Where to Take Your Jetsetting Kids in NYC

Forget Fifth Avenue and fine dining -- believe it or not, New York City is more of a children’s playground (literally!) than travelers may think. Aside from the numerous seasonal and holiday-focused activities, New York is home to tons of year-round happenings and exhibitions. Headed to the city with your brood in tow? Make sure not to miss these ten activities for Jetsetting, NYC-bound kids.

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kids playing tug of war
kids running and playing football
kids smiling and laying on the floor after playing dodgeball

Hit Chelsea Piers

Overlooking the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, Chelsea Piers is perhaps NYC's greatest kids' attraction. Dubbed ‘New York’s Ultimate Playground,’ the entertainment center's drop-in activities include bowling, batting cages, and ice skating, as well as a fully equipped toddler gym, with golf and rock climbing available for adults. Bonus: Various dining options are available on site for when hunger strikes your brood. 

children looking at bones of a titanosaur
subversive machine with mom and daughter riding in it
little girl with magnifying glass looking at butterfly

Discover the Museum of Natural History

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the Museum of Natural History. There are permanent exhibits as well as rotating ‘Giant Screen’ movies, dinosaur skeletons, and even an adjacent planetarium to assure a day full of learning that’s actually fun. Don’t forget to check out seasonal special exhibitions, ranging from butterfly conservatories to ocean wildlife. 

boy climbing up rock wall taken from above
kids hanging on rock climbing wall posing for photo
girl hanging on rock climbing wall

Top photos: Dave Katz, Bottom photos: Paula Lobo


Climb The Cliffs at DUMBO (or LIC)

Love a good climb? Hit The Cliffs at DUMBO on Brooklyn’s riverside waterfront. Stretch your muscles and scale the rock walls, all against a gorgeous, Manhattan-skyscraper lined backdrop. After your workout, treat yourself to a cookie at One Girl Cookies.

RELATED: The Best Hotel Rooftop Bars in Brooklyn 


Run Around Central Park

Central Park is a no brainer, especially with kids in tow. From guided bike tours to horse and buggy rides, it's easy to kill countless hours here. Rent a rowboat, visit Belvedere Castle, and don’t forget to say hello to the sea lions at the zoo--and make sure to make a pitstop at one of the park’s 21 playgrounds.

top view of arrangement of tasty cupcakes isolated on white

Create Your Own Cupcake Tour

Kids love sweet treats, and New York is in no shortage of cupcake shops. Head downtown to SoHo, New York’s most concentrated cupcake neighborhood, to taste the confections of Georgetown Cupcake, Baked by Melissa, and Little Cupcake Bakeshop, all within seven minutes walking distance of each other. And for the cherry on top? Head 12 minutes west to Molly’s Cupcakes for sugary snacking on swings!

RELATED: The Best Hotels in NYC to Book Now 


girls creating art
kid getting faced painted with Campbell's soup logo
kids playing with blocks
little girl drawing on paper attached to wall

Craft Something at Children’s Museum of the Arts

In west SoHo, this non-profit arts facility combines museum-style exhibits with hands-on crafting, perfect for kids of all ages. Spread across 10,000 square feet, the space offers an array of workshops and classes, as well as a display of more than 2,000 pieces of art, most of which are created by kids themselves. It's the perfect afternoon activity for aspiring little artists.

Book Hotels in NYC
old city car on display taken from front
interior of old subway car
older bus on display
very old Brooklyn subway car on display

Photos: Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum


Visit the New York Transit Museum

Trains, planes, and automobiles… well, more like just trains and subways, but for most kids, that’s fascinating enough. Located in Downtown Brooklyn, with an outpost in Grand Central, the New York Transit Museum traces the history of the New York City's train and subway system, complete with restored train cars and seasonal train shows. 

Jane's Carousel in the day


two kids doing science experiment
kid looking at exhibition at the NY Hall of Science
girl drawing
people walking around NY Hall of Science

Photos: NY Hall of Science


Check out the New York Hall of Science

Slightly off the beaten path, but completely worth the commute, the New York Hall of Science has 400+ hands-on exhibitions and activities for kids, focusing on technology, chemistry, biology, and physics.  The permanent collections include Connected World, Scattered Light, and Life Beyond Earth. Make a day out of it and visit nearby Queens Museum, Fountain of the Planets, and Buzz Vollmer Playground, all conveniently located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

the Cyclone wooden rollercoaster
exterior of Nathan's on Coney Island
aerial view of Coney Island

Discover Coney Island

From the New York Aquarium, to Luna Park, to endless boardwalk activities, a day trip out to Coney Island is almost always a good time. Visit sharks and seals, scream your lungs out on a few rides (hello, Cyclone!), and wash it all down with a Nathan’s original hot dog, paired with greasy cheese fries. And if the weather permits a beach day? Even better.


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