New York, the City that Never Sleeps, can be equally exciting for adults and the small ones, from toddlers to teenagers. Whether your offspring is a science geek or an aspiring art connoisseur, into mechanisms or animals (live or stuffed), or enjoys anything bright, loud, and tasty — the Big Apple offers a host of opportunities for some great family-friendly entertainment. We compiled this list to include just a few of those and help you choose, but after all, the most important thing is to have fun together!
1. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
The largest art museum in the country and the signature cultural institution in New York, the Met houses over two million exhibits from classical antiquity and mummies to Rothko and Afrofuturism. With an institution of its scale and significance, it would be impossible to imagine it not being family-friendly.
The museum offers a wide range of programs targeted specifically at children of different age groups, starting from two years old, with or without their parents. Consider attending a drawing class, a storytelling session, or an interactive experience of exploring art while looking, moving around, and singing, and ultimately, creating your own art!
Bonus tip: use a self-guided audio tour for adults and children to navigate through all the incredible gems of the museum easily.
Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
Cost: $30 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $17 for students; children under the age of 12 go free. Event prices vary: some have an admission charge, and others are free.
2. Color Factory
A multisensory exhibition that lets you engage with color in every possible way, this NYC location comprises 16 interactive installations. Its purpose is very simple: to bring joy inspired by art and beauty into its visitors’ lives by immersing them in color. Drawing upon collaborations with artists and art institutions, the space is rooted in the local New York atmosphere: the ball pit features the signature blue of the sky as seen through the city’s skyscrapers, and the dreaminess of it is reflected in the kaleidoscopic set of the three perspectives on NYC. Grab a rainbow macaroon, frolic in the confetti room, and make sure to snap some photos for social media.
And if you wish to make the most of your visit, there is an audio tour to help you learn all about color-themed activities and the role of color in your life. There is a convenient option with both the tour and the ticket included, just the tour or just the entrance ticket.
Address: 251 Spring St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Cost: $39-$62. You can buy tickets and tours of the NYC Color Factory here.
3. The Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA)
The iconic modern and contemporary art museum in the heart of Manhattan is home to thousands of Western art masterpieces, including Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, and The Dance by Matisse. It also caters to younger audiences with its family programs. Workshops for kids, educational talks, in-person and online events for children and whole families, and ideas on sparking creativity at home from an early age have been developed explicitly by MoMA.
The physical space itself is family-friendly, with a range of resources such as guides and labels to help the kids navigate the space and learn to engage with art. There is an audio tour available for both teenagers and adults that will guide you through the permanent exhibitions, showcasing its most important highlights.
Address: 11 West 53 Street, Manhattan, New York, NY 10019
Cost: $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $14 for students; children aged 16 and under get free admission, plus access to kids’ audio, activity guides, labels, and hands-on spaces.
4. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Is your kid into history, technology, or perhaps military service? Do vessels or aircraft seem more exciting to them, or maybe spaceships? You can find all of that aboard the Intrepid, the famed aircraft carrier that fought in WWII, survived five kamikaze attacks and a torpedo strike, later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War, and is currently moored on the Hudson river as a hands-on science museum.
You can explore the ship and its decks and inspect a real submarine, a WWI biplane, a space shuttle, and a Concorde. There is also a designated area for families and kids: the Exploreum, an interactive space in the hangar deck, where kids can climb in a helicopter, navigate through a submarine, or steer the wings of an airplane — together with their parents. And if you are looking for something more informative, check out a special audio tour (with or without tickets).
Address: Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th Street, New York, NY 10036
Cost: adults $36, seniors and students $34, children aged 5-12 $26, kids aged four and younger go free.
5. Bronx Zoo
Home to over 10,000 animals, the Bronx Zoo was established in 1899 and is currently the largest metropolitan zoo in the US. From the Mouse House to the Tiger Mountain, it hosts a huge variety of species in replicas of their natural habitats and keeps inspiring animal lovers and conservation enthusiasts around the globe. Naturally, children are a very significant group amongst the visitors, so there’s a lot going on with a focus on their entertainment and education. There are animal feedings and zoo quests, treetop climbing, and a carousel — all sorts of activities to keep the little ones having fun while learning something.
Children’s Zoo, open from April to October, offers a whole set of experiences tailored specifically for pint-sized visitors: kids can meet prairie dogs, sloths, porcupines, anteaters, and fennec foxes, learn important things such as why flamingoes are pink, pet and feed the farm animals. An audio tour is a great opportunity to learn about the Zoo’s inhabitants while exploring it at your own pace – an entrance ticket and admission to Dinosaur Safari, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Zoo, and some other attractions are included!
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460
Cost: depending on the season, adults $26.95-$33.95, seniors $24.95-$28.95, children aged 3-12 $18.95-$23.95, younger kids go free.
6. American Museum Of Natural History
Dating back to 1869, this natural history museum hosts an impressive collection of over 34 million specimens, from plants, fossils, and animals, to human remains and artifacts — plus a planetarium and a library. There’s a life-size model of a blue whale, the largest animal that has ever existed on Earth. There’s a mammoth skeleton about 11,000 years old. There’s a 15,5-ton meteorite that was found in Oregon. There’s a T-Rex (of course) and a whole lot of other dinosaurs (are not those what brings folks to natural history museums in the first place?) Check out an audio tour of the museum that was developed to help navigate between the rooms, floors, and specimens (with tickets included or without those). In terms of kid-friendly activities, the museum offers classes and immersive camps for children and families, the Discovery Room, where kids can get hands-on experience with various objects and scientific challenges, and internships and courses aimed at teenagers.
Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5102
Cost: adults $28, students and seniors $22, children aged 3–12 $16, younger kids go free.
7. Museum Of Ice Cream
If there is one thing all kids (and kids at heart) are supposed to like, that would most probably be ice cream. NYC’s Museum of said treat is a real sweet tooth haven: it’s immersive and interactive, it is vibrant and instagrammable, it is both playful and informative… by the way, did we mention unlimited ice cream? All sorts of flavors, colors, textures, and toppings you can possibly imagine. There is also a sliding tube and everyone’s favorite — the sprinkle pool. Feel free to goof around, take silly photos, and share a few scoops of sweet gloop with your family — cannot be serious all the time, right? But just in case you wish to learn something about ice cream in addition to having fun, check out the audio tour of the museum!
Address: 558 Broadway, New York, NY, 10012
Museum of Ice Cream tickets cost: $25-$49, depending on the time of the day.
8. Central Park
Having fun with the kids absolutely does not have to be indoors, does it? Put on your walking shoes, throw some snacks and water in your backpack, and head over to NYC’s iconic green space and the most filmed location in the world — Central Park. Once you are there, the range of things you can do is practically endless. Wander in the North Woods. Stroll by the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Rent a boat. Marvel at the Belvedere’s architecture. Stop by the basketball court. Check out the 70 works of art, including statues and monuments, located within the park. Count the 36 bridges. Walk into a concert. Sit on (well, some of) the 9,500 benches.
Take your kid to one, or a few, of the 21 playgrounds — or go straight to the Children’s District in the southern part, with the largest one, Heckscher Playground, a carousel, an ice rink, and a small zoo. And while you’re planning your trip, consider taking an audio tour of Central Park, so that you do not get lost among its numerous treasures.
Address: from 59th Street to 110th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West, New York, NY
9. New York Transit Museum
This quintessentially urban museum is focused on the history of NYC’s public transportation — from the workers, commuters, and local communities affected by its development to the actual technology. The coolest thing about the place? It is based underground, in an authentic decommissioned 1936 subway station Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Covering the territory of a whole city block, the museum has twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907 on display. Walk through the vintage turnstiles, board a train car, or sit at the wheel pretending to be driving the train.
The museum also offers a range of children-oriented programs online and onsite, from transit-themed songs and stories for the smallest ones to hands-on educational activities, engagement with transport-focused art, and introduction to the complexity of the city’s transport system for the older kids.
Address: 99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
Cost: adults $10, seniors $5, children aged 2-17 $5.
10. Children’s Museum Of Manhattan
Feel like taking your little one to a place that is specifically focused on kids, rather than trying to fit them into your own cultural program? The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is the place to go, then. Spread across five floors, it is dedicated to children being, well, children and strives to bring joy and help them develop into their best selves.
The museum features art exhibitions tailored for kids, organizes creative workshops, and helps them learn about math, chemistry, physics, and even politics from an early age. All of this takes place in a fun, interactive, and caring atmosphere and is particularly suitable for kids aged five or younger.
Address: The Tisch Building, 212 West 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024
Cost: adults and kids aged one and over $16, seniors and persons with disabilities $13, infants younger than one go free.