17 Things To Do in Garden City, New York with Kids

Garden City's quaint downtown makes for a great stroll with kids. Photo courtesy of the Village of Garden City
Garden City's quaint downtown makes for a great stroll with kids. Photo courtesy of the Village of Garden City
11/13/23 - By Thien August

Garden City is one of Long Island's most desirable communities, with tree-lined streets, a vibrant downtown, highly-rated schools, and plenty of green space. Take a stroll down historic Seventh Street, which plays host to family-friendly events all year round; spend the day learning on Museum Row; or shop till you drop at the area’s largest shopping mall, Roosevelt Field.

It’s no wonder so many families enjoy living and visiting this village. We've rounded up the top things to do on a visit to Garden City with kids. 

Be sure to check out our posts on the best parks in Nassau County for kids and the best indoor play spaces in Nassau County for more great activity ideas in the area. 


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Top Things to See and Do in Garden City with Kids

1. Visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum

At the Cradle of Aviation Museum, view more than 70 air and space crafts, including an actual Apollo lunar module, in a museum housed in a converted aircraft hangar. Kids can experience what it’s like to be a pilot by testing out the many different cockpits and hands-on exhibits. Stop by the Junior Jet Club, a play area designed for kids up to age 6, and build a rocket, collect moon rocks, or "fly" a shuttle into space. For a full-on space experience, take in a show at the planetarium and Dome Theater. Admission to the museum and Dome Theater are sold separately or as a package. Check your local library for free museum passes before you go. 

2. Read a Book at the Garden City Public Library

For a relaxing way to spend a few hours, stop into the Garden City Public Library. Enjoy a book or one of the many periodicals in a comfy chair and let the kids explore the children’s room. With its colorful mural featuring recognizable book characters, this child-friendly space invites kids to read on their own or discover new favorites as a family. This library offers adult and children’s programs to cardholders as well as occasional drop-in storytimes and events all can enjoy.

RELATED: Kid-Friendly Planetariums and Observatories on LI

A world of fun awaits at the Long Island Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of LICM 

3. Play at the Long Island Children’s Museum

With 14 interactive exhibits, including a giant climbing structure, indoor beach, outdoor sensory garden, and so much more, the LICM is a favorite of kids and adults alike. The performing arts center introduces little ones to live theater with productions that encourage audience participation. As an inclusive space, the museum offers a sensory room for neurodivergent visitors who might feel overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. The sensory room is a calming space with interactive elements to help soothe and relax.

RELATED: Great Family-Friendly Museums on LI 

Your aspiring firefighter will love the Nassau County Firefighters Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

4. Learn at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center

Learn about fire safety and the history of firefighting in Nassau County, all while having fun in an interactive environment. Families can plan their home escape route, practice stop-drop-and-roll, and crawl low to avoid smoke. The display of firetrucks is impressive and sure to capture the imaginations of aspiring firefighters.

5. Go Shopping at the Roosevelt Field Mall

The Roosevelt Field Mall offers more than just clothing stores. In addition to more than 250 shops and services, there is a movie theater, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, and a FREE indoor play area for kids. A large food court makes it easy to grab a quick bite, and there are plenty of options for sit-down restaurants as well. When nature calls, families can use the updated restrooms near the food court, where there is also a private room for nursing moms. The Lego Store is a popular stop for families with kids of all ages, and little ones can play at one of the building tables. 

6. Explore Nature at the Garden City Bird Sanctuary

Bring your binoculars for bird sightings here. Located on 7 acres along Nassau County’s Stormwater Storage Basin, Garden City Bird Sanctuary is a nature preserve that serves as a refuge and feeding ground for local and migrating birds. Open on weekends from April through the end of October, visitors have a good chance of seeing and hearing the songbirds that use the preserve as a home. The bird sanctuary is FREE to enter, but visitors are encouraged to make a cash donation or contribute bird seed.

RELATED: Kid-Friendly Bowling Alleys in Nassau County

Create your masterpiece at Muse Paint Bar. Photo courtesy of Muse Paint Bar

7. Create at Muse Paint Bar

Get in touch with your creative side at Muse Paint Bar. Instructors teach painting techniques, and each person leaves with a piece of art ready to display at home. Family paint events let kids and adults create their own artwork while enjoying tasty finger foods and beverages. No experience is necessary, so let your imagination run wild.

Take a ride on the beautiful and historic Nunley's Carousel. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

8. Ride Nunley’s Carousel

Adjacent to the Cradle of Aviation is historic Nunley’s Carousel. Built in 1912, this beautifully restored carousel continues to bring joy and excitement to kids and adults. At $2 a ride, it’s an inexpensive and fun way to end an afternoon of museum visits.

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Tullamore Park's green space is full of activities for children and adults. Photo courtesy of the Village of Garden City

9. Swing at Tullamore Park

Tullamore Park has enough swings and a playground that will keep active kids busy. Although not the largest playground in the vicinity, it has two separate climbing structures with slides, monkey bars, and a school bus climber, all in a fenced-in area. There are also basketball courts, tennis courts, and a comfort station.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Garden City

10. Waterzooi

Waterzooi is a Belgian restaurant serving up seafood and Belgian dishes, such as its namesake waterzooi, which is a traditional Belgian seafood stew. If you're not into seafood, give the Wellington burger a try. Kip, roasted chicken, and bacon brussel sprouts are another great land option.

11. Smok-Haus

Barbeque favorites are the specialty at Smok-Haus. Beef brisket, smoked bratwurst, pulled pork, and smoked ribs are some of the delectable meats the family can indulge in. The restaurant also offers various types of tacos, such as the Korean BBQ taco, as well as sandwiches like the po'boy. For dessert have some bread pudding or a chocolate lava cake. 

12. Tocolo Cantina

Start the family meal at Tocolo Cantina with fresh guacamole and chips. Fish, steak, chicken, and pork are a few of the meat taco offerings. There are also avocado tacos for vegetarians. Fajitas and burritos are also available. For dessert scoop up the churro sundae.

13. La Nonna Bella 

A visit to La Nonna Bella is like transporting the family to Italy. Owner Lino moved here from Italy and fulfilled his dream of owning a restaurant. Inspired by traditional Italian dishes, there are pasta plates, or first plates, as well as main dishes, or second plates, like lamb chops, chicken breast, and veal. Don't forget to ask for the dessert menu.

Hotels for Families in Garden City, New York

14. Garden City Hotel

The Garden City Hotel has multiple on-site restaurants, often hosting weddings and special events. There is an indoor pool, so the family can get in their bathing suits no matter what the temperature is outside. There is also a fitness center and spa. 

15. Hampton Inn Garden City 

Enjoy a free hot breakfast, indoor pool, and fitness center at the Hampton Inn Garden City. The hotel is also pet-friendly, so bring along Fido. 

16. Hyatt Place Garden City

Like the other hotels in Garden City, the Hyatt has an indoor pool and fitness center. There are multiple room types, but no large suites. There is dining on-site, including breakfast. It is pet-friendly.

17. Rent a House

This gorgeous, Tudor-style mansion boasts 5 beautiful bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. The modernly renovated home has 2 master bedrooms and sleeps up to 10 people. It is located just a few minutes from all major attractions in Garden City, including Museum Row and the Roosevelt Field Mall. 

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