New York City: 6 Fun Activities with Kids

Read on for six of the best activities in Manhattan.

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New York City is a fabulous place for a family trip. There are endless possibilities for just about any interests–you can’t go wrong! Here are just a few of my favorite kid and family activities while visiting the Big Apple.

1. High Line

New York City’s High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It’s a really fun walk with plants and nature, art and design, as well as up close view of NYC architecture.

If you stay in Time Square, the High Line is an easy mile walk southwest and that entrance is on 34th and 12th. (See post on What to Eat and Where to Stay in NYC.) There are many stairway entrances all the way down the High Line but this is the northernmost entrance and includes ramp access for those with strollers.

2. Central Park Playgrounds

This 843-acre park is literally the center of New York City and needs no introduction. There are so many things to do in Central Park alone. With kids, you could spend the entire day or several entire days, exploring the park.

This 843-acre park is literally the center of New York City and needs no introduction. There are so many things to do in Central Park alone. With kids, you could spend the entire day or several entire days, exploring the park.

There are a number of playgrounds within Central Park. Our two favorites are Heckscher Playground on the southwest side and Adventure Playground a bit northwest of Heckscher.

Heckscher Playground is a nice playground with your typical park stuff, slides and climbing areas. There are restrooms here as well. If you are traveling to New York City in the summer, there is a wonderful splash-pad, zero-depth water area for kids to cool off so be sure to bring a change of clothes!

Adventure Playground is a fun park, great for kids full of imagination. There are maze-like structures, tunnels, a fortress and sand–all to get little imaginations working.

Tip: Pick up some to-go sandwiches or other picnic foods and have a nice picnic anywhere in Central Park. There are countless rolling hills for youngsters to roll down and explore while you take it all in and enjoy your family time.

3. Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza) is an observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center that gives you 360-degree views of the city. It is a great place for family photos (your own or from a photographer up on the deck).

Kids will be in awe of the sheer size and magnitude of the City, and if you save this visit until closer to the end of your trip, you can point out all the sites you’ve seen during your travels.

Kids will be in awe of the sheer size and magnitude of the City, and if you save this visit until closer to the end of your trip, you can point out all the sites you’ve seen during your travels.

Though Top of the Rock is slightly lower than the Empire State Building, it is also a bit further North, so it offers a bit better views of Central Park and the rest of the NYC skyline, in my opinion.

4. American Museum of Natural History

There are myriad museums in NYC, and it’s a great way to spend an entire day–visiting one or two museums that the family picks out together.

The American Museum of Natural History is a great choice for families of all ages, as there truly is something for everybody.

Favorite exhibits for our kids include the Fossil section and the Earth and Space Center and invites interaction. The Hayden Planetarium is also cool for kids of all ages–the auditorium shows a realistic projection of the planets, stars and galaxies.

5. Victoria Gardens Amusement Park

Victoria Gardens Amusement Park is on the southeast area of Central Park is a great way to spend a few hours or a full day with the family. This amusement parked is geared toward babies up to about 11 or 12, I would say, as most of the rides are smaller versions of large amusement park rides, though certainly the entire family can have fun.

I like that even little kids can enjoy the rides and they allow parents to ride right along with them, making it a great way to include different aged children. Infants and small children can enjoy the mini roller coaster and other rides.

You can either pay an entry fee and pay per ride, or buy an unlimited rides pass (must get one for each child and adult), which then includes the entry fee.

6. Central Park Zoo

In my opinion, particularly on your first visit to NYC, no visit with kids to Central Park would be complete without visiting the Central Park Zoo.

The zoo is not free for adults or children, but it’s a fun, engaging way to spend half a day. Try to take the kids to a Sea Lion or Penguin feeding so they can see the animals out in the open.

(Alternative for older children: If you have adventurous, active kids over the age of 7, consider visiting the Bronx Zoo instead. The have the Treetop Adventure experience which includes fun obstacle courses through the trees and a zipline over the river.)

For more New York City planning, see: