New York is so much more than the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and other popular Manhattan attractions. And, if you’re traveling to New York with kids, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is also plenty for you to do!
New York City is comprised of five boroughs: The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan. Just outside of New York City, you’ll find Long Island, Rockland County, Orange County, and Westchester County, all within an hour’s drive.
If you visit New York but only stay within Manhattan, you’re doing yourself and your family an injustice by not getting the full New York experience. So hop on a bus, a train, or in a car and venture out a little further. You’ll discover some of these amazing New York destinations that your kids will be talking about for years.
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10 things to do in New York with Kids
Here’s how to get the most of out visiting NYC with kids – from museums to nature and adventure parks.
New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY
If your kids love science, experiments, and hands-on museums, you’ll want to visit The New York Hall of Science. The New York Hall of Science is easily accessible using public transportation. You can jump on the 7 train to the 111th Street subway station, and it’s only a short walk away.
At the New York Hall of Science, there is something for children of all ages. Older kids can invent things in the design lab. For younger kids, you’ll find Preschool Place, an area with multi-sensory activities for children under 6. Outside of the included exhibits and experiences, there is also a 3D Theater, mini-golf, and a science playground.
The Hall of Science is in the perfect location for a full day of family fun. After spending a couple of hours at the museum, you can walk to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In the park, you’ll find some additional attractions including the Queens Zoo.
New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Is your child fascinated with trains? Does the history of New York City and the transit system interest you? If so, then hop on over to Brooklyn to check out the New York Transit Museum.
What makes this museum fascinating is that it’s located inside a decommissioned subway station from 1936. You enter the museum using the original subway station entrance. Show your ticket to an employee who is sitting inside the original ticket booth and then walk through the old turnstiles.
On the main floor of the museum, you can sit on a replica of an old NYC bus, view vintage signage, and learn about how the fare collection has changed over the years. But downstairs is where the magic happens! On the lowest level of the museum, you can walk onto subway cars dating back to 1907. The museum itself is small but the experience is worth every penny.
Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
If you came to New York City but did not visit Coney Island, you’d be missing out on such an important part of New York City’s history, not to mention a lot of fun. Hop on the D, F, N, and Q trains headed towards Brooklyn and take them to the very last stop. The Coney Island Boardwalk, attractions, and beach are just a 5-minute walk from there.
Take a ride on Dino’s Wonder Wheel, Coney Island’s Ferris wheel which was built in 1920 and has become a New York City landmark. Afterward, visit Luna Park, an amusement park with modern games and rides. Inside Luna Park, you’ll find The Cyclone, Coney Island’s iconic wooden roller coaster which dates back to 1926.
When you’re hungry, you can head over to Nathan’s Famous, home of the 4th of July hot dog eating contest. The restaurant and its famous hot dogs date back to 1916. If you’re not a fan of hot dogs, there are plenty of other places to eat in Coney Island. A short walk from the famous Coney Island attractions is the New York Aquarium. Whatever you fancy, there is no shortage of things to do in Coney Island.
Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY
The Bronx Zoo, home to over 700 species of animals, is one of the largest zoos in the United States. With over 265 acres of land to explore, you’ll want to bring your most comfortable walking shoes. In addition to the typical animal exhibits, there is a children’s zoo with a petting zoo, a playground, and plenty of interactive activities.
After the children’s zoo, you can walk through the butterfly garden, or one of the zoo’s most popular attractions, Jungle World. When you need to rest your feet, ride the open-air monorail and watch the animals roam. If you’re looking for a different zoo experience, you can take your kids to ride the carousel, take a nature trek, or do a ropes course at Treetop Adventure.
Bear Mountain State Park, Tompkins Cove, NY
If hiking and exploring nature is more your family’s thing, then rent a car and head on up to Bear Mountain State Park, about an hour north of NYC. For those who love to picnic, there are plenty of picnic areas scattered through the park, or you can sit on the large open grass area. This grass area also doubles as a play area for recreational sports like soccer and American football.
If you love to fish, there is a beautiful large lake and access to river fishing. You can also rent a canoe to take onto the lake. There are hiking trails for all levels of experience and walkways along the lake for walking and biking. If you’re visiting in the summer, check out the swimming pool and the Trailside Museum and Zoo.
Planning a winter trip? Go ice skating or skiing. Hike, bike, or drive to the top of Bear Mountain to experience breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley. In the fall you can see some spectacular views of the fall foliage. Not ready to leave after just one day, rent a room at the Bear Mountain Inn.
Related read: Hiking Mohonk in New York’s Hudson Valley
Playland Park, Rye, NY
Playland Park has been a popular family destination since 1926, known mostly for its amusement park. Located right off the Long Island Sound, Playland Park also has a pool and a beach. If you’re a fan of wooden rollercoasters, you can take a ride on the historic Dragon Coaster which is one of Playland’s original rides.
The amusement park also includes a kiddie park with rides for smaller kids and some thrill rides for older kids. There are also areas for picnicking and boating. Only a short 40-minute drive from New York City, Playland Park is a great summer attraction. If you don’t have a car, you can take a 45-minute train ride from Grand Central Station.
Palisades Center, West Nyack, NY
The Palisades Center is a huge four-level shopping mall 30 minutes north of New York City. It has a large collection of attractions and restaurants that will keep your kids busy for hours. Inside The Palisades Center, you’ll find the world’s tallest indoor ropes course which spans all four levels of the mall.
If you’re traveling with a toddler, there’s a small practice rope course for them as well. Tucked away in the corner of the mall on the bottom level, you’ll find Billy Beez. Billy Beez is an indoor playground with some of the longest, steepest, craziest slides your kids have probably even been on.
If you’re a kid at heart, you’ll be happy to know that Billy Beez encourages parents to join in on the fun. For kids who like to drive, there is a speedway and bumper cars. If arcade games are more your kid’s style, there’s a Dave & Buster’s as well. Add an IMAX movie theater, a bowling alley, and an ice skating rink and your child will never want to leave the mall.
Legoland Theme Park and Resort, Goshen, NY
Did you know that New York has its own theme park? Opening its gate in the summer of 2021, Legoland Theme Park and Resort has been a wonderful addition to New York. If you’re staying in New York City and would rather take public transportation, you can hop on a Coach bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.
Legoland is the perfect addition to your New York adventure if you’re traveling with kids under 13. They won’t have to worry about being tall enough to ride at this theme park as most of the rides do not have a minimum height requirement and the ones that do have a minimum height of 36″, with a few exceptions.
While the theme park caters to young children, parents will also have fun riding with their kids. Stay for a day or spend the night at the Legoland Hotel. Visiting during the summer? Don’t forget your bathing suit! Legoland New York has a few water rides to cool off on a hot summer day.
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Splish Splash, Long Island, NY
You can’t have a list of fun things to do with kids in New York and not include a waterpark. Splish Splash, located 60 miles east of New York City, is one of the best waterparks in the greater New York City area. It has 20 waterslides and attractions. Cool down and relax in the lazy river or jump around in one of their two wave pools.
If you have kids who are daredevils and love thrills, they won’t be disappointed. There are several intense rides to choose from. When your kids get hungry from non-stop swimming and splashing, head to Johnny Rockets located inside the waterpark for the best burgers and shakes.
The Adventure Park, Long Island, NY
Calling all ropes course lovers to The Adventure Park in Long Island. If you’ve been looking for an activity to bond with your kids in New York, this is it. What makes The Adventure Park different from other ropes courses, is that its courses are aerial treetop courses.
Whether you are a beginning or an expert, there is a trail for you. There are 5 different levels of challenge, each color-coded. With 14 trails and 49 ziplines, The Adventure Park is easily a day-long activity. Children under 7, who are too young to climb the trails, can play in the Adventure Playground.
With this list of things to do with kids in New York, you may never make it to any of the more popular tourist attractions in Manhattan. You will however have experienced New York in a way many tourists have not and will be planning your next trip back to New York to do some of the things you never got around to. For more family travel tips and ideas, check out Traveling the West Way, a family travel blog.