This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
If you’re traveling to New York City with youngsters, you will find plenty of activities geared to children in “The City That Never Sleeps.” About 65 million people visit New York City each year. It’s easy to understand why as you can get to JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Long Island’s Islip using airline miles. Thankfully, there are some family -friendly hotels in NYC, too. In addition to the staple NYC attractions, such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, here are nine things you probably didn’t know you could do with young children in NYC:
1. Become Your Favorite Character at Trolls The Experience
If your kids are fans of the movie “Trolls,” they will love a visit to DreamWorks Trolls The Experience in Times Square. According to Time Out, it takes about 90 minutes to walk through the colorful, music-filled Troll Village. Kids and their parents can turn into their favorite characters Poppy, Branch, Guy Diamond or Rainbow and as they explore the interactive exhibit and collect tokens for completing tasks before they move on to the next room. Participants make a scrapbook of the day’s adventure and get to meet Poppy herself. Right now, adults get in free with a paid child ticket using the code TROLLSPARENTS. Tickets (Monday–Thursday) start at $24; tickets for weekends (Friday-Sunday) start at $29 per ticket.
2. Save the Day at Pip’s Island
Pip’s Island is an interactive one-hour play geared to children ages 4 to 10 years old. Through this experience, your kids will have the chance to save a mystical island, completing small tasks throughout the adventure. From the moment you start, you are loaned special costumes and are given plenty of opportunities to volunteer to lead activities in the different rooms. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure to plan accordingly. The least expensive tickets are $39 each for the 9am and 9:30am slots on Saturdays and Sundays.
3. Enjoy a Family Broadway Show
While most people think of Broadway as an adult activity, there are many shows geared to children: “Aladdin,” “Frozen” “The Lion King,” to name a few. These childhood favorites are geared to children 8+ and are not recommended for anyone under 4 years old. Ticket prices vary depending on the show, date and time.
4. Take the Behind the Magic Broadway Tour
Whether you end up seeing a Broadway show or not, taking a Behind the Magic Broadway Tour gives your family a behind-the-scenes look at the props, costumes and sets of your favorite Disney musicals. Tickets start at $65 per person.
5. Enjoy a Family Cooking Class
If your kids love to cook, NYC is the perfect place for a cooking class for your budding gourmets. Freshmade NYC specializes in classes for kids as young as 2 years old. You can choose a destination to inspire your meal or pick something based on dietary restrictions. (Little Chefs Camp classes cost $37 per person.)
6. Sip Afternoon Tea at American Girl
So many children enjoy playing with their tea sets at home, why not give them the real experience? There are a lot of places that offer afternoon tea in NYC, but the one offered at American Girl is popular for children. You can bring along your American Girl doll and enjoy the experience together! Tea is $21 per person. Adults can upgrade to include a mimosa or glass of sparkling wine for $26.
7. See NYC in a Different Light on a Dinner Cruise
Dinner cruises aren’t just for adults. The Spirit of New York welcomes kids of all ages and my 3 year old had the best night ever. Dance the night away while getting an up-close view of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. The buffet offers a wide range of food, and the cruise line also offers a special kids menu, with such offerings as mac and cheese for any picky eaters. Tickets for weekdays and Sundays from $119.90 per person. Saturday tickets from $124.90. Children under 3 are free.
8. Eat Your Heart Out on a Food Tour
New York City is known for its great food and what better way to taste as many options as possible than with a food tour? We took a Chelsea Market food tour, which was perfect for kids, because you’re confined to the market and that limits the walking distance and weather fluctuations. We enjoyed doughnuts, pizza, tacos, a hot sauce tasting and more. Many tour operators offer Chelsea Market food tours, which last two to three hours. Expect to pay $35 to $55 per person. Check out Free Tours by Foot to print out a self-guided tour of the market.
9. Explore the New York Transit Museum
The New York subway system is world renowned. If your kids are excited about the thought of getting on a subway, imagine their excitement if you take them on the “train” from Manhattan to Brooklyn to visit the New York Transit Museum. You’ll get to explore vintage subway cars, see how the subway fare has changed over the years and learn about what happens to subway cars that are no longer used. It’s a unique experience. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children ages 2–17.
Earn Points Exploring the City With Your Kids
Remember that many sightseeing tours, theater tickets and museum admissions code as “entertainment” when posting to your credit card statement. Since that’s the case, be sure to use the best credit card for entertainment spending. Of course, if your entertainment involves food, then the best cards for dining are worth a look, too.
New York has a plethora of activities for any age to enjoy. While the staple New York City activities are always fun, there is more to New York than the typical landmarks. Get out there and enjoy “The City That Never Sleeps!”
Here’s more New York City trip-planning advice for families:
- Best Marriott Category 5 Hotels in New York City for Families
- Room That Sleeps 8 in NYC: TRYP Times Square South
- 5 Family-Friendly Hotels in New York City Where You Can Use Points
- Enjoy New York City With the Family — Without the Tourist Traps
- Affordable Activities for Families Visiting New York City
- 8 Things Every Teen Should Do in New York City
- Tips for Navigating New York City With Kids
- Every Tourist in New York Makes These 11 Mistakes
- Best Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows in NYC for Kids
- Taking a Bite of the Big Apple: 11 NYC Restaurants Kids Will Love
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Her motto is, “If kids live there, kids can visit.” Follow along with her family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees