Get Lost At The Harry Potter Store
Heres an unpopular statement: I never got into the Harry Potter craze. Maybe Im doing it wrong, I dont know, but I wouldnt consider myself in the same timezone as a fan. As such, I wasnt expecting much when I paid a visit to the Harry Potter Store but found myself thoroughly impressed.
The entire store is a mythical wonderland and its no wonder why parents consider this one of the best activities in New York City with kids. The store spans two exciting floors and has a fun cafe selling butterbeer. Brace yourself for crowds of shrieking children, the joy is hard to hide.
Visiting the Harry Potter store is one of the best free things to do in New York City, if you can get out without splurging on merchandise. If you find yourself in want of a souvenir though, make sure to grab the tantalizing chocolate frog!
Run Around In The Sunshine In Central Park
The 845-acre urban oasis of Central Park is New Yorks most beloved green space. With well-maintained meadows for picnicking, beautiful paths for walking and an unbelievable 21 playgrounds for playing, the park tops most visitors lists.
Dont miss stopping by Wollman Rink, set up for ice skating in the winter and the Victorian Gardens amusement park in the summer. Young park-goers in particular will adore the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, a fairy talelike cabin in which audiences take in astonishing puppet productions.
Feel Like A Princess At American Girl Place & Caf
This store is every little kids dream! The number of dolls in this New York kids store is unparalleled. Your children can even choose to create their own doll, which is whats most special about this store. Even when traveling without kids, getting a customized souvenir here will make their eyes glow! Theres even a café you can have tea, brunch, lunch, and even dinner at.
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Take The Ferry To The Statue Of Liberty And Find Your Roots At Ellis Island
You cant go to New York City and not take a trip to the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. For our family, the tour of the immigration museum at Ellis Island was even more rewarding than the statue, due to the excellent way this museum is set up to show the experience of Americas many immigrants.
Both attractions are free, but do require a ferry ticket from Statue Cruises . Youll depart from Battery Park, and kids will enjoy the ferry ride as well as the historical sites.
Advanced tickets are required to climb to the top of the statue on a first-come, first-served basis, but if you dont get them, dont sweat it: seeing the statue from the water actually offers the best views. Plan to spend several hours at Ellis Island, especially with school-aged kids and teens.
American Girl Place New York
American Girl Place New York is 3-level store of dolls and doll accessories that has to be seen to be believed!
On the top floor is a cafe where you can eat with an American Girl doll who is provided with its own dolls chair so she can sit next to you. Brunch there is a good option at $20 per head with drinks and 3 smallish courses. Book ahead as its very popular.
American Girl Place New York, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019, USA
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Make And Eat Pizza At Jimmy Max
Jimmy Max is a child-friendly restaurant, where you can not only eat with your kids but also make your own pizza! The Childrens Pizza Making at the Staten Island restaurant is free with any adult purchase on Mondays and Tuesdays after 5 pm. Its a great way to combine the free Staten Island Ferry, a dinner and a fun activity for kids.
Best Observation Views Of Nyc
New York City has one of the best skylines in the world. Viewing NYC from one of the following places is one of the best things to do on your NYC family vacation!
Pick one of the following or do them all! But definitely choose one!
18. Top of The Rock
Top of The Rock Observation Deck offers one of the best views in all of New York City! It is located 70 floors atop Rockefeller Center.
There are three levels of indoor and outdoor viewing areas offering breathtaking 360 -degree views of New York City. On one side of the observation deck, you will see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty!
On the other side of the Observation Deck, you will have a beautiful view of Central Park.
Top of The Rock is more than just its beautiful views though! Upon entering the lobby, you will be in awe of the beautiful Swarovski Joie Chandelier created just for Top of The Rock.
As you walk through the Mezzanine Exhihibit, you will learn about the history of Rockefeller Center.
Do you know the iconic black and white photo Lunch atop a Skyscraper taken of the construction workers eating lunch on the beam high above Manhattan? Did you know that was taken here?
Recreate your own photo with your family here before you make your way to the Observation Deck! How fun is this!
19. One World Observatory
Before you leave, check out the small gift shop. You might find your perfect New York City souvenir here to bring home.
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Madame Tussaud Wax Museum
Get your selfie on at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, one of the most popular things to do in Times Square. When youre done snapping photos with over 225 shockingly lifelike wax figures of the biggest stars and icons in entertainment, sports and history, make sure to play some games and have a drink at Dave and Busters, located in the same building.
More Info: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Enjoy The Parks And Playgrounds
There are several public parks and play areas for children located all over New York City.
The most popular example is none other than Central Park, but there are a handful of additional locations you may want to consider.
For more great locations, check this list of the top 15 playgrounds in New York City.
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Where To Stay In New York City With Young Kids
Need accommodations in New York City for young kids? Families staying in lower Manhattan will love the Millenium Hilton Hotelin the Financial District or the trendy Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca. If youre looking for somewhere to stay in Midtown Manhattan, try the Loews Regency New York or the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan, which also has a Kids Club. For a true luxury experience, we also recommend the nearby St. Regis New York.
Finding Family Hotels In Nyc
If you have not stayed in a New York City hotel room before, you might be shocked by how tiny and expensive they can be. It can also be a little challenging to find rooms that can accommodate a family.
I recommend booking as far out as possible to secure the best rate. Sites such as Booking.com usually have a flexible cancellation option . Personally, I like to reserve a room at a family-friendly New York hotel as soon as I have my flights booked and then cancel/change it if I find a better rate later on.
While I have two other posts on this topic , I typically use the following criteria when choosing a family friendly New York hotel.
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See Manhattan From The Water On A Water Ferry
We did this on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a 1 hour boat ride around the tip of Manhattan that takes in Manhattan, Liberty Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, which we would have missed had we not seen it on this trip. Its one of the awesome things to do in New York.
We got on the Zephyr, a large ferry type boat, at Pier 16 and headed for the top deck. The weather was lovely and when the sun came out it made our water views of Manhattan very magical. We also managed to get some pictures of the Statue of Liberty without having to step off the boat which we thought was great.
The boat trip is narrated with information from a guide and ours was very funny. There are two cash bars on board, remember cash, and you can buy tickets for this which combine other attractions too.
Tickets just for the ferry cost us $30 for adults and $19 for children and there are various departure times between 10am and 5pm. This boat trip was thoroughly enjoyed by both us and our son and is definitely one I would recommend you do for a different view of Manhattan. If your children are anything like ours youll find this one of the best things to do with toddlers in New York City.
To find availability and check latest prices, .
Where To Go In New York City
In a city with a population of more than 8 million over 305 square miles, it can be hard to decide where to go and what to do in NYC with kids. New York City is comprised of 5 boroughs, each a little city in itself: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
When most people talk about visiting New York City, they usually mean Manhattan, an island surrounded by the East, Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Manhattan, locally referred to as the city is the financial and historical center of New York City and the most densely populated borough, containing the majority of the major landmarks such as Time Square, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Broadway and of course the Statue of Liberty.
The most popular places to visit in New York will all be in Manhattan. So iff youre visiting New York City to see the major sites, staying in Manhattan will be the most practical choice. Just to make matters a little more confusing, there are about 60 districts or neighborhoods inside the island of Manhattan! Dont worry, thanks to the Big Apples fantastic public transportation system, you will be able to see everything within a quick and easy subway journey!
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Catch A Broadway Show
Lets address the elephant in the room: Broadway Shows are expensive. But dang, the experience is unforgettable and so fun for kids visiting NYC for the first time. You may be able to score a better deal on tickets if you opt for a matinee or swing by the ticket booth in Times Square .
Theres a lot of great shows to choose from and I would budgeting at least one during your visit. Catching a live performance of a favorite film is one of the most unique thing to do in NYC with kids, and I guarantee theyll absolutely love it!
Best Broadway Shows in NYC for Kids
- Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
Have Lunch In Brookfield Place
After a visit to the World Trade Centre or One World Observatory, pop across the road to Brookfield Place. From the outside it looks like a regular shopping mall, but walk through to a trendy outdoor area lined with cafes and restaurants. Located on the Hudson river you can watch the boats go by and even catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty!
We ate at PJ Clarkes, which is located right on the waters edge. An American style restaurant with Irish roots, it is a great family choice serving good quality food and they even have Guinness on tap!
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A Night At The Museum
Just a few times per year, the Museum of Natural History lets you sleep over!!!! And yes, it’s just like the movie! Evening and morning snacks, cots to sleep on, a flashlight fossil fact-finding mission, live animals, private museum tours and more.
Sleep Over at the Museum of Natural History
This is an authentic NYC experience you and the kids can’t miss! Ages 6 – 13, + an accompanying guardian. Read More: Museum Sleepovers NYC
The Adventure Park Long Island Ny
Calling all ropes course lovers to The Adventure Park in Long Island. If youve been looking for an activity to bond with your kids in New York, this is it. What makes The Adventure Park different from other ropes courses, is that its courses are aerial treetop courses.
Whether you are a beginning or an expert, there is a trail for you. There are 5 different levels of challenge, each color-coded. With 14 trails and 49 ziplines, The Adventure Park is easily a day-long activity. Children under 7, who are too young to climb the trails, can play in the Adventure Playground.
With this list of things to do with kids in New York, you may never make it to any of the more popular tourist attractions in Manhattan. You will however have experienced New York in a way many tourists have not and will be planning your next trip back to New York to do some of the things you never got around to. For more family travel tips and ideas, check out Traveling the West Way, a family travel blog.
If youre visiting New York on a budget, check out this list of free things to do in New York and dont forget to check out our post on How to Be a New York Tourist!
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Explore Times Square And Go To A Broadway Show
Times Square can be touristy and busy , but its still worth a stop on your New York City trip.
In addition to seeing a Broadway show , there are lots of kid-friendly restaurant chains and activities to keep them interested including Bowlmore Lanes , Hersheys Chocolate World, Ripleys Believe It or Not, and The Disney Store.
For last-minute Broadway tickets, head to the TKTS booth under the red steps at Times Square. Available tickets for shows are listed on their display boards, including the prices.
Discounts are typically near 20-50% off the price of purchasing in advance, although not all shows are available. You can download the TKTS app to see what is available before making the trek to stand in line.
Visit The Oldest Toy Store In America
When it comes to iconic toy stores in New York City, FAO Schwarz tops the list. In operation since 1862, FAO Schwarz is officially the oldest toy store in America.
The original location closed in 2015 but recently re-opened in a new 20,000 square foot location at Rockefeller Plaza. All of the classic attractions have made their return, from the dance-on piano made famous by Tom Hanks in Big to the exemplary clock tower.
FAO Schwarz lives up to their reputation of being a popular activity in New York City for children. They specialize in sparking the imagination and have the toys and activities to prove it. Visitors are encourage to participate in a plethora of free daily activities like book readings, magic shows and music performances guaranteed to entertain your child.
New York is where you prove if what you think in theory makes sense in life. Miuccia Prada
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Meet The Characters In Times Square
Times Square should be on every familys bucket list! Between wandering cartoon characters and flashing bright lights, this popular area on 42nd street is sure to dazzle any kid. Though it may seem a bit corny, young children are sure to love taking photographs with Elmo, Pikachu, and other characters wandering the area. You may even spot the tin man or infamous naked cowboy! Plus, aside from walking around, theres so much to do in Times Square with young kids. Visit the Disney Store, take a trip to Midtown Comics, or see Ripleys Believe It Or Not! Then, when youre ready to satisfy your sweet tooth, head to the M& M Store. No matter what you choose to do in Times Square, were sure itll be a highlight on your trip. After all, its one of the best free things to do in New York City with young kids!
Where To Stay In New York With A Toddler
If you want to be in the hub of things, then staying on Manhattan Island is a must. You can reach all the major things to do with kids in New York pretty easily.
AirBnB used to be a great source of family-friendly accommodation in Manhattan but listings are become rarer and more pricey. The reason is, under state law, it is illegal in most buildings for an apartment to be rented out for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is residing in the apartment at the same time.
As a family we prefer to have the whole place to ourselves as you never know when your kids might be sick or playing up and no-one wants to be sharing an apartment with someone else during those times.
That said, there are listings for New York on AirBnB, and more so off the island of Manhattan, the last time I checked. So, you might get lucky finding a suitable one. However, just be aware that if you rent the entire place, your host is acting illegally.
We rented a fabulous two-bedroom apartment in Astoria, just across the Hudson River before this new law came into being during our trip Stateside. It was a gorgeous apartment and was just 20 minutes on the subway direct into Times Square. It had everything we needed for our stay with our then two year old.
If you are new to AirBnB, sign up using THIS LINK to get money off your first stay.
To check availability and prices for family-friendly hotels in New York, .
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