The 50 best family attractions in NYC

These must-visit family attractions are the best in NYC! Check out spots like the High Line, The Plaza and more!
Photograph: Shutterstock
By Allie Early, Rory Halperin, Lee Magill, Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee and Danielle Valente |
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If you haven’t been to all of the coolest local family attractions just yet, you'll want to make sure these are on your list. Our complete guide to family attractions in NYC will keep you and your crew plenty busy—from a visit to the High Line to an adventure at American Girl Place or Bryant Park, there's so much to do!

The amount of things to do with kids in NYC is seemingly never-ending, and we assure you there isn’t a New York minute to waste. Check out new and upcoming exhibits at your go-to museums, cool free activities for kids and other great stuff for all ages.

Before you venture out on your day off, might we suggest wearing a comfy pair of shoes? After all the adventure you’re bound to endure, you’ll need ‘em!

Best family attractions in NYC

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Attractions, Monuments and memorials

The Statue of Liberty

icon-location-pin Liberty Island

Lady Liberty is the quintessential representation of the American spirit, and locals and tourists can agree that a visit to the historic grounds is worthwhile. You’ll definitely want to put the monument on your list of places to visit this spring. The newly renovated Statue of Liberty Museum is set to make its grand debut in May, and there’s a lot for patrons to look forward to: an immersive theater that provides a glimpse into Lady Liberty's history and ideals, an engagement gallery where visitors can get a behind-the-scenes of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s creative process the inspirational gallery that provides an up-close-and-personal look at the monument’s original torch. You can learn more about the project here

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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 look forward to, including the new T. Rex exhibit opening 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! 

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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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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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Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Empire State Building

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Try imagining New York City’s skyline without the towering spire of the Empire State Building. Impossible, right? Taking less than a year to construct, the 1,454-foot-tall emblem became 
the city’s highest building upon completion in 1931 (though it isn’t today). During your family’s visit, pay special attention to the lobby, restored in 2009 to its original Art Deco design. Design aside, kids will be most impressed by the high-speed elevators that shoot them to the 86th-floor observatory; there they can peer out at the city from a glass-enclosed pavilion or brave the elements on the open-air deck.

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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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Shopping, Shopping centers

Chelsea Market

icon-location-pin Chelsea

It’s practically impossible to bid Chelsea Market adieu without feeling full and satisfied. The attraction features a lengthy list of irresistible vendors—Creamline, Doughnuttery and Num Pang, to name a few. All palates will find something to their liking here, so don’t fear any dinnertime complaints. When bellies fill up, peruse stores like Anthropologie or the nearby Artists & Fleas marketplace for a taste of handcrafted goods from local artisans.

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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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Museums, Art and design

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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.

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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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Bronx Zoo
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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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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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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"Top of the Rock" Observation Deck, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
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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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.

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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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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
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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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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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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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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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
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. 

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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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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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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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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 will make 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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Sports and fitness, Stadiums

Citi Field

icon-location-pin Queens

Aspiring sluggers are invited to practice their swings and check the speed of their pitches on the Kiddie Field in the Mets' Fan Fest section—what’s not to love? The hot spot also includes a dunk tank and an area where kids can get their photos snapped with Mr. Met. Diehard fans will want to wander through the Mets Hall of Fame & Museum—keep an eye out for the 1969 and 1986 World Series Championship trophies and the wall of team jerseys.

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Attractions, Theme parks

Coney Island

icon-location-pin Brooklyn

Adults may dig the retro hipster vibe of the scene, but kids just unabashedly love the thrills: ogling sword swallowers, chowing down on hot dogs, watching the Mermaid Parade from Dad’s shoulders and screaming through the most awesome rides. For those who are looking for a few thrills, ride on the Cyclone; otherwise, try something a little tamer, like the Teacups or Brooklyn Flyer. Luna Park, once home to the beloved Astroland, is a summertime go-to, regardless of age. With new thrills like the Astrotower, which made its debut in 2019, to the impending obstacle course, which is slated for a 2019 release, the Brooklyn nabe offers endless amounts of fun. After hitting the games, head to Luna Park’s neighbor, Deno’s, for a ride on the famed Wonder Wheel. A word to the wise: Get the amusement park thrills out of the way before lunch at Nathan’s. If the family is ready to take on another activity, catch a good old-fashioned minor-league ball game down the beach at MCU Park or explore underwater creatures at the New York Aquarium.

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Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Governors Island, NY

The magic starts as soon as you board the ferry—is that dude riding a unicycle? Why are all those people dressed like extras from The Great Gatsby? Do I smell barbeque? In the eight minutes it takes to journey from Battery Park or Brooklyn to Governors Island, families are transported to a world a million metaphorical miles away from the bustling city, where lush green lawns are dotted with quaint Victorian homes, giant outdoor sculptures, jangling bicycles and a quirky festival (hence the unicycles and costumes). With a full roster of free kids’ activities, including arts and crafts and mini golf, you can save your cash for the gourmet food trucks and ice-cream stands. Visitors will be especially excited to check out The Hills, a portion of the Island that was completed in summer of 2016 and includes overlooks with amazing views of the city skyline and Statue of Liberty. Did we mention that Slide Hill also has four amazing slides, one of which is currently the longest in the city? Open in summertime.

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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
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

No matter your child’s preferred medium, this hands-on art museum is a delight for all young painters (or sculptors! or illustrators!) Creators under the age of 5 can stop by the WEE Arts Studio and to play with flubber or sing along during music time. Meanwhile, older modern artists can explore the Media Lab, creating animations or learning about film and photography. Be sure to let kids sculpt their own animals at the Clay Bar (advance sign-up recommended), or take some time to tumble around on the Swirl Studio’s tilting chairs. There’s even a Quiet Room if tiny guests need a space to wind down.

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Hotels, Spa hotels

The Plaza

icon-location-pin Midtown West

The closest thing 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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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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Museums, History

South Street Seaport

icon-location-pin Financial District

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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Museums, History

New York City Fire Museum

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Once an active fire, this museum is a great spot for those interested in the history of public service—especially if you’re considering a career in the industry. As you walk around you'll discover a treasure trove of art and artifacts from the 18th century to today, including a horse-drawn ladder wagon, across two vast exhibit floors. Exploring the place with littl’uns? Well they’ll be entertained too, learning about the tools, hats, and hoses that firefighters have used throughout time. Our tip? Be sure to check out Hit One Out of the Park: FDNY Sports Teams well as the memorial exhibit honoring firefighters on site after the World Trade Center attack.

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Photograph: Courtesy Victoria Stevens
Movie theaters

Alamo Drafthouse City Point

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With seat-side meal service (cookies and milkshakes included!), this recent addition to the Brooklyn borough is quickly becoming a local fave. And since all screening seats are reserved in advance, you can get prime pick for nearly every flick. Their Kids Camp Signature Series also features classic family favorites (past films included Matilda, Jumanji, The Iron Giant and Muppets From Space) at choose-your-own ticket prices—as low as a buck! Do-good perk: All sales from this series go towards helping a variety of community nonprofits.

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Madame Tussauds
Attractions, Sightseeing

Madame Tussauds New York

icon-location-pin Midtown West

Want to rub elbows with your favorite celebs? There’s no need to head to Hollywood—just visit Madame Tussauds for a taste of Tinseltown in the heart of Midtown. The Times Square museum is in a league of its own, housing wax figures of our beloved stars and starlets: Jimmy Fallon, Princess Meghan Markle, Oprah and so many more. It’ll be hard to keep up, and chances are you might get a bit starstruck along the way. Make sure your phone battery is fully charged, as you’ll want to snap start-studded selfies throughout your visit.

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Photograph: Courtesy Seaglass Carousel
Things to do

SeaGlass Carousel

If you want to take a quick dive under the sea, there’s no need to put on your goggles—just head to one of NYC’s most gorgeous spots: The SeaGlass Carousel. The Battery is home to an incandescent attraction perfect for little mermaids who want an up-close-and-personal encounter with underwater creatures. There are no horses, but you can join a school of fish for a few loops around and around. This gorgeous, Instagram-worthy venue, $5 per ride, is meant to pay homage to The New York Aquarium at the Castle, which closed in 1941. Fortunately for New Yorkers and tourists alike, the SeaGlass Carousel is open year-round, so prepare to channel those summer vibes 24/7/365.

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Renderings: Courtesy FRCH Design Worldwide
Shopping, Toys and games

American Girl Place

icon-location-pin Midtown West

American Girl’s new retail space is every little girl'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 around school. All ages. 

More to explore

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