From the thrill and the buzz of Times Square, Coney Island, and the Palisades Centre (one of America’s largest shopping malls, complete with ice-shaking rink and bowling alley) to Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, and a Major League Baseball game, NYC is one place you and your kids won’t be twiddling your thumbs in. In fact, we can guarantee you just won’t have enough time to tick off all of the child-friendly boxes. Two questions, however, precede all others: are we there yet, are we there yet?
It’s obvious, we agree, but it’s also free, so why beat around the bush? Truth be told, Times Square is probably the biggest outdoor shopping mall and thrill-list centre in the world. You want noise from all sides? You got it. You want eye-popping distractions? Yep, you got those, too. A major commercial intersection, tourist attractions and entertainment centre in Midtown Manhattan, Times Square is renowned for many things, one of which is that with a daily footfall of approximately 400,000 people, it’s easily one of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas. In other words, it’s as exciting as a free tourist attraction can be, but don’t let the little ones out of your sight.
Further details: https://www.timessquarenyc.org/
Manhattan’s Chinatown has an estimated population of 100,000, making it an area with one of the highest concentrations of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere; it is also one of the world’s oldest Chinese indigenous districts, dating from the 1860s. These days, Chinatown is an evocative, exciting hive of activity, shopping and restaurants. One of the best things to undertake here is a food walking tour, of which the stops along the way will make it far more interesting to the little ones than any historical or cultural outings. And think of all the tasty snacks/treats, too.
Further details: https://www.nycgo.com/boroughs-neighborhoods/manhattan/chinatown/
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
It may be a foreign language to some, but for New Yorkers (at least) Major League Baseball – the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the US and Canada – is the most highly attended sport in the US. New York has two Major League Baseball teams: New York Yankees (the most successful professional sports team in the US) and New York Mets. Getting a ticket to a game from either of the teams takes time and effort, but the experience of seeing a game by such giants of sport is unforgettable. Don’t forget the hot dogs!
Further details: https://www.mlb.com/yankee
Believe it or not, Coney Island is deemed a New York neighbourhood. Home to the world-renowned boardwalk, the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team, the New York Aquarium, the Luna Park amusement park (which features almost 20 attractions, rides, and games), the acclaimed fast-food joint, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and the famous Coney Island Cyclone (a bone-shaker roller coaster that can reach a maximum speed of 60 mph), this place is catnip for kids. The truth is, however, that even adults can get a helluva kick out of letting their guard down here. You’re never too old to have a happy childhood, are you?
Further details: https://www.coneyisland.com/
Celebrating its 120th year, the Bronx Zoo – the largest metropolitan zoo in the US by area – is home to about 6,000 animals and more than 700 species across over 260 acres of hardwood forest space and naturalistic habitats. As well as being one of the best places to go to view animals in an appropriate environment, if one of your children has a birthday party on the horizon they will be well catered for with a range of hands-on activities, supervised animal encounters and themed celebrations in a private party room. Another special treat for kids is the Butterfly Garden, a 170-ft-long maze with a central greenhouse wherein over 1,000 butterflies flutter by.
Further details: https://bronxzoo.com/
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN
Founded in 1973, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan welcomes over 300,000 visitors annually, and as most of those are people under 10 years of age you can safely bet that your little tykes won’t be overshadowed. Its mission statement is “to be the stewards of early childhood and to help all our youngest citizens grow and develop into their best selves.” To which we can only say good on ya.
Further details: https://cmom.org
With an estimated 38 million visitors annually, Central Park is the most frequented urban park in the US. It is also one of the most filmed locations in the world, so as you walk through it with your brood don’t be too surprised to see the cameras rolling. Yet there is much more than films, TV shows and documentaries being made. Covering over 840 acres and designated as a National Historic Landmark, Central Park has many attractions. These include beautiful walking areas (Ramble and Lake, Sheep Meadow), amusement spaces (Wollman Rink, the Carousel) and the wonderful pedestrian esplanade that is the Central Park Mall. You’ll love it so much you won’t want to leave. Until, that is, you tell the kids about the Palisades Centre…
Further details: https://www.centralpark.com/
Less than 30 minutes from the hub of New York City resides the eighth-largest (by total area) shopping mall in the US. With over 20 million visitors per year, the four-floor Palisades Center has almost 220 stores, including Macy’s, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Disney Store, Foot Locker (separate adults and kids shops), and Barnes & Noble. On the fourth floor is a 21-screen (yes, 21 screens!) cinema, an ice rink, and entry to the 85-ft-tall Palisades Climb Adventure obstacle course (hey kids – watch dad make a fool of himself!). The third floor, meanwhile, has over 15 sit-down restaurants and a Ferris Wheel. Anything else? Oh, yes, we like this – every Tuesday here is Tykes Tuesday, when activities include storytelling, free concerts, painting sessions and much more.
Further details: https://www.palisadescenter.com/
AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
You probably don’t need any further recommendation than to know that the American Museum of Natural History is the largest of its kind in the world. Located very close to Central Park, the museum has over 40 permanent exhibition spaces, a library and a planetarium. Oh – and did we mention that it contains over 34 million specimens of animals, fossils, plants, minerals, human remains and meteorites?
Further details: https://www.amnh.org/
AMERICAN DOLL PLACE
What’s not for your child to love here? Dolls, outfits, child-friendly food and fare? Personal shopping, a concierge, a doll hospital admission department? If you have a youngster in your NYC entourage, then a visit here has to be on the cards. Located in Rockerfella Plaza, this is heaven for the under 10s (or even slightly older). The plot spoiler? This store is all about dolls that represent the best of your child’s self-expression and identity. When here, they can design their own doll, bring their doll to the Doll Hair Salon, and – in the words of the store itself – “enter a world like no other.”
Further details: https://www.americangirl.com/