You're planning a family trip to New York and you've already made plans to hit the big attractions (Central Park! Rockefeller Center! The Statue of Liberty!). But once you've crossed the must-dos off your itinerary, what next? Thankfully, there are plenty of off-the-radar things to do with kids in NYC, and right here into this handy list we've gathered 12 of our favorites (including some of those must-sees).
While the Central Park Zoo might be more well known, consider making a day trip to the somewhat larger (like, 40x larger) Bronx Zoo. Besides peeping at the animals in their habitats, there are plenty of activities that can fill up a day, including zoo quests, camel rides, and the twice-daily feedings of the zoo's sea lions, which have been its star attractions since 1899.
What small child doesn’t want to visit the 86th floor to recreate an iconic scene from a 90s rom-com, like Sleepless in Seattle? Ok, maybe that’s more mom’s dream, but even wee babes will be awed by the stunning views afforded by the landmark's open-air observation deck. Most ticket options include immersive, interactive exhibits. And the outdoor observatory is heated for year-round visits.
Sea lions, and sting rays, and sharks, oh my! Introduce the kiddos to some fishy friends with an array of attractions, including Aquatheater performances by sea lions and their trainers, a 4D immersive theater experience, and the permanent mainstay, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!
The first thrill: climbing 102 stories in 47 seconds. And that’s just the Sky Pod elevator. Once you’re at the observatory, there’s even more attractions to take in. Our pick for perhaps the most breathtaking? Don't miss the Sky Portal: a 14-foot wide circular glass disc, hanging 100 stories above the city’s sidewalks.
After you've paid your respects to Lady Liberty, consider taking the kids to Ellis Island to help them learn about the immigration experience through various tours and exhibits. You'll also have the chance to search the database of more than 51 million arrival records to find the names of family members or friends who first entered the US here.
There’s no better way to meander the winding paths of the famous urban oasis than on a two-wheeler. Pedal at your own pace, and be sure to stop along the way to people watch, gaze at the park’s sheer cliffs of looming skyscrapers, or ponder life’s deeper questions on a bench in front of a lagoon.
Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and Abraham Lincoln are just a few of the famous folks totally willing to pose for a photo with you at this Times Square outpost of the famed wax museum. When you're done rubbing elbows with the waxy elite, check out the other activities, which include a virtual-reality experience and a 4D movie.
Like the other Ripley's locations, this Times Square attraction is filled with scientific oddities and whimsical antiquities, including a giant crocodile skeleton, shrunken heads, and a real piece of the Berlin Wall. While you're there, you can also enter into a simulated black hole or test your navigational prowess in a laser maze.
New York has some of the best museums in the world, so it's no wonder that its children's museum is just as groundbreaking. Designed to get kids excited about art through interactive experiences, the museum invites young visitors to try everything from sculpting animals out of clay to creating their own rap recording.
A fairy-tale tea house that is chic and fashionable enough to appeal to the Upper East Side elite, Alice's Tea Cup is an excellent choice for breakfast or lunch, but especially for afternoon tea. Kids will love picking out finger sandwiches and sweets from tiered trays, as well as the mismatched cups and saucers.
Modern Pinball might be one of the best things to do in New York with kids, but we predict parents will love it too—especially those who grew up in the '70s and '80s. Hourly and day passes allow kids and adults to play the new and vintage pinball machines as often as they like, and the facility even has stools to help younger kids reach the controls.
Definitely one of the spookiest things to do with kids in NYC, Jekyll and Hyde is the perfect spot to bring any child who wishes Halloween came more than once a year. The dark, library-like atmosphere sets the stage for a meal that is filled with creepy waiters, talking gargoyles, and other eerie surprises. And, yes, the walls are moving.