You can even find our top picks for smaller family-friendly enclaves like Battery Park City, Williamsburg, Long Island City, Harlem, and beyond.
Money Saving Tips for Exploring NYC
It's no secret NYC can be an expensive spot for families, but we have an entire Guide to Free Things To Do in NYC, with all our top tips for making the most of NYC on a budget, plus 100 free things to do anytime in the city.
If you're booking several top attractions in New York City and looking to save money, consider purchasing a Go City All-Inclusive Pass, which includes discounted admission to One World Observatory, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Statue of Liberty, the American Museum of Natural History, and more.
Top Things To Do in NYC for Visitors
Best Things To Do in NYC with Kids By Age
Little Island is an innovative green space with tons of FREE programming. Photo by Liz Ligon
100 Best Things To Do in NYC with Kids
1. Visit the Little Island
New York's floating park brings a small, action-packed footprint and plenty of entertainment.
2. See the Dinos at AMNH
Peep the 122-foot-long titanosaur and many other prehistoric treasures at the American Museum of Natural History.
3. Kayak on the Hudson
Go kayaking on the Hudson, in the Harbor, on the East River, and more—most trips are FREE.
4. Get Into Showbiz
Go on an audition just for the heck of it.
Spend the day on Governors Island and visit Slide Hill. Photo courtesy of Governor's Island
5. Hit The Hills at Governors Island
Ride the longest slide in the city on Governors Island.
6. See the Statue of Liberty
Hop on a ferry to explore the Statue of Liberty and the museum in her honor.
7. Visit the Little Red Lighthouse
NYC's lone lighthouse, the Little Red Lighthouse, is even the star of a children's book.
8. Dance on FAO Schwarz's Giant Piano
Visit FAO Schwarz's flagship shop and dance on the Giant Piano. Located in the heart of Rockefeller Center, you can get a stunning view of the tree, too, if you time your visit right.
The Mermaid Parade is an annual delight for all ages. Photo by Raven Snook
9. March in the Mermaid Parade
An annual rite of summer, it takes over Coney Island for a seafaring day of fun.
10. Ride Le Carrousel
Climb on the enchanting French-inspired Le Carrousel in Bryant Park.
11. Enjoy Tea at The Plaza
Raise your pinkys and indulge in a rawther fancy tea at The Plaza.
12. Ride the Staten Island Ferry
Ride the Staten Island Ferry for FREE.
Climb the steps to the top of Central Park's Belvedere Castle for playtime and a spectacular view. Photo by Janet Bloom
13. Visit Belvedere Castle
Climb the steps at Central Park's Belvedere Castle. It's a worthy spot to explore in any season, though we love visiting the nearby Turtle Pond in warm weather.
14. Visit The Today Show
Wave to the cameras on The Today Show.
15. Ride the NYC Ferry
NYC's waterfront abounds with more kid-friendly ferry rides to beaches, playgrounds, and more.
16. Visit the Brooklyn Children's Museum
Founded in 1899, the Brooklyn Children's Museum is the oldest children's museum in the US, but it constantly reinvents itself to entertain new generations of NYC kids.
Queens' Fountain of the Fairs splash pad is a must-visit. Photo by Jody Mercier
17. Frolic in the Fountain of the Fairs
This splash pad at the foot of The Unisphere is cooling—and scenic—on a hot summer day.
18. Visit the Queens County Farm Museum
Get a taste of country life at the Queens County Farm Museum.
19. Explore the Queens Art Scene
Do a kid-friendly art crawl in Queens.
20. Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
See a WWll-era aircraft carrier, a NASA space shuttle, and more at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
21. Learn at MoMath
Head to the Museum of Mathematics for a crazy ride on the square-wheeled tricycle and other mind-blowing, math-inspired fun.
22. See a Broadway Show
When is the last time you saw a show on the Great White Way? Now's the time to book your tickets for its top shows.
No matter what new rides open, the Coney Island Cyclone is a must-visit at Luna Park. Photo courtesy of Luna Park
23. Scream on the Cyclone
Luna Park's Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster is about as classic as an amusement park ride gets. Of course, there are tons of other rides, fun, and games at the park, too.
24. Get Educated at NYSCI
There's plenty of geeky fun to enjoy at the New York Hall of Science.
25. See the Metropolitan Opera
Did you know you can catch a FREE summer concert by the Metropolitan Opera in an NYC park?
26. Central Park Rowboats
Ride the rowboats in Central Park or let a gondolier row for you!
Scale the 12-foot high climbing walls at Dumbo Boulders. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
27. Go Rock Climbing
Scale the outdoor climbing wall in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
28. Visit Legoland New York
This local theme park brings big-time fun to the Hudson Valley and makes for an easy day trip from the city...if you can resist the urge to stay plan to spring for a slumber party at the on-site hotel.
29. Ride the Roosevelt Island Tram
A MetroCard swipe is all you need to board the Roosevelt Island Tram.
30. Take in the View from the Empire State Building
Visit the top of the Empire State Building for an iconic, only-in-NYC view.
See the night sky at the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Photo courtesy of AMNH
31. Go Stargazing at the Hayden Planetarium
Peep the planetarium shows at the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
32. March in the Easter Parade
Show off your hat at the annual Midtown Manhattan Easter Parade.
33. See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Get up early to see the living nativity animals arrive for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and be sure to book tickets to a primetime performance of the iconic Christmas show, too.
34. Go Crazy at CMOM
Take your preschoolers to play at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.
Challenge your view of heights with a visit to One World Observatory. Photo by Jody Mercier
35. Marvel at the Views from One World Observatory
Marvel at the breathtaking view from One World Observatory.
36. Visit a Destination-Worthy NYC Playground
We've visited enough to rank our favorites. Will your rankings match ours?
37. Explore the Masterpieces at The Met
Spend a day exploring and sketching the treasures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
38. Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
This action-packed waterfront park is ripe for exploring from end to end.
Stroll through the grass and see the beautiful cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy of BBG
39. Peep the Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
An annual rite of spring, the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are a must-visit.
40. Explore Modern Masters at MoMA
There's plenty to explore beyond the galleries at MoMA.
41. See Snug Harbor
A cultural gem in Staten Island, a visit to the Chinese Scholar's Garden in Snug Harbor is well worth your time.
42. Visit the Prospect Park Zoo
Home to the ice-age-looking Pallas' Cat, playful baboons, and much more, the Prospect Park Zoo is little-kid friendly.
The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is a must in NYC! Photo by Jody Mercier
43. See a Miniature NYC at the NYBG Holiday Train Show
An annual holiday tradition, the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is worth visiting again and again.
44. Ice Skate at an Iconic NYC Ice Skating Rink
In the winter, go ice skating in Central Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park, and more.
45. See a Movie Under the Stars
A summer tradition, tons of flicks are streamed in city parks.
46. See the Nutcracker
Whether you opt for the classic at Lincoln Center or a smaller production, the ballet abounds during the holiday season.
What flavor will you choose from the unique combos at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory? Photo courtesy of the shop
47. Indulge in a Scoop at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Try all the flavors at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
48. Watch the Macy's Balloons Take Shape
Sure, you can see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but real New Yorkers know the fun starts hours earlier on the side streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History.
49. See the Totally Kid Carousel
Marvel at this kid-designed carousel in Riverbank State Park.
50. Go on a Culinary Tour at the Queens Night Market
This food fest lets you feast your way around the world, noshing on bites from more than 100 vendors each week during its summer and fall run.
The over-the-top displays in Dyker Heights are a Christmas season must-see. Photo courtesy of Dyker Heights Lights
51. Be Awed by the Dyker Lights
Walk through the eye-popping holiday lights in Dyker Heights.
52. Explore Battery Park City
This family-friendly enclave is packed with parks from South Cove to Penny Park.
53. Wander Through the Queens Zoo
The Andean bears are always a playful distraction at this gem of a zoo.
54. Hike The High Line
Take selfies with the tourists while walking the length of The High Line, NYC's elevated greenway.
Take a dip in the floating pool in the Bronx. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks
55. Dive in at the Floating Lady
Swim in the FREE floating barge pool in the Bronx.
56. Learn Trapeze
Even if you're not going to join the circus, you can take a trapeze lesson along the Hudson.
57. See Free Shakespeare in the Park
Enter the lottery, wait in line, or do whatever you can to nab a coveted ticket to Shakespeare in the Park.
58. Search for a Secret Playground
Locating the hole-in-the-wall Downing Street Playground is half the fun.
59. Meet the Muppets
The Museum of the Moving Image is home to Jim Henson's furry friends and more hands-on, kid-friendly, pop-culture-inspired fun.
See the eye-popping assortment of candy at the classic treat spot Economy Candy. Photo by Skye Greenfield
60. Treat a Sweet Tooth at Economy Candy
Pick up old-time treats at the historic Economy Candy.
61. Climb Aboard The Beast
Get soaked during a speedboat ride on The Beast.
62. Go Fishing
Did you know you can go fishing in the East River and a handful of other waterways in NYC?
63. Play in the Summer Streets
July and August bring the annual car-free celebration dubbed Summer Streets. Now an all-boroughs experience, walk, ride, scoot, and bike down miles of streets on select Saturdays while enjoying tons of FREE programming and giveaways.
Dip your toes in the sand at Rockaway Beach. Photo courtesy of NYCGo
64. Hit the Beach
Ride the ferry to Sandy Hook Beach or Rockaway Beach.
65. Visit the Skyscraper Museum
Here, you'll learn about the city's towering architectural feats.
66. See the Giant Buddha
You'll find it at the Mahayana Temple.
67. Explore Jewish Specialties
Have knishes and egg creams at Yonah Schimmel's.
Gaze at a unicorn at the Cloisters. Photo by Debra via Flickr
68. Find the Unicorns at The Cloisters
These majestic creatures find their home in the enchanting museum surrounded by a beautiful park.
69. See the Big Apple Circus
Save the date for late fall when this hometown circus sets up its Big Top at Lincoln Center, and nab your tickets for the wildly entertaining troupe.
70. Celebrate Lunar New Year
Whether you mark the occasion with firecrackers, lion dancing, or one of several parades, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and neighborhoods to do it in.
71. Go Roller Skating
From Prospect Park to Central Park and all the way north to Harlem, there are plenty of outdoor roller rinks to explore.
Hit up Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks
72. Tackle the Slides at Billy Johnson Playground
This playground's iconic granite slide is so popular that a renovation added a tot-sized one.
73. Root, Root, Root for the Yankees, Mets, and More
Enjoy America's pastime at a Brooklyn Cyclones game or catch big-league action in the Bronx or Queens.
74. Play in the Spray
Get soaked in the Washington Square Park fountain.
75. Enjoy City Island's Seaside Charm
The Bronx's City Island is a little slice of New England within city limits.
Buy some blooms in the Flower District. Photo by Alex Lopez for NYCGo
76. Buy a Bouquet
Pick up buds in the Flower District.
77. See at Ticker Tape Parade
Everyone loves a parade, and they're even better if they come with a shower of confetti in the Canyon of Heroes.
78. See the Sharks
You never know what lurks off the shores of Coney Island, but you can get a clear view of the sharks at the beachfront New York Aquarium.
79. Hit the Sledding Hills
Nothing beats a snowy day in Central Park.
Take in the views at Gantry Park in Long Island City. Photo by Will Steacy for NYCGo
80. Explore the LIC Waterfront
Walk this neighborhood's length, hitting all the playgrounds along the way.
81. Go Horseback Riding
Saddle up and learn to ride at a variety of stables throughout the five boroughs.
82. Go Camping
Pitch a tent within NYC's limits at a local park or try glamping at Camp Rockaway or Governors Island.
83. Engage in Spy Games
Pretend you're 007 as you explore Spyscape, a museum dedicated to spying.
Ellis Island is full of history and worth saving time to explore during your Statue of Liberty visit. Photo by Jody Mercier
84. Visit Ellis Island
Look up relatives on a visit to Ellis Island.
85. Take a Trip to the Tenement Museum
Dive into city history at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
86. See a Rolling Show
Watch the Dance Skaters perform in Central Park.
87. Go Skiing
Cross-country ski down a city street or at one of these more traditional venues.
Watch the beautiful model boats set sail. Photo courtesy of Central Park Conservatory
88. Captain a Boat on the Conservatory Water
Sail model boats on the Conservatory Water in Central Park.
89. Snap a Celebrity Selfie at Madame Tussauds
Pose with a wax celebrity at the famed Times Square wax museum.
90. Romp in Chelsea Waterside Playground
The colorful Hudson River rainbow pipefish is the centerpiece of the recently remodeled Chelsea Waterside Playground.
91. Tackle an Adventure Course
Dare to soar side-by-side above the Bronx River on the zip line at the Treetop Adventure Park in the Bronx Zoo.
The Staten Island Greenbelt has a variety of trails to explore whether you're a toddler or an experienced hiker. Photo courtesy of Mommy Poppins
92. Hit the Trails
Go hiking in the Staten Island Greenbelt.
93. Fly a Kite
Central Park's Sheep Meadow is a perfect breezy backdrop.
94. Explore the Panorama of the City of New York
This famed attraction is the centerpiece of the Queens Museum.
95. Catch a Sunset from Edge
This Hudson Yards observation deck is the highest open-air viewing platform in the Western Hemisphere and a perfect spot to snap a selfie with the Empire State Building in the background.
Dig into dim sum at Pacificana in Brooklyn's Chinatown. Photo by Kate Glicksberg for NYCGo
96. Sample Dim Sum
Brooklyn's Chinatown, aka Sunset Park, offers some tasty options.
97. Go Under-the-Sea
Ride a fish at the stunning, sea-themed SeaGlass Carousel.
98. See Santa at Macy's Santaland
No matter what you celebrate, a trip to the iconic Macy's Santaland is a holiday treat.
99. Share a Secret at Grand Central Terminal's Whispering Wall
Grand Central Terminal's architecture allows you to share secrets and scientific knowledge at this spot.
100. Go for a Bike Ride
Bike the Hudson River Greenway on Manhattan's west side to the George Washington Bridge, now part of the Empire Trail.
This article, first published in January 2008, is regularly updated to reflect the changing landscape of NYC.
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