Yes, New York is a great city for kids, so don’t worry! See below how to enjoy NYC with kids, outdoors seamlessly and have tons of fun and stories to tell!
Don’t believe people that say differently. The city is full of amazing attractions and activities for kids of all ages and we will show you what we mean!
Before we became parents, we spent countless weekends in New York City, staying out late, enjoying nice dinners, and partying at the best bars and nightclubs.
After our son was born, we realized that traveling to the Big Apple needed to change. We replaced our original itinerary with activities that were fun for the whole family.
Despite the skyscrapers, congested traffic and throngs of tourists, New York City has secluded pockets that give the kids room to play. It is possible to enjoy the great outdoors in Manhattan.
At 840 acres, Central Park is the hub for outdoor-loving families. You can rent bicycles and explore the paved trails, enjoy rides on the carousel, and try horseback riding through the park’s highlights.
This is not a just a stop for tourists – the entire park is also teaming with New Yorkers who appreciate the best of New York’s great outdoors!
We love Sheep Meadow, near the famed Tavern on the Green restaurant. It’s great for kids because of its wide open space (15 acres), kite flying, room to play catch, and loads of families.
Shop a local market and bring a picnic, or let our experts cater the perfect picnic for you, and make a full day of sitting under the trees; the museums and art tours will still be there tomorrow. Even in the winter, you can use the park for ice skating, cross country skiing and sledding.
You can also visit waterfront parks along the Hudson and the East River, providing great views, cool breezes and lots of fresh air. We love Hudson River Park for its play areas with water features on hot, summer days.
Our son can spend hours playing in the splash park, and you’ll find mini golf and sports fields and courts for older kids to get their play on.
See the City from the Water
Surrounded by water – Manhattan is an island, after all – spend time on the rivers. Kayak rentals are available for the families with older kids, and you can set sail on leisure ships for an hour or two of sightseeing.
There are also some pretty cool jet ski rides up and down the Hudson, as well as around the entire island!
The Staten Island Ferry is a great way to see New York’s skyline from the Hudson – and it’s FREE!
Or, if you want to splurge, you can charter a private cruise on a small sailboat.
You can also catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. She stands on an island that is a national park. No need to climb to the top, just enjoy the views while your toddler plays. (This is also another great picnic spot!).
If you’ve never been to Ellis Island, it’s also a great spot, with some pretty exclusive tours.
If you’re willing to travel further, cross into New Jersey to Liberty State Park and you’ll find even more space to enjoy. Playgrounds, a boardwalk with viewfinders, and picnic tables all overlook Manhattan.
Enjoy Outdoor Attractions
Many of New York’s best attractions will get you outdoors, such as the Central Park Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden. The Gardens offer special activities and event for young kids and is a special treat – NY Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
Or, grab your stroller and take a walk along the High Line, which stretches over a mile on an old rail line. You can take a trip to Roosevelt Island with a ride on the Roosevelt Tram providing a fun ride and cool views before you take in the skyline from the East River-based island.
Even grabbing a bite under the sun is easy to do in New York. Take advantage of the many restaurants that have rooftop dining or secret patios like at Roberta’s. You’ll be surprised how much of the city can be enjoyed in the open air. Try Birreria, the rooftop of Eataly’s grocery and market or ‘Wichcraft for sandwiches, both a little touristy and in the Flatiron District, buy worth the visit.
And, because New York’s diverse neighborhoods offer safe playgrounds for the kids who live close by, seek out AirBnBs or boutique hotels near a small park. It makes for a good start to your day to grab coffee and muffins for breakfast in a nearby park, as well as a relaxing end to a long day of sightseeing.
When you leave New York and download all of your photos, we bet you’ll be surprised by how many of them were taken outdoors and away from crowds. You might not even think they were taken in the city!
Oh! Wait! You’re they type that doesn’t take pictures, but always regret it after?
You might want a professional photographer that will seamlessly be with you during the day, capturing the most amazing, spontaneous moments! You’ll not even notice!
Have fun and be sure to tell your other friends how to enjoy NYC with kids! We are sure you’ll be back for more!
AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir traveled around the world with their son Aarav. Visiting 31 countries and 6 continents as a family, they documented their year-long travel and trips on their family travel blog – The 2 Idiots Travel Blog. Visit their website for more tips and also follow the couple on their Instagram account.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of The 2 Idiots Travel Blog and © Behind the Scenes NYC
*Last Update on March/2020.*