The 50 best family attractions in NYC

Family attractions in NYC are aplenty. From parks and museums to stores and theaters, these iconic spots can't be beat!

Photograph: Shutterstock
By Danielle Valente, Allie Early, Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee, Rory Halperin and Lee Magill |
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Want to explore NYC's best family attractions? Now that the kids are off from school, make a list and venture to our go-to destinations! 

We recommend comfortable walking shoes, because this roundup will keep lil' feet busy. Whether you're checking out a great exhibit at our favorite kids' museums, browsing the goods at New York toy store locations or taking family pics at an iconic skyscraper, Gotham boasts plenty of options for even the pickiest members of the clan. 

While you're planning those fun summer activities for kids, make sure that our picks for the awesome family attractions in NYC take up real estate on your family's bucket list. 

Best family attractions in NYC

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Photograph: Nitzan Rubin
Time Out Market

Time Out Market New York

If you only have a New York minute to spare, let Time Out help you discover the best of the city. We promise it's easier than ever before. Hungry visitors—big and lil'—can indulge in the city's tastiest dishes in one location at Time Out Market New York. From hearty breakfast foods at Clinton St. Baking Co to a margherita pizza at Juliana's and mac and cheese from Jacob's Pickles, we've got you covered. Venture to the new waterfront destination and enjoy your meal on our gorgeous rooftop with views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge.  

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Photograph: Jena Cumbo
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

The Statue of Liberty

icon-location-pin Liberty Island

The iconic American symbol—a gift from the French crafted by artist Frédéric Bartholdi—is known world-wide. But 2019 marks a new beginning for Lady Liberty, thanks to the recently constructed 26,000 square-foot museum, which welcomes visitors to explore the history and the concept of liberty. Kickstart your journey with a trip back in time inside the Immersive Theater. Here, a short film on a towering screen charts NYC's evolution, starting with the statue's arrival in the 1800s. Next, the Engagement Gallery showcases a recreation of the Bartholdi's studio and allows little ones to size themselves up beside a life-size replica of Lady Liberty's foot and stike a pose at the Becoming Liberty Station. The Inspiration Gallery provides an up-close look at the historic statue's original torch, while Liberty Vista, a green roof directly above, boasts swoon-worthy views. 

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Photograph: Marielle Solan
Museums, Science and technology

American Museum of Natural History

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

The Upper West Side institution is a beloved NYC attraction that engages all those who pass through its doors. From learning about species in the Hall of Biodiversity, to walking under the giant whale in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, museum-goers marvel at all that is available. There’s a lot to enjoy, including the new T. Rex exhibit that opened in March 2019, which paleontologists big and small will find fascinating. If the kiddies (or even if you and your spouse) want to tuck in under the giant whale, have a look at the venue’s sleepover offerings. Yep, The Night at the Museum Movie can be your reality...well, sort of!

Even better? The iconic spot is also celebrating its 150th anniversary in a big way. In 2019, the Museum broke ground 
on The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. This $383 million project—which encountered a few setbacks regarding its proximity to Theodore Roosevelt Park—will include new classrooms, an immersive theater, a redesigned library and other impressive amenities. Thanks to a new, year-round Butterfly Vivarium, four learning zones (middle school, high school, family and teachers), a Collections Core that boasts upwards of 4 million species and so many other features to explore, patrons might not be terribly inclined to leave. The project allegedly is expected to finish in 2020, but museum-goers can follow along at amnh.org for updates. 

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New York Public Library
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal of the NYPL’s century-old main branch and have become the institution’s mascots—and a prime spot for a family photo. Once inside, check out the children’s room, where kids big and small will get a kick out of the Pooh area, wallpapered with renderings of the Hundred Acre Wood. Inside, you’ll find a glass case containing Christopher Robin Milne’s vintage stuffed animals, the inspiration behind his dad’s Winnie the Pooh books. It’s also right next to Bryant Park, so be sure to explore the fun free offerings (such as the art cart and free games) during the summertime.

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Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Grand Central Terminal

icon-location-pin Midtown East

Train stations are usually something kids suffer through on their way to visit Grandma, but Grand Central is a wondrous playground all on its own.  Every visit should begin in the awe-inspiring main waiting room, where starry constellations dance across the cerulean-blue ceiling. Then take a tour to discover the building’s secrets (hidden stairways, the Whispering Gallery near the Oyster Bar, a private apartment that’s now a fancy bar), grab a snack at Shake Shack or shop for treasures at Kidding Around—a toy store that’ll be a hit amongst the little ones in your brood.

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Sunrise over the Empire State Building
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Anthony Quintano
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Empire State Building

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Nothing screams "New York City" quite like the Empire State Building, which was finished in 1931. Though it might be hard to believe, the towering skyscraper—once the city's tallest building at 1,454 feet—took less than a year to construct. What's more unbelievable are the views. Take your brood up to the 86th floor for a picturesque perspective of the city from an atypical spot. The photo opportunities are truly breath-taking! Roughly 10 years ago, the building's lobby was restored to its original Art Deco design, and now, the Observatory is currently undergoing a $165 renovation. Visitors can expect an updated gallery and new interactive exhibits upon completion. 

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Photograph: Roxanna Marroquin
Attractions, Parks and gardens

The High Line

icon-location-pin Chelsea

This urban gem—historic railroad turned public park—is a true treasure trove for all ages. Opt to stroll its entirety from Gansevoort Street to W 34th while pit-stopping at pockets of nature along the way (look out for Chelsea Thicket, a two-block long mini-forest) or take part in various seasonal activities for children and families, such as dance, art, music, gardening and storytelling events. During the summer, you can even swing by at night for free stargazing events. Regardless of when you make the trip, be sure keep your eyes peeled for cool new outdoor art installations or watch taxicabs whiz by down below.

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Photograph: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museums, Art and design

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

icon-location-pin Central Park

Sprawling doesn’t even begin to describe this Manhattan hotspot: It’s one of the few places in the city where your family could spend literally an entire day and see only a fraction of the holdings. Among the permanent exhibitions beloved by children are the Arms and Armor Hall and the Temple of Dendur. Workshops for kids help introduce little ones to different works of art, plus the museum hosts family days throughout the year, so the entire crew can get in on the creative action. 

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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Museums, Art and design

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Please note: The MoMA is closed for renovations until Oct 2019

MoMA’s exhibits may be among the most adult out there—think mind-bending, esoteric and conceptual—but that doesn’t mean kids take a backseat. The museum’s wealth of family programming covers a wide children’s age range and offers kids and accompanying adults everything from hands-on art workshops and gallery tours to special family-only artist talks and kids’ film programs. Although the Museum is currently undergoing construction—a highly-anticipated project all gallery goers are looking forward to—you can still take advantage of the artistic offerings this summer. On Aug 4 from 11am–1pm, kiddos 5 and up are encouraged to participate in Art Making with MoMA, which could have your tiny creatives designing their own toys or using the Museum's work as inspiration for their own collages. The artistic possibilities are endless! 
(Psst: Get more info at store.moma.org and send your RSVP to rsvp_momastore@moma.org.) 

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bethesda terrace central park
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Central Park

icon-location-pin Central Park

Whether it’s the two sprawling 45-foot slides at the newly renovated Billy Johnson Playground, the outdoor performances that make summer magical—Disney’s Hercules is set to make its debut at Delacorte Theater on Labor Day Weekend 2019—the creatures waiting to say hello at the Central Park Zoo or the slopes at Pilgrim Hill that take snow days to new levels (literally), New Yorkers can’t help but frequent its largest green space all-year-long. There’s clearly too much to do in one day, so if you’re thinking about a boat ride, a trip to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, setting up shop during an outdoor movie, taking a selfie with the Alice and Wonderland statue, feasting on a picnic, well, you better have a pair of comfortable shoes and lots of energy (though we recommend splitting up activities into multiple weekends). 

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Photograph: National Geographic Encounter

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey

No snorkeling skills are required for this digital deep-sea dive! The attraction, which debuted in Times Square fall of 2017, takes you through all depths of the Pacific Ocean. Brought to you by the award-winning effects team behind Hugo and Game of Thrones, the self-guided experience features 60,000 square feet of photo-real animations and a video projection dome. In the first half, virtually meet sea lions, rays and dolphins, or lock eyes with a humpback whale or a great white shark. Then, wander over to the learning area for holograms, activities on the latest in ocean research, and cool photo moments—all spotlighting the magic of where science, entertainment and the big blue collide.

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Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

icon-location-pin The Bronx

This wildlife park garners fans far and wide for a number of reasons—approximately 4,000 animals call it home. Strolling through the 265 acres, families may spot such exotic creatures as the fossa (a predatory, tree-climbing mammal) and snow leopards. More common favorites, including gorillas, also reside at the nature park. Kids will likely want to ride the Bug Carousel (choose from 64 enormous, brightly painted insect replicas) and take the Wild Asia Monorail to tour the exhibits that house the elephants, red pandas and rhinos. Keep an eye out for the daily penguin and sea lion feedings, plus other seasonal activities such as Boo at the Zoo.

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Photograph: Marielle Solan
Museums, Childhood

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

If you’re worried The Met or The Guggenheim might be a wee bit too advanced for your pint-sized Picasso, let your kid’s creativity run wild in an institution strictly devoted to budding artists. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan houses five floors of fun for families, including interactive exhibits, workshop space and birthday party fun. Little patrons will learn about a wide variety of subjects, such as nutrition and dance, try their hand at craft projects, enjoy a fun storytime with friends and so much more. The venue is in the process of relocating to First Church of Christ Scientist at 361 Central Park West and 96th St, a larger space for its growing number of visitors. You can learn more about the new location—which is expected to be up and running by 2021—here.

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One World Observatory
Photograph: Dibrova
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

One World Observatory

icon-location-pin Financial District

One World Observatory at World Trade Center lets visitors experience panoramic views of NYC from atop the tallest building in the United States. Kids will love arriving at their destination Jetsons-style via Sky Pod elevators (some of the fastest in the world) which lead to a two-minute video presentation of gorgeous city images on the 102nd floor. Check out City Pulse on the 100th floor, showing HD videos featuring notable NYC landmarks and neighborhoods, then daredevil kids (and parents) can brave the Sky Portal, where a 14-foot wide circular disc provides a view of real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below.

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Photograph: Bart Barlow
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

icon-location-pin Midtown West

The 86th floor observatory at the Empire State Building may be the city’s original place to go for an eagle’s-eye look at New York, but at 70 stories up, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock affords a spectacular vista of Central Park without the crazy lines. After you’ve scoped out the unobstructed panoramic views, put a few quarters in the coin-operated binoculars and snapped some family photos, take the elevators back down to the building’s subterranean mall for a bite to eat.

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Wendy Connett
Museums, Military and maritime

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

For little ones, the highlight of the aircraft carrier turned science museum is the Exploreum, an indoor activity zone divided into areas with nautical, aviation, cosmos and life themes. In traversing the zone, kids get to board small boats, learn why huge metal ships don't sink, wander around the living quarters of the Intrepid's former crew and try on astronaut gloves. Once inside the highly popular Space Pavillion, kids will get an almost tangible feel for outer space as they make their way under the Enterprise, which sits just 10 feet off the ground. As they tread up the elevated viewing platform to the shuttle’s nose, they’ll even catch a rare glimpse of the astronaut’s life—and just how confined their quarters are when they’re in orbit.

In efforts to increase community engagement, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum launched a new Free Fridays series in 2019. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for patrons to participate. From April until October, one Friday each month will be free from 5–9pm. (General admission is $33 for adults and $24 for children ages 5–12.) Who are we to resist free museum days? While visitors will have access to the flight deck, awesome scenes and indoor exhibits, there are a few more bonuses to look forward to with this new series, including performances, educational talks, film screenings and telescopes for stargazing, which will be a hit over the summer. The schedule is as follows: 

Aug 16
Sept 27
Oct 25

 
 

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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Museums, Art and design

The Cloisters

icon-location-pin Washington Heights

Set in a lovely park overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters houses the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections. A path winds through the peaceful grounds to a castle that seems to have survived from the Middle Ages. In actuality, it was built less than 100 years ago, using material from five medieval French cloisters. Be sure to check out the famous Unicorn Tapestries, including the famous 16th-century Hunt of the Unicorn. Prepare to spend the remainder of the day discussing whether or not unicorns are real.

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Photograph: David Rosenzweig
Museums, Childhood

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

icon-location-pin Crown Heights

When it was founded in 1899, Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the country’s first museum specifically made for children ( no surprise that Kings County started the trend.) Today it’s one of the most comprehensive kids’ attractions with a huge permanent collection, including musical instruments, masks, dolls and fossils and even a green building design. Kids have fun while enjoying interactive exhibits such as “World Brooklyn,” a pint-size cityscape lined by faux stores where young’uns can weigh ingredients and knead pretend dough at the Mexican Bakery, or shop for cans of Indian ghee and Turkish candy at the International Grocery. “Neighborhood Nature,” another exhibit in the permanent collection, helps little ones learn about the many creatures and habitats found right in their own Brooklyn backyard.

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New York Botanical Garden
Photograph: Michael Kirby
Attractions, Parks and gardens

New York Botanical Garden

icon-location-pin The Bronx

New York Botanical Garden is a feast for the eyes with gorgeous blooms that are bound to inspire your own urban garden. Though it might seem like a summertime excursion, the garden’s annual events such as Boo at the Zoo and the Holiday Train Show make the Bronx attraction a must during the colder months. (Without questions it’s a happening spot for the holidays.) Naturally, you’ll want to stick around when the spring arrives, as the Orchid Show is one of the most highly-anticipated events in all of NYC. Kids will love getting their hands dirty at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and the newly renovated Edible Academy, which provides a chance for little naturalists to experience nature in the midst of NYC.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

icon-location-pin Prospect Park

You’ll be curious to see what’s blooming throughout the year at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Regardless of the season, the attraction features exciting annual events that share a spot on all New Yorkers’ calendars. Welcome spring with a celebration of Sakura Matsuri Festival, which is in honor of Cherry Blossom season. You’ll be happy you stuck around when the air gets crisp, as autumn in the five boroughs is incomplete without the Chile Pepper and Ghouls & Gourds Festivals. 

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Photograph: Wendy Connett
Museums, Natural history

Brooklyn Museum

icon-location-pin Prospect Park

Learn everything you’ve wanted to know about the borough and more at this Prospect Heights cultural hub. Peer into the windows of old farmhouses to see how the neighborhood’s people used to live, or creep up next to mummies and other ancient artifacts—including some in the new Soulful Creatures exhibit— from a past Egyptian life. When little legs start to tire, take a cookie and coffee break by the Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden, then leave some time to peruse the goodies in the gift shop (a must for every museum visit).

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Brooklyn Academy of Music
Photograph: Peter Mauss
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

icon-location-pin Boerum Hill

BAM hosts plenty of spectacular programming throughout the year, including theater, dance, opera, film events and family-specific opportunities. If you check out options on its Kids dropdown menu, you’ll find cool classes that offer an intro to animation and digital art, plus interesting theater and improve options. BAM also hosts youth summer programs if your little ones are restless during the warmer months.

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The Great Hall at The New York Hall of Science
Photograph: Andrew Kelly
Museums, Science and technology

New York Hall of Science

icon-location-pin Queens

Originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Queens institution demystifies its subject through colorful hands-on permanent exhibits such as “Connected Worlds" or "Design Lab." NYSCI also offers sleepovers on select dates, so start packing those overnight bags! In the summer, children can burn off excess energy—and learn a thing or two—in the outdoor science playground or play a game of minigolf beneath the shadow of two retired NASA rockets.

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Bryant Park
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Bryant Park

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Situated behind the New York Public Library is Bryant Park, a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular Monday night outdoor movies. The park hosts weekly kid-friendly programming such as storytime in the Reading Room and game socials in the 40th Street Plaza. Little ones with an interest in the circus can learn to juggle at juggling lessons held on weekdays in the Lawn or the 42nd Street Plaza. Families can take a spin on the Le Carrousel which features 14 different carousel animals to ride on. In the winter the park transforms into a wonderland where you can find an ice skating rink and pop-up shops for the holidays. 

Time Out says
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Photograph: Courtesy Virtual Tour Group
Sports and fitness

Chelsea Piers

icon-location-pin Chelsea

The list of things to do is lengthy—bowling, rock climbing, golfing...you name it! When it comes to children’s offerings, Chelsea Piers has it on lock. From gymnastics camp, to drop-in play at the toddler gym or a lesson in ninja and parkour, rest assured that your kids will leave this venue well exercised...and, fingers crossed, a bit exhausted, too. Plus, athletes who reside in Kings County are pleased that a new Boerum Hill location is at the ready when the active members of your crew are ready to break a sweat.

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Brooklyn Bridge
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Brooklyn Bridge

icon-location-pin Manhattan

We’ve got plenty of bridges in New York, but for inspiration and beauty, none can compare with the majestic double arches of the Brooklyn Bridge. On a sunny day, the pedestrian walkway is the perfect span for a family stroll, roughly one mile of magnificent views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and Ellis Island. If you start on the Manhattan side, you’ll wind up in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Your family will fall back in love with our city from a one-of-a-kind vantage point. Enter at Cadman Plaza East near Prospect St, Dumbo, Brooklyn or at Centre St just south of Chambers St in Manhattan.

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Staten Island Children's Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Staten Island Children's Museum
Museums, Childhood

Staten Island Children's Museum

icon-location-pin Staten Island

Give your kids a hands-on experience with science, art and even cooking at Staten Island Children's Museum, where they're encouraged to learn through play. The venue offers a Big Games section where youngsters will try out huge versions of dominoes, bowling, Connect-Four and checkers, as well as a Green Living Room play area where kids can play house and learn about efficient energy in the process. We especially love the outdoor Sea of Boats, where families can try Morse Code, play in the water and go "fishing" and "oystering."

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People relaxing in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Shutterstock/Joo Sung Han
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Brooklyn Bridge Park

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Heights

Though once nothing more than an industrial piece of land, Brooklyn Bridge Park has transformed into one of the most gorgeous waterfront destinations in the city. With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods, the park is as scenic as it is entertaining. A variety of playgrounds, splash pads, educational programs, events and food vendors—Ample Hills made its debut in 2019—make the park a favorite for all ages. Plus, an incoming permanent pool, which is set to replace the temporary pop-up pool, will keep visitors cool when the dog days of summer hit. Don’t forget to swing by the Time Out Market New York when you’re done exploring the grounds.

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Yankee Stadium
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/m01229
Sports and fitness, Stadiums

Yankee Stadium

icon-location-pin The Bronx

Take us out to the ball game! In addition to housing its namesake team, Yankee Stadium also hosts kid-friendly activities and themed events for families. Soak up the team's history in the museum—signed balls, old jerseys—and enjoy the game as your new favorite players score home runs. Oh! And it'd be wise to get a few snacks while you're visiting. (Might we suggest the vanilla pinstripe milkshake?)

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Luna Park
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Attractions, Theme parks

Coney Island

icon-location-pin Brooklyn

The retro beach town comes alive in the warm weather, and New Yorkers of all ages can't resist its quirky seaside charm and the many things to do. From the newly opened "Ocean Wonders: Sharks" exhibit at the New York Aquarium to lunch at Nathan's (curly fries not required, but encouraged), visitors of all ages will find something to love. But perhaps the biggest draw of the Brooklyn nabe is the laundry list of rides available to thrill-seekers. Luna Park, where the iconic Astro Land once stood, is home to the popular Cyclone roller coaster and new attractions for adrenaline junkies, such as the Atlantic Aviator, which just debuted in 2019. Of course, the iconic Wonder Wheel at Deno's boasts gorgeous views...and photo-worthy moments from the ground if you're not too keen on heights. Although the beach can get a bit crowded, it's certainly worth a visit on a hot summer afternoon. (Just keep an eye on the kiddos when the ocean waves get a bit rough.)

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Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Governors Island, NY

Venture out to Governors Island (open May through October), where there’s plenty to see, do and enjoy as a family. Grab a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn to explore 172 acres via bike (there’s more than five miles of bike lanes, and bike rentals are easily found at Blazing Saddles (Colonels Row), or head to spots like the Hammock Grove/Hammock Grove Play Area to kick back and relax in one of 50 hammocks or climb around on a nearby play structure. The Hills portion of Governors Island opened in 2016, and offers heights of 70 ft. above sea level (there are stunning views to be seen!) plus four huge slides, including the longest slide in NYC. Hungry? There are plenty of food trucks located on the island so you can snack, but we’d recommend bringing a picnic just for the experience.

 

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Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Museums, Special interest

New York Transit Museum

icon-location-pin Boerum Hill

Train fanatics and history buffs alike will love indulging in this immersive flashback into the city’s transportation past. See up-close how the subways have evolved over the decades, from a fleet of vintage cars, to the collection of tickets, tokens, and MetroCard designs that have changed with each era. Don’t miss the chance to step aboard more than a dozen vintage bus cars and the Holiday Train Show (a longtime city favorite!) which runs in the colder months.

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"Behind the Screen" at the Museum of the Moving Image
Photograph: Stefan Hagen / Museum of the Moving Image
Museums, Movies and TV

Museum of the Moving Image

icon-location-pin Astoria

After a rendezvous through this renovated Queens hotspot, you’ll feel good about your kids’ screen time. The cinema and gallery hosts work that will appear to techies and film buffs alike. From screenings and hands-on activities to birthday parties and video game events and festivals, the museum keeps visitors curious about what takes place behind the scenes.

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New York attractions
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

icon-location-pin Queens

One of the city’s largest parks is a world all its own: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s most enduring icon is the Unisphere, the mammoth steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair. But there’s also first-rate culture and sports at the New York Hall of Science, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Queens Museum of Art and Citi Field. The rolling green fields also encompass a zoo, a carousel, a boating lake, a skate park, a barbecue area, playfields and an aquatic and hockey center. The area's Playground for All Children, built in 1984, was designed to accommodate children with and without disabilities— the first of its kind in the country.

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Historic Richmond Town
Photograph: Courtesy Historic Richmond Town
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Historic Richmond Town

icon-location-pin Staten Island

Hop aboard the ferry to Staten Island for this time-traveling day trip. The Town— also known as the Staten Island Historical Society as of 1856—invites you to relive the history of the borough through a variety of family-friendly activities. From old-fashioned county fairs and homestyle breakfasts to seasonal pumpkin picking and evening candlelight tours, there’s something for everyone. Wander through four different sites (think: one massive museum) to catch costumed farmers and various handmakers, plus stop by Toys! to see what tots were playing with way back during the 19th century.

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Photograph: Lee Magill
Attractions, Arcades and amusements

Jane’s Carousel

icon-location-pin DUMBO

The gorgeous Jane’s Carousel—housed inside a glass studio—illuminates as the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown NYC skyline dangle in the background. Undoubtedly a great location for a few selfies and spins on the horses and chariots, this venue proves to be one of the most beloved facets of Brooklyn Bridge Park. With its undeniable, old-school charm, there’s no reason to forgo a ride. After all, the talented Kings County artist Jane Wale, who spent well over 20 years restoring the carousel to pristine condition, deserves a little recognition for her feat. Even better? The popular kids’ spot is located right near the forthcoming Time Out Market New York, where you’ll be able to enjoy the best of NYC under one roof. Score!

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Photograph: Jessica Lin
Museums, Science and technology

Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)

icon-location-pin Flatiron

Rather than being a place to learn math, the museum near Madison Square Park is a place to realize all the remarkable things math can be used to create. Its 30-plus interactive exhibits include the Wall of Fire, a laser “wall” showing you that cross sections aren’t always what you think they are; Math Square, a JumboTron on the floor that connects each person standing on it by the shortest path possible, changing the moment anyone moves; and a studio where kids can create a 3-D design on a screen, for a chance to have it made into an actual sculpture via a 3-D printer. Most vital of all is that the museum appeals to kids’ sense of fun, their innate curiosity about the world around them and their penchant for discovery.

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Photograph: Alex Strada
Museums, History

New-York Historical Society

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

A massive renovation in 2011 not only made the exhibits at this UWS institution more interactive, but introduced city kids to the DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Occupying 4,000 square feet on the Historical Society’s lower level, the space is the ideal spot for young history buffs to bone up on knowledge about their city through hands-on exhibits and more family programs than we can count. The permanent collection at the N-YHS—much of which is on view in the open-storage galleries on the fourth floor—offers kids a glimpse into quotidian urban living, with items like vintage toys.

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Photograph: Anna Simonak
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch

icon-location-pin Prospect Heights

With its grandiose 50-foot-high concave entry outlooking the iconic Grand Army Plaza arch, this library’s Central branch is even grander on the inside. Little ones will enjoy weekly storytimes and morning programs in a cozy kids-only area (complete with stroller parking), while older techies can hang out in the computer loft for a variety of activities. After catching a live reading or talk, grab a slice of pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a locals’ favorite and recent library addition.

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Photograph: Luciana Golcman
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Prospect Park

icon-location-pin Prospect Park

After Frederick Law  Olmsted and Calvert Vaux unveiled Central Park in 1859, they turned their attention south to create this bucolic Brooklyn destination. There’s plenty of room in Long Meadow and the Nethermead to have a family picnic on a patch of grass, while the Ravine, a towering indigenous forest, offers a woodland respite unparalleled in the borough. In the park’s children’s corner, kids can ride a super-fast carousel, visit with animals at the zoo and compete in sack races at the 18th century–built Lefferts House. At the zoo’s Discovery Center, families can read nature books together and explore wildlife using a magnifying glass.

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Photograph: Courtesy QCFM Staff Photographer
Museums, Special interest

Queens County Farm Museum

icon-location-pin Queens

While famous for skyscrapers, subways and busy streets, NYC also boasts serene, rustic landscapes...you just need to know where to look. The Queens County Farm Museum, which is considered Gotham’s oldest continually farmed land, dates all the way back to the late 1600s and is home to 47 acres of land. Visitors can enjoy the facility’s petting zoos, annual fall festivals such as the beloved pumpkin maze and the April Blossom Children’s Carnival. There’s a lot to learn and plenty of events taking place on the grounds that will keep the whole family entertained, regardless of the time of the year.

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Photograph: Courtesy Children's Museum of the Arts
Museums, Childhood

Children’s Museum of the Arts

icon-location-pin West Village

Tiny craftmakers can hone in on a variety of mediums with hands-on learn opportunities at the Children's Museum of the Arts. There's no shortage of activities thanks to year-round offerings, including summer camps and after-school programs where artistes can hone in on comic-book sketching, animation and set design, claymation and other cool areas. Exhibits are ever-changing but stART Studio—a program for kiddos 5 and under—operates on a semester basis while bi-monthly/monthly Saturday Family Studios gets the whole brood involved. Don't forget to take advantage of pay-as-you-wish admission on Thursdays from 4–6pm! 

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Photograph: Courtesy Susan Magrino Agency
Hotels, Spa hotels

The Plaza

icon-location-pin Midtown West

One of the closest things to a palace in New York, this 1907 French Renaissance-style landmark reopened in spring 2008 after a two-year, $400 million renovation. Although 152 rooms were converted into private condo units, guests can still check into one of 282 elegantly appointed quarters with Louis XV-inspired furnishings and white-glove butler service. The opulent vibe extends to the bathrooms, which feature mosaic baths, 24-carat gold-plated sink fittings and even chandeliers—perhaps to make the foreign royals feel at home. Embracing the 21st century, the hotel recently equipped every room with an iPad. The property’s legendary public spaces—the Palm Court restaurant, the restored Oak Room and Oak Bar, and Grand Ballroom (the setting for Truman Capote’s famed Black and White Ball in 1966)—have been designated as landmarks and preserved for the public. There’s also an upscale food hall conceived by celebrity chef Todd English. Last but not least, kids will enjoy learning about Eloise, The Plaza's fictional resident (and troublemaker). Naturally, the hotel offers Eloise-themed parties and events of all kinds, so check the website to stay updated with the newest details.

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Photograph: Elliot Kaufman
Theater

New Victory Theater

icon-location-pin Midtown West

You have to push through the solid wall of humanity crowding 42nd Street to get to the New Vic, but what’s inside is well worth the effort. This gem of a theater was built in 1900 by Oscar Hammerstein and became one of the finest showcase for children’s theater in New York. Each season brings a full slate of wondrous acts from around the world: Chinese circuses, Shakespearean comedies, French puppets and acrobats. The artists often lead families in workshops before the show, and happily meet the audience and sign programs afterward. Best of all, tickets cost a fraction of what you’d pay for other shows down the block.

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Photograph: Andrew Hinderaker
Museums, History

South Street Seaport

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During Hurricane Sandy, much of South Street Seaport was destroyed. Today, it's made a comeback with the reopening of the South Street Seaport Museum, five historic ships to check out at Pier 16 and plenty of local restaurants and shops for snacking and browsing. Be sure to make a visit during the winter, now that it’s turned into a holiday hotspot with an ice rink and other fun seasonal amenities.

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Photograph: Cindy Ord
Attractions, Sightseeing

Madame Tussauds New York

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Madame Tussauds' surroundings might leave you to believe you're near the Hollywood Walk of Fame rather than Midtown Manhattan. The Times Square attraction has a tendency to leave its visitors starstruck thanks to the life-like wax figures inside. Those who cannot part ways with reality TV shows will enjoy a run-in with starlets like Kylie Jenner while the royally obsessed will have a chance to rub elbows with the likes of Meghan Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge. Don't forget to sing your favorite showtunes as you venture through the Broadway Play Your Part experience, a can't-miss attraction that thespians of all ages will love exploring this summer. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Pip's Island
Theater, Children's

Pip's Island

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

Pip's Island has made its grand return to NYC—this time, permanently. The kid-focused theater experience includes immersive sets, exploratory spaces and audiovisual features that'll have pint-sized visitors calling the shots (think of it as starring in a video game). The chief creative officer describes it as "a special blend of the creative arts including interactive space design, performance art, music, animation, digital gadgetry and play—all brought together with seamless storytelling and audience engagement."

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Photograph: Courtesy Seaglass Carousel
Things to do

SeaGlass Carousel

Coney Island's not the only place where you can channel your inner mermaid this summer. New Yorkers big and small can take a quick dip under the sea at thanks to the SeaGlass Carousel, a sweet photo-worthy destination that is as charming as it is entertaining. The attraction ($5) adds an aquatic spin to a kid-approved ride and summons those summer vibes all year long (riders can enjoy a few loops around 24/7/365). Once visitors catch a glimpse of the cool-colored luminous seahorses, chances are they won't want to hop off. The social media fan-favorite destination was created in honor of the New York Aquarium at the Castle, which closed its doors in 1941. Whether you're in it for an Instagram like or venturing with little ones in tow, this carousel is one for the books!

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American Girl Place
Photograph: Courtesy of American Girl
Shopping, Toys and games

American Girl Place

icon-location-pin Midtown West

American Girl’s new retail space is every little lady's dream. The 40,000-foot shop spans two levels and offers some pretty amazing features, including a salon for dolls and kids! Tots will be able to get their hair cut and primped right alongside their favorite doll. A signature studio will allow kids to personalize a doll with their own designs and a media studio will host instructional classes as well as health and wellness activities. If your kids are complete fans of American Girl, then why not host their next birthday party there? The shop offers private party rooms with themed packages, projection equipment and other features that will make your child’s next event the talk of the playground. 

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Photograph: Danielle Valente
Shopping, Toys and games

FAO Schwarz

icon-location-pin Midtown West

The beloved toy store opened the doors to its new permanent home at 30 Rock, and the endless stacks of empty red shopping bags aren't going to fill themselves. From stuffed animals and board games to dolls and STEM products, FAO's selection is nothing short of generous. All interests will find something that strikes their fancy, but perhaps what's so lovable about the store is the extra step it takes to make the experience interactive. Not only will kiddies be able to find a new furry friend or snag Hatchimals eggs, but they'll be able to enjoy hands-on activities (some of which are free) that'll spark a bit of imagination and playfulness. Look out for magic tricks, science experiments, spa treatments and, of course, don't forget to play the grand piano! All ages. 

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