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7 things you didn't know you could do with little kids in New York City

Aug. 20, 2020
8 min read
New York City with Toddlers
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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. Some attractions and events mentioned may be temporarily closed or operating on modified schedules due to COVID-19. We’ll be here to help you prepare, whether you’re traveling next month or next year.

Approximately 65 million people visit New York City each year.

It's easy to understand why, considering you can get to New York-JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), Newark (EWR) and Long Island's Islip (ISP) using airline miles.

And it isn't just a city for adults. If you're traveling to New York City with youngsters, you'll find plenty of activities geared toward children in the City That Never Sleeps — and there are a number of family-friendly hotels in New York City, too.

In addition to all the New York City attractions, such as the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty, here are seven other things you probably didn’t know you could do with young children in the Big Apple.

Enjoy a family Broadway show

(Photo by Matthew Murphy/

Experiencing Broadway in New York City is a quintessential experience. While most people think of Broadway as an adult activity, there are many shows geared to children, such as "Aladdin" or "The Lion King."

Note that while these performances are kid-friendly, these childhood favorites are geared toward children ages 8 and older, and are not recommended for kids under 4 years of age.

Ticket prices vary depending on the show, date and time, but typically begin at $75 at retail price. But there are a number of ways to score discounted tickets, including the TKTS booth, digital lotteries, rush tickets, the TodayTix app and Kids Night on Broadway — so do your research before you book.

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 begin at $65 per person.

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Related: 8 ways to upgrade your New York City vacation

Enjoy a family cooking class

If your kids love to cook, New York City is the perfect destination for a cooking class for your budding gourmands. 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.

Explore the New York Transit Museum

The New York subway system is world-renowned. If your kids get excited about the idea of piling into a subway car, imagine how thrilled they'll be 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 in use.

It’s an unforgettable experience that will have your kids talking for weeks to come, and it's very affordable. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 per child between the ages of 2 and 17.

Sip afternoon tea at American Girl

Photo by Dimitra Merziemekidou/Shutterstock.

Many children enjoy playing with their tea sets at home. So, why not give them the real experience? There are a lot of places that offer afternoon tea in New York City, but the tea offered at American Girl sets the gold standard for little fans. Your child can even bring along his or her favorite American Girl dolls to enjoy the experience together! Afternoon tea costs $21 per person, and adults can upgrade to include a mimosa or glass of sparkling wine for $26.

Not a fan of tea? Brunch, lunch and dinner reservations are all available on the American Girl website as well. You can also treat your child to their first spa experience with American Girl manicures, child-and-doll ear-piercing sessions and many other doll-centric delights.

If your child is celebrating a birthday in the city, American Girl has that covered, too. The retail store in Manhattan offers a number of immersive experiences, including the ultimate sleepover: A private, late-night shopping experience for your child and up to 29 other participants. Tickets begin at $245, and $205 per adult.

See the skyline on a dinner cruise

Dinner cruises aren’t just for adults. The Spirit of New York river cruise welcomes kids of all ages, and my 3-year-old had the best night ever when we sailed around the Hudson.

You can dance the night away together while getting an up-close view of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge — and you won't even have to figure out dinner plans afterward.

The buffet offers a wide range of food, and the cruise line also offers a special menu for kids, with offerings such as mac-and-cheese perfect for picky eaters. Tickets for weekdays and Sundays start at $119.90 per person, while Saturday tickets cost $124.90 apiece. Children under the age of 3 sail free.

Eat your heart out on a food tour

New York City is known for its fantastic food, and what better way to sample as many options as possible than on a food tour?

My family and I chose a Chelsea Market food tour, which was perfect for our young children. The Chelsea Market food tour limited our travel distance to the confines of the market, which eliminated concerns regarding the walking distance or possible weather fluctuations. We enjoyed donuts, pizza, tacos, a hot sauce tasting and more during our tour, which lasted between two and three hours.

If you prefer to have a guide for your experience, many tour operators offer Chelsea Market food tours; expect to pay $35 to $55 per person. If you prefer to explore on your own, check out Free Tours by Foot to print out a self-guided tour of the market.

Related: The 29 best restaurants in New York City

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 you'll also want one of the best cards for dining in your wallet.

Botton line

New York City has a plethora of activities for travelers of any age to enjoy. While the staple New York City activities are always fun, there's more to this vibrant metropolis than the typical landmarks. So don't hesitate to bring your kids on your next New York City adventure.

Interested in more posts like this one? Here's some more New York City trip-planning advice for families:

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.