10 Things to Do with Your Family in New York

New York’s Family-Friendly Places

New York may be known for its fast-paced life, but the city also offers plenty of activities and unique attractions for families. The iconic Central Park alone is teeming with playgrounds, miles of cycling and walking paths, picnic spaces, gardens, and city zoos with wildlife from all over the world.

Visitors can spend hours marveling at rare artifacts, paintings, and even prehistoric dinosaurs in the city’s many museums. Many of these venues also offer daily workshops and educational programs for young children, so that they can try their hand at painting, sculpting, and handling real fossils. From catching a Disney musical at Broadway’s oldest theatre to visiting the Statue of Liberty, check out our guide on things to do with your family in New York for some inspiration and ideas.

1

Central Park

See diverse wildlife at the Central Park Zoo

Central Park, among the largest green spaces in New York, features over 20 playgrounds, manmade lakes and ponds, as well as extensive walking tracks. It often hosts a variety of activities, exhibitions, and concerts, especially during the spring and summer. Central Park is known for its family-friendly activities, like the Carousel, Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, and Belvedere Castle. It’s open to the public all year round, and guided tours are available for a few dollars.

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2

New York Public Library

Check out original "Winnie the Pooh" toys in the Children's Center

The New York Public Library has more than 90 branches in New York, but many locals frequent the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for its Beaux-Arts style architecture, extensive collections of rare books, author talks, and workshops for all ages. Among the library’s most visited displays is the "Winnie-the-Pooh" display in the Children’s Center, where you get to see the original stuffed toy animals that inspired author Christopher Robin Milne. If you want to learn about the building’s history, free tours are available from Monday to Saturday at 11am and 2pm.

Location: 476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018, USA

Open: Monday, Thursday – Saturday from 10am to 6pm, Tuesday – Wednesday from 10am to 8pm, Sunday from 1pm to 5pm

Phone: +1 212-340-0863

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3

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Experience the “hanami’ cherry blossom in the Japanese Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden spans over 200,000 sq m of garden space at the north-eastern edge of Prospect Park. It features an impressive selection of flower conservatories, landscaped gardens, walking trails, and ponds that make for beautiful snapshots during your visit. Tickets to the botanical park costs $15 for adults and $8 for children over the age of 12, but you can enjoy free admission on Fridays before 12pm. If you’re in New York during wintertime, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is free to enter all day from Tuesday to Friday.

Location: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, USA

Open: Tuesday – Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturday – Sunday from 10am to 6pm (closed on Mondays)

Phone: +1 718-623-7200

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4

Catch a Disney production at New Amsterdam Theater

Join the New Amsterdam Behind-the-Magic Tour

The New Amsterdam Theater has been operating since 1903, making it the oldest entertainment venue on Broadway. Its interior features marble wall sculptures depicting scenes of Shakespearean plays, Wagner’s Ring cycle operas, and characters from Hans Christian Anderson and Aesop’s Fables. The theatre showcases only Disney musical productions, such as Aladdin, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Frozen. If you’re not here for a show, New Amsterdam Theater offers group tours for a few dollars, with a guide sharing interesting facts (and ghost stories) of this historical building.

Location: 214 W 42nd St., New York, 10036, USA

Open: Box Office: Monday – Friday from 9am to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 8pm, Sunday from 10am to 6.30pm

Phone: +1 212-282-2900

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photo by Andreas Praefcke (CC BY 3.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

5

Children's Museum of the Arts New York

Learn how to make miniature sculptures

The Children’s Museum of the Arts displays over 2,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts dating back to the 1930s, all of which are created by children. The museum is also known for hosting a variety of non-profit programs and workshops for families. Kids between 7 and 12 years old can try their hand at stop motion animation, voiceovers, and video production at the Media Lab. On weekdays, younger visitors are guided by the museum’s artists in painting, clay sculpting, storytelling, and drumming at drop-in sessions from 10.45am to 12pm.

Location: 103 Charlton St., New York, 10014, USA

Open: Monday from 12pm to 5pm, Thursday – Friday from 12pm to 6pm, Sunday from 10am to 5pm (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Phone: +1 212-274-0986

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photo by Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

6

Ride the SeaGlass Carousel

Glide on giant iridescent fish rides in Battery Park

Unlike traditional merry-go-rounds, the aquatic-themed SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park lets you enjoy a weightless experience while watching an underwater scene projected using color-changing LED lights. Tickets for the ride cost $5 per person. For safety purposes, children below the height of 42 inches must be accompanied by an adult during the ride.

Location: Water St & State Street, New York, NY 10004, USA

Open: Daily from 10am to 10pm

Phone: +1 212-344-3491

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photo by edwardhblake (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

7

Hop on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty

Climb up to Lady Liberty’s crown

The Statue of Liberty is usually the first thing travelers spot when they’re visiting New York. Dedicated in 1886, this national monument offers panoramic views of New York, New Jersey, New York Harbor, and the nearby Ellis Island. The 2nd floor of the pedestal houses an exhibition hall, where you get to learn about the statue’s history through full-scale replicas, photographs, texts, and videos footage. To get to Liberty Island, you need to buy a ferry ticket, which includes a self-guided audio tour. There’s also an additional fee if you’re planning to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, so be sure to book in advance.

Location: Liberty Island, New York, NY 10004, USA

Open: Daily from 8.30am to 4pm

Phone: +1 212-363-3200

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8

American Museum of Natural History

Go on a scavenger hunt in the fossil halls

The American Museum of Natural History features over 45 permanent exhibitions and millions of artifacts and fossils dating back to prehistoric times. It’s known for housing the world’s largest collection of dinosaur skeletons, including a cast of a 122-foot-long Titanosaur. Another must-visit is the Hayden Planetarium, where you can check out impressive exhibits and video footage of galaxies, stars, and planets. Young visitors can take part in fun workshops and games at the American Museum of Natural History, including a scavenger hunt through the fossil halls.

Location: Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA

Open: Daily from 10am to 5.45pm

Phone: +1 212-769-5100

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9

Bronx Zoo

See red pandas and snow leopards from the Himalayan Highlands

The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world, where you can find over 5,000 animals from regions in Asia, Africa, and Madagascar, some of which are endangered. The zoo has free exhibits which are accessible with a General Admission ticket, and 8 premium exhibits which require an additional fee to enter. The latter includes an activity trail, a carousel, and a 4D Theater for kids age 6 and above. You can also enjoy daily penguin and sea lion feedings, as well as seasonal activities such as monorail rides, zoo shuttles, and camel rides.

Location: 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460, USA

Open: Monday – Friday from 10am to 5pm, Saturday – Sunday from 10am to 5.30pm

Phone: +1 718-220-5100

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10

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Catch a ghost at The Ghostbusters Experience

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum displays more than 200 life-like models of world icons. This unique museum is divided into several themes, including music, movies, sports, royalty, and Hollywood. One of its most immersive displays is The Ghostbusters Experience, where you get to explore several rooms with ghostly projections to give you a fright. Tickets cost around $34 per person, but you get to enjoy a discounted rate if you purchase them on Madame Tussauds Wax Museum’s official website.

Location: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, USA

Open: Monday – Thursday from 9am to 10pm, Saturday – Sunday from 9am to midnight, Sunday from 9am to 10pm

Phone: +1 212-512-9600

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photo by InSapphoWeTrust (CC BY-SA 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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