City Breaks With Kids | Visiting New York with Kids
It’s hard to think of a more exciting city to visit with children than New York. From the skyscrapers to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Bridge, this is a city break that the whole family will remember forever.
Here are some of our favourite things to see and do when visiting New York with kids. (For the bumper guide of things to do New York, including things month by month, see here.)
Take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty
Our boys were more excited about seeing the Statue of Liberty up close than anything else when we were planning our trip to New York. The ferry goes from the tip of Manhattan to Liberty Island and there are amazing views over the city on the way over.
Once on the island you can walk all around the statue – you’ll be surprised how big it really is (it’s 93 metres tall) and there’s a free audio guide which explains more about the history of the statue.
Avoid the massive queues for the ferry by getting there as soon as it opens or buying tickets in advance on the website, alternatively get a CityPass to explore a vast array of attractions at a discount.
Grab a New York City Explorer Pass
The New York CityPass is a one off fee pass which then allows access to six NYC attractions at a discount of around 40%. These include the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum or 9/11 Museum, the Top of the Rock Observatory or Guggenheim Museum, amongst others.
At most places there is expedited entry for CityPASS holders (except security lines) and save over 40% on the price. Well worth it for families.
If you just want to have a look at the Statue Of Liberty from a distance, you can board the Staten Island Ferry for free! Even if you are visiting New York in winter, it is worth a trip to see.
See the Egyptian temple at the Met
Most kids get excited about Ancient Egypt so it’s a real thrill to see an entire Egyptian temple up close. You can find the Temple of Dendur in a glass-walled atrium in the Metropolitan Museum of Art along with an impressive collection of mummies, masks and tombs.
The Met is one of the world’s greatest art museums and one of the best museums in New York to visit with kids. There are free family activities and lots to see and do.
Go to the top of the Empire State Building
The open-air observatory on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building has been one of the most popular places to see the New York skyline since it opened in 1931 and it’s a must on your first trip to New York.
Even the ride up in the lift is part of the fun as there’s a short film to watch on the ceiling of the elevator and uniformed staff to greet you at the top.
If you have a CityPASS ticket, you’ll be able to see New York’s most famous skyscraper during the day and again that same evening so you can gaze at the city lit up at night.
Find the real Winnie-the-Pooh in the New York Public Library
We love Pooh so when we found out that Christopher Robin’s actual teddy bear, Edward Bear, was in the children’s section of this library along with Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Tigger we just had to visit.
The library, on 476 Fifth Avenue, in Midtown, is worth a visit in its own right. Our kids said it looked more like a palace than a library with its enormous arched windows, chandeliers and grand staircases.
Walk over Brooklyn Bridge
Walking over Brooklyn Bridge was one of our favourite family activities on our last trip to New York.
The walkway across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn is only for cyclists and pedestrians so it’s quite safe for kids of all ages and the two-mile walk from one end of the bridge to the other and back again is a relatively easy stroll, and you’ll see some of the best views of New York at the same time.
Ride in a yellow cab
Our boys were very excited about riding in one of New York’s famous yellow taxis and we were delighted to discover that they’re much cheaper than black cabs in London.
For short distances it works out cheaper to take a cab than to buy four subway tickets. It’s a great way to see the city and if your kids are anything like ours, they’ll find the adverts on the TV in the back of the cab absolutely hilarious which made their taxi rides even more fun.
Have a Crazy Shake at Black Tap
These milkshakes are insanely good – and massive. It’s called a milkshake but it’s more of an ice-cream sundae covered in treats like cookies, sweets and whipped cream.
Don’t order anything else while you’re here or you’ll be too full to enjoy them.
There are three Black Taps in NYC – Lower East Side, Soho and Midtown. They don’t take reservations but you can usually leave your name at the door and return when they have a free table.
Walk along the High Line
This is a fantastic walk along an elevated railway track in the Chelsea and Meatpacking District. The disused line has been converted into a city park and the walkway has pop up art installations and fun play areas with tunnels to crawl into.
The walkway is nearly a mile and a half long but there are several entrances along so you can do as much or as little as you like.
Find the Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park
Central Park is a a wonderful area for families all year round and the ideal place for kids to let off steam after visiting a museum or art gallery.
There are skating rinks in the winter, boating lakes in the summer, a zoo, a castle and 843 acres to explore. Children will love finding the bronze statue of Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat near East 72nd Street by the Met
Eat a hot dog from a street vendor
My kids need no encouragement to eat hot dogs but there’s something extra special about a hot dog from a street vendor in New York. It’s one of the classic foodie experiences in the city.
You’ll find street vendors selling hot dogs from their stands all over the city from around $2.50 each. There are quite a few opposite the steps to the Met, near Central Park so it’s a good place for a bite to eat after a morning of culture.
Clare Thomson writes about family travel on her blog, Suitcases and Sandcastles. Her guide to visiting includes lots of suggestions for things to do with kids in the city and tips on saving money, avoiding queues and getting around the city.