Not to brag, but New York City is pretty darn photogenic. The glittering buildings, the amazing public art, the bright blue rivers, the buzzing neighborhood streets...It might just be the coolest family photo studio on Earth. No wonder you can hardly turn a corner in this town without running into a movie shoot.
Whether you're looking for the perfect backdrop for a family photo as the holidays approach or just looking up your Instagram game, we've rounded up a list of the best spots in the city to take pics of your kids. But of course, it's not just about getting that perfect shot—it's about having a perfect NYC memory, too. Each of these spots is also a great family destination in its own right, with playgrounds, parks, and museums to explore.
Subscribe to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.
You can't get more stunning and picturesque views than the visuals at Brooklyn Bridge Park. From the Manhattan skyline to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, you'll be sure to get great photos.
Roller skate, play mini golf, watch chocolates being made, and nosh on delicious dumplings and ramen from Japan Village, then pose in front of the enormous murals by Collision Project artists that can be found throughout the buildings and courtyards in this transformed complex.
Brookfield Place hosts free public art and regular kid-friendly events. Photo by Janet Bloom
The atrium at Brookfield Place is one of our favorite indoor gardens in NYC for its year-long lineup of kid-friendly events, like the upcoming Canstruction, and unique public art installations, such as "Signs of Your Identity," and the annual holiday Luminaries. Grab some gelato from Le District while you’re there.
RELATED: 20 Tourist Attractions in NYC Worth Visiting—Even for Jaded Locals
The friendly pipefish is a kid magnet at Chelsea Waterside Park. Photo by Jody Mercier
The friendly, colorful, 22-foot pipefish winding its way through Chelsea Waterside Park is just one of several features that cement this spot's place among our favorite destination playgrounds. Pose for a photo on the rainbow-hued climbing structure and spend the rest of the afternoon splashing, climbing, and playing. The playground's proximity to the High Line and Hudson River Park make it a perfect pitstop for a day of exploring the city.
Domino Park boasts lovely water views and an innovative playground. Photo by Daniel Levin
Look, some NYC playgrounds are just so photogenic it's almost unfair. Domino Park, located on a lovely strip of riverfront in Williamsburg and inspired by the old Domino Sugar refinery looming just behind it, was developed by the team behind the High Line. So of course its play structures, sprinkler area, and beach look almost more like urban art than a playground—almost. The kids clambering all over the multi-level slides and ladders couldn't care less how cool it looks, of course.
While the Vessel is closed to visitors, it still makes a cool only-in-NY photo backdrop. There are a ton of other things to explore, see, and photograph with kids at Hudson Yards, like the Edge, the highest sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, and The Shed, plus kid-friendly eats and shopping inside, and very soon a Paw Patrol Experience.
RELATED: 100 Things To Do in NYC With Kids Before They Grow Up
The rotating roster of art installations at Madison Square Garden are insta-worthy. Currently on view is Maya Lin’s "Ghost Forest." Photo by the author
The welcoming green space, complete with a shady playground and a Shake Shack, is a great place to take the kids any day of the week. It's also home to an ever-rotating display of public art. Currently on view through November is Maya Lin's Ghost Forest.
MoMA PS1 – Long Island City, Queens
MoMA PS1's packed calendar of seasonal events is family-friendly (although not specifically aimed at families). MoMA PS 1 is even more fun in the summertime when the courtyard installation is revealed. Currently, you'll find Niki de Saint Phalle’s "La femme et L'oiseau fontaine," a fountain reimagined as a woman lightly balanced atop a bird. Around the fountain, there's "The Stories of the Past Rejoice through Children's Skies," a new site-specific installation by Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves. The work resembles stained-glass windows and the artist was inspired by Mexican craft traditions. Admission is always free for NYC residents.
While the rooftop garden at the Met takes some hunting to find, the view is worth the trip. Photo by Janet Bloom
The Cantor Rooftop Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a bit tricky to find but so worth it. Take the elevator from the first floor near the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries to the fourth floor, and a separate elevator to the top. Your reward: a stunning view of Central Park and the skyline, with a rotating array of breathtaking large-scale installations. After you've had your fill of eye candy, let the kids run wild at the Ancient Playground across the street.
For the most gorgeous fall foliage pictures NYC has to offer, go up to the Bronx to Wave Hill's botanic garden and cultural center. Perched right atop the Hudson River, Wave Hill is the perfect backdrop for family photos with its picturesque river views with its beautifully curated gardens and forests. You'll get some great shots of the kids amidst the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellow colors of the fall season and weekends bring great, family-friendly programming.
RELATED: 21 Signs You Have an NYC Toddler
Pack a picnic for Socrates Sculpture Park. Photo by Janet Bloom
Socrates Sculpture Park, a grassy, riverside park housing large-scale sculptures on its beautifully maintained grounds, is a lovely spot for a weekend afternoon walk. Bring a picnic blanket and bask in the sun, or embark on an afternoon art crawl through Long Island City.
Pier 17 – South Street Seaport
On your way to the Imagination Playground? Wander a block east toward the waterfront to explore the gorgeous river views and interactive public art at nearby Pier 17. Perfect for fall, take pictures under the Pumpkin Arch currently on view.
If you haven't visited the Welling Court Mural Project yet, put this hidden gem on top of your to-do list. Photo courtesy of the project
Put this stunning art project in family-friendly Astoria at the top of your NYC to-do list. Take the NYC Ferry to Astoria, and walk around a few square blocks to see some of the most colorful and powerfully messaged art in the city.
Originally published in 2019.