There are endless possibilities when it comes to finding things to do with kids in NYC, so keeping them entertained is not a problem. Getting in a bit of fresh air is a bonus, and these outdoor activities for kids will surely keep them active and burn off energy. From hiking and biking to playground-hopping and picnicking in the park, NYC has plenty of outdoor activities to offer. And did we mention seasonal activities like strawberry picking and apple picking? Round up the fam for a great day out at these attractions around the city, and make a whole day of it by checking out a family-friendly outdoor restaurant if weather permits. When faced with rain, heat or snow, however, you can always find fun and adventure with these great indoor activities for kids.
The best outdoor activities for kids in NYC
Get some fun and fresh air with these outdoor activities for kids in NYC
Best outdoor activities for kids
Just because you live in the Big Apple doesn't mean you can't spend time in the great outdoors. There are amazing family-friendly hikes close to NYC—in fact, the Bronx River Greenway and Inwood Hill Park are right in the middle of the city! So: Check the weather, bundle up and make plans to visit Mother Nature with the fam.
4. Public art
Although NYC's art scene is difficult to beat, you don't actually have to step foot in a museum to experience some of its most creative pieces. Public art abounds from every corner of the city, and it makes for some Instagrammable family shots along the way.
This is a golden age of playgrounds. In recent years NYC has completely transformed what playtime is like for a city kid, introducing creative playgrounds to every corner of the the five boroughs. There are so many gorgeous playgrounds to visit in NYC, and this list will help you set off on a fabulous adventure.
Believe it or not, hours of waterfront fun can be found right in Tribeca! At Hudson River Park, athletic kiddos can tackle a massive playground and get their toes in the sand and play on regulation-size beach volleyball courts. If volleyball isn’t your game, take to the 18-hole mini golf course, complete with a pond, streams, footbridges, waterfalls, sand traps and even a cave. Young Masters-in-training will also love the Play Area outfitted with a sandbox, swings and water features.
For a NYC experience like no other, head to this former military base of brick buildings and leafy lawns: It feels like a New England college was transported to an island in New York Harbor. Hop on a ferry (the island is just 800 yards from Manhattan!) and you'll be transported to a park-like setting with winding paths and play zones and some very good food trucks. It’s a paradise for kids, a place where they can run around and get all their sillies out. This seasonal venue reopens every spring, and it comes alive in the heat of the summer, when cooling ocean breezes make a visit to Governors Island a very good idea.
Central Park's unique history, accessibility and design make it (undoubtedly!) New York City's most famous park—Oh yeah, and it's appearance in countless beloved films does, too! It was the first public park built in the United States, sees about 25 million visitors per year and contains 36 bridges and arches and around 50 monuments, sculptures and fountains. Perhaps most important to families, the park contains 21 playgrounds, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, charming paddleboat rentals and, of course, the Central Park Zoo.
9. Bird watching
Pigeons might be NYC's unofficial mascots, but trust us when we tell you there are plenty of other species waiting to say hello. Let the rangers in the NYC Parks Department prove it.
Stretching 1.3 miles along the East River, this beautiful revamped waterfront is proof that this city is serious about its leisure. Pier 2 is tricked out with recreation facilities for basketball, handball, bocce, shuffleboard and roller-skating. Post up at Pier 3 with a blanket and book, or take a peaceful stroll minus traffic noise thanks to Sound Attenuating Hill. Kids will want to head straight for Pier 6 to explore a playground featuring wonderfully landscaped play spaces, including the Water Lab—a stone-strewn area with water underfoot to splash in—plus, New York's largest sandbox.
Hipsters have rediscovered the Coney Island scene, but kids never stopped loving the amusement parks, the corn dogs, the New York Aquarium. Luna Park is a summertime go-to, as is Deno’s and the famed Wonder Wheel. (A word to the wise: Get the amusement park thrills out of the way before lunch at Nathan’s.) You can always check out the sideshows, or catch a minor-league ball game down at MCU Park—and never want to pay Big League prices for tickets again. In steamier months you’ll want to hit the beach and play in the surf. No wonder Coney Island is still famous for warm-weather fun.
Everyone needs a few hours of calm now and then—kids included—and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more serene spot within city limits than Wave Hill. A few stops on the Metro-North Hudson line brings you to the sprawling grounds perched above the Hudson, boasting 28 acres of public gadens, plus woodlands and lawns to wander. You’ll find an elegant 19th-century mansion surrounded by meticulously groomed gardens, featuring abundant wildflowers and shady pergolas. Jump in on nature walks, story times and family art projects, often led by local artists and usually free with grounds admission.
Consider this park NYC’s best example of recycling on a mega scale. Built atop an abandoned train track, the High Line offers more than 20 blocks worth of car- and bike-free strolling. Besides plenty of seating and a killer view of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, there are fun opportunities for little ones such as monthly family festivals, partnerships with schools and camps as well as teen programs.
Handily located directly adjacent to the playground’s inspiration, the Egyptian Wing of Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park’s Ancient Playground lets kids work off post-museum energy with stone pyramids, tunnels, treehouse-like wooden forts, tire swings, a sundial, nine slides and a sandbox anchored by a mini obelisk. As the park’s most recently renovated playgrounds, there are also cool features like a kid-activated waterfall that runs across two bridges and cascades into an open area.
Goats, sheep and ponies—oh my! Families don’t have to travel far from the city to get a tranquil agrarian experience. At the Queens County Farm Museum, the the oldest continually farmed site in the state, barnyard animals are available for feeding, petting and your “oohs” and “ahs,” too. Explore the full 47-acres on a tractor-pulled hay ride, or stick to the gardens. Come harvest season there’s a special corn maze and activities such as pumpkin picking and a haunted house.
From cool family attractions to beloved kids' museums, New York scavenger hunts allow you to explore a go-to spot in new ways, working together as friends and family to uncover the clues. Run through Central Park, hit the Museum of Natural History and so much more! Plus, there are fun themes that'll appeal to all interests. Grab your best buds, a smart phone and wear comfy sneakers. It's time to super sleuth by cracking the code of our favorite scavenger hunts in NYC! Always plan ahead before making a trip, as reservations and new rules are likely in place.
Looking to stay active this winter? Why not give Parkour a try?! The Movement Collective offers a variety of classes—for both kids and adults—at different price points. It's time to make NYC your jungle gym.
These exciting famers' market NYC picks are pretty spectacular. You get get everything needed for a farm-fresh meal, including eggs and dairy, freshly-picked fruits, freshly-picked veggies...even freshly-caught fish and locally-made wine (for Mom and Dad, of course)! Farmers' markets in NYC are the best way to get your greens—your kiddos can even meet real farmers!
Discover Time Out original video