The best things to do with toddlers in NYC

NYC is full of fun things to do with toddlers—you just have to know where to look! We'll help you find the perfect spot.

Photograph: Courtesy Marielle Solan/Alley Pond

Thanks to NYC's impressive list of things to do with toddlers, parents can rest easy about entertainment options for their little urbanites. 

Whether moms and dads want to bring the brood outdoors or stay inside, Gotham offers plenty of choices that'll erase "I'm bored" from little ones' vocabularies. 

From fun water playgrounds for kids and engaging storytime for kids at our favorite bookstores, to epic carousels and cereal restaurant spots, you'll have no problem making good use of your downtime. 

Peruse our full list of the best things to do with toddlers in NYC, and enjoy your family outing!

Best things to do with toddlers

Photograph: Courtesy Mari Spiker

Ice cream shops in NYC

What makes the perfect sundae? Add a dusting of sprinkles, a dollop of whipped cream and douse it with hot fudge. Viola! Your taste buds will be grateful for the super-sweet expedition. No matter what you and the crew are craving—cones, cups or shakes—these ice cream shops are nothing short of fabulous.  These can't-miss venues serve up sweets for days, and no toddler will say no to that!

Photograph: Courtesy Domino Park/Daniel Levin
Things to do

Kids’ playgrounds in NYC

When the coolest kids’ playgrounds in NYC are available at your fingertips, you’re in for a fabulous adventure From the newly opened Domino Park to the ever-popular Central Park green spaces, Gotham’s best playgrounds offer classic features such as splash pads and jungle gyms, but they also take recreation to a whole new level. Where else can pint-sized park-goers construct their own playground, play on a pipefish or hang out with dinosaurs? Of course, this is all up for grabs in NYC. 

Photograph: Courtesy Mini Galaxy Play Café
Sports and fitness, Gyms and fitness centers

Indoor playgrounds for kids

Picture this: Your tot is ready for a day at the park when grey clouds roll in and lightening strikes. Fear not! The best indoor playgrounds for kids are here to save the day, and there are plenty within the five boroughs that deserve your attention. These spaces are perfect for running, jumping, sliding and swinging, and options are endless—whether your child wants to play in ball pits or have fun in a music in dance class. Added bonus? Many cater to parents with designated café areas. A little rain won't ruin your kid's parade.

Photograph: Courtesy Etienne Frossard
Things to do

Water playgrounds for kids

The summer heat in NYC is no laughing matter. Thankfully, the best water playgrounds for kids throughout the five boroughs are unmatched! If your tots are a bit frightened by the slides and thrills at your local waterpark, these spots will help them stay cool without the plunging slides and overwhelming dump buckets. Littles can beat the 90-degree days with the help of fun splash pads, water cannons, play structures and other great, refreshing features. 

Photograph: Shea Roggio/Hershey Park

Water parks for toddlers

The picks on our list offer plenty for your smallest adventurers—including splash pads, interactive water features, water playscapes and other sweet options to enjoy as a family. Beyond our favorite water parks for toddlers, there are also some other great ways to cool off right here in town. Visit our favorite water playgrounds, indoor swimming pools and ice cream shops to beat the heat this season!

Photograph: Courtesy Jon Miller
Museums, Childhood

Kids’ museums in NYC

There's no shortage of family fun in NYC, especially when you and your crew visit the many incredible museums for kids in each borough. From the classic children's museums such as The American Museum of Natural History, to the unique destinations such as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, every site offers something exciting. Regardless of what exhibit you opt for, one thing's for sure: You won't be hearing "I'm bored" at any point during your trip.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Elzbieta Sekowska

Nature centers in NYC

Swap the skyscrapers and overcrowded subways for some outdoor tranquility. NYC might be a concrete jungle, but its beautiful greenery is not to be missed. If you're not feeling terribly convinced, head to one of the five boroughs' nature centers and take in the scenery. Thanks to a variety of programs and activities, families can enjoy their surroundings and learn a bit more about the grounds. We have a feeling you'll be planting flowers in no time!

Things to do

Public gardens for families

Non New Yorkers might be under the impression that the city lacks the awesome green spaces rural kids grow up loving, but that's a myth! There are a million reasons why NYC is the best place to raise a family, and one of them is the beautiful gardens right in the area.

Photograph: Courtesy Books Are Magic
Things to do, Literary events

Storytime for kids

Storytime for kids will allow your child's love for literature blossom one picture book at a time. Make your way to the best bookstores, most engaging libraries for kids and charming toy stores in NYC for fun read-alouds and interactive activities. Children will meet new friends and explore a wide variety of tales, from the latest bestseller to classic stories.  

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock/Ruben Martinez Barricarte
Things to do

Kids' library branches in NYC

When you venture to the best kids' library branches in NYC, your pint-sized bibliophiles are bound to get lost in the stacks.  Options abound for curious little ones, whether they're searching for kids' books about NYC or hoping to get involved in the library's coolest free classes for kids. Make a pitstop at each venue's children's room, sit in for a fun storytime and don't forget to go home with a bestseller or two!

Jane's Carousel
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Justin Kiner
Things to do

Carousels in NYC

The carousels in NYC are easily the world's best, some with intricate designs dating back to the early 1900s! Many have been painstainkly restored to their original splendor so generation after generation can enjoy painted wooden horses, woodland creatures and chariots. There are newer carousels on our list as well, including quirkier picks like the Bug Carousel at the Bronx Zoo and Totally Kid Carousel, which was actually designed by children!

Queens Zoo Toddler Time Camp
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Zoos in New York City

Thanks to the fantastic zoos in New York City, families have the opportunity to see incredible animals from all around the world. Each of the zoos on our list offer something for everyone—including special activities for kids! NYC zoos are some of the most impressive in the world, and from the massive Bronx Zoo (one of the biggest in North America) to the petite Central Park Zoo, these family attractions invite kids to learn about numerous species through storytimes, art activities, camps, classes and hands-on interactions with nature.

Things to do

Petting zoos in New York City

Run-ins with squirrels and pigeons are one thing, but many city kids don't often get the opportunity to meet farm animals in person. Luckily, several local zoos—like the Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo—have petting zoos so kids can pet and feed critters like goats, pigs and ducks.

Photograph: Courtesy Elk Brooklyn Cafe

Kid-friendly restaurants with play areas

Parents can enjoy a good meal without stressing about their kids horsing around. In fact, these cool spots around NYC encourage it! With kid-friendly spaces, books, toys, sing-alongs and activities as well as yummy items on the menu, these restaurants cater to all ages.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Cereal restaurant spots in NYC

Amplify Saturday-morning cartoon marathons with takeout orders from a cereal restaurant in NYC. From Kellogg's to Kith Treats, these sweet spots will make breakfast a bit more interesting and a whole lot more delicious.  Though some concoctions are better suited for dessert than the first meal of the day, we guarantee your kids are going to love their orders at these cereal restaurants. Why have Froot Loops with milk when you can throw in marshmallows and other tasty toppings? Sounds like a no-brainer to us.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jenny T.

Candy stores in NYC

Craving something sweet? Visit our favorite candy stores and feast your eyes on the swoon-worthy snacks that are mighty difficult to pass up.  Old-school shops such as Fferins of Brooklyn offer delicious imported treats while the popular IT'Sugar brand boasts a vibrant, whimsical vibe as guests fill their bags with all-things flavorful.

Photograph: Danielle Valente

New York toy store locations

We scoured the boroughs for the best New York toy store, and one thing's clear: With so many adorable options, it's pretty difficult to choose just one! A safe bet would be to put each charming location on your list of things to do with kids in NYC.  Whether you're in search of the must-have seasonal item—Hatchimals!, Fingerlings!—or want to put the kiddo's STEM skills to good use, toy stores in NYC have patrons covered. From FAO Schwarz to LEGO and everything in between, these shops are a must-visit if you have birthday parties for kids coming down the pipeline...or if your own tykes deserve a little reward.

Photograph: Courtesy RJ Lewis
Theater, Puppet shows

Puppet theaters in NYC

The NYC theater scene is alive and well...but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone on stage is an actor. In fact, the city's younger fan base prefers marionettes. Thanks to these adorable puppet theaters, we certainly can't blame kiddos. NYC's most lovable venues are perfect for families in search of a show with style—from classic retellings to the avant garde performances. 

Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do

Dinosaur activities in NYC

Fun, realistic dinosaur activities might just convince you that these carnivorous creatures are far from extinct.  Pint-sized paleontologists will swoon over the American Museum of Natural History's new exhibit, "T. rex: The Ultimate Predator" and anxiously await a ride on the forthcoming Dinosaur Safari at the Bronx Zoo (open April 19). Our go-to family attractions offer great things to do with kids who cannot get enough of these prehistoric creatures. From exhibitions and attractions to zoos and movies, NYC's best dinosaur activities make for a dino-mite outing. 

Things to do, Camps

Mommy and me classes in NYC

These fun mommy and me classes set your kids up for success! Many focus in on building fine motor skills through play at an early age, so you'll be trying everything from singing to dancing to holding fun yoga poses! It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon

Photograph: Courtesy Chloe Rice
Travel, Getaways

Disney cruises from NYC

Taking one of these Disney cruises from NYC in 2019 is as easy as packing a bag, boarding a massive ocean liner and posting up in your room before the festivities begin! (No long car rides, flights or other whine-inducing travel required.) Your kids will stay plenty busy with top-notch entertainment on board—pools, costumed characters, kids' clubs, daily activities and other great stuff, and many Disney cruises from NYC offer stops in areas that have Disney parks (and include park-hopper passes). These Disney cruises are basically your ticket to a stress-free, all-inclusive vacation.

Photograph: Courtesy Disney/Pixar
Movies, Family and kids

Movies for toddlers

Keeping little ones entertained is no easy feat, but we're here to guide you through the ups and downs. Check out our roundup of the best movies for toddlers—they're guaranteed to captivate your rambunctious youngsters for an hour or two. Chances are, kiddies won't be in a rush for family movie night to end. From classic films to beloved animated titles, this list has a little something for everyone (and we promise adults will swoon over the selections, too).

Things to do

Picture books for children

Love amazing picture books for children? Your little ones won't be able to let go of these new and old favorites. You'll find classic picks like Goodnight Moon and newer favorites like Knuffle Bunny complete with beautiful illustrations your kids will love to look at! 

Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon
Movies, Family and kids

Cartoons for kids

Staying in? Then it's time to get comfy on the couch with the best cartoons for kids, all of which are worthy of a marathon (complete with friends and snacks).  While kids will gravitate toward newbies such as Paw Patrol, it's up to '90s babies to show 'em the ropes with hits like Hey Arnold and Dexter's Lab. Don't forget about the classics like Tom and Jerry!  No matter what you choose, you and the fam will be busy for quite some time with the best kids' cartoons around.

More things to do with kids