Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Essential NYC for kids

50 things a kid's gotta do before he hits 5 feet

Queens Museum of Art Panorama

Queens Museum of Art Panorama Photograph: Courtesy of the Queens Museum of Art

31. View the Panorama of NYC at the Queens Museum
The vastness of the city is what first strikes you—ironically, it's easier to wrap your brain around when viewed in miniature, laid out in a single room. Then the major landmarks catch your eye: parks, bridges, airports, lesser-known islands. The Empire State Building leads you to search out other skyscrapers, followed by less-imposing structures and architectural details. Watch your child's face closely for the inevitable moment when he realizes...your apartment must also be represented here! Now for the coup de grace: Blow his little mind by wondering out loud what's inside all these buildings: diminutive families making crumb-size meals? A tiny you and an even teenier him? Man, that's good stuff. Queens Museum of Art, New York City Building, 111th St at 49th St, Queens (718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org)

32. Marvel at department store holiday windows
It's the perfect blend of art and commerce: The city's big retailers try to Holiday windows in NYC 2010 with mechanized doll vignettes, offbeat political statements and opulent fashion fantasies. And, hey, if the displays lure window-lickers inside, all the better. The four Bs—Bergdorf, Barneys, Bendel and Bloomie's—are always standouts, as are Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Saks.

33. Shop at Pearl River Mart
This Chinese department store is nirvana for children and adults alike. Wander the main floor and basement for cheap treasures like paper lanterns and umbrellas, kid-sized chopsticks and rice bowls, origami sets and tin windup toys, mini mandarin dresses and sequined slippers, and cult collectibles from Sanrio. Don't forget to look up: An awesome array of Chinese New Year dragon costumes hangs from the ceiling. 477 Broadway between Grand and Broome Sts (212-431-4770, pearlriver.com)

Photograph: D. Finnin/AMNH

34. Whale vs. Dinosaur at the AMNH
This is a toughie. Which is more awesome: the big blue whale dangling above your family's heads in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, or the museum's unsurpassed collection of dinosaur skeletons? For visual beauty it's hard to top the whale, which is lit to appear as if it's in the deep ocean. But for sheer monstrosity, there's nothing quite like the dino specimens, which feature T. rex, Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus) and Stegosaurus. Since little kids secretly relish being terrified, we'll have to give this one to the dinosaurs. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, amnh.org)

35. Climb aboard the Staten Island Ferry
Like an oversize bath toy, the bright orange ferry cruises to SI and back in about an hour. Snag a spot outside on the deck to admire the downtown skyline, the Statue of Liberty and passengers' hairdos as they're whipped into fuzzy meringues by bracing winds. (Hot tip: Soft pretzels from the on-board snack bar make excellent hand warmers.) Before you hop on the boat, St. George. Whitehall Terminal, 1 Whitehall St at South St (Staten Island Ferry)

36. Stroll through the Feast of San Gennaro
There are city street fairs, and then there's the annual salute to the patron saint of Naples known as the Feast of San Gennaro. The 11-day odyssey of food and fun descends upon Little Italy every September, much to the chagrin of neighborhood residents (most of whom evacuate) and the delight of wiseguys and wanna-bes from all five boroughs and beyond. While the Feast may test a parent's definition of a good time (heaving crowds, anyone?), most kids will be captivated by the utter spectacle of it all and the assault on the senses—the sight of red, green and white garlands flickering overhead, the sound of crooners and carney barkers, the scent of sizzling sausages and peppers, and the taste of zeppole and cannoli. Together you can peek into tenement windows from the top of the twinkling Ferris wheel while you try to explain what it all has to do with a religious statue strewn with dollar bills. Mulberry St between E Houston and Canal Sts (sangennaro.org)

Photograph: Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

37–40. Spend a day at the Met
It may be true, as Einstein said, that imagination is more important than knowledge, but little New Yorkers get the two stirred together when they visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among its permanent exhibitions beloved by children is the Arms and Armor Hall, where elegantly crafted weapons of death are displayed alongside diabolical jousting armor (check out the wing nuts and the lethal-looking spike protruding from the breastplates) and, on the mounted steeds, segmented steel skirts that protected vulnerable equine flanks. A junior-size suit of steel and gilt brass is thought to have been a gift from Louis XIV of France to his five-year-old great-grandson. In the extensive Japanese section, spooky Edo-period armor of lacquered wood, silk and gold accompanies iron helmets in the shapes of a sea conch and a rabbit.

Photograph: Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Follow up those action-packed galleries with a tour of the Mummy Hall, with its intricately painted, human-shaped nesting coffins—and some linen-wrapped remains—guarded over by carved falcons. Nearby stands the Temple of Dendur. Tots step right into the compact structure to eye the inscriptions on its 15 B.C. sandstone columns and walls (and the graffiti left by 19th-century European explorers). Off to one side, they ogle the majestic, 11-foot-long granite sphinx of Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt's premier female pharaoh and possibly the world's first woman head of state.

Cap off a visit at the Roof Garden Caf. The outdoor caf is open May through October, and during the summer it's accessorized with special exhibitions of contemporary sculptures. Your art lover can order a virgin pia colada and a snazzy sandwich (the casual menu changes daily) while taking in one of the grandest views New York has to offer: Seen from above, Central Park's vast canopy of trees looks like an enormous, rolling lawn. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org)

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