Casey Makovich

10 Things to Do in NYC With Kids on Vacation

Choosing just 10 activities and landmarks to see on your New York City vacation is a challenging proposition, but these 10 tourist venues in Manhattan and around its five boroughs are some of the best things to do in NYC with kids on vacation (that the adults will enjoy, too). From educational museums to amusement parks and one-of-a-kind attractions, your New York City vacation will inevitably include some of the most well-known landmarks in the entire world. Here are a few of the best and brightest attractions NYC has to offer your family.

Free Entry with The New York Pass®

Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions.

Get on the Big Bus New York: Hop-on Hop-off Tour

The fully-narrated Big Bus New York sightseeing tour lasts about 2.5 hours and will show your family many of the famous venues of New York City. The access and information it offers about all of NYC's tourist attractions are invaluable for getting the most out of your Manhattan vacation. The bus travels along 25 stops around its New York City loop, and your family may hop-on or hop-off as many times as you want, whenever you're close to one of the NYC attractions you'd like to experience. Some of the sights you'll see on your tour include Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center. Getting in: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass.

Get Goosebumps at the Empire State Building

Each year, millions of adventurers travel to the top of the Empire State Building for an unparalleled view of New York City. Fun fact: Did you know that photographers point their cameras at the Empire State Building more often than any other building in the world? Not only is the Empire State Building an iconic part of the Manhattan skyline, but it's also a must-see part of your New York City vacation. The observation deck on the 86th floor will offer your family panoramic views of the city, as well as some of the best photo ops anywhere in town. Getting in: Empire State Building tickets are included on the New York Pass.

Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum

If you only have a few days to spend in Manhattan, a trip across the water to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is a must. Take the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island and learn about the 12 million immigrants who came to the United States to live the American Dream. The Statue of Liberty will offer your family memorable photo opportunities, and the Immigration Museum will provide them with a valuable lesson on the history of immigration to America. Adventurous families may wish to climb the 354 steps to reach the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Getting in: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum and ferry tickets are included on The New York Pass. Please note: tickets for access to the pedestal and crown levels in the Statue of Liberty are sold separately and require advanced reservations. You will not be granted admission with The New York Pass.

Explore and Learn at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is an important trip for any visitor to New York City. Even though the museum might not be the first place you think of for kid-friendly venues in New York City, the 9/11 Memorial organization does offer age-appropriate activities for children. On Saturdays, the museum features drop-in activity stations to help children understand and discuss the events of 9/11. The museum also offers art activities and self-guided exploration for children in the form of stories and symbolism. The museum also hosts guided programs for children in the summer led by local educators. Getting in: 9/11 Memorial & Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass.

Discover the World at the American Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs are a favorite for millions of children, and the American Museum of Natural History is one of the most expansive museums in the world for natural history and dinosaurs. The museum features rotating exhibits from all facets of the planet's history, from human history to the history of the oceans. The museum offers several self-guided tours like the Dino Tour, the Earth and Space Tour, and the Whales Tour. You and your family may choose to wander around the museum exploring, or you may choose to participate in one of the special events occurring at the museum on the day of your visit. Getting in: American Museum of Natural History tickets are included on The New York Pass.

Ride the Park with Central Park Bicycle Rentals & Tours

Central Park covers 843 acres in the middle of Manhattan, and exploring the park from the seat of a bicycle is an excellent way to leave the cement behind for a few hours and enjoy a tree-filled urban adventure. Available bicycles include those sized for adults and children, as well as tandem bikes made for two riders. If your visit to Manhattan occurs in the warm months, consider taking a ride around the park and then eating a picnic lunch on the grass beneath the nearby skyline of Manhattan's skyscrapers. Enjoy a few minutes of sun and relaxation before heading back to the city for more adventures. Getting in: Central Park Bike Tour tickets and rentals are included with The New York Pass.

Find Excitement at Luna Park at Coney Island

Featuring rides, games, dining, and shops, Luna Park at Coney Island is an excellent way to relive your childhood memories of amusement parks while helping your children make new memories--it's one of the most fun things to do in NYC with kids. Various amusement parks have called Coney Island home since the 1880s. In recent years, the famous Brooklyn neighborhood has also become home to a professional soccer club and a minor league baseball team. After having your fill of classic amusement rides, games of chance, and fair food, take a walk along the beach and put your feet in the water for a few minutes if weather permits. Getting in: Luna Park at Coney Island 4-hour Ride wristband tickets are included with The New York Pass.

Visit the First Museum for Kids: the Brooklyn Children's Museum

Widely regarded as the first museum offering exhibits meant for children, the Brooklyn Children's Museum offers a rotating selection of exhibits to enjoy, as well as permanent displays for education and adventure. The museum features three whole floors of activities covering topics like science, food, nature, and the senses. The popular neighborhood nature exhibit features dioramas, a greenhouse, and live animals throughout the display. You might consider spending the morning at the Brooklyn Children's Museum for its educational value and then heading over to Luna Park at Coney Island for an afternoon of adventures. Getting in: the Brooklyn Children's Museum is not included on The New York Pass. Tickets are available for purchase upon arrival.

Learn the History of New York City at the Rockefeller Center Tour

If your visit to New York City will coincide with the winter holidays, visiting Rockefeller Center is all but required. With its famous ice rink and its similarly amazing Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center is the best place to enjoy New York City in the wintertime. The building also features terraces on its upper stories for views rivaling those of the Empire State Building. On the Rockefeller Center Tour, you and your family will learn about the building's 80 years of history through personal headsets, and you can spend some extra time at "Rock Center" exploring the stores, restaurants, and art exhibits throughout the famous NYC landmark. Getting in: Rockefeller Center Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass.

Staten Island Zoo

Do your kids love snakes and reptiles? The Staten Island Zoo features one of the most comprehensive reptile collections in the world, and the zoo also offers special events each month and educational programs for kids. Habitats include the reptile wing, the leopard habitat, and the tropical forest wing. The zoo also features three enclosures housing magnificent birds of prey, a children's center, a "Kids Korral," and an Australia-themed exhibit of kangaroos. Getting in: Staten Island Zoo tickets are included with The New York Pass.

Remember To Save On Attraction Admission

Lots of the fun things to do in NYC with kids on vacation mentioned in this post are included on The New York Pass. Whether you’re interested in going on guided tours of the city, going museum hopping, or getting out on the water, an NYC sightseeing vacation that the whole family will enjoy is easy to plan with The New York Pass. If you plan on visiting multiple attractions, consider using the New York Pass which grants you free entry to over 90 attractions in New York City. That way you can do more when you sightsee and make the most of your time in New York City. For more information on the New York Pass, click here.
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