Best High Tea Spots in NYC to Enjoy a Cup with Kids

The American Girl Store in Rockefeller Center offers tea on select dates this holiday season. Photo courtesy of American Girl
The American Girl Store in Rockefeller Center offers tea on select dates this holiday season. Photo courtesy of American Girl

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a memorable experience, afternoon tea—sometimes called high tea in New York City—can be a fun outing with kids. It's an especially great winter outing and particularly fitting during the holidays.

Several places serve high tea in New York City, with varying degrees of appropriateness for children. From the fancy Eloise Tea at the Plaza Hotel to the less frilly Russian Tea Room, there are teas—and goodies—for children of all ages and parents of all budgets. Here's our take on some of the best spots for afternoon tea with kids in NYC. Bookmark our Guide to Kid-Friendly Restaurants for more family-friendly options for your next meal out.

Before booking reservations, keep in mind the Key to NYC rules now require all guests ages 5+ to have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine for indoor dining; those ages 12+ must be fully vaccinated to dine indoors beginning Monday, December 27.

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American Girl Tea – Midtown East

75 Rockefeller Plaza
Parents have plenty of opinions about American Girl dolls, ranging from "too expensive and too commercialized" to "love them!" But my daughter and I truly enjoyed the American Girl tea experience. The room and tables are lovely and cheerful and the food is surprisingly good. While regular afternoon tea is on hiatus, keep an eye on its events calendar for special afternoon tea events, like its Holiday Tea and Treats series, and snap up a reservation ASAP as they're limited!
Kids Will Love: Having a doll sit beside them in her own little seat and with her own place setting. The café provides plenty of dolls to choose from if your child doesn't have their own.
Children's Tea: Tea sandwiches, butterfly cookies, and chocolate mousse flowerpots are among the highlights.
Best For: Children of all ages who love dolls, but some of the special tea events are reserved for those ages 8 and up.
Cost and Schedule: $38 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Call or book reservations online. Be sure to check the calendar for holiday-themed events like a special brunch with Santa.

RELATED: 12 Must-do Holiday Experiences in NYC

Afternoon tea, complete with treats and lifted pinkies, can be a fun special occasion outing with kids. Photo by Janet Bloom

Lady Mendl's Tea Salon – Gramercy

56 Irving Place
Lady Mendl's is a true Victorian tea salon in a brownstone on Irving Place that serves a classic English afternoon tea. Sit on couches by the fireplace or at elegantly set tables.
Kids Will Love: The fancy room, service, and touches such as decorative rose sugar.
Children's Tea: There are no gimmicks here or even a children's menu. The five-course tea includes sandwiches, scones with Devonshire clotted cream and jam, desserts, and bottomless pots of tea from a wide selection, including several of the spot's own blends.
Best For: Ages 12 and older. Younger kids are not permitted, except at private events. This is an ideal spot for a special outing such as a family get-together or a teen girl's birthday treat. The five-course afternoon tea takes at least an hour and a half. Read our full review and see photos.
Cost and Schedule: $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Served Thursdays and Fridays, 1-4pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-5pm. Call or visit the website to make reservations.

RELATED: 35 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try

Enjoy a festive spread during afternoon tea at Alice's Tea Cup
The pretty setting (and tableware) is half the fun at Alice's Tea Cup. Photo courtesy of the venue

Alice's Tea Cup – Upper East and Upper West Sides and Brooklyn

102 West 73rd Street, 212-799-3006
156 East 64th Street, 212-486-9200
43 Hicks Street, 347-223-4830
Only someone with a heart of stone would fail to be enchanted by Alice's Tea Cup. With three NYC locations, including the Brooklyn-based Alice’s To Go, it has the most magical atmosphere and the best food of any tea house we've sipped at. Note: Each outpost is tiny, so expect a bit of a wait.
Kids Will Love: Butterfly wings are everywhere (you can borrow a pair during your visit or buy a set in the gift shop). The "Menu for the Small" features items such as peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, or sliced apples with peanut butter or Nutella.
Children's Tea: The Wee Tea includes a pot of tea or other beverage, one scone, choice of any children's menu item, and dark chocolate mousse.
Best For: Everyone. The food is great, there are lots of options, and it's not pricey.
Cost and Schedule: $33 for The Wee Tea. Adult tea prices range from $36 for The Nibble to $66 for The Jabberwocky. Patrons can order off the regular menu, too. Served daily. Reservations are accepted for parties of fewer than six.

RELATED: The 18 Most Insane, Must-Try NYC Desserts

Boys enjoying afternoon tea at The Russian Tea Room
Tea at the Russian Tea Room isn't just for the girls. Photo by Mommy Poppins

The Russian Tea Room – Midtown East

150 West 57th Street
This iconic NYC restaurant offers a children's tea with a few Russian touches such as peanut butter and jelly blinis. It doesn't have the charm of other locations, but its lack of frilliness makes it possibly the best tea for boys. Read our full review and see photos.
Kids Will Love: Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, plus a whole plate of desserts just for them. Seeing the fancy Russian toys in the gift shop is fun, too.
Children's Tea: Tea served Russian-style, or enjoy hot chocolate plus a tiered carousel of kid-friendly tea sandwiches and that aforementioned plate of desserts.
Best For: Boys, since the art deco room is not super girly. The restaurant is often less than full so the antics of small children are accommodated.
Cost and Schedule: $60 per person for children's tea; adult tea starts at $80 per person. Children's tea is served weekdays from 1-4:30pm; weekends from 12-4:30pm.

RELATED: Brunches, Cruises, and Breakfasts With Santa in NYC for Kids in 2021

Eloise Tea at the Plaza – Midtown East

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
The stunning Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel reopened in 2014 after extensive renovations and launched the Eloise Tea and even a posh (and pricey) Eloise Suite, all inspired by the popular children's book series. There is also a special Eloise holiday tea.
Kids Will Love: Stopping by the pop-up Eloise shop, where they can peruse a curated selection of gifts, a collection of Eloise books, and even take home their own teacup. Santa greets guests during tea on select dates, and we can attest: He's rawther charming.
Children's Tea: Tea sandwiches include peanut butter and jelly, and the dessert spread features an eye-popping poof of peppermint-flavored cotton candy. Kids can pick from pink lemonade, Shirley Temples, or a tropical tea. See the full menu.
Best For: Special occasions. This is an outing your child might remember for a lifetime.
Cost and Schedule: $80 per child younger than 12; $99-125 per adult (prices vary depending on the season—call to check prices and make reservations). Served daily from 10:30am-5pm.​

Tea & Sympathy – Greenwich Village

108 Greenwich Avenue
This charming, long-running Village spot serves classic British comfort food and a lovely afternoon tea, with all the traditional treats at a fraction of the cost of some of our other picks. Expats flock here for a meal and a visit to the adjoining shop that carries British groceries, tea, and all the service ware you need to re-create the magic at home.
Kids Will Love: Customizable sandwiches, a selection of charming cakes baked daily, and a scrumptious, kid-pleasing mac-and-cheese if they're in the mood for something less traditional.
Children's Tea: There's no specific children's menu here, but there are plenty of kid-pleasing options for sandwich fillings as well as a la carte options on the regular menu if you want to mix and match. 
Best For: All ages! At $40 per person (less if you order tea for two or three), tea here is served year-round. It's got plenty of charm for a special occasion, but it's approachable enough for every day.
Cost and Schedule: Afternoon tea is served daily year-round. Reservations can be booked for weekdays, but weekends are reserved for walk-ins only.

What Ages Are Best

We've noted what ages are appropriate at each venue, but you might be wondering if your kid is even ready for a high-tea experience. We've found age 5 is a great starting point, but kids as young as 3 may enjoy those places geared toward children.

Looking for the popular Madeline Tea at The Carlyle Hotel? It's on hiatus this holiday season, but plans to return in 2022. The Gallery at The Carlyle is currently hosting an afternoon tea, and while not specifically geared toward children, they are welcome to attend. 

This article was first published in December 2010, but is updated annually.

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