Hudson Yards With Kids: Top 10 Things To Do at NYC's New West Side Hot Spot
New York City is always changing, which is one of the many reasons why it's so fun to raise kids here. Still, even by NYC standards, it's rare a new neighborhood seemingly springs to life overnight, bringing with it places to play, eat, and explore. That's just part of what makes Hudson Yards, the new towering development on Midtown Manhattan's far west side, such a surprise.
Whether you view Hudson Yards as a tourist trap, a marvel of urban planning and engineering, or somewhere in the middle, we've rounded up 10 fun things to do in this new neighborhood with kids.
My kids loved making their way to the top of The Vessel, deciding which stairs to take at each level.
1. Climb the Stairs at The Vessel
The sculptural centerpiece of Hudson Yards Public Square, The Vessel was designed by Heatherwick Studio and features 154 flights of interconnecting staircases and 80 landings, offering a unique perspective on the happenings at Hudson Yards and beyond. It's geometric, hive-like shape produces some Instagram-worthy moments, and all that climbing is sure to burn off some energy. FREE timed-entry tickets can be booked two weeks in advance. A limited number of FREE same-day tickets are released each morning at any of the on-site kiosks on the outdoor plaza or inside at The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards. Tourists visiting may wish to take advantage of the $10 flex pass that allows bookings up to six months in advance.
The hit experience/store CAMP is now open in Hudson Yards. Photo courtesy of the store
2. Go to CAMP
One of our favorite stores to play in, CAMP opened its outpost at Hudson Yards late last year. While there's no magic door at this location, there is still plenty to see and do. With a permanent Basecamp theme, there's a Jeep to climb, a jungle gym for raucous play, the popular sequin-lined disco room, and plenty of well-stocked shelves with high-quality, thoughtful playthings available for purchase.
Have a small or big bite at Mercado Little Spain, like churros with chocolate dipping sauce. Photo by Janet Bloom
3. Enjoy an Underground Meal at Mercado Little Spain
The brain-child of Chef Jose Andres, this spot features a trio of sit-down restaurants, plus The Mercado, a tapas-style market. That means there's plenty of kid-friendly eats to be had. We love the pint-sized portions in The Mercado. Kids will easily be lured to the kiosk dishing up freshly fried churros, but before you head there, be sure to check out the paella chefs at work, crafting the flavorful Spanish classic over wood fires. If you need a sit-down meal, the most family-friendly pick here is likely The Spanish Diner, with its hearty portions and plenty of breakfast classics.
If your kids didn't get tired climbing The Vessel, head to Bella Abzug Park for more fun.
4. Romp in Bella Abzug Park
I remember visiting this playground when it opened in 2015 and thinking it seemed a bit off the beaten path. Now, it's surrounded by the sparkling, towering skyscrapers and makes for an excellent spot to burn off energy before hopping on the train and heading home. FREE
Who doesn't love picking out a treat from one of the best candy stores around, Dylan's Candy Bar!
5. Nab a Treat at Dylan's Candy Bar
Located on the third floor of The Shops and Restaurants, this popular New York-based chain is jam-packed with goodies. It's a wall-to-wall sugar high with a beautiful view of The Vessel outside. If you have a taste for chocolate, Li-Lac Chocolates has an outpost here and often hands out samples, though you'll be hard-pressed to escape the tiny shop without a little sweet treat.
6. See an Under-Explored Part of the High Line
The High Line's northernmost section rises from the sidewalk on West 35th Street, so after grabbing a bite to eat, walk it off and explore one of NYC's most unique green spaces. FREE
The sequined wall is bright and inviting, and there is something oddly soothing about running your fingers back and forth across the fabric. Photo by Sara M.
7. Go on a Public Art Hunt
There are tons of clever art installations in the public portions of The Shops. I had trouble pulling my girls away from the wall filled with a patchwork of mermaid sequins—only to stumble upon another installation where larger-than-life pups begged to have their wooly manes combed and touched. Both are part of the large scale installations on view through year's end. FREE
Peach Mart is a new to-go concept from Momofuku serving kimbap, sandwiches, and packaged snacks. Photo courtesy of the shop
8. Get a Tasty Snack
Pick up some family-friendly eats at one of David Chang's fast-casual spots. We noshed on yummy fried chicken and waffle fries (ask for salt-only seasoning for the kiddos!) at Fuku, and loved the tiny treats at Peach Mart.
Head to The Shed for exhibitions, special performances, dance battles, DJs, and more. Photo courtesy of The Shed
9. Get Cultured at The Shed
Dubbed an arts center for the 21st Century, The Shed is certainly futuristic looking, with is towering movable shell roof that can double its exhibition space. What you'll find in the cavernous space is as diverse as your imagination. The Shed's flexible galleries can accommodate anything from a sit-down symphony performance to a dance battle. Visual and performing arts are equally welcome here, and a diverse calendar of offerings keeps visitors interested and coming back for more.
Test your courage on The Edge, the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere. Photo courtesy of Related Oxford
10. Plan a Return Visit
While there have already been some significant openings in the retail hub and outdoor areas, there's still plenty to come at Hudson Yards. We're particularly excited for the debut of The Edge, the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, which is due to open next month.
Photos by the author, unless noted
This post, originally published in March 2019, has been updated.