34 Best Things To Do on the Upper West Side with Kids

Visit the DiMenna Children's Museum, located within the New-York Historical Society.
Visit the DiMenna Children's Museum, located within the New-York Historical Society.
2/15/24 - By Laurie Riihimaki

Manhattan's Upper West Side is home to popular spots, including Lincoln Center with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet, but it’s also one of the most famously family-friendly neighborhoods in NYC. Upper West Side families enjoy easily walkable access to tons of parks and playgrounds, plus kid-friendly museums ranging from the world-class AMNH to the tot-haven of CMOM. There are also plenty of kid-friendly stores, restaurants, and activities for little ones to enjoy on the Upper West Side.

Here are our top picks for the best things to do on the Upper West Side with kids, all guaranteed to keep your family busy year-round whether you live here or you're just visiting.


Best Things To Do on the Upper West Side with Kids

1. The Baseball Center

If your child loves baseball, The Baseball Center is a 15,000-square-foot facility offering everything from summer camps to recreational softball leagues and hard-core training for serious players. Private and group training are offered, plus you can book a batting cage to work out the kinks in your little leaguer's swing.

2. Little Shop of Crafts

If you have a crafty, creative kid, the Little Shop of Crafts is a go-to destination for weekend fun. At this spot, you’ll find pottery, plaster, and woodcrafts to paint, plus mosaics, soap-making, and cuddly-stuffing stations. No reservations are necessary: Just walk in and get crafting!

3. Marlene Meyerson JCC

This local community hub offers a wide range of activities for all ages including camps, after-school, and classes. Visit on Saturdays for R&R: Shabbat, a FREE day of family fun, including everything from yoga to art, food, meditation, lectures, films, art projects, and plenty of playtime. Parents can choose to participate in activities with their kids or chat with other parents while the kids play.

4. Upper West Side Libraries

The Upper West Side is home to a handful of NYPL branches, including the St. Agnes, Bloomingdale, and Riverside branches. Visit to pick out your next great read and enjoy all the FREE kids' programs. Be sure to check out the event calendar, where you can filter your search by age.

5. NY Kids Club

The NY Kids Club is a staple on the Upper West Side for parents and children alike, offering a multitude of kid-friendly classes in music, art, gymnastics, dance, and more. It also hosts camps, after-school, birthday parties, and even drop-off date night childcare.

6. Super Soccer Stars

One of our favorite soccer classes for kids, Super Soccer Stars offers programming for babies, toddlers, and children that helps little ones develop motor skills and confidence.

7. Kidville

The members-only Kidville offers a long list of classes for kids, plus a play space that's also a perfect backdrop for birthday parties.

8. Robofun

STEM education is the name of the game at this Upper West Side class spot, which offers hands-on classes in a wide variety of STEM topics for kids from preschool through elementary school age.

9. Hex & Co

Pull up a chair and settle in for a spell at this board game cafe. Kids play for just $8 on weekdays and there are more than 1,000 games to choose from. The hardest part is agreeing on one!

Things to do on the Upper West Side with kids: Gilder Center at AMNH
Explore Invisible Worlds at the Richard Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History.

Top Attractions on the Upper West Side

10. American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is a perfect destination for a day of STEM-based fun. Explore the natural world through ticketed immersive exhibitions like the current Secret Life of Elephants, take a stroll around the permanent installations, explore the Gilder Center, or enroll in a class designed for children and families.

11. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Whether you’re looking to just pop in for the day or you’re interested in a specific exhibition, you’ll never be disappointed at CMOM. Beyond the regular exhibits, there are plenty of rotating activities and projects to explore.

12. Play Street Museum

Explore a mini-city within New York City and this brand-new Upper West Side play space. Kids can enjoy a 90-minute session of imaginative play everywhere from the pint-sized grocery store to the vet's office, doctor's, fire station, and more. Consider adding on an art project or DIY slime session while you're there.

13. Lincoln Center

This glorious performing arts complex offers plenty of culture and public space to explore. Pose for a photo by the fountain, take in a kid-friendly concert, see the annual Big Umbrella Festival, or gawk at the iconic Nutcracker when it takes the stage each holiday season. Many family-friendly performances are pay-what-you-wish. 

14. Big Apple Circus

Each holiday season, this iconic circus troupe sets up its big top in Damrosch Park. A trip to the circus is an annual tradition for many local families. 

15. Shakespeare in the Park

Summertime means Shakespeare in the Park takes over many Upper West Side green spaces, including annual performance series in Riverside and Central Park.

RELATED: Free Times for Kids at NYC's Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Things to do on the Upper West Side with kids: DiMenna Children's History Museum.
Immersive exhibits teach kids about historical movements at the DiMenna Children's History Museum.

16. DiMenna Children's History Museum at the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society is an interesting place all on its own, but it also has a more kid-friendly element: the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, which offers an interactive space for kids to learn about NYC history. Explore rotating exhibits and a jam-packed calendar of kid-friendly programs and events, which you can see on the website’s calendar.

17. Symphony Space

Symphony Space is known for its theatrical and musical performances and often welcomes family-friendly performances. Bookmark its online calendar for the scoop on current and upcoming shows.

18. The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

One of our favorite local puppet theaters is an Upper West Side institution nestled in Central Park. Home to old-fashioned marionette puppets, these little kid-friendly theatrical performances rotate often. After the event, kids can meet the puppeteer and ask questions.

Things to do on the Upper West Side with kids: Hippo Playground
Splash with the hippos at the Upper West Side's Hippo Playground.

Parks and Playgrounds for Upper West Side Kids

19. Central Park

Central Park is NYC's backyard, and Upper West Side families have easy access to all the fun things to do in the sprawling green space. It's got an epic collection of destination playgrounds, too. Some of our favorite playgrounds for Upper West Side kids include the tot-friendly Tarr-Coyne Tots Playground on 68th Street, the Tarr-Coyne Wild West Playground at 93rd Street, and Heckscher Playground at mid-park and 61st Street. Heckscher is Central Park's largest playground, our favorite playground in the park, and one of the top playgrounds in all of NYC.

20. Riverside Park

Located on the banks of the Hudson River, Riverside Park offers scenic waterfront views for four miles from 72nd Street up to 158th Street. This park has so much to do, including baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts, and the perfect place to bike, jog, or walk with the family. It's also home to iconic playgrounds, including Hippo Playground, Elephant Playground, River Run Playground, and more.

21. West Side Community Garden

West Side Community Garden is a space for local families to plant small plots of greenery. From fresh veggies to fruits to flowers, there is always something growing in the garden during the warm months. You can become a member to enjoy the garden’s annual events and receive its newsletter.

Must-Visit Shops on the Upper West Side

22. Harry’s Shoes and Tip Top Kids

These old-school shoe stores have survived through the years and offer top-notch customer service and a quality fit for growing feet. At Tip Top Kids, your child will even walk away with a balloon!

23. Albee Baby

New parents on the Upper West Side have been flocking to this baby store for everything from car seats and cribs to toys and gear.

24. West Side Kids

One of our favorite local toy stores, this Upper West Side shop—a mainstay since 1981—sells old-school toys that are carefully curated by the mother-daughter owners.

25. Westsider Rare & Used Books

Westsider Rare & Used Books is a super cool place to find second-hand books, including books for children and young adults. The ever-changing inventory makes it a perfect weekly stop to search for new treasures.

26. 97th Street Greenmarket

At the 97th Street Greenmarket, visitors can stock up on local produce and also enjoy open-air entertainment, cooking demos, and more fun.

27. Zabar’s

Established on the Upper West Side in 1934, Zabar's has been a neighborhood mainstay ever since. This old-school grocery store is a big draw to foodie families and people looking for gourmet goodies. Don’t forget the bagels or a treat!

RELATED20 Must-Visit Cafes, Sweet Shops, and Restaurants in NYC

Things to do on the Upper West Side with kids: Baked by Melissa
Baked by Melissa serves handcrafted, mini cupcakes and macarons in a variety of always-changing flavors. Photo courtesy of Baked by Melissa

Family-Friendly Upper West Side Restaurants

28. Baked By Melissa

Baked By Melissa is the perfect spot for a sweet treat when it’s a little too close to dinner. Its adorably bite-sized cupcakes come in various flavors, from red velvet to cookies and cream, chocolate-chip pancake, and more. They’re all colorfully decorated, too.

29. Alice’s Tea Cup

Alice's Tea Cup is a fantastical destination inspired by the classic Alice in Wonderland. Not only does it have a delicious menu of teas and homemade scones with jam and cream, plus other goodies, but it also offers a charming storybook-like environment. Purchase whimsical merchandise like wands, jewelry, and fairy wings on-site to add to the fun.

30. Milk Bar

Want a unique treat that will surely cure your sweet tooth? Milk Bar undoubtedly does the trick. From its famous Cereal Milk ice cream, inspired by the milk on the bottom of a cereal bowl, to its cake and shake duo, these sweets are impressive.

31. Good Enough To Eat

Brunch at this farm-to-table restaurant is practically a right of passage for Upper West Side kids and mom and dad will welcome the strong, freshly brewed coffee alongside scratch-mate comfort classics.

Best Upper West Side Hotels for Families

32. Hotel Beacon

One- and two-bedroom suites are available with a sofa bed in the living room. There are also small kitchens, so you can save money by preparing your own meals with groceries you buy from Fairway Market or Trader Joe's, which are both within easy walking distance.

33. Arthouse Hotel

This boutique Upper West Side hotel offers spacious rooms and a trio of restaurants on the ground floor. Book a deal that includes Patis pastries and coffee for breakfast. Fido is even welcome to come along, too.

34. The Lucerne Hotel

Choose from standard hotel rooms or spacious suites at this Upper West Side hotel, which is just a block from the American Museum of Natural History in a beautiful, landmark building.

A version of this post was published in 2011 and 2016; it has since been updated. Allison Tibaldi contributed additional reporting.

Unless noted, photos by Jody Mercier

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