New York: the city that never sleeps, the bright lights of Times Square, the shopping, the soaring skyscrapers, the food, the cocktails. Not the best place to bring your kids right? Wrong!
New York is indeed a playground for the grown-ups, but there is also so much for families to enjoy. The city is accessible, friendly and fun for all ages! Eric of newyork.co.uk has two kids who love New York as much as their dad! Together, they put together this list of attractions and activities for you to enjoy with your family in New York.
New York with a Baby
Taking a baby on holiday is daunting at the best of times. So flying with your little one to the metropolis that is New York City is maybe not an option that has crossed your mind. However, with wide, buggy friendly streets, lots of parks, chemists that open late, plenty of sensory delights for the little one and an abundance of options for food and drink, New York has a lot to offer.
All airlines will permit a foldable pushchair, and once in the city you will find that getting around with it is not an issue. Most subway stations have a lift, as do shops and attractions. Tour busses provide storage areas too, so you can sit back and relax.
A great way to discover the city and see a lot of it in a short space of time is to make use of the New York Hop on Hop off Bus. You can grab a seat on the top of the bus and be driven around the city as the guide gives interesting facts and points out places of interest. You can even stay on the bus for the whole loop (there are several) or you can get off to explore at one of the many stops along the way.
Another way to see the city without having to walk too far is to take a boat tour. There are a few to choose from, my favourite being the Landmarks Cruise which takes you past attractions such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty and allows great skyline views. The boat is comfortable, easy to get on to with a pram and has a cafe with snacks, coffee and hot water.
Parks and playgrounds
For a city with such a large surface area of buildings, New York is surprisingly green. Neighbourhood playgrounds are full of local kids and visitors alike.
The vast green space of Central Park is a kids dream, places to climb, squirrels to chase and the performers and artists on the Boulevard will certainly entertain. Spend an afternoon exploring the park, bring a pic-nic, rent a boat on the lake, hire a bike or head to one of the playgrounds for a fun filled afternoon. Central Park Zoo is also worth a visit, a small zoo with a large array of animals and a petting zoo.
Another nice playground can be found at Madison Square Park, a large climbing frame for the bigger kids and also something for the little ones. For the parents, there is a Shake Shack in the park too, so great to go play and then have a burger for dinner in the pretty park with a view of the Flatiron Building.
Union Square has a large playground tucked away amongst the trees, with a large sandpit, swings and a climbing frame. Combine it with grabbing breakfast on the Union Square Greenmarket and after play time, pay a visit to Barnes and Noble bookstore before heading over to High Line Park for a walk.
The High Line is a great way to see the city, a modern park built on a disused train track, this park has something for everyone, greenery, water features to splash in, areas to sit and people watch, great views and cafes and ice cream vendors along the way. The pathways are buggy friendly and there are lifts to get you up and down to street level if you can’t take the stairs.
New York Attractions
Most of the main attractions in the city are great for the whole family. If you are planning on doing any sightseeing, I do recommend getting a discount pass to save money and time.
The New York Sightseeing Flex Pass for example gives you a range of options and see everything at your own pace. You only pay for what you want to see and can use the pass on your mobile which makes it really handy. Kids aged 2 and under are free and 12 and under have a special lower price.
A great place to visit for the whole family is the American Museum of Natural History. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs, animals and wildlife? Kids may also enjoy their butterfly conservatory with lots of different species flying around. Great for a rainy day, this museum is big, so make sure you plan what you want to see beforehand. The gift shops in the museum have a good selection of educational games and toys and there is a subway station in the basement which links the museum to the rest of the city.
If you, like me have any future pilots, astronauts or captains in the family, a visit to the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum is worth adding to your itinerary. The museum itself is even shaped like a huge ship! Go here before or after taking a Circle Line boat tour as it is right next to the departure port.
There are a few great ways to experience New York after dark with your family. There are plenty of themed restaurants to entertain the kids, stay in the Times Square area for spacious and easy eateries like Red Lobster and Bubba Gump Shrimp which have high chairs, changing facilities and room for pushchairs. Bare in mind that portions are large so order one for the kids to share or give them some of yours to save money and food.
See the illuminated skyline from a boat on a family friendly New York dinner cruise. Enjoy a buffet dinner and musical entertainment as you pass the Statue of Liberty and cross under the Brooklyn Bridge. The views also provide a good opportunity to take some photos for the family album.
A Broadway show is a New York experience not to be missed and for kids over 5 there are a few great options. See School of Rock, Aladdin, Frozen, The Lion King or SpongeBob The Musical for a great evening of Family entertainment. Before the show, go for a pre theatre dinner at Carmine’s, a family friendly Italian restaurant serving sharing plates of delicious food.
Sports in New York are also a family affair! You can go with kids of all ages to a basketball, hockey or baseball game. Grab a hot dog, get the kids a foam finger and cheer along with the crowds. The atmosphere alone will keep the young ones entertained!
Take a look at the events calendar to see what to do in New York during your stay. Find out which sports games, Broadway shows and special events are taking place while you are in the city.
About Eric – After experiencing the city both as a New York local and tourist, Eric created his website to give advice to friends and family on travelling to New York City. Need some more tips for whilst you’re there? Be sure to check out Eric’s New York App, (for the Android version click here). With offline maps, tips, tricks, and tickets, use Eric as your personal guide to New York.
Fly to New York from Manchester with Thomas Cook Airlines from £349.99 return here