7 Kid Friendly Activities in New York City

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We love experiencing kid friendly activities in New York City. Whether we’re traveling there for a short weekend or a longer stay, the city that never sleeps has no shortage of sites and attractions for our family to enjoy.

From some of the best restaurants in the country to an amazing selection of museums, we know we can probably spend months in New York City and still not get to see all that it has to offer. In fact, some of my favorite activities are the non touristy things to do in NYC.

This post was updated on November 25, 2019.


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Enjoying our time in New York City (October 2018)

Experiencing kid friendly activities in New York City

Pick up any guide book of New York City, like Fodor’s New York City guide book, or the Not For Tourists Guide to New York City, and you’ll find hundreds of ideas for things to do in New York City. With so many activities to choose from, it’s hard for us to pick our favorites. However, here are six kid friendly activities in New York City that we enjoyed doing on our most recent trip.

Want to see what else you can do in New York City with kids? Read my New York posts.

statue of liberty
The Statue of Liberty in New York City (July 2014)

1. The High Line

The High Line is an old above ground railroad track that was converted into a public park. Starting at Gansevoort Street and stretching north to Hudson Yards, the High Line has a combination of landscape trees and plants as well as benches for resting. There is also a covered market and eating area, and a small stream for dipping your feet on a hot day.

We love visiting the High Line as it offers some unique views of the city, as well as a peaceful urban refuge on a busy day of sightseeing. My kids love playing in the water and exploring the parts of the railroad tracks that are accessible to the public. It’s a fun option for kid friendly activities in New York City.

A view from The High Line Park (July 2014)

2. Central Park Zoo

While the Central Park Zoo may not have a large or unique selection of animals, it was an affordable and kid friendly activity in New York City for our family.

General admission to the zoo is only $12 for adults and $7 for kids. We loved visiting the rainforest portion of the zoo, and seeing all the tropical birds. My daughter also enjoyed the children’s zoo, where she was able to feed goats, sheep, cows, and other animals. As part of our day in Central Park, we definitely enjoyed spending a couple of hours at the zoo.

Seals and zoo keepers at the Central Park Zoo, one of the kid friendly activities in New York City
Seal feeding time at Central Park Zoo (July 2014)

3. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

One of the places my step-son and daughter really liked visiting was the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. As a worldschooling family, we love spending time at science museums and learning about how things work.

Located on Pier 86 in Hell’s Kitchen, the museum is housed in the U.S.S. Intrepid aircraft carrier. The museum has various military aircrafts (which my step-son enjoyed), a space shuttle, and a submarine for families to explore.

While we were there, my daughter and I took a tour of the navigation deck of the ship, and really enjoyed seeing what it was like to live aboard a ship. But our favorite part of the museum was the Exploreum Hall, which had a number of interactive games and exhibits aimed specifically for kids. We spent a whole afternoon at Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum but wished we could have spent more time there.

A plane on the U.S.S. Intrepid (October 2018)

4. Enjoying kid friendly activities in New York City at Coney Island

Coney Island has long since been a favorite getaway place for New Yorkers. And though it was our first time visiting there, it’s slowly becoming one of our favorite New York getaway places too.

Just a subway ride away, the area is a pretty popular place, especially in the summer months. The beaches are teeming with families, couples, and groups wanting to enjoy the waters of the Atlantic. If you love being active during travel, then this is a great place to spend an afternoon.

Having suffered damage from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, much of Coney Island’s boardwalk has been revamped and revitalized. Gone are the seedy shops and arcades of old. What has remained, however, are the amusement park style rides that line the boardwalk and draws countless tourists each year.

One of the most famous rides, The Wonder Wheel, has been operating since the early 1900’s. We took a ride on the Wonder Wheel during our recent trip to New York, and really enjoyed the views of the ocean and boardwalk.

Enjoying the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island (July 2014)

5. Radio City Music Hall

Some of the kid friendly activities in New York City we’ve found have come from unexpected places. We took a tour of Radio City Music Hall, and it was so much fun! This famous theater, which is home to the Rockettes, is filled with Art Deco decor, including original artwork and sculptures from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Much of Radio City Music Hall’s original amenities are still fully functional, including the foot pedal powered hand dryer in the bathrooms, as well as the hydraulics system that raises and lowers the stage. My daughter and I enjoyed seeing the Rockette costumes on display around the theater, and even got to have our picture taken with one of the dancers.

Trying out the hand dryer at Radio City Music Hall (July 2014)

6. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

No trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On previous trips, we’ve taken the free Staten Island Ferry, to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. This time around, however, we wanted to actually visit the statue. So we booked a cruise with Statue CityCruises, which provides ferry rides among Battery Park, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island.

We liked this tour because we were able to get off at each stop and explore at our leisure. For my family, since we’re always traveling with young kids, having the option to go at our own pace is a must. Touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are musts for kid friendly activities in New York City.

Old trunks stacked on display as part of an exhibit at Ellis Island, one of the popular kid friendly activities in New York City
Old trunks at Ellis Island (July 2014)

7. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial

While you might not think visiting a memorial of a national tragedy is kid-friendly, it’s actually a good place to teach kids about history. The fall of the twin towers on September 11, 2001 was an important part of United States history. And having kids learn about that moment, and understand the impact that terrorist attack has had on the world, is one way we can encourage empathy and understanding in our kids.

Learning the history of a place is a great way to practice responsible travel. The 9/11 memorial is located on Manhattan Island and is free to enter.

If you want to learn how you can travel more responsibly with kids, read my posts here.

Visiting the September 11 Memorial (October 2019)

Discovering more kid friendly activities in New York City

Despite being one of the biggest cities in the United States, New York City has a lot to offer for visiting families. These seven kid friendly activities in New York City were just the tip of the iceberg for our family.

We know there’s still so much more of the city that we have yet to discover. For anyone planning their own family trip, these places and activities make the perfect starting points for a New York City adventure.

Do you have any favorite kid friendly activities in New York City? Share them in the comments!

Six Kid Friendly Activities In New York City | The Wandering Daughter

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