Family Fun in the City That Never Sleeps

New York City, the concrete jungle where dreams are made, offers a plethora of opportunities for families to create lasting memories. From iconic landmarks to diverse culinary delights and family-friendly accommodations, the Big Apple has something for everyone. In this guide, you will explore the best activities, food, and lodging options for families in New York City.

Family-Friendly Activities in New York

Children often get discounted attraction tickets in New York, making tourist cards a smart choice for cost control. Depending on your kids’ energy levels, consider daily sightseeing cards for an action-packed trip or attraction-specific cards for a more relaxed, savings-oriented experience. 

Central Park it is a good start with your family, an adventure in the heart of Manhattan. This sprawling oasis offers endless opportunities for fun, including picnics, paddle boating, and even a visit to the Central Park Zoo. The Central Park Conservancy often hosts family-friendly events and workshops, so be sure to check their schedule. If you travel at Christmas you can enjoy ice skating in the same park.

A very good option is to go to a musical or a show. Most events are suitable for audiences over 4 years old, but it is always advisable to check the recommended age of the show and the duration. We recommend these shows:

  • Aladdin: A highly dynamic musical where Jasmine, Aladdin, and the Genie captivate audiences of all ages.
  • The Lion King: Fantastic for all ages, although, like the movie, it includes some darker scenes such as Mufasa’s death or the elephant graveyard.
  • Wicked: Despite the witch theme and some darker set designs, Wicked is suitable for children. However, it’s quite lengthy and recommended for kids aged 8 and older.
  • Blue Man Group: One of the most entertaining and surprising shows for families (recommended for ages 3 and up), with no dialogue but a guaranteed spectacle!

A theme park that we recommend is Legoland, the newly opened Legoland theme park in the state of New York is just a 1.5-hour drive from the city, with round-trip buses available. It’s divided into seven distinct themed worlds, offering dozens of attractions and shows. Additionally, there’s a Lego-themed hotel for an immersive experience. Legoland New York’s attractions are designed with children aged 2 to 12 in mind.

If your children want to enjoy in a more relaxed way, there is the option of visiting the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, designed specifically for kids, this museum encourages hands-on learning through interactive exhibits, workshops, and art activities. It’s a perfect place for children to unleash their creativity.

You can also see Winnie the Pooh in NY Public Library, the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals are on display at the New York Public Library’s 5th Avenue location. Many people are unaware of this, as they are located in the library’s children’s section. 

Exploring the amusement park and Coney Island Beach is a must-do activity with children in New York, especially when the weather is pleasant. You can enjoy everything from a refreshing swim at the beach to thrilling rides at Luna Park. In your visit to Coney Island multiple times, it’s always a guaranteed hit. Just make sure to check the opening dates beforehand since the beach is always open access but not the park attraction. While strolling around, you can savor the iconic hot dogs at Nathan’s, a quintessential spot to enjoy hot dogs in New York. It all began at Coney Island with a humble street stand, and now they’ve built an empire around hot dogs, extending their reach worldwide, especially in New York.

Finally, it is also worth mentioning the Bronx Zoo, head to the Bronx for a wild day at the Bronx Zoo. With over 6,000 animals representing nearly 700 species, it’s one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world. Don’t forget to visit the Congo Gorilla Forest and the Wild Asia Monorail.

Family-Friendly Dining in New York

Before thinking about a place with a plate and spoon to go to eat, it is also a very good option if the weather is nice to take a tablecloth and food in a tupper to go for a picnic in Central Park. It is another way to enjoy peace with nature and with children. 

If you are going with very young children we recommend Friday’s, Dallas BBQ, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster. If your companions are a little older you can have the option of going to eat at Dave & Buster (42nd Street), which has a play area, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (based on the movie Forrest Gump) in Times Square is quite an experience, especially if the children have seen the movie.
If the kids are at an older age, they’ll be happy to go for pizza or burgers, and New York is the perfect place for that. 5 Napkin Burger, John’s Pizzeria or Lombardi’s Pizza are good places to eat with teenagers. You can also try Carmine’s, a family-run Italian restaurant with seafood, meat dishes, pasta and pizza. Everything is made to share and is perfect for kids to explore new flavors and not leave whole dishes untasted.

Tip: In New York, you can breastfeed wherever and whenever you want by law. When the weather is nice, you’ll always find a nice spot in a park.

Family-Friendly Lodging in New York

If you’re traveling with infants or very young children, choosing an apartment as your accommodation is likely the most practical option for several reasons. New York hotel rooms are often compact, with some lacking space for a travel crib. Moreover, when your little ones are asleep, you’ll need to be mindful of noise, which can be challenging in a small room. Another perk of renting an apartment is the flexibility to enjoy breakfast and dinner in a relaxed home environment, whether you opt for prepared meals or prefer to cook your own.

If you prefer a hotel, some hotels they recommend in New York with children or babies are:

  • Hotel Beacon (Upper West Side)
  • Novotel Times Square
  • Omni Berkshire Place (Midtown East)
  • Hilton Times Square
  • Hotel Gansevoort (Meatpacking District)
  • Lotte New York Palace (Midtown East)
  • Row NYC (Times Square)
  • TRYP by Wyndham Times Square

Tip: If you’re traveling with an infant who requires a crib, it’s advisable to inquire whether the hotel provides one at no additional cost. Be sure to request it when making your reservation and reach out to the accommodation before your trip to confirm its availability. While bringing a travel crib might mean an extra piece of luggage, it can provide peace of mind by ensuring your baby has a comfortable place to sleep.

Choosing The Right Neighborhood

Manhattan boasts several family-friendly neighborhoods, such as the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Battery Park City, and Gramercy. The Financial District is another option with good deals and a relatively quiet ambiance.

However, the most popular area remains Times Square and its surroundings. Keep in mind that it’s also the most bustling, with constant activity 24/7. So, staying in this area might be more enjoyable for families with older children than those with babies or very young kids.

In Brooklyn, consider looking for apartments in Cobble Hill, Greenpoint, Carroll Gardens, and Park Slope. For hotels, Downtown Brooklyn offers many options, although it may be less familiar, it provides good accommodation deals.

In Queens, the Long Island City neighborhood stands out with riverfront playgrounds, supermarkets, restaurants, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Mobility with children

We recommend downloading the New York City map on Google Maps so you can access it offline whenever you need it, without requiring an internet connection.

Taking the subway is a convenient option, but it can be challenging if you have a baby stroller, as there are many stairs, and elevators are not always available. In the New York City subway, children under 44 inches (111cm) in height travel for free. Beyond that height, they pay the same fare as an adult.

Try to avoid rush hour, whether you’re using the subway or the bus, as it can be overwhelming due to the large number of people commuting to and from work. Generally, the morning rush hour lasts until 9:30, and the evening rush hour begins around 16:30 – 17:00.

For better mobility and more agility, it is always better to take a cab or an Uber but it is unlikely that they have baby seats. If you ask for an Uber you can request the baby seat through the app.

Tourist cards in New York

Many of the activities we will suggest with children in New York City are free of charge. However, in the case of attractions such as museums or observatories, admission is usually included in the city’s tourist cards. However, if you are traveling with young children, please note that the children’s version of the cards starts at age 3. For children under that age, there are no cards. The reason is that most attractions offer free admission until age 2 and it wouldn’t make sense to spend money on a card.

  • New York CityPASS Card. The children’s card ranges from ages 6 to 17. The price for adults 18 and older is $129 and for children 6 to 12 years old $109.
  • New York Pass Card. The children’s card ranges from ages 3 to 12. The price varies as you can take the card on different days. For adults, it is from $159, and for children from $119.
  • Go New York Explorer Pass. The children’s card ranges from ages 3 to 12. This card is for attractions and depends on the price of the attractions you want. The price for adults is from $89 and for children from $74.
  • Sightseeing Pass Card. The children’s card ranges from ages 3 to 12. This card is for attractions and depends on the price of the attractions you want. The price for adults is from $79 and for children from $69.

Conclusion about family plans in New York

In conclusion, New York City is a fantastic destination for family vacations, offering a wide range of activities, culinary delights, and lodging options to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re exploring Central Park, enjoying a slice of classic New York pizza, or staying in a luxury hotel overlooking the city skyline, the Big Apple has something for every family member to enjoy. So pack your bags and get ready for a memorable adventure in the city that never sleeps.

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