new york city with kids

Show your kids the wonders of the Big Apple. (Photo: Getty Images)


Off to NYC with the Littles? Dazzle Them on a Kid-Friendly Weekend Getaway

New York City offers boundless variety, but with children in tow, you’ve got to be trip planner, entertainer and navigator all in one. Luckily, the size of the Big Apple means there’s something for everyone, with sights and activities that will appeal to both kids and kids-at-heart.

With a map, a MetroCard and a good pair of shoes, you can see, taste and experience much of what makes this city — at least if the locals are to be believed — the center of the universe.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Day 1: Midtown and the Waterfront

Start your day at Chelsea Market, which is a former Nabisco factory turned indoor foodie heaven and one of the city’s most popular foodie destinations. At breakfast you’ll have your pick of shops like Amy’s Bread, Sarabeth’s and Friedman’s before things get busy with lunch crowds.

new york city with kids
Walk the High Line. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fueled up with pastries, pancakes or a breakfast sandwich, take the stairs near the market’s west exit to reach the High Line, the beloved park built on the site of an abandoned elevated freight line. The park opens at 7 a.m., so you can take in unbeatable views of the Hudson, and even a faraway Statue of Liberty, without the crowds.

You can follow the High Line south to its endpoint at Gansevoort Street to see (or make a pit stop at) the striking, Renzo Piano–designed Whitney Museum; otherwise, swing north, taking in the flowers, plants and works of public art interspersed with old railway tracks.

At the High Line’s northern end is the warren of gleaming high rises, shops and restaurants known as Hudson Yards. At its center, the Vessel is an interactive work of art with a tangle of 154 spiraling staircases kids will love to climb. Tickets are free but should be booked in advance to ensure admission. A “flex pass” allows entry any time of day and can be booked online for $10 per person.

Here you’re within steps of some of the city’s best eateries, all in one place, so grab a sandwich at Bouchon Bakery for lunch, or try some veggie-focused fare at Citarella Gourmet Market. For dessert, take your kids for treats at Dylan’s Candy Bar.

From the Yards, it’s one stop on the 7 train to Times Square, where London’s famous wax museum Madame Tussaud‘s has its own Big Apple branch. Just east is Bryant Park, where you can set your kids loose across the lawn or pose for pictures with the New York Public Library‘s majestic lions.

Make your last stop of the day Grand Central Terminal, where you can marvel at the stunning zodiac ceiling, restored to its original cerulean color after decades of neglect.

Day 2: Central Park and the East Side

Start your day with scones at Alice’s Tea Cup, a delightful, Alice in Wonderland–themed café, or try Eat Here Now, a traditional “greasy spoon” dishing up omelets, French toast and waffles.

new york city with kids
Play in the park. (Photo: Getty Images)

After breakfast, head to the beloved Central Park Zoo, which has a small aquarium for penguins and puffins; tropical and temperate zones for birds, reptiles and mammals; a children’s petting zoo; and daily sea lion feedings.

For a classic NYC on-the-go lunch, grab a hot dog from one of the city’s cart vendors, or head uptown to your next stop, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where food trucks sell wraps, sandwiches, shawarma and ice cream on the front plaza.

The museum’s exhibits cover the entire world’s history, but you can break it down into bite-sized pieces for your kids with help from printed family maps or digital guides and interactive features on the #MetKids Blog. Make sure to visit the Egyptian mummies, European period rooms and Islamic scrolls, and don’t miss the Temple of Dendur.

End the day with playtime on Central Park‘s Great Lawn, or walk south to the boat pond, where model sailboats roam free and where kids can be kids … even when they’re adults.

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