Things to Do in New York City with Toddlers
I love New York, New York! Ever since my first visit there when I was in middle school until now, NYC has been and will always be my favorite city to visit. Since Caroline was born, I have been there three times (she is now four), so about once a year since she was a baby. My favorite time to visit NYC is late fall because of the fall colors and the magic of the holiday season popping up everywhere. Traveling to a big city with children no matter their age can be stressful, but to my surprise, New York City is very kid friendly. Read my post on tips for traveling to big cities with small children.
There is so much to do in NYC but no everything is manageable with small children. Here is a list of things I recommend doing when you visit the Big Apple with your little apple.
Central Park: This is a no-brainer. A huge park in the big city — what toddler or kid would not enjoy that. Central Park is very kid friendly. You can take a nice stroll and enjoy the city views, ride the carousel, watch people, play with remote controlled boats, or enjoy one of the many playgrounds.
Central Park Zoo: If you plan on visiting Central Park I recommend making a day of it and visiting the Zoo. It is small so you won’t need a full day there but when you finish you can explore more of Central Park. When at the Zoo, don’t forget to visit the Children’s Zoo where you can pet and feed goats.
Manhattan Children’s Museum: I was surprised at how small this museum is but thought it was very well done. They have a few stories of interactive things to do with young children. There also is a section with an indoor playground and a mock Oval Office. It's a great spot for a photo op. The museum is set in a more residential area but has lots of places to eat and even a cute children’s shoe store around the corner worth checking out.
Bryant Park: This is a fun place to visit and have lunch, but if you are there during the holiday season they have an awesome Christmas Market with great food trucks, a candy store and of course, Christmas lights set up.
9/11 Memorial Park: I would not recommend bringing toddlers or preschoolers to the museum. It is just not the right place for rambunctious kids but the 9/11 Memorial is beautiful and the surrounding area is perfect for walking (or running) around. We visited the Memorial then walked around the financial district on the waterfront path and it was beautiful.
Battery Park and Lady Liberty: We recommend visiting this park. It is historic but sometimes crowded and touristy. We have done it both ways: once taking Caroline to see Lady Liberty and one time just enjoying the view and waterfront park. If you do want to go to Lady Liberty arrive early to beat the crowds. There is not much to do on the boat or island other than taking pictures so keep that in mind when visiting with children.
Rockefeller Center: If you are looking for traditional NYC adventures take your kiddos to Rockefeller Center and let them peek into the windows of all the nicely decorated shops, and pop in the Lego shop for a visit. If they are old enough they can ice skate. I also love the view from the top of the Rock, but if you know your children can’t wait in line for long just skip it and come back the next time you have an adults-only getaway to the city. If you want you can walk over to Times Square but to be honest there is not much to do there for young children and the crowds are maddening, so unless you absolutely have to see it skip Times Square with toddlers.
Children’s History Museum: We had a blast here and would recommend it to anyone with kids 2.5 and up. There are lots of things to do for preschool aged kids and big kids alike. Caroline loved it but did not understand all the interactive things they had since it is for all ages. It is also located in a very pretty part of town. If you are visiting now through Jan. 27, you can see the special Harry Potter Exhibit!
New York Transit Museum: Kids love this place! They can play in an old Subway Car and for some reason, transit-themed museums are always a hit with preschoolers.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum: If you want to experience the Brooklyn Bridge, make a day of it. Visit the Bridge, but be cautious with little ones because it is a working bridge so lots of walkers, cyclists, and runners around. Then stop off at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for some interactive learning fun!
Coney Island: If you are visiting in the summer months enjoy a New York classic! There is so much to do and see here for all ages. It is quite the experience for adults and children alike.
High Line: If you the weather's good and you want a place your toddler can toddle more freely, check out this beautiful urban walkway! It is a must see one-of-a-kind place and isn't quite as busy as most outdoor spaces in NYC, so a great place to take a stroll with your kiddos.
Children’s Museum of Art: Another great interactive experience for children in NYC. This is a great spot for fun photos of your kiddos. So, if you are looking for another great indoor activity this place is worth checking out.
This list could go on and on because there is just so much to do in a big city like New York City, with lots of museums and parks, great food and entertainment. However, these are some of our favorites and are a good start, especially for your first visit to the Big Apple with your kids.