How to do New York with kids
New York is the city above all cities, and while it’s a veritable playground for adults, you’ll find a diversity in the Big Apple that’s guaranteed to keep the little ones happy, too.
A 12-metre tall T. rex, stores that feel more like amusement parks and Disney in the flesh… New York City has plenty to offer kids on a city break. And if you’re coming from Europe, don’t worry about the long flights. Keep the kids busy with a tablet or in-flight entertainment and it’ll be over in no time.
For the animal-lovers
At the Bronx Zoo, the kids can visit a variety of species from lions and bison, to bears and exotic birds. If you’re travelling with tots, there’s also a special enclosure where they can pet and feed goats, sheep and donkeys.
New York Aquarium
If the lions are lazy and the bears are in hiding, you can always rely on sharks when you want to view a set of razor-sharp, pearly-white gnashers. And should the kids prefer something a bit cuddlier, then the otters and penguins at the New York Aquarium are a good option.
American Museum of Natural History
A 37-metre long dinosaur that lived about 100 million years ago and weighed about 70 tonnes? Show us a child who wouldn’t think that was cool!
Check out the Titanosaur exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, alongside the T. rex, in the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils.
There are also plenty of exciting interactive exhibitions such as ‘Unseen Oceans’, where you can experience the unlit world beyond the surface of the deep blue, and ‘The Butterfly Conservatory’ where over 500 butterflies fly free. Just be sure to check the AMNH website before you go, as some exhibitions are seasonal.
A magical evening on Broadway
Going to a musical in New York is an experience of a lifetime, and on Broadway you’ll find a number of shows that are suitable for children. Bear in mind that most productions require the little ones attending to be at least four years old, and that the shows often last for a couple of hours.
The Lion King
The Lion King is a classic and a definite winner. Here, the kids will enjoy fantastic acting skills, evocative music and fascinating choreography.
Most kids love Disney’s Frozen, a film based on ‘The Snow Queen’, a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Frozen is now running as a musical on New York’s Broadway, and has been given excellent reviews by the critics.
Aladdin is another show that has spellbound children and adults alike for years, with its exciting plot, intricate costumes and spectacular scenery.
Shopping with kids
There are two Build-A-Bear shops in Manhattan, where children can make their own teddy bears. They decide what they will look like, fill them with cotton wool and a tiny, little bear’s heart. A bit of magic is added in the process, and hey presto, your child has made their own souvenir for life. Afterwards, they can choose from a range of clothing and accessories to suit their own little bear.
M&M’s World in Times Square is a must when travelling to New York with kids. The store has M&M chocolates in all shapes and sizes from floor to ceiling – literally. In this 25,000 m2 shop, you can make your own M&Ms with your own design and even with your name on them.
There are two Kidding Around stores in the city and they are favourites among New Yorkers. These are classic toy shops with a wide range of toys including products not found at the larger chain stores.
Do the kids need to run around a bit and burn off some energy? There are 21 playgrounds in Central Park, all of which have their own themes, design and unique play apparatuses.
Renting rowing boats is a popular pastime in Central Park. If you prefer to stay on land, however, you can hire a model sailing yacht and even attend lessons on how to manoeuvre it.
On a warm day, you might like to visit Lasker Pool, where admittance is free and they also offer free swimming lessons. In winter, you can go ice-skating there.
Gastronomy for Kids
When you take the kids to New York, there’s not much point in trying to maintain your healthy, everyday carrots-and-broccoli regime. The USA is the land of hamburgers, milkshakes and melted cheese. It’s almost as though New York’s culinary culture was designed by children.
Alice’s Tea Cup
It’s not too difficult to guess what the theme is here at Alice’s Tea Cup. The proprietor refers to the place as ‘whimsical’, which certainly sounds like something the kids will love. Scones, sandwiches and hundreds of different types of tea are on offer here, not to mention the cakes…
Dessert Tasting Tour
What reaction do you think you’ll get from the kids when you tell them you’re taking them on a 2.5-hour dessert tasting tour? On this journey, you’ll explore the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, and try out everything from artisinal chocolates to ‘The Best Cookie in NYC’. Just bear in mind that this tour involves quite a bit of walking.
Still need some ideas on dining out on your trip? Take a look at our first timers’ guide to where to eat in New York.
Hotels for families
New York is a big city. Enormous, in fact. For this reason, it’s a good idea not to choose a hotel on the outskirts, when you take the kids to New York. Because then you’ll be forced to spend a lot of time in taxis, public transportation and traffic. And if there’s one thing families with small children know, it’s that patience levels on the way to the zoo or the doughnut shop, border on the non-existent.
Even though the hotels in the city centre are more expensive, your stay will be more fun for the kids and easier for you, if you stay in Manhattan itself.
Holiday Inn Express – New York City Chelsea
Just a 15-minute walk to Times Square, free cots for babies and comfortable furniture, The Holiday Inn Express – New York City Chelsea is a good choice of accommodation when on a family trip to New York.
The James New York – SoHo
This is a fantastic option for families travelling to New York with kids. The pool at The James New York – SoHo is the perfect place to cool down if you’re headed to the city in summer. There’s a vast supply of children’s books and board games on hand, plus milk and cookies at bed time. What more could you want?
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
The hotel has plenty of amenities for kids, such as complimentary baby toiletries, mini bathrobes, colouring books, crayons, toys and board games, cribs and rollaway beds, and a children’s DVD library.
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is situated in the Tribeca district of New York, 300 metres from the One World Trade Centre and 400 metres from Ground Zero.
Combining business with pleasure in the Big Apple? This hotel is also a great one if you need to get work done on your trip. Take a look at our top hotels for business trips to find out more.
The Roger Smith Hotel
This relatively inexpensive boutique-style hotel is close to Grand Central Station. The Roger Smith Hotel has received positive feedback for its breakfast and comfortable beds, essential items when spending long days in the Big Apple.
And when the kids are tired of walking and the parents want to experience Manhattan on their own, the Roger Smith can send a childminder up to your room.
Ready to go?
If you’re all set to head to New York with the little ones, take a quick look at our tips for stress-free air travel with kids, where you’ll find info on how to make the plane journey go quickly and smoothly, and what to bring for the journey.