Touring New York takes on a different connotation when you do it as a family. What’s the best way to see the main sites with kids on board? What kind of “kid-friendly” attractions can you visit on top of the usual “adult” stops?
If you are planning on going to NYC with your kids for a family vacation, here are some tips on how to do it right:
1. Take a Bus Tour Route
As for seeing the most iconic landmarks and most popular tourist stops, families do well to opt for sightseeing & bus tours. It simplifies everything because so many classic stops are all wrapped up into one highly affordable package. You may want to take a few trips by taxi or subway or even on foot, but getting the bulk of your NYC tour on the top of a double decker bus will save you a lot of time, money, and stress.
2. Kid Stops In/around Times Square
You’ll likely visit Times Square at some point during your trip (and many bus tours begin/end there). Many are unaware of the many kid-appropriate stops in/around Times Square. These include:
Midtown Comics, which offers very cheap “back issue blowout” deals.
M&Ms World, where you can see the M&M version of the Statue of Liberty.
The Disney Store, which sports “magic mirrors” and a mini-theater.
Playgrounds like Hudson Yards Playground, the one at Manhattan Plaza, and the Bronze Man who doubles as a kids’ play dream come true, dubbed simply Playground.
3. See the Zoo Kid-style
Kids love animals and, thus, zoos; but you need to tour the zoos that are set up with kids in mind. Check out Central Park Wildlife Center & Children’s Zoo (and make it a priority to be there when it’s time to feed the sea lions), the Tisch Children’s Zoo, or the Bronx Children’s Zoo (petting allowed and a “family safari” is available).
4. Pick Out Museums Kids Love
You may think kids don’t have the patience for museums (and you don’t have the patience for their impatience), but think again. There are some museums in New York City kids will love. These include:
American Museum of Natural History. IMAX movies, a planetarium, Fossil Hall (with dinosaurs!), and the giant blue whale in the Ocean Life section will keep your kids’ attention.
The Tenement Museum on the lower-east side, where tour guides wear nostalgic costumes and act out the parts of poor New York immigrants from “the old days.”
The Madame Tussaud Wax Museum. Here, you will see wax versions of many popular stars that your kids may be entranced with.
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan and The Brooklyn Children’s Museum are obviously built with kids in mind.
5. Stop Off for Some Unforgettable Ice Cream
Your kids are screaming for ice cream? New York has a solution that will both solve the immediate problem and leave lasting memories: Dylan’s Candy Bar. It’s as fun as it is delicious, with colorful flavors and peppermint-stick stools. But some of your older kids might prefer Serendipity 3, the ice cream shop where NYC celebrities’ kids often hang out.
6. Include Kid Stores in Your Shopping Spree
Shopping at only “adult stores” can be boring for kids, so be sure to include stops at places like the Times Square Toys R Us (with 60 foot high ferris wheel inside), Lego Store (where kids can join in on special “build events”), FAQ Schwarz (dancing on the giant piano keys is permitted) and American Girl Place (young girls can get their doll’s ears pierced).