Planning a vacation to New York City? Offering possibly more top-notch attractions than any other American city, New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
NYC boasts an incredible variety of entertainment – meaning practically endless possibilities for your whole family to have an unforgettable vacation.
If you’re looking for things to do in NYC with kids, check out this list of our favorite kid-friendly activities, including…
- Luna Park at Coney Island
- Madame Tussauds New York
- LEGOLAND® Discover Center
- Top of the Rock
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square
- Yankee Stadium: Classic Tour
- and more…
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly attractions to your vacation itinerary.
Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions
Many of these great kid friendly attractions are available on the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from dozens of top New York attractions and save up to 50% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 25% off.
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Luna Park at Coney Island
Get four hours of unlimited rides at Luna Park on the historic boardwalk of Coney Island! A visit here truly evokes a real NYC childhood experience, one that adults and kids alike can appreciate.
Luna Park has rides the whole family can enjoy. From the more adventurous Sling Shot and Thunderbolt Rollercoaster, to the tamer B&B Carousel, there’s fun for everyone.
As a bonus, your pass is good for the entire day, so you can spend as little or as much time as you’d like exploring this classic amusement park.
Getting In: Luna Park – Coney Island tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Madame Tussauds New York
Take the kids to Madame Tussauds New York, located in Times Square.
This world famous attraction is a must-see when in the city, which spans 85,000 square feet featuring over 10 themes and five floors of fun!
You and the kids can take pictures with strikingly real looking wax-figures of some of their favorite celebrities and idols.
Particularly popular exhibits include The Ghostbuster Experience (pictured above), Kong: Skull Island, and the exciting new Fashion Experience.
Getting In: Madame Tussauds New York tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is a top family activity. This delightful new attraction, located in Yonkers, includes 2 rides, 10 LEGO build & play zones, a 4D cinema and more.
A visit here will make you feel like you’ve just jumped into the world’s biggest box of LEGO bricks!
This attraction is ideal for kids aged 3-12 years old, but honestly, who couldn’t have fun with over 2 million LEGO bricks under one roof?
Getting In: LEGOLAND Discovery Center New York tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Top of the Rock
Take an exciting ride in the Sky Shuttle elevator, complete with a light show, up to the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors of 30 Rockefeller plaza to get the best sweeping views of New York City.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy the informative multi-media exhibits detailing the history of Top of the Rock.
You’ll also get the chance to walk across the interactive Beam Walk inspired by the famous photo of the building’s construction workers eating lunch while sitting on a construction beam 69 floors above Manhattan.
Everyones loves the amazing aerial views, and the chance to get some crazy unique photos of the city below.
Getting In: Top of the Rock tickets are available as an option on the New York City Explorer Pass.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
While many museums aren’t going to hold the attention of your children, the 9/11 Memorial has plenty of options for middle grade children and above to explore this tragic moment in American history.
The September 11, 2001 attacks were a turning point in United States culture, politics, art, and more, and have indelibly shaped the world in which your children live. Teach them about the past and highlight the important of remembering those lost with a visit to this vital attraction.
There’s even a specific 9/11 Museum Guide for Children, which you can download directly from the attraction before your visit to help you make the most of their experience.
Please note that the historical exhibition may not be appropriate for children under 10 due to the graphic nature of some of the content.
Getting In: 9/11 Memorial and Museum tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Empire State Building
For another perspective on the city, visit one of the most recognizable and iconic landmarks in the world, the Empire State Building.
Kids will love learning about how the building, erected during the Great Depression, symbolized hope for a prosperous future for the United States during a time of great strife.
Once at the top, you’ll get 360-degree open-air views of New York City from the building’s 86th floor 1,050-feet above ground. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see views from up to five surrounding states.
Getting In: Empire State Building tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Visit two of the nation’s most historic and iconic landmarks via one enjoyable ferry ride. It’s a majorly popular school trip itinerary for children in the Tri-State area, so you know you’re bound to find plenty of material geared towards kids.
Go to Liberty Island, where you can see the iconic Lady Liberty in all her modern glory. Choose to upgrade for access to the Pedastal and Crown (which you will need to reserve in advance).
As you arrive at Ellis Island by ferry, you’ll experience what 12 million immigrants once felt as they began their journey to becoming Americans.
Once on Ellis Island, you can check out the Immigration Museum or eat at the Island’s restaurant. Bring your camera for this ferry ride that is also one of NYC’s best tours!
Getting In: Statue of Liberty ferry tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square
Come to Ripley’s, where the weird and the wonderful coexist in perfect harmony. Located in the heart of Times Square, this iconic attraction features a variety of bizarre artifacts, kooky legends, and funky performances that the whole family will enjoy.
With more than twenty galleries filled with unbelievable things to do and see, you’ll find plenty to explore at this one-of-a-kind institution. Curious children will love the combination of fun and education that this attraction provides.
Don’t miss performances by the “Sideshow Wonders,” including the Incredible Lizardman and his sword-swallowing, bug- and fire-eating, and many more amazing acts.
Getting In: Ripley’s Believe it or Not! NYC tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
American Museum of Natural History
As one of the largest museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History truly is an exciting place for the whole family. If your kids have seen “A Night at the Museum” (which takes place on this very site), they’ll be thrilled before you even get there.
Two of the museum’s most celebrated components are its famous collection of dinosaur fossils and the “Milstein Hall of Ocean Life,” which features a 94-foot whale model. Kids will also enjoy hands-on exhibits in the “Discovery Room,” designed specifically for children ages 5-12.
There are also budget-friendly dining options on site, including the Museum Food Court, which is great for families.
Getting In: American Museum of Natural History tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Yankee Stadium: Classic Tour
Even if the Yankees aren’t your favorite team, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the New York Yankee franchise and the legendary Yankee Stadium on this fully guided tour.
You’ll learn all about the fascinating history of the stadium itself, the Yankee dynasty over the years, and get to see memorabilia that belonged to some of the greatest players in history to play at Yankee Stadium. It’s a must-see experience for baseball fans of all ages!
If you’d like, you can also pick up a ticket to a home game (schedule permitting). Kids will love the baseball-specific snacks and fun atmosphere.
Getting In: Yankee Stadium Tour tickets are available as an option on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Madison Square Garden Tour
Even if you’re not a sports fan, the famed Madison Square Garden is one of the premier entertainment and sporting venues in the country. Take a tour of this landmark building and get the inside scoop on the long and storied history of one of New York’s most important buildings.
Explore the home of the New York Knicks, the Rangers, and the Liberty as you learn about the records and achievements of each sporting franchise.
Then, take in the “Garden 366” retrospective, an exhibit that details the history of this complex from sporting events to concerts and beyond. Be sure to check out the “Defining Moments” exhibit, too!
Getting In: Madison Square Garden Tour tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
This educational, renowned tourist attraction also happens to be a fantastic place for kids. The USS Intrepid is the centerpiece of this museum that houses 30 restored aircraft, a submarine, and a British Airways Concorde Jet.
While adults enjoy the museum’s exciting display of 20th century history, kids especially love exploring the newly restored aircraft and hands-on exhibits. The whole family will be fascinated by the story of the recovered Gemini III space capsule, told through interactive displays in “The Space Zone.”
Don’t leave before checking out one of the Intrepid’s high-tech jet plane simulators.
Plus, your pass now includes admission to the immensely popular Space Shuttle Pavilion, which houses the Enterprise shuttle!
Getting In: Intrepid Museum tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Go for a Bike Ride
Renting a bike is the perfect means to engage active kids and see NYC in an eco-friendly and fun way.
Skip the hassle of traffic and the confusion of the subway and explore Manhattan’s many marvels via bike – truly a unique experience! Pedal around Central Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge, around the New York Harbor, and get a chance to the iconic New York skyline from a whole new perspective.
A complementary bike map will help you plot out a course, and friendly advice from rental staffers will get you going on your way. See NYC and get some fresh air at the same time!
Getting In: Central Park Bike Rentals are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
For a complete, expert-led tour of New York City, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is the perfect way to check off all the most popular sights.
You’ll see all the most important monuments and iconic landmarks of New York City along the way and you’ll have the freedom to hop-on or off at any of the sights you want to explore anywhere between Uptown and Downtown Manhattan.
It’s also a great option for families traveling with kids because of its flexibility. While the narration is informative and entertaining, your kids are likely to lose interest somewhere along the line. At that point, hop off and explore something new and exciting!
Insider tip: If you’re looking for a tour that the older kids may enjoy a bit more, a two-hour night tour will showcase the city’s illuminated skyline and vibrant urban scenes.
If your kids are the type to get bored or restless on a conventional tour, then THE RIDE is the perfect alternative. Watch as the streets of New York City turn into a stage for some of the most talented street performers.
This 75-minute tour takes place on a custom-built tour bus features stadium seating and huge windows for the best views and features two comedic hosts who provide context to the sights you’ll see with historical facts, fun trivia, and even karaoke.
Kids will really get a kick out of all the interactivity and excitement, and you’ll love all the new stuff you get to learn about this truly one-of-a-kind city.
Getting In: THE RIDE NYC tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Clipper City Tall Ships
Who doesn’t love historical vessels? Hop aboard this famous Tall Ship and step into history as you board this majestic schooner, modeled on nineteenth century ships but built with modern comfort in mind.
In addition to the general excitement of exploring the nautical elements of this 200-ton beauty, you’ll also be able to experience an enchanting cruise around Manhattan.
Prepare for stunning views of New York’s most iconic landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond.
Your children will love the opportunity to observe the crew at work on this historic vessel, and you’ll enjoy the scenic relaxation.
Getting In: Clipper City Tall Ship tickets are available as an option with the New York City Explorer Pass.
There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in NYC with kids during your vacation.
Offering the best of New York’s sightseeing, entertainment, and educational displays, there’s something at each of these kid friendly attractions for everyone to enjoy.
Remember, many of these great ideas are included on the Go NYC Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Consider adding a few of these kid friendly options to your upcoming itinerary. Enjoy!