100 Things To Do in NYC With Kids Before They Grow Up

See the skyline from a whole new vantage point on the Roosevelt Island Tram. Photo courtesy of NYCGo
See the skyline from a whole new vantage point on the Roosevelt Island Tram. Photo courtesy of NYCGo
7/16/23 - By Anna Fader

Check out these iconic things to do in New York City with kids—including attractions, events, activities, museums, and more—that every native New Yorker really must experience!

The number of family-friendly happenings in New York City on any given day is enough to overwhelm most parents. Our city plays host to top-notch museums and art, creative play spaces, amazing parks and playgrounds, and even amusement parks, all of which pump out fun children's programming year-round. Even NYC restaurants get into the game, hosting dedicated kid's play spaces, events, and cool DIY opportunities like ice cream and chocolate making.

Yet, every year, our kids grow up on us a little more. They age out of one activity after another, whether it's storytime at the library, riding a favorite carousel, or just needing to hold our hand as they cross the street. That's why we're focused on finding ways to take advantage of all the amazing things to do in New York City with kids, creating meaningful memories as we go. I created this "life list" of all the things I want to experience with my kids before they grow up. It's not just the stuff that is fun to do, but also the stuff I think will be important to do with them—things that will shape them and be formative in their experience as little New Yorkers. We're also big fans of FREE fun, so we included as much of that as possible!

So, enjoy this list of 100 things to do in NYC with kids, whether you're a local or a visitor trying to experience the very best of our city. Now, off I go to wring every drop of goodness from the damp, dirty rag that is New York City.


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Exploring NYC Neighborhoods

If you're in the mood for a more local itinerary, check out our NYC Neighborhood Guides where we break down the best things to do by borough from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx.

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

100 things to do in NYC with kids: LIttle Island
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Slide Hill on Governors Island
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Mermaid Parade on Coney Island
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Belvedere Castle
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Fountain of the Fairs
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Coney Island Cyclone
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!

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Cliffs Dumbo Climbing Wall
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Hayden Planetarium at AMNH
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: One World Observatory
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Cherry Blossoms
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Holiday train show
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Dyker Lights
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: The Floating Lady Swimming Pool
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Economy Candy
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Rockaway Beach
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: The Cloisters
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Billy Johnson Playground
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.

100 things to do in NYC with Kids: Flowers in the flower district
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Gantry Plaza State 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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Ellis Island Registry Room
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.

100 things to do in NYC with Kids: Sail a model boat in Central Park
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Staten Island Greenbelt
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.

100 things to do in NYC with kids: Sunset Park, Brooklyn
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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