10 Things to Do in NYC With Kids on Vacation

By Casey Makovich

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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New York City in 72 Hours

This post originally appeared in Chaus Adventure a blog by a couple from London, travelling the world. View from Top of the Rock New York is one of the most popular cities in the US and it is easy to see why. Known as the City that Never Sleeps, is it possible do to New York in a weekend? The answer is yes and we will show you how! We spent a total of 96 hours in New York, of which 24 hours was spent at a wedding and with friends. So in reality, we only had 72 hours to explore! We travelled with the New York Pass and this is one of the main reasons why we were able to do so much in so little time! The New York Pass has over 90 attractions to choose from and it allows you to fast track some of the busiest attractions. Passport covers by Always Rooney What I loved most about the pass is their free app. This app allows you to plan your trip in advance, setting your own budgets and has all the details you need about each attractions. We planned our itinerary on the app before we travelled. The New York Pass cost: 1 Day Pass- $109 2 Day Pass- $189 3 Day Pass- $199 5 Day Pass- $249 7 Day Pass- $279 Overview of our itinerary and cost without the New York Pass Day 1 (10 hours) Grand Central Terminal New York Public Library Flatiron Building Madison Square Park The High Line Day 2 (full day) Big Bus Tour ($60) New York Water Taxi Tour ($31) Brooklyn Bridge cycle ($45) Brooklyn 9-11 Memorial Oculus Shopping Mall Empire State Building ($32) Day 3 (full day) MOMA ($25) Central Park cycle ($49) NY Natural History Museum ($22) Top of the Rock ($32) The Ride ($74) Day 4 (14 hours) Madame Tussauds ($37) 9-11 Museum ($24) Top of the Rock We were able to squeeze most of New York City into 72 hours as you can see! We absolutely loved the New York Pass. Without the New York Pass, we would have had to spend $433 per person on attractions alone on this trip...!! Even if you consider the cost of the pass ($199- 3 day pass) we saved a massive $234 each, $468 in total! We have reviewed many city passes before and hands down, the New York Pass is the best one so far. The card itself resembles a chip and pin card and all you have to do is hand this card over at each ticket counter and you can get your tickets for free. A lot of other city passes do not give you free access to the most popular attractions or they only offer tickets at a reduced price. The New York Pass included everything we wanted to see in New York (and more) and when they say FREE, they mean free! Some of the queues (or ‘lines’ as they say in America) were horrendously long... We were so glad have fast track tickets because it literally saved us hours of waiting. If you are planning to visit New York, seriously consider this pass. Unless you have no interest in saving money or time... Stay tuned for more on our trip to NYC. On our next post, we will show you more photos and tell you more about each attraction we visited! You can get yourself a New York Pass HERE, there is a sale on right now!
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How to Get Around in NYC

One city, 8 million residents, countless opportunities to get lost. Chances are, unless you know New York City very well, you will find yourself lost or on the wrong path once or twice. Don't beat yourself up if that happens to you, even native New Yorkers take the wrong train or walk in the wrong direction on occasion. To minimize the amount of time you waste getting lost, it's a good idea to get familiar with the plentiful transportation options New York City has to offer. [spacer height="20px"] The New York City Subway [caption id="attachment_1195" align="aligncenter" width="1051"] 7 Train in Queens | Photo by @nyclovesnyc[/caption] By far the most efficient way of getting around is the New York City Subway. Though the intricate web of colors and letters and numbers may seem daunting, this trusty old system will take you pretty to and from pretty much every corner of New York City. The NYC subway is one of the oldest in the world, and frankly, it shows. The vestibules are often smelly, dirty and congested and the old-fashioned trains are often late, or in desperate need of repair. Despite this, Most New Yorkers use the subway every day for their commute in place of driving, and you should too. Follow alert.mta.info for current delays or reroutes. The best way to navigate the subway is to get really familiar with the infamous Subway Map. This work of art will tell you everything you need to know, as long as you know roughly where you are and where you're going. Once you have found your destination stop and identify the line you have to take, you have to pay attention to whether the train is going Uptown or Downtown. The Uptown and Downtown terms are relative to where you currently are, typically if you're heading North (or to the Bronx or Queens), take the Uptown train and if you're headed South (or to Brooklyn), take the Downtown train. For easy navigation, you can pick up a hard copy of the map at most subway stations, or you can download it onto your phone. Several handy apps are also available, if you like to get thorough. If you're unsure about local customs, please familiarize yourself with Subway Etiquette. Keep in mind that each single ride on the subway is $3, or $2.75 with a preloaded MetroCard. If you're here for a while, you can get an unlimited weekly MetroCard for $32 or a monthly for $121. A new physical card will run you $1. [spacer height="20px"] Municipal Buses [caption id="attachment_1197" align="aligncenter" width="1295"] MTA Bus Map[/caption] Much like the subway, the municipal buses are run by the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). They are available in every borough and offer transportation to some areas the subway just doesn't reach. For most MTA buses, you can use the same MetroCard you purchased at the subway station (Express buses do not accept unlimited MetroCards). Unlike the Subway, the buses actually operate on a schedule decently well (many New Yorkers may disagree with this statement). Again, all you really need here is the schedule and a Bus Map and you're good to go! Unlike the subway, your phones will work here the whole time. [spacer height="20px"] Citibike (and other bike rentals) [caption id="attachment_1198" align="aligncenter" width="993"] Citibike rack | Photo via Siegel+Gale[/caption] Biking around New York has become not only a popular pastime, but also a popular mode of transportation. Health/earth conscious New Yorkers have opted for two wheels in place of cars and congested subways. If you don't own a bike, or for whatever reason can't ride yours, there are plenty of options out there. Perhaps the most popular is Citibike, a bike sharing program, available all over the city, offering short-term bike rentals. Citibike offers either yearly membership, or a day pass for short-term visitors. With the day pass, you can ride as many times as you want, for $12. Remember that you have 30 minutes before you have to dock again. Download the Citibike app to get information about the closest docking stations, including real-time availability map. If you would rather get a better bike for a rental, without being limited to the 30-minute timeline, you can try Central Park Sightseeing, Central Park Bike Rent or Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles offers cruiser rentals down at South Street Seaport, and pier 84, while the other two companies offer rentals and tours in Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge. You can rent from a [spacer height="20px"] Hop on Hop off Bus [caption id="attachment_1199" align="aligncenter" width="1139"] Big Bus Tours[/caption] One of the most scenic and informative ways to see New York is on top of a Big Bus double-decker bus. These buses go around in several loops, have a tour guide and stop by most of the major attractions. You can either take Big Bus as a sightseeing tour and do the whole loop (each loop is about 2 - 2.5 hours) or hop on and off wherever is convenient for you. Keep in mind that the buses go in NYC traffic and can be quite slow. It's not the best transportation option when you're in a rush, but it's a great way to get acquainted with the city when you first arrive. Each New York Pass holder receives a free 1-day ticket, covering the Downtown, Midtown and Uptown loop. [spacer height="20px"] Foot [caption id="attachment_1230" align="alignright" width="1500"] The High Line | Photo via TimeOut New York[/caption] [spacer height="20px"] The most popular way of getting around in NYC, hands down, is walking. New York City is one of the most walkable cities, due to its concentration on a relatively small piece of land. You can technically walk the entire island of Manhattan in the span of a day. When visiting New York, it's a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable shoes, because unless you want to shell out big bucks for taxis, chances are you are going to do quite a bit of walking regardless. Manhattan above 14th St. is very easy to navigate on foot, because the streets are organized in a grid. 12 Avenues go North to South and 200 some streets cross them East to West. The boundary between East side and West side is 5th Avenue. Things get more complicated Downtown, where there is no street organization to speak of. It's recommended to fire up Google Maps while strolling below 14th St. [spacer height="20px"] New York Water Taxi (and other ferries) [caption id="attachment_779" align="aligncenter" width="2845"] New York Water Taxi[/caption] Most of New York City is essentially a cluster of islands, as such it is intertwined with a body of water, which presents a great opportunity for water-based transportation. There are many ferries servicing the New York City Waters, one of them is the New York Water Taxi, which offers stops all along the New York Harbor for you to hop on and off. For transportation to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, use the Statue Cruises Ferry departing from Battery Park. For transportation between Brooklyn and Manhattan, you can use the East River Ferry, or the New York Water Taxi. If you're looking to sightsee on the river, check out the Best Cruises in NYC. [spacer height="20px"] Taxi One of the most quintessential transportation methods in NYC has to be the signature yellow cabs. Taxis are convenient, quick, and you take take them pretty much anywhere. The drawback is the cost, if you rely on taxis only for all your transportation needs, it'll cost you. Certain routes and times of day may also make you delayed due to traffic. Yellow cabs are most popular in Manhattan, but you can catch one in outer boroughs as well, except the cars will be green. New York City taxis are heavily regulated, so you don't have to worry about getting ripped off if you hail a cab, but please remember the etiquette attached to riding in a taxi. Regardless of how far you go, please remember to tip your cab drivers, preferably in cash. [spacer height="20px"] Uber (and other ride share programs) [caption id="attachment_1231" align="alignright" width="2000"] Uber | Photo via The Bubble[/caption] Uber has become insanely popular in recent years. Ride share programs have a few advantages over taxis. They tend to be cheaper, you can call them from an app, wherever you are, and you don't have to tip. You can call an Uber, Lyft or Juno, at any time, wherever you and and in a few minutes your car will be waiting for you. One draw back is that during peak time, in popular areas, Uber has surge pricing, so you can end up paying much more than you would in a taxi. If you need a ride on a Friday night in West Village, you may be better off hailing a taxi than calling an Uber. in outer boroughs, rude share apps are almost always more accessible.
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