Traveling to NYC With Kids: The Best Things To See And Do

New York is a one of a kind place with a number of different things to do. The sheer number of activities can be overwhelming for first-time visitors to the city. And this anxiety can be exacerbated if kids come along on the trip.

The good thing is, there are a million different things in New York that can be done with kids. The city features world-class theatre, numerous museums and parks and, of course, world-class cuisine from Michelin Star restaurants to neighborhood pizza joints. Here a number of different options for families.

The Museum Of Natural History

the museum of natural history in new york
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On a city block in Manhattan, stands a museum where your kids can discover entire worlds. There are a number of rooms which represent all the continents in the world and their exact habitats. From elephants to alligators to bald eagles, you can see life-size models of them all.

The Museum of Natural History also features exhibits where children can see actual fossils of giant dinosaurs or a giant blue whale or even meteorites that fell to the Earth.

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds in new york city
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds New York
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds New York

If you’re hoping to see a celebrity in New York City, you may be in luck. Plenty of celebrities call the 5 boroughs home. But if you’re hoping to see all of the celebrities, you may want to take the kids over to Madame Tussauds.

Tussaud created her first wax statue in 1777, and the pieces of art have been thrilling visitors ever since. Recent additions to the New York exhibit include the Kardashians, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and RuPaul.

Finding An Authentic Restaurant

family eating at a restaurant in new york
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

New York City features a number of high-end expensive restaurants. Thanks to the tourists who don’t want to leave their comfort zone, there are also plenty of chain restaurants. But for those families that want to be a bit more adventurous, there are also hidden gems.

It might take some walking around and getting intentionally lost to find them, but family-owned restaurants of all different cuisines dot the city. Take a chance on one of them and you may have the meal of your life.

Spend A Day At Central Park

a dad and child at the central park zoo
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

There may not be a place like Central Park anywhere else in the world. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and constructed in the 1850s the park takes up a total of 843 acres. It is like an oasis in the middle of skyscrapers.

Park visitors can check out the zoo, have a meal at Tavern on the Green or the Boathouse or just laze around on one of the yards. Kids and parents can also rent bicycles and traverse the entirety of the park.

Find The Perfect Slice

kids eating pizza on the sidewalk
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

For much of America, pizza is the thing you order from Pizza Hut, Papa Johns or some regional chain. For some in the Midwest, the pies are deep and have to be eaten with a knife and fork. New York pizza is something entirely different.

Thin crust and tangy sauce make the city’s pizza the best in the world. And the slices are going to taste different depending on the neighborhood or borough, so make sure you try them all.

See The Statue Of Liberty

the statue of liberty in new york
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The Statue of Liberty is one of the true landmarks of New York City (even though it is actually located in New Jersey). The statue was the first thing that hundreds of thousands of immigrants saw for the first time as they entered America.

There are a number of different ways to get out and get a look at Lady Liberty, but one option stands above all other. Taking the Staten Island ferry will not only get you a bird’s eye view of the statue, but it’s also free.

Take In A Baseball Game

mets fans at a game in new york
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If your visit is in the Spring or Summer and you are looking to take in a baseball game, there is ample opportunity. The Yankees play in the Bronx, the Mets play in Queens and there are minor league teams in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

While all the games will take place outside of Manhattan, it is very easy to get there via public transportation. And since each team plays 81 home games, tickets are ample and affordable.

Visit The Lego Store

lego store in new york
mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images
mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images

Most parents who have kids become intimately familiar with Legos. Children of all ages love the building toy and New York City offers one of the largest Lego stores that can be found in the country.

Not only does the store, located in Rockefeller Center, offer an incredible selection of Lego sets, there are also a number of large scale constructions for the family to marvel over. Whatever sort of scene your kids are into, the NYC Lego store almost certainly has it.

Visit The New York City Tenement Museum

the tenement museum in new york
DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images
DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

Kids who are visiting New York City for the first time will notice some very opulent buildings and a number of very wealthy people. But not everyone who lives or works in New York is wealthy.

The New York City tenement museum highlights the experiences of immigrants who came to Manhattan in the early 1900s and details what life was like for them. It is a captivating way to understand the sacrifices made by those who were chasing the American dream.

Walk Across The Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridge walk in new york city
Thomas Levinson/MLB via Getty Images
Thomas Levinson/MLB via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Bridge is a magnificent landmark that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. The sightseeing marvel also offers the opportunity to get some exercise while taking in some expansive views. The bridge has a path built-in for bikes and cars.

At only around 1.1 mile long, the distance is an easy one for children to conquer. It’s a great and inexpensive way to go from one borough to another with great food and shopping on either side of the bridge.

Visit The Empire State Building

the empire state building in new york
Gary Hershorn/Crobis via Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Crobis via Getty Images

When it was first built, the Empire State Building was the marvel of the modern world. When the 102 story building was completed in 1931, nothing like it had ever been seen. And it is still pretty amazing today.

There is plenty to do when you get there too. One of the major highlights of a visit to the building is taking an elevator all the way up to the top floor and having a perfect panoramic view of Manhattan.

Walk Along The Highline

family walking the new york high line
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

For many years, New York City featured an abandoned elevated rail line. In the early 2000’s, though, the city decided to do something with the former tracks. Opened in 2009, the Highline has become a popular tourist attraction.

The walk is about a mile and a half and features numerous displays of landscape architecture. If you get hungry along the way, there are many opportunities to step down and visit a variety of different restaurants.

Attend A Broadway Show

a boradway show in new york
Al Pereira/Getty Images
Al Pereira/Getty Images

New York City features maybe the greatest collection of singing and acting talent in the world. And most of those performers are regularly featured on Broadway. Visiting the city creates a special opportunity to attend a play.

If you plan before your trip, tickets to the show can be booked in advance. If you decide, however, to go to the theatre on a whim, you can visit the TKTS booth in Times Square where show tickets are available for that day.

Shop For Designer Duds

century 21 department store in new york
Noam Galai/WireImage
Noam Galai/WireImage

Like many other major cities, New York has endless stores where shoppers can pick up some new threads. The majority of these places are very expensive and out of the budget of most shoppers.

The popular Century 21 department stores are different though. While their multi-level stores are filled with high-end fashion, their prices are heavily discounted. Savvy shoppers flock to their two locations in Midtown West and down near the World Trade Center monument.

Reflect On One Of The Countries Greatest Tragedies

9/11 museum in new york
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On September 11th, 2001, the country experienced one of its greatest tragedies when airplanes flew into and destroyed New York’s World Trade Center. After many years of construction, towers have been rebuilt to go along with a museum.

Children who visit New York City were not yet born when the attack happened. The museum allows these children to learn about and understand what happened that day while giving parents the opportunity to reflect and grieve.

Visit Madison Square Garden

billy joel at madison square garden in new york
Myrna M. Suarez/Getty Images
Myrna M. Suarez/Getty Images

Madison Square Garden is often called, “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” The New York Knicks and New York Rangers call the Garden their home and both play 41 games there each season. There are plenty of opportunities to attend those games.

Even if you are not a sports fan, you can still visit Madison Square Garden. The venue features concerts from artists like Billy Joel and Beyonce to go along with comedy shows from acts like Sebastian Maniscalco and Amy Schumer.

Take The Ride

the ride bus tour in new york
Kip and Jake/YouTube
Kip and Jake/YouTube

While New York City is not all the big square footage wise, there is an awful lot to see and it can be difficult to cross everything off your list. It may make sense to take the family on a bus tour.

One of the most popular bus tours in New York is called The Ride. It not only delivers a quick view of tourist hot spots, but it also does so with clever and funny hosts and a bus outfitted with large TV screens and special hydraulics.

Take A Trip To Rockefeller Center

rockefeller center things to do in new york
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Regardless of what time of year it is, a trip to Rockefeller Center is always a good time. Of course, the best time to visit is during the holiday season when the area features a giant Christmas tree and an ice skating rink.

Even in the offseason, though, there is plenty of fun to be had at Roc Center. The location is dotted with shopping place and eateries and shows like Saturday Night Live and multiple NBC programs are filmed there.

Have Cupcakes At The Famous Magnolia Bakery

magnolia bakery in new york
Ben Hider/Getty Images
Ben Hider/Getty Images

New York residents and commuters have long been familiar with the Magnolia Bakery. And thanks to a viral Saturday Night Live skit from Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell, a lot of people outside of New York know about it as well.

The bakery now features a number of shops dotted throughout Manhattan. Your kids will be thrilled to sample anything the bakery has to offer, but especially the cupcakes. This is the perfect place to spend your next Lazy Sunday.

Riding The Subway

subway ride new york
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Many people who have never visited New York City in the past have misconceptions about the subway. While it was at one point, a bit dangerous, it is now clean and convenient. There is no faster and less expensive way to get from place to place.

The subway is a fun thing to do with kids who love trains and you may run into some incredible performers along the way. Riding the rails can be a little confusing for newcomers, so make sure you pick up a map.