When you think of family vacations, does a city break immediately come to mind? For many people, it wouldn’t; they would think of beach vacations or similar. However, city breaks have a lot to offer families, and when you consider all the things to do in NYC, New York might be the ultimate choice. The key is to make sure you find things that will be fun for everyone in the family, and New York has no shortage of great activities and attractions that kids will love. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to make Manhattan fun for kids no matter what age they are or what time of year you might be visiting the city.
1Westgate New York Grand Central
The ideal family hotel in New York.
When you compile your list of things to do in NYC, there is one thing you mustn’t forget – your accommodation. Of course, when you’re traveling with your family, you’ll want to find somewhere to stay that caters for all, plus you’ll want to be close to all the big attractions so you can do more with your time in the city. With that in mind, Westgate New York Grand Central is a great option. The rooms are spacious and modern, and the location is within walking distance to variety of great things to do in NYC – you’re also close to three different subway stations, so you can get anywhere you want to. Add to this the gym, restaurant, and business center, and you can see why this hotel is a good choice when you’re looking to book for a family vacation to the city.
A miniature world to explore.
There is something about miniatures that capture kids’ imaginations – and adults seem to like them a lot too. That’s why, when you’re looking for things to do in NYC that the whole family will love, Gulliver’s Gate is a wonderful option. Located in Times Square and covering 50,000 square feet, this world of miniatures has a lot to see. It’s exciting to look at the attractions you’ve already seen or plan to see on your New York trip in stunning detail, right down to the little people who seem as though they could come to life at any moment. There are some fun Easter eggs included too – one example is Spiderman on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Source: Instagram, posted on November 13, 2019, Gullivers Gate’s official profile.
Enjoy being a kid at this enormous toy shop.
A lot of people head to New York to go shopping, so why should the kids be any different? FAO Schwarz might be the most famous toy shop in the world, and although we almost lost it back in 2015 when it closed after 80 years in its Fifth Avenue location, it reappeared in the Rockefeller Center, to the delight of millions. Come and see the iconic soldiers – you can’t miss them – and enjoy browsing the thousands of toys. You can even see the floor piano that was featured with Tom Hanks in Big!
Source: Instagram, posted on May 10, 2022, FAO Schwartz’s official profile.
4Grand Central Terminal
Try talking to your kids across the Whispering Gallery.
In most cases, taking the kids to a train station isn’t going to be at the top of your list of fun family activities, but it’s different in New York. That’s because you can visit Grand Central Terminal, and it really should be on your list of things to do in NYC while you’re there. It’s true that technically this is a train station – a huge one – but there is more to see here than trains (although if you love trains, it’s a great way to spend an hour or two). To begin with, the architecture is stunning, and it’s going to be familiar because it features in so much media. Plus, there are numerous places to eat and even a tennis court. It’s not a whole day out, but it’s a worthwhile addition to your itinerary.
Source: Instagram, posted on May 24, 2022, GrandCentralNYC’s official profile.
5Museum Of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is ideal for kids.
Back in 2019, the Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA) underwent a huge renovation, and it’s now open again and bigger and better than ever. Even if modern art isn’t something that normally interests you, visiting New York’s famous museum is an excellent idea if you’re looking for things to do in NYC. Not only is the art something that makes a great talking point, but there are two art studios where you can make art yourself; one of them is dedicated to kids, so the little ones can join in the fun too. There are also child-friendly tours and events, so check the website to make sure you’re going at the right time.
Source: Instagram, posted on April 29, 2022, TheMuseumOfModernArt’s official profile.
6National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
Come face to face with a great white shark in New York City.
Did you ever imagine you and your family would be able to explore deep beneath the Pacific Ocean when you were looking for things to do in NYC? Probably not, and yet, thanks to the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, that’s exactly what you can do. Of course, you’ll be doing it digitally, but apart from staying dry and safe, you’ll experience everything a deep-sea diver would. This is a self-guided attraction, so you can enjoy it for as long as you want to, and you’ll come across all kinds of fascinating facts – and creatures (including a great white shark!).
Source: Instagram, posted on May 23, 2022, NatGeo’s official profile.
Musical theater is so much fun for the family.
For a great night – or afternoon if you have younger children who need to get to bed at a reasonable time – visiting one of the many theaters on Broadway is such a fantastic way to spend time together. There are dozens of different shows to see, including Wicked, Matilda, Mary Poppins, Annie, The Addams Family, and so much more. Of course, the lineup will change, so make sure you investigate what’s available before you go and book your tickets in advance.
Source: Instagram, posted on March 1, 2022, Wicked_Musical’s official profile.
8Staten Island Ferry
This free attraction is always a hit.
There is a reason why the Staten Island Ferry is so beloved by both New York locals and tourists alike; when you want to find things to do in NYC, this ferry is a great choice. To begin with, it’s free, and when you’re on vacation, free things to do are always a good bet. Secondly, you’ll get some superb views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, among other things. Finally, you’re on a boat, and that’s always fun. It’s just a 25-minute journey, so it’s great for little ones as it’s not too long and they won’t get bored.
Source: Instagram, posted on November 20, 2020, Staten Island Ferry’s official profile.
9One World Observatory
Ride the world’s fastest elevators and look down 1,776 feet to the city streets.
There are a few great reasons to visit the One World Observatory, and all of them are good ones that the little ones – and bigger ones – will love. For one thing, the views are stunning. We know there are a variety of places to enjoy views across New York City, but there is something about the special view from the One World Observatory that does need to be experienced firsthand if possible. Also, this is where you’ll find some of the fastest elevators in the world, and you’ll use them to get to the top of the building, which is the tallest building in the US. Finally, there’s the Sky Portal. Stand here, and you’ll be able to see directly down 1,776 feet to the city streets below. It’s quite something!
Source: Instagram, posted on May 23, 2022, OneWorldNYC’s official profile.
10New York City Fire Museum
Learn about New York’s iconic firefighters.
Who can resist looking at fire engines, firefighters’ uniforms, and all the equipment that goes along with fighting fires in New York City – or anywhere else? That’s the beauty of the New York City Fire Museum; you’ll be able to explore all of this as much as you want to, even getting the chance to sit in the driving seat of a real-life New York City fire engine. Not only are there plenty of modern-day machines to delve into, but you can also see many older ones and explore the history of the way fires have been fought for a century or more. You can walk through the museum at your own speed, taking the time you want to play with the great exhibits on show.
Source: Instagram, posted on April 13, 2021, INYCFireMuseum’s official profile.