wanting to leave...
If you're willing to take those risks, a visit to one of the LEGO stores in New York City is sure to be a highlight for the whole family. There are two LEGO shops in New York, one inside Rockefeller Center and one across from Madison Square Park. More than just shops, they are true temples to LEGO. Inside, you will see beautiful representations of the One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty and many other iconic sites of the city.
SEE A DISNEY MUSICAL ON BROADWAY
I could very well have classified this activity in the family section, and even extended it to all musicals, not just those based on Walt Disney works. It was hard not to!
The advantage of Disney's classics is that your children already know the stories by heart, so they can fully enjoy the songs and music. Shows such as The Lion King and Aladdin have become legendary Broadway shows and are sure to delight your children.
To see the programme of musicals, click here.
ACTIVITIES FOR TEENAGERS
Even the most jaded of teenagers is bound to get starry-eyed during a trip to New York. If you want to make sure your teenager comes back from the Big Apple with a lifetime of memories, here are some ideas for activities they should enjoy.
intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
How about a trip to a former US Army CV-11 USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, which features war helicopters, F16s and even a Space Shuttle Enterprise? The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum tells the story of the navy, aviation and space conquest. In addition to discovering all these exceptional machines, you will be able to visit the entire aircraft carrier and discover the cabins, the command post, the cannons and the engine room.
Next to the aircraft carrier, you can also visit the USS Growler – an authentic US Navy submarine.
Children and adults alike will learn a lot during the visit and will be amazed by the size of the machines. Going there with children is just an excuse 🙂
ELLIS ISLAND AND THE IMMIGRATION MUSEUM
By taking the ferry, you can discover the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and go to Ellis Island. This is the small island where immigrants arriving in New York used to get off the boat. This place full of history is one of the most visited places in New York today, thanks in particular to the presence of the Immigration Museum.
This very moving place, dedicated to the memory of all those people who made the journey to the New World in the hope of living the American dream, will be perfect for an exciting cultural visit with your children during your stay in New York.
GO TO A SPORT GAME IN NEW YORK
New York is perhaps the only place in the world with the greatest number of sporting events throughout the year. No matter when you travel, there will always be a big match to go see:
- From October to June, you can catch a Knicks or Brooklyn Nets NBA game, – or a New York Liberty game, the WNBA women's team.
- From August to February, the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in the NFL, the American football league.
- From April to October, you can watch baseball and cheer on the Yankees or the Mets.
- From September to April, the NHL hockey season is in full swing, and you can watch the New York Rangers home games.
- At the end of August/beginning of September, the US Open, one of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments, takes place in New York at Flushing Meadows Park. All the top male and female tennis players take part in this competition.
And that’s it for this article on what to do in New York with children! I hope I could help you in your search of activities, and that you enjoyed this article 😊