30+ Things to Do in NYC with Kids

CityDays’ guide to finding things to do in New York City with kids (that everyone will find fun!)

Parents, we’ve all been there: suddenly finding a free weekend or vacation upon us without any plans and looking around for things to do in NYC with kids.

It’s surprisingly tough to put a list together: either you have too many ideas and you don’t know what’s good, or you have no ideas and everything that springs to mind seems kind of lame. 

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Chill out, parent or caregiver. We’re here to help, so we’ve asked around and tried out the best things to do in NYC with kids, put them into this list, and handed the reins over to you. 

Read on to find out more! 

And just so you know - we’re not paid by anybody to include these on our list. They’re just places we’ve been to or experiences we’ve loved that we want to recommend to you, so you can find the best things to do in NYC

Best Things to Do in NYC with Kids

Do an NYC Scavenger Hunt Together

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Looking for things to do in NYC with kids that tick all your boxes? Check out these scavenger hunts. 

The world is a playground and as we grow older, it’s easy to forget that. Every street corner, suburb, building, plaza and park has a history, a story to tell. To hear it, you’ll need to work together as a family unit, following clues and solving puzzles.

Not only are these scavenger hunts fun, they also include a healthy dose of exercise and fresh air, and plenty of opportunities to learn together as a family. Become city detectives as you reveal NYC’s secrets, hidden gems and cool quirks. 

Practical Information: Hunts are generally suitable for children aged 7 and up. Prices vary; check the website for details. Hunts can be started at any time during daylight hours and are self-guided. 

Visit Some of NYC's Best Parks & Playgrounds

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People always say that NYC’s a concrete jungle, but I’d argue that’s because they haven’t explored NYC’s parks.

Spacious play areas, playgrounds and serene spots where you can eat a picnic with your family or lounge on a sunny day - sounds perfect, right? New York City is full of green havens that provide a much-needed escape from the urban hustle, you’ve just gotta know where to look. 

Unfortunately, parks are not made equally, especially when it comes to our kids’ opinions.

Here are our favorites: 

  • Heckscher Park: Perfect for families, Heckscher Park offers expansive green spaces for picnics and energetic play.
  • Teardrop Park: Notably featuring a massive slide that promises a thrilling ride, this park is a hidden gem in the bustling city.

Practical information: Enjoy these parks at no cost. Heckscher is open daily from dawn to dusk. For more excitement, visit Teardrop Park by checking details at MVVA Inc.

Hit Up NYC's Awesome and Kid-Friendly Museums 

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One of the best things to do in NYC with kids is to share our magnificent city’s treasure troves of history and culture. And where’s the best place to do that? In our museums.

Just a head’s up, you probably won’t be able to spend as long as you’d like if you didn’t have kids with you - kids get bored or restless (it’s the walking around that does it!) but a few hours here and there will be a breeze.

Quick tip: pick somewhere that aligns perfectly with your kids’ interests. Anything to do with animals, interactive exhibitions, on-site playgrounds are usually crowd pleasers. 

I’m feeling generous, so here are my family’s favorite museums to give you inspiration:

  • American Museum of Natural History (AMNH): Two words: DINOSAUR BONES. Many of them aren’t real, but who cares? Hint: most kids don’t.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (Met Museum): The main gallery itself is better suited to older kids and adults but the 81st Street Studio is for kids and their caregivers – and it’s awesome. They can draw, explore, and play creatively.

  • The Whitney: Where you can explore contemporary American art through engaging and family-friendly programs - besides, the terraces here offer up some of the best views in NYC.

  • The Play Street Museum: Preschooler and younger children’s creative paradise. Super clean bathrooms that have been designed for parents and young kids, and little ones have a blast being able to play and interact.

  • Museum of Math (MoMath): Not boring math, fun math (yes, it exists!). A place for little ones and adults alike to play games and learn about how important math is in our day-to-day lives. 

And Don’t Forget About Your Local Hidden Gems Either

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Did the idea of going to those big museums make you yawn? That’s ok, I get it. Museums aren’t for everyone, no matter how old or young you may be. But don’t limit yourself or your kids to famous museums. 

I’m betting you’ve got some incredible spots just a stone’s throw away from your backyard that you’ve never visited. 

Don’t believe me? Here are some of my family’s favorite local museums in NYC: 

  • (NoHo) Merchant's House Museum: An awesome insight into 19th century NYC. Take a look at how people used to live, and if your kids are into ghosts (some are!), apparently, there’s a few spectral existences hanging around here (though, we didn’t meet any!).

  • (Staten Island) Historic Richmond Town: A super cool place to introduce your kids to America’s colonial history. The workers are dressed up in 1800s outfits, there’s a museum and former homes open to explore, and most importantly, an expensive but delicious ice cream parlor.

  • (Queens) Queens Museum: Famous for its Panorama of the City of New York, a detailed scale model of the city, but they also have great family programs.

  • (Harlem) Sugar Hill Children’s Museum: Free admission for kids under 8 (big win!) and a great place for kids to let loose on creativity (clay modeling, scratch coloring, reading, playing with magnets, you name it!

Do an Outdoor Escape Room Together

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I might as well be upfront and say that I love history, but I get that not everybody does. And that’s when it’s useful to play a game that involves all kinds of interests - even ones that kids will enjoy.

Become a family of district detectives as you hunt down New York City’s coolest spots and most interesting hidden gems. Outdoor escape rooms like these allow you to solve puzzles and decode clues as a family while exploring the city’s less-traveled paths, and there’s plenty of opportunity for some laughs along the way.

Practical information: Play and pause your game any time that suits you! They’re self-guided so all you need is a phone, WhatsApp and data. I’d really recommend the Slow Boat to Chinatown and The Southern Tip routes, best suited for kids aged 8 and up. 

Fun Things to Do in NYC with Kids

Win The Theatrical Lottery and Go To a Broadway Show

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What is NYC famous for if not Broadway? 

Whether you’re a New Yorker or just visiting, Broadway never loses its appeal (at least, it doesn’t for me). But let’s be real for a sec - it’s a luxury that not all of us can afford. 

If you’re looking for things to do in NYC that tick off your bucket list and save you some cash, check out the Broadway Lottery. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll win (obviously) but common consensus is that it’s fairly easy. 

If you win, you get the option of buying tickets at a discount (usually $35), meaning you and your family can enjoy a world-class performance for just a fraction of the price. 

Practical information: Visit Broadway Direct Lottery for details on how to enter, show availability, and ticket pricing. 

Visit Some Cool and Cuddly Animals at  NYC’s Zoos

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Some of the best things to do in NYC with kids are obvious - like going to the zoo. And when it comes to zoos, NYC is spoiled for choice.

Obviously, if you’re looking for a zoo with the biggest collection of animals and things to do, there can only be one: The Bronx Zoo. But as much as I love it there, little legs just aren’t up to walking around all those enclosures – and take it from me, if you’re a new parent or still in the stroller stage, it is exhausting for us grown ups too! 

If you have small children or you’re short on time, I’d take the easier route and go to Prospect Park Zoo. It’s small and intimate enough to feel like you’ve had loads of up close experiences with the animals, and there’s a huge diversity of species to encounter despite its smaller size. 

Practical information: Open year-round, discounted tickets are available with some memberships. 

Enjoy Nature Together at NYC Botanical Garden

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Honestly, the NYC Botanical Garden is in my top five places to visit in New York City, regardless of who you’re with. Adults like it because it’s peaceful, beautiful and super photo-worthy (you can’t visit this place and not leave with a camera roll full of flower pictures. I don’t make the rules). 

Kids love it because it’s super atmospheric and there’s tons for them to do there. Right now, there’s an Alice in Wonderland exhibition where you and your family get to “fall through a rabbit hole” and see nature at its weirdest and most wonderful - I really recommend checking it out.

But if you’re not in the mood for tea parties or Victorian England vibes, don’t sweat it. This is a place to bring your kids to explore our natural world, get some fresh air and see nature’s beauty up close. 

Practical information: For current exhibitions, event schedules, and ticket prices, check out NY Botanical Garden

Go and See a Puppet Show at Puppet Works

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Looking for fun things to do in NYC with young kids that don’t break the bank? This is for you.

If you grew up in NYC, there’s a chance you visited Puppet Works as a kid. If you didn’t grow up here and you’ve never heard about it before, it’s your turn to be wowed.

Since 1980, Puppetworks has been bringing fairy tales to life through captivating performances that feel authentic, fun and delightful. At just 10 bucks a ticket for kids and 11 for adults, this is one of the cheapest and best value for money ways to impress your kid (and yourself), and maybe even inspire a love of storytelling. 

PSST: If Puppetworks is booked out or you’re in Central Park, check out what’s on at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater.

Practical information: For show schedules and ticket bookings, take a look at their websites. The staff at Puppet Works are exemplary and super patient and kind. 

Get Some Wheels and Go For a Bike Ride

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Want to include some exercise in your family time? Go for a bike ride!

NYC’s only getting better for cyclists, but let’s be honest - most of us don’t want our kiddos on the roads. 

Luckily, there’s tons of places away from traffic (or biking bros) where you can take the kids for a peaceful ride. 

Central Park is a great place to start if you’re unsure - but forgo the loops, they’re crowded at the best of times and unless your kids are older and confident riders, you’ll feel pressured to move out of the way every two seconds. Instead, head for North Meadow - it’s virtually always tourist-free and there’s a family-friendly crossing on 102nd St.

Other great places for family bike rides include Southway Park, Governors Island, and Rockaway Beach Boardwalk. 

Practical information: Bike rentals are available throughout Central Park so you don’t have to worry about transporting your bikes from home. 

More Things to Do in NYC with Kids

Take The Ferry Out to Staten Island, Coney Island, and Beyond

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s how excited kids get at taking boat rides. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the noise, or because it’s a rare change from subways and cars. Whatever it is, it’s always a winner at my house. 

Where you go is up to you. If you want amusement parks, take a boat ride to the iconic Coney Island for amusement park rides, sandy beaches, and classic boardwalk food. Otherwise, the ferry ride to Staten Island is completely free and offers some pretty incredible views, great for families who want to do some sightseeing. 

Practical information: Check departure times online, free Wifi onboard the SI ferry. 

Take a Day Trip to Philly

Ok, so strictly speaking this doesn’t belong in a list of things to do in NYC with kids. But if you’re a New Yorker, it might be about time you left the city – just for a little while.

Philadelphia is an awesome city for families, and at just an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive away from NYC, it’s a no-brainer if you have the time. 

It’s full of history, hidden gems, and great for exploring, and it’s also home to one of our family-favorite museums, the Please Touch Museum (exactly what it sounds like, awesome for introducing learning through play to kids).

Practical information: Plan your visit ahead of time, especially if you’re planning on visiting historical sites. 

Check Out What’s On at Brookfield Place

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In a city like NYC, finding things to do with kids can be overwhelming. There’s so much on that it’s nearly impossible to pick what to do. And when you really aren’t sure, you can’t go wrong with Brookfield Place.

On the surface, this is basically a big, beautiful waterside mall in Lower Manhattan - but it’s better than that. It’s where people go to eat, shop (the stores are quite ritzy) and walk around. It feels like an accessible, family-friendly cultural hub.

Seasonally, this is where you’ll find a diverse range of events that cater to both children and adults: art installations, live music, holiday festivities. During winter, you can ice skate here. In the summer, it’s a great place to escape the heat and grab a bite at the food court. 

Practical information: Visit Brookfield Place Events to see the latest schedule of upcoming events.

Became Players in a Live Action Video Game at Squarena

Wondering what to do in NYC with kids who just won’t leave video games alone? I hear you.

There’s an old-ish saying my grandma used to use: “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
She probably didn’t mean bow down to peer pressure and sign away an afternoon to standing on lit-up blue squares, but honestly, I wouldn’t have been mad about it if she had.

Squarena is perfect for families with kids of all ages - I’d say anything above 4 or 5 years is fine. The concept is simple: join the arena as a team, step on the blue squares, avoid the red squares. In practice, this is hilariously difficult, fun, and a great distraction from screens (and that goes from us parents, too!). 

Practical information: Visit Squarena to book your session. Check availability and age restrictions, book in advance and wear good, comfortable shoes!

Check Out The Nintendo and LEGO Stores in Manhattan (If you dare!)

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If there’s one thing we’re acutely aware of, it’s that our kids often have expensive tastes. Toys aren’t cheap, and neither are the stores that sell them - but they are pretty awesome places to take a look around.

One way you can come up with fun things to do in NYC with kids is to pretend they’re the ones making the itinerary, and then see how their idea of fun matches with yours and your budget. And I’m betting that most kids’ idea of fun is visiting the LEGO and Nintendo NY stores.

NYC’s Nintendo store is the place to check out the latest games and exclusive merchandise, while the LEGO store on 5th Avenue features stunning displays and the opportunity to build your own custom sets.

Practical information: Check out opening hours online before you visit. 

Enjoy Movie Night a Different Way at Central Park Zoo

One of the best things about having kids is being able to experience things with them for the first time – like seeing a movie in 4D.

An underrated part of visiting Central Park Zoo, a visit to the 4D movie theater is included in admission tickets and totally mind-blowing for kids. I don’t want to spoil it too much for you guys, but essentially, it’s a 3D movie with sensory effects (like, “snow” falling at appropriate times).  

Practical information: For screening schedules and ticket information, take a look online. Best suited for kids older than 6. 

Visit NYC’s Best Kid-Friendly Batting Cages

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If you’re a parent who enjoys nothing more than getting active, perfect your swing and have a blast at NYC's best kid-friendly batting cages. 

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about why these are fun, so I’ll save you reading my anecdotes about how garbage I am at swinging (although I do enjoy giving it a try!). 

You’ll find family-friendly batting cages all over NYC, although my particular favorites are locations like Brooklyn Sluggers, Chelsea Piers, and Staten Island Fun Park, all of which offer a range of pitching speeds and environments suitable for nearly all ages and skill levels.

Practical information: For hours, pricing, and other details, visit their individual websites. 

Hit Up NYC’s Best Ice Cream Spots

Finding things to do in NYC with kids doesn’t have to be expensive or involve crazily detailed plans. Most kids are just happy just to be included in the adventure - especially if that odyssey involves ice cream.

If you can, start with Taiyaki NYC, famous for its delightful fish-shaped ice cream cones that are as Instagrammable as they are delicious. Otherwise, discover unique flavors and inventive creations at local favorites like Van Leeuwen or Ample Hills Creamery.

Practical information: You can find great ice cream, gelato and sorbet all over NYC. There’s probably a great place near you if you want to keep your outing local! 

Find More Things to Do in NYC with CityDays


So there you have it! 30+ things to do in NYC with kids!

Remember that no matter what you decide to do on your morning, afternoon or evening out with your family, there’s nothing like teamwork to make the dream work.

That’s why we at CityDays create fun, interesting and challenging trails around the world to help you immerse yourself in a city’s culture, history and curios. 

Want to find out more?

Check out all our available activities in NYC here and embark on an adventure in the city you’ll never forget: CityDays awaits!