Seven Great Things to Do with Kids in New York City
With 18 new hotels built this year and room prices down 16 percent, New York City hotel deals are abound. It’s the perfect time to take a bite out of the Big Apple with your kids. Uptown, downtown, and all around the town, here are some family-friendly highlights to create your perfect NYC day.
1. Delight in Dinos: T-Rex, a Giant Squid, and a Massive Blue Whale—OH MY! There’s nothing quite like the mega American Museum of Natural History to capture a kid’s imagination with its 45 exhibition halls holding nearly 30 million specimens. Don’t expect to see the whole thing in a day, but reliable kid-pleasers include the dinosaur collection’s six halls with the tallest dino skeletons in the world; the undersea exhibits at the Hall of Ocean Life, including a 95-foot blue whale swimming through the sky; and the Hayden Planetarium with its 360 degree views of the solar system that make it feel like you’re floating through outer space.
2. Play in the Park: The grassy expanses of Central Park, right across the street from the museum, are the perfect place to blow off kid steam after the museum. Head south to encounter the charming Central Park Zoo. Though small in size, it’s wonderful for big views of animals ranging from penguins (yes, just like the Nickelodeon show) to red pandas.
3. Rock out in Rockefeller Center: Kids love this classic square for its awesome ice skating in the golden Rock Center rink and the tours of NBC Studios. Equally popular is the kid-centric shopping: both the Nintendo Store, a gamer’s Nirvana, and the Lego Store, with its rainbow of bricks and marvelous miniature replicas of New York City, are magnetic draws here. And don’t miss a sweet snack stop at the buttercream-frosting dream Magnolia Bakery.
4. Take in the View: There are two great ways to get a birds-eye-view in midtown New York: Top of the Rock on the 70th floor of the NBC building in Rockefeller Center and the classic outdoor viewing deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. Although Top of the Rock gets “high” marks for its roomy, less-crowded viewing areas, King Kong climbed the Empire State Building, so chances are your kids may want to go there.
5. Fuel Up for Fun: Great for groups and perfect for kids (think large, loud, and lots of fun) you can’t go wrong with the massive, family-style portions of Italian classics at Carmine’s; the crisp-crusted pizza (pies only) at John’s; or the mouth-watering wood-smoked barbecue at Virgil’s. All three restaurants are located on 44th Street in Times Square, just a block away from Disney’s The Lion King, a don’t-miss theater experience if your kids are age 7 and up.
6. Go Mad for Minis: Head to the 14th street neighborhood of Union Square to take advantage of one of the best bargain children’s activities in town: The Forbes Galleries. Located in the impressive marble-clad lobby of the Forbes Magazine Building, the free exhibits here include an army of 10,000 miniature soldiers, 500 toy boats, and an array of antique toys.
7. Say “YES” to Chocolate!: No trip to Union Square (or NYC for that matter) would be complete without a dessert stop at Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man. The Willy Wonka of the West Side serves up over-the-top sweet-tooth pleasers such as the “Melting Marshmallow Crepe,” chocolate pizza, and creamy hot chocolate.
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Contributing editor for Travelocity.