New York Things to Do

Things to Do as a Family

New York City is full of activities and interesting places. It offers something for everyone, from shows to festivals and exhibits. We have scoured through the endless list of things to do in New York as a family to come up with the most exciting options.

Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tours

One of the best things to do in New York with the family is explore it through hop-on, hop-off tours. The city is a whirlwind of constant activity, and it can be challenging to navigate for first-timers. Visit all the iconic landmarks with a bus tour. Skip the stress of consulting your maps, finding your way through crowded subways and walking the streets on your own. These bus tours are a great way to discover the city, enjoy panoramic views, and save hours of your time.

There is a wide variety of bus tours to choose from. Pick one that ticks off all your boxes and goes to all the places you find most interesting.

Visit Governors Island

To experience New York like no other, a trip to Governors Island is a must. The former military base is only 800 yards away from Manhattan, is easily reachable by ferry, and offers family fun! Aside from the endless number of play zones and play structures ripe for exploration, hammocks are available for those who would like to kick back and relax.

Adults, as well as kids, can enjoy 5 miles of bike lanes. All the running around, playing, and walking can quickly leave you hungry but don’t worry; numerous food trucks offer a variety of delicious food. Or you can do what some locals do and bring a picnic.

Take the Staten Island Ferry

Yes, the Staten Island Ferry is present in every guidebook and listicle about the Big Apple, but there’s a reason that its spot is well-deserved. Offering unrivalled views of the city’s famed harbour and the iconic Statue of Liberty, the one-way trip that lasts under 30 minutes is short enough to hold your little one’s rapt attention but long enough to admire the beautiful vistas.

Aside from the sights, another reason that makes the Staten Island Ferry a must is that you pay absolutely nothing for the ride. Yup, it’s FREE! Position yourself on the left side of the ship to get excellent views of both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Enjoy the rides at Luna Park

This amusement park by the beach welcomes thousands, especially during summer. Take the family here for the time of their lives. The plethora of rides will give everyone endless thrills. While younger kids might want to concentrate on the swings and the carousel, older children and adults can make a beeline for the Cyclone, the wooden rollercoaster that’s been making everyone scream and shout with fear and excitement for more than 90 years.

Don’t forget to try the fried clams on the boardwalk and Nathan’s hotdog on Surf Avenue. You won’t regret it!

Browse through an endless array of toys at FAO Schwartz

If there’s one thing that kids love and can’t live without, it’s toys! Make their dreams come true by bringing them to this iconic toy store. It may be a children’s store, but we’re confident even adults can let out the child in them at FAO Schwartz. It’s the perfect side trip when you go to the Central Park Zoo.

The store has just recently been brought back to life after closing in 2015. One of its most memorable pieces is the giant piano which has been featured in the movie Big.

Delight booklovers at the New York Public Library

One of the city’s most beloved landmarks, the New York Public Library’s main branch is renowned for Patience and Fortitude, the two marble lions that stand guard at the entrance of the building. Perfect for families who love reading, you can let your inner geek run free as you spend countless hours browsing through shelves of books. Architecture lovers will find the magnificent ceilings more than admirable.

There’s a myriad of things to do in the surrounding area, as it’s packed with bakeries, boutiques, and quirky shops.

Discover the magic of moviemaking at the Museum of the Moving Image

Take the whole family to this museum devoted to all things about the development of moving pictures, and together marvel at how moviemaking has come a long way, from its humble beginnings to the fantastic and realistic effects of today. Parents will be just as intrigued as their kids when they see the various exhibits that include projectors, cameras, video games, sound recording equipment, and old-fashioned telly sets.

Visitors get the chance to show off their skills at vintage console and arcade games, dub their voice-over dialogue from a film, and try being puppeteer.

Drop by Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is a must whenever in the Big Apple. Get ready to snap hundreds of photos on this walkway perched high above the East River, which boasts stunning vistas of Wall Street’s skyscrapers. Start on the Brooklyn side to get the best views, and remember to stay left so you can get excellent souvenir photos of the entire family with the famous skyline as a background.

If going during summer, remember to bring along a bottle of water and ensure your phone and cameras have enough batteries for the endless picture-taking.

Take chocoholics to the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant

Be ready to give in to an array of gooey and flavourful chocolate temptations when you step into Max Brenner. Throw caution to the wind and order as much as you like. It’s the perfect reward for well-behaved toddlers. They have an exhaustive menu of hot chocolates, and the mac ‘n cheese always gets a thumbs-up from the kids.

Don’t forget to try the O.M.G. Chocolate Chunk Cookie topped with whipped cream, melted chocolate, and berries, one of their bestsellers.

Catch a Disney musical production at the New Amsterdam Theatre

The theatre has been operating since 1903, making it one of the oldest on Broadway. Frozen, Aladdin, Mary Poppins, and The Lion King are only a few of the theatre productions. Enter its hallowed halls and see a wide array of marble sculptures that feature scenes from varying Shakespearean plays, characters from Hans Christian Andersen and Aesop’s Fables, and Wagner’s Operas.

Don’t worry if you can’t catch any show. They have group tours that cost only a few dollars headed by experienced guides who’ll tell you interesting facts, and perhaps hear a spooky ghost story or two.

See a Broadway show

Check which kid-friendly Broadway plays or musicals are available during your visit and see one. It’s an experience unlike any other, and it’s going to be particularly special for a child who loves such shows and musicals. Be aware though that theatres have a minimum age for attendance and the majority of shows, that age is six.

Nevertheless, you should check show and theatre specifics before purchasing tickets to avoid disappointment. Remember to buy early as tickets usually sell out far in advance.

Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Don’t worry if you can’t go ice skating in Bryant Park during winter because if you’re visiting in the cooler months from October until April, you can ice skate at Rockefeller Center. It’s best to arrive early as skating is on a first-come-first-served basis and the queue can get quite long, more so during the winter holidays.

Make a reservation through the VIP igloo to skip the lines and save time. Aside from ice skating, they also have other dining packages on offer.

Try the famous bagels

Have you ever been to New York if you have never tried the bagels? Don’t worry if one of the family members is gluten intolerant because they have a gluten-free version too. The perfect breakfast in New York, it’s traditional to have your bagel with smear and/or lox. Get it with coffee and you’re on your way to becoming a real New Yorker.

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