Kids in New York
March 17, 2012 5:51 AM   Subscribe

My wife, four sons (1, 3, 4 and 14) and I will be in NYC in April for three weeks. Other than the obvious (Children's toy museum, natural history museum, central park, zoo) what do people recommend we do, with or without children (if without, a babysitter service recommendation would be appreciated).

As we have a wide range of ages, a wide range of suggestions would be great. Also interested in the best great places to eat that are at least kid tolerant. Any help would be fantastic.
posted by Neale to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
On a nice day, the High Line is lovely. Chelsea Market is nearby and has some wonderful ice cream.

If you happen to be in Grand Central Terminal, the whispering arch is kinda cool.

If your kids like boats, the Staten Island Ferry is free and offers a good view of the Statue of Liberty. You can take the ferry over, wait about 30 minutes or so for the next ferry, and ride the next ferry back.

If you can take some outings with just your 14 year old and he's interested, you might want to suggest he plan the trip (where to go, the subway route, etc). If he likes the idea, will be his friend.
posted by wiskunde at 6:25 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Transit museum in Brooklyn! Really neat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:25 AM on March 17, 2012

For you and the 14 yr old, The Tenement Museum is wonderful.

I would also check out Time out Kids.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:26 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where are you staying? For 3 weeks, I think localized suggestions of things that will fit into your daily routine would be good. Also, MeMail me for babysitting recs.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:31 AM on March 17, 2012

Will second wiskunde's Highline and Chelsea Market suggestions and you can do it on the same day.

I also recommend:

1. The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens where the kids can walk, run and play in a safe environment and see amazing plants.

2. Eataly for eating. It's an indoor market with various food stands and places to eat.
posted by i_wear_boots at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Staten Island Ferry is definitely a good idea.

I was also going to suggest that for the little kids, just riding the subway might be fun. Another thing to do is choose things you want to do and correlate it with playgrounds.

Many museums have children-oriented programming. For instance, the Met has a bunch of activities and programs that should work for the three oldest of your kids.

Splitting up the oldest from the youngest three also seems like a good idea. Let your 14 year old look at some guide books and see what he'd like. What is he into?

The 1, 3, and 4: how many of these are in a stroller? You're going to want to practice carrying kids in a stroller up and down stairs if you plan on taking the subway. At least you won't have to pay for the three youngest on the subway! And you get a free upper body workout.

Where are you staying? Manhattan? Brooklyn? and which neighborhoods specifically. This will change recommendations.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:40 AM on March 17, 2012

If you're brave enough to take on the sugar rush, Serendipity is almost a requirement, and your younger kids especially will be in heaven. Katzs is also....well, kid-tolerant. (They're friendly, it's just not what one thinks of automatically when one thinks "friendly.")

A lot of the art museums have kids' guides you may want to check out. Also, a number of museums have "free hours" courtesy of Target (may be something to keep in mind because it will save you money, and that will be a good thing I'm sure). MOMA is free every Friday night from 4 pm to close, for example; the Brooklyn Museum is free on the first Saturday of every month, but also throws in a whole bunch of special-event stuff in on top of that. The April First Saturday is tied into the Keith Haring exhibit they've got, but they have a lot of kid-friendly programs that night, including a two-hour dance party in the museum's grand ballroom (I've been a few times, and there are always TONS of kids running about having an absolute blast).

Ellis Island may be a good side trip for you and the 14-year-old. I've always found that amazingly moving.

The Museum of the City of New York has a toy section, as well as a lot of other New York history exhibits; I think they still have an exhibit on the History of Broadway as part of its permanent collection.

Here in Brooklyn, there are three kid-friendly things right nearby each other (and all of them are also pretty close to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Museum, if you want to go REALLY nuts); the Lefferts Historic House is a farmhouse from back when Brooklyn was farmland. A couple of the rooms are restored to period-furniture state (meaning; you can't go in), but a couple of other rooms are given over to hands-on kids-museum stuff (costumes to dress up in, toys from the 1700s, etc.). In the spring they probably also have a few things outside kids can try (playing around with the water pump, trying to walk on stilts) as well. Just bang next to that you have a carousel, and then just bang next to that is the Prospect Park Zoo. The Prospect Park Zoo has a "farm" section with cows, sheep, goats, and pigs, but also a few alpacas and llamas.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on March 17, 2012

Definitely go to Chinatown and just wander around and eat cheap tasty things.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:05 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the 14 year old, Newsies on Broadway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2012

Thanks everyone, I'm now looking these up!
posted by Neale at 6:53 AM on March 18, 2012


We are staying north of Central Park in a flat in Harlem. Only the 1 year old is stroller bound, the others don't mind walking all that much, but we have a dual stroller just in case.

Coming from living in Hong Kong, steps are not an issue.
posted by Neale at 6:56 AM on March 18, 2012

Here's a list of things to do with kids in NY. Definitely recommend the Museum of the City of New York for the cool vintage toys. If he weather's nice, the zoo makes my toddler very happy.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:58 AM on March 18, 2012

Since you'll be in Harlem, Sakura Park and Riverside Park will be nearby. Sakura Park is small, but if you're in walking distance, it's a nice park for a quiet afternoon.

Green markets and street fairs are also nice.

If you're going to be in town during Earth Day, April 20, there will be some kid-friendly celebrations going on.
posted by wiskunde at 7:02 PM on March 18, 2012

In the hope that this helps future MF askers, here's a summary of our trip.

Things that went well:

1. The Met - everyone in the family enjoyed it, especially the 4-year-old who is into Egypt right now. I think this was probably the clear winner of the lot.

2. The Police Museum and the Fireman Museum - the kids really liked it, though the 9/11 exhibits teared up the adults.

3. Central Park - This includes the many, many individual play-areas, generally walking through it, the squirrel-spotting game, Central Park zoo, and a horse & carriage ride through the park. Collectively this was the three-year-old's favourite.

4. The Bronx Zoo - what can I say, our kids love animals.

5. The Natural History Museum - The one-year-old reaaaally loved it, as he could get close to the stuffed animals, and the four-year-old was bananas for the dinosaurs.

6. FAO Shwartz - we went there for the three-year-old's birthday, followed it up with Dylan's Candy Bar, seemed to go down well.

7. Magnolia Bakery & Carlo's Bakery - our kids love cupcakes. Also Carlo's cannoli are to dei for.

8. The Spotted Pig - a bit of a surprise really, they accommodated our kids well, the food was excellent, the kids ate everything they ordered.

9. Times Square - though the people standing around in costumes with tip buckets are rip-off merchants.

10. Forbidden Planet - All the kids bought something, and weirdly it was the only place my wife bought herself clothes the entire trip.

11. Staten Island Ferry & Statue of Liberty - we didn't go to Ellis, but every time they saw it 'Tower of Liberty' they got a little thrill.

12. Empire State Building - the 86th floor isn't that kid friendly (they don't want you to pick any of them up) but heading to the 102 isn't really worth the extra money, we discovered. One cool thing was that we could directly see our apartment in Harlem on Lenox Ave from the ESB.

Things that didn't go so well.

1. The Museum of Modern Art - our fault really, we hadn't fed everyone before we went, so we ended up leaving early with a screaming 1-year-old.

2. Serendipity 3 - we went there for the wife's birthday and were treated like lepers (I think because of the kids). We left without ordering, the service was that bad.

3. Various shops & boutiques (eg. Macy's, Saks, Century 21, etc) - not sure what it is in these stores, but they were all either filled with far-too-many people, stroller un-friendly, or had impossibly rude sales staff.

4. WTC memorial - we went to pay our respects, turns out you need to order tickets to the memorial online before arrival (or track down the few available in a preview center somewhere near the site we couldn't find) so we didn't end up going.
posted by Neale at 6:19 PM on May 6, 2012

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