New York is famed for its endless energy, earning the appropriate nickname as the City that Never Sleeps. While this phenomenal city is often on the bucket list of the young and carefree, it is also a surprisingly family friendly destination. A holiday to the Big Apple is sure to leave the kids breathless, full to the brim with peanut butter sandwiches and giant sodas. So in honour of New York City’s diversity, we thought we’d throw the spotlight on our top five things to do and see for families.
The beautiful gardens of Central Park cover over 840 acres, right in the centre of Manhattan. Spending a day in the park will be a highlight for the family with a bounty of activities to enjoy. The Central Park Zoo is always a popular one, with a variety of animals to see including polar bears, snow leopards and red pandas. Little ones will appreciate a walk through the Tisch Children’s Zoo featuring a barnyard full of friendly sheep, alpacas and ducks. In winter, you can grab the ice skates and venture to Wollman Rink. For those who feel a little wobbly, catch a lesson or two from the skating school. In summer, the Delacourte Theatre hosts Shakespeare in the Park. One of New York’s beloved summer traditions, you can enjoy classic Shakespearean plays with free tickets available on the day of the performances. The Abraham and Joseph Spector playground is the largest in the park and can be found on 86th street.
One of the most iconic attractions of New York is the bustling entertainment sector of Times Square. The neon lights of the ever buzzing electronic billboards will entrance you as you discover one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. Times Square is rather full of family friendly things to do and see. Between the Disney store, the giant Toys R Us and the 3 storey M&M World solely dedicated to America’s favourite candy, you will be in awe of the fantastic shopping opportunities. There’s also a Madam Tussauds where you can catch a photo with your favourite star or take the kids to see the fascinating and downright outrageous exhibits at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. End the day with a tasty Italian dinner from Carmine’s restaurant, but remember the portions here are family sized - which translates to BIG.
The Broadway Theatre District can be found around Times Square and includes 40 professional theatres in Manhattan. There is a wide range of kid friendly shows, plays, dances and musicals on all year round. Take the kids to see one of the award winning musicals such as The Lion King, Wicked or Annie. For a unique experience, dance your way through a loud performance by Stomp. Little ones can be entertained with a play like Berenstain Bears or Peter and the Starcatcher. These world class shows can be enjoyed by all ages.
Made famous by the giant Christmas tree that adorns the building each year, the Rockefeller Centre holds all sorts of surprises. Each winter, you’ll find one of the city’s most popular ice skating rink here. Another fun activity for the family, particularly if you have older children or teenagers is the NBC Studio Tour. Be taken inside the studios to see real live sets and learn behind the scenes cinematic secrets. Have your photo taken at the news desk and even have a go telling the weather in front of the green screen. Seventy floors high, you’ll find the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Here you can experience three viewing decks that offer 360 degree views across this magnificent city.
Museums & Art Galleries
New York has a fantastic range of family friendly museums and art galleries to visit. The American Museum of Natural History is a great place to start. Children will love exploring the two giant halls of dinosaur fossils or touring the Rose Centre for Earth and Space. For a treat, take the family on the Night at the Museum Tour to see the real exhibits that the characters in the Ben Stiller hit movie were based on. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is perfect for little ones with specially designed interactive activities for kids. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art should also be on the list with many free kids programs available. There’s Storytime in the Nolan Library for 3-7 year olds or enjoy art making activities at the Start with Art classes.