Are you looking for fun things to do in NYC with kids? Awesome! There are plenty of things to do in NYC with family so don't worry! You are going to have fun!
My family recently went and LOVED it! I am excited to share with you all the tips and tricks I learned, so you can create the “best things to do in NYC for kids” vacation itinerary.
We have a family of 6 two teens and two elementary-aged kids. My teens really wanted to go to New York. My husband and I actually went to New York on our honeymoon but I was really nervous to plan a NYC family vacation.
I wasn't sure if there would be enough activities for kids in New York City. I started making a list of all the fun things to do in NYC with kids and I am happy to report my kids had a blast!
In this post, I will give you some NYC family vacation tips, kids' activities in NYC, which will include the best family attractions in New York City for kids. As well as some of the best family-friendly must try NYC food locations!
Let's explore all of the fun things to do in NYC with Kids!
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1. Eat at Ellen's Stardust Diner
Ellen's Star Dust Diner is a must! This is an experience your kids will love. It makes the top of the list for fun things to do in NYC with kids. (My 7-year-old said it was worth the long walk to get there!)
Why is it Special?
Aspiring Broadway stars are the waiters and waitresses. While serving you they will jump up on the tables and sing! They all have amazing voices!
We were told that before Covid, they were losing 12 waiters and waitresses a month to Broadway.
You can leave extra tips that go towards the employee's acting, singing, and dancing lessons. My kids loved when they passed a tipping bucket around and they could put a few dollars in it.
Be Ready To Wait
There will be a wait! This is a very popular restaurant. One thing we love to do with our kids as we wait is play the game Heads Up. It is a guessing game app that you can download before your trip.
We were actually pretty lucky. There was a long line down the street. We thought we would be waiting for at least an hour. However, because we have a big family, they were looking for groups of 6. We were seated within 10 minutes.
The entertainment is the main reason why this is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids. Your kids will not get bored. There are nonstop performances the entire time you eat. If your kids know Broadway songs even better!
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. You can order breakfast items most of the day. The food is okay, it is typical diner style. This is a great place to share a few meals between multiple people.
Of all the activities for kids in New York City, this should be at the top of your list!
2. Visit the Harry Potter New York Store
My 10-year-old absolutely loved the New York Harry Potter Store. This is one of the perfect things to do in NYC with family. You can get butter beer, and wands, and shop around for the perfect Harry Potter souvenirs.
Virtual Reality Ride
There are two virtual reality rides located inside the store: Wizards Take Flight and Chaos at Hogwarts. Tickets need to be purchased in advance to be able to ride the rides. (a few days for weekdays or at least a week for weekend tickets.) You can purchase these on the official website.
Butter Beer and Sweet Treats
The butter beer is incredible. You can purchase a souvenir cup with your butter beer. You can also purchase baked goods. If you love the Harry Potter-themed candy, there are chocolate frogs, exploding bonbons, and of course Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans.
Entry to the store is free. However, it gets busy so you may have to wait to enter. (unless you have a VR ticket.) You will be able to scan a QR code that will let you know when to return. Essentially, you do not have to “wait in line” physically. You can go do something else and return later.
The Harry Potter New Store is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids. If this is at the top of your list, go in the morning and you should be able to get in without waiting.
3. Go To A Broadway Play
For me, Broadway is one of the best things to do with family in NYC. There are lots of great options for kids. You just have to do a little research because not all Broadway plays are family-friendly.
Best Broadway Plays for Kids
There are last-minute tickets available at a discounted rate however they usually will not be the most popular shows. If you want to go in person to the ticket booth in Times Square you will need to get up and be in line by 7:00 am.
Honestly, the thought of having to wake up early and drag the kids to wait in line for two hours isn't worth it to me. I would rather pay more and buy my tickets in advance.
4. Visit the Hershey Store
If you want fun things to do in NYC with kids, the Hershey Store is a must! There is so much chocolate in this store!
Your kids will get a free sample and be able to explore all the cool sections of the store. There is a Hershey Kiss area, Reece's area, and a Jolly Rancher area. You can also buy smores or fresh mega cookies.
My kids love taking pictures with all the photo opp areas. This is one of the best things for kids in NYC!
5. Eat at Serendipity 3
Serendipity 3 was my kid's favorite thing to do in NYC. The image above is a kids meal!!! Seriously, HUGE!
Serendipity is known for their frozen hot chocolate, which we had, and it was awesome. The food is so good! The portions are huge! (the price is too) But for us, it was so worth it!
Why is it Famous?
This restaurant became famous after being featured in many 90s ROMCOMS. If you are looking for “special” things to do in NYC with family, this is the place. We witnessed someone being proposed to while we were there.
It is a place to celebrate and one of the best activities in NYC for kids that we did.
6. Visit the M&M Store
The M&M store is so cool! It is located in Times Square. It makes the list of “fun things to do with kids in NYC” There are so many floors to explore!
One cool thing you can do is customize your own M&M's. You can pick the colors and even customize your own message as well as place an iconic New York symbol on your candy. The best part is that it only takes a few minutes.
We loved looking around and checking out all the different colors of M&M's. The store can be crowded but it is still worth checking out!
7. Check Out Times Square
Times Square can be overwhelming for kids! There are flashing advertisements everywhere, weird people, and huge crowds.
However, it is still worth visiting. There are so many cool stores and restaurants around this area that your kids will love. Time Square is part of the New York experience.
Time Square Warnings
The last thing you want to do is lose your kid in this area. Hold hands or lock arms with your older kids. Also, when we went there were nasty naked old ladies with guitars roaming around. We made sure to cover our kid's eyes.
Times Square is a fun thing to do in Manhattan with kids despite the crazy crowds.
8. Visit the USS Intrepid
We loved the USS Midway and knew we had to go to the USS Intrepid. It is located a little less than a mile from Times Square.
Admission and Hours
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
You can purchase your tickets ahead of time to avoid waiting in lines and to secure you date and time.
The USS Intrepid is a retired Navy aircraft carrier. It was commissioned during WW II and continued through the cold war, and Vietnam war, and also served as a NASA recovery vessel. (1943 -1974)
You can actually go on the ship and explore. There are also airplanes on display. The USS Intrepid is the highlight of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
After exploring the Intrepid you can check out the Space Shuttle Pavilion. You can explore the space shuttle Enterprise and learn all about the historical influence it had on the US space program.
You can also check out the submarine Growler. This is the only guided missile submarine on display in the US.
The British Airways Concorde is on display. This plane has the record for the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing: 2 hours 52 minutes 59 seconds. This took place on February 7, 1996.
9. Get Dessert at Black Tap
One of the best things to do in NYC with kids is Black Tap. When I looked at the picture of the amazing designer shakes, I knew this was something I had to add to our “NYC with kids” list.
There are 3 locations in New York City:
Singles and Doubles 35th street
45 W 35TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10001
136 W 55TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10019
529 BROOME STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10013
We ended up ordering four different shakes. The cake shake was amazing! The frosting is so good! We also really liked the Oreo shake. This is such a fun activity in NYC for everyone.
Black Tap has expanded (which I am happy about) They even have a location in Downtown Disney and Las Vegas which is closer to where we live.
10. Visit the Statue of Liberty
You can't take your kids to New York and not see the Statue of Liberty. This is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids! My family loved taking the ferry over and exploring the statue.
I loved walking up on the pedestal and exploring the statue. There is also an amazing museum to check out. My kids thought the Statue of liberty was one of the fun places to go in NYC and really enjoyed the whole experience.
The love the gift shop! There are really cool Statue of Liberty models in all sizes. This was the highlight for my younger kids.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty is free however you have to purchase a ferry ticket to gain access to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Ferry Tickets: Starting at $24.00
11. Ellis Island
Ellis Island is part of your Statue of Liberty experience. Ellis Island is where immigrants came through.
There is a fabulous museum that shows the exact process of how coming to the United States took place. You can also watch videos of modern immigrants and their journey to becoming US citizens. The process is not easy!
I absolutely loved Ellis Island. I wish I could have spent hours and hours there. Kids on the other hand might not have the patients, especially if they can not read yet. There are not a lot of interactive experiences. There is a lot of reading involved as well.
Admission is part of your Statue of Liberty ticket
12. Hop on Hop of Bus Tour
I love planning out exactly what, where, and how we will be getting to each area. A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to explore New York City.
Bus Vs. Subway
My kids were terrified of the subway. There were some crazy people talking to themselves, some playing loud music and pole dancing. Obviously, we had to use the subway to get around but an alternative to the subway is purchasing hop-on hop-off bus tickets.
These tours have various stops around the city. Usually, at the most popular NYC attractions for families. A bus tour is the perfect NYC tour for families because it cuts down on all the walking your kids will have to do. This tour is one of the fun things to do in NYC with kids.
This tour gets you to all the fun places to go in NYC.
13. Try Original New York Cheesecake
We are a foodie family! We had to try the original New York cheesecake. Juniors did not disappoint!
There are two locations on Broadway and one in Brooklyn. We went to the location near the theater district.
THE BEST CHEESECAKE EVER!
This cheesecake is so so GOOD! I'm still dreaming about it. I highly recommend taking your kids to Juniors or just getting a to-go order and having it in your fridge at your hotel room to snack on.
This is a great activity in NYC for kids!
14. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
Any night of the museum fans? If you are you will want to take your kids to the American Museum of Natural History.
Museums are great activities for kids in NYC. This one will not disappoint. Spend a few hours exploring and making memories!
Other Museums in New York City to Consider:
15. Check Out Central Park
Another fun thing to do in NYC with kids is to check out Central Park. There is a zoo, merry-go-round, and a lot of space to run around and play. It is really beautiful.
Activities in NYC for Kids
Renting bikes in central park is so fun! If your kids enjoy a good bike ride this is the place! Central Park is huge so you could spend most of your day exploring the park. You can even go on a scavenger hunt with your family. This is a perfect place to go in New York City with kids.
16. Go to the New York City Lego Store
If you are asking yourself what to do in NYC with kids, The Lego Store is a great option. There are so many cool things to look at and see.
Design a Mini Figure
You can even create your own mini-figure! It is awesome. You can actually design the clothes and face, and even put your name on them. It is made right before your eyes.
I have a Lego-obsessed kid so this was one of our favorite NYC family attractions.
Legoland New York
If your kids love Legos and you are visiting New York City. You might want to add a day and head over to the brand new Legoland New York. It is just outside of the city. You can get a Legoland Ticket with Transportation from Manhattan or just rent a car and head over.
17. Shop at Schwarz
Schwarz is one of the top fun things to do in NYC with kids. It is an incredible toy store. You name it and they have it. Schwarz is known for having an incredible inventory!
Location and Hours
Schwarz is located in Rockefeller Center.
Hours: 11 am – 7 pm
What my kids loved was that there are employees stationed around the store that do magic tricks or demonstrations on how the toys work. It is really cool.
We also loved the gigantic piano that you can hop on to make music. There are all kinds of name-brand toys as well as Schwarz-specific toys
18. Eat At Joe's Pizza
If you are looking for good family activities in NYC, Joe's pizza needs to be on your list. My family LOVES pizza!
Joe's did not disappoint. New York pizza has a thin crust and is easy to fold. We loved trying it out and enjoyed the flavor of the sauce.
Joe's Pizza Locations
Joe's Pizza has 5 locations throughout New York but the most conveniently located one is in Times Square.
It is open until 3:00 AM. There will be a line no matter what time of day you go. For families ordering an entire pizza is the best option.
19. Try Liberty Bagels
If you are looking for things to do in NYC with teens, this one wins. Liberty bagels is amazing!
Family Activities in New York City
My teens loved Liberty Bagels. Cream Cheese is the name of the game here. Your bagel will be filled with any cream cheese flavor you would like to try. They put an absurd amount of cream cheese inside each bagel.
It is incredible! My teens wished they could have gone every morning to Liberty Bagels.
Liberty Bagel Location and Hours
Address: 260 W 35th St, New York, NY
Hours: 6 am – 5 pm
20. Super Hero Walking Tour of New York
If your family loves Marvel or DC. There are some amazing Super Hero Walking Tours in New York.
Things to Do in NYC with Teens
This tour includes over 40 locations. Some of these sites are where different movies have been filmed. The tour guide is a master of trivia so be prepared to answer lots of fun questions!
21. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is cool! It gives one of the best views of New York City hands down. It is one of the most popular things to do in NYC with kids or without.
Family Fun in New York
Plus, I like that there are King Kong gigantic hands busting through the walls. This is the perfect place to take a picture. It will make your kids pretty excited too!
Purchasing your tickets ahead of time is always a good idea.
22. Enjoy the East River
We had some time to kill and decided to walk along the East River. There was a little beach where the kids could play.
My kids did not want to leave. They had so much fun playing in the dirt. My teens and I just enjoyed the view. It is a great family activity in NYC if you have a little time to kill.
23. Weird But True - National Geographic
When we told our kids that we were going to New York City, they were excited about 1 thing….. They had read in a National Geographic- “Weird but True Book” that a pizza place in Brooklyn made a pizza where even the box is made of pizza.
Vinnies Pizza in Brooklyn was at the top of the list of fun things to do with kids in NYC. They loved it! We had to wait about 30 minutes for them to cook it. It was worth the wait!
Fun Things to Do for Kids in NYC
My kids were a little nervous in this area because there is lots of graffiti everywhere. There were some crazy people yelling for no reason but that didn't stop us from having this experience!
24. Magnolia Bakery
The Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery is one of the top things to do in NYC with kids! Your kids will go crazy once they taste this amazing treat!
Location and Hours
There are 8 locations in New York City. Most locations are open from 9 am – 9 pm. However, you will want to double-check each store location.
If you are asking yourself “what to do with kids in NYC” Magnolia Bakery may just be it. It will not disappoint!
25. Go New York Souvenir Shopping
My kids love to go souvenir shopping! It is the highlight of all of our trips. My son collects snow globes.
My little kids love picking out different things that remind them of the area we are in. Word to the wise. Times Square is not a good place to get your souvenirs!!! We learned this the hard way. Everything is expensive!
We purchased a snow globe in Times square for 3 times the amount it was at the Statue of Liberty. You can find great souvenirs at the gift shop at the Statue of Liberty!
Fun Things to Do in NYC with Kids
If you are traveling to New York City with Kids, hopefully, this has given you plenty of ideas for fun things to do in NYC with kids. We had a blast!
Our favorite family activities in NYC include:
- Statue of Liberty
Yes, in that order! We made sure to take lots of breaks for the kids. They had a great time minus being scared on the Subway and walking down crowded streets!
I would recommend a family vacation in New York City, my advice is to make sure you have it planned out activities that your kids will enjoy!
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