New York City has something for everyone, and your kids are no exception. Although the city may be better known for its nightlife and arts and culture scene, there’s no shortage of family friendly activities around the five boroughs. Whether you’re looking for a quick outing after school or are planning the whole day out, here are some of the best kid-friendly destinations in the city.
Dylan’s Candy Bar
If your kids like candy – and I’m sure they do – a visit to Dylan’s Candy Bar may be in order. Dylan’s has three floors and stocks every variety of candy you can imagine. Kids can sample the candy in-store but just be careful they don’t eat enough to ruin their dinner!
FAO Schwarz is a world-famous destination for good reason. In what other toy store can you shake hands with a giant toy soldier, play a piano with your feet, see adult-sized Lego men and walk the Barbie runway? Even if you don’t buy anything, a visit to FAO Schwarz isn’t one your kids will soon forget.
What kid doesn’t love to spend a day at the zoo? Located in New York’s northernmost borough, the Bronx Zoo is not only the largest zoo in the city, it’s also one of the biggest and most expansive zoos in the world. The Bronx Zoo encompasses more than 250 acres and is home to over 6,000 animals. In addition to seeing their favorite animals, kids can also learn about conservation and how being eco-friendly helps keep wild animals safe.
Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is not only educational, it’s also a lot of fun. From wildlife dioramas to ancient artifacts and dinosaur bones, there’s so much for you and your kids to see, learn and enjoy. You could spend an entire day in the first floor of the museum alone. This is where the museum’s world-famous Hayden Planetarium is. One of the highlights of the planetarium is a show narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and complemented by tiny specs of light from a projector at the back of the room.
Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, New York Botanical Garden
Located in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden boasts a wide variety of local flora and fauna. Your kids will especially love the Children’s Adventure Garden, where budding botanists can examine plants under microscopes and learn about all kinds of wildlife. The Adventure Garden encompasses 12 acres and gives kids a crash course about the life cycle of plants.
Formerly shut to the outside world, New York’s Governors Island is now open for business — at least during the summer months. From May to October you can take rent (or bring) bikes and tour the island. If your kids love history, be sure to point out the two 19-century forts you’ll encounter along the way. Before you head home, you can also take your kids mini-golfing.
Manhattan’s Central Park may get all the attention, but Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is one of the best places in the city. The Long Meadow and Nethermead are great places for playing in the grass or having picnics. If you’d rather explore you should check out the Ravine, where hiking trails are bordered by waterfalls. Your kids will also love the park’s seven playgrounds, small zoo and carousel.
Liberty Science Center
If your kids are always asking why rainbows happen or how water heater repairs work, a visit to the Liberty Science Center may be in order. The Center was founded in 2007 and its mission is to reinvent the science museum experience. Most visitors would say it’s succeeded in its goals, as the museum is very hands-on. Kids can walk in a jungle gym that shows the perspective of a construction worker, create heat-sensitive cave paintings and do so much more.
Baby Loves Disco
Who says nightclubs are just for adults? If your kids like to bust their moves, they’ll probably enjoy a trip to Baby Loves Disco. Kids ages 7 and under and their parents can rock out to music from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The dance floor, decorated with balloons and bubbles, makes dancing extra fun. Juice, popcorn and other snacks give kids the fuel they need to dance all day long.
New York Public Library at Bryant Park
It’s never too early to share the joy of books with your children, so why not take them to the library and have them pick out a few books to take home? While there are library branches all around the city, the flagship branch in Bryant Park is definitely worth visiting. You’ll be greeted outside by Patience and Fortitude, the two marble lions who stand guard outside the New York Public Library. Inside you’ll find a large collection of all kinds of books, including ones for children.
This list is by no means meant to be inclusive, but you and your kids will be sure to have a good time at any of these destinations.