A visit to the High Line with kids is a treat for both residents and tourists alike. Like many native New Yorkers, I sometimes get caught up in my daily routine and forget all that this amazing city has to offer families, from unexpected museums to our mega-popular tourist-worthy top attractions that are always crowded, but for good reason. The High Line, a formerly-abandoned track of elevated railway on Manhattan's west side that's found new life as a public park, is one prime example.
Owned by the city, but maintained by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line in coordination with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the High Line has developed a bit of a reputation as a tourist zone. But a visit to the High Line is well worth braving the crowds. It's both an amazing public art site and a community hub, with wonderful year-round programs for locals—and it's FREE. Plus, its proximity to the Chelsea Market, Hudson Yards, and Little island makes the High Line a perfect spot for a daycation—foodie-worthy snacks included
Here are all the must-see spots for children at this unique outdoor park, plus the kid-friendly High Line events you'll want to add to your family's calendar.
Visit the High Line With Kids: Top Sights
The High Line is essentially a planted walking path, but a wide one, with art and murals, small water features, and even vendors dotting the High Line's paths. You'll pass by the upper-level windows of apartment buildings close to the tracks, hotels, and even museums. There is plenty of seating, so you're always welcome to take a break for a snack or some of the city's finest people watching. You can look out onto street traffic, too—all while feeling slightly above the buzz of the city.
My 5-year-old son got a kick out of being told the High Line’s history. The High Line was once an elevated freight rail line. Pointing out the tracks that still remain became a game for him. Sometimes they are in direct view and sometimes they are tucked within the garden and plants, like the lost ruins of an era long past.
Kids can walk along the exposed track in the Rail Yards section of the park. Photo by Iwan Baan
The Rail Yards
This area of the High Line, which stretches from 34th Street to 30th Street, offers panoramic views of the Hudson River. Bonus: The tracks are prominent here, and kids can explore artifacts like the rail “frog” and the rail switches.
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Kids can run, jump and play on the Pershing Square Beams. Photo courtesy of the High Line
Pershing Square Beams
Located at 30th Street, this is a structure of steel beams and framework specifically revamped with children in mind. The concrete deck in this part of the park has been stripped away to reveal the original framework of steel beams and girders. These industrial structures have been coated in a silicone surface, transforming this area of the High Line into a safe space for running, climbing, and playing.
The 10th Avenue Square
Kids love the small amphitheater and overlook located at 10th Avenue and 17th Street on the High Line, where there's a wall of glass that you can walk right up to. Below and beyond the glass is a great view of 10th Avenue, perfect for watching all the vehicles.
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The Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck is a stunning spot to relax during your walk on the High Line. Photo by Iwan Baan
The Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck
This sundeck, situated between 14th and 15th Streets on the High Line, lets you relax in the wooden lounge chairs while the kids splash (without getting soaked) in the sprinklers during the warmer months.
The Spur offers additional seating, public restrooms, a refreshment cart, and incredible vistas of the city. It's also home to a rotating array of large-scale public art pieces, which can be seen from street level.
Speaking of art installations, High Line Art provides unique exhibitions, performances, and programs along the High Line. Many of the sculptures and exhibits allow children to get up close to the work.
Visit the High Line With Kids: Top Events
The High Line brings families many great events and programs year-round.
Tours of the High Line
Learn the history behind New York's park in the sky from its days as a freight railroad to a bastion of nature, art, and culture. Tours run for an hour and a half on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, from May through August. The tours operate on a first-come, first-serve basis and the maximum number of people is 20. The starting point for all tours is the Gansevoort Street entrance.
Head to the Highline to gaze up at the stars through high-powered telescopes provided by the knowledgeable members of the Amateur Astronomers Association. Stargazing takes place every Tuesday starting at dusk, located just south of The Standard Hotel near Little West 12th Street.
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Stroll over to Chelsea Market for delicious eats, like pizza from Filaga. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
Visit the High Line With Kids: Where to Eat
Along the High Line at 15th Street, you'll find a line of quick and delicious snacks for purchase from food carts, selling quick eats like ice cream, empanadas, Paninis, and doughnuts. Try Hearth on the High Line for a more formal affair. It's an open-air wine bar and cafe boasting impressive Hudson and skyline views, a stellar wine and beer list, and small plates.
Visit the High Line With Kids: Family-Friendly Restaurants Nearby
Below the High Line at street level, find some great eateries like Bubby’s and the many establishments in Chelsea Market. You’re also welcome to bring your own food onto the High Line. There are plenty of tables and chairs in the Chelsea Market Passage. Or you can spread out a picnic on the 23rd Street Lawn.
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Visit the High Line With Kids: Top Things to Do Nearby
The Whitney is hard to miss at the southern end of the High Line. If your child is up for some contemporary art, then head to this amazing museum, and don’t miss Open Studio for families on Saturdays.
Stop by Chelsea Market, the enormous food hall and marketplace, where even the pickiest eaters can find something they love among the bakeries, pizza shops, and burger joints.
Hudson Yards is bringing more people to the area to live and work, as well as many new visitors. Take in the views from the Edge, the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, plus the public art exhibits and performances at The Shed, and then visit its chef-driven food hall. The "it factor" of Hudson Yards is likely to mean more foot traffic on the High Line this season, especially in the northern section, but it also expands the possibilities for exploration...and snacking.
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Climb the rainbow pipefish at Chelsea Waterside Park, just steps from the sights of the High Line. Photo by Jody Mercier
If your child is on the younger side and playtime is on the brain, take a stroll over to Chelsea Waterside Park or Hudson River Park, just a few blocks away. My son spent hours at Pier 51 Playground, playing in the sand while I took in the views.
Pier 57 Rooftop Park
One of the city's newest green spaces, the Pier 57 rooftop park doesn't offer much in the way of playthings, but its views are hard to beat. We bet kids will enjoy clambering up the stadium-style seating that's fixated on cityscape views or seeing what kind of vessels they can spot in the river, which offers views from the Statue of Liberty all the way up to the George Washington Bridge.
If you've still got a little bit of energy left after the High Line, check out Little Island, aka the floating park. Near 13th Street in the Hudson River, Little Island is set on tulip-shaped platforms that make it one of the most unique public spaces in the city. It's magical to walk through the winding paths and look out at the views. With tons of family-friendly programming, it's another great destination for locals and tourists alike.
Good to Know Before You Visit the High Line With Kids
- The High Line is FREE as are many of its activities, but reservations may be required for certain events, as space can be limited—so always check the High Line's website and plan ahead.
- The best times to visit the High Line are usually in the morning or the early evening, as the afternoons get crowded.
- The High Line is open 7am-10pm (through May 31) and 7am-11pm (June 1 through September 30). No reservations are necessary during the weekdays, however, on Saturdays and Sundays and select holiday Mondays, FREE timed-entry passes are required during peak hours from 12-6pm. Reserve online in advance.
- The High Line is both stroller and wheelchair accessible with elevator entrances at 30th Street, 23rd Street, 16th Street, 14th Street, and Gansevoort and Washington Streets. Ramp access is available at the 34th Street and 12th Avenue entrances. Check the map for additional stair access.
- Restrooms are available at 16th Street and the southern entrance at Gansevoort.
- During the warmer months, don’t forget hats and sunscreen. There are a few spots that can get pretty sunny.
A version of this post was previously published in 2017; it has been updated. Katie Nave Freeman contributed additional reporting.